Everything around us is gone. She and I are the only things of any importance in the galaxy. Stars and planets and water and flowers and the force field around us, they are nothing. I can't breathe, I can't think. She is perfection. I am acutely aware of my hand above her breast and the hand which is touching her face as I manipulate her implant. I can smell her. The air between us is charged with electricity, until I finish. My hands leave her, the spell is broken and she steps through the force field. Seven of Nine who fills my mind day and night.
* * * *
I am thrown onto my side by the force of the turn. As the ship rights itself, I rise to my feet again and arrive at the bridge. Arturis is getting up from where he was flung.
"Sorry about the bumpy ride," I say, like I'm in control. He's crazed, driven mad by revenge and hate. I am purposeful, firm, knowing that I will succeed but he won't hear me. He just wants to be obliterated.
"Revenge is all I have left," he tells me. I have to stop him. Must.
"No. As long as you're alive there's hope. Your people's knowledge, their accomplishments, their dignity can survive in you." Suddenly I know exactly what he's going to do next. Just as his hand begins to move, his eyes full of bitter triumph, I pull him back. He reaches forward again but I am desperately holding him, preventing him from touching the controls. With my one hand free for a second I touch my commbadge.
"Janeway to Seven! Help me!" I yell frantically. Moments later she bursts through the door. As she nears us she points her phaser at him and fires. He slumps to the ground and I feel a huge relief before coming back to reality.
"Turn us round! Now!" She does it; I see the stars on the screen change rapidly and I slow us down as well.
"Guess that family reunion'll just have to be rescheduled," I say with a smile.
"The Borg do not function as a family unit," she says. I nearly reply but I remember Arturis. She sees me looking down at his unmoving form.
"He is dead," she states.
"Seven, you can't go around killing people!" I should feel more, but beyond this obligatory reproach, I don't. Slight sadness at his loss perhaps, but no anger towards Seven.
"He planned to steer all Voyager's crew into Borg space. Had I not intervened, you would now be a drone. He would also have been a drone."
When you say it like that, it sounds a lot more logical. It was certainly the efficient thing to do.
"That's not the point."
"Explain." She looks at me directly, calmly, knowing she's won. But I still try.
"Everybody has a right to life. We can't take that away from people."
"Starfleet regulations allow the crew of a ship to be killed in the case of a mutiny against their captain."
"That's different...." She lightly arches one eyebrow and I back down.
"Scan for Voyager," I change the subject.
"There are no ships within sensor range," she replies.
"We must have gone too far. Take us back the way we came." Which was a stupid thing to say - we're already going the way we came. I'm enjoying this. On a starship, alone with the most beautiful woman in the galaxy. So many must have dreamed about it. But I can't take advantage of it because I'm her Captain and her mentor. Maybe it's unhealthy, me being her mother figure and thinking such un-maternal thought about her. I long so much to touch her and I can't.
Her voice interrupts my thoughts.
"I am detecting Voyager's warp signature." I smile.
"About time. On screen."
My mind explodes inside my skull, shattering, chaos ruling like it must have done on my ship before the raging explosion of fire that left the debris I see before me.
"Life signs?" I hear the words come from my mouth as my blood turn to ice. She pauses and then answers quietly,
"There are none."
"Maybe they used the escape pods. There must be some explanation, they can't all be dead!" I trail off and stare blankly ahead of me. From the corner of my eye I see Seven's form coming closer, and then I feel her arms folding slightly awkwardly around me. I lay my head on her breast and am silent as waves of desolation wash over me. She holds me a long time.
The irony of this situation strikes me and I give a short, bitter laugh.
"Captain?" she asks.
"I'm not your captain, Seven," I tell her, my voice cracked with pain and anger. "What's a captain without a starship?"
She hesitates a minute and then says quietly, "Whether we are on Voyager or not... you will always be captain to me." Oh God, I can't stand this.
* * * *
I wander the rooms in a trance. Every part of me aches as I see the empty beds and I think of the people who would have lain in them. Except, of course, they wouldn't. It hurts too much, I can't live through this. This is Captain Kathryn Janeway, where's the Federation Starship Voyager? Everybody knows Voyager's my life, I have just been blown to pieces. What am I without it. Nothing. I am empty air, a useless inefficient waste of space. Everybody is dead. What a mundane event this is; it happens every second. I used to gaze out at the stars, so mysterious even though we travelled past them every day. Mystical beauty. It doesn't matter. I sit now in the Captain's quarters but I'm not a Captain. Suddenly angry I tear out the pips I wear and then I look at them in my hand before casting them on the floor. I watch them roll a little while.
She comes in with a beep of the doors and I have a sharp intake of breath. She is naked, hair framing her face. So beautiful. The light shines gold off her hair and glints on her implants. They spider lightly across her abdomen below her breasts. The silver contrasts with her pale skin. The curves of her long, lithe body are accentuated, every inch of her perfection. I am overwhelmed. She comes closer, face just betraying a pity and sadness.
"Seven..." I manage, but she won't let me finish.
"As you stated, you are no longer my Captain, and I am no longer a member of your crew." She knows my every objection but I can't resist the force now. She comes to stand before me and I rise. I look into her eyes for a long moment and then I put my arms around her body and bury my head in her hair. I feel her skin against my clothes and my hands on her, and desire mingles with pain until I can no longer distinguish between them.
I move to her mouth and feel the taste of her lips and tongue crushing against mine. She slowly slips my jacket off as I run my fingers up and down her back, over warm metal and warm skin. She removes the rest of my clothing gradually; my hands roam over her body. We move onto the bed and I am again stunned by her beauty as I feel blood coursing through her implants. I lower my mouth to her breasts, still stroking her abdomen. She gasps a little as my tongue touches her nipple. My mouth circles them faster. My fingers make their way down to her curls of hair; they are wet. So Borg do produce bodily fluids, I think hazily... I've often wondered. It was probably the Doctor's more prurient side coming through. Then I remember where he is and shut my mind, attacking her with renewed vigour. I slide my fingers inside her and begin to move them, her breathing becoming faster and shallower. I bring my mouth to join my hands. I taste her with all my being and my tongue roams quicker and quicker. Then she shudders again and again as her orgasm rocks her.
Before we can rest, she moves to my neck and trails her tongue down it. I arch, needing more contact, and she obliges. I feel the metal of her hand kneading my nipples. She swirls her tongue around my abdomen and I thrust my hips forward. I feel her tongue move downward, feel it in me moving, feel sensation flooding me, and it overcomes me washing over me in waves, I moan and I shake and for one moment I attain bliss and find oblivion.
Then the pain is all around. I rest my head on her naked body, her arms encircling me. Tears run down my cheeks and mix with the sweat and sex. Skin touches me everywhere, I feel its heat against me and my arousal deepens; I've dreamed of this for so long. Bittersweet feeling floods over me. I tighten my grip around her.
"I love you," I whisper, the sound floating away, drifting, dispersing into nothing.
"Kathryn," she murmured. I stroke her slowly, clinging on.
* * * *
We lie there for a long time but eventually she leaves, and after a long while I leave too. I dress again although there's little point. Normality returns in chaos, but my pips lie still on the floor, a malicious reminder of where we are. I don't know what to do. I did this, I am the cause of this. I find her on the bridge, looking at the cold form of Arturis. She looks at me, obviously questioning.
"I do not know how you wish to dispose of him." Dispose. Throw away.
"I'm not familiar with the funeral rites of his people... Maybe we can cremate him." Bitter sarcasm comes into my voice. "So, the murderer buries the murdered. Captain Kathryn Janeway 'disposing' of the body of her victim."
"It is I who am the murderer, Kathryn."
"Is it?" I say, anger rising. "Is it, Seven? He's here because of me. And after all, I've murdered 148 people. Why not one more?"
"You did not kill them. It is he who is responsible for their deaths...."
I break in. "No, Seven, it's me. One hundred and forty-eight peoples lie dead because of my actions. Except they're not lying dead. Not resting in peace. They're blown to pieces, floating in the Delta Quadrant!" My voice gets wilder. "Well, I stranded them here in the first place, didn't I? Now I've stranded them here forever."
She is annoyed. "I do not understand your constant desire to blame everything on yourself. Your statements are inaccurate and pointless."
"It's a human thing, Seven. How would you understand? You don't even have emotions," I say, cruelly, in my fury. She seems to rise taller and become icier. Her blue eyes radiate coldness and contempt.
"It seems the human mind is made less perceptive by excessive emotion. Your last statement was obviously untrue. Perhaps you are a lesser example of humanity that I believed." Her words cut into me, and I briefly wonder how they can possibly be hurting me now, after what I am feeling already.
"I'm sorry, Seven... " I say, helplessly. She softens slightly.
"Although you were not killed in the explosion, I am nevertheless hurt by the loss of Voyager and her crew." She told me Voyager was her Collective. I don't understand how she can speak in such understatement.
"Kathryn..." This name coming from her lips, the sound is music in the midst of death. I look at her. She hesitates.
"I cannot survive for much longer."
My head reels with another shock, terror overcoming me at the thought of myself alone in the quadrant. I will go insane, trapped in the guilt and grief of my mind. I look at her frantically, not understanding.
"My body needs a certain amount of regeneration time. I no longer have my alcove, therefore I am unable to regenerate."
"No, Seven, I'm not gonna let you die!" I tell her firmly and a little wildly. "You're not going to leave me too!"
"There is a possibility..."
"Borg technology is stronger and more advanced than the Federation's. We may be able to salvage my regeneration alcove from the debris."
So I agree. I don't want to go back, to see my world shattered and torn again before my eyes. But I do, to save the woman I love and to save myself. I stand motionless, Voyager's remains piercing my body through. I look out at the debris, the grey pieces everywhere. This pain is indescribable, to see my life broken before me, to know that everyone I hold dear except the one is in pieces there. Every smile, every laugh, every eye that smouldered with anger, gone; every living breathing soul on that ship is an empty shell. And I am here, not dead with them, left alive though I have been killed too. Such cruelty, how can I have been left to suffer this. I have seen so many debris fields. The grey is scattered in the thick black sky, stars unchanged by this catastrophe. I can't understand how they can go on regardless. They are so cold, so uncaring, so detached.
Captain Janeway who is always in control. Where is the control now, where is the power? I am powerless and weak, useless, unable to do anything. I can't see anything. I can't conceive anything but an endless wasteland. Utter desolation. Burning, raging pain thunders over me, more every second.
I don't know. I don't know what to do.
How can I stand this, it hurts too much? I've been through deaths before and never felt like this. My life has been drained away. The pain clenches, screw tightening, rack stretching. Such a big universe this is, and yet I am focused on such a tiny space in it. We don't matter, we won't make a difference to anything. I have died and gone to hell.
* * * *
Once, after we have had sex and have been lying together, she turns to me. She talks hesitatingly.
"I once believed emotions were irrelevant, that love was irrelevant. I am no longer of this opinion. I have become aware that I have always had certain feelings for you, and I have come to the conclusion that they are romantic." She pauses, and says the next as if a quote. "I... love you, Kathryn." It's beautiful, hearing that. And it doesn't lessen the endless aching.
"I love you too, Seven," I say, quietly and sadly. "I love you so much..."
* * * *
And so we drift through the Delta Quadrant. At nights she regenerates and I sleep. Sometimes I stand and watch the green fire dance over her head, just as I did on Voyager. Her face embodies peace and calm, the contours I know by now so well. Shadows fall on her face and the silver glints. Then I sleep and I dream. I dream of people I once knew, places I once knew, and nonsensical things I have never encountered. Every morning when I wake I remember again; every morning my heart hurts and I don't know whether I can make it through the day. I always do. Our kisses come often and they are like fire, desire mounting in both of us. The pleasure is always tinged with pain, save for that one moment of ecstasy.
Sometimes we stop on planets and I walk with her through their natural wonders. We look up at the sky together and lie under the light of the stars. I remember the stars from Voyager. I remember the stars from Earth. I see in my mind the fiery reds, the blazing oranges of a sunset on Earth, and I don't care whether or not I see it again.
I have no wishes, no ambitions. I touch Seven of Nine. I run my fingers through her hair and stroke the warm metal of her implants, and I am allowed to because I am only Kathryn Janeway now. I know no hope. Emotions have been replaced by a constant ache which never leaves me and weighs me down like lead; she and I are the only things left in my universe. Our ship drifts on, aimlessly, and on.
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