Open Eyes

originally posted: May 2002

Seven was angry. Oh it was not as obvious, for example, as B'Elanna on a tearing tirade through her Gamma shift engineers. The former Borg remained as cool, collected and efficient as ever.

But Kathryn knew when the blonde was furious. She knew it with a certainty she considered almost telepathic where the young woman was concerned. She had been learning to read Seven, first an interloper, and then a welcome, if wary, traveler aboard Voyager on her 70-year journey home from the Delta quadrant where she had been lost for 4 years.

Seven's ice blue eyes were icier, her choice of words more clipped in official functions, and non-existent in the informal.

Then there was the morning briefing. The ship's most urgent business was off the table after Neelix's report on the kitchen's supplies. Janeway had invited comment on the lesser projects each of the senior crew worked on among their primary responsibilities.

Tom Paris, Voyager's pilot, an accomplished holo-programmer, reported the repair work on "Fair Haven" was nearly complete, after four weeks of steady working on the repairs.

"I'll open it to the general ship's complement ... if you'd like to sign off on it, Captain?"

Janeway was contemplating her response, inclined to just tell Paris to use his best judgment, when her drifting gaze caught Seven, at the opposite end of the table. For a Borg who continually professed discomfort with human behaviors, Seven reacted to the simple report with remarkably deep furrows in her usually smooth forehead, a profoundly deep expression of disgust and feral anger.

Seven looked sharply away from Janeway when she realized she was being watched. Almost tangibly, the captain felt singed and swallowed, surprised how strongly she was hurt by the non-vocal reaction.

But it puzzled her nearly beyond remaining silent. Why?

Holding her tongue with effort, Janeway began to wonder if something had happened to Seven in the program. Something that still affected her? Something unresolved? Something... painful?

Her anger flared hot and potent at the possibility that Seven might have been hurt by something within Fair Haven.

Janeway herself had been... distracted. She flushed as she remembered how distracted. Had one of the programmed characters done something to Seven?

In the interest of protecting her reluctant charge and knowing Seven would never reveal a pain willingly herself, Janeway's only recourse was to examine the logs surrounding the incident. All of them. In rampant protectiveness, she used any and all accesses allowed her, and even a few decryptions to get through lock-outs and restrictions on personal files.

Janeway found Harry Kim's invitation to have Seven join him in the holodeck. Immediately she discarded the young officer as any sort of culprit. He might have gotten Seven into the program, but he would not have accosted her once there. It just wasn't Harry. But perhaps he had left her alone?

Turning to Seven's personal logs, she found several surrounding the young woman's impressions of the program. She had pronounced it "historically accurate" but the lack of "guile" among the inhabitants "refreshing" as she recorded an incident playing rings in the pub.

Janeway became entranced by the recording, watching Seven brighten. It would have been almost imperceptible to anyone else, but the blue eyes darkened and rounded a little more than normal. The corners of full lips curved up as Seven shook her head at the lush's "very transparent" flirting. So she knows what flirting is, Kathryn mused unable to resist the smile that tugged at her own lips in pleased reaction to that knowledge.

The next entry began.

Seven's pleasure was gone, leaving Janeway flat-footed with her words, presented with a slowly shattering porcelain face.

At precisely 16 hundred hours I reported to holodeck 1 for my weekly scheduled Velocity match with Captain Janeway. The holodeck was already in use - and would remain so, apparently at the captain's order - as the 'Irish seaside' for Mr. Paris's program.

He was almost gleeful as he related this news when I questioned him. All I could feel was a strong desire to snap the programming disc into several pieces. I believe that would be anger.

Yet even now, it does not abate. I still feel the same tightness in my chest as I did at the first revelation of the facts. I find myself wanting to speak with the captain, to argue with her that the resources are a waste of time.

However she has been indisposed... In the program. For the last 15 hours the computer reports her whereabouts constantly within Holodeck 2... in the program.

I find myself angered that Captain Janeway wishes to spend time there. This is unreasonable however. The captain's time is her own.

Yet... Seven's face shimmered as she composed herself with effort. Kathryn's heart clenched at the pain she saw. I do not wish to be angry with the captain... I wish to play Velocity. I wish to talk. I wish to be... with her. Not here. Not alone.

I want that too. Kathryn gasped as the thought entered her mind but she could not pull away from the vision before her.

Onscreen tears formed in Seven's eyes, slipping from beneath each lash - Kathryn had been unaware that Seven's left eye could even form something so human - as Seven was clearly pained by the thoughts she was unable to express. The recording audio picked up a small sniffle just before Seven's hand came up and blocked the camera point. The picture froze there, the fuzzy edges of Seven's hand blocking most of the view.

Kathryn exhaled, finding her breathing shaky and then realized that her cheeks burned and her eyes hurt. Awkwardly she rubbed at her eyes. Her hands came away moist. Seven's tears had caused her own.

Caught on that thought, her throat locked up. She knew she was always affected by Seven's moods. She had been since the vinculum nearly tore Seven apart with the revisitations to the young woman of the lives she had ended as a Borg. She exhaled and, as her composure knitted back to the quiet mask, Janeway realized something else.

Be with Seven?

Kathryn nodded, feeling the confirming strength of the thought flow through her. Yes. She wanted to be with Seven.

I have to talk to her. She sprang to her feet then stopped cold. What am I going to say?

There was nothing so terrifying as putting yourself out there to be turned down, Kathryn thought, as she realized she only had recognized her feelings.

What if I'm not what Seven wants?

Janeway started her campaign to find out exactly how Seven felt right after the officers meeting the next day. With only a softly called, "Seven", she held the young woman in the conference room as everyone else was filing out.

Content in the silence until they were alone, Janeway lost herself in watching Seven standing just inside the doorway. She felt the tingle her own body made at the sight and reveled in the sight of slender, lush curves snugly encased in a soft blue and gray bodysuit. Seven had taken to wearing the lighter garment after her biosuits made by the Doctor were deemed no longer crucial to her dermaplast healing. Janeway thought, as Seven lifted her head to meet her gaze, just how perfectly the blue matched the shade of Seven's eyes.

Seven's lips moved. Janeway snapped her attention to actually hearing the words. "Was there something you required, Captain?"

Was Janeway imagining the softening, the searching in the light gaze? She shook herself. "Join me for Velocity after our shift today?"

"Our regularly scheduled match is tomorrow," Seven replied evenly.

"I know," Janeway nodded, unable to resist stepping forward, decreasing the space separating her from the luscious blonde. She tilted her chin up. "But I'd like to spend more time together... with you."

Janeway forced herself to leave her hand braced against the conference tabletop, certain if she let go, she would faint at the heat she could feel coming off Seven, and the unique scent - a rose lotion? - which made quivers erupt in her stomach.

Seven paled suddenly, even more than her normally sallow skin tone seemed capable. "Why?" she asked sharply.

"Because you make me smile," Kathryn answered, bestowing one on the younger woman following her words.

Seven smiled. The reaction did buckle Kathryn's knees. She could feel her palms moisten and begin to slip against the table's high-polish surface. "I am... pleased," Seven answered.

Her words rolled right through Kathryn's chest settling hard, pounding in the middle of her heart, rendering her not only speechless, but breathless as well. With a groan she hoped was inaudible, Kathryn managed, "Good." Oh so good, she thought as Seven turned quietly on her heel and left the room. Kathryn's eyes strayed to the woman's shapely rear.

Oh, so very good.