I trace the curve of the Captain's jaw and then move my hand slowly along her throat and down the path between her breasts. I keep my touch light; my fingers barely graze her skin. She pulls against the restraints, arching toward me. "Seven," she gasps. It is a plea.

I know she would like me to kiss her, and I will. Later.

I know she would like me to hurt her, and I will do that, too. Later.

Right now, I want only to tease her, to draw my fingertips over the lines of her body, to feel the heat of her arousal coursing through my sensors.

And right now, I am the one in control.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Once I left her, naked and bound, while I went to Astrometrics and worked on a project that had been absorbing us for days. I found it stimulating, to put one part of my mind to the discipline of science while with another part I was recalling the lift of her breasts and savoring the knowledge that she could do nothing but wait for me and my touch.

It was more than stimulating. I did not stay away from her for long.

She was angry when I returned. I should not have allowed her to voice it, but her response pleased me - I felt both my power and hers. The anger was unnecessary, however. Nothing had gone wrong. The ship had been in no danger; no one had required her presence.

I told her so and half-agreed never to leave her again, and, when she would have had me promise more, I silenced her with my mouth on hers and my fingers on her soft wetness.

She came quickly.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"No one can know about this. About us," she tells me. "It has to be completely secret. At the first hint of rumor, I'll end it."

"I understand."

She studies me, runs her fingers down my cheek. "It's a lot to ask of you. Too much. I'm sorry."

"Don't be," I say. "I am not."

I do not explain further, do not try to describe the satisfaction I feel at the thought of our conspiracy of silence. What we do is private, virtually the only private thing I possess. All else - my body, my quarters, my every question and adjustment - is on public display. It is a puzzle I have yet to solve: why people so concerned about
developing my individuality seem equally committed to maintaining me as communal property.

But my bond with her is mine alone.

"Don't be sorry," I say again.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

She wants me to hurt her, and I do. I have learned that there are many forms of pain: subtle, intense, exquisite. Pain that is not pain. I offer them all.

I think she wants to be reminded that she exists beyond Voyager, that she is not defined solely by this ship.

When I beat her, she at first holds herself taut, resisting her own desires. But soon she begins to move her body to the rhythm of my blows. The sounds she makes are both soft and sharp, and they arouse me. I measure my strength, hold myself back; I do not wish to damage her. But I leave marks all the same.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Afterward, when I release her, she holds me tightly and strokes me until I am shuddering against her and crying out in my turn. The control is all hers, then.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

One night, as we lay together in the darkness, I asked her if she had done this before, had sought her pleasure with women. A little to my surprise, she answered me.

"Yes, I have. Is it important?"

To me it is. To know that she has kissed other women, caressed their nakedness, and to know that I compare to them, that I am acceptable to her even after she has had others. It is important.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Sometimes, if she sleeps, I gently touch the marks I have made on her skin. They will not last, but for now they are her implants, signs left on her humanity that are both imperfections and the proof of her distinctiveness.

At such times I look at her and feel something that might be fear and something that I know is desire and something that I think is tenderness.

I wonder if this is love.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

On rare occasions, when it is very late and I think she is asleep, she whispers to me in the darkness.

"I shouldn't ask this of you, Seven. It's wrong."

I do not think I wish to understand. But I pursue the question nonetheless. "Because it is against regulations?"

"Ah, regulations." She fingers the bruises on her wrist. "The things I want. . .that I ask you to do for me. . ."

"It is wrong to want those things?"

"I don't know." She pauses. "It doesn't matter; I want them anyway. But you need to know that there are other ways to find pleasure. Ways that might be better for you, that you might prefer. I ought to. . ."

I interrupt her. "What I prefer is to give you whatever you require. Do you not want me to?"

"Oh, yes. Yes, I want you to."

"Then what is wrong?"

She strokes my hair, my breasts. Her answer, when it comes, is almost below the range of even my hearing.

"That I let you."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

She has never said she loves me.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

On the bridge, in Astrometrics, in Engineering, she is ever the Captain. Calm, decisive, commanding, unafraid. Her confidence washes over me, reminding me of what I once was.

She says I have become more human. She does not know how much she is Borg.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I tie her tightly, taking my time, stopping to touch her, not allowing her to touch me.

I am in charge, but so is she.

I have come to understand that the bonds do not represent submission. They are another form of her control. Her position as Captain puts her in impossible constraints. She frees herself by making the constraints her own.

It is what I would expect from her. An efficient solution. Elegant, in its way. Admirable.

If very rarely it *is* submission, she submits only to herself. And to me.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I think of our first time.

In an over-lit and over-heated shuttle, I accused her of planning to betray me, and she went down on her knees beside me to deny it.

After we returned to Voyager, I went to her quarters. To explain, to argue, to apologize. To seek her absolution. I don't know.

Perhaps just to seek her.

She let me in and waited while I stood silently, casting about for words. Then she touched my arm, and I did not need to speak, because suddenly our mouths were meeting, and our hands were searching, and our clothes were dropping, and the sounds I heard were the ones I was making as I came.

She told me it must not happen again.

"You can't come back, Seven. Don't come back," she said, turning away from me and holding her uniform to her chest.

She did not look at me as I left.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I went back. She let me in.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I do not know if I love her.

I know I love the pressure of her lips, the softness of her breasts, the sight of her bound limbs, the tone of her voice when she gives orders, the look that sometimes flashes in her eyes when she sees me, the cries she utters when I make her come.

I know I love that she is mine.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

She welcomes the pain, screams out with the thrill of it. I look down at her, tied and waiting for me, wanting me. I want her.

I feel again the sweeping force of the Collective; I feel what she must feel, standing on her bridge, directing all our lives with nothing more than herself and her words.

The heat surges through me.

When I hit her, I no longer hold myself back.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"I'm sorry," I say later, holding her.

"Don't be," she says.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I never tell her of my fears, not even when she clasps me to her in the dark.

There is much about human speech that still eludes me. I either make myself too clear or not clear at all.

So I do not tell her how I fear that I will amuse her, but that I will not understand the joke. That I will hurt her too much or not enough. That I will love her and not recognize it. That I will love her. That I won't.

That she will not love me.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

In the Collective, I never felt fear. I never felt her.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I wonder what *she* fears. I think there are times when she fears for me.

"Don't come back, Seven," she will say then.

I go back.

She lets me in.

The End