Alone by Djinn

She still dreams in shades of gray, her nocturnal world colored only by the flickering green lights of the alcoves that line the cube she returns to as soon as her conscious mind relaxes its control. And inside the cube, they call to her still, those nameless Borg. They call to her in ways that Chakotay never suspects. Every night she listens to their siren song. And every day she wakes alone.

Alone. She ponders the meaning of that word. Alone, from the Middle English. Taken from all and one.

All one. Like the Borg. United to form one hive, one mind. One Borg. We are Borg.

She is not Borg. She is human. She is mostly human. She is trying to be human.

She turns to look at Chakotay. He sleeps still, his hand thrown over his face. He makes the strange sleep noises that used to wake her in the night. The small snorts, the sighs and moans, the mumbled words when he talks in his sleep.

Who does he talk to? she wonders. Where does he go when he sleeps?

She turns and stares up at the ceiling. Early on, when she was still getting used to sharing a bed with him, she counted the number of tiles in the ceiling of this bedroom. Then she visualized how little space the room would take in a cube, calculated how many of their bedroom ceilings it would take to completely cover one floor of the cube that had been her home.

She does not tell Chakotay how she passes the time when she cannot sleep. When she is alone.

Alone. From the Middle English. Meaning separated from others: isolated.

Separated from others. The others. The other drones. The other cubes. The queen.

She looks over at Chakotay. Touches his back lightly. He does not stir. She wonders if he is dreaming, or if he has passed beyond that. He seems gone at this moment. Separated from her. Inaccessible.

She remembers how she thought being with him would feel. How she thought romance would be. The joining of two to make one. Cleaving to one another.

Let no man put asunder.

Let no man separate, make alone. They would never be alone, she used to think. They would be a single unit. A collective of two. Joined in love.

He sighs and she feels a faint smile curl her lips. His sighs make her smile. That is what romance is. That is what love is. When he wakes, he will groan once before he opens his eyes. He does it every morning. She will wait for the sound and when she hears it, she will close her eyes, slow her breathing. Pretend to sleep.

She does this every morning. He does not know that she sleeps far less than he. He does not know that she stares alone at the ceiling and ponders the derivation of words that in her former life had no meaning.

He does not know, as he kisses her awake, how much she loves the moment when she can open her eyes, come alive next to him. When his fingers curl around hers and he pulls her close. She loves to be alone...with him.

I am Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix Zero One. She smiles as she thinks it. How easily she uses the first person pronoun. No Borg would use it. But she does. Now she does. Now that she is human. Now that she thinks of herself no longer as we but as I.

I alone. I am alone.

Alone. From the Middle English. Meaning exclusive of anyone or anything else: only.

Only his. She has only ever been his. So much time has passed since they first kissed. So many days, weeks, months, now years, and she has never known the touch of another man. Chakotay is the only one. He is everything she loves. He is the only thing she loves. She is the only thing...

She is the only thing...

Exclusive of anyone or anything else. That is what his love should be. Only for her, only for them.

And most of the time, the best part of the time, she is the only one he sees. But sometimes, when he comes back from Earth, he brings something back with him. Someone back. Someone else. A ghost. A ghost between them.

Her. Seven will not say the name, even to herself. He does not love that other one...her. He loves me, Seven wills herself to believe. And most of the time, she does believe it. And most of the time, it is true. But then he goes to Earth again.

And he doesn't come back alone.

Alone. From the Middle English. Meaning considered without reference to any other: incomparable, unique.

Without reference. Without prior linkages, prior data. A foreign concept to a Borg. There is always a reference to draw on, a link somewhere to the exact experience needed. Nothing is ever new. Nothing is ever strange.

Nothing is ever unique.

But this...this relationship. This life. This is unique. And about to become more so. Seven touches her belly, where it has just started to swell, the sensations she feels as her body changes are still a marvel to her.

Alone, inside her, a new life begins. A new life that has no reference to any other. No reference to the Delta Quadrant, to the Borg, to Voyager. This child was conceived away from all that. She will be unique. She will be incomparable. She will be theirs.

Chakotay smiles more often now. He looks at Seven, at their child growing, and his eyes become even more gentle than they normally are. He touches her, his hand lingering on her abdomen, his warmth spreading through her, around her. She is giving him the greatest gift, he says. The child that he always wanted. The child that Seven is still not sure she wants.

She turns and stares up at the ceiling again. Aware that soon it will be more difficult to turn, to lie comfortably like this and wait for Chakotay to wake. She runs her hand over her stomach, wondering what it will feel like to be heavy with child. Wondering what kind of burden that will be.

A child. She is having a child. Seven knows that many of her former crewmates considered her little more than a child when it came to being human. She knew so little of the feelings they took for granted. Knew even less of love, of kindness and compassion and tenderness. Still knows little. Although she is learning. Little by little, she is learning. But what does she have to offer a child? Other than to teach it how to be alone?

This child, when she comes finally, will be Chakotay's. Seven knows this. He will love the child completely. He will teach her and be there for her. He will be a good father. But what kind of mother will she be? The only mother she can remember is ... her. A rival. She does not want to be a rival for Chakotay with her daughter.

But she doesn't know how she will be anything else. She is alone. She will be more alone, when she becomes one of three. Their collective will grow, and she will become more isolated.

And the voices in her dreams will get louder. Will get stronger.

Just like that one.

Just like that one?

Seven closes her eyes. Waits. Doesn't breath. She is accustomed to listening over great distances for voices that no longer call. She almost misses the voice coming from so close, from deep inside her.

Alone, it cries. I am alone. The words are not so precise, are in fact more jagged and raw, but the sentiment is clear.

Her daughter cries out.

And she speaks Borg.

Seven closes her eyes. Sends her response back along pathways long unused. Feels her daughter react to the contact. Feels the links starting, the bonds forming.

Who are we? she wants to know.

We are alone. Seven can think of no better thing to tell her.

Chakotay groans and for the first time, Seven reacts too late, is not pretending to sleep when he opens his eyes.

What's wrong? he asks. His hand finds her belly. His lips go unerringly to her own. His touch is warm.

Who is that? the small voice asks.

He is us, she thinks to her child. We are him.

Us? Him?

She visualizes the collective, pares it down to three. Then separates them. We are alone.

Then she puts them back together.

Alone, from the Middle English. Meaning all one.

FIN