DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc and Viacom. The story contents are the creation and property of Djinn and are copyright (c) 2023 by Djinn. This story is Rated R.

Love Language (Part 2)

by Djinn







You take her hand as you walk back to your quarters. You keep glancing at your arm, making sure that the anticipation you feel is not manifesting in orange or red.


Nice solid green.


She squeezes your hand as she also checks the device. "Everything's okay."


"Yep." You pull her to you in the lift, brushing her hair off her shoulders, studying her, until the lift stops and you ease apart and exit. "Can I ask you something?"


"You can ask me anything, Liam."


"A couple nights you came down to sickbay in kind of a panic. Is there something going on you haven't told me?"


She palms open the door and pulls you into a hug. "I was having nightmares that by saving you with nanoprobes I'd turned you into a Borg. You were not happy about it."


"What did I do? Assimilate you extra hard?"


"You killed me. Stabbed me with the assimilation tube. Right through the heart. Where you were shot."


"Jesus, Seven."


"Aren't you glad you asked?" She pulls you to her and kisses you very tenderly. "I called Agnes, made sure the nanoprobes—since they are different—won't make you Borg. They won't. I was just..."


"Finally feeling the effects of your unilateral decision to make me a modern-day Lazarus?" You kiss her to take the sting out.


"Can we lie down?"


"Of course."


She waits until you're settled before climbing onto the bed and curling into you. "I think it's more than what I did to bring you back. It's that you wouldn't be dead if I hadn't gone behind your back. If I hadn't betrayed you. In the dream, you say, 'You did this to me.' And I did."


"Have you had the nightmare since you talked to Agnes?"


"I just talked to her this morning. But my nap was nightmare free."


"Well, hey. There you go." You sigh and kiss her forehead, wanting to comfort her but unsure how. She did betray you. You did die. How she deals with that is her own journey—her own trauma. But— "Maybe find someone to talk to about this?"


She strokes your cheek. "I don't do well in therapy, Liam. I usually just go into a holodeck, find the scariest program, and kill all the fucking monsters."


"That works too." You lie in silence for a moment, content to just hold her, then ask, "Which programs?"


"Demon's Lair is really satisfying."


"It is but have you tried the Battle of Cormandy? It's so kitsch, but it's really fun." When she shakes her head, you say, "Maybe we could play it together. I love those things."


"I'd like that. But not until..."


"Yeah, yeah, yeah. Me and my limitations." You push her gently so she's lying on her back. "I'm going to take this slow. Clothes may not come off because I'm not sure I'm capable of seeing you fully naked and not hitting red."


She laughs.


"But I might be doing other things that you'd think should wait for a second date."


"How many dinners did we have over the last two years?"


"Good fucking point. We're like on our hundredth date. And now I'm the slowest moving man in the universe when it comes to sex."


She pulls you to her, kissing you in a manner you can only call playful. It's delightful and when you pull away, she says, "You amuse me. You always make me laugh even when I force myself to swallow it. I have nearly injured myself trying to remain impassive after some of our better jokes."


"Which is what makes you the perfect straight woman."


"I'm bi."


"I'll explain that term later. When I'm not interested in seeing how you react to other things." You run your fingers down her face, barely touching down, tracing her lips, then kissing just as gently, here and there. All while glancing at your arm every so often.


Green as the Chicago River on Saint Paddy's Day.


She pulls your arm up as if she's not sure to trust you to stop. "Your control is impressive. I feel...I feel good."


"I feel good too. Just a very zen good. This may end up being really beneficial for me. Tantric even."


"Chakotay had a book of tantric positions. There were pulled muscles as a result."


You chuckle, nuzzling her neck. "I think you crazy kids were doing it wrong. Or was it the Kama Sutra? We're going for something a little less vigorous. Something that doesn't require a half hour of stretching before hand."




"Bear with me. I just want to test the waters." You ease your hand under her pants and underwear, down and down until you can dip in. "You are so wet." You begin to play.


"And that feels so good. But there is a problem with this approach."


"You mean that I'm right handed and they put the goddamned device on that arm?"


"Yes, I can't let you do this if we can't watch the device."


"That is some dedication to my continued survival, Seven. Your solution?" You slip your hand out to see what she does.


With a very lascivious grin, she checks the chrono, says, "I'm off the clock. Deal with my half nakedness." And proceeds to push everything on her lower half down around her ankles.


She grabs your arm and says, "Your tantric mastery is failing. It's orange."


"Of course it's orange. You're goddamned gorgeous."


"Lie back and think of non sexual things." She grabs your face. "If you fail to regain green and leave me in this state, I will lock you in the bathroom while I finish myself."


"My god you're a bitch." But you're laughing as you say it and the device shows green. "Wow, super effective."


"Arguing and ultimatums are somewhat of a steady state for us. I thought it might bring equilibrium."


"God damn I love you." You lie back down next to her, pulling her leg closer to you as you loop yours over it to hold her where you want her. "I mean that. I really do love you."


"I love you too. Show me you can get to blue. I need to know I won't hurt you. That dream..."


"Baby you're not going to hurt me."


"Show me blue."


So you put your head down on the pillow, bury your head in her hair, and just breathe. Then you pull away and look for five things you can see: her eyes, shining bright. Her lips. Her hair. The pillow, same sheets you used. The chrono.


Four things to feel: her body moving next to you as she shifts, the softness of the sheets, the way her breath on you makes your skin shiver, the way her leg lies easily under yours.


Three things you can hear: the soft in and out of her breath, the low hiss of the air handlers, the tick of the chrono you bought because you thought it was beautiful in all it's mechanical glory.


Two things you can smell: her soft spicy perfume and the faint residue of your cologne on the sheets—did she not change them since you died? You love that.


One thing you can taste: you hold up your arm and show Seven the lovely blue on the dial from this simple coping mechanism your therapist gave you for anxiety after Wolf 359. Then you take the fingers that were inside her and lick them, tasting her on them. The dial shoots up to green but holds steady.


And she tastes delicious.




"May I proceed now?"


"Yes, please."


"When you aren't obsessively checking the dial, I want you to look in my eyes while I'm doing this. I want you to look in my eyes while you come. I want you to be as loud as you want, say whatever the fuck you feel like—except someone else's name 'cause that really sucks."


She laughs.


"Do you understand me, Hansen?" You know your grin is a nasty one—and you want it to be because it seemed to make her happy when you did it in the mess.


"I understand you, dickhead."


You can't help it; she busts you up with that one. You bury your head in her hair again laughing until you feel ready to proceed.


"Sorry," she whispers.


"Don't ever be sorry for being funny. And hey, if you can't laugh while you're having sex, then I think you're doing it wrong. It's supposed to be fun."


She pulls you down and kisses you, long and with a lot of tongue. Then she checks your arm again. "Still green. Damn. Do you think Ohk would give me one of these? For comparison purposes?"


"This is not a competition. And do you want all your readings going to sickbay?"


"Oh, no. They could turn the data stream off, though. It could just capture the moment."


"Hansen, do you want to come or don't you?"


"Fine, proceed." But she is grinning.


You press down on her leg and tell her, "Try to move your leg."


"I could if I hurt you."


You roll your eyes. "Try to move your leg without hurting the man who's going to pleasure you silly."


She moves and you adjust a bit so she's truly immobilized, if only that leg. "I can't."


"Okay, good." You pull back, spreading her leg even more and she moans.


"Look at me, Seven."


She does and her mouth is open slightly, her breath faster than it was, her pupils dilating as you watch her. You check your scale—almost orange so you take some deep, from the belly, breaths until it's closer to blue.


Then you rest your head next to hers, kiss her gently, and begin to play.


She is even wetter than before.


More deep breathing. Then you stay relaxed, trying to approach this like you would a new engine. Finding out how she works, what touches work where, how much is too much, how much not enough, cataloging and improvising, and adding fingers as she alternates between checking the scale and looking back at you.


You can see when the climb starts—you think before she does. Her eyes widen and she says, "Liam."


"I've got you." And you pull her leg just a little bit further out.


And she's gone, arching and crying out and she completely forgets about looking at you while she's coming, but it's her first time with you so you don't remind her to meet your eyes.


She's breathing hard and pulls your hand up; the dial is still green. "God damn it."


"Do you not want me to do this?"


"How can you stay so calm?"


"Discipline, Hansen. You may have heard of it? What happened, by the way, to looking at me when you came?"


"Fuck you."


"Well, just for that, we're going to find out how short your refractory period is. I assume you have one? Most women do—things get over-sensitive for some. Is that true for you?"


"Touch my clit directly and die."


"Clear and to the point. I appreciate that."


You dip your fingers into her, one, then two, in and out, then pulling back up, circling around, never touching where she is oversensitized. "Eyes, Seven."


"Fuck you and the eye thing. I'm going to get a crick in my neck."


"Look me in the goddamn eyes and do not look away this time. I won't always make you, I just want you to this time."


She pouts and you bring your hand up and paint her lips with her own juices, then kiss her. She pulls your hand up and sighs at the green.


"Baby, the only way I got through the aftermath of Wolf 359 was to cultivate control. Stillness. Push the feelings down and down. I promise you, once they clear me, I will not be so calm. Just enjoy it for now."


You trail your finger down, back inside her, then around, then...there. She is looking at you and the trust and sensuality in her eyes is warring with something else that you think is just pure enjoyment.


"You're going to come for me again. And I'm going to love watching you, knowing it's me getting you there, touching you, loving you." You go harder, more directly, and she gasps but she doesn't look away. A few more and she's crying out, arching, holding your gaze until she has to close her eyes.


Her leg under yours is shaking and you release it, rubbing her skin gently where your uniform chafed it a bit when she was moving under you.


She rolls into you and you wrap her up in your arms. "That felt so fucking good, Liam." She goes limp and you can tell she is still really tired.


"Why don't we sleep for a while?"


She looks panicked. "Did you overdo it? Did I hurt you?"


"Hey, no. I just can tell you're beat."


"I am. I'm so tired. But...we—"


"We are right here, doing all these first things. We had a nap, and we had a date or our latest one, however we're counting them. We just touched and kissed and no one told us to stop. And now we can have our first time taking turns in the bathroom getting out of these uniforms and into something more comfortable. And then we can go to sleep together and wake up and do more of this if you want, or talk, or just stare at each other like two sappy ass romantics."


"The last one sounds boring."


"I agree. But it makes the first two sound so much more fun."


"Anything with you is fun. Even boring things."


"You're so tired you aren't making sense."


"No, Liam, I mean that." She pulls you to her for a long kiss. "Just...having you here. I don't take that for granted."


"I wish...I wish I had known how much you cared. You haven't even changed the sheets, have you?"


"No I wanted to sleep where you had."


"Every night from now on if you want." Although you're refreshing the sheets as soon as you think it won't gut her emotionally to have fresh linen.


"I want." Her voice is off, full of emotion, and you realize this is the true Seven, the deepest part of her. "I love you. I'd die for you. I'd definitely kill for you."


"Just smile for me. Make me smile. You know how I get."


"I do." Her eyes are looking heavier and heavier. "And you know how I get."


You undress her slowly, not trying to make this sexy time, just trying to save her from getting out of bed when she's so tired.


You have to stop when you take her jacket, then top and bra off. Your dial is in the orange and she smiles, her eyes half lidded, and says, "You like what you see."


"I fucking love what I see." You pull the covers down and then cover her up once she's crawled inside. "Do you need anything from the bathroom while I'm up?"


"My lip balm."


"Okay, babe." You get up and find everything exactly where you left it. Some of her things are on the counter now too. But she has surprisingly little, and she's very neat. You find the lip balm and take it out to her before she falls asleep.


She puts it on and you try not to let the flow of it over her lips get to you, but everything she's doing right now is so damn sexy.


You look around for five things you see that are not her and her glorious face and body. The dial crawls down to green.


She hands you back the lip balm and you resolve to order her more so she can keep one in the nightstand and she'll probably want one at her desk in the ready room.


You brush your teeth and when you're done in the bathroom, you join her in bed, not naked because you think that skin on skin will send you right into the red. Your pajama bottoms are still hanging on the back of the bathroom door so you slip them on and the concert t-shirt also hanging there, and join her in bed.


You get comfortable and say "Computer, lights off." It goes dark and a moment later she rolls to her side, cuddling into you.


You like how you two fit. You like the warmth of her.


Oh, fuck, you like everything about her. You are so fucking gone.


Sleep comes easily; you dream of her.








You wake up on your side, facing the chrono, Liam behind you, spooning you. You can't believe you've both slept clear through the evening until morning, but you know you've been so worried about him and he probably found it a relief to be out of sickbay.


You put your hand over his arm and forget how to breathe. His arm is not warm. Turning it, you stare at the device. He's not green or blue. He's...nothing. All the lights are off.


"Liam!" You roll and see him staring sightlessly at you, the same way he did on the deck of the cargo bay. You shake him and scream, "Liam!"


"Hansen!" sounds right in your ear. "Wake the fuck up!"


You're breathing hard when you come awake and you grab his arm and wrench it over so you can see the device. It's green but heading toward orange.


But he's alive.


Your breathing though—you can't catch your breath and you feel lightheaded.


"Seven, look at me." He puts his hands on either side of your face and forces you to meet his gaze. "I'm here. I'm going to take care of you." He takes one hand off your face and puts it on your belly. "I want you to take deep slow breaths from here, make my hand move when you do it, don't breathe from your chest."


You do what he says because he was your captain and he always knows what to do. "I can't feel my hands."


"It's okay, baby. That's temporary. Just breathe. Just breathe."


He's breathing with you so you follow him, breathing in time, feeling his hand go up and down as your belly fills and deflates. You can feel your hands again, and your head isn't so light. "What's happening?"


"Did you have the same nightmare?"


"I wish." You start to breathe funny again and he pushes down on your stomach while saying, "From here. Slow, deep. You're hyperventilating."


"I don't do that."


"Yeah, yeah you do." He moves his hand up to your head, giving you a scalp massage and then moving to your neck. "Keep deep breathing."


After about five minutes of him doing that and you concentrating on your breath, you finally feel normal.


"What was the dream?"


"I woke up, it was morning, we'd slept through." You check the chrono and it's only midnight. "You were spooning me but your skin wasn't warm. I looked at the device and there was no color. No light. And then I turned and you were staring at me like you did on the cargo bay after you... But you were dead."


He closes his eyes and wraps you in his arms. "You need to talk to someone."


"They'll just want to talk about my crappy parents and my fucked up life as a Borg and my weird-ass relationship with Kathryn and Chakotay and the Doctor, and then not getting into Starfleet until late—and betraying you."


"Maybe you need to talk about those things."


"I'm fine."


"You're not fine. You're light years from fine. You shut me down today when I asked if your parents taught you to swim."


You start to get up, to get away from him, but he pulls you back down, not gently, and says, "Either you sign yourself up for therapy—we shouldn't see the same person but I can give you a person that a friend went to who's wonderful—or I'm going to Ohk and she will relieve you."


You stare at him stunned.


"Seven, I love you. I would die a thousand times to keep you safe. So how can I not make you do this? You are not all right. Trauma builds: you're fine and you're fine until you're not."


"Maybe you shouldn't be here." You can feel tears starting and dash them away.


"Is that what you really want? To send me away after falling to pieces over a dream where I died?"


"I got you killed."


"No, no you fucking didn't." He takes you by the arms and shakes you a bit. "You helped a friend. You betrayed me in the process. But the minute that I heard it was Picard's son I made a choice. And that was to help them. And then I made a choice to run when it was clear that things were beyond fucked up. We went to hell but you didn't send us there. Fate did. Or God. Or the Universe. For whatever reason, we were there to save Starfleet. I died. You did not kill me. And you turned your fucking back on an active shooter to hold me, Seven. That's when this started. When you no longer cared if you lived or died."


You can feel the tears coming, and he pulls you to him and onto his lap, and holds you and tells you it will all be all right. His lips are on your cheek and your hair and your hands, and you push you face so hard into his chest you'd go inside him if you could. "Please tell me you'll get help. Please don't make me go to Ohk."


"Give me your padd."


He reaches for the padd, finds the number, then hands it to you.


You call the after-hours line. They are nice and supportive and you have an appointment at 0800 with the doctor Liam recommended by the time you cut the connection. "So much for leave. So much for spending time with you."


"You'll be with them for fifty minutes. Then you come back to me. You always come back to me because I'm here. I'm not going anywhere. But I need to know you're okay. I can't have you blaming yourself for choices I made too."


You wrap your arms around him and whisper, "I've never allowed myself to care this much. You snuck in because I didn't think you wanted me, so I fell in love thinking it was safe. And then you were gone but we'd had...moments, right?"


"Yes. We did."


"And now I love you in ways I wouldn't give Raffi and couldn't give Chakotay. And it scares the shit out of me. You said I was brave but I'm not."


"Yes, you are. You could have left me dead, where it would have been sad but safe for you. But you said fuck that to me being dead. I'm bringing this dipshit back."


You laugh softly.


"And that was brave, Seven. That was really fucking brave."


"And reckless."


"Well, that goes without saying. It's you." He laughs in the gentlest way. "What do you need from me right now? Do you want to try to sleep? Is making love to you going to help or undo you more?"


"Okay, I'm really embarrassed I'm picking option three."


"Oh, you want the sappy eye staring thing?" He urges you down and cuddles far enough away so you can see each other well but not so far you can't touch, can't lean in to kiss.


You study his face, reach out and trace his cheeks. "You're so beautiful, Liam. And you're mine."


"I am yours. Body and soul, Seven. I will destroy anyone who tries to hurt you."


"Including me. What if I'd kicked you out?"


"Then I'd have been very sad as I walked down to tell Ohk. I have to do what's right for you, not just as the woman I love but as my colleague, as my former subordinate, as my superior officer now. And as my friend."


You nod, loving him for being braver than you in this. "I wish I had something good to offer you."


"Seven, I was alone. I have friends, sure. But I was like you. I kept everyone out. Until you snuck in because I thought for sure you were not interested in me. You're beautiful, and you keep up with me and give me shit right back. You know what I need before I say it. You have great ideas that make me wonder why I didn't think of those solutions. And you're kind. The bridge crew love you."


"They love you too." You can feel your eyes closing.


"What time do you want to get up?"


"0700." You can see he doesn't think that's enough time but you don't plan on showering. Let the doctor see you as you are.


"Computer, set alarm for 0700."


"Alarm set."


"Thank you for taking care of me." You lean in and kiss him very, very gently.


"I will always take care of you."






You wake with Seven, and then wander down to sickbay once she is gone. Ohk sees you but you wave her back into her seat saying, "I need the Doctor."


"Oh, sure, throw me over for him." She winks at you. "He's in Lab Four."


You walk down there and palm in, see him working at a terminal.


He turns and smiles. "How are you?"


"I'm good. Seven said you talked to her?"


He nods. "It went well. I opted for honesty."


"Usually a good policy. I wanted to tell you that once it's approved, we can set up your lab the way you'd like. With holoemitters and some important failsafes—you know for in case the whole crew is incapacitated by gas or boarding enemies and it's up to you to save the day."


"Still holding on to the changeling attack, I see."


"Hard to forget. I lost a dear friend in that."


"I'm sorry."


"Look, I didn't pop in to bring you down. I wanted to tell you that once you're approved, we'll make sure the lab is how you really need it. You know...yours."


"Thank you, Liam." He looks touched.


"Yeah. Just didn't want you to think you have to work with what's there. We're refitting a shit-ton of stuff, why not the lab you end up taking?" You wander around the space some more.


"Liam, I know you're sincere about customizing my lab, but I'd hardly expect you to interrupt your time with Seven to come tell me that."


"Oh, she got called to a meeting."


"Oh, well, good. I thought there was trouble in paradise."


"Nope." You allow a smile to show, the kind that would have gone with the first part of the night, the sexy part.


"Good for you. And all without triggering your device."


"She's gonna want one. So she can see what her vitals do."


"She is very competitive."


"What else do I need to know about her? That you, over the years with her, do know?"


"Liam, I actually think you already know her better than I do. I knew the girl we rescued from the collective. She was a woman by age but emotional maturity, life experience, she was a teen at best. She had lost so much and since then she has continued to lose things she loves. And I wasn't there for her when she lost the most important thing—her son."


You frown. You have not heard of this son.


"Not a biological son. A former Borg like her, rescued at a much younger age. Seven raised him."


Something you eventually need to get her to tell you about. But not right now; she does not need you pulling deep shit like that out of her when she's just starting the work. "What's the most important thing to her?"


"I don't know anymore. Other than you, my friend."


You take a deep breath—you had to fall in love with a woman more complicated than yourself. But you keep your voice light. "Well, I love her so that works out well."


"I know you do." He cocks a head. "Is she all right?"


You meet his eyes, you let yours tell him that maybe not but you say, "Yeah, of course she is."


His eyes show perfect receipt of your very mixed message. "She's strong. She'll be fine."


Only if she ends up saying anything to the therapist. You know people who go but then clam up for the whole session. You can lead a traumatized person to therapy, but you can't make them speak.






You leave the therapist feeling lighter. Maybe the Doctor was right: a secret shared is a burden halved.


You stop at a fancy deli and splurge for a picnic lunch, wicker basket and checked blanket and all. You get a bottle of Malbec that the man helping you says is new and really good, and you head back up to the ship.


You find Liam at your desk, working on his padd, and he looks up, clearly studying your expression, then breaks into a slow smile. "It helps to talk, doesn't it?"


"I didn't think it would. But knowing you did it, how private you are, how still and controlled, it made it okay for me to go."


He gets up and walks to you, kissing you very gently but very thoroughly. "And the picnic basket?"


"You have fun in the water when you swim, right?"


"I love it."


"I never do. Can we make a fun pool with a lawn around it and have a picnic?"


"Is the holodeck open?"


"It is. Everyone's gone so it's wide open. I checked before I got the picnic stuff and booked it for a couple hours. But if you're busy...?"


"I am not busy. I was just killing time till you got back."


You put the basket down and go into his arms, holding his face, kissing him way more passionately than is probably good but he's in the green zone every time you check. "Thank you for caring enough about me to risk this for my sake—for my health."


"Thank you for going. It's going to be hard sometimes. Things come up when you talk that you won't even know are as big a problem as they really are until suddenly you're crying."


"Oh, I already had that experience. Twice." She laughs. "And we didn't even get off the Raven."


"I know. I had some stuff with a cousin. It was such a small thing but I carried it for so long it's like it earned interest."


She laughs. "I understand that. I really do."


"Let's go swimming."


You nod and let him take the basket and lead you to the holodeck. Once you're inside he calls up the standard pool and begins to modify it.


"Have you been to Tuscany?"




"Tuscany it is."


Around you the inside of the pool room changes to an outdoor pool surrounded by lush hills and tall trees and lovely villas. the grass goes nearly up to the pool's edge.


"You want a special shape?" He seems to see you have no idea so he says, "I've got it," and starts changing things. The pool suddenly has a hot tub next to it, then he adds huge rocks with a waterfall and a slide. "There's a grotto underneath the rocks." His grin is a little bit wicked.


He puts lawn chairs around, adds a natural soundtrack of songbirds.


You take it all in and nod approval. "If it's too much I understand, but I'd like us to do this naked."


He laughs. "You did lock the door, right?"


"Double check."


He does. You did.


"Naked it is. If we go to red, we'll put on swimsuits."


You slowly take your clothing off, trying not to make it sexy. You just want to have fun with him, skin to skin. And you want to see him. You want to see this body he seems concerned about.


You turn to see he is standing naked and your mouth drops open. "Our uniforms hide way too much good stuff." You keep your expression sweet and playful. "Pretend we're kids. Pretend this is joyful us not the remnants of the fucking Borg end of the world that almost was."


He grins. "I'll try. It's hard though."


"It is." You know you're no longer just playful, but one part of him is standing at attention and he's proportioned in a way you think will bring you extreme pleasure when he's finally allowed to participate in the orgasms. "May I?" Your hand hovers over him.


"Oh, fuck, Seven. I don't know."


"Breathe from your belly." You turn his arm so you can see the dial. It is almost orange but not quite. "I'm not doing this to turn you on. I want to get to know you. And this is part of you. Breathe, Liam. Deep breaths." You put your hand on his belly, just above, pressing hard, letting him get used to the feel of you. "You're beautiful," you say as you slide down, around him, gripping lightly, getting to know how thick, how long. "Breathe."


"Fuck, Seven."


"What were you doing when you went to blue last night. You were doing something in your head."


"Five things I see." He closes his eyes. "You, you, you, you, you."


You laugh and lean into him, still holding and kiss him very gently, lips closed, holding against him, body to body, your breasts on his chest. "That's not all."


"Four things I feel: you, you, you, you."


He's playing around but the scale is backing away from orange toward blue.


You keep your grasp on him loose, and run your other hand down his arm. "Your arms are lovely."


"I work hard for them." He looks down at your hand clasped around him and says, "Three things I hear: water falling off the rocks, birds, my heart beating in my ears."


You take his hand and lay it gently on your breast. He seems to realize you want him to let you guide his hand. You pinch two fingers around your nipple and he immediately goes to orange.


"Two things I smell. Fuck. Think, Liam. Fuck."


"New mown grass."


"Yes. And your perfume. God I love your perfume."


He's too close to orange.


"One thing I taste." He pulls you to him, your hands still around him, his fingers around you, and he kisses you, opening your mouth with his tongue, but then going almost still, the movements between your tongues gentle and exploratory, not passionate anymore. He eases away. "I taste you. You taste fantastic."


He's still in green. You smile up at him and let him go and he lets you go and you hug him, pressed against him as much as you can be, and he crushes you to him and says, "You're amazing."


"No, you are."


"We're amazing together then."


"That I'll buy." You point to the pool. "Show me how it's fun."


"Can you dive?"


You nod so he dives in and you follow. He takes your hand and brings you under the waterfall and to the grotto, where there are benches under the water against the walls and he sits you on one and kisses you.


It's the perfect height, the part of him you just got to know so well is pressing right against your opening and you meet his eyes in concern.


"Shhhh, just breathe," he says as he pushes in, just a little. He's watching the gauge carefully, and he says, "Five things you see, Seven."


"Beautiful lights under the water, drops of water splashing onto the rock, the man I love, a curtain of water protecting us, a place you made for me."


He's green again. He pushes in a little more. "Four things you feel."


"You inside me, the water caressing my skin, the warm humidity of the air in this grotto, the mist coating my face."


He kisses you, slowly, so slowly, and then pushes in just a little more. "Three things you hear."


"Your voice, so dear to me, the water falling into the pool"—you lay your head against his chest, over where he was shot—"your heartbeat. Sure and strong."


He looks at the gauge. It's green again. You're being careful not to squeeze down in any way. You know he doesn't want to come, he just wants to be inside you.


"We can do whatever you think is best, Liam. No expectations. But I love the feeling of you inside me. I can't wait for when we're free."


"We're free now. We're just choosing to be cautious."


You nod.


And then he slowly pushes in the rest of the way and you throw your head back and moan. It takes everything you have not to bear down, to squeeze and move.


"Two things you smell."


You bury your face in his neck. "Right here, you smell so good, but I don't think it's scent—I mean it's not perfume, it's your scent. And I smell a musty rock smell from the boulders."


He has his eyes closed and he's breathing deeply. "I have to pull out."


"Okay." You hold still as he slowly withdraws.


"The one thing you're going to taste is pleasure. Tell me when it's blue." He closes his eyes and breathes deep until you stop him. "I think you've been an amazingly good girl."


"I think you've been an amazingly naughty boy."


"I know. It rocked." He laughs and kisses you in a way that is nothing but playful. Then he pulls you off the bench and takes you to a ledge that is out of the water. Spreading your legs, he tells you to watch the gauge for him, then he begins to lick and suck and you can barely keep your eyes open much less watch the fucking gauge, but you see green and green and green and then you're pulling his hair and you cry out so loudly it fills the grotto.


He doesn't pull away though. He just keeps licking and kissing and he goes back to where you're sensitive far sooner than you think he should, and it hurts, but then, it doesn't. And you groan.


"Oh, baby, yes. Let's make this climb again." He's rougher this time but his gauge stays green and you feel like you'll explode, and then you're going, and he lets you float all the way down before pulling you back into the water and kissing you, telling you how beautiful you are and how nice it is that you can't form words to critique his technique.


You laugh and kiss him and you realize he's done it. He's made swimming fun.


"You look happy. And not just orgasm happy."


"I like this. I've never liked swimming or the water. It was just something I had to do."


"Wait till you try the slide. Slides are so fun. No sex. Just silly fun."


"Silly fun is good." You float against him and he's still hard but you don't reach down. "I loved having you inside me."


"Thank you for being so patient."


"It was worth it. I feel so close to you. And...in a different way than if we'd just fucked like crazy people."


"Yeah. Believe me. I get that." He nuzzles your ear then whispers, "Are you going to kill me if I say I'm starving?"


"No, I am too. And I got you a new Malbec to try. The guy said it's really good."


His surprised and pleased smile is everything you've ever wanted or needed.








Life settles into a rhythm, Seven is busy again during the days for the next week between therapy sessions and the things Starfleet has her doing, but the evenings are yours to enjoy together. You push the limit on your little device but you don't get into trouble.


And you think there's not a part of her you don't know, a way to make her moan you're not aware of.


You don't think there's a part of you left that isn't completely in love with her. If she decided she didn't want you, you don't know what you would do.


Fortunately she shows no sign of doing that.


You look down at the device that Ohk and the Doctor tweaked today after you've had a week of no major side effects and most of your numbers have hit the normal range.


You can't wait to show Seven. In the meantime, you're working on your game room since the refit plans still aren't officially finalized—and even if they were, your doctors probably wouldn't let you work on it yet anyway. But at least, as head of the team, you've had input and some changes have been made based on that. It makes you feel good, like you're contributing in this new role already.


And not just lying around recovering from being dead.


You've convinced Seven to let you have Lieutenant Commander S'Wak'La's quarters. He didn't use furniture so the quarters are the perfect blank canvas for your game room with plenty of space for the really cool, really large table you're designing. If you and Seven ever have a fight and want to sleep apart, you can always crash on one of the recliners, sectionals and chairs you're bringing in for the movie theater space you're also creating.


You've added extra soundproofing so the first-rate sound system you just put in won't annoy the hell out of neighbors you outrank. You remember how it was to have shitty neighbors on the other side of the wall.


You're measuring to see what size screen makes sense when you hear the door chime sound. You're not sure who knows you're here other than Seven and your med team. "Come."


Jack walks in, a huge grin on his face. "I get back from three days of survival training—did I need that? No, I did not. And you're out of sickbay." He walks around the space. "Okay weird digs. The Doctor said I'd find you here but I'm wondering why."


"Game room."


"With a bed in it? Ick."


"No bed is going in here. I'm creating a movie theater in the space the bed would normally be in."


"Then where do you sleep? Ooh, look at you. Moving in with her already?"


"They were my quarters first."


Jack laughs and seems to have a comeback ready but then he sees the device on your arm and says, "That looks different than last time. I don't remember yellow being on the scale."


"It wasn't. They tweaked it." You waggle your eyebrows at him and he laughs and says, "Then this is just in time." He hands you a small music padd and two sets of earbuds, the kind that sit flat and temporarily stick to the skin so they won't fall out if you move.


You peruse the playlist. It start with something called, "The Secret Garden?"


"Trust me. People have been conceived to Barry White in general and to this song in particular. It's...well, listen to it, it's not just him, there's a bunch of people on this song."


You slip in the earbuds and a very low, very sexy voice sing-speaks: "Tell me a secret. I don't just want to know about any secret of yours; I want to know about a special secret. Because tonight I want to learn all about the secrets in your garden."


You peel off the earbuds and say, "Jack, is there something you want to tell me? Because, uh, I'm taken."


He rolls his eyes. "That's for you and the missus, moron. You can listen together because both earbuds are synced. Sidney and I tested all the songs to see what would make the final cut."


"I don't want to know." You grin as you hit play and let more of the song go. Oh, man. Sexxxxxxxy. You turn it off and laugh. "If this song is any indication, you may make lieutenant in record time."


He grins.


"Thank you." You pat him on the back, then show him the blueprints for the table you're designing. You're both laughing when you hear a weird sound and then "Hello, Jack" sounds behind you.


You both whirl. A man and a woman—not Starfleet—are standing there. You hear Jack's indrawn breath, can practically feel the tension filling him.


"Who the fuck are you?" And why the hell haven't they set off any alarms by just beaming in here?


"Hello, Captain Shaw." The man's voice is soothing in a super deliberate way and his smile is both smarmy and condescending; you really want to punch him in the face. "I'm Jack's brother, my name is Wesley Crusher."


"Half. Half brother," Jack says, pain clear in his voice. "And hey, it's nice to fucking meet you now that I'm grown up and past all the shit you could have goddamned warned me about."


"Everything happened as it was supposed to."


"Everything happ—where the fuck were you when I was alone and terrified? When our mother was crying in her bed and I had to pretend not to hear? She needed you. I needed you."


Wesley turns to the female. "You see, Kore, how being limited to this plane enhances the need for connection—increases anger when that connection is denied?"


She nods, studying Jack as if he's a rat in a cage.


This asshole is actually using this as a fucking teaching moment? While his brother quietly falls apart next to you.


You can tell Jack is about to launch so you step between him and the other two. "Get off my ship."


"This isn't your ship any longer, Liam."


"I don't recall saying we were on a first name basis, asswipe." You take a step toward Wesley, not caring that he can probably rip you up one way and down the other without breathing hard. Beverly told you about Wesley, when you were recovering in sickbay. You think she thought you were too hopped up on pain meds to remember. You weren't. "And if you think that this isn't my ship, you obviously served on the wrong one under the wrong captain. If you're on a ship, if you're doing your best and protecting everyone else, it's yours. And it's going to be Jack's—he's going to be vital to the captain and the crew—in a way you never were. But I guess that's why you went off to become someone who watches life instead of actually living it."


You've hurt Wesley with your words. Good. It's probably the only thing that can hurt him. "Now get the fuck off my ship."


"You heard him. Sod off." Jack's voice is full of hurt bravado to you but you think to the other two, he will sound sincere and cold.


"I had hoped this would go better." Wesley shrugs and they wink out.


You turn and see that Jack is standing so still you know it's so he won't kick or punch or break something. Very slowly, so he won't overreact, you pull him to you and hug him, the way no man probably has, the way your father hugged you when you came home broken after Wolf 359.


He resists but only for a moment. Then he's hugging you back and you think he's probably crying.


You tell him, "You don't need that asshole, Jack. We're your family. Seven got your assignment here approved so act surprised when she tells you."


He whispers, "I will."


"You've got me and you've got Seven and Raffi and Ohk and the Doctor is actually pretty cool and he's going to be on the ship too. Sidney's crazy about you, which means you get her father too—I am super envious over that—and I'm bringing Alandra on as part of the refit team and then to stay—don't talk about that yet either because she doesn't know. Mura adopts all the newbies. And Esmar is the sweetest individual on this whole damn ship and they will share all the best Haliian dishes with you if you ask. I could go on but do you need me to?"


"No. And mum's the word on the secret stuff. But...thanks for telling me." He eases away and looks up at you as he wipes his eyes. "Seven's building her family. The one she lost on Voyager. And you're obviously crucial."


"To her, yeah." You grin.


"Not just to her." He puts his hand on your shoulder and squeezes and then lets go. "My mom misses that asshole. Can you believe that? When she has me?"


You let him lead you to lighter emotional ground and say, "Some people have no fucking taste."


"That is the sad truth, my friend. Now, where are those blueprints? I have thoughts about this table."






You palm open your door and the scent of tuberoses meets you. A table is set with white linens and a big bouquet of the flowers is on the dresser with a smaller arrangement on the table. Flame-less candles flicker all over the room and the food is staying fresh and warm for you in a stasis tray.


Liam is at your desk watching you with a very sexy smile. "Hi, honey."


"Hi. What's all this?"


He holds up his device


You walk to him to look at it. "New color?"


"Mmm hmmm. Yellow may become your new favorite color."


"Well I already like it a lot."


He pulls you into his lap and says, "New rules for us."


"Do tell."


"We've been really good at staying in the green and blue. And my numbers are also great. So they took some of the green and some of the orange and that's the new yellow bit. And yellow's okay. Only orange and red are bad."


"I see."


He pulls you down for a very long, very passionate kiss. Then you both look at the scale, and it's in the yellow, but it would have been green before.


"So," he goes on, "they aren't as concerned about orgasms as they are the umm aerobic activity getting to them. If we're calm about it, I can come all I want. Unless this thing says differently. It can go into orange after a climax so long as it resolves to yellow within two minutes."


"Got it." You know you are smiling way, way too broadly.


"You like the idea?"


You hold his arm so you can watch the scale as you pitch your voice into the sexiest tone you can manage and say, "Of you inside me? Taking me? Of my mouth around you, sucking and licking until you can't help but come? Of sitting on top of you and controlling you? Of letting you sit on my chest, your—" The scale has been yellow but it suddenly shoots into the orange. "That one will have to wait."


"It'll be worth waiting for though." He laughs in a very silly way that utterly charms you. "I can't believe you're mine."


"I can't believe I'm yours either." You grin as he realizes how you answered, squeal as he pulls you to him. "I mean I can't believe you're mine."


"That's better."


"Would you think less of me if I said I want to fuck right this instant? I want you inside me. However works. For however long. I don't care if it's fast or slow or tender or you just bend me over this desk."


"Oh, Seven, do you have any idea what you do to me?"


You stroke the device, the scale now in the high yellow area but still safe. "I do. Visual evidence." Then you reach down, into his pants, grasping. "As well as sensory." You kiss him, tenderly, trying to get him back into green before you start but he's staying resolutely in yellow, but it's a very low yellow. "How do you want your first time?"


"I want to be on top of you." He's watching your face as if that might distress you.






You nod and he pushes you up. You both take off your clothes, taking your time, not making it overly sexy though. You want this to be as relaxed as possible—even if that thought is somewhat ludicrous given the activity.


But you want it to stay in the yellow so he can enjoy himself the way he hasn't been able to yet. You want him to come inside you, to watch his face as he does, to know he's waited and made you happy this whole time, never complaining.


You take his hand and lead him to the bed. "I'll keep an eye on the gauge. I'll let you know if you need to slow down." You kiss him deeply then lie down and slowly spread your legs. "I'm yours."


You can see that simple statement sends him very far into the yellow.


He crawls onto the bed and begins to explore your body in a slightly different way than he did before. Before he was discovering what you liked, what you felt, what you wanted. Now, he's doing what he wants, which fortunately for you ends up being pretty much the same thing.


When he kisses his way down, you say, "Liam...this is for you."


"Shut it. I want you happy. I also want you wet as fuck."


You really can't argue with either of those goals so you say, "I can't watch the gauge from here."


"I'll watch the gauge right now. You can do it the rest of the time. Lie back and do what I say." He spreads your legs a little more, which always sends you, when he's in charge of you that way. Such a small thing to make a heart beat faster, to make blood flow to certain very important places.


Then he's licking you and you barely make the climb before you're going, calling out for him, and he's saying, "I'm here, Seven. I'm here. I think I want you even wetter." He doesn't stop because he knows, after your time together, exactly how to play you right after, whether or not you can come again or he should wait a bit.


Tonight, you know you can come again, want to come again. You're writhing under him as he goes directly on you, it hurts—and it doesn't—and he reaches up and takes your hand and you squeeze and say, "More. More."


He bites down, softly but just right, alternating teeth and tongue and you're gone, and your cry is more a half scream than a moan because you want him so much.


You've waited so long for this.


He's kissing his way back up your body. "Baby, do you know how fucking hot that is, how hard you just came? For me. Knowing I'd be inside you very, very soon. Do you want me to fuck you, Seven?"


You can barely form words but you check his gauge and then nod.


He climbs over you, into position, and slides slowly, excruciatingly slowly into you. Before he gets all the way, he pulls out to the tip, then back in, further this time.


Over and over, his gauge safely yellow, his eyes never leaving yours except to occasionally take a glance at the gauge for himself.


"Do you like this?" he asks in the sexiest voice you have ever heard him make.


"I fucking love this."


"I do too. I'm glad I had to wait. I'm glad there are still things I can't do to you. Things I'm going to do to you and with you and for you." He is going faster, but then he slows and you see the gauge is too close to orange. He pushes as far in as he can and says, "Squeeze me."


You do, as hard as you can. When he tells you to stop, you do, and he pulls out and thrusts back in, then lies still. "Again. Harder."


You alternate, him thrusting, you milking him, until he tenses and you watch his face, the way it screws up, the smile turning into a grimace as he comes. The gauge pops into orange, but then rapidly goes back down to the high yellows.


He starts to ease away but you wrap him up with your arms and your legs and say, "Don't leave me. Just relax, inside me, on top of me."


"I love you so much." He buries his head in your neck and breathes fast but not overly so.


You check his gauge, still yellow, and kiss the side of his face, murmuring that you love him and you wanted this, so, so much, but that you're glad you waited too. That you're not getting each other all at once, but by piece by delicious piece.


You lie together for a long time, kissing, him trapped by your arms and legs. Then you begin to bear down on him, and he laughs and says, "You are so good at that."


"You're a really good size for this. I love how you feel inside me." Even if you know it will be a while before he's ready again—although, something's happening.


He grins. "Your nanoprobes may bring life to the dead in more ways than one." He rolls off you and lies on his back, patting his hips. "Get up here now, Captain."


"Is that an order, sir?"


"You're goddamned right it is."


You laugh as you lean down, taking him into your mouth.


"Way to show initiative and also completely disregard what I said. Carry on."


You kiss and lick and suck until he's ready and then you arrange his arm on the pillow so you can see the gauge, tell him not to move it in a commanding tone at odds with whatever mild dominance games he's playing, and climb onto him, lowering yourself down very slowly.


He's got his eyes screwed shut, is murmuring, "Seven," over and over, and you start to move, finding ways that feel good to you, increasing the tempo since you're the one putting out the effort. His gauge stays yellow so you go harder, feeling the climax coming and he's watching you as you go.


You throw back your head as you come, leaning back, and then he's holding you by your hips, thrusting up and you force yourself to watch the gauge as you meet his thrust, bearing down. He goes longer this time, his smile so fucking sexy you wish you could capture it for posterity, and then he's coming and just like before, the gauge goes orange for a minute or two, then climbs back down.


You are both breathing hard and smiling like fools, and you think you'll remember this moment forever, his smile and the feeling of him inside you and the scent of your favorite flowers filling the room. "I love you, Liam."


"I love you too, Seven. You are every fucking thing to me. I hope you know that."


You nod as you lean down to kiss him. "You're every fucking thing to me too."








After your infusion, once Seven is off to a new-captain's overnight, you find your way to the bridge, where Raffi's sitting, even though nobody needs to be in the center seat while in space dock. But then there isn't much else to do and she does seem to be working—has a pile of padds on the chair she'd normally be in. "Hey," you say softly since she appears absorbed.


She looks up with a confused look. "She's not here."


"Well aware." You walk around the bridge, something you've sort of stayed away from since your resurrection. "It's weird to be up here."


"Yeah, I imagine it is." She doesn't get up, but you do hear her put the padd she's using on top of the others. "For any number of reasons."


You nod as you stop at the science station. "Have you guys replaced T'Veen yet?"


"No. Or if Seven has, she's playing it close to the chest."


"T'Veen was part Deltan. She had such an interesting take on emotions, not what you'd expect from someone who was mostly Vulcan."


"I'm sorry I didn't get to meet her."


"She'd have liked you." You laugh at how susceptible she was to a pretty female face. "She'd have really liked you."


"But the oath of celibacy..."


"She wasn't Deltan enough to have to take one. But she did tend to not mess around with people on the ship. I used to think that was a wise decision." You turn to look at her. "I could have handled the scene in the corridor better."


She shrugs. "In your place, I'd have probably done the same thing. It's Seven, so..."


"Yeah, it's Seven." You continue your walkabout on the bridge.


"Did you like being captain?"


"Yes. But it's not something I want to do again." You glance at her. "Engineering is my love."


"And Seven?"


"I'd give up engineering for her. I wouldn't give her up for engineering." You think about what you just said. You're not sure you've ever had anyone in your life before that this would be true of. "Yeah, wow."


"I know. Believe me. And she seems to want to give you a lot more than she did me."


You meet her eyes; you want her to see the truth of this. "She didn't know she was letting me in and I didn't know I was letting her in. It was, as it turns out, a great advantage for our relationship. By the time we realized the feelings we had for each other were mutual, we were in too deep to do our normal running."


"So it wasn't me, you mean? It was the timing and the circumstance?"


"Maybe. I mean look at you—you're...you."


She laughs and looks away. "Aww, shucks, Captain."


"Anyway, I didn't come up here to hit a nostalgia bong or make you blush. I came to invite you to the poker game tonight."


"Oh, while the cat's away...?"


"She knows I'm turning my new quarters into a game room." You can see the satisfaction on her face that you've been assigned some new quarters and let her have the win. "But until then, we're playing in sickbay. It's the doctors and the La Forge sisters and Jack and me. And you, if you like poker?"


"I love poker. Seven hates it."


"Yeah, she made that clear when I invited her. More chips for us, I say. Both of the playing and the eating kind. I have the world's best guacamole recipe programmed into the replicators. 1900 hours, be there or be square."


She rolls her eyes but her smile is real. "Sounds like a fun time. I'll be there."






You're sitting with your feet up on the railing, a glass of bourbon in your hand when you hear familiar footsteps behind you. "Hi, Harry."


"Hi, Seven."


"Or should I say, Captain Kim?"


"Right back at you, Captain Seven." He pulls a chair next to you and mimics your posture, taking a long pull from his bottle of beer. "So, Shaw, huh?"


You laugh because of course it's gotten all the way to him. "Who told you?"


"Tom but I'm not sure where he heard it." He turns his head to look at you. "I like him."


"I do too."


"Well, yeah, I'd hope so." He grins and it's the grin that's never changed over all the years. "It's really good to see you. I've missed our family."


You can feel your smile fading somewhat. He got to miss your family from within Starfleet. Something you were denied all this time. But it's not his fault so you hide your pain with a slow sip of your bourbon.


"I heard about Icheb. I'm...I'm sorry."


"You're fifteen years too late on that one, Harry." This time you don't hide your pain. Your therapist has told you it's not good to hide everything all the time.


"I know. Things got weird, you and Chakotay. And then not. But the captain—the admiral... I was in a shitty posting, and I was so unhappy and they were all I felt I had."


"You had me, as a friend. But I guess that didn't matter since I was never yours in the way you wanted?" Yet another person who saw you as a potential partner but couldn't be there when you were hurting.


"Not for lack of trying. And I'm sorry. The me of now wouldn't behave that way, if it's any consolation."


"The me of then would never have told you it hurt that you weren't around."


He reaches over and touches your hand. "I'm glad you found someone free of the baggage."


"Me too."


"Rumor is the Doctor is going to be on your ship."


"Jesus Fucking Christ, is nothing private?" You sound just like Shaw, and it makes you laugh, especially when you see Harry's surprise at your language. "Sorry. My boyfriend's extreme dexterity with expletives is rubbing off on me."


He laughs. "It's kind of awesome. Goes with the more badass Seven of Nine I'm seeing. Don't remember you drinking whiskey by itself either."


"You pick up a lot of things when you're working with the Rangers."


"Yeah, I imagine you do." He shifts in his seat, takes another long pull. "Is it going to piss you off if I start another sentence with 'Rumor is...'?"


"I don't know. Try it and see."


"Rumor is they're changing the name of your ship. That you'll be captain of an Enterprise."


You sigh. "Rumor is right." And it's high time you told Liam. He shouldn't have to hear this from someone else. "I hate it. Titan earned her place in the lexicon. As more than just a 'See Enterprise G.'"


"I agree. But at least G is the seventh letter. So it's like destiny or something." The look he gives you is open and untroubled.


You like this Harry Kim. You're glad he's at this training.


Even if you really, really want to get home. To your ship and your man.






You're kicked back in bed, glass of Malbec on the nightstand when Seven comes in. Normally you'd be worried because her shuttle is late and your infusion should have been hours ago. But Ohk and the Doctor didn't see a degradation in your nanoprobes this time so after they called her to tell her to stop panicking, they put you on an "as needed" basis for the infusions.


Another step in the "I'm really alive" journey.


"Good training?" you ask.


"It was. I saw an old friend. Made new ones, which I guess is the point because the speakers weren't anything special and there was a lot of down time." She studies you. "How are you feeling?"


"Great. And the idea that I might not need more infusions—or if I do, it won't be as often—is a relief. I hate that you're so tied to me."


"And I hate that you're tied to me that way." Her smile is so relieved you realize how worried she's been for you. She lets out a happy sigh as she curls up with you on the bed.


"Shoes on the bed, Seven? You really must have missed me." You can't stand it so you lean over and unzip them so she can kick them off. "You still want me for chief engineer if you don't have to have me here to keep me alive?"


"I do. I can't imagine anyone else in that role." She begins to sniff the bed linens. "Did you refresh the sheets?"


"I did. You have me, the real thing, now. You do not need my funk."


"I liked your funk."


"Baby, trust me, it was time." You lean down and kiss her gently. "But I love the sentiment." You're watching her, though, to make sure this doesn't put her in a tailspin.


You think before it would have but now she just sighs and says, "Fine, I've got you now."


She pulls you down to her for a short but very satisfying kiss and then says, "I have to tell you something."


"Are you breaking up with me?"


"Yes, this just isn't working." She smiles sweetly and you lean in and kiss her for a much longer time. "No really, I do have something I have to tell you. It's about the ship's name. I hate it but—"


"They're renaming Titan Enterprise. I know."


She looks confused.


"It was in the latest schematics for the refit."


"Fuck. I didn't even notice."


"In a way, it seems fitting. I'll be the last captain of Titan and that feels right. And G is the—"


"Seventh letter of the alphabet. Yes, others have pointed that out."


"Why didn't you tell me?" You keep your voice even. You're not mad, not hurt even. Just curious why she wouldn't do the hard thing.


"You'd been through so much. You were recovering. You could hear about it later. And I was mad that they did it. I would have liked it to stay Titan so our destinies were linked."


"Don't you think they already are?"


She nods. "But I wasn't sure at first, how you'd feel about the nanoprobes, about me, about anything." She touches your face gently. "Now I am and I've told you about the name change. So..."


"So..." You grin at her. "I missed you."


"I missed you too. You can get used to something really fast." Her smile is mellow and you shift so you are curled against her. "Even a lowlife like you."


"Your pillow talk needs work."


"Fuck you, it's fine."


You just laugh. "Yeah I guess it'll do. So, we played poker last night. Raffi took us to the cleaners."


"You're not playing for money, right?"


"Too much disparity in the ranks of the players to play for anything other than chips and bragging rights."




"Are you super tired?" you ask as you begin to push her jacket off her.


"Dead tired. Can't move a muscle." She's undoing your pants.


"God, that's a shame. I wanted to fuck you."


"Sorry." She pulls your pants off and then lifts her arms so you can ease off her top. "Guess you'll have to wait." Her smile is silly and teasing and just fucking glorious as you remove your shirt then pull her pants off. "We seem to be in our underwear, Captain Shaw."


"However did that happen, Captain Seven?" You get rid of those garments too.


"No idea." She pushes you to your back and straddles you, easing down as she asks, "Did the rules for sex change the way your nanoprobe protocol did?"




"Well, then I guess I'm in charge."


"That's an interesting interpretation of the circumstances." You moan as she squeezes you so fucking hard it feels like her hand. "Or maybe not."


She laughs and begins to move, slowly, sensuously, watching you as she does it. You feel so many things as she controls the pace, so many things you weren't sure you'd ever really feel again.


You pull her down so you can kiss her, but she resists and tells you to put your arms over your head.


You smile and do what she says.


"You're mine, Liam."


"That I am."


"I get to say when we kiss."


"Since when? And for how long?" You laugh at her expression. "I'm pretty sure we're both doms, sugar. This is going to be interesting."


"I like it when you hold me down though. When you spread my legs wider."


"Like I said... Interesting."


Her smile tells you she's taking the idea as a challenge. "Open your mouth."


You do and she puts her finger in it, tells you to suck it gently so you go as softly as you can, using your tongue to run along it. She closes her eyes for a moment, then tells you not to look away as she pulls her finger out and begins to move harder, faster, every now and then glancing at your arm, at the gauge. "When we can really play, I want to use restraints."


You nod, because you want that too.


She slows down. "That idea popped you into the orange. Was it the idea of me having you restrained or you having me that way?"




She stops moving entirely. "We should stop talking about this."


You glance at the gauge, it's as into the orange as you've seen it. "You're not wrong."


"File it under 'Later.'" She strokes you gently, the touch soothing more than sensual. "Come back to me, Liam. Come back to this. Your body's your own."


You pull her down so you can kiss her and it's a little rougher kiss than you'd normally do. She kisses you back just as fiercely. Then you both look at your gauge. It's orange again.


"Just lie on top of me, press down but don't squeeze." You stroke her back and wrap your legs around her, kissing her gently, forgetting about who's in charge and who's not and just enjoying the way she feels when she's this close to you.


"It's yellow."


You thrust up, and feel her answering clench. "Seven..." You want to roll her over, take her hard but you know that will be too much. "Go hard, go fast, I'll tell you if it's too much."


"And so will the gauge."


You nod and unwrap your legs, letting her rise so she can ride you. She begins to move, slapping down on you, the sound deliciously nasty and you tell her, "Faster, harder," and use your fingers to help her along. She's crying out but she hasn't stopped moving and you admire her dedication to your pleasure and ability to multitask.


Then you feel it coming and say, "Don't stop. Please don't stop."


She's watching you, her mouth half open, her lips swollen from your kisses and she pulls you up as you come, holding you against her as you cry out. You close your eyes and nestle into her, secure that she'll watch the gauge, that she'll keep you safe.


She's very quiet so you ask, "Am I dying or something?" You feel great so if this is death, bring it.


"It's just taking a little longer to get to yellow. There it is." She lets go of your arm and slides off you to cuddle in next to you. "Do you think we would be as aware of each other as we are if we didn't have to watch the gauge?"


"I don't know. We're both analytical by nature. I'm more hands on."


"I will never complain about that."


You kiss her gently. "You're more cerebral."


"What I just did was the opposite of cerebral. It was primal."


"And I will never complain about that." You grin and move her hair out of her eyes. "My beautiful captain."


"Some people wouldn't like the idea of working for someone who'd worked for them."


"Well, it's you. And you're going to have to listen to me as your chief engineer, right?" When she nods, you laugh. "You didn't do a lot of that as my first officer. This will be a welcome change."


She rolls her eyes but then says, "I learned a lot from you though, even if I was constantly challenging you."


"Yeah? Like what?"


"How to fill out forms." She ducks your mock slap. "How to work the system. How to keep people safe."


"I like the last one."


"Me too. If you see me not doing it, call me on it."


"Believe me I will." You hear her stomach growl and let her go. "What do you want? I already ate."


"Grilled ham and cheese. Then I just want to go to sleep. I couldn't on the shuttle."


"Sleep it is. I'm beat too. I tossed and turned last night. Stupid, huh? We've been sharing a bed such a short time and yet it felt wrong without you."


"It's nice, not stupid."


"You're right. It's really, really nice."








You're walking slowly through the halls of Command, considering some of the points of the last lecture of the day—it was a good one that made you think.


It's why it takes you a moment to realize someone is calling your name.


You turn and see it is Admiral Crusher. She does not look happy. "Admiral? Did you need something?"


"Yes. A word." She gestures to a corridor that is not so busy. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"


"You will have to specify." She's clearly pissed as hell at you. You have no idea why.






"Yes, on your ship? Seriously? And did you think I wouldn't find out?"


It hasn't been announced yet. You don't think that Jack has been informed officially, although Liam told you about the encounter with Jack's brother, how he told Jack he was going to be on the ship to comfort him.


You don't mind that he did that, and you love even more that he told you he did.


"You have a problem with another son of yours serving on an Enterprise?"


"Jean-Luc just got him back."


"Got him back? That would imply he knew he lost him. Which as I understand your story, he did not." This woman—how much trouble could she have averted if she'd just told Picard the fucking truth?


If you thought the admiral was pissed off before, now she is livid. "He's on your ship not because he wants to but because he feels he owes you. For what you did—what Shaw sacrificed. And, well, he's sheltered and I'm sure you've looked in a mirror lately—of course he'd follow you."


Sheltered? Jack? You know you're blinking furiously as you try not to laugh. Also, you think Jack's tastes do not run to fair-skinned blondes.


"I haven't had the heart to tell his father. He was so counting on getting to know him."


"When exactly?"




"When was he going to do that?" Because when Jack isn't in OCS, he spends a hell of a lot of time on your ship and that was before he knew he had a posting. "Now's the time, while he's on Earth, before he ships out."


"Well, Jean-Luc's doing a lecture circuit and we've been catching up."


And you suddenly realize who they remind you of. With their "I only see my partner" and "look at this child we made" guilelessness.


You're back on the Raven, watching as your parents take apart another Borg while the game console you loved sits waiting for a minor repair. Eventually you tried to do it yourself and broke it beyond fixing.


"The right time is now, Beverly. Or are you too busy being Picard's long lost love to remember how to be a parent?"


"How dare you. Look, Jean-Luc told me you had a son. That you lost. I feel for you. Any mother would. But Jack is my son. You can't have him."


"And if I release him from my ship, where does he end up?"


"On Earth. Where he can get to know his father."


"He joined Starfleet. To have a man like Jack sit on Earth is a waste of resources."


"He joined Starfleet to be like his father."


"And like you. And why not? Twenty years away and they make you an admiral. Do you know how long I had to wait just to get my toe in the door?"


"Yes, well I wasn't Borg, was I?"


You don't let the satisfaction show on your face. You've led her to exactly the point you wanted. "Jack was. Still is in some people's eyes. I think you don't know your son as well as you believe."


You turn to go and she says, with a great deal of acid in her tone, "I will take this up the chain."


You channel Raffi when you turn to her, give her a snide little half smile, and say, "Knock yourself out."






The dining room hasn't been used, as far as you know, since the night Picard and Riker came aboard and you conversationally tore them apart.


You're not sure if Seven realized at the time that you sat her where protocol dictates the guest of honor should go. That it should have been where Picard sat, but you wanted to show how tight a team you and Seven were—or thought you were. And she was your shield, your forcefield, through which Picard—or more accurately Locutus—could not come, even if you had to face him while you ate. Until he walked around her and gave you a bottle of his fucking wine.


Wine that isn't bad. Not your favorite but you were surprised it was drinkable.


Sitting Riker next to her was also disrespectful. Petty not to have it set as a four-person setting. He should have been to your left, Seven across from you.


She knows better now; they cover this shit in captain school.


And tonight she does have it set as a four person. You're at her right, Jack will be at her left when he shows up.


He's not late: you two are early, planning your strategy.


"I still can't believe Beverly's nerve," you say as you check the steaks—regular ones this time. You know Jack hates the blue ones.


"We have to make sure he's on the ship for the right reasons, though." Her voice is off and you think there's something she's not telling you, but you have faith she'll tell you in time. "Just because we're pissed doesn't mean she isn't right."


You love that about her. She's got to collect all the data before she makes a decision this important.


"Am I late?" Jack is standing at the door, repeating his father's words almost, but for him you smile and say gently, "Nyah, we're early."


He takes one look at the formal linens and steak and goes, "Shit. What did I do?"


"You didn't do anything, Jack," Seven says softly. "Sit down."


She gets the food out of stasis while you pour the wine and he looks miserable.


You put your hand on his shoulder and murmur, "You're not in trouble," as you finish filling his wineglass.


"Just enjoy the steak for a while. I have some questions for you but you haven't done anything wrong." Seven smiles so sweetly at him; you wonder if he has any idea that the smile she just gave him may be for him alone.


Strangely that idea doesn't bother you.


You bite into your ribeye and groan happily. Perfect marbling, not too done, not too rare. Seven, as usual, has hers medium well. Jack went with medium like you did.


"These are really good," she says as she dishes up some of the Brussels sprouts she loves.


You're fond of them too so you dish some up along with the steak fries she ordered.


You pour more wine for her—she drank that first glass really fast compared to her norm. She's nervous. You catch her eye and nod—better she start the conversation now when she's mostly sober than later when she's not.


"I ran into your mother today."


"Oh, God, I'm sorry. She found out about the assignment." He suddenly looks down, no doubt remembering that you told him to act like it was a surprise once she told him.


"It's okay, Jack. Liam told me he told you. He told me because I need to know that your brother is able to enter my ship at will and not trip any alarms."


"Half brother."




"She's so pissed off at me. But it's my life." He stops eating and takes a long sip of wine.


"Why do you want to be on my ship, Jack?"


"Why do you want me on your ship?"


"I asked first."


"She did." You like to be supportive boyfriend guy.


"Fine, I'll tell you why. When everything was happening, and I was the center of it all, you two were the only ones who were doing what you were doing for me. The others—they were doing it for my dad. 'Poor Jean-Luc finding out he has a son only to lose him.' Never mind what I was going through. I just felt like you two saw me. But if you hadn't said you wanted me, I'd have been out on whatever ship would take me. Starship, Garbage Scow, it wouldn't have mattered. My mother wants me on Earth so I'll love the man she hid me from for twenty years. Again, it's not about me."


"Those are good reasons." She is biting back a smile. "Your mother thinks you're impressionable."




"Sexually inexperienced. She thinks I might exercise undue influence on you—as a woman, not as a captain."


"It's like she just shut her eyes and pretended I was still little Jack once I went through puberty. I am not...inexperienced."


"We kinda knew that," you say, giving him a bolstering "yeah buddy" type nod.


"Right?" He rolls his eyes. "Don't get me wrong, Seven, you're very attractive. But you're also with this guy who I happen to think the world of. And..."


He can't seem to say it so you do, "She's not your type."


"Really not."


"I'm also too old for you."




You glare at him.


He glares back. "I am not going to say that's true. But I'm not here because I'm secretly in love with her."


"Are you here because you think you owe us? I saw how much stuff you put in Liam's goody bag."


"Guilt is why I came up the first time. It's not why I keep coming back."


"Is there anything I need to know that we haven't covered. Why you want to be here. Why you don't want to be on Earth."




You laugh. "We're both aware of that one."


He stares down at his plate. "I'm not sure how to say this. I...appreciate all that my father did to save me. And he gave me a really amazing speech about love and family and everything while I was connected to the collective. But...I spend time with him and I don't feel what they want me to."


He's refusing to look up and you suspect he's tearing up.


"Love comes at its own pace," you murmur.


"What if it doesn't come at all? I mean what if I'm only ever fond of him? Impressed maybe, but not...close?"


Seven sighs. "If my parents showed up, I'd feel much like you do. Even if they'd been rescued when I was—they would have been strangers. I think it's your right to get to know him—or not—in the way you want and need."


You nod.


"Your mother intends to take this up the chain. She's forgetting that the head of fleet operations is a friend of mine. Liam and I are meeting her for drinks tomorrow."


You are? This is news to you but you try not to let that show. Sometimes Seven forgets to loop you in on really basic stuff like oh, say, your fucking schedule.


"And now I think you're going to come with us."


Jack freezes. "Me? With you and Liam and Kathryn Janeway."


"Trust me. I know I may not seem overly skilled in reading people, but you're exactly the kind of officer who charms her. Handsome, quick with a retort, little bit of a bad boy."


You cough "criminal" into your napkin and Jack laughs.


"And where was Tom Paris before she got to him? Penal colony."


You grin at her deviousness.


Jack looks confused. "So I have to act like this Tom guy?"


"Just be yourself," you say with a laugh. "That ought to clinch it." You hold your glass up to Seven and she mouths, "Sorry," as she lifts hers to you, clearly realizing she forgot to tell you about the plans.


The rest of dinner is light and easy and when Jack leaves, Seven sits and stares at the door. Then without looking at you, she asks, "Is there a holodeck free?"


You check your padd. "Yep. Couple hours?"


She nods. "I need to ask you something and I need to tell you something. And I want to do it in the grotto."


"Okay." You've been back more than once to that grotto. It's one of your new favorite places. You get up and take the dishes to the refresher slot. Normally there'd be crewmen who'd come up to clear the table but the ship is nearly empty and you can save the kitchen staff the work.


You walk with her to the lift, then to the holodeck, where you start the program, shuck off your clothes, and dive into the water.


She follows you, diving under the waterfall and coming up into the grotto beside you. "Can you turn the lights down a little?"


"I can. Why do I need to?"


"I guess you don't." She looks away.


Frowning, you tell the computer to lower lights twenty percent.


"Thank you." She sits on the bench and pulls you to her by wrapping her legs around you. "I had a son." She meets your eyes, hers so sad it makes you want to tell her to stop, not to tell you any of this if it's going to hurt her.


But you don't. She needs to get this out.


"He wasn't biologically mine. But in every other way he was. He was Borg and we found him and some other children alone. They were freed from the collective the same way I was. Most of them stayed in the Delta Quadrant. He didn't." She closes her eyes. "Well, he almost did. We found his parents. They were using him as a weapon against the Borg—they'd genetically engineered him to carry a pathogen that was deadly to the Borg. Instead of welcoming him home, they wanted to send him back out to be assimilated again. We found out and rescued him before that could happen. And then he truly was mine."


She is staring over your shoulder, possibly clear into the Delta Quadrant. You don't move, don't want to break the moment, to stop her from talking.


"He got into Starfleet when we got back. I was envious and proud all at once. He did so well. Inside though he still had Borg parts and those are valuable. Someone I foolishly allowed myself to care about captured him and removed them. Without anesthesia."


You close your eyes.


"By the time I found him, it was too late. I killed the doctors but they'd taken too much. He wanted...release. I gave it to him." She meets your eyes. "I killed my son."


"Was there anything else you could have done?"


"No. It was the only thing. I really don't have to second guess that. But it's my fault he was a target in the first place."


"The person that took him would have taken you next."


"I know that. That person knew I knew that. She ran. She hid. It took me thirteen years to find her. I wanted to kill her slowly, the way she had Icheb. But there were too many guards, so it was fast. Unfulfilling but ultimately the goal. Her. Dead." She takes a deep breath. "Beverly said that Picard had told her about Icheb. That she was sorry I lost my son, but Jack was hers, not mine."


You feel an almost incandescent rage fill you. "Fuck. Her."


She runs her hand down your face and says, "Thank you. Thank you for being mad at that." Then she tips up your chin. "But I do feel differently for him than for the others. More protective. More...more." She lets you go and closes her eyes. "And that's my question. Is she right? I want to take him to Janeway and parade him around like he's our son."


"Some families are forged in genes and blood. Others are forged through shared experience. I feel super protective over him too. I never wanted kids to the everlasting sorrow of my mom. But there's something about him that calls to me—the trauma he hides behind that cocky exterior. I resonate with it."


"Yeah, that's the thing. I feel as if we understand him."


"That's not a bad thing."


"Maybe he just needs some role models who don't run. Who stay and fight." She pulls you in for a deep kiss. "He could do worse than you."


You tangle your hands in her hair. "And you. We went through hell for that young man. That kind of thing can either bond you or create a rift so wide nothing can cross it. I don't mind that it was the former. He kept me sane when I was in lockdown in sickbay. He didn't have to do that. I think he would have done the same for you if our roles were reversed."


"I'd have been less fun."


"Well, duh." You laugh and pull her close. "We're really going to have drinks with Janeway?"


"And Chakotay. I left that part out. They're a package deal now."


"Joy. Any other exes I'm going to meet?"


"Nope, I didn't let myself get that close to people usually. Especially after Icheb." She shifts, kissing you into the mood, then pulling you into her.


You go slowly, tenderly. Tonight isn't a night for games or rough sex. And she's on the same page, her hands so gentle on you, her lips sweet as they linger on yours.


Neither of you even look at the gauge. You just move deliberately, never looking away, and you reach down to help her find her way, wanting to make her happy—needing to.


You're on the edge too. You don't want to come before she does so you go a little harder with your fingers, finding the magic spot, letting yourself go at the same time she is. The grotto is filled with your mutual moans, then the slow, soft sound of your kissing.


You realize she is crying and know it's not because of the sex, but maybe the sex is letting her cry. For her son. For herself. For Jack, maybe even. Still a pawn.


Even with the people who are supposed to love him.








"Liam, just pick an outfit." You smooth down the yellow sheath dress you have on. You're trying to look good without looking like you tried too hard. "Zip me up."


He does, putting a soft kiss on your neck and whispering, "My God, you're gorgeous," then he goes back to his perusal of the closet.


"Liam, it's just drinks."


"With them though."


You roll your eyes and tell him you'll be up with Raffi in the ready room. She's working on some special project with Worf—it's better not to ask exactly what.


She wolf whistles as you walk in. "Looking good, Seven." Then she goes back to her padds. "So explain to me why Jack Crusher is going with you to drinks with Janeway and your ex."


"The short version is Beverly Crusher hates the idea of him in space, especially on this ship."


Raffi looks up. "What's the long version?"


"That it's very possible Liam and I have inadvertently adopted Jack and are going to make sure Beverly's threat to take it up the chain doesn't reach Kathryn before we do."


Raffi grins. "I was going to ask you what was going on with those two. They were adorable at poker the other night. Liam was making stupid dad jokes and Sidney and Jack were rolling their eyes. Alandra and the Doctor were laughing. Ohk just looked like she'd been there, done that."


"What were you doing?"


"Taking all their chips. Who has time to laugh at jokes? Poker is serious business." She winks at you. "If I asked you to, would you fight for Elnor to be posted here?"


"Of course. I love him too. Are you asking me to?"


She smiles up at you, a sweet and uncomplicated look. "Nope. He's going to be working with Worf."


"Wow. That should be interesting."


"I know."


You hear the lift open and see Jack walk out. "You look nice. Go down and help Liam dress."


"Rephrase. That sounded really weird," Raffi whispers.


"I mean pick out an outfit. He's having trouble."


Jack makes a face. "He's been on medical supervision for too long. It's this weird thing that happens, almost a fear of leaving the place that's kept you safe."


"He's potentially right. This is the first time you two have left the ship," Raffi murmurs.


You are unconvinced. You really think he wants to make a good impression on Kathryn while showing Chakotay who's boss. Men.


But Jack knows more about medicine than you do, so just in case, you should allow for the possibility. "Well, go do your doctor thing and get him motivated to get the hell moving."


"Yes, ma'am."


You sit in the chair across from Raffi. "We need to fill the science officer position or Starfleet is going to do it for us."


"No one comes to mind."


"Same." Your commbadge chirps and you hit it. "Seven here."


"He's dressed and we're on our way to the transporter room."


"I'll meet you there."


Raffi looks impressed. "The boy's a miracle worker."


"Or Liam was already dressed when he got there and just needed a second thumbs up."


"Or that. Have a good time. I'd tell you to say hi to Janeway for me but we both know that's a super bad idea."


You laugh as you walk away. "Time heals all wounds, Raffi."


"And yet does not make 'Stalker' disappear off your permanent file." She goes back to whatever she's doing and you watch her for a moment as you wait for the lift. Then you turn and face the doors, ready to go.


Liam and Jack are waiting for you. Liam has opted for some kind of interstellar hitman look, and you glare at Jack, but he moves closer and murmurs, "His choice. Not mine. He looks good in all black though."


"Yes, highlights his eyes."


"And cheekbones." Not for the first time you wonder how many sides of the romantic fence Jack plays. If you weren't around, would he go for Liam? Would Liam go for him? You haven't really talked about that with him—his preferences past you.


Is that insensitive of you or are you finally just living in the moment the way Raffi and Chakotay wanted you to?


You sigh and Liam takes your hand. "You okay?"


"I am. You look handsome. Sinister, but very handsome."


"Well, you know..."


"I don't but it's okay."


You transport to a part of the city you're not that familiar with. Fortunately Jack and Liam both seem to know where you're going. A bar called Madrigal's that is quieter than you expect, but as bohemian as the name might suggest.


"There you are," Chakotay is up and hugging you. "Beverly got to her first," he whispers in your ear.




"Kathryn knows the history. And you three look like an actual family. Play that up. She won't be able to resist." He kisses your cheek and eases away to shake Liam's and Jack's hand.


You walk to Kathryn with an open smile, truly happy to see her. She slips off the chair and pulls you in tight. "What the fuck are you doing with that young man?" she whispers in your ear the same way Chakotay did.


"Saving him. The way you did me."


"Hmmm. Not where I thought you would go. You've changed, Seven, and I love it more each time I see you."


You laugh and ease away. "And this is Captain Liam Shaw."


"Back from the dead," Chakotay says softly. "Happy for Seven—she clearly likes you."


You smile at him, then gesture to Jack. "And Jack Crusher."


He does a courtly bow. "Also known as the Borg Prince and a whole bunch of aliases that shall not be named in case there are any Starfleet doesn't know about yet." His smile is set on maximum and you are once again struck by how he can channel his father's savior faire but with a charm that Picard often lacks. Or perhaps not charm—warmth. Icheb probably would have said Jack was Kirk-like. "And you need no introduction, Admiral."


She actually laughs in a way that is almost a giggle. "Oh, Seven, you little minx. Bringing me the second incarnation of young Tom Paris just to watch me melt. That's your strategy, isn't it."


Liam and Jack both seem to freeze, but you just smile and ask, "Is it working?"


"Oh, so well." She points to the stool next to her. "Crusher, here. Sit and tell me what you want out of life once you finish OCS. I've had an earful from your mother this afternoon."


He sighs and looks just the slightest bit defeated.


Liam nudges him. "She wants to hear your side, kiddo. This may be your only chance. Make it good."


Kathryn studies him. "Liam Shaw, it's been a long time."


"Yes, it has, Doctor Janeway."


"Give me a hug, you old grease monkey."


He does and you're unsure what's going on. You can see Chakotay is as well.


"This is the cadet who fixed the A/V system in the conference room so I could give my PhD dissertation." She looks at the rest of you. "I was serving on the Al-Batani while I was getting my degree virtually. I had to do the defense that night because we were shipping out again the next morning. But the person actually in charge of the A/V system left early."


"He was generally like that. Dick."


"I was frantic. I had a kick-ass dissertation defense and no way to present it. And this cadet saw me and asked if he could help."


"It was nothing."


"For you. You had it fixed in five minutes. And then you were gone. And I never got to say thank you. That I owed you. Because for me it was everything."


You realize the steps she's taken to keep you and Liam together might not just be for you, and it makes you happy, that she's on both of your sides.


"Be like this guy, Jack," she says. "And you'll go far."


"Might even get assigned with your girl."


"Make her happy, Liam." Kathryn looks at you. "That works both ways, Seven."




"All right, let's get you all drinks and then I really do want to hear what you want, Jack."






You're watching Seven dance with Chakotay. They're laughing, and the way they're holding each other is completely non-sexual. Although it has the familiarity of old lovers. Hell, for all you know he taught her to dance.


Kathryn follows your gaze. "Worried?"


"Nope? You?"


"They were over ages okay."


"They do look cozy though," Jack says, throwing back his whiskey.


"Keep causing trouble, kid, and I'll listen to your mother. Some romances actually do end amicably."


"And she's crazy for this guy right here." Jack pats you on the back.


"Yes, well, sometimes captains and first officers fall in love. And then later they do something about it." She winks at you.


You grin and check your device because you've had more wine than you usually would but it's nicely in the green, almost blue.


"Would my blood have saved you?" Jack is staring at the device.


"If it would have, keep that fact quiet. There's a market for nanoprobes." Kathryn shakes her head. "Scum. It breaks my heart what happened to Icheb."


"I think it broke her heart more. And I get the feeling her family wasn't there for her."


"Oh, my, you can load a lot of disappointment in such a simple sentence." She meets your eyes. "Things were strained for a time. I can't make up for not being there then. I am here now."


And you suddenly realize the only person who was there for her was Picard. Needing her, including her in something, but in his hands-off way. No wonder she's willing to fight for Jack, to not be afraid to let him know he's cared about and cared for.


It makes you feel better about the betrayal. If she felt she owed Picard—if possibly he saved her.


But not by having her get therapy. Or this woman either. What the everloving fuck? It's why Starfleet has an entire department, why counselors are on ships.


"Are you two sitting out dancing so I won't be left alone at the table?" Jack asks.


"No," you says as Kathryn says, "Yes."


Jack laughs. "I've got an exam tomorrow I should be studying for."


"Then by all means don't let us stop you." You are relatively certain he doesn't have an exam tomorrow but you like how gracefully he's extricating himself. "See ya."


"Interesting young man," Kathryn says once he's gone. "Seven clearly sees herself and Icheb in him. What do you see? He's the son of Locutus? He's part of why you died."


"I see a good kid. I see a lonely kid. And I see a man who is whip smart, knows his way around a tricky situation or twenty, and is pretty much a doctor without the degree. I want him on the ship. His mother has had control of him for twenty years, dragging him from place to place. He's had zero say in his own life. We both know his father is not cut out to give him the kind of love he deserves. Why not let him find it on the ship, with the crew? The way we all did?"


"My, my. You must have given some lovely speeches as captain. No wonder your crew adores you."


"Well, except Seven. Back when I was calling her Hansen." You lean in, keeping your voice super low. "Why, when you first took her in, didn't you encourage her more strongly to call herself Annika Hansen? Why let her claim a heritage as a mass murderer in a cult of killers?"


"I didn't let her do anything. You know her. You know how stubborn she is. And frankly, I was just trying to keep her from going back to the collective. If she wanted the name she'd known for twenty years, I wasn't going to say no." She takes a deep breath. "I see your point. I do. But this is who she is. She will never be Annika Hansen and if you can't accept that, I will take you off that ship so fast it makes your head spin and that little device hit whatever is the worst level."


"Red," you say with a grin. "I have accepted it. And she knows that. I was just curious why."


"Well now you know. And for the love of God, don't bring up the catsuit."


You laugh because that was going to be your next question.


"You don't seem in a rush to go claim her from Chakotay." She rests her her chin on her hand and studies you. "You're an interesting man."


"Nyah, simple man, simple needs. If I dance with her, I can't watch her like this. See her as others do. I like that they're friends. I like that she has people she can trust."


"You'd do anything for her, wouldn't you?"




"That's not your reputation. You're known as being fair but risk averse."


"I'm still fair. But...death changes your perspective. Love does too. It's been a long time since I've been in love."


"I'm not sure she ever truly has been willing to let herself be. Until now. It's a good look on her." She slips off the stool. "They've tripped the light fantastic together long enough, wouldn't you say?"


You follow her to the dance floor, and Seven goes easily into your arms. Her smile is untroubled, and she presses herself much closer to you than she did to Chakotay.


The she reaches up and draws your face to her, so she can kiss you as you dance. It's the kind of kiss that skirts the line between sweet and hot, and you give yourself over to her.


"Get a room, you two," Kathryn says with a laugh. "Chakotay, you need to up your game. They look far more in love than we do."


Seven's lips are trembling against yours as she tries not to laugh and you pull away, your eyes dancing the same way hers are as you chuckle.


"You want to get out of here and get some food? I'm starving," Kathryn says.


Seven nods but cuddles against you, and you pull her to you for another kiss.


"Guess the lovebirds need to have some snuggle time," Chakotay's voice is indulgent. "Let us know when you come up for air."



Continue to Part 3