VII.

After Seven had left, Janeway stared into the room for a while, then walked to the couch and sat down. Thoughts were spinning through her head like a velocity disk, except she wasn't in control of the disk. She let herself fall back on the seat cushion, her feet still on the floor, one hand hanging down on the deck.

Seven. Was it a good or a bad thing that Seven had had sex with a holo-character who looked exactly like her? Was it good or bad that she had confessed to her? What did she mean to accomplish by it? Was it good or bad that she obviously had come to her own conclusions about Fair Heaven?

The Doctor. First Janeway was shocked and saddened by his holo-novel, but she tried to tell herself that he had his reasons to write his thinly disguised autobiography in such a dramatized fashion. She told herself that there was no reason to feel insulted. Sure, there were elements of truth in it. Sometimes every possible strategy was somehow wrong and yet right. Janeway thought of Tuvix. And sometimes a captain makes a decision with best intentions only to discover that she made an error in judgment. Unlike Tom Paris, she really didn't feel insulted by the portrayal of her alter ego.

Not until now. Not until she realized what the Jenkins character was capable of. No doubt she had seen the look which Jenkins had given Three of Eight, but at the time she had discounted it as a tool to make Jenkins look more evil and give the last scene a dramatic edge. And what did the Doctor mean to imply by giving Three of Eight some sort of slave girl look? Was he jealous and therefore made Jenkins abuse her position by having her way with Seven's alter ego? It bothered Janeway deeply that the Doctor had shaped a character after her who was not only an immoral dictator but who also abused her authority by taking advantage of her officers—a certain astrometrics officer, to be accurate.

Janeway stared out of the window. She saw the stars passing by as stripes due to Voyager's warp speed. She was not supposed to deal with the EMH as a person. In the Alpha Quadrant an EMH was a piece of technology. No one would have the idea to let him evolve into an individual, to let him sing operas, to let him love and hate and to let him write greasy holo-novels. She was not supposed to deal with a human ex-Borg. A Borg is supposed to be an ultimate threat, not a friend. She was not supposed to lead a crew that was half Starfleet, half Maquis. Last but not least she was not supposed to be in the Delta Quadrant—or was she?

Janeway realized that maybe she had less control over her life than she liked to admit. She probably was just a plasma conduit in a starship called Galaxy. She couldn't do much about it, had to accept her fate as it unfolded before her, occasionally take chances and succeed. Or not.

As she watched the stars passing by, she decided that she should resolve something tonight, before morning (on board) dawned and she would once again feel that control is more important than life itself.

VIII.

Cargo Bay 2 was dipped in green light as Kathryn Janeway had come to know it over the past four years. Seven of Nine was regenerating. Janeway couldn't help but ask herself if Seven was dreaming on a regular basis and if so, what she was dreaming about? Janeway watched her for a moment. Seven looked surreal in her alcove, like a statue in a museum, which was made to be admired, but not touched or possessed. Janeway ended her regeneration cycle.

"Regeneration cycle incomplete," the computer voice anounced.

"Captain," Seven stepped out of her alcove.

"I would like to continue our conversation," Janeway began.

"As you wish."

"Given that we spoke about trust and betrayal, I want you to know that I knew about the…" Janeway paused while she searched for the right words, "experiments on social interactions you were conducting on holodeck two several weeks ago. I noticed the changes in your behavior. I was not the only one. B'Elanna, Harry, Tom. I was worried and consulted the Doctor, and he told me about what happened. He was concerned as a friend. I thought I should tell you this, since you were honest enough to tell me about your latest, well, adventure on the holodeck."

"I know you knew," Seven said simply. Not angry, not relieved, just matter-of-fact.

Janeway's eyebrow flew up. "How so?"

"In your ready room, when we talked and I told you I was working on a gravimetric array, I felt as though you were hiding something. I thought you might know that I was lying. Call it a hunch."

Janeway's eyebrows curled like cobras. "A Borg hunch?"

Seven sighed at her Captain's attempt to lighten up the mood. "I found your offer to lend me a hand to be peculiar."

Janeway tried hard not to smile. "Oh, sorry, I couldn't resist."

"My suspicion was confirmed when you never attempted to follow through with it. Why didn't you said anything when you already knew what I actually simulated?"

"As you said, it is of no one's concern. I felt I had no right to know this unless you told me. I felt guilty over speaking with the Doctor about it."

"I felt guilty as well, not just because I lied to you."

"I know."

"You're disappointed, you feel deceived."

"No, I don't, really. I just wondered."

"He was the most logical choice," Seven sounded defensive.

"I didn't said anything, Seven," Janeway smiled reassuringly.

She also smiled inwardly; the most logical choice sounded more like an experiment as opposed to a serious idea. Anyway, it was not as if she had never experimented on the holodeck.

"I also must apologize for criticizing you about Fair Heaven. I had no right to do so."

Janeway sighed. "Actually, you probably did."

"At least you never lied to anyone about it."

They looked at each other.

"It is unsettling," Seven started again. "The holodeck is meant to provide entertainment and relaxation and yet it causes so much stress."

"You certainly have a point there."

"Perhaps."

"So why did you feel it was necessary to tell me about your latest holo-novel adventure?" Janeway knew that she was sometimes just too curious for her own good.

Seven swallowed hard. "Probably because Captain Jenkins has your eyes, your voice, some of your gestures," Seven inhaled deeply, her chest rising. "It has a strong appeal to me to see the lust in your eyes, to hear the edge of desire in your voice, to see you," Seven swallowed again, "enjoying me."

Janeway just stared at the ex-Borg.

"Captain, I hope you do not think less of me now."

"Of course not," Janeway said without hesitation.

"Thank you."

"I appreciate your openness, Seven."

Seven nodded, smiling contentedly. "Good night, Captain."

Janeway gave Seven a puzzled look when she made no move to step into her alcove. For the first time today she really looked into Seven's watery blue eyes. She understood that tonight she was not going to tuck in the ex-Borg as usual. She shook her head just slightly and smiled.

"Good night Seven."

As Janeway walked out of Cargo Bay 2 she heard Seven's words in her head. The idea of Seven of Nine feeling aroused by the thought of her approaching her with desire launched a space race in Janeway's stomach that was heading directly to her loins. Right now she needed a long, hot bath.

FIN.