"Chakotay here." As he moved around setting the table, he expected to hear that the away team had returned.
"Commander, transporter room one reports having problems bringing back the away team."
"What kind of problems, Lieutenant?"
"Ensign Albertson had trouble getting a lock on them and when she finally did the transporter malfunctioned and she lost them."
"What do you mean she lost them?"
"Never mind, I'll ask her myself. Chakotay out." He slapped his comm badge on his way out the door. "Chakotay to Ensign Albertson." Chakotay hoped he had kept the panic out of his voice.
"Albertson, Sir." A very nervous voice responded.
"What's the problem there?" He could hear her frantically punching buttons.
"There was a malfunction, I had a lock and then.."
"Where are they?"
"I'm scanning, Sir. I can't locate them."
"All right, Ensign. I'm on my way. Chakotay out" He slapped the badge again. "Chakotay to Torres."
"Yeah, Chak? I'm on my way to transporter room one."
"I'll meet you there. Chakotay out."
B'Elanna was already checking the transporter when Chakotay arrived. As B'Elanna worked, Ensign Albertson relayed her story. She had been having trouble getting a solid lock on the away team. It had been necessary to boost the transport signal several times before she got them. Just as she was ready to transport the console sparked and blinked out. When she brought it back up she discovered she had transported an alien instead of the away team. Albertson had alerted the bridge and transported the alien to sick bay. Since that time, she had been unable to locate the away team.
Chakotay ordered the bridge to do extensive scans of the area to locate the away team. He told B'Elanna he wanted a full report on the transporter as soon as she had it and he headed to sickbay to see what the doctor knew about this alien, and more importantly what this alien knew about the away team. When he arrived the doctor was no where in sight, but the alien he presumed was behind the newly erected privacy screen.
Chakotay walked softly to the other side of sick bay and cautiously peeked around the privacy screen. She, and she definitely was a woman, who ever she was, lay deathly still on the bio bed. The woman was lying on her back her head turned toward the wall and one arm thrown up over her face. She wore only a sheet, which very clearly marked her as a humanoid female. Her hair fell just short of her naked white shoulders and she was a blonde, beyond that it was hard to tell.
“Commander.” The doctor whispered tapping his shoulder and nodding his head toward the office.
Chakotay took one more look at the alien and followed the doctor.
“Doc. Have you learned anything?” Chakotay asked as the doctor closed the office door.
“”Yes, Commander.” He waved his hand toward the chair. “Please have a seat.”
“Did you talk to her. Does she know where the Captain is?” He watched the doctor’s mouth try to form the words. “Doc, what is it? – Where is the Captain? Where’s Seven?”
“They are both here, Commander.” He pointed toward the privacy screen.
“I only saw the alien out there, no one else. What the hell are you talking about?” Chakotay was having a difficult enough time with this and he was in no mood for riddles.
“Please try to remain calm and I will explain.” The doctor called up something on his screen. “If you look here at this strand of DNA…”
“Doc., in plain Federation standard, spare me the medical mumbo jumbo.”
“As you wish.” He pushed the screen away. “That is not an alien out there. Not as we normally define it.”
“What are you saying?” The panic was rising in Chakotay’s voice.
“Commander, as you know there was a malfunction in the transporter. When we beamed back the away team the buffers malfunction and merged their patterns.”
“Are you saying that woman out there is Kathryn?”
“I’m saying that woman is biologically both the Captain and Seven.”
“A different person, like Tuvix?”
“Not quite. Her biological makeup is a combination of the two women. However, I am detecting two distinct brain patterns. She has not regained consciousness so I can’t be sure if they will blend together or both consciousnesses’ will reside in one body.”
“You’re saying Seven and Kathryn could be trapped together in one body?”
“I won’t know that until she wakes—if she wakes.” He smiled at the confused commander. “It is however an intriguing thought.”
"That's one way of putting it." Chakotay remembered their experience with the last accident of this nature. He understood how difficult it had been for Kathryn to end Tuvix's life and restore the original crewmen. "We can separate them again, can't we, Doctor?"
"In theory that is possible, Commander, but I must remind you..."
"I understand, Doctor. If it becomes necessary I will administer the treatment myself."
"Yes, well, before we get to that point, Commander, we need to wake her- them and see just what we have. If I determine they are strong enough to undergo such a treatment it will take me some time to adapt the procedure to their particular physiology.”
“When do you plan on waking them?”
“I was only waiting to discuss this with you.” The doctor rose and opened the door. “If you’re ready Commander, we can do it now.”
Chakotay followed the doctor behind the privacy screen and waited. The doctor moved the arm that had covered her face and rolled the patient onto her back. Chakotay was shocked to see Seven's ocular implant. The doctor ran a few scans then went to get a hypospray. Chakotay studied the strange yet familiar woman on the bed. She resembled Kathryn only slightly and the blonde hair and ocular implant were strikingly Seven.
The hypospray hissed against her neck and both men waited silently. Finally, her eyes fluttered open; they were a strikingly blue. She glanced around unsure of her surrounding then settled on Chakotay’s face. She tilted her head to one side and the smile was completely Kathryn’s.
“Hi.” Kathryn’s familiar husky voice spoke to him.
“Hi. How are you?” Chakotay waited for some proof that it was really Kathryn he was speaking with.
“I feel strange. What happened?” Kathryn reached and took his hand.
“Problem with the transporter.”
“Seven?” She studied the quizzical look on both their faces, then shook her head. “Where?” She moved her head from side to side, rising up a bit to look around the room. “I can’t see you.”
“Kathryn, who are you talking to?”
“Seven. Where is she?”
“Can you hear her, Captain?” The doctor asked cautiously.
“Of course I can. I’m not deaf.” She watched the men exchange glances. “What? What’s wrong?”
“We can’t hear her, Kathryn.”
“Seven, can you speak to us?” The doctor asked never taking his eyes off Kathryn.
“Why are you talking to me?” Kathryn reached her hand up to run it through her hair and discovered the implant. “What? OHMYGOD!”
“Captain, don’t panic.” The doctor eased her back to the bed. “We can handle this.”
“That’s why I hear her…” She turned toward Chakotay, eyes wide with panic.
“Kathryn, relax. He’s right we will fix this.”
“Captain, can you let Seven talk to us?”
“I don’t know." She held tightly to Chakotay’s hand. “I’ll try.”
Suddenly the look in her eyes grew strangely distant. She glanced down at the hand Chakotay still held, took a deep breath and leveled a stare at the doctor.
“I am also here, Doctor. However, I believe the Captain will be the controlling personality.”
“I see, Seven, and is there a reason for this?” The doctor was concerned for Seven.
“She is the Captain.”
“Is that the only reason, Seven?”
“Yes, I believe it is sufficient. I will be here if I am needed.” Seven lay back on the bed and closed her eyes.
“Doctor, can you separate us?” Kathryn was speaking to them and the sudden change was unnerving.
“I will need some time to adapt the procedure.”
“A day or two, then if you are both in agreement and strong enough we can proceed.”
“We will be in agreement.”
“I will need to consult with both of you once I understand the risks.”
“Yes, Doctor, of course. Now, may I go home?”
“I don’t, well, I hadn’t thought..” The doctor looked to Chakotay.
“I think it would be best, if they have no medical problems. Kathryn will fair better in her own quarters.”
“And Seven, is she in agreement?” The doctor weathered Kathryn's glare.
“Would you like to speak with her again?” She offered in a tone that told him he had better not question her.
“No, of course not.” The doctor looked at Chakotay and then at the Captain. “I would prefer if someone stayed with you. Perhaps the commander wouldn’t mind.” Kathryn looked at him blankly “Captain?”
“Yes.” She glared at him. “I was listening. That is acceptable to both of us.” Kathryn watched the men exchange glances. “May we leave now?”
“Yes, I suppose so.”
“Kathryn.” Chakotay smiled when she tried to get up and finally realized she was dressed only in a sheet. “I think we need a site to site.”
“It would seem so.” When she stood up next to him, she was short like Kathryn but she certainly was endowed like Seven and no amount of wrapping was going to disguise that. “Commander?!” Her glare was now directed at Chakotay.
“Computer..” He couldn’t hold back the chuckle. “Site to site transport for myself and …” He glanced a the Doctor.
“Oh, my.” The doctor realized the problem. “Captain, the computer won’t recognize your bio signs as being you.”
“Great, then how do you propose I get home?”
“Pick her up, Commander.” The doctor gave Chakotay a shove.
Chakotay lifted the Captain in his arms and call for the computer to transport two to the captain's quarters. They materialized shortly in the captain’s living area.
“Why don’t you get something on and I’ll get you some coffee.” He set her down on the floor.
“Thanks. That sounds good.”
Kathryn went off into the bedroom and Chakotay fixed them coffee. After about ten minutes he went looking for her.
“Kathryn.” He called at the bedroom door. “Are you OK?”
“HUH? Oh yes. Come on in.”
As Chakotay entered, he caught her tying her robe closed; she still faced the mirror.
“Hard to believe its me.” She tucked a blonde strand behind her ear. “Even with my fair skin, I don’t look good as a blonde”
“You are beautiful.” He stood behind her and wrapped his arms around her.
“I don’t care much for this.” She touched the Borg implant. Kathryn looked into the mirror and caught Chakotay glancing at the opening in her robe. “Oh, you like those do you?” She jabbed him with her elbow.
“Well. They are nice.” He chuckled as he hugged her closer. “Do you want something to eat? You were hungry earlier.”
“I’m not hungry anymore, but that coffee would be nice.” She turned in his arms.
“You look tired.”
“I am, but I would like that coffee before going to bed.”
They went into the living area and Kathryn had her coffee while Chakotay cleared away the dishes he had set out earlier. She was dozing off on the couch by the time he joined her.
“Hey, why don’t you go to bed? You will be more comfortable in there.”
“Yes, I think I will.” She smiled sleepily and extended her hand. “Would you stay with me?”
“If you’d like.” He took the offered hand and walked with her to the bedroom.
Kathryn pulled back the covers and tossed her robe on the chair. She had to laugh at the expression on his face when he noticed how her new breasts strained against her nightgown. Kathryn climbed into bed and barely waited for him to join her before she feel asleep, nestled in his arms.
Chakotay was finally drifting off to sleep when she shifted in his arms and sighed.
“Kathryn, are you awake?” He spoke softly into her hair.
“No, Commander, It is I.” Seven’s response was cool.
“Oh, Seven.” He tried to move away. “I’m sorry, I ..”
“Don’t go, Commander.” Seven held him in place. “Your presence calms her and she needs her rest.”
“If it won’t make you uncomfortable.”
“I will adapt. I have no need to sleep and I will not require regeneration for several days. The Captain however, is in need of this sleep and it seems to be only your presence that allows it.”
“Are you really OK?” It was very odd to be holding this body that was both Kathryn and Seven and yet neither of them.
“Yes, Commander. I appreciate your concern.” Seven studied him quietly. “Do you do this often?”
“Seven, I don’t think, even under the circumstances …”
“I understand your reluctance to share personal data with me. It is just that under the circumstances, I seem to be privy to certain personal information about the Captain.”
“Can you read her thoughts?”
“No, nor can she read mine, although we can communicate. It is just that with my own emotions being so limited it is easy for me to sense the Captain’s while we are joined so closely.”
“And what are you sensing?”
“There is a calm, a peacefulness, a sense of completeness that comes over her when she is in contact with you. Is that what love feels like?”
“It’s part of it, yes.”
“Does it work for you also? Does she complete you?”
“Yes, Seven.” Chakotay chuckled. “Although she doesn’t always calm me.”
“I understand.” Seven laughed; a sound very strange to Chakotay's ears. “She is a strong willed individual.”
“Stubborn you mean? She is that and determined and sometimes pigheaded.”
“And now I understand, sometimes vulnerable.”
“Yes, that too.”
“It is good to see this side of her and of your relationship.” Seven observed the commander’s eyes drifting closed. “You require sleep. I will be quiet for a time.”
“Will you be OK?”
“Yes, commander, I will meditate for a time.”
“Good night, Seven.”
Sleep well, Commander.”
Kathryn woke snuggled up against Chakotay and well rested; the feel and the smell of him brightening her morning even before she opened her eyes. Eyes closed, her hands began an inventory, hampered by the unusual barrier of his tee shirt; her lips deposited moist open kisses to his neck as they sought to rendezvous with his mouth.
Chakotay's response was tentative; something was very wrong but until she heard the other voice in her head, Kathryn didn't remember. Flinging one arm across her face, Kathryn rolled back against the pillow, with a grunt.
"Kathryn, are you all right?" Chakotay sat up to see her.
"Yes, fine." She sighed. "Seven was just reminding me of her presence. I'm sorry, Seven I had forgotten."
"Is she OK?"
"Yes, she's fine."
Chakotay stroked her cheek. Kathryn opened her eyes. His gentle touch, the deep concern, the love in his eyes was suddenly too much. Kathryn bolted from the bed.
"Kathryn?" Chakotay was right behind her. He grabbed her upper arms and tried to stop her; she jerked away and escaped into the bathroom, locking the door behind her. "Kathryn, are you all right?" He yelled through the door.
"Yes." Her curt one word response was accompanied by the rush of the shower.
"I'll get breakfast." He was speaking to a closed door unsure if she even heard him.
A short time later Kathryn exited the shower, accepted only a cup of coffee and closed herself in the bedroom. Chakotay returned to his quarters showered and dressed, when he got back Kathryn was still in her room.
"Kathryn?" He called through the door.
"Come in, Chakotay." She smiled when he stuck his head around the corner. "It's OK. I'm not biting at the moment."
"Are you sure?"
"For the moment, but I can't guarantee what the day will bring." Kathryn glanced back at the mirror and shook her head.
"You look great. Here." Chakotay handed Kathryn her uniform jacket. "We can still catch breakfast in the mess hall, if we hurry."
"I don't know.." She headed toward the living area as she struggled into her jacket. "I'm not sure I want to see too many of the crew like this."
"I'm sure most of them know by now; this is a very small ship. Don't you think its better to see that you and Seven are all right?"
"It's a little difficult to tell looking at ..... shit!" Kathryn stamped her foot. "Damn-it!"
"What?'' Chakotay gently turned her to face him; she looked on the verge of tears. "What's wrong?"
"I can't..." Kathryn tugged on the sides of her jacket and suddenly started to laugh. "Stop it, Seven." She smiled up at Chakotay and shook her head. "Seven said 'see it isn't as wonderful as everyone thinks.' " Kathryn laughed again at Chakotay's puzzled expression. "Chakotay.." She tugged both sides of the jacket, again. "I can't fasten my jacket!'
"Oh. Oh my, that could be problem." He laughed. "Do you think any one will notice?"
"Seven says, they will all notice, but since we are shorter than she normally is they will have to look down to stare and the risk of getting caught will be greater."
Chakotay grasped the edges of the jacket and gave it a tug; he couldn't bring the edges any closer than Kathryn could. They both laughed but when his hand brushed against her breast Kathryn jumped back like she had been burned.
"We better go." She turned quickly and ducked out the door.
Chakotay followed her to the lift trying hard to conceal his amusement at the sideward glances she got. They rode the one deck in silence. Chakotay noticed, but didn’t comment, when Kathryn straightened her shoulders and took a deep breath just before the doors opened.
The mess hall was loud and overflowing with the early morning breakfast crowd, but a wave of silence passed over the room as they entered. Kathryn nodded to passing crewmen, grabbed her coffee and headed directly for 'their' table. Chakotay picked out several items for their breakfast and joined her. They were just settling in and the crew returning to their meals when Naomi and Sam entered.
"Cap..ven!?" The little girl stood opened mouthed.
"Good morning, Naomi." Chakotay smiled at her. "How are you this morning?"
"Oh, fine, thank you, Commander." She never took her eyes off Kathryn.
"Naomi!" Sam rushed up and grabbed the child's hand. "I'm sorry, Cap er Captain." The flustered woman looked to Chakotay for help.
"Morning, Sam." Chakotay tried to appear calm but he was worried about Kathryn's reaction."
"It's all right, Sam." Kathryn smiled then reached for Naomi's hand. "Yes, honey we are both here."
"I hear you, Captain, but you sorta look like Seven.." The child glanced at the open area of the Captain's uniform. "But not really."
"Yes, well." Kathryn rolled her eyes and gave the girl a very Kathryn smile. "We do look a little like each of us, but we are both still ourselves in side."
"Can Seven talk to me?"
"Well, yes, Seven can talk but only one of us can talk at a time."
Kathryn closed her eyes and lowered her head just a little. Chakotay had learned this meant she and Seven were having a conversation. When her eyes opened he knew before the first word that this was Seven.
“Naomi Wildman, there is no need for you to be concerned.”
“Seven? Are you OK? Is the Captain still here?”
“Yes, I am well and we are both still here.”
“Does it hurt?”
“No. We have experienced no pain.”
“Does it feel weird?”
“It is a little odd to be so short.” Seven smiled at Naomi’s giggle. “But then you and the Captain share that trait.”
“And now the Captain shares your, well – her uniform won’t close.”
Everyone with in earshot laughed at that one.
“Yes, Naomi, as I was just telling the Captain, they are not always a blessing.”
“Are you always gonna be like this?”
“No. The doctor is working on the correct procedure to change us back to our original forms. As soon as he is ready we will be ourselves again. Right now, I must let the Captain finish her breakfast; she is needed on the bridge.”
“What about you? What will you do?”
“I will be here, if my assistance is needed, but it is more important that the Captain be available.”
“Yeah, I guess.” Naomi hugged Seven. “Hope you come back soon.”
“This will pass quickly.”
Naomi stood and watched as Seven went through the same motions the Captain had earlier. When the eyes opened again Kathryn was back.
“Wow, that’s pretty cool. Is it hard?”
“No, but I suppose it would be if Seven or I didn’t want to trade places.”
“Could you hear us talking?”
“Yes. I was aware of everything around me. I could hear the whole conversation.” Kathryn glanced over toward Chakotay then back to Naomi. “I could feel your hug.”
“You mean Seven can feel if I touch you?” Naomi touched the back of the Captain’s hand.
“Yes, and she can taste everything I eat. She is being very nice to me, considering she hates coffee.”
“Yuck, I hope I never get mixed with Uncle Neelix. He likes leola root!”
“Oh, me too!” Kathryn made face. “Well, I think the Commander and I have to go to work now, young lady. We will see you later.”
“OK, bye Captain, bye Commander.” Naomi turned away.
“Good bye, Naomi.” The command team replied together.
“Oh, bye Seven.”
“She said good bye and don’t forget you have a kadis-kot game as soon as she is back.”
“I won’t forget.” Naomi ran off to find her own breakfast.
“Well, congratulations, ladies. You handled that perfectly.” Chakotay followed the Captain to the lift.
“She did take it rather well.”
“You made it seem almost natural.” He waited for the door to close. “She was very calm about it. Personally, this scares the hell out of me.”
“You’re not alone there.” Kathryn placed her hand on his arm. Closing her eyes she smiled. “Seven thinks this is a minor inconvenience.”
The doors opened on the bridge and the Captain started a very unusual and trying day. Seven behaved well most of the morning but by lunchtime she was restless and bored. The Captain had work to do, but some of it contained information Seven should not be privy too, so she too was limited. Kathryn tried to compromise and spend some time in astrometrics but she found it incredibly difficult to stand by and do nothing while Seven worked. By 1700 hours Kathryn was completely bored and angered with Seven’s insistence on staying in astrometrics. She had just threatened Seven with a hostile take over and an eternity in the brig once they were free of one another, when Chakotay came in.
“Didn’t expect you to still be here.” He tried to sound cheery.
“I have work to do, Commander.”
“And the Captain needs to have dinner and get some rest.”
“So she keeps insisting.” Seven finally looked up from her console. “This arrangement has become totally unacceptable.”
“I won’t argue that. Now if you would join me, the doctor wants to see you and then we are having dinner.”
“I assume you wish to share your meal with Kathryn.” Seven emphasized the last word as she lowered her head.
They stood a long time, eyes closed, head bowed; Chakotay wonder who would win this argument.
“Let’s go, Commander.” The head snapped up and the Captain stormed out of the room. “I am anxious to see what the doctor has to say.”
Chakotay couldn’t hold back his smile. The fire in those clear blue eyes, the command in that voice, how could he have even doubted the out come?
“You find this amusing, Commander?” She was glaring at him.
“No, Captain.” He coughed in an
effort to cover his grin; it didn’t go unnoticed, but Kathryn made no further
Arriving in sickbay, the Captain ordered the EMH into his office and demanded answers. The doctor aimed his tricorder at her and she pushed it away; he merely stepped back a bit and continued to scan.
“A little tense are we, Captain?” He kept his eyes on the readings. “You really need to relax. This tension isn’t good for either of you.” Kathryn let slip something like a growl. “Surely, it can’t be that difficult to share this space for a short time.”
“No?! You have absolutely no idea! I can’t work, I am trapped standing for hours on end and I have no privacy at all! —none!”
“She can’t read your thoughts.”
“THAT is the only thing she can’t do! I can’t communicate anything to anyone without her knowledge. She can hear everything I say, she can see everything I see, she knows ever gesture I make, she can feel everything I touch.” The Captain paced the small office.
“That isn’t Seven’s fault.” The doctor tried to defend Seven.
“I didn’t say it was her fault.” Kathryn snapped. “Look, Doctor, she doesn’t like this any better than I do.—Just get us out of here!”
“I plan to do just that Captain, but first we must prepare this common body. You and Seven have not treated it well in the last 24 hours.”
“What do we have to do and when will you get us out of here?”
“Seven will need to regenerate for several hours and you will require food and rest. If in the morning I find this body to be strong enough we will proceed then.”
“And just what happens to me while Seven and our Borg parts regenerate?”
“Actually, nothing. I think, however it would be best if you could sleep at that time.
“Doctor,” The captain made a visible effort to control her growing rage. “As we all know, I do not sleep well and …” She stopped, her eyes closed as some internal argument raged. Finally, she opened her eyes. “As I was saying, I don’t believe I will rest well standing in a borg regeneration chamber.”
“I realize that, Captain. I have taken the liberty of speaking to Lieutenant Torres. She believes, with your permission of course, that she can set up a temporary regeneration unit in your bedroom so that you can sleep in your own bed and Seven can regenerate at the same time.”
“I can’t say I like the idea of turning my bed into a Borg regeneration chamber…” Her eyes closed and she gave a frustrated sigh. “Just do it, Doctor. The sooner this is over the better.”
“Yes, Captain. Lieutenant Torres is only awaiting your permission. Why don’t you get some dinner in the mess hall and I’ll let her know she can get started immediately.”
“Please have her inform me as soon as she is finished.” The Captain pushed past the doctor and stormed out of sick bay, Chakotay close behind.
“Yes, Captain of course.”
“Kathryn.” Chakotay stepped close to her once the lift door closed. “Can I do something to help?”
“Pray, Neelix has something edible?” She forced a smile. “I’m sorry but this is increasingly frustrating.”
“I imagine it is. How..”
“Seven is FINE!” She raised one hand to her temple. "I'm sorry. It gets a bit tedious being asked about her all the time."
“Headache?” He turned her around and began to work the very tight knots in her neck. When she tried to pull away he stopped her. “Computer, halt lift. Spirits, Kathryn, your knots have knots; just try to relax a little.”
“Seven feels the pain just the same as you do—remember? Computer change destination to deck three, resume lift.”
“What are you doing?” Kathryn protested as Chakotay propelled her off the lift and toward his quarters.
“We are going to my quarters, where I will try to work out some of these knots and replicate you some dinner. All this tension isn’t doing either one of you any good and it is making my life miserable.”
“No buts. I don’t want to hear a word from you. Either one of you!”
Chakotay never stopped massaging her neck as he guided her down the corridor to his quarters. At the far end of the hall Tom and Harry stood silently watching as Chakotay keyed in his code and gently pushed the protesting Captain into his quarters.
“Chakotay, this isn’t …”
“Relax Kathryn, you don’t want to make
Seven suffer just because you are the most pigheaded woman in the universe.”
He laughed. “Even if right now you think you do.”
“Maybe he’ll finally get lucky.” Harry shrugged as the door slid closed.
“Are you kidding? We just mixed
the two most stubborn women in the universe. ‘Lucky’ will mean
his staying alive long enough to separate them!” Tom slapped his
arm around Harry’s shoulder. “Now we better get this stuff to B’E
before she kills us.
It took B’Elanna a little longer than she anticipated, but Kathryn had finally stopped struggling and began to relax, so she hardly noticed. Chakotay made them dinner and Kathryn actually ate some for a change.
‘I’m glad to see you eating; headache must be better.”
“Yes, thank you. As always, you were right about that.” She pushed away her near empty plate. “As for eating; I’ll do anything to get out of this body!”
“Umm, I don’t know.” Chakotay gave her the once over and his best leer. “I think I might miss it – just a bit.”
“If you keep that up, you’ll miss it more than a bit!”
“Torres to Janeway.”
“Captain, we are finished here. Give Tom and me five more minutes to clean up and we will be gone.”
“Thank you, B’Elanna.”
“Anything to help. Rest well, Captain. We will see you tomorrow.”
“I certainly hope so B’Elanna. Good night. Janeway out.”
“Let me clear this and I will go with you.” Chakotay recycled the dishes.
“No, you stay here and do this. I’m gonna take a bath and relax.” She smiled but lost it quickly. Her eyes closed and her jaw tightened. “You will survive a bath Seven and that’s all there is to it! Damn her!”
“Kathryn, don’t get all upset again.”
“Tell that to her! I just want a damned bath—is that too much to ask?!”
“OK, try to calm down. Go have your bath and I’ll...”
“And you’ll come by and check on me in say, half an hour?” She laughed as he feigned innocence.
“Yeah, maybe.” She rolled her eyes and started for the door, turning back just before it opened. “I’ll see you in half an hour?”
“I’ll be there.”
Chakotay knew that after her experiences with the Borg, sleeping in a regeneration chamber, even one disguised as her bed, Kathryn would be very uncomfortable. He cleaned up their dinner dishes slowly; he could hear the water running. He took a quick shower and put on some sweats; Chakotay didn’t expect to get much sleep tonight, but at least he could be comfortable. Chakotay waited until he heard her moving around in her bedroom before he joined her. Not wanting to disturb her, Chakotay entered his over ride and let himself in.
“Kathryn.” He called softly into the bedroom.
“In here.” She stood in the dim light of the regeneration chamber.
“How was the bath?”
“Nice, I think even Seven liked it, but she won’t admit it.” She tossed off her robe and shuffled a bit before climbing into the bed. Shifting to find a comfortable position, she patted the mattress beside her. “Have a seat.”
“You and Seven work things out?”
“Yeah.” She closed her eyes and lay quietly for a minute. “She’s regenerating now.”
“Can she still hear us?”
“No, she tells me she isn’t aware of her surroundings when she regenerates.”
“So we are almost alone.”
“Almost.” She took his hand and turned on her side to face him. “Hopefully tomorrow we will actually be alone.”
“It’ll be fine, Kathryn. Tomorrow, Doc. will separate you and life will go back to normal.”
“Not quite normal, Chakotay. Seven has learned some things about me, about us.”
“That can be a positive thing.”
“Chakotay, I’ve been fighting with her all day. She has seen a side of me she never saw before, no one on this ship, except you, has ever been that close.”
“And she has been fighting back, so you have seen her human side too. Nothing wrong with that.”
“And then there is us. God, you slept with us last night.”
“No, you and I slept, Seven didn’t.” He smiled at the surprise on her face.
“No, she doesn’t sleep, you know that.”
“I wasn’t thinking clearly, obviously, or I never would have asked you to stay with Seven here.”
“Seven says I calm you, I complete you.”
“You talked to her about us?” She propped her head on her hand. “When did you do that?”
“Last night. You feel asleep and I was dozing off until you moved, only it was Seven who was awake.”
“And at first, I offered to move so she wouldn’t be uncomfortable, but she said no that you needed to sleep and only my holding you calmed you enough for that—or something like that.”
“And she didn’t find it odd?”
“Well, she did ask if we did that often, but I didn’t answer that.”
“What else did she want to know?”
“She was very interested in the emotional effect we have on each other, she said she sensed it. She wanted to know if that was what love feels like.”
“And what did you tell her?”
“The truth. I told her that was part of it.” He slid down drawing her into his arms. “Kathryn, she is trying to learn about her humanity. What better way than to get a chance to observe you, her mentor, at some of your most human moments. I actually think this will turn out to be very good for her.”
"You might be right about her, but what about me?"
"You're tough." He laughed and held her tighter. "I know you will always land on your feet and if you're a little wobbly, I'll be right here to steady you."
"Yes, now you are supposed to be sleeping."
"I will. I just want a minute to savor being alone."
"Almost alone." Chakotay reminded her as he brushed gentle kisses across her lips. "Sleep now; maybe tomorrow we will actually be alone."
"Oh, don't say maybe. I have to believe this will be over."
"It will be." He pulled her tightly against his chest and rubbed her back until they both drifted off to sleep.
The morning started out quiet enough, but it didn’t take long for the Captain and Seven to be at each other’s throats. The doctor had turned morning into afternoon and afternoon had become evening before he finally called them to sickbay.
“All right, Doctor, let’s get this done.” The Captain demanded as she marched into sickbay.
“Is not that simple, Captain.” The doctor ushered her toward a biobed.
“I thought you had this all worked out.”
“I do, Captain. I simply need to be sure you are both ready.”
“Oh, believe me we ARE ready!” Kathryn slammed her hand down on the bed.
“Yes, I have no doubt you are tired of this arrangement, but..”
“Seven is as ready as I am!”
“Yes, I could understand how she would be.” He reached for the tricorder. “Please.” He indicated that Kathryn should lie down. “Let me be sure you are physically ready; this is a strenuous procedure.” The doctor nodded as he viewed the scans. “These look good. You and Seven have apparently followed orders.”
“Can we get on with this?”
“Yes, but please try to relax, this tension isn’t going to help.” He put away the tricorder. “I want both of you to be aware that this is not without risk.”
“We know that.”
“Good, now I will be administering this hypospray and once it begins to take effect, which should only be a matter of minutes, I will call for a transport. Lieutenant Torres is standing by in transporter room one, just as a precaution. We will only be moving you to the other side of the room but you should emerge from the buffers in your original forms.”
“Let’s do it.”
“Captain, I would like to speak with Seven first, if I may.”
“Doctor, we have gone over the risks a dozen time already. She is as aware as I am.”
“Yes, Captain. Please humor the hologram.”
“Very well.” The Captain glanced at her first officer and closed her eyes.
“Commander, I believe it would be best if you waited in the office.” The doctor suggested.
“Doctor.” Seven opened her eyes. “I believe it would be more beneficial to have the Commander present during the procedure.”
“Seven, how nice to see you.” He turned back to the patient. “The transport should have you and the captain materialize beneath the sheets on those biobeds behind those screens. As you both can't wear the same clothes, I think it best the Commander waits in my office.”
“Doctor, you have repeatedly stressed that tension could be detrimental to this procedure.”
“Yes, Seven, that is true.”
“Then I must ask again that the Commander be present. I will not be bothered by his presence and I believe the Captain will be greatly comforted by it.”
“That is very generous of you, Seven. Are you sure you want to do it this way?”
“Doctor, I believe, only the Commander’s presence has gotten us through this very trying day.”
“Oh. Has the captain been difficult?” He fought not to laugh.
“Yes, but I have not been without fault. Now, if we could proceed.”
“Yes, lie back.”
The doctor administered the hypospray and waited until it appeared the patient was sleeping.
“Computer, initiate transport doctor beta one.”
The patient glowed in the shimmering blue light, seeming to hover above the biobed.
“Transporter room to sickbay.”
“What's happening there? -- Something's wrong!.”
“Looks fine here, B’Elanna what is it?” Chakotay watched the blue shimmer disappear. “Where the hell are they?!”
“I don’t know—power surge. I can’t locate them.” B’Elanna worked frantically for a few panicked minutes. “Got them. They’re in the buffer. Hold on.”
It took three minutes for B’Elanna to locate and transport the patients. Three long heart- stopping minutes before the blue glow appeared over the biobeds on the other side of the room. Chakotay was the first to move, quickly reaching the first biobed. The head that appeared above the sheet was blonde.
“Seven.” The doctor reached her side as a dazed Seven looked around the room.
Chakotay turned to the second bed where the blue shimmer faded in and out for another few seconds and then Kathryn appeared.
“Kathryn.” He let out the breath he was holding and rushed to her side.
Her eyes slowly took in her surrounding, one hand came up to touch the place where the Borg implant had been; she smiled.
“Hi, yourself.” He grasped her hand and kissed it. “You scared me.”
“Over there. Doc is checking her out. How do you feel?”
“Free.” She laughed.
“Captain.” The doctor approached already reading his tricorder.”
“How is Seven?”
“Fine, she is getting dressed and will be returning to the cargo bay to regenerate.” He snapped the tricorder shut. “You appear to be in good health also. You may dress and return to your quarters.”
The doctor disappeared behind the screen and they could hear him trying to assure an excited B’Elanna that both patients came through the procedure well and would be released shortly.
“I better go talk to her.” Chakotay picked up Kathryn’s uniform from the chair and put it next to her on the bed. “You better get dressed, before the whole crew is in here.”
“I think you are right. I hear Tom and Harry.”
Chakotay managed to calm the younger members of the senior staff and Seven joined them as they waited for Kathryn.
So, Seven, was it like being Borg again?” Tom asked and B’Elanna punched him. “What?’
“No.” Seven answered undisturbed by Tom’s bluntness. "It was an interesting experience, but unlike the collective. As Borg we each possess our own bodies only our thoughts are one.”
“I could understand where sharing a body with the captain could be an intimidating experience.” The doctor ventured.
“Intimidating? Damn! I would think it was down right scary.” Harry glanced toward the privacy screen, hoping the captain wasn’t listening.
I have learned a great deal from this experience.” Seven smiled and the others laughed.
“Care to share any of your new found knowledge?” Tom prodded.
“Certainly, a very important fact would be that perhaps there is a more suitable roommate for the captain than me.”
“I think that's a sound judgment.” The captain came around the screen slipping on her jacket as she joined them. “We were, however, living in unusually close quarters.”
As Kathryn adjusted her jacket, she looked up, blushing as her eyes met those of her first officer. Seven laughed momentarily drawing Tom's attention from his commanding officers.
"Seven, we haven't spent enough time together. Why don't you join B'Elanna and me for dinner?" He glanced back at his commanding officers, who were obviously lost in whatever private joke Seven had found so amusing.
"Seven needs to regenerate." The doctor warned.
"She will doc., after dinner." Harry put his arm around Seven. "I'll come too. We'll have a quiet dinner, some conversation. It will be restful."
The discussion and the doctor's protests stopped dead as they watch the quiet scene play out in front of them. The command team stood smiling lost in one another, unaware or maybe uncaring of their audience.
"I see the uniform fits." Chakotay smiled as he fastened Kathryn's her jacket for her
"Disappointed?" She stepped closer and raised up on her toes.
"Never." Chakotay bent and accepted the gentle kiss she offered. "Welcome home."