by JS Stephens
Copyright © 1999, revised 2013. All Rights Reserved.
Comments to: email@example.com
Disclaimer: I am borrowing characters and other elements of the Star Trek universe, which is owned by Paramount/Viacom or whoever the holding company is these days. I mean them no harm.
There may be actual or implied or even just discussed relationships between members of the same gender. If this bothers you, please leave quietly and shut the door behind you.
Captain Kathryn Janeway, commander of the USS Voyager, was yawning as she entered her quarters. It had been a long day, complete with a brush with a species who wanted to dismantle the ship "to see how it runs". Janeway managed, with assistance from Seven's Borg memories of the species, to negotiate a delicate truce between them and to give them models of the ship instead. Janeway did not want to give any real technical specifications, her gut instinct had shouted "NO!" Fortunately, they were satisfied with the models, one a whole model and the other a cutaway model showing some of the decks. Tom Paris, the chief pilot of Voyager, had then rambled on about the plastic models from the 20th century that allowed children to build replicas of cars, ships, planes, etc. Janeway decided then that it was time to make a graceful exit, leaving the bridge in the capable hands of Commander Chakotay, her first officer.
Janeway had just finished her shower and was pulling on her nightgown when her door chimes sounded. Repressing a sigh, she said "Come in" and pulled on her matching robe as the doors whooshed open. She entered her living area to see Seven standing, waiting for the captain to appear. "Seven, what brings you here? Please, have a seat, would you like some coffee? I was about to replicate some."
The former Borg considered the information, then gingerly sat down on the edge of the couch and answered, "If coffee is what you are imbibing, I will attempt to imbibe it as well." The captain gave the replicator commands and waited for the coffee carafe. After the coffee appeared, she poured two mugs, placed it all on a tray, and carried the tray to the coffee table in front of the couch. She took a sip, enjoying the warm, slightly bitter brew, watching the former Borg over the rim of her mug. What had brought Seven to her cabin so late in the evening? Seven picked up the mug and took a sip, frowning as she tried to analyze the taste. Finally, she put the mug back down and asked, "Captain, what is a 'lesbian'?"
Janeway took another long sip of her coffee before setting her mug down. Keeping her face neutral, she asked, "In what context did you hear this term?"
"Crewman Narh said that I must be a lesbian since I was staring at Lt. Torres when I was assisting her in Engineering today. Lt. Torres became quite angry and told him to leave and confine himself to quarters, then told me that his planet did not accept differences. She refused to elaborate and I have not had a chance to query the library computer. I tried to explain that I was not staring at her, but was merely listening to her directions. Explain." Seven looked puzzled.
The captain rubbed her temples for a moment, trying to decide just how to explain the term and the implications. Finally, she answered, "There are actually two definitions of a 'lesbian'. One is a resident of the Isle of Lesbos on Earth, the other is a homosexual woman. One of the most famous people to come from Lesbos was a poet named Sappho, who wrote some poetry with erotic imagery of women. Thus, the term 'lesbian' came to mean women who had sexual feelings for other women."
Seven cocked her head, attempting to make sense of the answer provided. "I still do not understand why Lt. Torres and Crewman Narh were so upset. It would seem that sexual relations between members of the same gender would be contraindicated for the perpetuation of the species."
Captain Janeway wished she could add brandy to her coffee, real brandy, not the synthetic stuff. Instead, she tried to explain to the tall blonde, "Seven, Narh came from a world that was colonized by a very fundamentalist sect toward the end of the 21st century. They believed, among other things, that homosexuals were evil and should be destroyed in order to retain the 'purity of the race.' Even though the Federation frowns on such bigoted views, his home world still believes this, along with the Judeo-Christian God is still the only true God. He has also caused trouble for Torres before by saying that she was polluting human bloodlines by being half-Klingon."
The former Borg still looked puzzled, but instead of asking more questions, picked up her mug and sipped the coffee again. Janeway started to relax, thinking that she had given enough information when Seven asked, "How does one know if they are hetero- or homosexual? Does this knowledge come with attaining adulthood or does one choose which gender to form sexual relationships with?"
The captain resisted the urge to tear out her auburn hair, contenting herself with pinching the bridge of her nose. "That, Seven, is a very good question." She took a sip of coffee to buy herself time to think, finally saying, "Since I grew up on Earth, I can only speak from that perspective, but generally, most people assume they are heterosexual until confronted with desire for someone of their own gender. It seems pretty consistent that ten percent of the population is homosexual, perhaps as a way to control reproduction."
She waited, but Seven still gave her that icy blue-eyed stare that meant, "Tell me more." She sighed, continuing, "We still don't know if it is genetic, environmental, or a combination of factors. Most humans will discover their sexual identity sometime during adolescence, when they start dating. It is really hard to explain, but as an example, I started feeling attracted to boys when I was in high school. Well, you've seen B'Elanna and Tom, they are attracted to each other and are dating. I'm not sure I can explain it any further."
"I see." Seven drank the rest of her coffee, then set the mug down and stood up. "Thank you, captain, for the coffee and the conversation." She turned on her heel and abruptly left the captain's quarters. Janeway stared after her for a few minutes, thinking about what the other woman had asked. Should she speak to Crewman Narh, or should she wait for the chief engineer to bring the subject up herself? God, she was tired and this kind of conversation did not help, she decided. Janeway finally picked up the tray and carried it to the disposal chute, then headed to bed.
Several weeks went by without incident. Either Narh had learned to keep his mouth shut or the former Borg had given him reason to keep his mouth shut, Janeway decided, and she wasn't sure she really needed to know. Since things were pretty quiet, she decided to visit the holodeck and run her Da Vinci program again. She became involved in the sculpture she was creating, aware only of the feeling of the clay in her hands until she heard the door open. She looked up to see Seven standing in front of her, staring at the sculpture. "Captain Janeway, explain what you are doing and why."
Janeway smiled at Seven."I am sculpting with clay, Seven. Would you like some clay of your own?" Seven nodded once and Janeway pulled another large lump of clay from the container. "Here, Seven, take this and put in on the table. I have a variety of tools to use, or you can use the potter's wheel over there to shape it." Seven looked faintly skeptical, but took the clay and turned it over in her hands, feeling the texture, then pulling on it to feel the elasticity. She watched Janeway working with her clay, and started imitating the movements.
They worked in silence for several minutes, then Seven put down her clay and stated, "I do not understand this, Captain. What am I supposed to be replicating and why?"
Janeway smothered a smile, instead opting for, "You may create whatever you like, Seven. You do not have to replicate anything in particular, but instead, create what you feel like creating."
Seven frowned in concentration, finally asking, "Will you show me how?"
The captain moved around to the other side of the work table and picked up a tool, placing it in Seven's hand. "You can take this and slice off wedges from the clay like so, then take this one to sculpt thin lines in the clay." As she spoke, she guided the other woman's hand, showing her how to create different effects. Seven concentrated, starting to work the clay herself. Janeway watched, then patted Seven encouragingly on the shoulder. "That's it, Seven, you understand the concepts now."
The women worked in silence for the next hour. Janeway created a ring of mountains overlooking a lake, complete with trees and boulders. She looked up to see Seven's creation, a very exact replica of Voyager. "That is good, Seven, very realistic," Janeway said encouragingly. She had walked around to see Seven's work and put her hand on Seven's shoulder. "Very nice, did you enjoy sculpting it?"
"It was a very interesting sensation," the former Borg admitted. Then, she glanced at Janeway's arm and asked, "What is the difference between you touching me and Torres and Paris touching each other?" Janeway dropped her hand, startled by the sudden change in subject. "How do I know what is a sexual touch and what is not?"
The captain racked her brain for an acceptable (to a Borg) explanation, finally settling for "Well, I was just being friendly, Seven. I did not mean anything sexual, but many times humans find an encouraging pat or friendly hug very soothing. It is sometimes hard to distinguish, however."
Seven pondered this, lifting an elegant blonde eyebrow. "Which is why you rarely touch any of the crew except for the 'encouraging pat' on the shoulder."
"I guess you could say so, as the commander of this ship, I cannot become intimately involved with those I command, it is forbidden by Starfleet regulations," Janeway commented, hoping Seven would understand the distinction.
Seven stared at the captain, then continued her line of questioning. "I do not understand, Captain. I have been reading different literature from various cultures and cannot understand why anyone would want to create these feelings. The more descriptive stories I have read seem to involve much exchange of bodily fluids. I believe that this is an inefficient way of creating new life. Also, why do some cultures encourage such contact from a young age and others discourage such contact until a marriage contract has been signed?"
"I can't explain it until you experience sexual feelings for yourself, Seven, you just have to, well..." Janeway looked around, trying to summon the correct words." Seven, until it hits you, until you look at someone and find yourself longing to be in their company all the time, longing to hold them and be held by them, I can't help you."
Seven thought it over as she walked over to the cleaning supplies and started washing the clay from her hands." Shall I tell you when I experience these feelings?"
"You can if you like," Janeway said, hoping she had not opened a Pandora's box.
"I will do so. Thank you, captain." She left the holodeck, leaving Janeway to clean up the clay and instruments. Strange conversation, the captain thought, but I guess she's not been an individual long enough to have a crush on anyone.
That night, Janeway was just about to call the computer to put the lights out when her door chimed. "Come in," she called out wearily. Seven walked in, looking confused and even slightly scared. "Seven, what's wrong?" Janeway asked, fatigue fleeing.
"You will hear more in the morning, but Crewman Narh attempted to remove my clothing by force tonight. I was compelled to strike him unconscious and call security to put him in the brig." She sat down on the couch, actually trembling."He attempted to touch my breasts and said that I needed, quote 'a real man' unquote to be straight. What did he mean by this, Captain?"
Janeway sat down beside the younger woman, draping her arm around her shoulders. "I will find out more in the morning, but I would say that he still thinks you are a lesbian and you need to be heterosexual. That attitude should not exist any longer, but it sounds like he was going to rape you to force you into his mold of sexuality." She felt Seven trembling harder, even though her face was still emotionless. "Seven, I'm so sorry you had to go through this. He was expressing a need to dominate you, not really to have sexual contact with you, that is what rape really is about, controlling another person. "She felt the former Borg carefully lay her head on her shoulder, so she wrapped her other arm around Seven. "I'm sorry, Seven, no one should be forced into a situation like that."
Seven kept her head on Janeway's shoulder, then slowly brought her own arms up and around the captain, pulling her closer. Janeway could feel Seven trembling, then finally letting the tears roll down her face, wetting the fabric of Janeway's nightshirt. She stroked the other woman's blonde hair, surprised at the silky feeling, then gently kissed the hair, feeling tenderness and concern for Seven. Gradually, the trembling and tears stopped and Seven finally looked up. "Forgive me, I did not mean to be emotional," she whispered to her captain.
"Seven, it is normal to feel like crying after such an event." Then, spontaneously, "Would you like to stay here tonight?" Seven nodded yes, very slowly." Then let me get you something to sleep in, so you will be more comfortable." Janeway eased up, then went to her bedroom and found some soft pajamas and brought them back out. "I think these should fit, even though you are taller than I am. Go to my bathroom and change, I'll be waiting for you."
Seven nodded and left to go change from her jumpsuit to the pajamas. Janeway went in and pulled back the covers, slipping into her bed. Seven came out in a moment and crawled under the covers, immediately snuggling up to the other woman and falling asleep. "Lights out," Janeway softly told the computer as she held Seven in her arms. She fell asleep thinking about Kes, and how Kes had held her one night when the nightmares were threatening her ability to sleep well...
Commander Chakotay nearly fell over himself when he saw Seven leaving the captain's quarters the next morning. "Um, good morning, Seven, did you have a conference with Captain Janeway this morning?"
"I did not, I slept with her last night. If you will excuse me, I am needed in Astrometrics." Chakotay's jaw dropped as the former Borg walked past him down the hall. What the hell was going on? he wondered as he pushed the chime button.
"Um, morning, Kathryn. "The captain motioned for him to sit down as she sipped her coffee.He turned and looked at the closed door, then back at Janeway. "Seven said she slept with you last night, are you two having an affair?"
Janeway cocked an eyebrow, watching her first officer for a long moment. Finally, she drank the last of her coffee and answered, "We are not having an affair and she did sleep here last night. Crewman Narh tried to rape her and she came to talk to me. I invited her to stay, assuming that she would feel more comfortable here than in her alcove. Do you have a problem with that?"
"No, not at all," Chakotay said quickly. "I guess it was the way Seven announced it, plus the rumors going around the ship about her. Oh, I came to give you this report, it looks like we identified another planet with compatible plant life but no intelligent life. Neelix is wanting to stop and stock up on food supplies."
The captain held out her hand for his padd. "I will take it under advisement, Commander. In the meantime, please do not mention what you saw and heard this morning."
Her commander looked hurt that she would assume he would gossip. "I would never do that to you, Kathryn, you should know that, I respect you too much."
Janeway's face softened."Thank you, Chakotay, I appreciate it. I'll read your report. Dismissed." After he left the room, she pondered how an innocent choice of words could potentially create so much trouble.
"Listen up, people, it has been determined that the planet does not contain any real threats as far as plant or animal life, so you may take shore leave during the day. See your commanding officer for details on you may take shore leave. Janeway out." The captain tapped the intercom button off. "Chakotay, you may take a group out now, then I'll go tomorrow.Fair enough?"
"Fair enough, Captain. Permission to leave?" he asked.
"Permission granted." She watched as the dark man grinned like a boy and started pointing out crew members to come with him on shore leave. She settled back in her chair, feeling relaxed. Tomorrow she would feel the sun and wind on her face, casting cares away for the moment, maybe even get in a few hours of hiking. She smiled as she thought about climbing the hills that the landing party had taken pictures of, they reminded her of the hills back home.
It seemed that the rest of the day crawled by, but the next morning finally arrived. Janeway beamed down with the others on shore leave, immediately walking toward the tree covered hills. She was not entirely surprised by the silent approach of Seven, who merely fell in step with her as she started her ascent.
Nearly an hour later, the two came upon an oasis in the trees. It was a small, clear pool, surrounded by a wide grassy area, all completely cut off from view by the trees. Janeway sat down and pulled her boots and socks off, wiggling her toes happily. She smiled as Seven copied her actions, right down to wiggling her toes. "Nice place, isn't it?" she asked her companion.
"It does have a certain charm," Seven replied as she gazed around before scooting closer to the captain." I have seen holonovels with similar landscaping, usually with two people kissing while laying on the grass."
"That sounds nice," Janeway murmured as she closed her eyes and leaned back.
"What does it feel like to kiss someone?"
Janeway lazily opened one eye to look at Seven's completely serious face. "Oh, pretty wonderful if the right person does it. It does take practice, though," she added as she closed her eye again.
Seven looked at the relaxed captain, then slowly leaned over her, hesitating, then closing the distance between their lips. Janeway's eyes flew open, shocked both by the action and by the electricity that seared her unsuspecting body. Seven lowered her body on top of the captain's as she continued to kiss Janeway very thoroughly. Finally, she raised up and announced, "I enjoyed that."
"Seven," Janeway asked, confused, "why did you kiss me?"
Seven looked crushed by the question. She rolled off of the captain and answered in a small voice, "I was curious. I have been called a lesbian and you have showed me affection, so I assumed that you had feelings for me."
"Oh, honey, I didn't mean to confuse you," Janeway said as she reached for Seven's hands. "I do like you, I care for you a great deal, but I feel more like a mother to you than a lover."
Seven frowned. "Like a mother? Are mothers affectionate?"
"Yes, they are .Parents give a lot of affection to their children, but I think you are confusing my maternal feelings for you with sexual attraction," Janeway explained.
Seven considered for a number of minutes, then finally asked, "Have I hurt you?"
"No, why did you ask that? Actually, I am a flattered that you would see me as that attractive," the captain reassured the beautiful woman beside her.
"I see." Seven pondered this answer, suddenly asking, "May I call you Kathryn?"
The captain answered lazily, "Yes, until we are back on duty."
Seven looked off into the distance, observing the scene, then turned to stare into the captain's gray eyes. "Kathryn, I am confused; since I slept with you, I have been wanting to sleep with you again. I want to feel your arms around me, I want to be close to you. I kissed you and felt strange feelings in my body. How can I feel this way about you but you feel something similar, yet so different?"
"Ah, dear Seven, emotions are hard to explain rationally," Kathryn said. "I was trying to give you comfort that night, I had no intentions of leading you on, making you think I had sexual feelings for you." Kathryn reached out and stroked Seven's cheek. "I am attracted to men, not to women, but I can be affectionate with friends. I know this is even more confusing, but even if we felt the same way about each other, I would fight it .I must remain at a small distance from my crew in order to lead them effectively. I cannot take a lover, then run the possibility of causing their death by them carrying out my commands."
Seven cupped Kathryn's hand against her cheek, then slowly pulled it away. "Will you still be my friend?"
"Yes, I will," Kathryn confirmed.
"Then if I do feel attracted to someone else, it will not bother you," Seven stated flatly.
Kathryn smiled at her companion. "No, my friend, I will rejoice if you find someone special to love."
"I see.I will inform you if I enter into an intimate relationship with someone. If you will excuse me, I have work to do on board." Janeway nodded. "Seven to Voyager, one to beam up."
Kathryn watched as the young woman shimmered out of sight, thinking of another woman who had crept into her heart during this voyage. Kes, a woman of the Ocompa race, had traveled with the crew for several years, most of her nine year lifespan. She remembered a night when Kes had come to her, saying that the captain was in pain, that she was there to help. It was the only time that Kathryn had ever been intimate with another woman, and the only time with someone who was part of her responsibility. Kes had helped heal her heart, helped her start to let go of Mark, who was back home in the Alpha Quadrant, but it had felt like healing, not sex. With Kes, it had been two women, not a woman and a child in a woman's body. She missed Kes, missed their friendship, missed the easy affection.She leaned back in the grass and lightly dozed in the sun.
"Good morning, Seven," said the auburn haired ensign.
"Good morning, Ensign Luther. Would you like to sit with me?" Seven asked as politely as she could.
"Oh, yes, that would be wonderful," Luther said happily as she set her tray down."Looks like Neelix finally figured out how to make waffles after all. Oh, I forgot a knife for the butter, can I borrow yours?"
Seven nodded as she handed the knife to the other woman. Their hands touched briefly and Seven felt a shock. Puzzled, she stared at Ensign Luther, who turned bright red under her gaze." Why is your face red?"
"Oh, sorry, um, I blush easily."
Seven considered it carefully, then remembered a line from a story she had read last night." You are cute when you blush," she stated.
"No, you are just saying that," Luther replied as she spread the butter on her waffles.
"I mean it," Seven replied in a softer voice. They ate in silence for several minutes, then Seven said, "Do you remember the planet we just visited? I believe that the doctor has some excellent slides of the scenery and is showing them after first shift tonight. Would you care to accompany me to see them?"
"I would love to, Seven.You can call me Karen, if you like," the ensign said shyly.
"Karen." Seven let the name roll over her tongue. She found herself smiling. "A pretty name."
Karen smiled back at her. "You are very beautiful when you smile, Seven."
Over on the other side of the room, Captain Janeway watched the exchange as she finished her breakfast. She was relieved to see Seven interested in someone, yet was a little apprehensive. Would Seven be okay? Would her burning curiosity push her too far, too fast? "Kathryn, quit being a mother hen," she warned herself. She had to admit, though, Karen Luther was in for a treat when she kissed Seven for the first time.
"It seems we have finished our breakfast. May I escort you to your duty station?"S even inquired.
Ensign Luther smiled as she stood up."Yes, you may, Seven." She walked beside Seven, asking, "Have you ever been to Earth? I grew up on the Mars colony, but I still remember my first trip to Earth, it was so green!" She chattered happily as they moved slowly toward the turbolift. "Then there was my grandmother, who was raised on a farm..."
Back in the mess hall, Chakotay brought his tray over to the captain's table. "Didn't I just see Ensign Luther walking along with Seven? What gives?"
Janeway smiled at him. "Chakotay, I believe that our little Borg is falling in love," she said happily.