Disclaimer: Paramount owns Janeway, Chakotay and Seven.
SUMMARY: Seven of Nine pays Janeway a visit.
1. I was listening to 'The Gadfly", an unbelievable piece of music composed by Dmitry Shostakovich, which has prompted this piece.
2. "Gadfly" is a term for people who upset the status quo by posing upsetting or novel questions, or attempt to stimulate innovation by proving an irritant. Wikipedia
Kathryn Janeway stifled a smile when Seven of Nine entered through her ready room doors. It was a smile that at the same time hid a flutter of consternation. The former Borg drone stepped purposefully forward.
Janeway noted the nerveless gait and wondered again, as on every occasion before, how Seven of Nine could remain completely unfazed by anything. It was being devoid of deceit, hatred, corruption, compassion, empathy, even love - emotions and shortcomings most humans confronted and experienced in their lives. Years of social interaction on board Voyager had done little to soften what Janeway always imagined, was the exoskeleton still attached to the ex-Borg's icy cool skin.
Countless meetings since Seven of Nine was severed from the Collective always left Janeway feeling that she'd been in a hand-to-hand combat with a giant tarantula. So she braced herself for Seven. Already her insides were bristling, the slight vibration felt even in her toes.
Not even Chakotay could keep her on her toes…
"Seven…anything I can do for you?"
"I have a question, Captain."
Janeway's eyes locked with Seven's. There was nothing of the kind of awareness she always sensed whenever any crewman or officer stood before her, that could prepare her for an appropriate response even before the query was voiced.
"Well then, ask."
"I wish to understand what it means to love."
"Yes. You have loved. Is that right?"
"You use the past tense, Seven of Nine. I say you assume much."
"I base that on your life's experience, Captain. Surely 'love' is part of that?"
"You know my life?"
"No, Captain. What I know is that the individual sitting in that chair cannot be completely asexual, that that individual might include among all the people she had met over the years, one with whom she would have liked to share her life."
"Of course. You are right. There was someone once. It…ended."
"Therefore, you know and understand love."
"Where are you going with this, Seven?"
"So that I can understand, Captain."
"Do you have feelings towards someone here, on this ship, which you cannot explain?"
"No, but I think you do, Captain."
The vibration in Janeway's body began. Her toes tingled. She blinked, then leaned against the headrest, folding her arms.
"If I told you I love no one?"
"Then you would lie, Captain. I understand that what you feel towards Tom Paris or B'Elanna Torres…even myself, to be love of some kind. I desire to understand a deeper meaning, or intensity."
"I can tell you then that you know enough, Seven."
"No. Not enough. Do you feel, for instance, that you could sacrifice your life for Commander Chakotay?"
Janeway tried not to blink, or show reaction to the direct question. It was fired with force, a dart with super speed hitting its mark. She maintained her pose, head leaning against the headrest, arms folded, lips pursed.
"It seems you harbour the idea that I would die for another without loving that person."
"That is a Federation ideal where your duty is to preserve life, such as you have saved mine. What about you?"
"Commander Chakotay remains my best friend."
"For whom you would die?"
"Yes. I believe - "
"He'll do the same for you? Is what you feel for Commander Chakotay reciprocated?"
She had avoided it for years, successfully sublimated any speculation, any lustful meandering where Chakotay was concerned. Allowing those feelings to surface was to lose herself to vulnerabilities she was not ready - never ready to have. Did Chakotay feel the same?
"You assume I love Commander Chakotay."
"How deep is that love? What is the nature and tenor of it? Is it enough that you would wish to lose yourself?"
Janeway closed her eyes.
"If," Seven continued, "I am to have any example of the true nature of loving - "
"It is giving, Seven," Janeway cut in. "Giving of oneself and asking nothing in return. It is giving and forgiving, it is trust which you believe within your deepest self to be enduring and unshakeable, it is being only half of yourself when, alone, you realise that you can only ever be whole with your beloved beside you..."
Janeway felt the vibration deepen. When she unfolded her arms and placed her hands on the surface in front of her, she saw how her fingers trembled.
Janeway closed her eyes and prayed that the trembling would stop. She wished Seven would leave, wished it with every fibre of her being.
She heard the gentle swish of her ready room door, footsteps that retreated. Footsteps.
When she looked up, she saw him through a blur. Something burst inside her and caused her to cry in silent pain. Such was the force of her surrender.
She watched how his hand covered hers. His gaze caressed her. Then she could only smile in wonder as the trembling inside her came to a gentle rest.