End of Innocence

by A. Magiluna Stormwriter

DISCLAIMER: I don't own them, as much as I wish I did. Cuz if I *did* actually own them, things would be a lot diffferent, and CONTINUITY would be a given. BTW, this story deals with f/f type issues. If that bothers you, or you're not old enough to read it, DON'T. Thanks.

Kathryn Janeway stood outside Cargo Bay 2, barely concealed confusion and curiosity on her face. She knew Seven was scheduled for regeneration at this time, but came at the younger woman's request anyway. Squaring her shoulders, she entered the cargo bay. "Seven?" she called out softly.

"I am here, Captain," came the even response as the woman stepped out of the shadow of her regeneration alcove. "I -- thank you for coming," she said slowly, as if trying to remember the words the EMH had drilled into her.

"How could I refuse? You don't request such things often, Seven," Janeway said gently, seeing the discomfort on the blonde's face. "What's wrong, Seven?"

"Why would you assume something is wrong?" The haughty response was automatic, almost a defense mechanism. Then Seven blinked and sighed, as if realizing what she had done. "I -- am sorry, Captain. This is all new to me....and rather disconcerting."

Janeway moved to sit on the landing next to the alcove, motioning the blonde to join her. She placed a gentle hand on the shoulder nearer and smiled. "Why don't you tell me what's going on, Seven?"

"I wish to become your lover." Succinct. To the point. Blunt. As Seven had always been.

The declaration shocked Kathryn Janeway, and her hand unconsciously tightened around Seven's shoulder for a brief moment. "You what?" Janeway couldn't form anything more coherent.

"I wish to become your lover," Seven replied, a bit less confidently this time. "I wish for you to teach me to love another person." Noting the shocked confusion on Janeway's face, she faltered a bit, eyes wide. "Is this -- Have I done something wrong, Captain?"

Janeway continued to stare at her for a moment, unable to reply if she tried. Finally, she stood and began to pace, needing to do something. She mulled over Seven's words, trying to formulate a response.

Seven saw that Janeway was less than enthusiastic, and her face fell. "I am sorry, Captain. I shouldn't have said anything. Please, disregard this entire situation." She felt horrible, sure that she had irreparably damaged their relationship. "I should regenerate," she murmured, stepping up to the alcove.

A hand shot out to stop her. "Where are you going?" came the soft voice.

Seven wouldn't turn around, couldn't bear to see the anger, the disapproval in those blue eyes behind her. "I wish to regenerate now. I would ask that you leave, but I will not be so presumptuous."

"You won't be so presumptuous as to ask me to leave, yet you declared your desire to become my lover?" Janeway's voice was low, a bit harder than Seven would have preferred.

"As I stated, I should not have said anything about it. I am sorry, Captain. I intend no harm." She was on the verge of tears, another recent sensation. She truly wanted Janeway gone before the tears started. "I must regenerate," she added lamely.

The hand tightened on her arm. "You can regenerate later, Seven. I think we need to discuss this right now." Seven started to protest. "I won't take no for an answer, young lady. You have two minutes to get yourself composed and to my quarters to discuss this."

"We cannot discuss it here?" Seven asked nervously, needing the security of her alcove.

"No, Seven, this is serious and I believe we would be more comfortable in my quarters."

"You mean *you* would be more comfortable in your quarters," she lashed back, realizing what could happen, trying to stop it before it did.


"If you have chosen to refuse my request, Captain, just say it and leave so I can regenerate." Deep inside, Seven was quaking and utterly depressed. She needed to be alone, needed time to reflect on her erroneous ways. "The Doctor will not be pleased if I have delayed my regeneration unnecessarily again."

"Again? Seven, what are you talking about?" That worried the captain. She felt responsible for the former Borg.

"Nothing. I wish to regenerate so I may return to my duties in a few hours. Good day, Captain." Without waiting for a response, Seven disentangled herself from the woman's grasp and entered her alcove to begin her regeneration. But she wasn't quick enough to stop the single tear that slid down her cheek before she succumbed to the regenerative cycle.

But it didn't escape Janeway, who was deeply shaken by the emotional response from the younger woman. Quickly, she left the cargo bay, needing to distance herself.


For nearly three days, Janeway and Seven of Nine did their best to avoid each other, both women lost in their thoughts regarding their brief, uncomfortable meeting. Seven was despondent, though she thought she hid it. And Janeway was clearly confused, irritable....and somewhat despondent herself. But all she let show was an occasional snappish comment when caught off-guard. And then the last straw came while she was in her Ready Room.


"Come in," she called tersely, brought out of her reverie. She looked up to see her Chief Engineer walk in. "What can I do for you, Lieutenant?"

"You need to get that Borg out of my Engineering department before I kill her, that's what you need to do," the half-Klingon snapped. "She's just about initiated a warpcore shunt twice in the past three days. Not to mention the fact that she's been lax in her duties. She can't even keep her damned self to task for more than five minutes unless prompted." The engineer paused to take a deep breath. "That damned idiot of a drone is gonna get us killed if she's not careful, Captain....unless I kill her first."

"That's quite enough, Lieutenant," came Janeway's quiet reprimand. "You will do no such thing."

"Fine," B'Elanna huffed. "Just take care of your damned pet, okay?" Janeway started to speak, but she held up a hand. "I'm sorry, Captain, that was uncalled for. I just don't need her problems on top of everything else I have to deal with. Engineering is having a rough enough time with this refit to have to deal with Seven's identity crisis, or whatever the hell it is."

"Thank you, B'Elanna. I'll see what I can do. You're dismissed." She watched the young engineer stalk out of her Ready Room, then leaned back in her chair with a sigh. Seven was having problems. Now she'd have to face her demons and talk to the young woman. "Computer, locate Seven of Nine."

"Seven of Nine is in Cargo Bay 2."

Before she could chicken out, Janeway stood and left her Ready Room, crossing the bridge to enter the 'lift. She paced a bit, trying to figure out what to say to the young woman when she was face to face with her. Stepping out of the turbolift, she made her way to the cargo bay and entered without permission. "Seven?" she called out softly, not immediately seeing the young woman.

"You wish to see me, Captain?" Seven stepped out from the shadowed seclusion of her alcove.

"Yes, Seven. I think we need to talk about a few things."

"As you wish, Captain," came the automatic response as Seven lowered herself to sit on the landing as she had only three days earlier.

Janeway regarded the woman for a moment. "B'Elanna tells me you've been having some problems completing your duties as of late. Care to tell me what that's all about?"

"No, I do not care to discuss it, Captain. It is a private matter, and it will not happen again."

"How can you be so sure?"

"I am Borg. I will make sure it never happens again." Her voice was deadly cold, yet her eyes betrayed her pain. She paused a moment. "If that is all, I must regenerate now." She stood up to enter the alcove, once again stopped by a hand on her shoulder.

"Oh no, you don't, Seven. I've checked your records. You've been doing a lot of regenerating these past few days. What's going on? Why are you hiding like this?"

"I am not hiding, Captain. I merely wish to make sure that the Doctor's requirements of me are satisfactorily met."

Janeway blinked at that. "And now I *know* something's wrong. You've never willingly agreed to anyone's wishes before. What's going on, Seven? What are you hiding from?" she asked again.

Realization hit with Seven's next words. "It is more correct to ask *who* I am hiding from, Captain."

Janeway reacted visibly to that, took a deep breath, let go of the younger woman's arm. "Seven, we need to talk. You made a very heartfelt confession to me three days ago that took me by surprise. And I did probably the worst thing. I rejected it, and you, instead of discussing it, dealing with it. And now, your duties have suffered because of it. For that I am sorry."

"And for what I actually said?" Seven asked softly. "Which was not a heartfelt confession, but an observation, a chance for me to learn more about humanity. It...meant nothing."

Janeway smiled ruefully, touched Seven's hand lightly. "When did you learn to lie, Seven? It meant a great deal to you, or you'd never have brought it up in the first place. Can you honestly deny that?"

Seven looked away, feeling the rejection welling up within her again. "I cannot," she finally whispered, then shook her head, eyes closing to stop the tears. When she spoke again, her voice was louder, steadier. "But it does not matter. You obviously reacted in a natural, honest manner. I can no more expect you to be amenable to my request than expect to be welcomed with open arms back in the Alpha Quadrant. I will deal with this setback. For that is what it is, a setback in my pursuit toward your heart."

"Toward my heart? Did I hear you correctly?"

Seven blinked, blushed furiously. "I meant my pursuit toward humanity."

"But that's not what you said," Janeway said softly, reaching out to touch the former drone's cheek, hold her gaze when Seven would have averted her eyes. "Seven, look at me, talk to me. What are your feelings toward me?"

"You -- You are my captain, the person who severed me from the Collective, the person in charge of my return to humanity. I feel a sense of obligation to you, of servitude, but...nothing else." Her eyes closed as she uttered the final words.

Janeway gazed at her for a long moment, taking in the dejected set of her lowered head, the fact that she was so reticent to voice her opinions where once it would have taken no prompting whatsoever. Gently, the older woman smiled and touched Seven's cheek again, then leaned in and ever so lightly pressed her lips to the pale ones before her.

Seven recoiled from the touch, eyes snapping open, a hand going to her mouth. It felt on fire from that simple touch. She stared at the captain, tears welling in her eyes again. "Do not attempt to placate me, Captain. That is not your way, nor is it what I want."


"Please leave." It was request, command, plea, all rolled into one.

"No, Seven," Janeway murmured, reaching up to caress her cheek again.

"Bridge to Janeway."

"Yes, Commander?" she asked, never taking her eyes from the hurt eyes before her.

"Your presence is required on the bridge. We're getting some odd readings up here that I'd like to hear your opinion about." And then a pause. "And perhaps Seven of Nine's opinion as well. She might have some retained knowledge that would help us."

"We're on our way, Commander. Janeway out." She looked at Seven as she stood, held out a hand. "We could use your help, Seven."

Seven stood, avoiding the proffered hand. "I will do what I can for the ship."

Janeway was visibly hurt by that seemingly minor rejection, but understood it. After all, hadn't she done worse? "Alright then. Once this is taken care of, I want to talk to you some more about what just happened."

"Your speech is irrelevant, Captain," Seven said coldly, hoping desperately to hide the elation and fear she felt. "It was a simple placating motion that meant nothing on your part. And you will no doubt tell me that we can be nothing but superior and subordinate, perhaps casual friends when it suits your purposes. There is no need for further discussion of this situation."

With that, she stepped out of the cargo bay and made her way toward the bridge, acutely feeling Janeway's presence behind her.


Kathryn Janeway sat in her darkened quarters later that evening, mulling over the day's events and sipping at a snifter of Saurian brandy. The anomalous readings had been unusual, coming from a strange new nebula they'd been bypassing rather than going through. She made sure they dispatched a probe to look into it, then turned to Seven for her comments. The former drone stated that her knowledge base contained nothing about this nebula, then turned smartly on her heel and walked off the bridge. That had hurt like hell for Kathryn, but was typical of Seven when she'd first begun integrating into the crew.

And that bothered Janeway. It seemed that now Seven was reverting to a more Borg-like attitude in light of their recent conversations. Like Seven didn't want to be human now that she'd been rejected.

Fingers moved of their own accord to her lips as she remembered the brief kiss she'd given the woman. She hadn't planned on it, but kissing Seven seemed the right thing to do. She had to admit, she felt something for the ex-Borg, but had always thought it was more maternal. "Obviously not, Kathryn," she murmured, lifting the snifter for another drink. But what was she really feeling? Could she in fact do as Seven had asked?

Before she could consider a response, her door chime sounded. "Come in," she called softly, not bothering to turn up the lights or move from her position.

"Captain, are you busy?" It was Chakotay.

She smiled and shook her head. "Nothing that can't wait until later, Chakotay. Please come in." She watched him move to sit next to her, then motioned with her glass. "Care for some brandy?"

"No thanks," he replied, watching her closely for a moment. "Harry says he's getting some interesting telemetry from the probe in the nebula, but nothing truly unusual. I'm sorry we had to call you away like that this morning. If I'd looked at what we were doing, I could have dispatched the probe myself. I apologize."

"It's alright, Chakotay," she murmured, sipping at her brandy again. "In a way, you did me a favor."

"Oh? Care to talk about it, Kathryn?" he asked, seeing the confusion in her eyes.

"It's Seven."

"I'd assumed so. You've been rather at odds the past few days. What happened?" Carefully he watched her face, so expressive of her moods, whether she chose to believe that or not.

"We -- She asked me something three days ago that really threw me for a loop. I wasn't sure how to respond, and that was made clear. We've ignored each other since. This morning, B'Elanna came to see me, complaining about Seven's lack of concentration. She said that Seven had almost initiated a warpcore shunt twice in that time, that she couldn't stay on task for more than five minutes without prompting. So I went down to see her, see if I could get her to talk to me about what had happened." She paused a moment, taking a rather large gulp of her brandy. "I -- I ended up kissing her, Chakotay," she whispered, eyes closed, the memory replaying in her mind.

Chakotay blinked at that, then smiled. "You kissed her? Kathryn, what did Seven ask you three days ago?"

Another long drink of the brandy. "She said she wished to become my lover, to learn about love."

"And what did you say?" It was soft, concerned. Such concern in his voice, coupled with the brandy, caused Kathryn to begin to cry. Chakotay plucked the glass from her hand, set it on the table, then pulled her into his arms, comforting her. "It's alright to cry, Kathryn. It's obviously upset you."

"I rejected her. Flat out rejected her. And then ignored her for three days. And when I saw her today, saw how upset she was, I just...kissed her. And then she rejected me. It hurt like hell, Chakotay. Why did it hurt like hell? She's a member of my crew. Granted, I have a lot invested in her development toward humanity again, but she's still a member of my crew."

"Obviously you care for her, Kathryn, or you wouldn't have kissed her like that," he replied, looking at her. "And now you have to talk to her, tell her what's going on."

"But I don't know what's going on, Chakotay. That's the problem."

"How do you feel about Seven, Kathryn? What is she to you?"

"She is a former Borg drone that I rescued from the Collective, a member of my crew whose skills are highly valued, even if her personal and social skills are still lacking, and...."

"And?" Chakotay asked when she didn't continue.

"Oh hell," she murmured, looking up at him. "I need to talk to Seven. Would you--?"

"I'll be right next door if you should need me," he replied, standing. "Good luck, Kathryn." He kissed her cheek, then left.

"I'll need it," she whispered, then cleared her throat. "Janeway to Seven of Nine."

"Yes, Captain?"

"Seven, I would like to speak with you. Would you come to my quarters?"


"No?" A pause. "Permission to speak freely, Seven."

"I would prefer a more neutral location for the discussion I believe you wish to have."

"Fair enough. Meet me on the holodeck in fifteen minutes."

"Very well. Seven of Nine out."


Fifteen minutes later, Kathryn Janeway found herself facing Seven of Nine in the holodeck. She'd arrived first and started a program of a forest glen, complete with a meandering stream nearby, and had sat under a large oak tree, waiting for the other woman to arrive. She was nervous as hell about this meeting, but she needed to do it.

"You wished to see me, Captain?"

"Please, Seven, call me Kathryn." She could see the young woman bristle at the idea. "This is not ship's business, so you may call me by my name, rather than my rank. I don't mind, Seven, not at all."

"Very well....Kathryn." She tried it, it sounded odd, yet felt very natural rolling off her lips. "What did you wish to discuss?"

"You know very well what I want to discuss with you, Seven," she replied a bit harshly, then sighed. "I'm sorry, Seven. That was uncalled for. I would like to discuss what has been happening between us the past few days."

"Very well." Seven stood there, looking down at the woman.

"Please, have a seat. It will be much more comfortable." Janeway patted the ground next to her, then wrapped her arms around her knees again, staring out at the stream. Seven watched her for a moment, then adopted the same pose, as Kathryn began speaking softly. "I'm sorry, Seven. I reacted horribly to your request the other day. All I can say in my defense is that you stunned me, shocked me completely. I was at a loss for words."

"So you chose instead to leave and ignore me?"

Looking down, Kathryn nodded. "Yes, I guess that's what I did. I needed time. And today, when B'Elanna came to me about the problems you were having in Engineering, I had to speak to you. I knew it had something to do with our previous encounter, and I wanted to clear the air."

"By kissing me?" Janeway's soft laugh brought Seven's eyes to her face. "I do not find it funny, Cap--Kathryn."

"I'm sorry. It's just the way you said that could be taken in a humorous way." She sighed. "I kissed you because it felt like the right thing to do." She reached a hand out to hesitantly touch Seven's arm. "I care very deeply for you, Seven. I've always assumed it was maternal in nature. But I realized it was more than that earlier tonight...with the help of a very dear, very concerned friend."

"Commander Chakotay." It came out flatly, almost with a note of jealousy added in.

"Yes, Commander Chakotay. Seven, he and I have been very good friends for nearly five years now. He knows me very well, and he knew I needed to discuss what was bothering me. He didn't know what it was, but he was very supportive when he did find out. And it was because of him that I forced myself to accept what I feel for you."

"Which is what exactly, Kathryn?" Seven asked, finally looking at her again. "If this is going to be some sort of gentle rejection to ease the pain of the first one, then don't bother. I already know how you feel about this. It has been made quite obvious to me, and I do not wish to relive it again. We will be casual friends when the situation dictates, or more often we will be superior and subordinate, as I already stated. Is that correct?"

"No," came the soft reply as the hand moved up to caress her cheek. "That is not correct, not completely. Yes, we will always be superior and subordinate when on duty, but as for off duty, I would like something more than casual friendship. That is, if you're willing to give me a chance."

"What are you saying?" Seven's voice was soft, tinged with fear and joy. Could she honestly be hearing what she thought she was hearing?

Instead of speaking, Kathryn gazed into Seven's eyes for a long moment, then leaned forward and gently pressed her lips to Seven's again. She tensed slightly, fearful that Seven would recoil in distaste or fear again. But when the blonde didn't pull away, she slid her hands up to cup her face, holding her in place as the kiss began to deepen. When she finally pulled back, Kathryn rested her forehead against Seven's, gazing deeply into the clear blue eyes. "I'm saying that I would be honored to be your lover and teach you the ways of human love and affection."