"The Years Between"

An Original J/7 Voyager Story

2008 by Patricia L. Givens

Happy Birthday Duck – May 2008

Disclaimer #1:This story is an original work of fiction set in the pre-existing universe of Star Trek: Voyager. As such, many of the characters and references used within belong solely to Paramount Pictures. I have borrowed them for the purpose of creating this scenario and promise to return them unscathed, and smiling, as soon as I am done. No gain, monetary or otherwise, is expected from their use and no copyright infringement is intended or should be inferred.

Disclaimer #2:All original characters and storylines contained herein belong to the author. (Like anyone else would claim them!  ) This story may be archived upon request with the stipulation that it must be posted exactly as it was written, with all disclaimers intact.

Disclaimer #3:This story does depict a romantic relationship between two women. If this bothers you then you obviously haven't been paying attention to any of my other disclaimers so I give up! You never appreciated me anyway!! I'm leaving and I'm taking the cat with me! (Cough, cough…ahem…) If you are under 18 then I suggest becoming an art major. It will really impress the college girls and your parents will be pissed that they have to pay for it. If this is illegal where you live then just hide it inside your bible…no one important will find it there….

Disclaimer #4: I took this one… a tiny bit further than I normally do. I don't think it will upset anyone. But hell, that's the way it wanted to be written, so that's the way I wrote it.

Who To Blame:Thanks to Ky for filling my head with subtext for an entirely new show, none of which I could actually find but I guess we all have our own private smut reels going on in our heads. Thanks also to the VC for giving me a home! Thanks also to Jeanette Winterson, for her quote.

This one is dedicated to Zoey, for making my world a little bit brighter. Happy Birthday, hon! May all my…uh…I mean YOUR dreams come true…

Uber…a first for me… At least till CJ comes out. This is set in my own little military world. Forgive my gaffs. (Is there really a Wellington or an Air Force Civilian Service? I dunno… Let's just say they're top secret. I mean, was there really a Starfleet? LOL)

No uniforms were harmed during the writing of this story, however the question did arise: Did it look better on her, or on the floor?

To all that makes us unique!

DAx /\

When she lowers her eyes she seems to hold all the beauty in the world between her eyelids; when she raises them I see only myself in her gaze.


The halls inside of Wellington O.C.S. were quiet as Nika Hansen slipped out early from her last class and headed to the mail room. The Chief Master Sergeant who was in charge had seen her leave but did nothing to stop her. She was an Airman First Class and at the top of the advance placement list. It was a long standing custom in the military that rank did have its privileges. Besides, it was Friday.

The mail room was empty when she arrived and she went directly to the counter without taking a number, smiling brightly at Harry Kim, the young A.B. who seemed to pull a lot of duty shifts there. His face lit up when he saw her and Nika sighed. He had carried a not so secret crush on her for the past three years, one that had never dimmed, not even when she had gently informed him that he was not remotely her type. She tried not to call on their friendship too often, to avoid the obvious problems.

But today was special.

"You got anything for me, Harry?"

He leaned on the counter, lowering his voice. "You know mail call isn't for another two hours, Airmen." He winked at her. "But… considering that it's your birthday, I suppose I could bend the rules a little." He reached into one of the hundreds of small mail cubicles in the shelving system behind him and drew out a slim white envelope, holding it out towards her as he flipped it between his fingers. "I believe this is what you've been waiting on?"

Nika snatched the letter from his hand; her eyes going immediately to the upper left hand corner were a simple stamp read 'A.F.C.S.'. The only other thing on the envelope was her name, which had been handwritten. A huge smile broke out across her face and she jumped up on the counter to plant a soft kiss on Harry's cheek.

"Communication Services?" He looked confused. "You're getting that excited about a letter from C.S.?"

She bit her bottom lip to keep from laughing. "Not exactly. Thanks Harry!" She rushed from the mail room and down the hall to a small alcove somewhat hidden from view. There was a window there that overlooked the experimental craft hangars and a small bench where she had wiled away a good number of her lunch hours watching the aircraft take off and land. It was her hiding spot on base, and her very favorite place to be, outside of the hangars themselves.

With trembling hands, she ripped open the top of the envelope and pulled out the single sheet of paper from inside. Closing her eyes, she took several deep breaths as she unfolded it, willing her heart rate to slow down.

When she felt more in control, Nika opened her eyes, focusing them on the first line that appeared below her name.

'Your application has been approved-'

That was as far as she got before a soft weight collided with her from behind. She squeaked as she tumbled onto the bench with a warm female body landing on top of her.


Nika laughed up at the smiling face of her best friend, Jayna Stewart. Jayna was five feet tall and weighed a hundred pounds soaking wet, but she had curves in all the right places, thick brown hair and gorgeous green eyes that kept the base boys jumping. "Get off of me you Neanderthal!'

"Uh uh!" The shorter woman straddled her hips and began trying to grab for the letter. "Not till you let me see it. That's it isn't it? Gimme!"

"Jayna!" She couldn't stop laughing. "You know how the C.M.S. feels about horseplay. Not to mention the fact that you're probably turning on half the enlisted men on base. Stand down Airmen!"

"Nope!" The smaller woman finally wrestled the letter away. "You've got too good a hiding spot here Nika. Anyone who wants to get turned on is going to have to come a lot closer." She read the paper quickly, her face becoming more solemn as she slid off of Hansen to sit next to her on the bench. "So… You did it."

"Yes!" Nika took the rumpled paper back and finished reading it for herself.

"That's…" Jayna swallowed. "That's great, Nik."

The blonde wrapped her up in a hug. "Come on, Jay! It's not like that much is going to change. I'll still be on base."

"Yeah," Her friend snorted. "All the way on the other side of it with fences between us I won't be able to get through until I'm forty."

"But we'll still have every weekend…"

"Until you meet some nice, handsome civilian contractor and move into his house with the dog and the two point four kids."

Nika smiled sarcastically. "I can pretty much assure you that is not going to happen." When Jay looked at her oddly she cleared her throat. "I'm more interested in my career than a relationship. I don't see that changing any time soon."

Jayna slowly nodded, plastering a bright smile on her face. "Enough of that maudlin shit anyway! It's the BIG day! It's your birthday, get crazy, get your groove on!" She stood and pulled Nika to her feet, spinning her in a circle as she bumped against her with her hips. "Time for drinking and dancing!"

"Oh, I don't know, Jay." She grabbed her friend by the arms to hold her still. "I don't think that's such a good idea. Not around here."

Jay scowled at her. "Would I let you down? Would I take you to some dive where you'd be pawed at like a piece of meat? No! I found a great place for us to drink and dance in peace." She laughed at Nika's skeptical look. "I swear, on my honor, that no drunk jerk-offs are going to bother us tonight. You trust me, right?"

Nika nodded. "Always."

"All right then. You go get ready. I'm going to collect Torres from K.P. and we'll pick you up in an hour."

"Bell's on K.P. again?" She laughed. "What did she do this time?"

"She told her Sergeant that she was gay and since the military looks at homosexuality as a disease, she was banging out sick."

Nika's eyes went wide. "You're joking!"

"Nope!" Jay giggled. "Stupidest thing she's ever tried. Everyone knows that girl is a ho for a man in uniform! Now go get ready!"

"Jesus!" She laughed. "Ok, ok! What should I wear?"

Jay cocked her head to one side as she let her eyes travel from the top of Nika's head to the tips of her polished combat boots. "Wear the uniform."

Hansen raised one eyebrow.

"Trust me," She assured her. "Where we're going, it'll get you more drinks than you can handle!"

Nika sat quietly in the back seat of Jay's little Ford Escort, watching as the interstate they had exited from turned into a little two lane road, lined on both sides by tall trees and few driveways. They had been driving for the better part of an hour with KT Tunstall blaring on the radio and Bell and Jay arguing over the new crop of male recruits that had arrived earlier that week. She sighed. They did this every time there was a new influx, dividing up the men like matchsticks. It didn't interest her in the slightest, but she threw out a few names just to stay in the conversation.

After another ten minutes she finally shook her head. "Jay, where the hell are you taking us? I don't think drinking with the hicks in the sticks is going to be any safer than with the jimmies on base!"

"Just relax, we're almost there." A moment later she pulled the car off the road onto a smoothly paved blacktop that stretched a quarter of a mile back into the trees. At the end of the road there was a small, sturdy looking building. The brightly lit parking lot surrounding it was full of cars, but it was strangely quiet when they stepped out into the cool night air. There were no signs, no neon, no loud boisterous music. In fact the only sound came from a female rent-a-cop that eyed them for a moment before continuing on her way towards the far end of the lot.

"Are you sure we're in the right place?" Bell asked.

"Oh yeah," Jay smiled wickedly. "This is it."

Wide wooden stairs led up the front of the building to a door painted deep lavender. Nika stared at it for a moment, thinking it seemed rather out of place with the rest of the gray, nondescript building. There was a sign posted next to it that read: No One Under 21 Admitted.

"I guess this is a bar." Nika mumbled under her breath and pulled the door open. Immediately, the night was filled by the soulful sound of a twanging guitar and the low, unmistakable tones of Melissa Etheridge belting out "Lover Please" from the jukebox. As her eyes adjusted to the darkness, she took in the tables filled with women, most of whom gave the newcomers a quick once over before turning their attention back to their beer.

Hiding her smile behind her hand she turned to Jay. "You brought us to a gay bar?"

"Sure did." The shorter woman grinned. "What better place is there to drink in peace?"

"Peace?" Bell was glancing around quickly, her dark eyes anxious. "What if…what if…"

"What if one of them hits on you?" Jay smirked. "Just tell them you prefer dick and you'll be fine, Bell. They aren't going to pounce on you." She turned back to Nika. "Look, it's your birthday and I wanted to have some fun. I thought it would be cool to check this place out, but if it really bothers you…"

"No!" She raised her hand. "Doesn't bother me in the least."

Jay gave her a long look and then shook her head as though to clear it. "Ok then, let's get wasted!"

Three hours later Nika slapped a fiver on the counter and smiled at the bartender when she brought over another pitcher. She was cute, about five foot ten with spiky blonde hair, and she had been giving Bell the eye all night. "Don't take it personally." She threw two more dollars down as a tip. "Bell's just a bit out of her element."

The bartender smiled ruefully. "Pity."

Tell me about it. She laughed to herself. She had always found Bell very attractive, with her dark skin and darker eyes, her delicate features contrasting nicely with the rest of her.

The rest of her being a body that was hard from daily calisthenics, muscles strong and sinewy from the swimming required for the post she was working towards in Air Rescue. It would eventually require a transfer to the Coast Guard, however, and then Bell would be gone.

Having friends at Wellington was like that. Their O.C.S. division was open to all branches, even if the base was predominantly Air Force. She counted herself lucky that Jay wanted to stay right where she was.

"She hit on you?" Bell smirked as Nika sat the pitcher down.

"Actually," Hansen teased. "She asked me for your phone number."

The dark skinned woman paled. "You didn't…"

"Don't worry. I told her if your roommate answered just to say it was a booty call."

Bell's jaw dropped and Nika burst into laughter. "I'm joking! C'mon, Bell! These are just women trying to kick back. Relax and have another drink!"

As she filled her friend's glass, a flash of light from the corner caught her eye. She watched as the flash came again; it was a strike wheel on a lighter. Finally the flame sprang up and she saw deep gray-blue eyes lock onto hers. One eyebrow arched up as perfect red lips twitched into the hint of a smile. She could make out thick auburn hair and small perfect breasts, then the flame went out and the corner was once again dark, all except for a small glowing ember at its center.

"Nik! What are you doing?"

She started violently at the sound of Bell's voice. Glancing down, she saw beer covering the top of the table where it had run over the edge of the glass. "I'm…I'm sorry!" She laughed nervously. "I wasn't paying attention."

"Obviously!" Bell giggled, glancing back over her shoulder. "What were you staring at?"

"Nothing." Nika quickly ran to the bar and grabbed a towel. She mopped up the mess and then slumped into her seat, drinking deeply from her glass. Her pulse was racing and the hair at the back of her neck was still standing straight up. To make matters worse she was sure that the other two women at the table would be able to hear the pounding of her heart. What the hell is going on?

She glanced up to find Jay staring at her. "What?"

The Airmen eyes narrowed slightly, then she shrugged and looked around the bar. "Dance with me?"

Nika blinked. "To this?"

"Why not?"

She quirked her lips. "All right, I get to lead though."

The song playing was 'Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover' and Nika was slightly bemused when Jay moved in close and slid her hands onto her hips. Their bodies pressed tightly together and she found herself hooking her fingers in the belt loops of Jay's blue jeans as they began to move. For a moment, everything was perfect, and she closed her eyes, breathing in the sweet scent of Jay's skin and hair. If they didn't break the silence, she could pretend it wasn't Jay. Pretend that it was someone else. Someone warm and eager in her arms, someone with soft skin and gentle fingers… red hair… perfect lips… Lips kissing her deeply before trailing down her chin, licking lightly at her pulse point before biting down gently…

…like they were doing right now?

"Whoa!" She stepped back quickly, pushing the smaller woman away from her. "Jay?"

Her friend blinked in confusion. "I'm sorry." She stammered, looking horrified. "I don't know why I did that."

Nika took a deep breath and closed her eyes as her friend's slurred speech finally registered. "I do. You're drunk, hon. I believe the correct term would be 'three sheets to the wind'. Come on. We need to get you home."

She helped Jay back to the table where Bell was staring at them with wide eyes. "Not a word, Bell. Not now or ever. She's beyond drunk."

"Oh." Bell nodded. "That explains it."

"Yeah." She reached into the pocket of Jay's pants and carefully fished out her car keys. Turning to the bar, she called out, "Can you call us a cab?"

The bartender smiled. "It's waiting outside. I called 'em when you started dancing!"

Nika laughed. "Thanks!'

She steered her two friends out the door and down the steps, helping Bell to fold Jay into the back seat. "Make sure she gets home and into her bed, Bell. Can I count on you for that?"

"Of course. But what about you?"

"I'll drive the Ford back. I don't want to leave it all the way out here. That could cause a lot of questions."

"No kidding." Bell laughed softly. "You ok to drive?"

"Yeah, I didn't drink a tenth of what you two did. I'll be fine."

"All right then. I'll see you tomorrow."

Nika watched the cab pull away and then headed for Jay's car. She was halfway there when she realized she had left her jacket inside. "Damn it." Turning on her heal, she headed back to the bar.

As soon as she walked through the door she felt the eyes on her. The same ones she had seen earlier, tucked into the shadowy corner; the same ones that had made her heart practically pound its way out of her chest.

She stopped at their table and picked up her jacket, twisting it in her hands as she tried to fight off the desire that was rising inside of her. Finally, growling in frustration, she strode across the bar to stand in front of the other woman's table. "Hi." From inside the shadows she could see much better and watched in fascination as the piercing gray-blue gaze traveled down her body. It never stopped or even faltered, but somehow, it still made her feel completely naked. With her blood thundering in her ears so loudly she could hardly hear herself speak she asked, "Can I join you?"

The voice that answered her was like nothing she had ever heard before; deep and graveled, tinged with both ice and fire, filling her with a liquid heat that took her breath away.

"This table has an age requirement."

Nika flushed. "I know who you are. You're Captain Janeway. I'd recognize you anywhere, even in civvies."

The older woman's head came up quickly, her eyes narrowing as she studied the woman before her. "And I know what you are." She pressed her lips together in a thin frown as she stared at the chevron with its twin stripes and silver star. "You're an A.F.C." She nodded at the small insignia attached to her collar. "And an officer candidate, as well."

"For the moment. My name is Annika Hansen." She gestured to the empty chair at the table. "May I?"

"Do I have a choice?"

The blonde sighed as she slid into her seat. "Look, I didn't come over here to bust your balls, so do me a favor and stop trying to bust mine."

The Captain bristled at her tone but, considering where they were, thought better of making an issue of it. "Why did you come over here?"

"I saw you watching me." She shrugged. "I figured you recognized me and you might be a little upset about it. I wanted you to know that you don't have anything to worry about."

"Worry?" Janeway snorted. "In case you didn't notice, you're in the same lesbian bar that I am. Making trouble for me means a whole lot of trouble for you too."

"But that's my point. I don't want to make any trouble for you. I just… I don't know. I guess I just wanted you to know that."

"And your friends?"

Nika laughed. "Those guys were so drunk I doubt they'll even remember seeing me tonight. Neither of them even noticed you."

The Captain relaxed slightly, her quick gray eyes assessing the cadet before her as though she were standing at inspection. "I know those girls. And I know the boys they run with. What are you doing here?"

"It's my birthday." She blushed slightly. "Jayna wanted to take me out and get me drunk and well, to be honest, the bars near the base aren't exactly safe for a group of young women to get tanked in."

Janeway nodded. She had heard the stories of young female cadets that had consumed too much alcohol and ended up suffering at the hands of some of the more unscrupulous males that tended to frequent the base's watering holes. The military judicial system was flooded with complaints of inappropriate behavior… and worse. "So you thought you'd come where you'd be safe? Surrounded by women?"

"Something like that."

"Did it never occur to you that there are predatory lesbians out there too? Some who might not be too picky about the state their prey is in when they take them home?"

"I didn't drink that much. Someone had to stay sober."

"Ahh." She quirked one eyebrow. "An overdeveloped sense of honor I see."

"No, I'm just a realist. I know how much trouble we could all get into for being here. 'Don't ask, don't tell' doesn't leave a lot of wiggle room." She ran her fingers through her thick blonde hair then waved to the bartender who nodded and brought her another beer.

Janeway watched her sip the amber liquid, taking in the flawless complexion and bright blue eyes. She had to admit, the woman was stunning. If she hadn't been a cadet, her reaction when she approached the table might have been completely different. "Well, thank you for assuaging my apprehension. Now if you will excuse me..." She slid her chair back and picked up her jacket.

"Wait!" Nika reached out and grabbed her arm. "Please… have a drink with me."

She felt her heart thud in her chest at the touch. "Why?"

The younger woman shrugged, her face turning bright pink as stammered, "Because it's my birthday?"

The Captain slowly sat back down. "I don't make a habit of drinking with my subordinates."

"I'm not your subordinate." Nika released her and reached for her beer.

"You're O.C.S.; technically that makes me your superior officer."

"Maybe for the next couple of days. I don't intend to stay military."

"Then why did you join up in the first place?"

"Because I grew up in the foster system." Nika studied her beer intently. "There wasn't a lot of opportunity or money there to better myself. The Air Force offered me early admittance based on my aptitude scores, paid for four years of college and dumped me out in Officer Candidate School. Now that I'm old enough, I'm transferring to civilian service.

Janeway's brow furrowed. "Civilian service at Wellington is extremely limited. Unless you have proficiency they find useful."

"I do." Smugness crept into her features. "I'm being optioned for Advanced Propulsion Theory."

The older woman's jaw dropped slightly. "A.P.T.? You're a little young for that, aren't you?"

Nika laughed. "All it really takes is desire, ability and tenacity; three qualities that I seem to have in abundance. Besides, that's one good thing about our countries armed services. Sex and age don't matter if what you bring to the table is worth something. "She ran her finger around the edge of her glass. "That's how I knew you. Your skills as a pilot are legendary."

"Flattery will get you no where." She smiled before she could stop herself. What the hell am I doing? Am I really flirting here?

The blonde returned the smile openly, causing the Captain's pulse to quicken. What she said next sent her heart thudding into overdrive.

"I fully intend to put something fast and mean between your legs, Captain."

Janeway swallowed. "Do you?" She took a long drink. "And what might that be?"

"An experimental bird." Her eyes flashed fire. "A new single-seat stealth jet called Voyager."

She studied her closely for a moment before dropping her voice an octave. "Really? Something you designed?"


"Is there a projected test date for this 'fast and mean' flyer?"

Nika sat back in her chair, trying to control the excitement that ran through her body as the Captain's tenor changed. She took a deep breath. "It's only in the concept stage at the moment. But when it hits the pad, there is no question as to who they'll ask to pilot it."

"Should you be telling me this?"


"Then why are you?"

"I…" The younger woman looked down as she bit her lower lip. "I wanted you to talk to me."


"You fascinate me."

Janeway laughed.

"No, I'm serious. You are a strong, independent woman who not only plays on a field typically owned by the boys club, you also dominate it."

"And that's attractive to you?"


The Captain knew she should get up and leave; that she should go back to her bunk and forget this interlude ever happened but she couldn't seem to make herself do it. "In what way?"

Nika stared directly into her eyes. "In every way."

Janeway blinked. "How old are you?"


She laughed before she could stop herself. "Do you know how old I am? Old enough to be your mother."

Nika wasn't laughing. "Maybe. All I know is… I've certainly never felt this way about my mother."

"What way?"

The younger woman reached out and took her hand, pulling it close to lay it against her chest where Janeway could feel the erratic beating of her heart. "It's been doing that ever since I saw you from across the room." She loosened her grip, gratified when the Captain did not immediately pull her arm back. "I've made it through a year of basic and three years at Wellington without anyone ever making it do that."

"Have you ever…"

"Been with a woman?" Nika finished for her. "No." She saw the Captain's features begin to close and hurried on. "But I have been with men."

"How many?"

"Enough to know that they don't make my heart do that either."

Janeway let out a long shaky breath and pulled her hand away, resting it on the table top. This was such a bad idea. But she couldn't ignore the way this woman was making her feel. "What do you want from me?"

"Whatever you can give."

"It isn't that simple. My life is complicated enough with trying to keep my personal separate from my professional. Being involved, in any way, with another member of the military is a career ender and you know that."

"I do." The blonde slid her fingers across the back of the older woman's hand. "But answer me this: Is anything simple ever really worth having?"

Janeway closed her eyes and sighed. It had been so long since someone had made her feel like more than a rank. "One night." She whispered. "That's the best I can do."

Nika smiled. "I'll take it."

Captain Janeway opened the door to the hotel room and stood back, allowing the younger woman to enter in front of her. She watched as Nika took off her coat and hung it on the rack that stood off to one side. She didn't need to look around the room to know that it was the same as any other hotel room she had ever been in.

The only thing that was different was the woman she was there with.

She still didn't know exactly how she had let herself end up here. Yes, Hansen was beautiful, alluring, intelligent, self-confident; all of the qualities that would normally grab her attention, even if they didn't hold it for very long.

Her youth… That was the one anomaly. She hadn't been joking when she said her table had an age requirement. Normally, she wouldn't have given the cadet a second glance, let alone an invitation.

But there was something about her, something in those bright blue eyes that caught the word 'no' before it could slip off her tongue. Something that sent small tremors down her spine; that caused her breath to catch and her chest to constrict in the most astounding ways.

Oh yes, this one was different.

This one was dangerous.

She watched quietly as Nika surveyed the room, almost as though she were looking for something. She was about to ask what was wrong when Nika turned to face her.

What she saw made the words die in her throat.

The younger woman's lips were parted, the tip of her tongue resting lighting on her bottom lip as her chest rose and fell quickly. Dark, heavily lidded eyes raked down her body with an intensity that caused the muscles in her thighs to clench hard.

For a moment, they merely stood there… staring at each other.

Then Nika crossed the room, thrusting her fingers into thick auburn hair as she brought their mouths together in a bruising kiss.

Janeway felt her senses slip away from her as the younger woman's tongue slid into her mouth. Her body surged forward, pushing Nika solidly against the wall as her fingers fumbled with the tiny buttons that lined the front of the cadet's shirt. Yanking it free from the tan uniform pants, she slid her hands inside, groaning as her fingers came in contact with smooth skin stretched tautly across a well muscled stomach.

The feel of the Captain's hands on her stripped away the rest of Nika's control. With something between a snarl and a whimper she hooked her fingers inside the waist of Janeway's pants, intending to slide her hand inside, to touch the heat she could feel even through the fabric between them.

"Wait!" The older woman groaned and grabbed her hand, pulling it away. "Stop!" She put a foot of much needed space between them. "We need to talk."

"What's wrong?" Nika leaned forward and buried her nose in the Captain's hair, breathing her scent in deeply as her hands began to tremble. "I want you, damn it! What is there to talk about?"

Janeway placed her palms on either side of Nika's face, raising it so that she could look into the beautiful azure eyes that were clouded over with desire. "I need to know what you see… when you look at me." She brushed her thumb across the soft skin of her cheek. "It's important. Please."

The blonde took a deep breath, drawing it in and then letting it out slowly as she tried to calm the fire raging inside of her. "What do I see?"


"What does the K stand for?"

Janeway looked up in surprise. "Kathryn." She laughed softly.

"Kathryn…" Nika said the name like a prayer, like an oath. She traced one finger across the older woman's soft red lips, her body shivering slightly at the passion that spread outwards from her center. "Back at Wellington," She whispered. "I have this place, this little alcove where someone put a bench in front of a window. It's half hidden behind a row of fake fichus plants and no one ever sits there because the only view is of the E-1 hangar and the tarmac."

"The E-1 hangar?" The Captain smiled. "My hangar?"

Nika nodded. "The first time I saw you was almost three years ago. You taxied in an F-18 Super Hornet for a re-fit. The crewman on that day didn't chock the wheels tight enough and it rolled forward about a foot, nearly taking his head off in the process. You didn't yell or fly into a rage like I've seen so many pilots do. You just stepped up close to him and said something very quietly. I swear I could see him start to shake, even from where I was. And when you turned to walk away, whatever was left over in your eyes… it made the Major on duty back up three paces." She grinned. "I remember thinking, 'Damn! Now that's my kind of woman!'"

Kathryn opened her mouth to speak only to have the younger woman place a finger on her lips.

"But I was wrong." Nika continued. "When I saw you across the bar tonight, the look in your eyes took my breath away, the thought of touching your skin…" She slid her fingers softly down Kathryn's arm. "It made my hands tingle, my palms sweat… That one quirk of your eyebrow, that small smile on your lips…all of it made me realize just how much you really were 'my kind of woman'. And then you spoke…" She began to shake. "And I wanted you. So much it scared me. For four years I've been able to convince myself that there are things worth giving up for my career; things it would be easier to never know, that way I would never miss them." She moved closer and kissed Kathryn gently on the lips. "What do I see when I look at you? I see every bit of wonderful I have ever denied myself. I see all the passion that's gone unspent lying in the arms of men whose names I can't even remember. I see everything that was missing when I woke up the morning after, hollow and empty. I see you. I want you, Kathryn."

"Enough to jeopardize your career?" The older woman asked quietly.

Nika slowly unbuttoned the front of Kathryn's shirt. When she was done, she pulled it away from her body, allowing her hands to slide across the smooth expanse of abdomen as she brought her lips close to the red heads ear. "What we risk… "She whispered. "Reveals what we value…"

Kathryn's eyes close as she leaned her head to the side, offering up her neck to the younger woman's lips and teeth. "Annika…" She whispered as she felt the warm, quick hands return to her body. This time she didn't stop them as they pulled the shirt from her shoulders and slid the trousers down her legs. When she finally stood there in nothing but pale peach silk, the body that had been pressed so sweetly against hers moved away. For a moment, Kathryn merely swayed in place, trying to find her equilibrium. Then she opened her eyes.

Annika stood before her completely naked. In the low light from the window, all Kathryn could see was silken skin and generous curves. With trembling hands, she reached out and cupped the incredibly full breasts that had been hidden behind the drab Air Force uniform; her senses reeling as her palms slid across nipples that had already pebbled beneath nothing but her gaze. She stepped forward into warm welcoming arms, felt them tighten around her; felt gentle fingers slide the lace down and off her hips. Without hesitating, she found the delicate peaks that had teased her palms and rolled them firmly between her fingertips.

"Kathryn…" Annika begged. "Please…"

That one word set her entire body on fire. Turning the blonde slightly, Kathryn pushed her backwards onto the bed, her knee coming up to nestle tightly between her legs as she bit down firmly on one swollen nipple.

Annika arched into her, raising her knee to brace her foot against the mattress. Her eyes rolled back and she groaned loudly when Kathryn settled herself on it. She could feel the wetness, the heat from the other woman's sex running down her thigh and brought her hands up to wrap around the smaller woman.

Kathryn cried out loudly as short, strong nails clawed across her back. Losing all control, she clamped her mouth onto Annika's neck, biting down hard as she sucked furiously against her skin.

You're breaking your own rules!!Her mind screamed out for her to stop. You never, ever, leave a mark!

She almost laughed out loud when another part of her, the feral part, told herself to shut the fuck up.

Nothing about the woman beneath her was normal or sane; nothing about what she was doing was safe. There were no rules that could save her this time.

And the truly glorious part… was that she just didn't give a damn.

When she finally pulled her mouth away, Annika was there to capture her lips in another soul searing kiss, her tongue flicking wildly inside the older woman's mouth, making her knees weak and her body tremble.

In one graceful movement, the younger woman flipped them over. She braced herself on her knees as her fingers tore aside the bra to close on Kathryn's erect nipples. As the older woman writhed beneath her, Annika's hips began to move, slowly at first, and then with more pressure and speed until the blonde finally tore her mouth away and cried out, "Oh god, please… touch me! I need you to touch me, NOW!"

Kathryn's hand slid down Annika's sweat slick belly to slip quickly between her legs, a small moan of desire escaping her lips when her fingers confirmed what the skin of her hip had already suspected.

Annika was completely smooth, her essence coating the silky skin of her mons like nectar, a thought which brought Kathryn's tongue out to wet her lips. "Oh my god… You feel incredible…" She whimpered as her fingers slid inside, her thumb finding the hard bundle of nerves at the apex of her cleft that made Annika quake as she caressed it.

"Oh yes…yes…oh god, baby yes…" Annika whispered, her movements becoming quicker and more erratic as she pushed against the fingers inside of her. "Oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god…. oh god… Oh Kathryn…oh sweet jesus….OH GOD YES!" The last she screamed out loudly as her body arched back wildly before going completely rigid. She stayed there for several long moments, her muscles locked, trapping Kathryn's fingers within her.

Then she fell forward, collapsing heavily against the older woman's side, her breath coming in short ragged pants and she continued to whisper, "Oh my god…" over and over again.

Kathryn pulled her hand free, watching Annika's eyes go wide as she brought her fingers to her mouth to lick them clean.

"Oh my god!" The younger woman half whimpered, half laughed as she rolled over onto her back. "Don't do that… You're going to send me off again…"

Janeway chuckled softly, turning onto her side to gently caress Annika's belly. "I take it that was good for you?"

"Are you fucking kidding?" The blonde began to tremble from the low timber of Kathryn's voice. "Be quiet…stop talking." She placed a finger against the older woman's lips as she smiled weakly. "That voice… I can't take it at the moment. I'm not used to… I haven't…"

Kathryn's smile faded and she raised one eyebrow, a vague thought coalescing in her mind. "Wait a minute… Are you saying that you've never…?"

Annika flushed.

The older woman's jaw dropped. "Never?"

"Not with company." She shrugged. "I told you, I convinced myself there were things I could live without." She trailed one finger down Kathryn's cheek, her eyes growing dark once again. "Damn, was I ever wrong…"

Before she could protest, Kathryn found herself on her back, her shoulders pinned firmly against the mattress by strong hands. Gentle lips sucked on her earlobe before traveling down her jaw to close over her mouth. After several long, delicious minutes of deep kisses, they moved down Kathryn's throat to bite lightly against her collarbone before dipping into the valley between her breasts. Slowly, she trailed them up one breast to flick her tongue across an almost painfully sensitive nipple, while dexterous fingers closed on the other.

Annika moaned at the feel of the soft flesh beneath her hands. Her hips began to press down into the woman beneath her and she felt the hard edge of desire start to build inside of her again. Pulling away briefly, she took several long breaths to bring it under control before she growled, "Spread your legs."

Kathryn inhaled sharply, moisture flooding down her thighs as she slid them open only to have the younger woman settle her hips between them. The demanding lips left her breasts to trail hotly down the center of her stomach. They had just begun to nuzzle through coarse auburn hair when Kathryn slipped her fingers under Annika's chin, raising her head to look into her eyes.

"You don't have to do that." She whispered.

Annika blinked; her mind adrift amid overwhelming desire. "Have to?" The corners of her mouth quirked up. "Try and stop me, Captain."

It was still dark outside.

Kathryn dropped the curtain back against the window and glanced at the long, graceful form stretched out across the bed.

This was the time when she would normally be getting dressed to slip quietly out the door. Night meant less people. Less people meant less risk.

That's the routine, right? Take what you want, what you need, then leave before things get messy?

She frowned at herself in disgust. That was how she had always handled things in the past. No goodbyes, no phone numbers, no tears…

No proof.

She couldn't say that it had never bothered her. But she had always accepted the necessity of it; the logic behind it. She was thirty nine years old with a twenty year military career beneath her belt and never once had she spent the entire night with someone.

She hadn't even been tempted.

Until now.

She looked down at Annika's sleeping form, her hand reaching out to stroke the pale skin before tucking an errant strand of platinum gold hair behind a perfect ear.

She was beautiful, almost achingly so.

Was that it? Was she unwilling to let go of something… someone… so perfect?

Kathryn swallowed and pulled her hand away.

No, it wasn't how she looked.

It's how she looks at me…

With a bone weary sigh, she walked over to the kitchenette, opening the micro fridge to find a tiny bottle of Jameson. Twisting off the cap, she knocked it back in one swallow, then followed it with another, and then another.

As the heat spread down her throat and into her stomach, she braced her hands against the counter, closing her eyes tightly as she took long, even breaths, trying to pull together the tattered remnants of her self control.

The calm was shattered a moment later when warm, smooth hands slide around her hips, following the contours of her body until they sweetly cupped the fullness of her breasts.

"What are you doing way over here?" Annika whispered.


"Oh, no…" Soft laughter filled the room. "It's not time yet for regrets and recriminations." Annika bit down lightly on her shoulder as her left hand trailed down Kathryn's body, her fingertips swirling in small circles as they neared their target. "You promised me one night… and it isn't over yet."

Janeway whimpered as long quick fingers began to stroke across her sensitive flesh, parting her folds to slide firmly inside of her. Her knees buckled and she felt a strong around wrap around her midsection, just under her breasts, holding her up, pulling her tightly against the tall, firm body behind her. Annika took Kathryn's left arm and gently raised it, wrapping it around her own neck, giving the red head something to hold onto as she arched her back, plunging her fingers into her faster and harder, the tips of them flexing against the sensitive spot she had found earlier in the evening.

"Oh... uh… uh..." Janeway heard the small grunts and realized with shock that they were coming from her. She began to thrust her hips wildly, gratified when Annika sank into a chair and pulled her down onto her lap, her fingers never hesitating as they drove her wildly towards her climax.

"Come for me, Kathryn." Annika whispered. "I want to feel that again…" She bit down hard on Janeway's neck, surprised when a small taste of copper filled her mouth.

The tiny prick of pain pushed Kathryn quickly over the edge, making her spread her legs wider and press harder against the teeth at her throat. "OH GOD YES!" She cried out loudly as her body was rocked by spasms; her hands balling into tight little fists as her hips slowed and finally stilled.

Spent, she laid her head back against Annika's shoulder, smiling up into bright blue eyes. "Thank you."

"Thank you?" The younger woman laughed. "Don't think you're going to get off that easy…pardon the pun." She nudged Kathryn up off of her lap and went to stretch out on the bed, brazenly raking the older woman up and down with her eyes as she spread her legs. "Now get over here."

Kathryn felt her spine stiffen at the command, but her indignation quickly faded when she realized Annika's tone had much the same effect on her nipples, the excitement tightening them to hardened points before extending down into her abdomen. "I beg your pardon?"

"You heard me." Annika's smile was wicked. "I want you in this bed… Now."

"And what am I supposed to do when I get there?"

The blonde pursed her lips thoughtfully. "I want you to use your mouth."

Kathryn felt a shock wave of desire shoot outwards from the juncture between her legs. It spread to all parts of her body, leaving her mouth dry and her fingertips tingling. One side of her mouth quirked up in a lopsided grin. "Yes, Ma'am!"

An hour later Kathryn held Annika tightly in her arms as the blonde sighed contentedly. "I was right after all." She whispered. "You are definitely my kind of woman."

"Am I?" Janeway heard alarm klaxons going off in her head but she could not stop the words that followed. "For all of one night?"

The younger woman turned in her arms, her face growing serious. "No." She kissed her softly. "That was your stipulation, not mine."

"So…if there was the possibility of this continuing… that might be something you would want?" Her heart began to pound at the light that came into Annika's eyes.

"Of course! Are you saying…There might be that possibility?"

Kathryn turned onto her back, pulling Annika with her. "I don't know. I've never thought about the logistics of trying to maintain a long term relationship." She sighed. "And you and I already have a lot of obstacles in our way."

"Such as?"

"Our careers. Whether you're military or not, I still want to be. We'd be forced to lie, to hide…"

"And that would be different… how?"

Kathryn frowned. "Then there's always the issue of our age difference."

"You're joking right?"

"No, I'm not. I'm almost twenty years older than you. I come from an entirely different generation."

Annika snorted. "If those are the best reasons you can come up with for us NOT to get involved, then we might as well pick out our china tomorrow."

"You're awfully sure of yourself, aren't you?" Kathryn laughed.

"Mmmhmm." Annika curled into her arms and rested her cheek against Kathryn's breast as she drifted off to sleep. "The years between us aren't important. All that matters are the ones ahead of us… and what we do with them."

There was no alarm clock in the hotel room, but after four years in the military, every good Airman has a built in chronometer.

Annika didn't need the warmth on her face to tell her that the sun was up and shining through the window, splashing bands of golden light across the bed. Purring happily, she rolled over and stretched out her arms…

To find nothing but empty sheets, still warm from the night before.

Sitting up, she blinked several times to bring the room into focus. "Kathryn?"

No answer.

She slid out of bed and padded over to the bathroom, pushing the door open to find the small lavatory empty and silent.

A quick glance around the room told Annika everything she needed to know.

Kathryn was gone.

She felt tears stinging her eyes and angled her head towards the ceiling, refusing to let them fall. When she had her emotions under control, she took a shower, rubbed a washcloth across her teeth and began to pull on the uniform she had found neatly folded on the dining room table.

As she pulled her jacket down from the coat rack, a piece of paper fell from the pocket. Turning it over, she found eight lines written in perfectly slanting script:

Dearest Annika,

You're right. The years between us shouldn't matter. But they do. If not to us, then definitely to the people who control the lives we've chosen to live. I won't deny that you've made me feel things I never thought I would. But the risk of losing everything is just too great; more so for you, than for me. I've had my twenty years.

You deserve yours too.

I will never forget you.


Annika read the note twice more before setting it down on the dresser.

As she buttoned her coat, she stared in fascination at the stranger looking back at her from the mirror. When she was done, a small smile curled the edges of her lips.

What the note said was no where near as important, as what it didn't say.

Picking up the paper, she folded it in half and tore it into small pieces, dropping them one by one into the wastebasket at her feet.

"Desire… ability… and tenacity, my dear Captain." She grinned at her reflection. "That's all it ever really takes…"

The End?