“Can I have permission to ask you a question of a personal kind?”
Intrigued Kathryn looked up from the book she had been reading. Seven had discarded the pad she had been working on.
“Of course Seven, you can ask me anything. You don’t have to ask permission. You should know that by now.”
Seven nodded her head. When she didn’t say anything Kathryn gestured for her to continue.
“I was wondering whether you have ever had sex with a woman.”
Kathryn swallowed hard. Where did that question come from? And how on earth was she going to answer it? She needed to stall for time and hopefully get the conversation away from this topic.
“Well, Seven. That is indeed a very personal question. Why do you ask?”
“As you know I have been researching the concept of relationships and mating in particular. During my research I encountered some documents on same sex relationships. These documents were however not very efficient in answering my questions.”
“They stated that humans and other races can engage in same sex relationships.”
Kathryn nodded her head.
“They did not specify why one would engage in a same sex relationship.”
“How do you mean specify?”
“They did not answer the question why one would engage in a same sex relationship when these relationships don’t offer the opportunity to procreate.”
“Ah, you mean why would people of the same gender want a relationship if this excludes the possibility of having children.”
Seven nodded her head.
“I think that’s not really a consideration when one embarks on a relationship. When two people fall in love they want to be with the other person. Having children is something that usually comes later in the relationship. When two people of the same gender decide they do want to have children there are options they can explore. They can find a donor or they can adopt a child.”
Seven seemed to ponder her answer.
“But why would they want to mate if it can not lead to impregnation?”
Kathryn smiled at that question.
“Because they want to express their love for each other.”
“One can express ones love for another in a wide variety of ways. Why is mating necessary?”
Kathryn had to hold back her laughter. This wasn’t the time to laugh. Clearly this was a matter on which Seven had spent a lot of thought. She had to answer Seven’s questions to the best of her ability. It was important that the former Borg drone understood the complexities that came with making love.
“Because the body is the most intimate thing one can share with another person. It’s something one usually doesn’t share with another then their lover. Making love, as I prefer to call mating, is a very intimate act. It requires trust and love between the participants.”
Again Seven pondered her response.
“Then why do people have one night stands?”
“Personally I’m not the kind of person who has one night stands. But I’ll try to answer your question to the best of my abilities. I think some people have one night stands because they crave the physical release that intercourse offers. Or maybe they don’t want to commit themselves emotionally to another person.”
“By physical release you mean orgasm?”
“When people make love do they not crave physical release?”
“Yes they do. But they want to share that release with the person they love. And they want to offer that person that same physical release. However making love is not solely about physical release. It’s a way to spend time with one’s partner in an intimate setting. By touching ones partner one can relate a lot of things.”
“Making love is about making your partner feel special. It’s saying to that person that he or she is special, loved and desired.”
“I see. So making love is not all about the physical release whereas a one night stand is.”
“You can put it like that.”
“That is most enlightening. This sheds a new light on my research. I have however some more questions on the topic.”
“Please, feel free to ask them any time you like.”
“Thank you Kathryn.”
“My pleasure. Was there something you wished to discuss now?”
“If that is agreeable to you.”
“My research also indicated that one can be attracted to both genders.”
“However not everybody is… bisexual.”
“Yes some people are only attracted to members of the opposite sex and others are only attracted to members of the same sex.”
“How does one determine to which gender one is attracted?”
Seven sure did know to pick the difficult ones.
“Well Seven, that’s actually a really difficult question. There is no right answer.”
“That is highly inefficient.”
“Not all questions have satisfactory answers. But I can try to answer the question to the best of my ability.”
“That would be acceptable.”
“Some people know from a very young age to which gender they are attracted. They find people of the same or opposite sex appealing. Other people need to experiment before they come to a conclusion. Of course there are also people who believe they are heterosexual who fall in love with a person of the same sex at one point in their life and realise that they may be bisexual. The opposite can of course happen too. And then there are others who just find both sexes appealing. Does that make any sense to you?”
“It is a difficult matter to comprehend.”
“Ok let me put it another way. Most people find one gender more appealing to have a relationship with. To others gender doesn’t make a difference.”
“But one can revise their position as time goes by?”
“Yes some people do. But I think that’s a minority. As homosexuality is widely accepted most people know their sexual orientation and don’t have a problem with that. Of course you have to take into account that during ones lifetime a person changes and meets other people. These other people can stir emotions they haven’t before experienced. Because falling in love is not all about the gender. It’s about the personality of the other person. A heterosexual woman could not fall in love with every man she meets. She has to like this man, she has to feel attracted to this man. And there are a lot of other reasons why one falls in love with one person and not with another.“
“What a person looks for in a partner is different for everybody. Some people want to find somebody who shares their interests and hobbies. Others are attracted to people who are totally different from themselves because they feel this person complements them. But as I said before, it’s different for everybody. And falling in love is not something one can control. A person who they could fall in love with theoretically doesn’t necessarily inspire those feelings. Also some people find they’re in love with a kind of person they would never have thought would inspire those feelings.”
“Like Tom and B’Ellanna?”
“Yes I think you can safely say that they are an example of such a match.”
“Is that why people sometimes fall in love with a person that is not available?”
“As I said, you can’t always control who you fall in love with.”
“How does one know one is in love with somebody?”
“Seven you’re asking all the difficult questions tonight!”
“I’m sorry Kathryn.”
“Oh no Seven, don’t be sorry. These are question we all ask at one point in our lives. It’s just that there isn’t a right answer to any of these questions.”
“You have answered my questions thus far sufficiently.”
Kathryn smiled at Seven’s answer.
“Why thank you Seven. I could almost take that as a compliment.”
“I have found that not everyone is willing to discuss feelings to a great length. As you yourself have said, it is a difficult matter. The fact that you wish to discuss these topics with me gives me great pleasure.”
Kathryn felt touched. It was the first time Seven had ever expressed her gratitude in this way.
“As I’ve said, I’ll try my best at any questions you have.”
“So how does one know one is in love with somebody?”
It seemed there was no escaping this one.
“Well some people say they feel butterflies in their stomach every time they fall in love.”
At Seven’s questioning look she elaborated.
“They feel a tingling sensation in their stomach every time they see the object of their affections. However this feeling doesn’t last their entire lifetime, but for some people it’s a good indicator.”
“Not for all people.”
“No not for all people. I myself have never had butterflies in my stomach.”
“Then how did you know you were in love?”
“Well I wanted to be around that person all the time. I was more interested in their opinion than in the opinion of other people. I wanted to touch them and I wanted them to touch me.”
Kathryn blushed at the statement. Seven looked at her questioningly.
“It’s sometimes embarrassing to talk about such personal matters.”
Kathryn tried to shrug nonchalantly.
“It was not my intention to embarrass you. I find however that a more personal approach to this subject is highly enlightening.”
“Are you asking me to continue?”
“If it would not cause you too much discomfort it would help my research a great deal. I have acquired more insight in this matter during this conversation than during the whole of my research.”
“I’m glad I’m of that much help. Now where was I?”
“You said you wanted to touch the other person and wanted them to touch you.”
Kathryn couldn’t help but blush again.
“Yes, I remember. The people I had a relationship with were people that were special to me. People I could rely on, people I could confide in, people I could trust, people I could be vulnerable with… People that I wanted to be more than friends with.”
“But how do you know the difference between friendship and love?”
“Well there is a fine line between friendship and love. To have a good friendship with somebody you have to love them on some level. That love can grow into a romantic love but that doesn’t necessarily happen. I have a lot of friends with whom I would not want a relationship. That doesn’t mean I don’t love them on some level. But some people have traits I could not tolerate in a lover. I would constantly want to change that person. Others would drive me up the wall if I had to share a living space with them. Others I don’t feel attracted to in a sexual manner.”
“I see. But friends can become lovers.”
“Yes. A lot of couples started out as friends. Friendship is a great way to get to know a person better. Over time that person can become more important to you. You can find that you are attracted to a person because he or she has a lot of qualities you admire. That love can grow to become overwhelming.”
“Love at first sight is not requisite?”
“A lot of people never experience love at first sight. Others have found that love at first sight can be very flighty.”
“Love at first sight is an overwhelming feeling, or so I am told. When one gets to know the person one fell in love with one can find that that feeling doesn’t last.”
“Have you ever experienced love at first sight?”
“I can’t say I have. For me it’s more about the personality of someone. And the way this person interacts with me. For me, love has to grow. I have found that when you get to know somebody better you can become more attracted to them than you initially were.”
“Well take Mark for instance. The man I was engaged to. He wasn’t the best looking man I had ever met. However when I got to know him, he became more beautiful to my eyes because he had a beautiful personality.”
“Beauty is not about physical appearance?”
Seven seemed confused.
“Yes it is. If you look at the physical appearance of a person you can say if that person is physically attractive or not. However there are many forms of beauty. When you find that somebody’s personality is beautiful, they have inner beauty. That inner beauty is a lot more important to a lot of people than physical beauty.”
“Not to all people?”
“No not to all people. Some people can only appreciate physical beauty.”
“Which one do you prefer?”
Kathryn chuckled she should have seen that one coming.
“Personally I prefer inner beauty. Which doesn’t mean I don’t have to find my partner physically appealing. But as I have said before, those go hand in hand for me.”
“I hope my answers have helped you a bit Seven.”
“They have been a great help Kathryn. Thank you.”
“I do have more questions on the subject. Can we address these on another occasion?”
“As I’ve said. You can ask me any time.”
Seven quirked an eyebrow.
“Well obviously not when we’re on duty or when we’re not in private…”
She saw Seven smile.
“You were kidding with me, weren’t you?”
Seven just quirked an eyebrow in response.
“You’re getting good at humour Seven.”
Kathryn thought she could detect a small blush on Seven’s cheeks.
“I am glad you approve.”
“I most certainly approve. I’ll have to watch out when I’m around you from now on.”
“I will keep you on your toes.”
“I’m sure you will.”
“Janeway to Seven of Nine.”
“Come in Captain.”
“Seven I was wondering if you would like to have dinner with me tonight. We haven’t had time to catch up lately. What do you think?”
“That would be agreeable.”
“Well, I’ll see you in my quarters then at 19 hundred hours.”
“I will be there.”
“Oh and Seven dress casually.”
At exactly 19.00 hours the chime to her quarters rang. Kathryn had to smile at Seven’s punctuality.
The doors opened and Seven strode in. She was wearing blue yeans and a burgundy halter top.
“You look great Seven.”
“As do you Captain.”
“I haven’t seen you in yeans before.”
“When you said I needed to dress casually I sought the advice of B’Ellanna as I didn’t know what would be appropriate. She helped me pick these clothes. She said you would approve.”
“I do approve.”
“I am glad. Why did you request I dress casually?”
“I prefer talking about personal matters in a more casual environment.”
“Ah, I see.”
“And I like to keep the captaincy out of my personal space as much as possible. In my quarters I can relax and forget about being the Captain for a while.”
“Well then, why don’t we start with dinner. Don’t worry, I didn’t make it myself.”
“That is a relief.”
They ate their dinner in a companionable silence. After dinner they cleared the table and retreated to the couch.
“I hope you enjoyed dinner, Seven.”
“It was a satisfactory endeavour.”
“Does that mean you’ll come by more often?
“If you invite me more often.”
“So Seven is there anything in particular you wanted to talk about?”
“I would like to talk about relationships and love if that is agreeable to you?”
“Anything in specific?”
“How does one know one possesses inner beauty?”
“You can’t know if you possess inner beauty or not. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What one person finds beautiful, another doesn’t.”
“How do you know another person finds you beautiful?”
“Well some people will tell you. Others will be more subtle. They will give you attention, give you compliments, that kind of thing.”
“Do you think a person could find me beautiful?”
“Of course Seven!”
Did Seven think she wasn’t beautiful?!?
“You said beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. Not everybody will find me beautiful.”
“Maybe not everybody, but I can safely say that there are a lot of people who would find you beautiful.”
“Do you think I possess inner beauty?”
“If you’re asking me if I think you have a lovely personality, then yes.”
“But I also think that for some people it is sometimes difficult to see that inner beauty because of the fact that you are still learning to show that personality more openly.”
“But you see it?”
“Yes, because we are close. We could be considered friends.”
“I like the thought of being your friend.”
“And I like being your friend when we are off duty.”
“When we are on duty you are not my friend?”
“Yes I am, but then I am also your Captain and that is sometimes more important.”
“It is not more important all of the time?”
“No not all of the time. When I have to make a difficult decision, it is. When you disobey my orders, it is.”
“I see. I am your friend all of the time.”
“I’m glad to hear that. It is important to have good friends. Especially those who understand that sometimes my ship and crew must come first.”
“That is only logical. You are the Captain of the ship. You feel a responsibility to everybody on it.”
“Yes I do. And this ship and crew has become very special to me. I would hate to lose any one of them. They’ve become like a family to me.”
“I have never had a real family.”
Kathryn felt a surge of pain in her heart at that.
“One could not consider the Borg collective a family.”
Seven smiled after she said that.
“Seven, was that a joke?”
“I believe so.”
“Did it amuse you?”
“It most definitely did.”
There was a small silence.
“But I believe I have found a family now.”
“I’m glad you think so.”
“I take it you’re getting on better with the rest of the crew.”
“I have made a great deal of progress. It seems that most of the crew I come in contact with are no longer afraid of me. They also seem to trust me more than in the beginning. Personal conversations are still lacking but I am working on it.”
“I’m sorry Seven. I wish…”
“Do not be sorry. I do not blame you or the crew. They had good reasons to be afraid and distrustful. As any other I have to gain their trust and friendship. This is not easy because I lack some social skills. That is not your fault nor anybody else’s. I am however working on it. I have made considerable progress.”
Kathryn smiled at the proud tone in Seven’s voice.
“I don’t doubt it. You even managed to get B’Ellanna to give you clothing advice.”
Kathryn gestured at Seven’s outfit.
“Indeed. I have found that the way I approached B’Ellanna in the past was lacking. I came to the conclusion that she does not like my way of speaking because she feels it is confrontational. I am now attempting to be less confrontational towards her. I have noticed that her responses have been more positive. We fight less and have productive conversations. I have noticed that other crewmembers also appreciate this less confrontational technique. I am fine-tuning this technique so I can have more productive relationships with these crewmembers also.”
“I see you have put a lot of thought into this.”
“I have. I want to become a part of this family as you call it. I have noticed that a lot of people interact with different people in different ways. It seemed only logical to also try this approach.”
“That is very insightful of you.”
“Thank you Kathryn.”
“I’m glad you are making such good progress. In no time I’ll have to fight others off to be able to spend some time with you.”
“I will always have time for you.”
Kathryn couldn’t help but laugh. Seven looked puzzled.
“You were making joke.”
“Yes I was, but it’s good to know you’ll want to spend time with me even when you make other friends.”
I was stated very confidently. Kathryn couldn’t help but smile.
“Why do people fall out of love?”
“Ah we’re back to the difficult questions.”
“If that is not a problem.”
“Of course not.”
“Well, let’s see. Why do people fall out of love. Well there are a lot of possible reasons I suppose. People change, and sometimes they don’t change in the same direction and lose the connection they once had. Some relationship become like a routine that people can no longer bear. Sometimes the other person does something hurtful. Sometimes somebody falls in love with a different person. I guess there are a million different reasons. And sometimes there isn’t one.”
“That’s why people… break up.”
“Yes falling out of love can be one of the reasons. But not necessarily. Some people love each other but they can’t form a healthy relationship so they break up. Others want different things in life and know they can’t give the other what her or she wants so they let them go. There’s a saying: if you love somebody you have to set them free.”
“You have to let go of the person you love?”
“Not necessarily. But sometimes you do. You have to put the continued happiness of that person first and sometimes you can only do that by letting them go. If you’re very lucky that person will return of his own accord.”
Seven pondered the question.
“I am uncertain.”
“Let me give you an example. Take me and Mark. I could ask of him to wait for me. But because I want him to be happy and we are uncertain how long we are going to be away for I wouldn’t do that.”
“Did you want to ask him?”
“To wait for me?”
“Maybe in the beginning. It was comforting to know somebody was waiting for me. But not anymore.”
“Because I’ve changed. I don’t know if I could be with him anymore after all that has happened.”
“So when we return to earth you would not want to resume your relationship with him.”
“You said when, not if.”
“I have trust in this crew’s and its Captains capabilities.”
Kathryn felt herself blush.”
“Thank you Seven. And to answer you question, no I would probably not want to resume my relationship with Mark. I’m not the same person anymore as I was then. I don’t think I could settle down in Indiana and have a quiet life. And if I’m really honest…”
Seven nodded encouragingly.
“I don’t think I could have ever lived the life he wanted us to live. I love Starfleet and I love being a Captain. I don’t think I could have given that up, even for him. Maybe that’s why we were engaged for so long and never set a date. I think he knew I wouldn’t be able to give him that if he asked for it.”
“But he did not set you free.”
Kathryn smiled. It figured that her own words would be used against her by Seven.
“No he didn’t. But I think he eventually would have, when I was ready for it. I clung to our relationship as much as he did, or maybe even more. I wanted something I knew I could never have. A happy, quiet life.”
“Are you happy now?”
Kathryn was startled by the question.
“Under the circumstances I think I am yes. Are you?”
Seven looked away. Not a good sign.
“Happiness is a difficult concept to grasp. I would not want to be anywhere else. I do not know if that is an adequate answer or not.”
“It’s more than adequate.”
Seven smiled softly.
From there on the conversation changed to lighter subjects. Before long Seven announced it was time for here to leave.
“I know it’s probably not necessary to say this. But the things we have talked about this evening. I would prefer it if you would not share these things with other members of the crew. Especially what I said about my relationship with Mark. These are private things and I’d like to keep it like that.”
“Of course Kathryn. I have never shared details about any of our conversations with the rest of the crew, nor will I ever do that.”
“Thank you Seven, that means a lot to me.”
“No, thank you Kathryn for sharing such personal information with me.”
Kathryn just nodded her head.
“Have a good night Kathryn.”
“You too, Seven.”
“Do you want to go for a drink in the mess hall? I could use some liquid refreshment at this point.”
Kathryn and Seven had just finished a velocity game. As always Kathryn had managed to win the game.
“That would be acceptable Kathryn.”
They walked in silence to the mess hall.
“Captain, Seven, what can I do for you?”
“We’d like something refreshing to drink. We’ve just finished a game of velocity and I’m in dire need of something to drink.”
“I have just the thing here Captain.”
As Neelix disappeared Kathryn tried not to think about what he would return with.
“Ensign Kim requested I try my hand at Iced Tea. Apparently it is one of his favourite drinks.”
“That sounds lovely Neelix. We’ll take two glasses.”
“I do not require liquid refreshment at this time.”
Kathryn turned towards Seven.
“Iced Tea would be acceptable.”
“So who won the game?”
“As always the Captain was victorious.”
Kathryn tried to keep a smirk from forming on her face.
“Ah, you still haven’t been able to beat the Captain. Maybe you should try playing with somebody else.”
Kathryn didn’t like that remark one bit.
“The Captain is a formidable opponent. There is no shame in losing from a more experienced opponent. I will however continue to attempt what others deem impossible.”
“Oh it’s not impossible to beat me. Many have tried and have not succeeded. But a couple have.”
Seven didn’t seem happy with that information. Kathryn took the offered drinks from Neelix and headed over a table.
“Seven some of those people went on to become professional velocity players.”
“Ah I see. These individuals were extremely talented.”
“Yes, they were.”
“Has anybody on this ship been able to win from you?”
“No, nobody. Most of them don’t even bother to challenge me anymore.”
“How do they wish to become a superior player when they do not play against the best player on the ship?”
“Seven not everything is about being the best. Many people just want to enjoy themselves and occasionally win a game.”
“I would only want to win from the best player on this ship.”
“Lucky me, that way I have at least one motivated opponent left. And trust me Seven, before long you’ll be able to beat me. What will you do then?”
“I will continue to challenge you. You are a resourceful opponent, I am certain you would still find ways to beat me.”
“I am certain of it, Kathryn. You do not like to lose.”
“No, I guess I don’t. But I think losing is not something you enjoy either.”
“As I have said, there is no shame in losing from a more experienced opponent.”
“But you would like to win a game in the foreseeable future…”
“Of course, Kathryn. I want to be a worthy opponent to you too.”
“That you already are. It’s almost a miracle I managed to win some of the games we’ve played. Mark my words, one of these days you’ll beat me.”
Seven smiled at that.
“Now, let’s try this Iced Tea that Neelix prepared.”
Seven didn’t seem all that enthusiastic at the prospect of tasting the beverage in front of her.
“And before you ask, yes, you have to try it!”
Kathryn took a tentative sip of her drink and found that it was one of Neelix’s better creations. Seven seemed to study her face to see how she would react.
“It’s actually quite good.”
“I will give it a try then.”
Kathryn watched amused while Seven carefully sipped the drink.
“So, what do you think?”
“It is quite enjoyable.”
“I’m glad you like it. My mother used to make her own Iced Tea. After a long hot day it was the best way to cool down. When we make it back to earth you’ll have to come taste it.”
“I would like that.”
“Trying my mother’s Iced Tea or coming to visit?”
“I would like that too.”
“I think you would like my mother. She’s not very fond of technology around the house. She prefers the old fashioned way of doing things. But she is quite the scientific mind.”
“I have read the papers she has written on a number of subjects. She is indeed quite the scientific mind.”
“You’ve read her papers and understood what they were about?!?”
Seven nodded her head.
“My mother is going to love you!”
Seven seemed uncertain at how to respond to that statement.
“She’s always complaining we never bring anyone home with whom she can have a sensible conversation.”
“It would be my pleasure to have a sensible conversation with your mother.”
“I’ll let her know the next time I’ll write to her. She’ll be delighted! So will Phoebe but for altogether other reasons.”
“Phoebe is an artist. When she lays eyes on you she’ll want you to pose for a piece I’m sure.”
“I will oblige. I have seen some of your sisters work in the database and have read some reviews. I am no expert but I believe she is very talented.”
“You researched my mothers and sisters work?”
“Of course. As your friend I am interested in your family.”
“Ah I see. But you have to know that some people would find it inappropriate if you research their background. Information about ones past has to be given out voluntarily.”
“I did not mean any harm. I was curious about how life on earth was like. As I was doing research I stumbled on some information about your family and became intrigued.”
“I’m sure you didn’t mean any harm. But just remember that some people would not take very kindly to it. Some people prefer to forget about the past and leave it behind them.”
“I will refrain from such activities in the future.”
“I think that might be best.”
“Seven, do you have any plans for the rest of the evening?”
“Would you like to join me for something to eat in my quarters?”
“I would like that.”
Kathryn’s stomach growled. Kathryn smiled and pointed at her stomach.
“We’d better head off then.”
“Thank you, Kathryn.”
“Dinner. And for letting me call you Kathryn when we are off duty.”
Kathryn blushed slightly.
“Well, Seven we’re friends after all. And it’s nice to leave the captaincy behind me when I’m off the clock.”
“I would like to return the privilege to you. From now on you are permitted to call me Annika when we are of duty.”
“I am permitted!”
Seven looked confused.
“Thank you Seven. Annika. Are you sure you’re comfortable being called that?”
Seven pondered the question.
“It will take some adjusting.”
“Well if you don’t like it, you just have to tell me and we’ll switch back to Seven.”
Seven smiled gratefully.
“I know how opposed you were to the name when you were first severed from the collective. Do you mind my asking what has changed?”
“I still do not feel like Annika. But when we share evenings like this I…”
“I feel like I am not truly Seven either. Seven of nine tertiary adjunct to unamatrix one was a drone who could not fathom the concept of friendship. When I am with you I fathom the concept of friendship, as Annika undoubtedly would have done.”
“I’m honoured, Annika.”
Seven smiled shyly at Kathryn.
“As I am honoured to have the privilege to call you Kathryn. And I am happy to be considered your friend.”
“As am I. So Annika, was there anything else you wished to do tonight?”
“Not particularly Kathryn. Did you have anything in mind.”
“Well why don’t we retire to the couch and listen to some music and maybe do some reading. If that’s agreeable to you.”
“That would be very agreeable.”
“Computer play Janeway 7 section 9.”
Instantly the room was filled with soft, soothing music.
“Would you like something to read Annika?”
“I was going to download some reports on a pad.”
“Don’t you ever read fiction?”
“I have never attempted to read fiction.”
“It seemed a useless occupation.”
“Are you saying I fill my time with useless occupations?”
“Humans do have the tendency to apply their time uselessly.”
“It’s called relaxing Seven.”
“I do engage in activities that some people would describe as relaxing.”
“Playing velocity with you, playing kadiskot with Naomi Wildman, singing with the doctor.”
“You sing with the doctor?!?”
“We have started in singing sessions 18 months, 2 days and 13 hours ago.”
“And you never told me!”
“You never asked, Kathryn.”
“You could have volunteered the information.”
Seven remained silent.
“So what do you sing?”
“We have tried a wide variety of genres. Lately we have been concentrating on Jazz.”
“I love Jazz music. You’ll have to sing something for me some time.”
“I do not perform for an audience.”
“Because I am not an adequate singer.”
“I can’t imagine you being inadequate at anything you set your mind to. Besides the doctor can be considered an audience.”
“I am inadequate at a lot of thing I try. The doctor is my teacher, he is not an audience.”
Kathryn looked surprised at Seven.
“You feel you are inadequate?”
“I said I was inadequate at certain things.”
“You said there were other things.”
“I am inadequate at forming close relationships with other people.”
“You have close relationships with members of the crew, have you not? There’s the doctor, Naomi, B’Ellana, Harry, me…”
“I do not have close relationships with a lot of other crewmembers.”
“Nor do I. It’s normal for people to have a few close friends. You can’t be friends with everybody you meet.”
Seven nodded her head.
“Anything else you feel inadequate at?”
“I had one date with Luitenant Chapman.”
“This is certainly turning out to be a revealing evening.”
“I presumed you were made aware by others of my failed date with the Lieutenant.”
“I wasn’t. I think everybody expected you to come to me about it afterwards. They were clearly mistaken.”
“I did not wish to disappoint you.”
Kathryn looked surprised at Seven.
“Why would I be disappointed?”
“Because I failed.”
“I don’t understand Annika. How exactly did you fail?”
“Lieutenant Chapman sustained physical injury while dancing, the food didn’t agree with me and we had nothing to talk about. It was a very uncomfortable and unfulfilling endeavour.”
“I can imagine. Tell me, why did you pick the lieutenant for your first date?”
“The doctor and I decided he was the best candidate.”
“The best candidate? Based on what?”
“Availibility, interests, hobbies and several other factors.”
“Why didn’t you choose someone whom you like and get on with.”
“I did not think about that at that point in time and the doctor did not suggest it.”
“I see. Annika would you pick the lieutenant for a date if you just went by your feelings?”
Seven seemed to mull the question over in her head.
“I believe not, no.”
“That’s probably one of the reasons the date didn’t work out like you had planned. You didn’t choose somebody you actually wanted to spend time with.”
“So if I choose somebody I want to spend time with I will be successful.”
“Not necessarily, but you’ll increase your chances.”
“But I can’t be sure I’ll be successful.”
“You can never be sure. The success of a date is influenced by a lot of factors. Some of those are out of your control.”
“For one, the feelings of the other person.”
“Also, your own feelings. You can’t make yourself fall in love with someone. With some people you’ll have a special connection, with a lot of others you won’t.”
“It’ a question of trial and error?”
“You would call it that. I for one have been on numerous dates that weren’t a success. Some were a complete disaster, a bit like you described before. Others were quite nice but it was plainly obvious that it would never be more than that, just nice.”
“You have failed at dating?!?”
Seven looked at her incredulously.
“Annika, most people have had more than one unsuccessful date. It’s part of the dating process. Most people look back on them and laugh about them. They don’t really consider it failing.”
“I didn’t fail?”
“You didn’t fail Annika. It just didn’t work out. And you certainly didn’t disappoint me. I can’t believe you would think I could be disappointed in you for something like that.”
Sven stayed silent.
“Why did you think I would be disappointed?”
Kathryn nodded encouragingly.
“You want me to find my humanity.”
“I believed I had failed at something basically human. I did not want you to feel disappointment that I had not taken a step closer to humanity.”
Kathryn enveloped Seven in a hug.
“I had no idea I was putting you under so much pressure. I just want you to discover your humanity because I believe it’s still a basic part of you that’s hidden. I don’t want you to explore your humanity just to please me.”
“I do explore my humanity to please you.”
Kathryn didn’t seem to know what to say to that.
“I also explore my humanity because I want to. In the beginning I didn’t want to. You pushed me to explore my humanity. In doing so I discovered it was what I wanted to. I have accepted that I will never be fully human. I will always be part borg. I have however come to the conclusion this does not necessarily have to be a problem. A lot of individuals are of mixed heritage. A great deal of them are able to come to terms with their heritage and have a fulfilling life. I strive to accomplish that. Unfortunately I was not able to explore my humanity while being with the borg. Now however I can and fully intend to. I also intend to explore my borg side, as it will always part of me.”
Kathryn had tears in her eyes and enveloped Seven in a hug.
“That was one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard you say Annika. I’m really glad you wish to explore both your borg and human side. You truly are a remarkable person. I’m glad to be able to call you my friend.”
“As am I.”
“And as your friend I will assist you in every way I can.”
“Thank you Kathryn.”
“I just hope that in the future you will no longer be afraid to tell me certain thing because you think I will be disappointed.”
“I will not.”
Another hug followed.
“Are we in the process of hugging?”
“Yes we are. Is it making you uncomfortable?”
“It is a new experience for me… But it is not uncomfortable.”
“You didn’t have to walk me back to my quarters.”
“I wanted to.”
“Do you want to come in for a while?”
“I do not wish to keep you from sleep.”
“I’ll have a drink to unwind before I go to bed.”
“Then I will join you for a drink.”
They entered Kathryn’s quarters.
“What can I get you?”
“A glass of milk please.”
“One glass of milk and a scotch.”
Kathryn gestured towards the couch.
“So did you have a good time tonight Annika?”
“It was a pleasurable endeavour.”
“I’m glad you liked it. Tom and B’Ellanna seemed to be enjoying themselves too.”
“They are very efficient at the game of pool.”
“So were you! Are you sure it was the first time you played?”
“I enjoyed learning a new game.”
“We should play it more often. It gives us a chance to mix a bit with the crew.”
“I hope you didn’t mind me calling you Annika while we were playing. It just kind of slipped out.”
“I did not mind. We were there in an unofficial capacity.”
“Yes but we weren’t exactly in private. I’m glad you didn’t mind.”
“We were among friends.”
“Yes we were.”
“Tom and B’Ellana were rather surprised.”
“B’Ellana asked if she could call me Annika too.”
“What did you say?”
“I said the privilege was restricted to you, for the moment.”
“What did she say to that?”
“I’m glad you two were able to put your differences aside and become friends.”
“I am glad as well.”
“You are tired. I will let you retire.”
“No, Annika. Don’t leave just yet. I want to enjoy the quiet for awhile.”
Seven nodded. When Kathryn fell asleep next to her on the couch she picked her up and carried her to the bedroom. Before she left she gave Kathryn a kiss on her forehead.
Kathryn entered Astrometrics the following morning.
“What can I do for you, Captain?”
“I just wanted to apologise for falling asleep last night.”
“It was not a problem. You needed your sleep.”
“How exactly did I get to the bedroom? I don’t remember going to bed.”
“You fell asleep on the couch. I carried you to the bedroom. I thought you might be uncomfortable on the couch.”
“That was very thoughtful of you Annika. Thank you.”
“Did you sleep well?”
“I haven’t slept better in a long time.”
“We seem to be spending an awful lot of time together lately.”
“We have engaged in a numerous amount of off-duty activities together.”
“It’s not that I don’t like it, but aren’t there other people on Voyager you want to spend time with?”
“I regularly spend time with Naomi and the doctor.”
“Ah the singing lessons.”
“Yes the singing lessons.”
“How are you getting on.”
“We are getting on acceptably. Why are you so fascinated by the singing lessons I engage in.”
“I just can’t imagine you singing. But I bet it’s a sight worth seeing.”
“I like singing. It helps me express emotions I otherwise cannot express.”
“So, it’s very a very personal experience for you.”
“Yes it is.”
“I understand why you wouldn’t want to share something that personal with other people.”
So what do you do when you spend time with Naomi.
“Naomi usually decides what activity we will engage in.”
“I can imagine.”
“We play Kadiskot, we talk, we visit Fodder in the holodeck, …”
A soft smile appeared on Sevens face.
“You really enjoy spending time with Naomi, don’t you.”
“Naomi is a unique individual. She is very bright and very open. She has never been afraid of me or my Borg implants. It’s enjoyable spending time with someone who has no apprehension towards me, who doesn’t know what the Borg has done to people.”
“I don’t have any apprehension towards you.”
“When I was first separated you did. You knew what I was capable of and you could not know for certain I would not harm you or a member of your crew.”
“But I had faith.”
“Yes you had faith. If not for that faith I might not be on Voyager today.”
“But you know my past, you know what I did, what I am capable of.”
“And Naomi doesn’t.”
“You never had to prove to Naomi that you would never harm her in any way. To the rest of us, even to me, you had to prove you weren’t going to misuse the trust we put in you.”
“I’m glad Naomi can give you that.”
“So am I.”
There was a long comfortable silence.
“Is there someone aboard Voyager who looks at you like Naomi looks at me? Not as captain.”
“One of the burdens of being captain is that you can never truly shed rank with the members of your crew. Even Naomi is aware of my position and what it entails. On earth I have my family and friends to keep me grounded. My sister and mother seem to be immune to my command voice. My mom says it has something to do with her having changed my nappies.”
“And on voyager I do get to shed my command mask every once in a while. With Chakotay and with you, when we’re talking like this.”
“You have similar conversations with the Commander?”
“God, no. With Chakotay it’s different. We have a different bond.”
“For one he doesn’t challenge my orders as openly as you do!”
“I only challenge your orders when I think you are mistaken.”
“Which is about half of the time.”
“I do have superior intellect due to my time with the Borg.”
“God that is one of the things I love about you, you never give up even when you know you are in the wrong. It’s not so much that you challenge my orders Annika, it’s that you do it in front of the crew.
“I will refrain from doing so in the future.”
“Why do I get the feeling you won’t be able to keep that promise…”
“Because I like to challenge you as much as you like to be challenged.”
“What makes you say I like to be challenged?”
“Because your mood and efficiency increase exponentially after you have won a fight”
“I have to admit I like a good challenge every once in a while, it keeps me on my toes.”
“Every once in a while!” Kathryn said warningly.