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 PG-13.

Nobody Knows What She Says When She Means Goodbye


by Djinn





I watched him sleep. I watched him sleep in sickbay when I should have been watching his casket go into the ground. I saved him when I should have let him die.


I know this.


Core truths are often inconvenient.


Truth One: I love him; I couldn't let him die.


Truth Two: He will never forgive me for betraying him when I helped Picard over and over, against his orders.


Truth Three: Saving him with the part of me that's still Borg is something he will also not forgive.


Truth Four: It's clear my career in Starfleet will be brief.


Truth Five: I would rather resign than face court martial—or his accusing eyes in the hall.


The disk that holds my officer review is stuffed in the bottom of my carryall alongside my no-longer-needed uniform. I don't have to watch it; I can more than imagine what it says.


When Tuvok pushed it to me, I grabbed it, got up, and walked out. I had done that to him more than once on Voyager, stormed out in a fit of anger, but I always came back.


This time I didn't. I had my bag packed before I went to that meeting. So I simply walked out of Starfleet and got on a shuttle in my uniform, and got off the shuttle in civvies.


It's easy to run when you have no home, and I've never really had one. I've had places I came to rest, in the sense of a body at rest versus a body in motion—I do not want to imply there was refreshment with that rest.


Regenerating on a Borg cube is more like death than sleep.


Being me on Voyager was also a type of limbo. What would happen when I got to the Alpha Quadrant? How would Starfleet treat me?


I had hopes. They were dashed. So I signed on with the rangers and disappeared into the outer reaches.


Then, for a bright, shining moment, I was part of it, on a ship, with a rank. I had made it. I loved the crew. I learned a lot under Shaw, even if we seemed to be in a neverending argument. It felt right—I felt right on that bridge.


Until I threw it all away for a friend who has, as far as I know, never tried to find me since I ran.


And now I'm back here, in the outer reaches, a ranger again. Not because I like it but because it gives me license to hunt things down, and hunting people that need to be locked up—or killed, if they resist being taken—is the next best thing to making an actual difference.


Nothing ultimately changes. A body at rest stays at rest, a body in motion stays in motion.


There is no outside force. Not any longer.




He sits in the big chair, the first officer seat empty. He could move the beta shift officer to alpha, but he can't bring himself to do it, so he and the bridge crew all just pretend that Seven's stepped away for a moment. That her empty chair is temporarily that way, not permanently.


He calls her Seven in his head so easily now. He doesn't know if it's because of a change in him during the battle, or his new Borg-ish blood, or just that he misses her so damn much.


But he never thinks of her as Hansen anymore.


She isn't listed as AWOL. He had a long talk with Janeway and Picard and Crusher and Riker and Tuvok. He told them how she had not been unaffected by the Borg's call during the invasion, even if she had ultimately resisted.


He is intimately acquainted with PTSD, could make an eloquent case for why running might have seemed like the right thing to do. And they all agreed that Seven should be listed as being on extended leave. No action would be taken by any Starfleet officer because no one would know she's missing.


No punishment awaits.


A promotion does, though, if she wants it. He gave her the ship when he died and he'd do it again if she'd just come home.


But she's in the wind, even if Raffi has found out she's a ranger again. The ranger institution was no help in finding her: Seven apparently does her own thing her own way on her own schedule. And she collects her assignments from an automated mailbox full of difficult cases no one else wants to work on.


This information wasn't easy to get. Raffi nearly beat it out of the ranger she cornered.


Raffi doesn't sit on a ship and merely wait. Raffi does things. Because Raffi can't not do things, and he respects that.


Even if he knows it's hopeless.


Seven's gone. That's his fundamental truth. She brought him back to life, she fled before she could watch her officer review, and he may never see her again.


And only the second and third parts of that statement piss him off.




A message arrives for the two of them: Raffi and Liam. A message from an address that has been routed five different ways, each singly designed to hide the sender, the five together creating a web of false locations.


(It's so effective he can't engineer his way into the actual source location and she can't hack her way into it; they've made no progress when they get done trying to track down the woman they both love. It's to both of them because Seven knows they will come together on this—Raffi out of love and Shaw out of...she's not sure what exactly, but before her betrayal she could feel the fire between her and Shaw, riding on insults, on arguments, and sometimes on softer things. She knows they won't stop looking for her.)


The message reads:


Untitled but of Interest


They cannot find her anywhere

But still they search and then compare

Into a web of dark neglect

To seek her out with full regret


She counts them lost and in her past

She knows that love will never last

They'll see her soul and run away

Far from her night into their day


They argue over why Seven is writing poetry. They argue over whether iambic tetrameter is a hidden code. They argue over what it means.


(They argue quietly with no real energy; this is nothing like the arguments either of them had with Seven. At the end, Raffi cries and he holds her until she stops, and then they both get drunk, and neither one feels better when they wake up, fully dressed but spooned together, in his bed.)


As it turns out, Seven has a lot of time on her hands and writing poetry is a way to spend that time, especially once she realizes they are searching for her, these two she once loved and now loves.


The meter is irrelevant; the pattern pleased her on the day she wrote it. She's trying to work up to anapestic tetrameter, but it's hard, and the Doctor used Shakespeare as object lessons when she was reclaiming her humanity so it's natural to fall into an iambic pattern.


And it means she expects them to eventually give up but understands if they come together before they finally realize she's truly gone. And it's all right too if they stay together after they accept that fact.





I saw a dead ringer for Liam yesterday. He was tall and standing with his back to me, and I almost cried out, I almost smiled.


And then he turned and his beard was all dark and his eyes were too, and he was not my gray-eyed, salted beard captain.


He was not the man I'm in love with.


He looked at me, he smiled—I always appeal in leather, in sweat, in dust, in anger, in hopelessness.


People respond to that. The wrong kind of people but that was all right.


In the dark, on top of me, his beard felt like what I imagine Liam's would feel like and I could pretend his eyes were gray.


If I'd told him to tell me he loved me, he would have. I stayed silent.


There's no love in this, and to pretend is a road to madness. This was not Liam; this was only a nearly acceptable substitute.


He came too soon, I got myself off. I left before dawn.




He doesn't stop trying to find her. Every stop the ship makes, he finds out if there's a ranger there and talks to him or her or them or it. He tells the ranger he needs to find her, and he tells the ranger why, and he even, sometimes, tears up because it's clear the rangers understand his need.


But they never have information he can use. And some of the time, they seem to be giving him everything they know.


Other times, he knows they aren't. But he also thinks they have no idea where she is; they're just being dicks about telling him the jack shit they actually know.


Seven follows, he imagines, the mantra that two can keep a secret if one is dead. She shares her location with no one.


He wonders if she shares her bed with anyone. Or if she lies in bed alone, thinking of him the way he does of her—other then the times when Raffi comes to give an update, ends up drinking too much after he's argued with her, and then falls asleep in his bed.


He and Raffi have never fucked and usually they don't even talk but sometimes, when one or both of them cries, the other holds them until they both fall asleep. Raffi gets up in the morning before he's even awake and goes back to Worf and intel and whatever else she has going on.


And he does what he can from his end as they go back to trying to find Seven.




A message arrives. It's a recorded video and it's Seven and she says their names with a hushed reverence at odds with the bruises and cuts on her face.


She's clearly drunk. She laughs in a way neither of them have ever seen. (Although Chakotay has, but no one is checking in with him.)


And she throws back a glass of something amber and clears her throat before saying:


There once was a Borg name of Seven

Who stupidly tried to find heaven

She entered Starfleet

Oh boy what a treat

And now she is off hunting bad men


She looks intently into the camera, not saying anything, and then pours herself another glass, throws it back, and mutters that she could do better. That it's trite. That it's a cop out and she should have done a villanelle. Then the screen goes black.


They spend hours enhancing and analyzing the background, her injuries, the bottle's label. (The bottle came from the last world Seven was on and it was imported—Raffi will eventually check out the distillery and end up going in the opposite direction from where Seven actually is.)


They wonder why a limerick was the choice this time. (It's the easiest to do when you're drunk and high on pain meds—because her body was even more beat up than her face—but they're too busy looking for coded secrets to consider Occam and his razor.)


They argue over whose fault it is that she's gone. (It's Seven's fault and she owns that, even if they're determined to cast blame on each other.)


They argue over which of them she was leaving behind. (Both of them. Liam with his unrelenting disappointment and Raffi with her unrelenting forgiveness. Only now he forgives and Raffi gets more frustrated the more time goes by.)


They don't drink together anymore and they don't fall into bed to sleep off alcoholic commiseration because last time they talked she told him she was an addict and now he hides the booze.


Sober, they can't sleep in the same bed. Sober, it's giving up or giving in or giving too much.


Sober, it's surrender and Seven wins and they...maybe...move on and forget her?


How can they? They look at each other and there she is, standing in between them like a Borg ghost.


Sober, anything but soldiering on and finding her is unthinkable.





I'm lying prone on a roof and I'm watching Raffi through binoculars as she goes from shop to shop showing people my image. I didn't expect her to get this close to me, and I look to see if Liam is anywhere nearby but it appears to just be her.


My prey—and I have come to think of those I go after as that—lies bound and gagged on the roof next to me. He put up a good fight and my nose is bleeding and probably broken, but still, he's mine.


I want to hurt him so badly my hands are shaking. He's a monster who killed children, but the world he did that on has a decent justice system so I'll just take him back there.




Right now I want to see if Raffi can sense me. She used to say she could when we briefly lived together and I would round the corner to our apartment, but she's not looking up, not feeling my eyes on her the way a deer or cat or fox would if I were looking at them through a darkened window.


They always know when someone's watching them. It's just one way prey—and predators who are small enough to also be prey—protect themselves: with vigilance, with a sense of being stalked.


Raffi isn't prey. Raffi is a pure predator, on the hunt, and she's beautiful. In her element, even, as she makes the shopkeeper look again at my image.


Even if I don't want to be with her anymore, I always appreciate what I had. She's extraordinary despite how her shoulders sag as she walks slowly away, toward the shuttle port.


I wish Liam were with her. I miss him.




He's sitting in his quarters, working at his desk, when a comm of unknown origin pings.


With shaking hands, he answers it and it's Seven.


She has the kind of black eyes you get when you break your nose, and he wonders if she's lost her regenerator or just no longer cares about pain or how she looks.


Maybe this look helps her in her job. Makes her scarier.


She simply stares and he finally says, "Hi, Seven."


She flinches at the name, as if she expected him to use Hansen, as if she wants him to.


"Can I call you that?"


"A little late. But sure. Whatever." Her voice is dulled he thinks by a great deal of alcohol.


He isn't sure how much time he'll have, how much time she'll give him, so he says, "Come home."


"Home. Home is a thing I don't have. Home is where you go when you have nowhere else to go and they have to take you. Home is where the heart is, but hearts are so easily broken—or shot." She blinks several times. "Is your heart okay?"


"It is. Thank you."


"You don't mean that."


"I do. I'm glad to be alive." He keeps his voice even, the voice of her captain from before things went to shit. The voice of the man who enjoyed serving with her.


The voice of the Liam Shaw who hadn't been betrayed and hadn't died and hadn't been abandoned all in the same week.


"Who's sitting in my chair?"


"No one."


"That's stupid. Poor Mura."


Of course she knows who he gives the conn to. Of course she does. And yeah, Mura is probably getting tired of it. "If you feel bad for him, come back."


She shakes her head. "I resigned. I retreated. I refused. I re...re...revolted." Her smile is weird. "I like playing with words. Do you like my poetry?"


"Not really."


"Do you like any poetry?"


He laughs before he can cut it back. "Not really."


Her smile is one he's never seen, open in a way she would never have given him when he was calling her a name she didn't like.


Then it fades. "Why are you calling me Seven?"


"Because I called you Annika once and you nearly took my head off."


"I killed the last person who called me that. Her name was Bjayzl. She destroyed my life and my family."


She's making zero sense but he goes with it. "Then yeah, not going to call you that."


"I saw Raffi today."


He knows where Raffi is and that means that she was close to Seven. Only Raffi isn't there any longer. Raffi gave up and is halfway back to Earth.


"She looked good."


"She generally does." He isn't sure if he's trying to get a reaction out of her or just telling the truth. Both are possible.


"Just like you generally look so handsome. There once was a captain named Shaw, who—"


"Stop it."


"Oh, poor boy—like a limerick will kill you?"


A limerick won't, but hearing her make fun of him might.


"I'm tired, Liam. I have to go. And I'm no longer on the world Raffi was on. Just in case either of you get it in your head to look for me again there."


The connection goes dead, her face is gone, and he reaches for the screen, trying to get into it and yank her back, but only ends up banging his knuckles against the plastic.


He tells Raffi about the call in a text. Can't face her at this point. Can't let her see how much it means to him that Seven commed him when she was on the same world as Raffi, when she could have just reached out and taken hold.


And can't bear to see how much the fact she didn't will hurt Raffi.


He especially doesn't tell her that Seven called him Liam for the first time ever. She was drunk and probably won't do it again.


But he'll hold on to how it felt to hear his name pass her lips. It will sustain him for days.




They're sitting on his bed, he's reading off data to Raffi, and she's trying to track where Seven would have been on that world to have seen her.


(They both know she's gone. They both know it would be stupid to go back to that world. But they both want to know all the places she might have been, based on where Raffi went that day. They want a map of Seven's potential whereabouts for that day. It's the only certain thing they have so far.)


He reaches out finally, when it's clear there are no other places, and squeezes her shoulder as he tells her to save the map she's created and send it to him.


(It's meaningless. A moment of time only. Here she was and now is not. They don't care. It's saved in folders titled Seven that are full of information but nothing else this concrete, nothing that they know for sure is her location.)


They both get a notification of a new message. It's from her. No hiding behind some strange user name but again, she has muddied the tracks, slipped into a virtual creek, taken her scent away from their electronic hounds and is still, as always, in the wind.


There's no preamble. There's no explanation. The poem is all that the message contains. The subject line is blank.


A Villanelle for Them


Give up, give in, and let me go

Or else there's only misery

True happiness we'll never know


I know you search both far and low

As if I'm somehow destiny

Give up, give in, and let me go


A truth on you I will bestow

You're both the worse for knowing me

True happiness we'll never know


It isn't right I've brought you low

So turn and look and really see

Give up, give in, and let me go


It's all right if you don't go slow

No need to hide in secrecy

True happiness we'll never know


The cracks and lines begin to show

I've done my best to set you free

Give up, give in, and let me go

True happiness we'll never know



They sit, silently, and then Raffi throws her padd against the wall, and it would shatter if these devices were made many generations ago, but they're not. They are made to withstand too much to let a wall and a floor disrupt their utility, their functioning.


The padd lands screen up. The poem taunts them.


"Fuck her," she says.


"Fuck her," he echoes.


They both hate poetry in general, hers in specific.


They get up and leave the bed, which apparently Seven wants them to share, and go to the mess, eat healthy food, and talk strategy.


They don't fuck. (Seven has misjudged their tenacity—and their loyalty.)


They don't drink. (Raffi no longer wants to drown this anger in alcohol or drugs. Now, she just feels it. And Liam has always been good at wallowing in his emotions with or without chemical assistance.)


They aren't falling in love. They're both in love with her. They both fall in love with their whole heart.


There's no room left for each other. There's only enough for her.





I read and reread the villanelle I wrote. I'm sure it could be refined, tightened. Poetry is never really done. Just a work in progress that is done enough.


I shouldn't have sent it to them.


I was right to send it to them.


I'm at war with how much I don't want to have done the right thing and sent that to them.


They got it days ago. Are they in bed now, reading the poem in between kisses? Would they turn to each other?


They're both so beautiful. It would make sense if they did. If they gave up on the lost cause that's me and just forged a future together.


I'm comming Liam before I can think better of it, I'm staring at him and I can tell he's at his desk and I say, "Show me your bed."


And he turns the terminal so I can see the bed, the empty bed.


"Raffi's not here, Seven."


I don't know if he means not here on the ship or not here in his quarters or not here for the moment because she went to the mess to get him one of the pastries he likes to eat right before bed.


I know because I've seen him come in and get one, along with a glass of milk. Habits like that are endearing—humanizing for a captain. His smile was always sheepish when he realized I'd caught him again.


"She's gone back to Earth, Seven."




"You're sober, aren't you?" He's doing something to the terminal but acting like he's not. I've seen him do it a million times on the bridge. and I realize I didn't take any of my normal steps to hide my tracks.


He can find me through this stupid call that I shouldn't have made because he and Raffi might be happy if I'd just stay out of it.


He's reading my expression, clearly he is, because he says, "Seven, don't hang up. Come home. Just please come home."


I cut the connection, pack my things, and bribe a smuggler who sometimes provides me info to get me the hell out of this star system.


I was sober and I made that mistake.


Do I want them to find me?




He's repairing a shorting circuit in engineering with the acting head of engineering when he hears Raffi's steps behind him. He turns and sees she's furious.


He expected this. Once he told her that Seven called him. Once it was clear she didn't also call Raffi.


She murmurs for him to get to the bridge, to his ready room, and her tone holds murder and blades and a Klingon's sense of mercy. So he leads her to the lift and walks onto the bridge, leaving Mura still in charge, and closes the door to his ready room once they're both inside.


"Were you two lovers and you just forgot to mention that?"


He realizes she's somehow watched the comm. That thought pisses him off, and he stares her down, refusing to answer.


"You were. And you didn't tell me?"


"We weren't." He sits heavily at his desk. "We weren't but...I love her." He doesn't just love her, he's in love with her. It's a degree of love that matters, simply loving versus being deep into the emotion, belonging versus affection.


"Does she love you?"


"I don't know." But he knows that's a lie. She saved him, in a way that she probably thinks he was guaranteed to not like.


And she couldn't blow the lift.


So he looks down, and says, "Yes. Maybe. I don't know. I hope so. What do you want me to say?"


She closes her eyes and finally sits, leaning back. "It's hell. Loving her."


"I know. I've known for two years." It took him so little time to fall for her. And he fell so hard. It made him overcompensate. Treat her more harshly at times. Ride her for small shit. Argue relentlessly when the tension got too much.


"Oh. Wow—long torch." She sighs. "She had no idea, I think."


"Well, I treated her like shit to make up for wanting to treat her like gold." He closes his eyes and holds his head as if he can go back in time if he just holds tightly enough. As if he can be a different kind of man, one she doesn't run from after everything that happened. One she would trust. "It's my fault she's gone."


"Bullshit. You didn't throw her out the door. She ran. She does that. Only this time we bring her back."


He stares at her confused.


"I'm still going to help you. One of us gets her. No one else. Understood?"


She's fierce and terrifying, and he nods because of course one of them will get her. No one else possibly can.




They get the next message a week later. It's sent to both of them but addressed to him in the body of the text.


The preamble is short: I finally watched this.


Your Officer Review


Lead me to Hell

I'm great by unrelenting light

Gonna be a recommendation

Of that promotion to

When they were broken

By the book

Maybe God is reckless

So we have that relic

To the Protocol of an older time

Doesn't give a damn

About a First Officer Hansen

Or more accurately

She's Seven of Nine

Breaks the rules

That she writes

She's loyal Hansen

She is in the book

Brave book is about procedure

However boring

Begin with that, Captain

And return to port


It makes no sense to Raffi. But he can see what Seven's done. How she took his words from the officer review and played, pulled, cut, pasted, and came up with something that's maybe a message or maybe just nonsense.


But the last bit seems pointed, and Raffi frowns and crosses her arms and waits for him to tell her what it means, why Seven sent it to them but really to him.


They argue over whether or not he actually recommended her for promotion. He finally pulls up the file so she can watch the source material for Seven's poem.


"You did love her," she says, and gets up without another word and leaves his quarters, his ship, his sector.


He's used to working with her on these things. Used to it being them, not him. He stares at the poem, even looks up the form.


It's called découpé in French. Remix, cut up, found poetry.


Does Seven want him to find her?


(She doesn't. She wasn't drunk when she wrote it. She wasn't in pain. She'd caught two people who'd killed a lot of innocent people for fun. It was a good day and she was in the mood to finally listen to her officer review.


She listened over and over, because it's him and he's as close as he'll ever be to her, and he's emotional, and he made this before the shit that happened, he truly believed in her, and...


And she loves him. And she wonders if maybe, just maybe, he might have loved her. If things had been different. Captain to captain.


Something that will never happen now.)


He's confused. Which captain should return to port? She's a captain, or would be, if she'd stayed. She knows that if she's seen the review finally.


It actually makes him feel better to know she hadn't seen the review before now. How could she not trust him if she'd seen it? When nothing showed his regard for her, his respect for her, (even, if she were paying attention, his love for her) more glaringly than this emotional mess of an eval?





I'm tired and in pain. I lie in a field hospital, and I've lost my padd so I can't write poetry, which I imagine will be a relief to both Liam and Raffi.


I'm hurt but I see a padd on the empty bed next to me, left behind by one of the doctors who just left, and the screen hasn't locked yet, so I struggle to my feet and grab it.


I lie back down and punch his code in from memory. I have no idea what time it is, no idea if he's sleeping or eating or sitting in the center seat.


He answers with "Hi, Seven." Then his eyes narrow and he says, his voice dipping into a register I rarely heard on the ship, "You're really hurt."


"I really am." If he tells me to come home, this time I just might.


But he doesn't tell me that. He just looks at me and I look at him and then he says, "Close your eyes. You need sleep."


"Tell me something I don't know about you."


"How much pain medicine are you on?"


"Not enough. Just tell me." I shift so I'm comfortable. Or more so anyway. I'm not lying about the stinginess with pain relief in this place.


"I hate sausage on my pizza."


"I already knew that." From pizza parties for the crew. He never goes near the ones with sausage.


"I love sausage with scrambled eggs."


That I don't know but I also don't really care about his attitude toward sausage. "These are not deep things you're telling me."


"Fine. I love you." He sits in a really tense way, as if he expects me to cut the connection. "Did you hear me?"


I nod.


"Do you love me?"


I nod again, without breaking the gaze we have locked on each other. Then I hear the doctor coming back and he sees me with his padd, and I say, "I have to go, Liam, this isn't my padd."


And I cut the connection. And it hurts worse than the stab wound in my gut does. I wasn't ready to say goodbye.


He loves me. And I love him.


Once the doctor's gone, I turn my head into my pillow and cry.




He sits at his terminal watching as Raffi pulls up the information. "I've got it. I can go get her."




She looks at him in alarm. "What do you mean no?"


"She needs to come home. To us. It has to be her choice."


She rolls her eyes and even through the screen he can feel her annoyance with him. "I can be there in a day. I can have the doctors drug the shit out of her so she can't run."


Like happened to him after Wolf 359, when his parents dragged him to a therapist before he was ready to give up self-destructive behaviors, and he ended up further away from getting healthy than if he'd chosen for himself. He doesn't want that for her. He wants her to have the choice.


"Raffi, if we drag her back, we'll never know. Did she come back because she wanted to? Or because we made her?"


He does wonder if he'd be so zen if Seven hadn't told him she loved him.


If she didn't know now that he loves her too.


He hasn't told Raffi those words were exchanged. He thinks from now on there might be quite a few things he doesn't tell her.


Like that as soon as she hangs up, he calls the number that called him. He gets the doctor and explains who he is and that he needs to talk to his patient, the one who was using his padd.


He minimizes the asshole he presents so often. He pours on the charm. He smiles and is dragging up so much emotion to put in his voice that he's afraid he might drown in it if the doctor won't let him talk to her.


But a moment later, the doctor says, "Five minutes. Then I need this back," and Seven is on the screen. Her eyes are red—has she been crying?


"Hi, again," he says, giving her the full smile he often tries to hide because it's a little lopsided, but he doesn't care if she sees that—he wants her to see that.


"I didn't cover my tracks this time, Liam. On purpose."


"I know."


"Should I expect Raffi?"


"No. You know the way home."


"Do I have a home?"


"You do—if you want one." He has no idea how he'll work that but he has three admirals and a captain or two that could make just about anything happen if they really want to.


The ship lost its chief engineer in the fight with the Borg. He'd love to get back to his engines. Being a captain is great for the resume, but he misses doing what he loves.


"What are you thinking about?"


"The future. With you. But that's stupid. We may not have one if you don't come back." He just sits and waits, watching her, taking in how pale she is. "You need to sleep, Sev."


The name comes naturally, feels right, and she smiles and then looks away, nodding, and saying, "The doctor needs this back. I can't make this decision now. When I'm hurt, when I'm lonely, when I'm vulnerable and possibly a little stoned."


"Understood. Sleep well. Shaw out." And this time he's the one to cut the connection.


He can imagine her surprise.


He can also imagine her smile at his ballsiness.





They sit in Janeway's office at a conference table. Raffi is about to come out of her skin because she's still got "Stalker" on her record, but he stills the leg she's jiggling and smiles gently until she relaxes.


The three of them are talking options. For when Seven gets home, not if. And he tells Janeway that Seven will want Raffi in the adjacent seat and him in engineering and he knows Raffi's staring at him like he's nuts.


Janeway knows him from way back, so this kind of thing is totally expected as far as she's concerned. Her only surprise is how close he and Raffi seem. Not a bad close. A good close for an engineer and a first officer. Lockstep.


No one has talked to Seven. And she hasn't called since the hospital. But a message appeared in his and Raffi's inboxes.



First there was the storm

Fire breathing, ocean streaming

Let me off this ship


Then there was the sand

Kites ascending, scaring crows

Till they dove to ground


Soon there were the sounds

Of the birthplace of the moons

Singing just to me


Last what will there be?

I can see so many things

Which of them is real?



A series of haiku that may mean something or may mean nothing more than any of the other poems might have meant, but he and Raffi are both choosing to believe it does mean something.


It means everything.


It means she's coming home.


Janeway isn't operating on hope. She's operating on procedure. (And love, but she has a great poker face and isn't giving that away.) "We're changing the name of the ship."


Neither of them see how that's relevant. They just care about getting Seven back, getting her into the center seat.


"It's going to be the flagship."


They both go still. This isn't just getting her on the Titan. Being captain of the flagship means something a lot more.


"Okay then," Janeway says, "she'll be the new captain of the Enterprise. She has the two weeks that the ship's in for maintenance to come home, or I'll have to name someone else to the post, and you two will be given new assignments where I think best."


They reach as one, their hands coming together under the table, where Janeway can't see. They both have faith Seven will be home in the two weeks.




They get up, walk out of her office, head without talking about it to Command's ice cream parlor, and get double scoop cones that they eat in the sun, watching the sunset create gorgeous colors on the water.


"I'm only going to say this one time, Liam. I hate you for being who she wants."


"I'd hate me too if I were you."


"Okay, so that's said, and now we're fine." She takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly. "Now she just needs to come home."





I get off the shuttle and take a breath of Earth's air. It never feels like home.


Then I use the shuttleport's bathroom to change into my very wrinkled uniform and transport to Command. I find that my retinal scan is still active; I enter the building with no issues.


If I know Kathryn, she has an alert set for when I finally show back up. I walk to her office and am not surprised to see her striding toward me before I'm even halfway there.


We don't hug. We don't smile. She just stops in front of me and studies me and says, "You home for good, then?"


"I am."


"Your friends have planned your future."


"Well, that's good because the last few months I've done a pretty shit job at that."


She laughs and pulls me in, holding tightly, whispering, "You're an idiot. Do you know how many people have been worried about you?"


And I don't really know, so I ask her to tell me, to list them name by name, so she does, and it's so many.


It's so many more than I would ever have guessed.


"But, Seven, no one missed you more than those two. Please tell me you'll only need to be with one of them. Fraternization waivers are headaches without adding a second partner—for humans anyway."


"Just one of them. Liam."


"Well, good, because it's easier to be with your engineer than your first officer." She lets me go and takes a step back, pulling out a box from her pocket, opening it and taking a pip out. "Before you can change your mind and bolt again, I dub thee Captain Seven of Nine."


I laugh as she pins it on me. This is irregular, but I don't expect a ceremony, not when I ran away. "I take it I wasn't listed as AWOL?"


"Personal leave. And then a sabbatical when HR started to get too nosy."


"Thank you. I owe you." I'll add it to the tab that already exists—a tab I'll never be able to repay.


"Be a good captain. That's the payback I want."


"I'll be like you. Then I'll be the best captain." Although I'll probably also be like Liam. He and I may have torn each other apart from time to time, but I've never seen him go after anyone else that way. "Do I need to do anything here? Check in or whatever?"


"Before you go up to your ship, you mean?" Her smile is huge. "Go. He'll be so happy."


As I walk to the transporter room, I take out my padd and call Raffi.


She picks up immediately. "Where are you?"


"I'm back. And headed up to the ship."


It's a choice, and she will understand.


"He'll be thrilled." I'm not sure I would be as gracious as she's being. But I also don't know what happened between her and Liam, and I will never, ever, ask.


I gave them permission. If they reached for each other, I don't need to know. And we're all going to be serving together, thanks to them.


Once I get to space dock, I call Liam. "Captain Seven to Captain Shaw."


"Shaw here." There's joy in his voice. I'm not sure if anyone else can hear it, but I can.


"I'm at space dock. Permission to come aboard, sir."


"Permission granted."




Running through a ship like some lovesick fool in a romantic comedy is not his style, but he's doing it anyway. He gets to the transporter room just as she comes out. She has a small bag, and she looks like she's been traveling for a while—her uniform is wrinkled, but then it's probably been in the bottom of her bag this whole time.


But she kept it. He loves that she kept it.


And travel worn or not, no one has ever looked more beautiful to him.


"I have one request," he says. "No more fucking poetry."


"Not even a love poem?"




She grins at his response, then she takes a step closer, then another. "Permission to kiss my captain?"


"I think that's my line." He takes two steps in, fully closing the gap. "I've missed you."


She's running her hands over his chest, and he knows it's not a sexual move. It's where he got shot, and the last time she saw him he was alive but still in a coma, and before that he was dead and cradled by her.


And now he's not either of those things. Now he's fine.


But he knows she needs to make sure of it. "You're really not mad about the Borg blood?"


"It's not Borg blood: it's your blood. And it hasn't changed me as far as I can tell."


"Good." She smiles. "One of us should kiss the other."


"You're the one that left. You do it." He knows he sounds hurt, but he is, damn it all. He's been through hell and so has Raffi—he stops her as she reaches for him. "Raffi knows you're back, right?"




"Okay good, carry on."


And then her lips are on his, and he's pulling her close, and he thinks the first thing she needs is a shower, but that's okay because he can have one too as he gets to know where else she has Borg bits.


He suddenly pulls away. "Shit. I ran out without giving anyone the conn." He hits his combadge. "Shaw to Mura."


"Mura here." He's laughing. "The conn's mine again?"


"Yeah. I'll...be a while."


"We're in space dock, sir. Take as much time as you need."




They're sitting up in bed and they've pulled on clothes so when they call Raffi, it won't be weird. Seven has her hand on his leg and he has his hand on her back because neither of them wants to let go of the other now that they're together.


Raffi looks surprised when she answers. "Everything okay?"


"It is. I just wanted to call and say..." He's not sure what the hell he thought he needed to say.



Seven thinks the way they look speaks volumes.Their hair is wet from the shower, and their lips are chapped from kissing, and they both have rosy glows from the sex.


"Message received." Raffi looks happy for them. "Oh and I wrote you a poem of my own, Seven, but I wasn't sure if you had a padd, so I sent it to Liam. You'll like it. It's super sophisticated, a classic form."


Liam laughs but Seven just looks suspicious.


"By the way," he says, and Seven notes the ease of familiarity between Raffi and him now, and is soothed rather than bothered by it, "she's forbidden to write any more poetry. Ever."


"Thank God for that. I'll see you two when you come up for air. Raffi out."


They cuddle together as they open up her message.


Now Who's the Dipshit?


Roses are red

Violets are blue

Running was dumb

But we love you