DISCLAIMER: The story, and characters and anything and everything else concerning Star Trek belong to Paramount etc, they are so not mine and no money is being made from this and no copyright infringement is intended, absolutely none what so ever. This is just a fanfiction using the characters that were created by some wonderfully imaginative people, brought to life by some wonderfully talented actors purely for entertainment. Oh yeah another note this story depicts a relationship of a loving and sexual nature between two consenting adult women.
SEQUEL: This story follow on from A Mile
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

A Journey
By Elizabeth Carter

Part Eleven

Seven had dropped Miral off at her wife's quarters while she retreated to her own to check up on the girls. As a mother, Miral could understand the need to know that the little ones were protected. The blonde had said she would return once she had spent time with the girls. And of course she would have to deal with the Captain and the chief of security once word got out about the the illegal extraction of the children from the brig.

"You're married," B'Elanna said, setting down a mug of bloodwine before her mother. They sat across from each other in the common area of the younger woman's quarters, in what seemed like an akward moment of conversation. `It was so easy when I was Seven to talk to her, but now I find out my tongue is thick and I am scrambling for something to say...So much easier as my Seven.' B'Elanna sighed, `...Hey, hon, can I borrow your body tonight so I can have a decent conversation with my mother?'

"Did you expect me to live alone or have an empty bed since your father abandoned us?" Miral commented, feeling just as awkward talking to her daughter now that the spirit was in the correct body. Klingons don't do awkward.

"No." B'Elanna shook her head." It's just weird, okay? I mean, first of all I find out you're not dead. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad you're not dead yet. I saw you...."

Miral smiled, "Stick Girl told me about your sacrifice on the Barge of the Dead. She said you gave yourself up to Kotar so I could take my place within the Black Fleet and make my way to Sto-Vo-Kor."

B'Elanna nodded, "I couldn't let my disgrace send you there, Mother. You always tried to insure I knew my heritage. The funny thing is I embraced only the temper and the humans just alienated me all the more, thinking I was the stereotypical Klingon Kirk painted us out to be. I never stopped to consider you were just as concerned that I learn about my Spanish heritage. Dad never was. He hated it as much as I pretended to hate Klingon."

Miral remained silent. It was a mother's innate gift to know when her child needed to get something off of their chest. Right now B'Elanna had to face a great many things. In her experience on the Barge of the Dead, B'Elanna must have fought more than Kotar, she had battled her inner demons. And won.

"I read the ancient scrolls over and over, the old stories, and I discovered that I could take the disgrace if they sent my soul to Grethor instead of you. Mother I never wanted to be a disgrace to you, but I know I was."

"Lanna, I'll admit you angered me beyond reason, but you were never a disgrace to me. I was slightly disappointed you went into Star Fleet rather than the Defense Force, but I was never more proud when I discovered you joined the Maquis. You stood up for what you believed in, you fought for it. A Star Fleet filled with cowards refused to strike down the Cardassians, even when their allies the Bajorians begged them to, simply because they were not apart of the Federation. Only the Maquis were brave enough to take up arms and strike back. The Dominion War would not have gone as badly as it did, had Star Fleet taken up the sword when they were asked. They were tested and found wanting."

To this B'Elanna had to agree. It had never been a doubt in her mind to join the Maquis and fight for what was right, for what was honorable. Of course, before she and her crew were caught out in the Delta Quadrant with Voyager the threat of the Dominion was only that, a threat, a rumor on the wind.

The younger Klingon shrugged. "I'd agree, but for Voyager. We're a tough crew. We've survived a hell of a lot, this is a good crew."

"If Stick Girl is any indication, I'd agree."

"Why do you call my wife that?" B'Elanna's tone reflected she was not at all amused, in fact it bordered on barely contained tolerance. "Not exactly the top ten of compliments."

"She's a frail looking thing," Miral said. Her own voice containing her spirit, she gave no quarter and spoke her mind without regrets or self-doubts.

"Looks is the operative word, Mother. She's a lot stronger than she looks. I mean a lot stronger. She's stronger than I am and stronger in fact than most Klingon warriors. The Borg reinforced her bones and muscle tissue. She was carrying around 130 kilos of body armor before it was removed."

"The armor I saw her...or rather you wearing didn't weigh that much......"

`That was Nic's altered set, the other....that was incredibly heavy. Her left hand can impact a thousand pounds of pressure. She isn't a stick, to be so easily broken. She isn't frail."

"Deceptive...." Miral smiled broadly. "Her enemies will always underestimate her, because she looks frail. Come on, Lanna, admit it. She looks like some spun glass trinket easily broken."

B'Elanna had thought the very thing on several occasions, which was why every time she witness the Borg enhanced strength she was always astonished. She had felt first hand just what Seven was capable of. First while in the blonde's body, B'Elanna had punched a hole in the deuterium plating of a bulkhead, then aboard the Diamond she had seized the other drones with little resistance.

"Well, it still isn't a good nickname coming from a Klingon." B'Elanna replied.

"Then put some meat on those reinforced bones. She's too thin."

"She has a hard time digesting things, SoS. The Borg took away most of her digestive system. Until recently she could only manage liquid supplements. As a mater of fact, she's mostly on a liquid diet now, and maybe chicken...fish, salads, banana pancakes stuff like that. Nic can only consume very easily digestible foods, otherwise she just gains her nutrients when she regenerates," B'Elanna explained, the sadness and empathy for her mate evident in her voice. No matter what would come in their futures, Seven of Nine would never be fully human, never fully restored from the mutilation the Borg had done to her. In time she could wean herself off of regeneration but that was going to be a long road.

"Explains a lot," Miral said softly. There was a second smile upon the older woman's face. She had heard a deep love in her child voice when speaking of her mate. It was more than evident just how much Lanna cared for Stick Girl. "Still going to call her that, it's a mother's propagative, Lanna." Miral took a long drought from the mug in her hand.

Coming from her mother, the petite engineer had to admit it had a tone of affection, like a term of endearment that only Miral would be allowed to use. On that note, B'Elanna spoke. "Fine, Annika ...and Nic ... they are mine, and mine alone, SoS. My mate gave her name to me. To everyone else she's Seven. It's a personal choice on her part. She felt Annika had no meaning to her. For eighteen years she was Seven of Nine Tertiary Adjunct Unimatrix Zero One. She was only Annika for six years. We've shortened it to Seven and on formal occasions it's Seven of Nine. But to me..." B'Elanna added, "she lets me have Annika."

"I heard some call her Seven Torres....you called her Annika Torres. Mind telling me about that?" Miral had long since finished her mug of blood wine and moved to the replicated to order another tankard.

"I kept Torres, for my grandma, SoS, not father. It had nothing to do with our battles. But more to honor Abuela. She meant a lot to me."

"Your Grandmother Torres was the one who always made you banana pancakes. Told you stories about your Spanish heritage, the Conquistadors, and how, like the Klingons, they seized lands for their Empire. If you keep Torres to honor her, I will respect that, Lanna. Her son had no honor, but she did. Her heart was Klingon."

There could be no greater compliment given from a Klingon to another, especially if that other belonged to another species.

"SoS, I never hated you or the Klingons. I was just.... "


"Yes," B'Elanna admitted with some shame in her voice.

"Anger can either sharpen the blade or dull the senses and make the warrior blind. My heart is glade you've discovered the difference."

"Yeah, well, a trip to the Barge of the Dead will do that to you," B'Elanna joked. "In trying to save you, I ended up saving myself."

`Then the prayers to Kah'less worked,' Miral thought, but knew better than to voice her thoughts. What she said was: "All that time in the Monastery did some good after all."

"Yes, SoS," B'Elanna said in mocking compliance. "The clerics' lessons came in handy. Don't expect me to thank you for sending me to that place."

"Won't think of it." Miral flashed a very toothing grin that said `I told you so.' Of course it was an expression that only a mother could display and only the child knew exactly what it meant.

"Oh, shut up, SoS," B'Elanna snorted in a jovial banter.

Miral barked out a hearty laugh herself and took a long heavy drink of her blood wine.

"SoS'oy! SoS'oy!" Mizoti launched herself into Seven's arms. "I was so worried for you."

Naomi hesitated for only a moment before she lunged at her beloved hero. The whole idea of Seven being safe and sound, not to mention breaking them out of the Brig, was too overwhelming for both girls to handle with any amount to reserved control over their emotions. Still clutching Seven, both girls spoke in quick succession, one right after the other, until their voices blended in their own Collective.

"Oh, we thought the Queen had you for sure."

"It was my fault, she made you say things, do things, she wanted to see why you wanted to stay with the Voyager collective."

"And we couldn't, wouldn't wait for the grown-ups to do something. We went against orders and my Mum."

"We just had to do something, SoS'oy, we had to."

"We didn't hurt the systems much. It can be fixed, we just gave it a cold, not a real virus."

"And ...and....what about Royal Protocol? The Queen wanted you, but we will never let you go."

"We were so scared you were taken away forever!"

It was only Seven's enhanced Borg mind that she was able to separate who was speaking. It seemed the girls were finishing each other's thoughts. Naomi would start and Mizoti would follow up until they finished saying exactly the same thing at the same time. Seven felt the corners of her lips curl into a smile. Of course, the girls hadn't known about the body switch, and for the moment it was best they didn't know. Nor should they know just how impressed the ex-Drone was with the efficiency and the innovational resourcefulness the girls had employed to recover `her'.

The tall blonde was about to comment on the girl's behavior when the chime to her quarters sounded. "I would think that will be the Captain with security," Seven said evenly, rising to her feet.

For a moment Mizoti and Naomi grimaced in their fear that Seven would turn them over to the Captain, but taking a look at the statuesque blonde they silently agreed to emulate her poster and stood ramrod straight fully prepared to face the authority about to come through the door. If Seven and B'Elanna could face off against the Queen the girls decided that they could stand before the Captain and security and at least pretend not to be afraid.

"Enter," Seven commanded.

It wasn't at all a surprise to Mizoti and Naomi that it was indeed the Captain, Mr. Tuvok and Lieutenant Rothery paying a visit. After all, Seven had said it was, and thus it would be so.

"Lieutenant Seven of Nine," Captain Janeway's voice dropped an octave as she confronted her errant officer. "Do you know why I am here?"

"I assume that is a rhetorical question, Captain, as it is redundant to ask a question we both know the answer to. I assaulted a fellow crew member and extracted prisoners without leave. But do not think that as a mother I would abide by this ruling, nor can I believe SamanthaWildman was so inclined to agree. As you are responsible for the actions of your crew, I am responsible for the actions of my child and even my godchild as they acted as they did because of me. If you wish to throw someone in the Brig then you may do so with me, but not them. I will not allow it."

"Lieutenant, are you refusing to comply in surrendering the prisoners?" Tuvok questioned.

"Of course. I have no intention of not complying. Mizoti, Naomi, go into the bedroom now." Seven didn't look behind her for she already knew the girls would obey her. "If Security is insistent in arresting them I will further break Starfleet regulations by having them removed from Voyager, by boarding them upon my private vessel, Kellein."

Janeway knew a mother's resolve when she saw it. There was no way she would win this round, not by threatening the children, not that she wanted to. The scare of the Brig had done its job, and the children would also see the result of their actions by seeing their mothers imprisoned in the Brig. In retrospect, that would be more effective.

"Seven, " Janeway started softly. "I can't simply allow what happened to go unpunished. Do you realize that if those two girls were adults what would happen?"

"You already put them in the brig, and we do not have a facility to put them in a Juvenile Detainment Center. Nor will I allow you," this time blue eyes rested upon Amanda, "to put them into a holographic simulation of such a place."

"Seven, no one is suggesting that will happen," Kathryn said as she placed a hand upon the lanky blonde's arm. "But they must know the seriousness of what they did."

"Did it ever occur to you Captain, that they were emulating the adults around them?" Seven was still on the defensive. "You yourself have ordered me to create and send encrypted viruses to cripple enemy vessels, in like manner as the children did to Voyager. We ourselves designed such a thing to disable the Borg, not once but twice. Starfleet has training simulations that deal with circumventing control from one deck to another, such as Captain Jean-Luc Picard did when the Queen gained a foothold upon the Enterprise. Where do you think the children learned such things?

"Ensign Wesley Crusher has the designs for his inventive amusements published in Popular Science, several of which are cataloged in Voyager's data base. There are several Maquis aboard who possess such skills as well, and who could have inadvertently taught the children how to circumvent power and control so they might escape and attempt such an ill-fated rescue for one they loved. But again, the Captain of this vessel has done the same to rescue one she deems of value despite logic dictating the reverse. One should not be placed above the needs of the many. But Voyager went into the heart of Unimatrix One to reclaim one of the lost. They only mimicked the behavior of those they respect and follow."

Kathryn was silent for moment, then shook her head, smiling. "You'd make one hell of a defense attorney for JAG, Seven."

"I'd say you have a sound argument," Amanda echoed her lover and Captain, more aloud than she had actually indented too. Given the sharp look from Janeway, Rothery knew there would be hell to pay later.

"Indeed." Tuvok took the sting out of the inappropriate comment his XO of Security had made by mirroring it himself.

"Granted the children emulated the adults around them and perhaps even replicated procedures of both Maquis and Starfleet, but their parents will be held accountable for the damage done to my ship. Which means you, B'Elanna, Samantha and Neelix will pull several double shifts until Voyager is restored to normalcy. And the children are banned from the use of replicators for three months. If they want anything they will have to ask their parents to replicate it for them, and for a month they lose all holodeck privileges, save for educational purposes," Janeway ordered.

"Agreed." Seven nodded, knowing this was a fair punishment for the children.

Looking over her shoulder, the redhead addressed the security personnel. "Tuvok, Amanda, wait outside for a moment."

"As you wish, Captain."

"Aye, Captain."

Janeway waited until Rothery and her Chief of Security left before turning back to the tall blonde. "Seven, did you think I'd place the children in solitary confinement for long?"

"Captain, I have learned never to underestimate you. When I was first severed from the Collective, I had done several things that caused you to become angry with me, and several times you ordered me to stay in that cargo bay. Though you expected me to assert my independence, you punished me for doing so when it went against your standard. The children did what they felt they had to do to save one they loved."

"Yes, I am aware of that." Kathryn didn't know where this line of conversation was taking her, but she was positive she wasn't going to like it.

"Then you are also aware they did what I would have done and what you have done."

"You established that Seven, it's why I'm letting them off the hook...." the captain raised her hand. "It means I am allowing them to go without the punishment that is required for the misdemeanor they committed."

Seven wasn't going to bother telling her superior officer that she knew what the cliche meant, it was simply easier to allow Kathryn to think she was still innocent about such things.


"Captain," the ex-drone interrupted, " you asked me if you thought I knew you wouldn't keep my daughter and my goddaughter detained. The answer is no. I knew full well you were capable of such actions. You detained me when my own sense of ethics and morality was not more mature than that of the children. It never occurred to me that you would act contrary to that prior reaction, despite the age of those detained. That is why I defied your orders in extracting them. I will never allow Mizoti nor Naomi to be imprisoned, especially when they did what they did in my name.

"Blending with my wife twice now, I have learned more about society than all the studies you ordered me to take from a sentient hologram. I have discovered I prefer the society of Klingons over that of Humans. It is refreshing to know exactly where one stands. Klingons do not engage in this more secretive double standard humans tend to employ, and thus they are more like the Borg in that regard. It is what I am familiar with. Human semantics confound me in what is permissible, what is merely tolerated and what is not. I have stumbled in my journey because I have lacked the appropriate knowledge."

Kathryn didn't like it at all when she had to re-evaluate some of her choices she had made in regard to Seven early on. And Seven had been right at almost every turn. `You wanted her to be independent and yet when she acted independently for the first time she was punished. She is told to act like a human, yet a hologram teaches her how to be human. And she was kept in a cargo bay in the public eye which no human would have tolerated, and when she stumbled she was expected to act as a full adult with full adult experiences and learned behavior. Seven didn't need to be coddled, but she did need to have blunt honesty. Bluntness was something the Klingons were so good at. You always knew where you stood with B'Elanna, and Seven responded to that. Katie, no wonder you lost out...She never knew where she stood with you.....'

"Seven.... Look, I know you've had a difficult time reclaiming your humanity, but you have come a long way. Right now....I can't imagine what you are feeling. A lot of things have happened to you in quick secession, and I can understand a lot of the things you've felt you had to do. Like the jailbreak. But I am not your enemy, Seven. I care very deeply for you. I am overjoyed you have someone like B'Elanna in your life, to love and be loved by. I know you're protected. But don't shut me out. I want to help you, Seven. You know my door has always been open to you for our philosophical discussions. And I know you've felt you had to go to another when you...were....struggling." Janeway couldn't bring herself to admit she was still jealous over the fact Seven had gone to Samantha when she was so upset. She had wept with Samantha, something Seven had never truly done with Janeway. And for a moment the fiery captain dreaded the thought she had lost the trust of her young protegee.

Placing a hand upon the slender body, Janeway found ice blue eyes looking into her own steel gray. "I'll never bring harm to your child, Seven. I had to admit I was both angry and terrified. Angry because they were able to get as far as they did, revealing that my security detail is obviously in need of overhauling and retraining. I was plainly impressed with what those two were able to accomplish, but knowing who their heroes are I shouldn't be. And yes, I was terrified for them. Going off like that scared me to death, Seven. I love those kids and to see them in harms way... knowing somehow I was negligent in keeping them from getting as far as they had sickened me and quite frankly pissed me off because I had allowed it to happen. You're right, when you said a captain is responsible for the actions of her crew, and right now, my chief of security and his XO are a major disappointment. Voyager needs a shake down. You and B'Elanna are the perfect ones to test each system both with Borg and Maquis tactics and I want those same tactics to shield Voyager from something like this ever happening again."

Seven smiled warmly, now knowing where her Captain stood. In understanding her emotion, Seven better understood why Kathryn had placed the children in the brig and why Samantha had allowed her own daughter to be incarcerated. The Captain was terrified, just as Seven was, that the children would become hurt. And instead of locking them in a room where they might, and very well could, get hurt, Janeway locked them up in the only room she knew where they couldn't get out and thus get themselves into trouble. It wasn't a prison, but a desperate means to keep them safe.

"I understand now, Kathryn," Seven employed the rare gift of her captain's first name. "You protected your family. Thank you. And I want you to know I do not condone their actions, but I understand it."

"Sev..." Janeway smiled. "So do I."

Seven stepped up to the woman before her, and for a moment the blonde thought of the words spoken to her by this small, brave woman when she thought Seven was unconscious: the proclaimed love, the regret of not acting sooner, the desire to be the one to have her name cried out in love making, the blessing that if Kathryn could not have her, that it should be B'Elanna and no other. More importantly, Seven recalled the shaking, tear strained voice of Kathryn's desire for her to be happy.

Seven stepped forward and placed her hands upon the captain's shoulders and smiled such a smile that none would have ever believed the ex-drone capable of such an expression. "You are my family, Kathryn, and I do love you. You gave me a life I could never have had as a member of the Collective. I called you small at one time. I was mistaken. You're spirit is greater than the power of the Borg."

Kathryn's face froze in wonder and disbelief for what her ears had heard.

"Your reasons are sound in the attempt to protect my child and Naomi from their own misguided need to rescue me, or rather B'Elanna."

That's something I've been meaning to ask you Seven." Janeway's voice was a gentle purr of concern. Seven knew from a dozen times over that this was now a philosophical question. "That experience once was something profound, but then to have to go through it again must weigh on you."

In that respect she guided her mentor over to the living room and sat the older woman down before she astoundingly took a seat herself. The Captain didn't comment on the lack of the "preference to stand" and took Seven's newly adaptive ease in reclining in stride. Apparently being in B'Elanna's body had done wonders to this lost woman-child to reclaim her humanity. Ironic that it was a Klingon hybrid who showed her how, when a full human could not.

"As grateful as I am for your care, I have out grown the need for a mother's influence upon my decisions, as well as a mentor's. I have found my humanity in my wife and children. What weighted heavily was waking in the body of my wife, after we had made love for the first time, waking knowing she had sacrificed herself. But B'Elanna could do no less. She sacrificed herself to Kotar, on the Barge of the Dead, for her mother, and she would equally sacrifice herself to the Queen for her wife. She saved my soul in giving her own up, just as she had done for her mother. This is a warrior that belongs in the hall of Heroes in the Order of the Bat'lath.

"What I experienced while being her, when "Seven" was taken away, was shocking. I heard others say that `Seen wanted to go back to the Queen, that the Ice princess when running home to her first woman.' This enraged me beyond my experience. More so because it reflected poorly upon B'Leanna, that her wife would abandon her. Others stated that no Klingon could keep somebody like me satisfied. But more importantly, I heard others give support to B'Elanna in their own way. SamanthaWildman and Naomi, Neelix, Amanda Rothery, and even Tuvok. Even Icheb gave his support to his Mor when his SoS'oy was gone, a fact I am proud of. I did not like the subterfuge, but I felt it necessary.

"This is what you wanted to tell me before the girls went Maquis on Voyager," Janeway nodded.

"That also explains why Lieutenant Tina'lucy was a little frightened to been on the same shift as you and asked to be placed on the Gamma shift for the duration until Seven was recovered. Being a Betazed she could sense you were not truly B'Elanna. Of course she told Chakotay that your grief was distracting her and she needed to be on another shift so she could perform her duties to satisfactory levels."

"Yes. I knew she could detect the deception. I had to, as you say, `put the fear of God into her' so she would not relate that information. I had to insure that B'Elanna was safe in her own deception of enacting the role of Prime and no errant information would jeopardize her portion. That was unacceptable." Seven answered evenly, giving no apology for her actions.

A shadow moved from the inside corner. The captain had to look close, but she saw a slip of a smile tease the corners of Seven's mouth. "Girls it is impolite to skulk about the room. Come out."

Both Mizoti and Naomi trudged into the common room of the quarters and moved to Seven with heads bowed.

"SoS'oy..."Mizoti started and stopped as she stood and assumed the `Seven stance' with her back ramrod straight and her hands clasped behind her back. "I will comply with whatever punishment you deem fitting."

"Acceptable," Seven responded before opening her arms up. She had seen SamanthaWildman do such a thing with Naomi countless times. And the reaction was always the same. Naomi would fall into her mother's arms and snuggle her smaller body tightly into her mother's embrace. It took only three point six seconds before Mizoti sailed into the waiting embrace and tucked her smaller body into her mother's. Neither said a word. They didn't have to, as a mother and daughter knew what the other wanted. Safety for the one they love.

Naomi was hesitant at first but she to could not bear not to be close to Seven and she rushed the waiting embrace and snuggled her own body in tightly, her own tears of overwhelming emotion blending with those shed but her best friend.

Captain Janeway for her part smiled at the scene playing out unbelievably before her eyes. And perhaps not so unbelievable `And the Children shall lead them.' Kathryn thought of an ancient passage. "Seven, I am sure you and your family have a great deal of catching up to do and I have a ship to run. I'm glad you're home where you belong."

"Thank you, Captain. And rest assured there will be no such incidences as there were previously from either Mizoti Hansen-Torres or NaomiWildman. This is a guarantee, is it not children." It was not a question.

"Yes, Ma'am!" Both girls saluted, nodding their heads vigorously.

"See that it doesn't, or your parents will be spending the rest of the trip home in a specially designed brig for YOUR indiscretion, understood?" Janeway's steel blue eyes rested upon the earnest young faces.

"Yes, Ma'am," both said collectively, both terrified that their Captain would make good on her threat. After all, as far as the seven year old children were concerned, Captain Kathryn Janeway never went back on her word or a promise and her threats were never empty.

"Naomi Wildman, security is waiting outside to escort you home to your mother." The tone of the captain indicated that there was no room for argument. If the little Katerrian was to stay with her hero she would have to do so with her mother's approval. Besides, Janeway knew that Ensign Wildman would be frantic after seeing the video-feedback of Seven breaking her daughter out of the brig and what would follow thereafter.

Giving a pleading look to Seven, Naomi tried silently to beg her beloved god-mother to convince the Captain to allow her to stay. The tall blonde reached out and cupped Naomi's chin. "Return to your mother. If she agrees, you may stay over with Mizoti. But you will comply with the Captain."

The child bowed her head a little, then suddenly sucked in a bit of air as she adopted the `Seven pose' and the monotone voice. "I will comply."

B'Elanna raised her head at the sound of the pneumatic door whooshing open. In one swift movement she gathered Mizoti into her arms and held her child tightly even as she took her wife in the same embrace.

"Zot, you daring little tika cat! Kah'less girl!" B'Elanna's arms became tighter around the small child. Before this day she hadn't known what it was to have a daughter. What it was to worry. "And I am so proud of you." Mizoti was flabbergasted. This was a completely different response than the reaction her Mor gave aboard Keillien.

Icheb would not be left out of the reunion. Even as B'Elanna was wrapping her arms around Mizoti he had entered the Klingon's quarters. The young Bernoulli stood before his taller mother, uncertain on how to proceed. He fervently wanted to embrace Seven, tell her he loved her, and that he was overjoyed to have her back home. A small illogical part of Icheb wished he was as small as Mizoti so his mother could cradle him in her arms and hold him close as she did with his sister.

He lowered his head for a moment's breath, his eyes locked to the iron gray carpet, only to have it lifted by a metallic meshed hand. The caress of his mother's hand upon his cheek warmed the boy as surly as being cuddled. In the blue eyes he saw a silent granting of his desire to hold his mother.

"I wanted to see that you were well, SoS," he said softly, feeling safe, protected and loved in the arms that held him. "The idea of losing you was unacceptable."

"You would not have lost me, Icheb, but rather your Mor."

To this both children looked back to B'Elanna questing for an explanation.

"Kids, there are a few things you should know," the Klingon started, but paused at the hearing of the door chime.

"Busy place," Miral said amused. She couldn't help but ponder how many more visitors her daughter and daughter-in-law could expect. It showed a true worthiness of the crew that the two women were willing to sacrifice themselves for, if they paid their respects for the heroics that had saved their asses.

Seven opened the door revealing the eager faces of Naomi and Samantha Wildman, and trudging behind them was Neelix, hefting a covered silver platter, no doubt food for the hungered heroes who had yet to eat since their return home. The Telaxian believed that any high stress situation could be better handled upon a full belly. Of course, the furry man believed there was any number of occasions to create a feast. And was it not his duty as the Morale Officer to insure that stressful situations were made to become bearable?

"Come in please," the blonde ex-Borg gestured, "There is much to discuss." To Seven the serendipity of the trio was efficient for she would then only have to relate the occurrence of the Borg ship once. And at this time tomorrow the entire compliment of the ships crew would know what occurred, for Neelix would thrive on relaying the tale over and over.

Samantha's reaction was similar to Icheb's, only the older woman would not hesitate to embrace the woman she came to think of as a sister. Ever since the bond between her little girl and Seven had developed, Samantha had become protective of the lanky blonde. In some ways Samantha felt that Seven was as emotionally innocent as her child. Indeed, at times they reacted to circumstances in like manner. Seven had trusted the other woman with many of her concerns, things that not even Captain Janeway had been privy to, simply because Seven had felt that somehow she might disappoint her mentor.

There were times when B'Elanna and Seven would fight and something was said that caused deep pain in the former drone. She was not as cold or emotionless as people suspected. Many a night Seven had secretly wept in Samantha's arms, feeling as secure as Naomi. For Samantha's part she didn't know exactly how Seven fit into her family, only that she was indeed family. And she loved Seven as deeply and as tightly as she would her own sister.

"Oh Seven, you had me so worried. I knew from the start you would do what you did, but hoped you wouldn't. Thank God you're safe where you belong." Blue eyes met blue eyes. Like she would with Naomi, Samantha tucked a stray bit of long blond hair behind Seven's ear, for Seven had yet to replace the tresses in the aster bun that it was normally kept in. Since B'Elanna had said she loved it down, Seven had taken to wearing it thus, though now in a ponytail, to keep honey colored locks out of her eyes when she was working.

"Indeed." Seven smiled.

For a rare moment, B'Elanna felt a surge of jealousy at the display of casual intimacy displayed before her, not because it could have been a touch of lovers, but because Samantha Wildman was so at ease touching Seven. Their relationship had been close for three years, but only now was the Klingon allowed to be in that rare and very small circle of Seven's loved ones. She had wasted so much time, time they would never get back.

Setting Mizoti down, B'Elanna decided to play host, and greet her guest properly, her arm snaked around Seven's waist possessively as the diminutive warrior looked on at Samantha.

"We have much to be thankful for, I agree."

Samantha caught the gesture for what it was and stepped back from the younger blonde, a pleasant smile on her face as she now turned her gaze to B'Elanna. "I hope we are not intruding, but I wanted to thank you, B'Elanna, for watching over and protecting my daughter. I never have to worry about her when she is with either of you two. Seven, like our daughters, I am so glad you are safe once more."

"I don't care what the consequences were," Naomi suddenly blurted out. "You're family, Seven, and...and...and sometimes you do things for family you'd never dream of doing for anyone else."

"Yeah, that's right!" Mizoti chimed in. "And we'd do it again."

"Had I but known what my sister and Naomi were intending to do, I too would have assisted," Icheb added. "There is no question in defying Voyager to get you back."

Miral radiated from within to hear such declarations from the Wo'Homs. It was a testament to the parents that the children were ready to face insurmountable odds and battle for those of their house. Little warriors indeed. Miral could not help but recognize a very familiar fire within her granddaughter. So much like B'Elanna when she was of age. The Klingon had to laugh to herself. So, the mother's curse had worked. B'Elanna had a child just like herself, and apparently Stick Girl's mother had also cursed the blonde for there were extreme similarities between the two.

Samantha had reached for Seven once more, and her hand rested upon the shoulder of the younger woman despite the presence of her possessive Klingon spouse. "Just to let you know, Sev, I too would have joined the ranks to rescue you from the Queen."

Neelix didn't have to offer his aid as he had already proved he would do so when he went up against the Diamond with a woefully inadequate ship. Still, he was brave in the attempt to extract the body of the tall blonde from the Queen's manipulations.

"As I was explaining to my children previously, it was not I aboard the Diamond, but my Benel." Seven skillfully took possession of the conversation. While it warmed her to know her family would charge into almost certain death, if not assimilation, for her, it was for B'Elanna they had gone through such trials.

Urgent questions brewed within the eyes of those gathered, save of course Miral who knew what the blonde was going to divulge. Seven held up the silver meshed hand, "Sit. Many things need to be addressed."

"I prefer to stand," Icheb said, clasping his hands behind his back.

To that Seven turned, her expression changing ever so slightly. "It was not a request, my son." It was a voice of pure authority and at the same time reassurance. Since enacting the role of B'Elanna, Seven had come to be more aware not only of the Klingon's speech patterns, but her mannerisms as well. The former Borg had also assimilated Samantha Wildman's `Mother Voice' which carried a certain tone that would not be argued with. Icheb sat.

Very clinically, very calmly, Seven began to relate the events since the giving of the ultimatum, B'Elanna's willingness to sacrifice for her BangwI's own safety. Having a Borg enhanced endemic memory it was a simple matter for the ex-Drone to access what had happened on the Diamond and so in a truly surreal sense Seven narrated the events upon the Diamond as well. She told of the battle between B'Elanna and Miral, including the dialog exchanged. Seven further told of the scrimmage within the Assimilation Chamber with the Duross sisters and Three of Five.

It was there the astrophysicist stopped in the telling of the events. Her blue eyes fell upon her wife and only B'Elanna and Samantha saw the shutter of pain reflecting in the cerulean orbs.

Magnus Hansen had been free when Seven killed him.

Apparently the women were not the only ones to notice Seven's shifting expression. Mizoti left B'Elanna's arms to grab her blonde mother's hand. "SoS'Oy?" He child uttered, "What is it? Are you damaged?"

"No." Seven shook her head. "It is irrelevant."

Her family would not be convinced. Obviously it was something, Seven wasn't easily upset, at least not visibly so. Her family also knew that to try to discuss something troubling their loved one when she didn't want to was futile at best.

Neelix knew Seven was becoming uncomfortable, as did the younger of the Klingons as evidenced by B'Elanna getting to her feet almost immediately.

"It must have been sometime since either of you two has a decent meal," Neelix commented. "Perhaps we should dine? Dinner will still be fresh and hot." With that the Telaxian scurried to the table and uncovered the tray he had earlier placed there, to reveal mounds of banana pancakes, warmed maple syrup and dollops of butter in a crystal dish. "I just happened to know that this is a favored dish with the Hansen-Torres family. I thought perhaps we could all enjoy it."

"Thanks, Neelix, that's extremely thoughtful," B'Elanna answered for her family, her arm going around Seven's waist, allowing some of her strength to leech into her wife, to give her strength until such time as B'Elanna could question the blonde on what was going through her mind. But B'Elanna had a very clear idea it had much to do about Magnus Hansen and the frigging Queen. Even dead the Queen was causing torment to Seven of Nine.

It was hours later. Dinner was done, the guests, all save Naomi, had gone to their own homes. The little Katerrian begged both her mother and Mizoti's mothers to stay the night and it was granted. Samantha and the other ladies, most of all B'Elanna, recognized the need in the child to be close to her heroic figure. Now that B'Elanna had willingly sacrificed herself for Seven, Naomi had placed the Klingon on the very same pedestal that was once reserved only for Seven. Not even her mother had reached such heights. The girl lay in the living room of Seven's quarters, "camping out," complete with sleeping bags. Icheb, too, wanted to be close to his mother and had taken the couch in that same living room. B'Elanna had given up her own bed so that her mother could utilize it. B'Elanna wouldn't be needing it as it was, for she would share a bed with her beloved wife.

Later, of course, they would settle the housing problem by one of two ways, converting the two quarters into one family unit or taking the last remaining VIP quarters and converting it into a family quarters. Right now there was another problem that weighed upon the Hansen-Torres women.

Seven had changed into sleepwear for the night doing so only for the benefit of the children, normally she would sleep in the nude thinking it a waste to wear something when one was unconscious. B'ELanna gave no argument as she snuggled up to the amazonian beauty. B'Elanna herself wore a sleeveless t-shirt and boxers, though she had always worn such garments to bed. At first glance, Seven appeared to be merely stargazing out the porthole window of the bed room, her arms folded around her chest rather than behind her back. It sent ripples of concern pulsating throughout her body.

Not saying a word, the Klingon-hybrid's steps were soft as she tread barefoot on the gray carpet of the bedroom. Her own arms slid around the thin waist from behind and her cheek pressed against the long back. She could feel Seven's natural warmth spilling into her own body, even as her sadness was slipping from her control. A glance to see what had captivated Seven's attention out side Voyager told B'Elanna everything she needed to know.

The Borg.

It was always the Borg. Would always be the Borg.

"Seven of Mine," B'Elanna's soft voice filtered into the taller woman's mind, into her ears, resting there like a warm blanket. "You saw didn't you?"

"You freed Magnas Hansen."

The arms around her waist tightened. "You had no choice. You did what you had to do."

Seven drew in a shuddering breath. "It has always been my struggle. Now when I have so much to fight for...I am losing."

B'Elanna suggested hopefully, "I think the worst is over."

Seven looked at her then, with eyes and an expression that had no defenses. A large expression that encompassed B'Elanna utterly. Like being, somehow, looked at by a pitying, sad sky. Seven said, "I feel them, hear them."

"Them? The Vinculum? You mean on the Diamond, don't you?"

"All of them. Beyond the Diamond, I can sense them just beyond my reach. They are there. Lost, uncertain, deactivation, chaos all."

"Oh God, Annika...I am sorry!" B'Elanna clutched her wife. "This is my fault! I wanted vengeance! I wanted to stop them, stop her!"

"You did stop her, Bella. You have done no wrong." The absolution hurt B'Elanna more than a direct accusation. Seven should be screaming at her, blaming her for what was now happening. "Freeing my father you meant only good. I killed him."

"YOU had no way of knowing, Annika. How could you?" B'Elanna found herself arguing. "It wasn't murder. Don't even go there, Baby. If....if he hadn't been so fucking stubborn he would have listened to me...us....you." B'Elanna shook her head, trying to exorcize herself of the blended sensation of sharing Seven's memories. But they lived so vividly in her mind, it felt as if the experience belonged to B'Elanna herself. "You told him, Seven. You told him she was coming for you, but he struck you, and sent you away. That fucking pac'ta was a coward, Annika. He gave you to the Queen to be raped."

"She never had sexual intercourse with me, unwanted or otherwise." Her mind drifting in an emptiness.

"There are other forms of rape, Benel." After a time that was neither long nor short but had merely continued until a new sensation occurred, hands tugged at Seven's shoulders demanding, wanting her attention. "You did nothing wrong either. You did what you had to do, what you always do, turn a dire situation into a fighting chance to live. To die defending your ship and those you love is honorable, something every warrior hopes for. You never questioned your actions on that ship and I am sorry, BangwI, that you got stuck with the memory. But never be ashamed of what you had to do."

"I am not sure what I am supposed to feel, B'Elanna. I only know I can't go back. Please, we have to destroy that ship. We must, BangwI! Please. I cannot go back there, I cannot do what they call me to do. I will not be the Queen."

The words wrenched her. B'Elanna quickly embraced her wife, rubbing her back and shoulders in reassurance. "You will never have too, Baby. I'll see to it. On my honor, BangwI, I will put an end to it. Your journey with them is over." B'Elanna kissed her wife, hoping to convey more than her love for the willowy blonde. She wanted her lover to know, to taste, her courage, her resolve, her devotion. `I stormed the Gates of Stov-o-Kor for my mother, what do you think I will do for my wife?'

Seven rested her forehead against B'Elanna's. "May I simply be your wife for a while? I am weary of the fight, of the Borg, of all else. How can it be that I am suddenly so human, when the Borg whisper in my mind?"

Part 12

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