Hindsight

Chapter 1 - The letter.

Within the depths of the Daman system a medium sized station floats in the cold of space.

The Daman ship repair station is composed of a dull grey metal and, despite approaching it's 67th year of active service, still has a steady stream of client vessels arriving and departing weekly.

It's capacity permits it to berth six ships at any one time to enable repairs, or to allow crews a little R&R within it's limited facilities of two bars, a casino, a holodeck (currently out of order), and six shops for supplies ranging from food and clothing to non-replicatable vessel parts.

Today three vessels sit berthed at Daman.

The Ferengi freighter "Kraxton" damaged by a fire in its cargo bay, the small new C-class Federation starship "Cenwulf" awaiting the delivery of a part for its faulty starboard warp nacelle, and the freighter La Sirena which had arrived to restock its general ships stores.

"It's time!".

The woman stood at the transporter console acknowledged the call.

She was tall, her complexion dark and toned and her wild hair a mass of curls as full of life as as she was.

She wore and black top, cropped at the shoulders, a pair of jeans that may have seen better days and black boots that stood firm on the deck.

Three hours after the last transport from La Sirena the transporter pad illuminated with energy at the agreed time as it's systems awoke, initiating a beam in as its human cargo materialised.

"Ah, our tourist returns...", came a voice from the operator at the transporter console.

"Thank you Raffi".

Jean-Luc Picard stepped down off the transporter pad, his look appearing quite formal. He wore a crisp dark green shirt, a smart pair of dark trousers, and black shoes polished to a standard that Starfleet officers were never permitted to forget.

A somewhat antiquated holo camera dangled from a well worn strap around his neck.

It was enough to imbue an air of almost formal informality, a show of respect without overdoing it.

Raffi joined him at his side as they began to stroll slowly away from the transporter, two great friends with a deep respect for one another that few could match.

"So how was your little tour?", Raffi enquired?

"You know Raffi...", Picard began to explain as he walked, "...the Cenwulf is a remarkable ship, truly remarkable. These C-class are medium range science vessels. Starfleet began introducing these a little over two years ago but this is the first time I've seen one with my own eyes. Thier job is solely for short term research, no long term exploration, just pure science and analysis, ideal for sectors with unusual stella phenomena, the study of worlds for colonisation, and the technology Starfleet have packed into these little ships? Incredible!

For example, the long range sensors are almost beyond anything we had on my first Enterprise back in the day, and did you know that the science lab computer banks now have..."

"JL...JL...JL...", Raffi stopped and turned to face Jean-Luc, pointing expressively and repeatedly to herself with the index fingers of both her hands.

"Raffi", she reminded him, "Raffi... Raffi who isn't and never was a science officer".

Picard opened his mouth to speak, closing it just a moment later and fixing this dear friend with a genuine smile of friendship.

"Rambling old man?", Picard queried.

"Mmm, kinda headed that way", Raffi nodded, hoping Jean-Luc would recognise the intended cheekiness within both her answer and pursed lipped grin.

A momentary pang of guilt washed across Raffi's mind at having halted her dear friends enthusiastic tangent. It was clear Jean-Luc had thoroughly enjoyed his tour of the U.S.S Cenwulf.

Tours of Starfleet vessels were not given to just anyone and yet earlier this very morning he had been thrilled to announce that he had been invited onboard by an acquaintance he knew amongst its crew whom he had bumped into while exploring the station.

Raffi would berate herself later she decided.

They began to walk again side by side, La Sirena's deck now being noticeably shinier since the EHH had taken the opportunity while docked to initiate a thorough deep clean and polish of all walkways.

"She really is a fine vessel though", Picard looked to Raffi, "If you like, I can always call my acquaintance and arrange a tour for you?".

Raffi breathed out and shook her head with a smile, "Mmmm I think I've had my fill of Starfleet JL... but thanks anyway".

Picard nodded in sincere understanding at his dear friends reluctance.

"Alright then... we'll, I'm going to change into something else and then I'll be along later for a good meal. I'm rather famished after this afternoons tour".

Raffi nodded and turned to walk away from Picard.

"Oh Raffi...", Picard had stopped.

Raffi turned back to see him produce a small white envelope from his pocket.

"I almost forgot", he admitted and then cast his eyes around the deck space in which they both stood, "Would you happen to know where Seven is?".

"She's in the mess, familiarising herself with the specs of our weapons systems. I should know, I interrupted her...", Raffi rolled her eyes and shook her head giving a slightly exaggerated gesticulation to her referenced faux pax, "...Hence why she's down there and I'm banished indefinitely to up here".

Taking a step towards Raffi Picard held the envelope out for his good friend to take it.

"Would you be good enough to pass this on to her? Someone onboard the Cenwulf would very much like to meet with her", Picard nodded.

With a nod Raffi took the envelope, "They don't have a comm system on that fancy ship?".

"Apparently not", Picard smiled in thanks before turning to head to his quarters to refresh.

"Oh and JL", Raffi called after Picard, "Once you're changed and showered come back in an hour, I'll be in the mess. You can tell 'Newly minted science officer Raffi' all about your tour. You choose the meal, I'll bring the stinky tea!".

She smiled greatly as she saw Picard nodding in agreement as he walked away.

"It's a date", he confirmed.

Perhaps he would get to tell the story of his day after all, Raffi felt with relief.

Still smiling Raffi turned her attention back to the job at hand.

She looked at the envelope.

It was small, note-let sized with simple joined up ink penned writing, something people tended to no longer bother with these days.

The writing simply said "Seven".

'Informal', Raffi observed as her feet took her towards the mess, 'Not Seven of Nine, just Seven'.

With a "Hmmm..." Raffi placed the letter into the back pocket of her jeans.

—-

It took just seconds for Raffi to reach the steps that descended to the deck below within which could be found the communal crew mess area of La Sirena.

Quietly she made her way down the first couple of steps, trying hard to keep the noise to a minimum.

She noted Seven still sat at the first table with several PADD's surrounding her, some displaying text, the others displaying advanced schematics of La Sirena's limited weapons system.

She held a PADD in her hand, her eyes studying it closely, her blonde hair loose over her dark blue sleeveless top and her leather jacket placed on the bench seat to her right.

"I come in peace!", Raffi called across quietly, almost a loud whisper, raising her hands high as if surrendering.

She recalled beating a cautious retreat from the mess a little over an hour ago.

What had occurred had in reality been far less dramatic than she had played it to Picard.

Having agreed it with Rios Seven had spent the afternoon absorbing information on the weapons systems, it's history, it's components, and was theorising vital upgrades to both weapons and shields.

Seven had described La Sirena's defences as "inadequate" and "underachieving" given the possible adversaries both crew and ship could find themselves coming up against, especially since they had distinctly upset both the Zhat Vash and the Tal Shiar.

Once Rios had come back down from the inevitable offence he had taken he had listened intently to Seven's detailed suggestions of how to boost La Sirena's defences, granted her access to the data she requested, and left her to study all the information she required in peace.

Raffi on the other hand had been unwittingly unable to go so much as ten minutes without interrupting Seven's train of thought.

Did she fancy a drink?

Would she like anything to eat?

Would she like the onboard temperature adjusted?

Had anyone seen Elnor since he went to look around the station by himself?

Eventually the frustrated bang of the metallic Borg left hand on the table surface had been Raffi's cue to leave.

Disengaging from 'chatterbox mode' Raffi had made her waffled apology and slunk out back up to the next deck and towards the transporter area to await Picard's return at the agreed time of 16:00.

From her vantage point on the stairs she saw a noticeable intake of breath and then a sigh as the xB laid the PADD down on the table and turned her head to look in the direction of Raffi's whisper.

"What?".

Stepping forward with a cautious smile Raffi made her way further down the metal steps until she reached the deck of the mess, all the while being observed by Seven, her work yet again interrupted.

"It's important", Raffi assured, lowering her raised hands as she approached.

Raffi stopped just a mere centimetre or two behind Seven. She leant over Seven's left shoulder, brushing her cheek purposely against Seven's own while her right hand found its way to Seven's right shoulder and gave a light squeeze.

To her relief Raffi felt Seven breathe out, her body relaxing to her touch.

"Sorry 'bout earlier...", Raffi quietly spoke into Seven's ear, punctuating her sentiment a moment later with a gentle kiss on the cheek.

"You want something", Seven observed turning her head to glimpse Raffi.

She raised an eyebrow, and a subtle grin that most people would never even perceive grew slowly on Seven's face as thier eyes met.

"Oh I want something honey but we can attend to that later, your place or mine by the way?", Raffi winked as she withdrew, moving herself to sit astride the bench seat Seven also occupied, her hand smoothly making its deliberate way across Seven's warm shoulders from the right to the left before parting from her.

Seven turned to face Raffi, neither speaking for several moments as both simply looked, each observing the other as if admiring a beautiful picture.

"My place", Seven finally broke the silence, decisively tapping her human fingers on the table top with her decision, "You should be aware that Picard has given me two bottles of his vineyard's red. I suspect he's trying to convert me".

"Oh Hell, tell me it's not the damn 86 again?", Raffi queried, leaning in towards Seven.

Seven sat back momentarily, a smile forming as she watched Raffi sit up and place her elbow on the table and her chin on her hand.

Raffi could swear she heard a quiet chuckle under Seven's breath.

Raffi noticed little things like that.

"He told me you would say that", Seven confirmed.

"Damn that man", Raffi breathed and shook her head in feigned disappointment, "collaborating with you like this".

Seven smiled, nodding in a pleased satisfaction.

"Consider yourself pencilled into my extremely busy diary for this evening Ms Musiker", Seven reached slowly for Raffi's head-supporting hand, brushing her human fingertips along Raffi's smooth cheek as she did so, "19:00. My quarters. You were lucky to get an appointment so late in the day".

"Wouldn't miss it for the world...Red wine and Seven of Nine!", Raffi beamed and then laughed far louder than she intended as she spotted her unintentional rhyme.

"In moderation Raffi...", Seven made a slight nod, her tone becoming a little more serious and her eyes deliberately ensuring that Raffi's own were locked firmly onto hers.

"Hey the wine or the Nine?", Raffi asked doing her utmost to fake an innocent shrug.

Seven took in a clear breath, exhaling a moment later before looking directly at Raffi and bringing her metal riddled left hand to join her right in holding Raffi's hand.

"You know what I mean... One of these you may indulge, and be indulged by...", Seven nodded with a playful smile before grasping Raffi's hand a little tighter as the tone became less playful, "the other...just go a little easy, okay?"

Biting her lip Raffi broke away from Seven's gaze and momentarily looked down at the deck.

"Well, since we appear to be each other's conscience now, the angel on each other's shoulder", Raffi raised her head and looked back up, bringing her other hand to join both of Seven's around hers, "then it goes for you too. We're a team now, we gotta look out for each other. And besides, you drive a damn hard bargain Seven you know that?".

"I am aware", Seven continued to smile at Raffi.

Moments passed, and then moments more as neither moved to break the warmth of the hand hold.

Finally Seven moved the fingers of her left hand, delivering a soft tap to Raffi's knuckles from her metal encased finger tips.

The tap snapped Raffi out of thier mutual gazing.

"Raffi? Didn't you come down here for something important?", Seven reminded, "or were you just drifting through the ship propositioning everyone?".

Raffi's eyes widened momentarily.

"Shit!", she cursed.

She rose to her feet, reluctantly freeing her hands from Seven's grasp and fumbled for her jeans back pocket, retrieving the envelope Picard had given her.

Sitting herself back down again she placed it on the table.

"You've got mail Honey!", Raffi announced, placing her finger on the "S" of Seven's name and pushing the envelope in front of Seven so it sat directly before her.

"What's this?", asked Seven.

"Postman Picard asked me to pass it on to you", Raffi explained, "Apparently someone on that fancy starship wants to meet you real bad".

Seven looked down at the envelope which was now slightly rounded from having been pressed into the shape of Raffi's sat down back pocket for some time.

"I'd never heard of that starship", Seven replied, "not until yesterday".

She picked the envelope up, her eyes analysing the handwriting as if a vague yet distant memory derived possibility was beginning to form in her mind.

"Well?", Raffi urged, her hands making a 'go on' gesture as she watched Seven look the envelope all over front and back as if searching for any clue she could detect.

Seven looked to Raffi in silence as if searching for some silent support in her uncertainty.

Raffi nodded.

Finally Seven began to open the envelope, the fingers of her right hand tearing the paper open to reveal its contents.

Raffi watched as Seven pulled a folded piece of notepaper out and discarded the envelope back down onto the table.

She said nothing as Seven unfolded the paper, shuffling back slightly along the bench to give Seven a few extra inches of space to read privately.

There was silence as Seven read.

The playful expression Seven displayed almost exclusively for Raffi's pleasure had disappeared from Seven's face taking along with it her body's relaxed disposition.

'Damn', Raffi thought, trying hard to read anything she could discern from Seven's face.

The silence continued, before eventually a frown formed.

Finally Seven reached the end of the note. She breathed in, let out a sigh of clear displeasure and screwed the letter up, tossing it onto the table top.

"No", she said, her voice an extremely firm reply to the letters contents, "Not a chance in Hell.".

Raffi didn't like this at all.

"Everything alright babe?", she enquired, moving herself nearer once more to sit alongside Seven and placed her arm around the xB's shoulders.

After some moments Seven sighed, looking at the screwed up letter, "It's nothing".

"The Hell its nothing!", Raffi noted.

Seven remained silent and it was clear to Raffi that many thoughts were now surging through Seven's mind as she processed the letter.

"If it's private I can shut up, leave you to your thoughts...", Raffi offered reluctantly, her thumb repeatedly stroking Seven's shoulder.

Seven let a breath out, her shoulders and body again relaxing to Raffi's reassuring presence.

"It's not private", she sighed and reached out, passing the screwed up note to Raffi, "read it".

"You're sure?", Raffi double checked, unscrewing the mangled paper with her left hand, "I mean it's your business not mine".

"It's fine", Seven reassured, reaching up with her right hand to touch Raffi's own over her shoulder "I just wish the past would leave me alone".

"I know babe, believe me I know...", Raffi soothed, a gentle tug of her arm encouraging Seven to lean against her as she looked down to read this letter that had so clearly troubled the woman she loved.

"Dear Seven,

I hope this letter finds you well.

I know it's been a while, nineteen years I believe since any of us from Voyager last saw you.

I admit I'm still in the dark as to what happened all those years ago, what caused you feel the need to disappear from our lives, but I'm sure you had your reasons.

Regardless of what's past, I would very much like to catch up with you before we leave.

I'm onboard the Starship Cenwulf currently docked at berth two.

We depart in approximately 36 hours once a repair is complete.

If you are available I have a bottle of Pinot Grigio (real, not replicated) chilling over here and two glasses.

Just beam over at 19:00 tonight.

Our transporter chief will be expecting you.

Please also extend my thanks to Jean-Luc for passing you this note.

Regards,

Kathryn Janeway

Admiral"

Silence ensued for several long seconds.

Eventually Raffi took in a deep breath and sat up straight as she collected her thoughts on both the letter and Seven's reaction.

She breathed out once more.

Carefully, the former intelligence expert pressed her hand over the letter, flattening it out and undoing some of the scrunches that had been inflicted on it before turning her head back toward Seven.

Still, nobody spoke for some time.

"Okay I'm just gonna call it, say it as I see it", Raffi finally spoke.

Seven remained still, leant against the warmth of Raffi and the sensation of her curls touching her shoulder.

"I think you're scared to go over there".

Raffi said it and then watched carefully to see if Seven would react as precisely as she felt she would.

"Mmm...", Raffi pursed her lips as she both observed and thought, her heart dipping a little as Seven pulled away, "Are you aware that when someone makes you uncomfortable you take in a deep breath, sit up straight and tilt your head slightly forward as if bracing for something? Remember last month when Elnor asked what assimilation feels like and we all sat there in stunned silence? I gave him an absolute rocket for that after you stormed off by the way. But that's how you react when somebody hits too close to home babe, and that's precisely how you're reacting now."

Seven continued to observe, Raffi noting her occasional break of eye contact, as if she were losing a game of staring Raffi out.

Seven never lost at anything.

"So I can only guess that some shit went down in your past, and I mean something big, cos you know what?," Raffi held her nerve and pressed the subject a little further, "you never mention Voyager, or the people on it, infact you go out of your way to avoid the subject entirely as if it's toxic".

Reaching forward, Raffi gently pushed a lock of Seven's blonde hair behind her ear.

Seven did not resist.

"It's okay...", breathed Raffi in a tone much quieter and gentler", "I haven't told you every dot and comma of my life yet either".

Once again the crew mess fell to silence, with only the ambience of La Sirena's essential systems humming in the background.

Growing concerned, Raffi reached out once more, taking a firm hold of Seven's Borg augmented hand and clasping it with both of her own in her lap.

"Hey don't go quiet on me babe".

Seven let out a breath and placed her right elbow on the table.

Leaning forward she rubbed her forehead hard with her fingers, brushing over her Borg implant, then rubbing her eyes before looking back at Raffi with a vulnerability Raffi had never seen before.

Finally Seven spoke.

"Raffi, do you know anything about dogs?", she began in a manner unusually quiet.

"You're losing me here babe...", Raffi shrugged.

"Do you know that if a dog is trained well enough in early life it will learn to become obedient to its master, obey its masters commands, live within its master's boundaries, and accept whatever scraps it is given?".

Raffi shook her head in confusion as she tried her hardest to look into the blue eyes and reach into Seven's soul to find the point she was clearly trying to make.

"Seven, babe, I really don't understand what you're getting at", Raffi answered.

She felt her heart beginning to ache as she sat helpless, watching as the xB struggled hard to find the words needed to express herself.

"Captain Janeway holds an interest in dogs", Seven explained, "and when the master whistles the obedient dog comes to heel".

"What are you saying?" Raffi's voice increased in its urgency as she struggled to make sense of the words.

Seven brushed her right hand through her long flowing hair before looking down, her own shoulders falling as she stared down at the deck and her own boots before glancing back to her only source of safety.

"It's been almost twenty years and now Captain Janeway expects her pet drone to return, obedient as ever", Seven cast her eyes once more upon the letter before bringing them back to watch Raffi.

"Don't you think that's a little harsh?", Raffi questioned.

"I'm tired Raffi, tired of something good being within my reach only to have the past interfere time and time again.", Seven grasped Raffi's warm hands tighter with her Borg left hand as if grasping for safety.

Sitting astride the bench Raffi let go of Sevens hand and reached out, placing both her arms around Seven and pulling the xB towards her and into a warm embrace.

"Shhh, shh...", Raffi shushed.

She brushed her fingers reassuringly through Seven's hair as she held her, rocking her gently whilst at the same time heartened to atleast feel Seven returning the embrace and resting her head against Raffi's shoulder.

Raffi waited, deciding to savour this moment and allow both of them a few moments of peace within which to think.

Gently she rubbed Seven's back, her hand fully aware of the now intimate familiarity of the tritanium embedded in her lovers spine, a part of Seven Raffi always ensured she touched one way or another so as to reinforce her view that she didn't look upon Seven as being different in any way - that they were both people who were simply put together differently.

"Seven honey listen to me", Raffi spoke, her mouth close to Seven's ear, "I may not know what happened to you nineteen years ago, and it's up to you if you tell me babe...But here's what I think...".

Delicately Raffi released her embrace, pulling back slightly and leaving Seven with little choice but to sit back up as well.

"Like I said I don't know what happened, but what I do know is if it wasn't for Voyager you'd still be out there in the Delta quadrant stood there hooked up to some dark alcove on some Borg cube, god damn machines violating that mind and body of yours every single day and...", Raffi paused, shutting her eyes tight momentarily and wincing as she thought of the inhumane existence Seven had endured for so many years as a Borg, "...and this beautiful person, this warm, compassionate and unselfish soul I see before me now...wouldn't be here".

Seven closed her eyes momentarily as if desperate to hold in a reaction while processing the depth of feeling in Raffi's words.

A warmth formed in Raffi's eyes as she watched, knowing by now that Seven's outer defences were a mere barrier to deflect how she truly felt inside.

The warmth moved slowly down Raffi's cheek. She was about to raise her hand to wipe it when Seven's Borg hand beat her to it, reaching out and gently wiping the escaped tear as it rolled down her cheek.

Raffi smiled.

"You think I should go don't you?", Seven looked at Raffi and then to the tear now moistening her metal finger tips.

Raffi ran a hand through her own curls, "You might be overreacting, what if it is just a catch up? A drink and a 'Hi, how you doing?'".

Seven rose to her feet, Raffi watching her every movement as the former Borg stepped away from the table and stood in thought.

"No, I don't want her digging", Seven bit her lip in contemplation, "I don't wanther disapproval".

"Seven...", Raffi watched, "I really wanna understand...".

Seven took another step, stopping at the next table and raised herself up to sit on the edge of the cold metal table top, lifting her feet up and planting her boots down onto its bench.

Raffi remained where she was, watching Seven and knowing that the blonde was struggling internally to decide wether or not to proceed with her thoughts.

Seven moved her head slightly from where she sat, causing waves of her hair to fall forward to partly obscure her face.

"Towards the end of our journey", Seven finally began and folded her arms across her chest protectively as she spoke, "There was someone on Voyager...".

Seven paused. She cast her eyes around the mess area and then up as far as she could see toward the deck above, checking all around to ensure thier conversation was private before she spoke again.

"He was...my first".

"Ah...", Raffi raised her head and a small smile of comfort grew on her face at this glimpse into a past Seven had not yet spoken of, "I think I see now".

Seven unfolded her arms, placing her hands on her knees, her fingers jittering in a barely perceptible manner in her discomfort.

"His name was Chakotay", she revealed.

"Voyagers First Officer?", Raffi raised both her eyebrows and gave a long whistle of approval as she attempted to lighten Seven's mood, "aim for the top honey!".

Seven's expression gave way to a small smile which Raffi immediately reflected on her own face.

"And it didn't work out between you and him, so what? I don't think Janeway's gonna care about that", Raffi extended her arms out in a wide shrug, "Who the hell would after almost twenty years?"

Seven stepped down from where she sat on the table and strode to the other side of the mess as memories long buried stirred within her.

Again she pushed her hair back, clearing her face of her locks.

"He was kind Raffi, gentle, loving", Seven spoke more powerfully now and paced again, this time back to the opposite side of the mess, "he never judged me, he knew what I was an he accepted it, just as you do. He cared for me, and I cared for him...".

She stopped in the centre of the mess almost close enough to reach out to Raffi.

With clear agitation Seven turned her body slightly towards Raffi and pointed with her left hand to the traces of silvery/grey Borg components exposed through the always incomplete skin of her upper right arm that, despite the years, had never been able to fully heal.

"You see this?", Seven audibly tapped the components with the metal of her fingertips and then held the Borg augmented left hand itself out for Raffi to see clearly, "and this? This destroyed us".

Seven pulled her left hand back and looked upon it herself. She flexed her fingers several times as her eyes traced the path of irremovable metal that began at her fingertips and both snaked and spread out over her hand before moving up her arm like a metallic web, the metal then burrowing itself back under her flesh where it inseparably bound itself to the bone and nerves of her body.

"This destroyed what we had", Seven let her arm fall to her side, "and I...I destroyed him".

With a rapid shake of her head Raffi too stood up and stepped out from the bench she sat upon.

Enough was enough.

Decisively she took the couple of brisk steps she needed to bring her standing face to face with Seven.

"That's enough of this bullshit", she reached out as she spoke, grasping Seven by the shoulders and gaining her full face-to-face attention with her unexpected action.

Seven glared. It was a glare Raffi returned in equal measure.

"I am so done listening to you beat yourself up! Take it from a pro honey, what's past is past, mourn it, cherish it, learn from it and move on!", Raffi's voice increased in force with every word she spoke.

Continuing to make her point Raffi moved her hands down, one taking a firm hold of Seven's Borg splintered upper right arm, the other helping itself to take an equally firm hold of Seven's metallic left wrist.

Seven briefly attempted to pull away, to wrest her wrist free, but Raffi's grasp held firm in her determination to enforce the point she felt such urgency to make.

"And your implants? Damn they make you beautiful but if you wanna go sit at the back of the damn bus just cos you look a little different then you carry right on babe, knock yourself out!", Raffi implored, "You're an xB! It's who you are, embrace it! Be it! Live it!".

She released her grip on Seven and both remained stood, neither seeming willing to back down, each strong woman holding other's firm eye contact until ultimately the tense fire in both women's eyes subsided and died away after moments that felt like forever.

"We had a date fixed for tonight", Seven spoke up ending the uncomfortable stand-off and offering Raffi a conciliatory smile.

Adrenalin having finally calmed Raffi smiled back, "We have a date fixed every night, or had you not kept count?", she punctuated the sentence with a wink.

"I'll go to Janeway", Seven abruptly stated.

"Woah, you're sure now?", Raffi was taken momentarily off guard.

"I will hear what she has to say", Seven agreed, "then I shall return...to you".

"And I'll be waiting", Raffi's smile grew.

Seven stepped forward and closed the gap between herself and Raffi while sliding her hands around the taller woman's waist.

"Thank you", Seven spoke looking up into Raffi's dark eyes.

"What for? Talking a little sense into a stubborn, headstrong, ass kicking space chick? Piece of cake!", Raffi reciprocated the closeness, wrapping her arms under Seven's and around her back, gazing into the blue eyes she held before her.

"No, for being Raffi", Seven said with gratitude as they held each other.

Raffi dipped her head forward so both women's foreheads were touching.

It took just a mere moment for thier lips to touch.

Eyes closed as each drew into the other, both sets of hands pulling the other nearer, blonde hair and an avalanche of curls mingling into one as the embrace of two powerful women became mutually less tender and equally more passionate.

A clatter of boots sounded from the stairs, pausing midway as the wearer came to a shuddering halt.

"Oh joy, dinner and soft porn", Rios looked down from the steps at the scene before him, "nobody said that was on the mess room menu tonight".

Raffi flipped him two fingers.

Rios continued his way down the stairs, passing both Seven and his old friend.

He just wanted his dinner, that was all.

"Get. A. Fucking. Room!"

—-

Notes...

Thank you for reading!

I'd had this little scenario of Seven receiving the letter, and then going on to have it all out face to face with Janeway for the first time in 20 years, in my head for ages. So I went ahead and wrote it. Just remember, Seven has had twenty years to reevaluate the past and there's something she really doesn't want to relive.

Please stay tuned for chapter two and I would love any encouragement 3

* I really do think Raffi & Seven would be each other's safety net. Seven would moderate Raffi's excesses and Raffi would do the same for Seven, help her deal with emotions and reign in her inclination to react with violence.

* Yes, Raffi can read Seven's subtle mannerisms like a book.

* "Postman Picard" is a reference to a children's TV show in the 1980's named "Postman Pat".

* Yes, Seven is deliberately ignoring Janeway's promotion to admiral by still referring to her as Captain.

* The unhealed Borg bits in Seven's right arm seemed a little small in Picard (although it might have healed better after 20 years) so just visualise whichever version you prefer.

* Raffi knows of Chakotay because the Voyager crew would have been huge news when the ship returned.

* Raffi lecturing Seven that she needn't feel the need to "go sit at the back of the damn bus just cos you look a little different" is Raffi making a clear Rosa Parks reference with regards to the discrimination Seven has faced for being Borg.

* Raffi grabbing Seven isn't meant in any abusive way, it's just to snap Seven out of a self destructive mental state.

* Daman ship repair yard is a real shipyard in Dunkirk, France.

* The Federation Starship Cenwulf is named for a real ship, now scrapped, that your author had ties to.

* Yes, I have planted an absolute bombshell in Seven's past that I feel will perfectly explain why her relationship with Chakotay ended. I feel it's entirely plausible, her reaction is totally in character and ofcourse Janeway will demand an explanation...but thats for chapter 2...