You aren't supposed to outlive your children. Watching your child die is one of the most agonizing experiences in existence. It is viscerally excruciating. However, comes in second to having to extinguish the life of your child, by your own hand. Granting that depth of mercy only manageable by the strongest of wills.

I held my son, Icheb for countless moments. His suffering too great for me to bear, I granted his last wish for peace. My heart shredded and scattered. A deeper suffering I'd never known in all my years, even as a Borg. My own assimilation paled in comparison to rocking Icheb's lifeless form.

The thing about grief, its more of a rage in its infancy. A true and definite burning rage. Rage at myself, for allowing Bjayzl to pull the information of his whereabouts from my. For not finding him in time. For killing him.

Rage at Bjayzl for her terrorizing profession. Her inhumane projects. My revenge would be absolute.

And there was rage against Starfleet. The organization who prided itself on protection of its ranks and individuals. Unable to defend this man who'd spent his life since his rescue from the Borg devoted to their ideals.

I carry him out of this hell hole that smells like burned flesh and decomposing bodies. I keep his smiling face at the forefront of my thoughts to just be able to put one foot in front of the other. Replaying his life behind these eyes that choose to unsee the devastating scenes currently passing through my reality. His laugh, his energy, his kindness and generosity of spirit.

I repair his visible injuries with a dermal regenerator when he is safe inside my shuttle. He looks like he's sleeping. This handsome young man I watched grow up. Becoming a Lieutenant in Starfleet, no less. His dreams all came true. I might possibly be able to take comfort in that, someday. But not today. Right now, I mourn my child with every molecule in my body.

As if on auto pilot, I take my seat at the helm, quickly punch In some coordinates and my ship takes off towards the one place in the galaxy I am ever able to find solace; Earth. More specifically, Indiana.

An hour in, my Ranger beacon indicator lights up green on my dash. It's her.

"Already on my way." I whisper to no one.

An encrypted communication comes through and I open it to see an uncharacteristically frazzled Admiral Janeway. She had used borg encryption codes I taught her years ago. I felt pride, even through my pain.

"Seven," she whispers as if someone could be listening. "Something is wrong. I know it. I feel it twisting in my gut. Please come."

I send her a reply, 'on my way', is all I say, using the same borg codes. I input some commands and accelerate from warp 3 to warp 8. The cacophony of maneuvering it takes to find myself actually at her door is usually projected at 2-3 days. Fenris Rangers cannot just fly straight into Earth's orbit. A series of transports and shuttle services sympathetic to our cause are the only possible means of entry. Beginning on Jupiter station, and ending in Dubuque, Iowa. Then I must utilize a fake identity to secure passage to Bloomington. It is arduous, but worth the hassle.

I've never done it with a corpse. Thinking of Icheb as a corpse causes my head to spin. I spin in my seat and run to the back of the shuttle just in time to empty the contents of my stomach, which wasn't much to begin with.

Retaking my seat at the helm, I sent a sub space message to DS9. I'll have to leave him there with the only other person besides Kathryn that I trust.

Three days it took me to reach the Janeway farmhouse. Three days of sneaking, hiding, skirting and running. I bare ate. Slept even less. My portable regenerator was down to reserve energy only and desperately needed charging. I felt even worse than I knew I looked. Tousled and dingy hair, sunken eyes over dark circles, pale skin, crackled lips, and tattered, dingy clothes.

Just as I reached out to knock, the door flew open and I was warm. Encircled with strong arms, pulling me across the threshold. I lost my footing, whether from exhaustion or being dragged I wasn't sure, but I was glad of the steadfast grip Kathryn had on my weary body; and soul.

"I heard from the Doctor." She whispered into my hair. "He sent me an encrypted message this morning from DS9."

There was a tremble in her voice. Deep and dark. My eyes close tight, fighting the sting of tears.

"It's my fault." I croak.

"NO!" She almost growls. She pulls back and holds me at arms length. Her grey eyes fierce and determined. "This is NOT your fault."

"It is." I feel the last week dragging me into a hollow pit of despair. "If I'd never told Bjayzl about him, he'd still be alive." The word vomit was coming. "She made me think he'd be safe. She lied to me." My chest stung.

Her eyes locked on mine and I saw the steadfast and tenacious face of the Captain of the USS Voyager slam into place. "Bjayzl did this?" Her jaw twitched.

I nod and watch as her expression turns to disgust.

"You know her?" I ask, confused. Wiping an errant tear falling down my cheek.

"Oh, I know her." She half snarled and my skin went cold. "Starfleet has been after that damn arms dealer for the better part of a decade." She started to pace. "Her specialty is…" Kathryns face drained of all color as she stared at me. "Borg enhanced weapons."

" I know." Is all I can say.

"Seven, why are you mixed up with Bjayzl?" Kathryn steps towards me again, her hands back on my biceps.

"I was her prisoner, for a time." I watch tears form in her eyes.

"How did she find Icheb?" Her voice barely above a whisper.

"She drugged me. Made me think she wouldn't hurt him. Was only curious about his involvement with starfleet." I start shaking and she pulls me to the couch, setting me down she sits beside me and takes my hand, lacing her fingers through mine. It anchors me. Grounds me. Comforts me. Calms me.

"Is she why I haven't heard from you for almost 2 years?"

I am only able to nod and my head hangs, chin to chest.

"Look at me." I hear her say and I feel her other hand on my cheek, urging me to face her.

"I'm sorry." My bottom lip trembles and she runs her thumb across it lovingly. Her expression softens and she offers me a sad smile. Sad, but genuine.

"Oh, Seven." Let's go of my hand and places her other hand on my other cheek, pulling me forward till our foreheads are touching. "I'm the one who is sorry." I close my eyes and begin memorizing the feelings and sensations of her. Of Kathryn. "I should have looked for you. I knew something was wrong. Something was…." She paused. "…Off."

"How about we both be sorry, and we both forgive." I offer, pulling back just enough to look at her. She smiled and nods with that half smile that make my insides flutter.

"Tell me," I feel her breath on my face. "How can I help?"

"Love me." My reply is immediate and almost pleading. "Show me what love is." I fell my hands shaking as I reach up and place them over hers, still covering my cheeks. Cradling my face with a gentility only she can provide. "Make Love to me."

She wastes no time and crashes her lips to mine. Her hands pushing back to my neck as mine slide down her arms and to her shoulders. Our mouths hot and moist attacking with fevered need. My whole body trembles when I feel her rise slightly and swing her leg over my lap and straddle my hips. She is cupping my face again with her hands; fingertips trailing small circles against the heated skin of my temples and cheek bones.

She breaks out kiss but does not pull away. "If this is what you need, its yours." My hands wander into her hair. My nails rake against her scalp. "I love you, Seven. I've loved you for what feels like lifetimes."

"I know. I love you. I love you. I love you. I Love you." I repeat the mantra like a prayer. I can feel her heart. Synced with my own beats. As always. Always beating in tandem. Even as they begin to race, always in sync.

I stand quickly, lifting her with me and quickly walk through the house, up the stairs and down the hall to her bedroom. Her legs are hooked around my waist and as I crawl into her bed, she gently falls against the soft cotton sheets, pulling me down with her. This time, when we kiss, its slow and deliberate. Each of us expressing our deepest passion and desire.

"I need to feel Love." I whisper between kisses.

"I know." She whispers even softer and pushes slightly against my shoulder, urging me to lay down and she shifts up until she's looking down at me. "I'll show you." She supports herself on one hand and traces invisible lines from my forehead, down my face and neck and all along my exposed clavicle. "Let's get these off." She tugs at my shirt and I lift myself enough for her pull my tank over my head. She makes quick work of my bra and I push her bathroom from her shoulders.

"How efficient." I smirk, realizing she's naked beneath the satin covering. She chuckled and unties the garment before throwing it across the room. Her smile stays in place as she unlatches my belt and yanks it through the loops in one quick forceful movement. I gasp. She pulls at my pants just enough to slip a finger beneath the waist band.

"I like you in clothes." She muses, gliding her finger back and forth. "Much more appealing that those bio suits you used to wear." Her smirk changes and she rips them apart at the from, the button flying off and the zipper cracking open. "Take them off."

She lifts herself up just enough to allow me to wriggle out of them and then tugs them off quickly from my ankles and they fly across the room to join my tank top and her robe.

Her fingers trail lines up my legs from my ankles, tracing along metal implants along the way. Reverently, she glides over every one. As mesmerized as the first time. She makes me feel beautiful. Whole. Purposeful. Like It's the most natural things in the world for me to be half flesh, and bone, half metal. Her path leads her hand to my hip and she presses her palm to the starburst implant there. Her fingers splayed out against my stomach.

She lowers her head and kisses the valley between my breasts. Gently nipping with her teeth before soothing the reddened skin with her tongue. I wrap one arm around her shoulders and hold her head against my body with the other.

She moves against me. All over me. Covering me completely with kisses and gentle touches. Her hands roam over my body and cling to her with a need I've never experienced. She is drawing it out. Making it last. She knows my need is emotional. Spiritual. Not sexual. There's no hurry and she worships me like a thunder storm over a drought stricken desert.

"I can feel it." I hear her say. "You heart beat." Her head is on m chest. Her hand cupping me intimately, gently pressing. "Same as mine." I feel her smile against my breast. She kisses before raising up to look into my eyes. She holds my gaze and I feel her slowly press two fingers inside me.

We move together and she matches our heart beat.

I scream her name and she swallows it with a passionate kiss as I let go and she completely consumes me.

It's takes me longer than usual to come back to my senses. The involuntary sob that wretches from deep inside me startles us both. She quickly pulls me up and grasps at me as I cry into her neck. Her hands grabbing at my back, desperately trying to sooth me. I am helpless as varying degrees of both Love and anguish coarse through my veins.

A scream of pure torment rips from my throat, over and over again I cry out.

She's rocking us; crying herself.

"I'm here." She keeps staying. "I'll always be here."

I know she will be. She has never lied to me.