A ST: Voyager (J/7) Short Story

By Enginerd  

Kathryn Janeway felt like her arm might fall off if she shook one more hand.  It was expected, of course, that everyone would want to congratulate her for her momentous return from the Delta Quadrant and managing to strike a significant blow to the Borg in the process.   

Tonight, almost four weeks after their homecoming, Starfleet officially celebrated and honored the crew and their Captain.  It was not the first function; there had been twelve ceremonies, as well as numerous smaller functions.  Nor would it be the last function that Captain Janeway, the “hero of the Delta Quadrant” and her crew were expected to attend.  Who knew being a hero would be harder work than finding a way home, she wryly considered as she chatted with another high-ranking politician in the crowded banquet hall.

When her debriefings started, a generous twelve hours after she had returned, she wasn't so sure all of her crew would be honored.  It was surreal, to be grilled about the Maquis in the morning, receive an honor at lunch where she hopefully made an ally, be interrogated about Seven in the afternoon, receive an award at dinner and hopefully make another ally, then be questioned about her command decisions until late in the evening, when she would return to her townhouse, contact her allies and strategize, then collapse for a couple hours before returning to start the whole process over the next day.

Fortunately, her first battle was quickly won - the Maquis were quickly pardoned.  Starfleet had no interest in a drawn out conflict over each and every Maquis crew member on Voyager.  Especially since Captain Janeway had indicated in not-so-veiled threats that she was ready to fight, publicly, if need be.  That helped accelerate their decision making process, Kathryn believed with some satisfaction.  Unfortunately, Seven of Nine and her own command choices were more complex and a bit harder to resolve.

It was no surprise that Seven did not please the Admirals who questioned her.  All were frightened of what she was capable of, even Admiral Paris, who was the most understanding and accepting of the bunch.  And some were clearly not amused by her painful exactness in her answers and unique ability to make them and their questions look foolish.  Kathryn had been on the receiving end before and could just imagine their frustration.  She eagerly listened as Admiral Paris let one amusing exchange from the secret debriefing slip.  After a annoyingly long exchange where Admiral Nechayev failed to get Seven to admit anything she was fishing for and was once again made to look silly for that fishing, she stated with exasperation that Seven was just like Captain Janeway and both were foolish for not respecting the board and their authority.  Seven responded that she had not yet seen the board do anything that warranted her respect and thanked her for the compliment of comparing her to Captain Janeway.  

That bit of news about Seven made Kathryn’s day.

The next day, Kathryn’s spirits soared when she learned from another Admiral Paris “slip” that the board had officially stopped their investigation of Seven, citing the absence of any evidence that would indicate she was a danger to humanity.  Those were probably code words for “we give up already!!” Kathryn mused, greatly relieved that the board came to the right answer, for whatever reason.  She really did not want to have to call upon Captain Picard, Admirals Paris and Patterson, and other sympathetic and notable Starfleet officers or high-ranking political allies, to make good on their promise to her that they’d support Seven, even if it turned into an ugly, public battle.  Even her mother, who had been an amazing source of strength through the debriefings and surprisingly shrewd strategist, volunteered her contacts of retired Admirals as reliable supporters.  And if Starfleet couldn’t be pressured into the right decision by those allies, she had, with Tuvok’s help, a far less desirable and far more dangerous backup plan, just in case. 

She would have done anything to protect Seven.      

Common sense prevailed and to her immense amusement, Starfleet and the Federation offered Seven several tempting job offers for her consideration, in spite of Nechayev's continued distrust.  A distrust that extended to her too, Kathryn knew.  She wondered if any of the people in this room celebrating Voyager’s accomplishments knew Voyager’s Captain was still being "debriefed" and under intense scrutiny.  She suspected it was just because of Nechayev's vindictive streak for failing to find legitimate fault with Seven and her own failure to show sufficient reverence for the board of Admirals.  While not disrespectful, she did see them as opponents and she engaged them as such.

But the important battles were over, she considered.  And as the days passed, she grew less worried about her own fate, pretty certain that by now, the board would have a really hard time justifying why they were suddenly condemning the “hero of the Delta Quadrant” after all the awards and decorations they bestowed upon her and her crew.  So she continued to play their game, figuring that at best, she would continue in Starfleet – maybe even get promoted.  At worse, she would be forced to retire and return to Indiana and . . . do something.

An eager politician with a holo-imager in hand cornered her as she was finishing up a conversation with an Ambassador.  She eyed the doors longingly.  Her mother and Phoebe had already left.  Wimps, she thought, jealous of their successful escape.  She smiled as best she could when he snapped an image of them. 

He shook her hand rapidly, thanking her profusely.  She smiled again, or she tried.  She wasn't sure if she succeeded. 

Another Ambassador came up to Kathryn Janeway.  Thankfully, he was from a culture where handshaking was disrespectful.  God Bless them, she thought.  But the allure of that culture faded when he asked the same mundane and inane questions she had heard all night.  "How did you do it?" "Were you close to giving up?"  "What were the most interesting species?"  "What frightened you most?" "Are you glad to be back?"

She had already forgotten his name after the second question.  She hoped Nechayev didn't quiz her on the names of everyone she met.  She'd fail and Nechayev would just accuse her of covering something up.  At one time, she made a point of knowing all the names of the important people, the Admirals, Ambassadors, the Presidents and their aides.  Now there were so many new faces . . . she hadn’t time to learn them all.  As she chatted, her eyes instinctively scanned the room.

Kathryn immediately spotted Seven, who had always been easy to locate in a crowd, as she continued to chat with the latest Ambassador.  She couldn’t help but notice how Chakotay managed to move Seven, clearly the most beautiful person in the room, to the periphery of the social interactions.  While he seemed proud to have her by his side, by the way his hand possessively held her elbow or lower back, he also seemed to keep her as far away from the main crowd as he could get.  She hoped it was out of concern for Seven, not of what others thought of him.  Remembering his initial objection to having Seven on board, she was honestly blind-sided by this relationship.   But the fact she couldn’t understand it did not make it any less real, she considered with a frown.

As she chatted with the latest Ambassador, she continued to steal glances of Seven, longing for more time with her, wanting to know how she was adjusting on Earth.  But the Board continued to preoccupy her days and nights.  The only time she got to see Seven was during these functions.  And even then, they rarely got a chance to even say any more than hello.

Seven looked bored, Kathryn noted, knowing how she felt.  When those familiar blue eyes turned to her and their eyes locked, Kathryn just had to spend some time with her.  Perhaps it was her insane schedule and lack of sleep, or desperation for some intelligent discussion after all the tedious questioning by the board and well-wishers, or her fundamental need to have Seven by her side, if only for a few precious moments, but in a moment of great weakness, she didn’t really think and just mouthed the word "help" and looked at Seven hopefully. 

Seven’s ocular implant rose in surprise. 

"Excuse me, Father Regan,” Chakotay interrupted the man’s discussion on the Latarian religion when he realized Seven was leaving his side. “Seven?"

"The Captain needs me," Seven said with conviction.

"She has more than enough company, Seven," Chakotay countered, glancing in the Captain’s direction as she conversed with yet another Ambassador.

"I believe that is the problem," Seven said.

"Seven . . . ," Chakotay said tightly as she continued on her mission. 

He couldn’t understand why Seven would still drop everything for Captain Janeway, especially since the now-famous Captain had not bothered to find time between her plentiful awards to even manage a friendly lunch with her to see how she was doing.  And he was growing very weary with Seven’s inability to hold a discussion with him without injecting some reference to the Captain.  He really wished she would at least try to move on from her old life . . . like Kathryn had.  Watching Seven leave, he grew uneasy, knowing he should go after her.  

"It takes a very confident man to allow such independence in their mate," Father Regan praised him, eyeing her then him with a smile. 

Chakotay frowned, his departure delayed.

Kathryn watched with surprising anticipation as the determined blond headed directly towards her.  The crowd of people between them parted, like the Red Sea for Moses, giving her plenty of room, Kathryn considered with amusement.  Even the latest Ambassador bending her ear seemed to be suddenly needed elsewhere.  Kathryn smiled broadly as her Borg in elegant, dark blue eveningwear came to the rescue.

"You require assistance?" Seven said pointedly, her eyes alight with amusement.

"I think you’ve solved my problem.  Even I can't get people to move like that," Kathryn said with appreciation, absently motioning to the crowd that no longer was separated.

The sparkle in Seven’s eye dimmed.  "They do not fear you as they fear me," Seven said bluntly. 

Kathryn eyed her with concern and offered "Well, some people do feel threatened by others they can’t possibly, in any sense of the imagination, compare with.  And you, my dear, are what they call a triple threat – frightening intelligence, amazing strength, and devastating beauty,”  Kathryn continued with conviction, amazing Seven, who had never heard Captain Janeway praise her so . . . overtly.  My dear?  Devastating beauty?

“No . . . you are a Quadruple threat," Kathryn amended thoughtfully.

"Quadruple threat?" Seven asked with curious amusement, feeling inordinately better – as she usually did around Captain Janeway.

"I almost forgot THE most important of all,” Kathryn announced, holding her index finger up to emphasize her point.  “You can cook," she offered sagely.

Seven considered that point.  "As the most important of all, would it not be more logical to fear you?"  She asked.

"But I can't cook," Kathryn countered automatically.

"Exactly."  Seven said, immensely amused.

Kathryn laughed for the first time in a long time.  “I suppose my devastatingly frightening cooking skills would rate more fear.  You know, you are the only one who can make me enjoy being insulted,” Kathryn said, shaking her head with a smile.

“My pleasure,” Seven said with a pleased smile. 

“To bad Nechayev doesn't have that skill, the debriefings would go a lot faster."

"You are still being interrogated?!?" Seven said indignantly, anticipating Kathryn’s experience with the Board would be no better than her own.

"Well, I'd like to think it's because Admiral Nechayev enjoys my company so much," Kathryn said with a weary smile.

"That is completely unacceptable! They are treating you like a criminal!" 

"A highly decorated criminal. . . ." Kathryn clarified with a shrug.

"They can not continue to do this to you!  I shall talk with Admiral Neychev and demand they cease this nonsensical ....."  Seven growled.

"Whoa, Seven," Kathryn said, taking Seven’s hand and immediately silencing her.  She was amazed and warmed by the passion of this young woman, who was more upset about these Starfleet games than even her mother, who was ready to go to battle with Starfleet for the treatment of her daughter.

With a heavy exhale, Seven forced herself to calm and softly offered "I overreacted.  I am sorry, Captain.  I am aware demanding anything from that woman will produce the opposite effect of what I wish and create more hardship for you." 

"Don't ever be sorry for caring,” Kathryn said sincerely, squeezing Seven’s hand.

"I do," Seven said with a sadness in her eyes.  “I have missed you.”

"And I’ve missed you," Kathryn responded, swallowing hard.  She was unprepared for this emotion between them.  She tried to lighten up the conversation.  “But . . . I would think you've been too busy yourself, to miss me.”

"That is not possible."

Kathryn smiled softly at her conviction and offered "Now I have never had to plan a wedding, but I'm pretty sure that can keep even an efficient, former drone busy.  Not to mention getting to know a new family. . . ."

"I am not busy planning a wedding,” Seven said with confusion.

"Don't tell me you've already planned everything,” Kathryn said with surprise, though she wouldn’t put it past Seven to be done.

"There is no wedding to plan."

"But Chakotay said…,” Kathryn countered and frowned as she tried to remember their brief, unsettling conversation at the last banquet.  She was certain he said they were going to get married.  “He didn’t ask you . . . yet?” Kathryn asked weakly, piecing together what it all meant and not liking it one bit.

“He did not.  And should he ask, I would not accept.  I have begun to realize my relationship with Chakotay is woefully insufficient to consider marriage."

Kathryn blinked.  Woefully insufficient?  "Seven, I think Chakotay has a different opinion…."

Seven wanted to tell her that Chakotay’s opinion was irrelevant but stiffened.

"Kathryn," Chakotay said with a smile as he joined them, offering Captain Janeway a flute of Champaign.

"Good to see you again, Chakotay.  Thank you," Kathryn said, releasing Seven's hand to accept the glass.  Chakotay smirked.  Seven frowned.

"Seven seemed to think you needed some help.  Anything we can do for you?" He asked graciously, sipping his drink.

“Not now.  Thanks to Seven, the crisis has passed,” Kathryn said with a polite smile, then took a sip of Champaign.

“Then you won’t mind me stealing her back from you?” Chakotay said with a charming smile, placing his hand at Seven’s back.

Of course, the courteous answer was obvious.  But out of all of the questions asked her since their return, from tactically sensitive Delta Quadrant lessons to whether she was glad to be back, she knew the answer to this question was the single most important response she would give.  Looking into Seven’s anxious eyes, there was only one answer she could give.

“As a matter of fact, I do mind,” she said, glancing at Chakotay’s surprised look at the unexpected answer.  “I would really like to spend more time with Seven,” she added, watching Seven's face light up with a beautiful smile.  “Would you mind staying with me, Seven?”

“I would prefer it,” Seven responded resolutely, prompting a smile from Kathryn.

“Well . . . you two enjoy your visit,” Chakotay managed to say, unsure whether to be angry or impressed by being outmaneuvered by Kathryn.  “I’ll see you later tonight?” He asked Seven.


Chakotay looked into her eyes curiously.  When Seven took Kathryn’s hand, he understood he would not be seeing her any other night either.  He looked at Kathryn with irritation.  “I suppose that’s checkmate, then.”

Kathryn looked at him sadly.  “A relationship with Seven isn’t a game, Chakotay.  You know that,” she scolded him.

“Well, I know there’s never really been a contest,” he said in defeat, looking between the women, noticing a happy contentment from Seven he hadn’t seen in over a month validating that fact.  “I suppose I’ll see you two at the next function?”  He offered, to their relief.

“Yes,” Seven said softly, getting a small smile from Chakotay.

“I’ll soon have more time for a proper visit, Chakotay.  Well, unless I get thrown in the brig for strangling Nechayev,” Kathryn offered, surprising Chakotay, who found Nechayev quite charming.

Seven looked at her thoughtfully.  “Perhaps you can avoid a strangling, if you first offer to cook for her.”

Kathryn eyed an unapologetic Seven, then countered.  “The problem with that suggestion is that Nechayev might call my bluff and actually accept.  Then where would I be?”

“In the brig.”

He could hear Kathryn’s laugh as he walked away, shaking his head, unnoticed.

The End

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