Title: Annika's Fields
Disclaimer: Not mine, just taking 'em for a spin in the starbabymobile. The poem is "Summons" by Robert Francis.
Summary: This was a request, so here's part #4 of that series that began with "Last To Go" continued in "Road Home" and depressed everyone with "Sundowning." This is Seven's part. This is the way I envision her in forty-odd years. At least this is how I hope she sees the world…a little less starkly. Costarring Doc.
Keep me from going to sleep too soon
Or, if I go to sleep to soon
Come wake me up.
He returned in the autumn of her life.
It was in the warm season, when the trees at the Tendara colony burst into color. The groves were suddenly Lemon yellow and apple-red and russet. The shades intrigued her, as they had decades ago, when she'd walked on the planets of the Alpha Quadrant for the first time. From the pallor of a Borg cube to the clean lines of Voyager and the solitary darkness of Cargo Bay Two, she existed in shades of gray. Color was an abstract and useless concept to a drone, and also to a young human, looking out on miles of darkness. She had studied the data, but was unprepared for the sheer vastness of Earth and its sister worlds. The Federation was massive; a great gathering of cultures and people, all colored uniquely.
Seven was as human as she would ever be, but an eidetic memory was her legacy from the Borg, along with ramrod-straight posture and many, many ghosts. With precision, she could match every color in the spectrum to a time or place. It was a rare frivolity she allowed herself, like Kadis-Kott. Blue was for assimilated Bolians--they were deemed worthy--green was the flash of light in her regeneration alcove. Captain Janeway's shoulders were red, but that color belonged to the child, Annika.
Come any hour of night
Come whistling up the road
Stomp on the porch
Bang on the door
She stood on the steps, watching his progress. It was late afternoon, but the days were long in the warm season. Though she was a daughter of the Delta Quadrant, Seven had come to enjoy the caress of sunlight on her fair skin, the way it warmed the top of her head and turned the ends of her hair to wheaten gold. When she'd first stepped off Voyager, onto Kathryn Janeway's Earth, the brightness had assaulted her eyes. She, who had come of age in a maturation chamber, turned away. What did she know of light?
She remembered, in the time of Annika Hansen, running through a sun-lit field, toward the wandering parents who would soon cease to be. With humanity came comprehension: Seven understood why the child, why she, ran with such joyful, undignified abandon. The understanding had come slowly, and at great cost, but it was hers. She was Seven of Nine, longtime resident of the Tendara Colony, an individual who loved the light.
In the dark years that followed, as Seven's hair turned a gunmetal gray to match her eyebrow, it was a rare comfort, like her color game. She closed her eyes, blocking out the afternoon, the leaves, and the figure approaching with a spring in his step. Returning to darkness, the relentless voices were as clear as the Collective's had been, all those years ago. Lookout for the Borg! Hey, baby, what's your designation? Watch out, she'll assimilate you! It was a scenario she hadn't anticipated, but should have...even as she became more human, the race rejected her.
Tell me the Northern Lights are on
And make me look
Tell me clouds are doing something to the moon
They've never done before
He was an eternally youthful man; created and frozen at an age she'd passed long ago. The mobile emitter allowed him to walk the streets of Earth's fabled cities: London, Paris, New York, Rome. Yet, the shadow of Starfleet traveled with him, threatening nullification. Captain Janeway, his champion, couldn't hold back the darkness as she began her own journey into the valley of shadow. That phrase had resonated in hundreds of human minds during assimilation, the last, defiant wail of a tenacious species that remained, in spite of it all, unconquered.
Seven had noted the words with detachment, unaware that they were part of an ancient, and irrelevant, plea for deliverance. There was no deliverance, even for those salvaged from the unimatrix after long years, but there was hope. Seven knew no God; she did not attribute her rescue to a divine force, but to the tenacity of a remarkable woman who rose from farm country, ascended the heights, and traveled to the heart of the Borg empire.
Make me come let you in
And light a light
Seven watched him kick his way through the golden gown of leaves, smiling slightly as more cascaded from above. He was her good friend, but never more. Life sent them on separate journeys after that first voyage. He was shackled to Starfleet, and she to her past. What was it humans said, excusing their fallibility? And never the twain shall meet.
But they did meet. Each was present at the burial of the Talaxian, Neelix, and to see a statue erected to Voyager's fallen daughter. At Naomi Wildman's memorial service, Seven had bowed her head and cried for the first time in many years. She cried for the woman who had died so well, and for the child who had breached her defenses. She wept for the girl, Annika, and for Mezote, the woman/child hybrid. She cried for all children who see horrors. She claimed tears that day; she was Seven of Nine, friend of the lost Naomi Wildman, an individual who grieved.
See that I see. Talk to me
Till I'm half as wide awake as you
He still wore the black and green. The Doctor alone remained unchanged, the only constant in her tumultuous life. He was still vain, and dedicated, and searching for a name. Seven suspected that, like her, he would never claim a human designation. Each bore the name they emerged with, all those years ago, separating from a cast of thousands, reborn into a strange new world. Neither was complete, but built themselves from the ground up with the blessing of an extraordinary Captain, one who saw every personality as sentient, even those reliant on technology for survival.
There was Borg left in Seven; she did not believe in kindred spirits, yet the Doctor understood her like no other. Captain Janeway indulged her, but had no comprehension of first contact with one's own humanity. There was terror, and exhilaration, there was wonder, and there was pain. Above all, there was a childlike urge to strike out on one's own, test boundaries, and challenge authority. Equipped with vast technological knowledge, Seven had no concept of her own limitations, or the Captain's. The Doctor, Naomi Wildman... they were like her, just starting out, eager to experience. Later, in the face of Earth's hatred, she was sickened by her own cowardice when one sentence rioted through her brain, over and over.
You will return this drone to the Borg!
She retreated in the end. Surrender was not in her nature; it was incompatible with who she was, and who she had hoped to become. Her wandering parents, the Collective, Voyager…each plotted a course and followed it to the bitter end. Captain Janeway believed a Captain should perish with the ship, and prepared all her life, yet Seven fled. She told herself that there would be another day, a time to return and send her demons flying in disarray. That day, she claimed folly.
If her own aging form wasn't enough to convince Seven of her mortality, Captain Janeway's swift decline was more proof than she required. Seven had always struggled with the concept of human death. When her implants had failed, far away in the Delta Quadrant, she'd told Lieutenant Torres as much: My link to the Collective has been severed for nearly four years. If I die, everything that I've accomplished…will be lost…The Lieutenant had tried to reassure her, but how could she comprehend Seven's anguish, she, the most-loved, who would leave behind a husband, children, and a lasting legacy? The Borg had no after-life; there was no Judgment Seat, but humans had both. What would become of a former drone, an involuntary soldier who had played an active role in mass destruction?
The time was drawing near for both she and Captain Janeway. Seven had left their relationship--she never could define it--in a state of flux. She stormed away from Earth bitter, irrationally angry at the woman who had brought her from one hell into another. Even when the rage faded into a dull ache, she stayed away. She knew nothing of apologies. Were they made formally? Did one set the offer on the table, like a padd of Astrometrics data, then retreat? Or should she plunk it down and stand defiant, the way Neelix presented a pot of leola root stew? By staying away, she claimed yet another human trait: pride.
Tell me the walking is superb
You know I'm not too hard persuaded
She would let him in, and they would sit at her table. Despite the day, and the leaves, and the afternoon, Seven was not a step-sitter, or a hand-holder, or a thousand other things. Those were Annika's joys, and she was gone, although the Doctor insisted it wasn't so. Seven envisioned a little plot for her, out in the fields where she'd run with such joyful abandon, a quiet memorial to all that was lost.
He would show her his cherished photographs, and scattered amid photos of the Parthenon and Big Bend were faded pictures of Voyager's crew. They were captured unaware, in corridors and at various stations. There were Prixin celebrations, birthday parties, and promotions. There was a picture of Seven at her own party, which she had railed against, wearing the ridiculous pink tiara Lieutenant Paris had insisted on. He was still alive, as was B'Elanna Torres, the engineer. The two had a child, a daughter as undisciplined as themselves. Seven had no children; but, perhaps, somewhere in the galaxy, a woman named Mazajte remembered her with kindness.
Later, they would walk out in Annika's fields. There would be no need to tell the Doctor that he was her best friend. Such sentiments were difficult for her to express. Like the pragmatic Tuvok, Seven understood that some things just were; there was no need to voice them to the evening air. They were similar, she and the Lieutenant Commander. He was still on Vulcan, that mysterious planet she had never seen, living out his days beside some river of souls.
They would walk until night fell, then turn homeward. Seven would remind herself, as they retraced their steps, that she was not a hand-holder. It was enough to be beside him in Annika's fields. Seven was grateful, in spite of it all.
In the early years, she had claimed friendship.