Summary:A story set late in season seven from Seven of Nine’s POV.
Disclaimer: CBS/Paramount owns everything. No infringement intended.
Thank you to Mary S for the beta and the title.
I do not know what to do.
I am sitting alone at my table in the mess hall, staring at my glass of water in the hope that a resolution to my problem will appear. It does not. The glass and its contents hold no answers. I look up and notice several of the crew quickly averting their gazes. They are uncomfortable. More so than usual and I find that this realisation troubles me. I am accustomed to their reticence and the edge of unease that they display when interacting with me, but this is different. They are radiating an aura of animosity that I have not encountered in many years. It was something that was quite apparent when I first arrived on Voyager. Several members of the crew were openly hostile, but over the years they have become accustomed to my presence and inured to my differences. It appears, however, that I have overstepped my bounds and have been relegated to pariah once again.
I was not aware.
No, that is not entirely correct. I was aware, but it was almost a year ago, during our link in Unimatrix Zero, and although Tuvok attempted to maintain our separate identities, he was not altogether successful. There was a degree of crossover, and when the Captain’s mind became open to me, her attachment to the Commander was very apparent. What surprised me was that as obvious as her feelings were, she refused to acknowledge them either consciously or subconsciously.
I was intrigued, and since that time, I have read extensively from the data base regarding relationships. I have also spent a good deal of time absorbing the Doctor’s social lessons and experimenting with my own holographic scenarios. I assumed, obviously in error, that if one had feelings of this nature, one informed the recipient of their existence and intensity.
This is what I did. I approached Chakotay and told him of my feelings, and indicated my interest in pursuing a romantic attachment. From what I understood this was the correct procedure, but if the attitude of the majority of the crew is any indication, I have erred.
It did not feel wrong. The Commander did not say it was wrong and the Captain has not said anything either – although, whether she is aware of our relationship, I am unsure. The Commander seems intent on keeping a ‘low profile’. Perhaps this should concern me, but that is beside the point. If the Captain still had feelings for the Commander, she is a forthright woman; surely she would have told him of them before now.
Looking up again, I notice two female crewmembers from Stellar Cartography whispering to each other as they stare in my direction. I look directly at them, but they do not avert their gazes. They glare at me with cold hard eyes and for the first time ever, I feel intimidated. It is not a pleasant sensation.
I would like to discuss this situation with someone, but I am unsure whom I should approach. The Doctor’s overt confession of his feelings towards me negates him as a candidate and the Captain is not a viable option either. The door to the mess hall opens and Lieutenant Paris enters. He will suffice as counsellor. Once, long ago, he offered to assist me in adjusting to my life here on Voyager. I have never availed myself of his services; perhaps now is the time.
I watch him as he saunters over to the counter and laughs with Chell. I continue my observation as he looks around the room, searching for somewhere to sit. I catch his eye and he gives me a tentative smile. I know that he will feel compelled to sit with me now that I have acknowledged his presence. There are no other senior staff present and to avoid me would appear pointed and rude. I have learned some of the subtleties of human interaction over the last four years. I am able to manipulate certain situations as efficiently as the next individual when the need arises.
“Do you mind if I join you, Seven?” He speaks as he walks towards me and with a small nod, I give him permission.
He places his tray on the table, somewhat reluctantly. I think he knows that I have manoeuvred him here, and he does not look pleased. However, he smiles benignly and takes a seat.
“Lieutenant, are you well?”
He looks at me with a slight frown. “Yes, thanks, Seven. And how about you, are you well?”
“I’m functioning within acceptable parameters…. Thank you.”
He blinks at me and gives his head a slight shake. “I’ll take that as a yes.” Looking down at his food, he shuffles the items around on his tray and takes a couple of mouthfuls then points his fork at me. “You’re not eating?”
I shake my head. “I do not require any nourishment at this time. I had breakfast earlier with Commander Chakotay.”
His head shoots up at that and his frown deepens. Without being too obvious, he glances past my shoulder and takes note of the disgruntled looks that are pointed in our direction.
“The crew are not happy about my association with the Commander.” It is a statement. I do not feel the need to prevaricate. No one is being the least bit subtle about their feelings so I do not feel that I should have to be either.
To the Lieutenant’s credit, he doesn’t pretend to be ignorant of what I am referring to. “Hmmm. Do you understand why, Seven?”
“I assume it has something to do with the crew’s wishes in regard to the Captain and the Commander and their hope that they would pursue a romantic relationship. It will not happen.”
Tom Paris frowns at me. “How can you be so sure of that?”
I sense resentment coming from him and I sit a little straighter, instinctively becoming defensive. “I am aware of the Captain’s feelings for the Commander, or rather, what they were one year ago. I surmised that if she still loved the Commander, as she did then, she would have informed him. The fact that she has not, implies that those feelings no longer exist and, as such, her claim is forfeit.”
Tom Paris shakes his head and looks at me sadly. “Seven, how can I explain this so that you’ll understand?” He places his fork carefully on his tray and then looks up at me. “The Captain has loved Chakotay for many years, and he has loved her. She won’t tell him or act on her feelings until we are home or, maybe, until she feels it won’t compromise the command structure. I really don’t understand her reasons, but, if you say she loved the Commander a year ago, then I can guarantee that she still loves him now. The crew are aware of this and are upset with you for coming between the Captain and the Commander.”
“Well, I must assume then that the Commander doesn’t reciprocate the Captain’s feelings or he would have declined my offer.”
“I can’t speak for Chakotay, but maybe it would be in your best interest to ask him what his feelings are towards the Captain.” Tom Paris looks at me intensely and then picks up his fork again. “For your sake, Seven, as well as Chakotay’s and the Captain’s.”
Surprisingly, this idea had not occurred to me. It is a logical suggestion and I nod slowly then stand. “I will do so at the earliest opportunity. Thank you for your assistance, Lieutenant.”
He nods and waves his fork. “Anytime. I’m happy to help.”
I nod and stride out of the mess hall. I can feel the heated stares of the crew follow me as I leave.
I am in the Astrometrics Lab logging scans when the Commander enters the room. He approaches me with a new and unsettling familiarity.
“Hello, Seven. How has your day been?” He leans close and I can smell his scent. It stirs me, but I am on duty and I also have questions that require answers. To be distracted by such primal reactions is inconvenient and disconcerting.
“Commander. My day has been… interesting. I wish to discuss several issues with you. Perhaps after my shift, I could meet you in your quarters.”
He smiles at me. “I’d like that. Maybe we could have some dinner after our talk?”
“That would be… satisfactory, but perhaps we should wait until after our discussion before we make any plans.”
He frowns at my words. “Is there something wrong?”
I stand tall. “Yes, there are several matters that I wish to clarify, but now is not the time.”
Just then the Captain’s voice comes over the comm.
“Janeway to Seven.”
I tap my combadge. “Seven here, Captain.”
“There’s a stellar cluster coming up on sensors about two million kilometres off starboard, I’d like an analysis of its composition. We’re looking specifically for Dilithium and Pergium. Send me the results as soon as you’ve completed the scan.”
“As you see, Commander, I have work to do. I shall see you after our shift.” I can see his confusion. My officious manner has unsettled him, but I cannot concern myself with that at the moment. Uncharacteristic feelings of anger and resentment are distracting me. They are aimed at both the Captain and the Commander. Why are human emotions so complicated? One never had to deal with misrepresentation or deceit within the collective. It is at times like this that I doubt I shall ever fully embrace my humanity and if I am honest, knowing what it entails, I am not certain that I want to.
I cast my concerns aside as I complete the sensor sweep of the stellar cluster. There are no indications of either Dilithium or Pergium within range of sensors and I send my findings to the Captain. She sounds disappointed and for some reason I feel responsible. I have the unpleasant thought that this is what guilt feels like. It is an unsettling sensation.
I am now standing outside the Commander’s quarters waiting for him to answer his chime. Two crewmen have just walked past and as they did so, they gave me a narrow eyed look. I am not a coward, but I am finding myself less and less comfortable with this situation. My feelings for Chakotay are strong, but my unease and discomfort at the thought of being ostracised by my chosen collective are even more powerful. The decision about what I should do seems straight forward for me. Also, now that I am aware of the complexity, I have been more observant of both the Captain and Chakotay.
I saw them earlier – the Captain and Chakotay. I was on my way from the cargo bay to Astrometrics and they were walking in front of me. They did not know I was there and my impression was that they were not aware of much except each other. With Tom Paris’s words fresh in my mind, I watched them from a different perspective. It was telling. The Captain was animated and light hearted, touching Chakotay often, and Chakotay was laughing and at ease, listening intently to her every word. Unconsciously, they drifted towards one another, their shoulders rubbing and their bodies touching. With my Borg enhanced vision, I could see other things that I had previously dismissed. There was an aura that surrounded them. A positive electrical energy that was not present when Chakotay was with me.
I am now certain about what I have to do and have no doubts. The Captain’s, the Commander’s and my future happiness depends on it.
The door slides open and Chakotay is standing just over the threshold. He looks concerned, as if he knows something is amiss. “Good evening, Chakotay.”
I do not step forward to kiss him, which has become our custom and, as he advances towards me, I sidestep his advance and move further into the room.
“I wish to speak to you about a situation that has recently come to my attention. It is one that has become more untenable as time has passed.” I turn to him with my shoulders back and my head held high. “Are you aware, Commander, that the Captain is in love with you?”
Surprise and a flash of something else lights his face for an instant and then he shakes his head. “You’re mistaken, Seven. Anything that the Captain and I might have felt for one another has long since died. I don’t deny that we shared something very special, but that was years ago.”
He steps towards me again, but I will not be deterred. “I know this for a fact, Commander, and I have been aware of it for quite some time.”
This time he takes a step away from me and stares. I think I see hurt in his look but there is also a good deal of confusion. “How do you know this?”
I stand with my hands behind my back as I prepare to tell the man who has become the focus of my affections, that he is loved by another and that in the next few moments he will have to choose between us. I do not see a happy outcome for myself in this equation.
As much as I have tried to deny it, I have always known that the Captain was a priority in the Commander’s thoughts. I came a distant second until recently but I do not wish to be a substitute or surrogate for his love. I have more pride than that. I take a deep breath and steel myself, staring over his shoulder at the far wall. “I became aware of the Captain’s thoughts and feelings during our meld in Unimatrix Zero. Her attachment to you was very apparent and almost distracting in its intensity. I spoke to Mr Paris today. I was confused and disturbed by the crew’s obvious antipathy towards me and I required clarification of the reasons for their open animosity. It appears that the crew hold romantic hopes for you and the Captain. Their wish is for you to form a bond and I am disrupting their aspirations. Our relationship is not welcomed.”
“I don’t care what the crew thinks.” He reaches towards me and I am not surprised that he does not comprehend the implication of my words.
“You may not care, but I do. This is my ‘collective’, for want of a better word, and, more importantly, I care very much about what the Captain thinks. I hold her in high regard and would not wish to disappoint or hurt her. I was remiss in my interpretations. I had thought that if she felt so strongly she would have approached you and informed you of her feelings, but according to Mr Paris, this is not how the Captain would deal with this particular situation.”
I watch Chakotay’s face. There is an intriguing array of emotions on display. Disbelief, surprise, hope, joy, fear, understanding and sorrow are just a few that I recognise. He opens his mouth to speak, but I forestall him.
“In light of this information, I wish to terminate our relationship.” He takes a step towards me, but I am resolute. “When I logically analysed the likelihood of our current relationship being successful, it became apparent that I had miscalculated and we are, in fact, grossly mismatched. With our differing emotional and spiritual needs, we would not form a successful bond. I feel it is better to end this now rather than to persist and risk damaging ourselves or those around us in the attempt.”
Chakotay has not moved but is staring at my face, his eyes dark with anger. “Did Paris put you up to this?”
I stand taller and a surge of anger rises within me. He thinks that I would do something like this at Mr Paris’s behest? “No, he did not. I came to this conclusion independently. I merely approached him for advice. He was very helpful and surprisingly circumspect considering his usual behaviour. He suggested that I speak to you and inquire as to your feelings regarding the Captain.”
I raise my brow in question and wait. Chakotay is still frowning and I can see that he is attempting to assimilate this new information. I sense a degree of anger but also something else… I think it is hope or perhaps relief. I take a deep breath and ask the question that has the potential to change all our lives. “Chakotay, do you love Kathryn Janeway?”
I watch him carefully. He opens his mouth to deny it but the words will not come. His eyes glaze slightly and I assume he is searching his memory and his heart for the answer. His hesitance is my answer.
I take a step forward and touch his arm. He jolts and his eyes refocus on mine.
“You must go to her, Chakotay.”
He shakes his head. “She isn’t interested, Seven. It’s been too long.”
I know I should be disheartened by these latest developments but it does not take Borg intelligence to realise that a relationship with Chakotay would never have worked, especially that I know now that his heart was never truly mine. I find it almost comical that all of a sudden I am cast in the role of matchmaker. “Have you ever told her that you love her?”
He frowns but the corner of his mouth twitches and I wonder if he perceives the amusing side to this scenario as well. “Not in so many words.”
I stop myself from rolling my eyes… perhaps I am embracing my humanity more successfully than I had thought. “Have you told her outright, without couching the declaration in metaphors and myths?” Over our time together, I have noticed this about him. He tends to camouflage his emotions with stories and allegories. For someone like the Captain and, for that matter, myself, the fables and artifice, although pleasant, are confusing and inexact. The Captain and I are alike in many ways and we both prefer to deal in absolutes. This is where he has made his mistake and I tell him so. “You must tell the Captain, Chakotay. Not in a story and not in a fable, but in plain words. You must tell her that you love her.”
He frowns. “It’s not as easy as you think, Seven.”
He is right, of course, and I agree… with reservation. “Perhaps it is not ‘easy’, but as the Captain once told me, nothing that is worth having, is easy. Has she not told you that at sometime? Perhaps she was trying to tell you something.”
Now I can see him thinking and he looks at me. “Could I have been so wrong at reading the signals over the years?”
I nod. “Yes, I think you may have and, as Mr Neelix was so insistent on reminding everyone, there is no time like the present to rectify the situation.”
There is a light in his eyes that I haven’t seen for a long time. It is one that only the Captain has the ability to ignite; I am deeply pleased with my decision and my execution of this ‘break up’. He is so intent on his new purpose that he turns to leave and then remembers that I am there as his guest.
I smile. “I will leave you to your quest, Commander.”
He smiles and nods. “Thank you, Seven. I really don’t know what to say.”
“Be happy, Chakotay, and make the Captain happy. That would please me and the crew.”
He leans forward and kisses my cheek. “Thank you, Seven. I hope you’re right.”
“You both deserve to be happy.” And with that I turn and leave his quarters. He calls out to me before I exit.
“Are you going to be all right?”
I smile. “Yes, thank you, Chakotay. I will be fine.” I turn and leave.
It was not a lie. I am fine.
He follows me into the corridor but takes the opposite route. I stand out of sight and watch as he rings the chime on the Captain’s door. She answers. “Chakotay, this is a pleasant surprise. What can I do for you?”
“May I come in, Kathryn? I’ve got something very important to discuss with you.”
I can see the Captain look at Chakotay with a questioning frown and then step aside. Chakotay steps into the Captain’s quarters and the door slides shut behind him.
The morning breakfast rush is easing, and as I sit here and stare at my glass of water, I am confident that I have done the right thing. I am reconciled with my decision and decide that perhaps the search for my humanity is not such a ‘lost cause’ after all.
I saw them again this morning as they were walking along the corridor on deck two, but they did not see me. I experienced a momentary pang of something vaguely unpleasant. I assumed it was jealousy or regret, but it passed quickly and then I felt a distinct sense of pleasure and accomplishment. I watched them surreptitiously. They were not touching, but they did not need to. Their connection was clearly apparent. That aura of connection burned brightly. Alive, vibrant and real.
Sitting here on my own, I feel the crew’s stares, but instead of the glares of animosity and vitriol that I endured yesterday, these are looks of admiration and empathy. I raise my head and look across the messhall at two ensigns from Engineering who are whispering behind their hands. They look up at me and smile. I incline my head, acknowledging their friendly overture. Several crewmen have already passed my table this morning, and each one has smiled and greeted me. A small part of me resents the fact that the opinions of these people matter so much to me, but then a larger part of me is relieved and also gratified that I have gained their approval. For the very first time, in all the years that I have been on this vessel, I feel as though I am one of them. That I belong. The sensation is eminently satisfying.
We are all united in our desire to see the Captain and Commander happy and content, and I believe that our wish has been fulfilled. I overheard someone say earlier that there seems to be something in the air today, as if the universe has been set to rights. I am forced to agree with this rather vague description, and even though it is not a particularly logical explanation, I have learned that there is not very much that is logical about love.
The messhall doors open and I look up to see Tom Paris enter. He saunters over to the counter and shares a few laughing words with Chell then turns and surveys the room. I catch his eye and he gives me a friendly smile and makes his way to my table.
I pre-empt his request. “Please join me, Lieutenant.”
He places his tray on the table as he speaks. “Thanks, Seven.” He takes a seat and looks at me with a slight frown. “Are you okay?”
I read genuine concern in his features and, surprisingly, it touches me. “Yes, thank you Lieutenant. I am ‘okay’.”
He grins and pokes at his food, before he looks up at me again. “I take it you spoke to the Commander yesterday?”
I nod. “Yes, I took your advice and broached the subject of his feelings regarding the Captain, and hers in regard to him. You were correct in your assumption. He did still love her and from what I surmise, his feelings are reciprocated.” I cast my eyes around the messhall at the happy crew. “It appears I have redeemed myself in the crew’s eyes.”
Mr Paris follows my gaze and then meets mine. “You did a good thing, Seven. You should be very proud of yourself. It was a very… ‘human’ thing to do.”
I quirk my brow, the one with the implant, and look at him with a bland expression. “I will not take that as an insult, Lieutenant, and accept it in the manner in which it was intended.” I see him frown slightly, unsure whether or not he has truly insulted me. I obviously have some way to go in my execution of humorous repartee. “A joke, Lieutenant.”
His shoulders sag in relief. “Ah, yeah. Umm, good one, Seven.”
My mouth twists into a half smile and Tom Paris smiles back at me.
“Hey, can I join the party? Shove over, Tom. Hi, Seven.”
Harry Kim takes the seat opposite and begins to shovel food into his mouth before he is even seated. His exuberance is slightly irritating but I have become used to it. “Good morning, Ensign.”
He looks at both of us conspiratorially. “Have you heard about the Captain and Chakotay? Apparently ‘it’s’ happened. Can you believe it? After all these years. I never thought we’d see the day. All I can say is, it’s about time!!”
I am watching Ensign Kim as he talks but see Lieutenant Paris cringe out of the corner of my eye. Harry Kim looks up at me and as our eyes meet, I can see that he has realised his mistake.
Quickly my eyes slide to Mr Paris’s and he gives me a wan smile.
Mr Kim is looking between the two of us and his complexion has turned an interesting shade of dark pink. “I… I’m sorry… Seven, I didn’t mean. It’s just that… I shouldn’t have…”
I decide to put him out of his misery. “Mr Kim. It is quite all right. I am also gratified to see the Captain and Commander so happy. It was my choice to end the Commander’s and my affiliation.” Mr Kim opens his mouth to say something, but I pre-empt his question.
“And before you ask. I am quite,” my eyes dart to Mr Paris and then back to Mr Kim. “’okay’.”
Harry Kim sets his fork down on his plate and contemplates me silently for approximately fifteen seconds and then he smiles broadly and nods slowly. “You know what, Seven? You’re absolutely right. You are okay. Very, okay.”
I lower my eyes and contemplate my glass of water again and decide that he is right. I raise my eyes and, meeting the gazes of my friends, I smile.