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Please Say Yes
J/7 - Short Story
By PatsBard ©2002 All Rights Reserved
Kathryn Janeway, captain of the starship Voyager as it warped its way through the Delta Quadrant, tossed yet another data padd onto her desk. It was the seventh one she'd perused in a fruitless attempt to keep herself busy. Fitting, she thought, considering what she was waiting for.
Just as she was about to stand and return to the bridge, the chime to her ready room sounded. "Enter." Please, God, I'll do anything.
"Captain?" Commander Chakotay, first officer of Voyager, strode in and stood at easy attention. "Seven just informed us that she's retrieved the data from the Midas Array. She's separating the information now and sending it to the appropriate areas."
A Lieutenant Reginald Barclay at Starfleet Command had discovered a way to send and retrieve data across the Array through a combination of hard work, luck, and perseverance. It had become a monthly occurrence and gave the crew a much-needed boost of morale by allowing them to share letters with family and friends across the 28,000 light years of distance between them.
It also gave Captain Janeway a chance to communicate with her superiors on matters she simply couldn't share with her crew.
"Excellent. Inform the crew standard rules apply. No reading of personal communiqués until after their duty shifts. Thank you, Chakotay."
Once the commander had left, Kathryn sagged back down into her chair, completely unaware of when she'd stood up in the first place. Eying her monitor warily, she touched a slightly trembling finger to a blinking icon on the screen. Letters from her mother and sister were sent to her workstation in her quarters, updates to Starfleet's Rules and Regulations were scanned over and filed, copies of various news reports were also sent to her quarters, and then finally she came across the one she'd been anxiously awaiting since the month before.
Captain's Eyes Only'
She took a deep breath and activated the file.
"Hello, Kathryn." The face of her one-time mentor and the father of her roguish pilot filled the screen. "I must say, your message came as a bit of surprise to me at first," Admiral Paris continued, "but the more I thought about it, the more reasonable it seemed. Voyager has been lost for quite some time, so this was bound to happen sooner or later. I'm just sorry it never occurred to us here."
Captain Janeway paused the file and went to refresh her coffee. A delaying tactic, she had to admit, but as much as part of her wanted to hear Starfleet's response to her message, another part of her was scared to death. In a rare gesture of nervousness, she ran her fingers through auburn hair before she reinitiated the file.
"Admiral Necheyev and I took this to a number of highly respected counselors." He gave her a slight smile, very reminiscent of his son's. "As you may know, we old timers sometimes have a bit of trouble with change, not to mention uncomfortable with such a delicate matter as this."
Despite herself, she grinned back at the screen. It had taken her several tries to record her request in the first place, so she could just imagine Admiral Paris' reaction upon receiving it. Her command mask had been sorely tested that day.
"You're in a unique situation, Kathryn, and as much as we may wish otherwise, you may not be home any time soon. As long as it doesn't interfere with your command or the respect of your crew, you have Starfleet's permission to do what you need to do." He paused and gave her another smile. "And you have my personal wish that everything works out for you."
As the words "End Transmission" scrolled across the screen, Kathryn sat back in her chair and breathed a sigh of relief. She had her answer; now it was up to her as to what to do with it.
There was still an hour until end of shift, so the captain decided to wait it out on the bridge. Maybe being with a few of her senior officers would make the time go faster.
"So, anything new and exciting from Starfleet?" Chakotay asked with a trace of humor.
He got a slightly wide-eyed look back that caught him by surprise. "Everything all right, Kathryn?"
"Yes, yes everything's fine." She managed a grin. "Seems they've changed the uniforms again, though. Good thing we stayed with what we had."
They shared a laugh over the situation. If they had altered their uniforms every time Starfleet did, Voyager would never make it home. All its energy would go into replicating new ones. All things considered, by the time they returned to earth, their current uniforms would be back in style and Starfleet would never know the difference.
Chakotay watched for a moment as the captain's fingers drummed on the console between them. She'd been increasingly on edge for the last few weeks and now that they'd received the transmission, she looked like she would jump out of her skin. He was about to question her when she beat him to it.
"I'm going to go to Astrometrics to see how things are going." Kathryn patted his arm as she stood. "You have the bridge, Commander."
"Aye, Captain," he answered, even more puzzled as he heard the almost sub-vocal "wish me luck" that she muttered on her way to the turbolift.
She requested Deck 6, then leaned back against the wall and blew out a breath. It was a short trip to Astrometrics, so she used the time to straighten her uniform and remind herself she was a starship captain. When the lift doors opened, she was firmly back in command and even managed cordial nods to the crewmembers she passed.
Then she entered Astrometrics.
As always, the sight of the tall, slender blonde at the console made her catch her breath. Seven of Nine, ex Borg drone and chief Astrometrics officer, was wearing the blue-grey biosuit today. Janeway spared a brief wish that the silver one would make a comeback. She'd always been partial to that one.
"May I help you, Captain?"
The low, modulated tones brought Janeway back to the ostensible reason she was here. "Any problems with the transmission?" she asked, as she came forward to lean against the console next to Seven.
There was the slightest lift of a silver eyebrow. "None, Captain. The files have been distributed to the appropriate locations and our return data stream was sent with no delays."
"Good, good. Glad to hear it."
When nothing more was apparently forthcoming, Seven returned to inputting data, her arm occasionally brushing against the captain as she did so. She had long since learned to work around the smaller woman and took a measure of comfort in her presence.
Captain Janeway was learning that receiving permission to do something and actually being faced with the prospect of doing it were two entirely different things. She was keenly aware of the warmth emanating from Seven and it, combined with her nerves, was making her lightheaded. She found herself taking a step back in self-defense.
Just ask her! The longer you wait, the harder it will be. "Seven, I was wondering " Light blue eyes captured her and she stumbled to a halt.
"Yes, Captain?" Seven turned to face her, using her own version of attention that always succeeded in raising Kathryn's blood pressure.
"Are you do you have plans for after your shift?" Kathryn almost sighed in relief at being able to get the question out.
Seven frowned. "I must see the doctor for routine maintenance." The procedure itself wasn't so bad, but the doctor insisted on plying her with intrusive questions throughout their sessions. It was unfortunate that holograms couldn't be assimilated.
"Oh well. What about after that?" Kathryn wasn't about to let a doctor's appointment get in her way, now that she'd gotten up the nerve to ask.
"I am free for the evening, Captain."
"Excellent!" Kathryn smiled widely. "Would you join me for dinner then?"
"Certainly, Captain. I will meet you in the Mess Hall as soon as my appointment is concluded." Seven was disconcerted to see the smile fade from Captain Janeway's features. It had made her look quite lovely.
"Actually, I was hoping you would join me in my quarters." Time to show why you have four pips, Kathryn. "I would rather our first date be a private one." She watched in dismay as Seven paled alarmingly. "If that's all right," she added belatedly.
"Date?" Seven was suddenly inordinately grateful that she was going to see the doctor. It seemed her cybernetic systems were failing en masse, causing her pulse to race, her breath to shorten, and the oddest sensation of moisture to cover her palms, among other things that she had no way of categorizing.
Kathryn was suddenly afraid that she'd read the signals entirely wrong. Granted, it had been a while, but she'd been fairly certain that the lovely young Borg shared her feelings. She felt her face flush in embarrassment and took a step backwards. "I'm sorry, Seven. I thought Well, it doesn't matter what I thought. I certainly never intended to put you on the spot this way."
"Starfleet regulations state that a captain cannot date a member of her crew," Seven interrupted anxiously.
Kathryn sighed. "That's certainly true. At least it would be if we were in the Alpha Quadrant. But we're in the Delta Quadrant and I've received special dispensation." She glanced up just in time to see a hopeful sparkle in Seven's eyes. It gave her back a measure of confidence. "Perhaps we could discuss it over dinner?" she tried again.
"Would 1900 hours be acceptable?" Seven asked hesitantly in return.
"Yes, that would be wonderful. I'll see you then." Kathryn left Astrometrics buoyed by the incredibly charming shy smile Seven had graced her with. Now she just had to figure out how to get through the next three hours before seeing her again.
A shower, a bath, and three changes of clothes later, Captain Janeway still had an hour and a half to wait, so she spent the time berating herself for being an idiot. She'd been so anxious to finally ask Seven on a date that she'd forgotten completely that the woman didn't have a clue it was even a possibility. "I should have told her about the message to Starfleet first," she muttered to herself as she replicated a glass of wine.
She took a sip and then glared at the innocent glass. "Alcohol impairs her cortical implant." Another sigh and the offending liquid was exchanged for tea. Why she thought her drinking wine would affect Seven's implants was just another one of the mysteries of the universe.
Kathryn was in the middle of begging her replicator to behave when her door chimed and she banged her head in startled reaction. "Damn!" Smoothing her hair and hoping a bump didn't form, she called for her guest to enter, pasting a welcoming smile on her face as she did so.
Which faded quickly as Chakotay came in carrying a bottle of wine and giving her a smile of his own. "Chakotay, I "
"Hello, Kathryn. I thought a bottle of wine would help you relax and we could talk."
The nightmare continued as Seven appeared directly behind the first officer, wearing a simple navy sheath, blonde hair flowing down across her bare shoulders and looking more beautiful than Kathryn could recall ever seeing her. "I'm sorry, Captain, I was unaware this was to be a dinner for three," Seven stated stiffly.
Kathryn covered her mouth with her hand and closed her eyes, hoping that when she opened them again the night would be over.
Chakotay merely looked from one woman to the other, noting their casual yet elegant attire, Kathryn's obvious chagrin, Seven's barely controlled upset, and abruptly realized what was happening. Or what would be happening if he could calmly work his way out of the scene. He cleared his throat softly. "No, Seven. It's a dinner for two. I was just dropping by to give Kathryn this bottle of wine. She's been wanting to try it and I thought this would be a perfect opportunity." He glanced between the women again, said his good byes, and got the hell out of there before blood started to fly. Namely, his.
She heard the uncertainty in Seven's voice and smiled ruefully at her. "This isn't quite the way I had planned for the evening to start," she admitted. She cocked her head and her smile softened. "You look lovely, Seven. Please come in and sit down."
Seven placed the bottle Chakotay had thrust into her hands onto the table and took a tentative seat on the couch. Her fears eased considerably when Kathryn came to sit beside her and grasped her hands gently. "You look lovely as well, Kathryn," she offered when it seemed her captain wasn't ready to speak yet.
"Thank you, Seven." Kathryn looked down and rubbed her thumb across the soft skin of Seven's hand. "I think I need to explain a few things to you. I'm afraid I've made quite a mess of it so far."
Seven nodded quietly. "Proceed."
"I don't know if you're aware, but as we've worked together and as we've spent off duty time together as we've gotten to know one another," she brought her eyes up to a steady blue gaze, "I've developed feelings for you. Feelings that a captain really shouldn't have for a member of her crew."
"But you said "
"Shh." Kathryn gently squeezed the hands she was holding. "I'm getting to that." At Seven's nod, she continued. "I was fully prepared to ignore those feelings and just continue on with you as a friend. Or as much a friend as I could be under the circumstances. But then we began receiving monthly communications from Starfleet and, well, I just couldn't pass up the opportunity."
She took a deep breath and went on. "Last month I finally gathered up the nerve to tell Admiral Paris about the situation and asked if they could possibly make an exception to their rules." She smiled tremulously. "To make a long story short, they said yes."
To her surprise, Seven frowned. "They said it was all right to have a relationship with an ex-drone?" Seven's tone was rife with disbelief.
Kathryn blushed. "Well, no. Not exactly." She shrugged and gave Seven her most charming smile. "I didn't tell them who it was, just that I hoped to initiate a relationship with someone."
The silver optical implant disappeared under blonde bangs. "Did it not occur to you that that information may have changed their decision?"
"Of course it did, Seven. That's precisely why I didn't tell them. Hopefully, by the time we get home, we'll be married and they won't be able to try to separate us." She stood up and began pacing, completely missing the startled look Seven was giving her. "They don't need to know any private details it's enough to know that they have a captain who may just survive a thirty year trip home because she's happy," she added firmly. Then she turned around and saw the stunned look on the blonde's face.
Kathryn buried her head in her hands. "Did you hear a red alert?" she mumbled through her fingers. "I'm pretty sure I heard the red alert klaxons."
Warm hands grasped her shoulders, then a slender finger was tilting her head up. "Kathryn "
The captain sighed heavily and shook her head. "Look, why don't we have dinner and then we can talk about the whole dating thing afterwards? I'm really not doing well at the moment."
A brilliant smile transformed Seven's normally calm features and Kathryn's heart clutched in her chest. "Since you are having trouble with verbal communication, perhaps we should try something else instead."
The soft, slow kisses that followed left Kathryn breathing heavily and leaning weakly against Seven's slender form. "That that works," she gasped out. Her ear was pressed to the soft slope of Seven's chest and she smiled as she heard the woman's heart pounding. She ran her fingers along Seven's back, tilting her head back for another series of kisses.
"I am very glad you received special dispensation, Kathryn," Seven whispered into her hair.
"Oh, so am I, Seven. So am I," Kathryn answered, pressing gentle caresses to a graceful neck.
"But I believe we should let the crew become accustomed to our dating before we announce the engagement."
Laughing, Kathryn agreed. They spent the evening cuddling on the couch, happily planning their future and beyond grateful that they'd been given one together.
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