Quote courtesy of "The Hunger Games", image courtesy of NASA
- Current Mood: accomplished
I know it's been a while, so here are links to parts one, two, and three!
River screamed in pain.
It was like the other times, just like before. She didn’t know how, but she was shoved out. Well, not out, so much, she reasoned, but...Jailed. Contained. Held captive in her own mind. Able only to watch, an observer of herself and...the Other. Or Others. She wasn’t sure. It was disconcerting, not knowing who else was in your mind. She couldn’t hear them, and didn’t know if they could hear her. Not like the tracking men. They always let her know when they were here. They enjoyed the fear they inspired.
River bit her lip. At least it was better now. She could think. At the beginning, the only awareness she had was pain. It had taken her a year even to remember that she was River when she was thrust aside, like this. To be able to remember the sessions, in her nightmares, later.
She never knew what was real any more. What would they have her do this time?
The answer came swiftly. Her body cut someone’s throat and stepped aside quickly as he collapsed.
“Stage one complete.” Her voice echoed around her though she hadn’t spoken. She heard steps and felt her blade encounter neck muscles as she swung. More blood. “There’s more than one guard. Our information is incomplete. Do I proceed?”
Inara heard the first scream and leapt up from the table, Simon right beside her as she ran, headlong, for River’s quarters, compelled by the screams that followed to run faster.
They found her tangled in the blankets, writhing in an attempt to escape. River’s fingernails dug deep into her palms, and Inara could see blood beginning to well there. “River” she called, trying to keep her voice steady. “River, wake up.”
Simon stroked his sister’s sweaty forehead gently. “This is a bad one.” He whispered, intending for only Inara to hear. He turned to the concerned group at the door. “It’s just a nightmare. She’ll wake up soon. Just...go finish dinner.” He turned back, not noticing that none of them moved so much as an inch.
River moaned, tears streaming down her face, but didn’t wake.
Inara snuck a look at Simon, not encouraged by the grim look on his face. “She usually wakes up once she starts screaming.” He murmured. “Has it been like this before?”
“River!” River paused in her blind escape as the voice echoed around her. She remembered that voice. “River, please come back.” Inara.
The memory of her time on Serenity descended on her in a thundering crash. “Darling, please wake up.” Inara sounded like she was crying.
River stood still, torn between wanting to run and hoping that if she stopped, she could escape.
She woke up on the bed to Simon checking her vitals while trying, futilely, to comfort Inara. Everything hurt.
“They’re coming.” She whispered. “They’re coming for me.”
“Shhh, it was a nightmare.” Simon told her quietly. He had never understood.
“No, they’re coming for me!” she insisted, pushing herself upright.
“Who’s coming?” Mal asked from the door. River thanked him silently for believing what she was. Her brain burned, and everything seemed too bright.
“The men in blue.” She murmured. “We need to go. We need to go, now.”
“Ok.” Mal turned and headed for the bridge.
River put a hand to her reeling head and Simon forced her back down.
Inara kissed one of her bloody hands, her tears burning as they hit the half-moons River’s nails had made. “I heard you.” River whispered to her.
“Thank God.” Inara smiled.
“Nǐ xià sǐ wǒ le!” (You scared me) Inara kissed her gently. River looked around, realising they were back in the shuttle.
“Sorry.” River whispered. “I heard you calling and I remembered. How’d you do it?”
“I thought to you.” Her thoughts demanded an explanation, though her lips said nothing.
“They were hunting me.” River reached up to touch Inara’s face, noticing the light gauze wrapped around her hands.
“The men in blue?” Inara asked. River nodded, shuddering. Inara lay down and pulled River to her. “We’re heading for the border planets. Mal listened to you.”
River nodded. “I know. I thought it had stopped.” She murmured. “After Miranda.” The little voice inside her told her she was wrong. She knew all along they would come for her again. There were other things inside her mind besides her knowledge of Miranda that the Alliance wanted. She sighed. “They never stop.” She turned to face Inara, fear in her eyes. “They’ll take me back again.”
“We’ll stay one step ahead. We always have.” The Companion told her softly, stroking her hair.
“Almost always.” River corrected. “Too many close calls.” She swallowed. “And they’re hunting me again. I couldn’t remember...”
“What couldn’t you remember?”
“I got pushed out.” River rubbed her eyes, tired. “An old mission. Most people can’t remember. I learned how to get past the pain, to remember I was River. To remember my sessions in my nightmares. But they break in, the men in blue. They come for me. They came tonight and there was nothing but fear until you called. Then I remembered.”
“P-pushed out?” Inara stuttered. River had never talked to her about anything like this before.
“It’s not just me in here.” River smiled ironically. “Most subjects don’t know that. You just wake up in pain and wonder what they did to you while you were sleeping.”
“Oh, God.” Inara’s emotions swept over River like a wave. She closed her eyes. Compassion, love, fear, acceptance. No pity. That pleased her.
“I think that’s all I’ll tell you tonight.” River said sagely, then yawned. “I have to sleep.” She kissed the Companion gently. “Call me if anything goes wrong. In either place.”
“I’ll be right here with you.” Inara promised. “Lie down and rest now.”
River complied without argument, enjoying the sensation as Inara stroked her hair.
She woke to find Inara asleep with the lights still on. Evidently she’d tried to stay awake as long as possible but eventually succumbed to her tiredness. River wondered how long she’d been out. She crept quietly out of the Companion’s arms, pausing to examine her. She loved Inara’s innate tranquility and balance. It was what drew her to the Companion initially. The sense of order and trust that the world operated as it should. Smiling, she turned and left the shuttle, heading for the bridge.
Only Mal was there. “Hey, Mal.”
He turned. “You’re up.” River went and sat in the other seat. “You gave us quite a scare, you know.”
“Scared me, too. But I’m alright, now.” She answered. “Where are we off to?”
“Not sure yet.” Mal admitted. “I just wanted to get away as soon as possible.”
“Thank you.” River reached out and squeezed his hand.
“I know you see true.” Mal said gruffly. She removed her hand, knowing her show of affection had made him awkward.
“We wouldn’t have made it, if Inara hadn’t woken me.” River commented.
“Well, she did.” Mal informed her. “It’s past. Now we need a job. To keep moving.”
“Keep moving, keep them out of my head.” River sighed. “I’ll talk to Simon...”
“He doesn’t understand.”
Mal’s harsh tone surprised River. “No” She agreed. “He doesn’t believe it’s possible, what they’ve done to me, despite what he saw with his own eyes in that facility. But he’s an amazing doctor. Knows his meds. Could be if I explain...”
“He won’t know, River. Your brain was already different when you went into that place. That’s why they took you. How’s Simon going to know how to stop them getting into your head?”
River wished she didn’t know he was right. She sighed again. “Well, I should go talk to him anyway. He’s afraid.”
“Come back when you’re done. I’d like your input on options. I’ll get Zoë up here too.”
“Alright.” River made her way down to Simon’s quarters. He was deep in thought about some neurological text, and Kaylee was nowhere in sight. “Simon?”
His head popped up, relief evident on his face. “Mèi mèi. How are you?”
“Better.” She sat down beside him and leaned her head on his shoulder. “It was like when we first got here. When they were trying to get me to come back. I couldn’t wake up.”
“They’re just dreams.” Simon said quietly.
River raised her head to look him in the eye. “You know they’re not. Why else are you so afraid?”
“You were doing so well. Inara has been so good for you. I thought you were getting better. I thought you were healing.” He sighed. “You’ve seemed so much more like I remember.”
“Hey, Kaylee.” River said as she entered Inara’s shuttle to find her and Kaylee drinking tea. Inara’s hair was still mussed from sleep, making River smile.
“Hey, River.” Kaylee was afraid, and Inara was frowning, so River could guess that they’d been discussing her. She sighed. Kaylee didn’t do very well when River didn’t act like a normal girl.
“Guess I scared you.” River commented, eyeing Kaylee from under a curtain of hair.
The older girl nodded, but River knew that it wasn’t the nightmares that scared her, but the fact that they were true. Kaylee was such a good soul, that what had been done to River was too much for her to cope with. So she preferred it when everything seemed normal. And right now it wasn’t.
“Sorry” River murmured, then more loudly “Well, Mal needs me up on the bridge. I just heard you and thought I’d say hi.” Inara looked like she wanted to follow her, but River shook her head. “I’ll be back later.”
Inara’s eyes crinklied happily. “Good.”
Kaylee didn’t say anything, but looked into her tea. River sighed. She knew Kaylee would get over it, and things would go back to normal between them, but she hated it when her friend was scared of her. With that weighing heavy on her heart, she headed back up to the bridge, where Mal and Zoë were deep in discussion over possible destinations.
“What’s the verdict?” She questioned. Zoë put an arm around her shoulders and squeezed.
“We have a few options, and no guarantees.”
“Isn’t that always the way?” River asked.
Zoë’s eyes twinkled. “It is.”
“Well what’re our options, then?”
“We’re going to Paquin.” River informed Inara as she sat down on the bed. “Doubt you’ll find clients there.”
Inara turned from the computer screen and smiled. “Clients don’t matter right now. You do.”
River smiled shyly. “Thanks for saying it.” She sighed. “Kaylee’s afraid of me again.” She tried not to sound too whiny. It was understandable, after all.
“I think she’s more afraid for you than afraid of you, this time around.” Inara joined her on the bed. “Everything’s been so normal lately.”
“I guess it reminds her of before Miranda.”
“I wouldn’t know.” Inara took her hand. “Could you tell me more? About what they did to you?”
“I only know bits and pieces of what they did.” River pointed out. She was torn between wanting to trust Inara, and being afraid she might scare the Companion away. She couldn’t lose Inara. She started chewing her lip, studying their hands.
Inara tilted her chin up. “It’s not going to make me scared of you, if that’s what you’re worrying about.”
“It should.” River informed her harshly. “It makes me scared of me.”
Inara sighed. “I only meant that it’s already part of who you are, and I love that person. I won’t leave.”
“I want to keep you safe.” River informed her. “Why do you think I don’t tell Simon?”
Inara raised her eyebrows. “Because he wouldn’t believe you if you did. I will.”
River shook her head. “Right now, if they came for me, they’d just kill you to take me and Simon. If they think you know anything, they’ll take you, too. Torture you. I don’t know what else. I hope they’ll figure out Simon doesn’t know much pretty fast.”
“I don’t care.” Inara whispered.
River opened herself to Inara’s thoughts and saw that it was true. “Just promise me one thing.”
“If they come, and you have time, use that needle you keep for the Reavers.”
Inara nodded. “Alright. I promise.”
River took a deep breath. “When I first started at the Academy, it was like a dream come true. Me, and others with an extremely high IQ. I think mine was highest. I know I had the top test scores. We were allowed to study whatever we wanted. State of the art equipment. Access to the top minds of every field. They had a dance studio I could use whenever I wanted. They brought in a ballet instructor just for me, to make sure I came.”
She frowned. “I don’t know when they started the tests. I just know that as time went by, things changed. At first, it was just anxiety. We all felt it. People started missing class, having panic attacks. We talked about it, they told us it was being on a space station, that they would treat it. Then one boy, I don’t remember his name, he just disappeared. My counsellor said he transferred out of the program. Found it too stressful. But I saw later that he died during a procedure.”
Inara took her hand silently, knowing not to interrupt, and River was grateful.
“That’s about when they started the treatments. They said they were for the anxiety. But time started going missing, and I started to know things I couldn’t possibly know. Couldn’t remember learning. And there was pain. Things didn’t make sense. Cara died in her sleep, I heard her room-mate screaming and saw her before they took her away. All the blood. Her brain hemorrhaged. I didn’t have a room-mate. My parents wanted the best for me.”
She laughed a little hysterically at that concept, realised tears were streaming down her face and brushed them away.
“I think at first they were just working on me. Developing my natural intuition into telepathy, teaching me to shoot, to move, combat skills. Making me a perfect vessel. But the fear created by stripping my amygdala made me unstable, incoherent. You’ve heard of multiple personality disorder.”
Inara nodded. “People often experience missing time, strange changes they don’t remember making.”
“Right. They created it in me. In all of us, I think. I didn’t often see the others after the first few months. But I heard them, sometimes. Some missions I carried out, as River. Ones with more sensitive information involved, or where we had to blend in, seem normal, or if I was trying to resist...They did it when you were sleeping. It took me over a year to remember anything. Even just to be aware. I don’t remember telling them but I think they know. We aren’t meant to remember those missions, but I do. I think. It’s so hard to tell what’s real from back then.”
“We should go to dinner soon.” Inara murmured a few hours later. They were lying on her bed, heads together. River would randomly start crying silently, but refused to talk about it. Inara let it alone.
“Don’t want to.” River whispered.
“Me neither, but they’ll come looking.” Inara pointed out. “Better we go.”
“Simon will know something’s wrong, try to give me injections.”
“He’ll come down and give them to you if you don’t go to dinner.” Inara stroked River’s hair. “I could go, tell him you’re sleeping.”
“No, don’t leave me!” The anguish in River’s voice scared Inara.
“Shhh, mèi mei.” She whispered. “I won’t leave you alone, I promise. But I do think it’s better if we go to dinner.”
River sighed. “Okay.” She agreed. Positive company could help, she supposed.
“Why don’t you wash your face and I’ll brush your hair.” Inara suggested. Simon would try and haul River off to the infirmary the instant he saw her like this.
That thought got a smile out of the younger girl. “Are you taking care of me?” she questioned.
“Of course, just like you take care of me when I need it.” Inara said, surprised. She frowned. “Besides, after how hard it was to wake you up last time, I don’t like the idea of you being knocked out.”
River shuddered. “Me neither.” She agreed.
They're both pretty dominant, so I'm going to need to think on it.
- Current Mood: sleepy
A/N: Again, so sorry this took so long to post - it's been a busy few weeks!! I am already working away on chapter 3, so hopefully things shouldn't take so long this time around. Also, really sorry about the spacing! One of those annoying situations where it looks fine in the editor and not so much posted. >.<
Seven’s eyes opened on the familiar sight of the cargo bay and she momentarily considered the possibility that the last few days had been a dream, until she saw Kathryn sitting on a pile of containers intent upon a padd and mug steaming in her hand, waiting for Seven’s cycle to end. The sight made something warm inside of her.
“Did you sleep?” She asked, stepping out of the chamber. Janeway looked up at her and smiled gently, making the feeling intensify.
“My quarters are still mine for now.” She replied by way of an answer. “How are you?”
Seven was coming to realise just how good she felt, which was surprising given she had gone for long periods of time without regenerating before. “I’m well.” She noted the suitcase by the Captain’s feet. “Do you mind if I pack up a few of my own things before we go back? My room is...empty.”
“By all means.” Janeway agreed. “But don’t take anything from Astrometrics just yet.”
“I’d like to buy some things.” Seven commented. “I don’t have that many personal effects.”
“No, I don’t suppose it made sense to personalise the cargo bay.” The Captain looked guilty. “I want to apologise” she ventured “for never giving you quarters. For never giving you a place of your own.”
Seven smiled. “You have given me a place of my own” she pointed out, starting to gather up some of the cooking materials she’d replicated and a few other bits and pieces of her life on Voyager. “My room, a home. It wasn’t that long before we returned that I felt the need for more privacy. I should have brought it up with you. ”
“I just don’t know why I didn’t...” the red-head started started.
“You aren’t omniscient, Kathryn.” Seven interrupted her, giving the Captain a stern look.
Janeway smirked. “No, I suppose not.”
Seven picked up her two bags. “Shall we?”
Seven took a taste of her first latte. It didn’t have the bitterness of coffee that she disliked – the sweetness of the milk balanced it nicely. “I seem to recall you discussing his clarinet.”
Kathryn grinned at this piece of information “His clarinet, eh?” she teased.
Phoebe glowered at her older sibling. “He likes music.”
“He asked me to introduce him.” Seven pointed out.
“Whose side are you on?” Phoebe complained.
Janeway chuckled and sipped her drink. “This is just heavenly. How I survived on replicated coffee I’ll never know.”
“I’m glad you suggested the latte.” Seven informed her. “I enjoy the flavour.”
Kathryn looked pleased as Gretchen sat down with a tiny cup.
“What is that?!” Seven questioned, surprised by its size.
“This is espresso.” The eldest Janeway explained. “It’s essentially a very strong coffee. Same amount of coffee, but less water.”
“I see.” Seven decided she would stick with her latte.
“Do we have an event tonight?” Seven asked as they lazily wandered along the boardwalk late that afternoon. She felt overwhelmed by the last few days, the swirl of events, fights, people, and Earth all melding into a muddle that left her feeling rather lost.
Janeway shook her head. “No, debriefs start bright and early tomorrow morning, so we get a night off.”
“I’m glad.” Seven paused to watch a shuttle fly in slow loops over the bay. She turned to the Captain, who was leaning comfortably on the rail beside her, chin in hand, looking very peaceful. The sight made her smile. It wasn’t often Kathryn had looked peaceful on Voyager. “What shall we do next?”
“Hmmm. We haven’t tried Irish coffee, but you might not like the taste...We could go out on a boat...We could go see Alcatraz...We could go out for dinner...” Janeway listed.
Seven examined the smaller woman. “Could we just...go home?” she asked tentatively.
“Of course!” The Captain looked delighted, whether by her use of the term ‘home’ to describe the apartment, or by the concept of a night in, Seven wasn’t sure. Kathryn snapped her fingers. “I know! We’ll order Chinese food.”
Seven raised her ocular implant. “Why Chinese food?”
Janeway shrugged. “It’s what I order on lazy nights in.”
“Why don’t you replicate Asian cuisine?”
Janeway’s lips hinted at a smile. “It’s a tradition, Seven. It’s fun!”
She did have to admit it was rather enjoyable, sitting on the couch with an assortment of folding paper boxes spread across the coffee table (Kathryn insisted that take-out food couldn’t be eaten at the dining table, for reasons unknown). Seven diligently insisted on using chopsticks to eat, even though it took her a while to master the technique.
She was most frustrated when she successfully picked up a piece of broccoli only to have it pop out from between her two sticks, much to the Captain’s amusement.
“You can use a fork, you know.” Kathryn pointed out, adeptly transporting noodles into her mouth.
“These are the proper tools for eating this type of food.” Seven insisted, aiming for a piece of tofu.
Janeway chuckled. “Of course.” She scooped up some more noodles. “Here, try these.” She held out the food.
Seven leaned over and delicately ate the food off of the chopsticks. “Oh, they taste nice!” Kathryn offered her the box, and Seven carefully took some of the noodles. She smiled triumphantly at the Captain.
Janeway grinned back, examining the blonde. “It’s nice to see you smile.” She commented. “I like this new, relaxed Seven.”
The warm feeling from that morning returned. “I’ve enjoyed today.” Seven set down her box on the table. “You’ve changed, too.” She examined the Kathryn out of the corner of her eye. “On Voyager you always tried to maintain a certain level of distance. You had to be the Captain, first. ”
Janeway nodded, looking away. “I know.” She murmured, sadly.
Seven squeezed her arm gently, encouraging the Captain to look back at her. “I understand, Kathryn. It was frustrating, but I understand.” She smiled, selecting a new box from the table, and leaned back into the couch and sighed happily. “I’m glad you suggested Chinese food.” She opened the box and her face took on an appalled expression. “What are these?”
Janeway looked into the box. “Prawns,” she announced in amusement, pulling one out with her fingers “in garlic sauce.”
The Captain nodded, sucking the garlic sauce off of her prawn before beginning to shell it.
Seven selected one and delicately copied the Captain’s motions before popping it in her mouth. “I do not like the texture.” She informed the red head after she’d swallowed, grimacing.
“Seafood takes getting used to if you haven’t grown up eating it.” Janeway suggested.
Seven picked up the noodles and went back to eating them. “Eating took getting used to.” She made a face. “Especially when trying to deal with Mr. Neelix’s cooking.” Her chest tightened at the thought of her friend, now so far away.
“He was overly creative with his cooking, but he got us out of some tight spots.” The Captain agreed with a sigh. “Neelix made so much of the journey with us. I know he’s happy, but I do wish he’d gotten to experience Earth.”
Seven looked down into her noodles. “I do, too.” Suddenly she wasn’t so hungry anymore. Thinking of Neelix made her think of all the things she’d grown used to and now lost. Almost everyone else was home, the place they’d been chasing for so many long years, whereas she was displaced and uncertain. Voyager had been home. She had thought she could depend on Chakotay to provide her with support here, but it was becoming evident to her that their short relationship on board the star ship might not survive the transition to Earth. Would he follow through on what he’d said last night? Or would she find that back on Earth, as she developed her bond with Kathryn, her relationship with Chakotay would crumble? It made him so angry, and he wouldn’t say why. Why did he find it acceptable for him to flirt with other women, but she couldn’t have a close friend? Seven frowned at the thought.
“Seven?” The concern in Kathryn’s voice cut through her line of thinking.
“I’m alright.” She put the noodles back on the table, trying to smile.
“Won’t you talk to me?” the hurt in the Captain’s tone was unusually discernible. Usually she hid things better. “The last few days...There must be a lot on your mind.”
Seven nodded. But...she didn’t feel like she could discuss her relationship with Chakotay with Kathryn. She knew he would see it as a breach of his trust.
“There are things about Earth I like, such as the change in our relationship”, she started, carefully. “But things were different on Voyager. While I had some issues with the crew, I was ultimately able to get used to humanity and grow into myself at my own pace. Earth doesn’t allow you distance or time to adjust. There is no privacy or respect for my boundaries. And, as you say, I’ve changed. My emotions are closer to the surface, I’m expressing them more. What I really need right now is stability, and privacy. I feel emotionally volatile.” She paused. “I can’t get used to that when I’m being showcased as some...miracle of humanity.”
Janeway took her hand, smiling. “People want to talk to you and about you because you’ve done an amazing thing. I doubt there are many individuals anywhere who have the strength of will to do what you have done – to be immersed in the Borg collective for as long as you were and to transition back to their own species. That said, I understand where you’re coming from, and I want you to have your needs met. If you like, I can talk to Starfleet about excusing you from any future press conferences and events. I think they would allow it, especially given how eager they are to have you accept one of their offers.”
Seven squeezed the Captain’s hand. The suggestion was just what she needed. “I’d appreciate that. It’s not that I want to avoid all social affairs, but I would at least like the choice of whether to attend the events or not.”
Janeway winked. “Wouldn’t we all” she sighed wistfully. “But I signed up for this when I joined Starfleet, you didn’t. The least I can do is try and get you out of it.”
“Thank you.” Seven murmured, enjoying the friendly pressure of the other woman’s hand in hers. She felt much better after talking to Kathryn, even without discussing the issue of her relationship with Chakotay. That thought made her pause. No-one else understood her like this, could read her emotions the way Kathryn did. Cared the way Kathryn did. Chakotay certainly didn’t. She turned to find the Captain’s blue-gray eyes. “I’m so...glad...to have you.” She said slowly, realising as she said it that this was something she’d been feeling for a long time. She looked away, not sure if it was inappropriate, or even, really, what she meant by the statement. Strangely, she felt like she should say more, but didn’t know what it was she wanted to say. Nervousness flooded out the warmth she’d been feeling.
She looked up to find Kathryn looking equally confused and blushed, starting to pull away from Janeway in order to distance herself from the awkward situation she’d managed to create. “I...” she started.
The red-head held on to her hand. “No, please don’t.” Kathryn said quietly “You just caught me off guard.”
“Oh.” Seven relaxed slightly, letting her fingers slip into the spaces between the Captain’s. “Alright.”
Kathryn didn’t say anything but clasped Seven’s hand a little tighter.
She found a message from Chakotay later, after they’d cleared up their left-overs and gone their separate ways to separate rooms. He’d wanted to have dinner that night. Seven decided to call him in the morning.
The next morning she woke late, surprised she’d slept at all. By the time she’d showered and dressed, she concluded it was an appropriate time to call Chakotay. As she had predicted, he was a little upset at her absence the day before, and that she had explored much of the city with the Captain, but was mollified when she suggested they get dinner before the event that evening.
“May I escort you to the party afterwards?” he questioned.
“I would like that.” She agreed. Even if the Captain could get her out of the events, it probably wouldn’t be approved for a few days, at least.
She entered the kitchen to find a note from Kathryn, stating that she had an 0700 debrief and would return with breakfast. Checking the clock, Seven concluded that she had time to compose a message to her aunt, regarding a more private meeting, before Janeway’s return, and settled onto the couch to do so.
She had just finished when the door opened to reveal Kathryn with a tray and bag. “Good morning!” the Captain greeted her cheerfully.
“Good morning. How was the debrief?” Seven got up to take the tray from her.
“It went surprisingly well. I was expecting more charges against me for not following Starfleet protocol.” Janeway started. “This is only the first of many, so it’s hard to tell at this point where things will go, but it’s looking better than I thought.” She smiled. “I brought a latte for you.” She pointed to one of the beverages.
Seven took the cup carefully from the tray. “Is this all from the place we went to yesterday?”
Janeway removed her own cup and nodded. “I got a few different baked goods. I wasn’t sure what you would like.” She pulled a box out of the bag and opened it to display a variety of things.
Seven selected a bran muffin. “Food on Earth is very different than on Voyager. It seems so luxurious here.”
Janeway chuckled. “It makes it hard to go back, that’s for sure.” She sipped her coffee. “Oh, and I got your request approved. You don’t have to come tonight, or for most of the nights after this. There are a few events they want you at, but you’ll have much more leeway.”
Seven grinned. “Thank you so much, Kathryn.”
“My pleasure, though I’ll miss your company.” The red head smiled back, her cheek propped against her hand.
“Well, I’ve actually told Chakotay I would attend today’s party – I didn’t think you’d be able to get Starfleet to agree so quickly – so I’ll be there tonight at least.” She examined Kathryn surreptitiously, hoping for a positive reaction, and was rewarded.
Chakotay certainly outdid himself with dinner. He took her to a lovely restaurant and had arranged a very private table that kept them hidden from most of the other guests, which Seven very much appreciated.
The look in his eyes when he’d seen her in the cocktail dress she was wearing was extremely gratifying, but somehow it didn’t compare to the way Kathryn had responded.
He asked all about her previous day, and told her about his debrief.
“I’m going to be formally accepted back into Starfleet. It’ll mean a bit of a demotion, but it’s the right decision.”
“I’m glad for you.” She smiled. “You must be looking forward to the vacation time. Going to the desert.”
His face lit up at the mention. “I am. It’s been too long.” He squeezed her hand gently, looking like we was going to say more, but didn’t. The time passed amicably, and soon it was time to pay and make their way to the bar.
It wasn’t a long way, so she suggested they walk. Looking at the stars as they walked along made her feel more at home, though so many of them were blotted out by the city lights. Between Janeway and Chakotay she felt extremely spoiled, and made the mistake of voicing the thought, which made Chakotay angry, though he tried to conceal it.
“Why? What is Kathryn doing for you?” he questioned with an edge to his voice.
Several biting responses flickered across Seven’s mind, but she suppressed them. “I told her that all of the events were making me uncomfortable, so she asked Starfleet to excuse me from them. They approved the request.” She felt defensive. “It was very kind of her.”
“Then why are you coming tonight?” he demanded.
She stopped walking, pulling her hand from his. “Because you invited me. I told you I would be your date.” She didn’t mention that she hadn’t known yet that she didn’t have to attend.
“Oh.” Chakotay was suddenly contrite. “I’m sorry. I’m a little on edge about your relationship with the Captain.”
“I’d noticed.” Seven commented acerbically, balling her hands as they continued down the street.
Seven ignored Chakotay’s messages after that, not wanting to sit down and discuss the obvious: his jealousy and anger, and her feelings for Kathryn had ended their relationship.
She avoided the events for two weeks, spending most of her time in Janeway’s company. If the Captain noticed that she had stopped seeing Chakotay, she didn’t mention it, but came home from events more and more disgruntled, refusing to say why.
Finally, Seven attended Icheb’s parents’ night. It was essentially an information session on the rigors of Academy training. Seven didn’t see any expectations that Icheb had not already surpassed by far during his time on Voyager, but it was nice to meet his classmates-to-be, and she appreciated how accepting their parents were of her.
He was evidently proud to have her there, and became prouder still when she told him her opinion of his skills. “They’re allowing me to advance in some subjects.” He admitted. “In some areas my studies on Voyager went far beyond what is covered in the first year here.” He examined her for a moment. “Have you thought any more about if you’re going to apply to the Academy?”
Seven shook her head. “I would like to spend some time exploring Earth before I decide what to do.”
“I hear B’Elanna is planning to attend when Miral gets a bit older.” He commented. “You could have a friend to do the program with.”
Seven almost laughed. Her efforts to bond with the female engineer had never been very successful. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
“Are you coming to the party later?” Icheb asked. “Naomi really misses you.”
Seven sighed. She and Naomi had discussed spending time together but the Wildmans were currently engaged in some much needed family time, so they hadn’t done so. “I wasn’t going to.” She admitted.
“I think Captain Janeway misses you, too.” Icheb suggested.
“How could she?” Seven questioned, puzzled. “I spend most of my time with her.”
Icheb shrugged. “She was different, when you came to things.” He pointed out astutely. “Now she’s tense, and she and Commander Chakotay...” he trailed off.
Seven felt cold. “She and Chakotay...?” she re-iterated.
Icheb examined her “You told me a little bit about what happened”.
“Yes.” Seven agreed.
“Well, they aren’t fighting outright, but their relationship has degraded. They barely speak, and some of the looks he gives her are not very friendly.” Icheb explained. He sighed. “I think you have to talk to him.” He admitted.
She found Tuvok first as she and Icheb wound their way through the crowd. “Have you seen Chakotay?” she asked. Tuvok wouldn’t mind if she didn’t observe the pleasantries.
He nodded. “As a matter of fact, I saw him a few minutes ago. He and the Captain left the room through that door.” He indicated a door on the right hand side of the room.
“I’ll be back.” She informed Icheb. “Thank you, Tuvok.” She walked off quickly in the direction they’d taken, concerned that things between Chakotay and Kathryn were about to escalate.
She walked down a corridor seeking the raised voices she could hear further away. She found them in the same classroom she and Chakotay had talked in a few weeks before, but paused outside, not wanting to interrupt if she was mistaken on the topic of their discussion.
“Why won’t you admit the truth, Kathryn?!” Chakotay demanded.
“And what truth is that? That when she needed you, you were more pre-occupied with your popularity than her well-being?” the Captain retaliated. “Her first night on Earth, a new world, at a social event full of strangers, and you left her alone to fend for herself!”
“She’s not a child, Kathryn!”
“No. Seven is not a child. She’s a human being who cares for you, and who has needed your support in an unfamiliar situation. You’re in a relationship with her. Start acting like it. Stop being angry with me when you’re really angry with yourself. That’s the truth you’re looking for.” Janeway said heatedly.
“No, the truth I’m looking for is for you to admit that you’re in love with Seven. You have been for years. You want her for yourself, and now you’re sabotaging our relationship! She won’t even return my calls!” Chakotay responded furiously.
Seven stepped out into the room, not wanting things to go any further. Unfortunately, they were too involved in their argument to notice.
“What type of sabotage do you think I’m engaging in, exactly? Do you really think Seven would ever let me make her decisions for her?” Kathryn demanded.
“You’re in love with her!” Chakotay re-iterated. “She sees you as a role model. Of course she listens to you!”
“Excuse me for interrupting.” Seven said, wanting to announce her presence. “But I feel like I can resolve some of these issues.”
They both turned to her in shocked surprise.
“Seven...” Chakotay started but she cut him off.
“It would seem that by not returning your messages I have caused you to resort to a rash course of action.” She turned to the Captain. “Kathryn, I’m sorry for what has been happening. Out of respect for Chakotay, I tried not to discuss our relationship problems with you, though I wished to. I knew if he found out I had done so, he would be upset. I can see he has not done me the same courtesy. Icheb told me this evening of Chakotay’s behaviour, and so I have come to resolve things. Evidently I made a poor choice in how to handle this situation.”
Janeway gave her a sympathetic look. “I’ll leave you two alone, then.” She squeezed Seven’s arm causing Chakotay to snort. “I’ll be in the ballroom.” The Captain said to Seven.
“I’ll meet you there shortly.” Seven informed her. She waited until the red-head had left the room before turning to Chakotay. “In case I haven’t made it clear, this relationship isn’t working.”
“It was working fine before she started sticking her nose into it.” Chakotay growled.
Seven shook her head. “No, it worked on Voyager. You were a different person there, a better person. I don’t have the same feelings for you any more.”
“Can’t you see that she’s in love with you? That she’s manipulating you?” Chakotay demanded.
Something twisted in Seven’s gut. She wished Kathryn were in love with her.
“Is it true, what he said?” she asked quietly, searching the Captain’s face as they sat on the couch later that night. “Are you in love with me?”
“I...” Janeway’s eyes met Seven’s and she sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. “Yes. It’s true.” She finally admitted, returning her eyes to her teacup, and thus missing the smile and blush that crept onto Seven’s face. Janeway sighed. “I’m going to go.” She informed the blonde, standing.
Seven looked up at her, bewildered. “Go? Go where? It’s the middle of the night.”
Janeway met her eyes. “To Indiana.” She looked away. “We can forget this ever happened.”
“Forget?” Seven’s voice wavered. “But...”
“Chakotay was right. I let my feelings win out. I asked you to live here. I interfered.” She held up a hand to gently brush Seven’s cheek. Seven moved to catch her hand and hold it against her skin, but Kathryn pulled away before she could. “I’ll go away for a while. I hope you can forgive me.” Janeway turned and walked out the front door before the blonde could respond; grabbing her coat from where she’d draped it on a chair as she went.
Seven watched, stunned into immobility, as the door closed behind her.
Here are links to: Chapter 1, Chapter 3, Chapter 4
Sigh. Anywho, I'm at 2000 words so hopefully my mind blocks will magically disappear?
- Current Mood: frustrated
- Current Mood: sleepy