The Associate

Author: Jazwriter/Jazwriter13

Pairing: Janeway/Seven; Star Trek: Voyager

Rating: NC-17 no young ones are allowed to read this.

Disclaimer: I was going to write a really technical, legal version here about how I am not earning any money off of this fictional story and am merely offering it for the entertainment value (in a much more impressive format, of course); forget that—you all know. Plus, I'm a real piss-ant, so if you are the owner of the characters, book, movie—whatever—and want to sue me, go ahead and try. Bring it on. I have a law degree, and I'm not afraid to use it.

Special Thanks: To Chrissy Taff for beta-reading this story. She gave me great insight on some of the practical aspects and helped immensely. You should thank her for a better read!

Thanks also must go to taoduck who caught several embarrassing errors. Thank you for lending your eyes! The story is infinitely better through your efforts.

Also thanks must go to Dy who provided me with detailed feedback on the first version. Many of her comments guided me toward rewriting the story.

Author Notes: This was a AU challenge on the Janeway/7 Faction board a couple of years ago. I have rewritten it substantially so the narrative is consistent and the storyline more complete. Hope you all like it!

There are seven parts plus an Epilogue. Ready to read?

Feedback: Always welcome if sincere. Comments are desired. Direct them to the fanfiction board or to my livejournal page at jazwriter dot livejournal dot com.

Part 1

"I want you to pick up an order of lobster for a party I'm hosting tonight. Do you know how to get to Route 107 in Revere? It's down there—called Joe's Lobster Shack. They close at five, which only gives you an hour and traffic's heavy, so you'd better get going. Then, bring them to my house. You do know where I live, don't you?" Flicking her glance up toward Ana for confirmation, the auburn-haired attorney waited a beat before returning her gaze to the brief in front of her.

Dismissed, Ana thought. "Right. I'll just go, then." Ana backed out the door and made a mad dash for her purse and attaché case muttering under her breath, Joe's Lobster Shack, route 107, five o'clock. She had no idea how she'd make it in time. It was three cities away, and rush hour had already begun for Christ's sake! But, what could she do? She'd been hired as a junior associate five months ago at the top Boston law firm, Janeway, Picard & Riker, PC, and this was the first time Kathryn Janeway had seen fit to address her directly. She just had to succeed. So what if this was a menial task? Plus, Ana had been dying to see Janeway's home; she'd heard it was a beautiful brownstone on Beacon Hill.

Janeway was the youngest senior partner, earning her spot among the old boys' network of stalwart, boring attorneys. Intelligent, quick-witted, sharp, and ruthless—these words were often bandied around to describe the formidable lawyer. She had made policemen cry on the stands, had shredded the credibility of many an expert—ruining their careers in the process—had sued state agencies, federal departments, large conglomerates—nothing was too large for her to challenge and defeat. Nor was any case too small; she often adopted pro bono cases that peers directed her way, knowing she had the ability to defend the weak and protect the underdog. People hired her because she was a pit bull, attacking the other side with a ferocious offense, instilling fear and often eliciting fair settlements lest she rip apart the opposing party in the courtroom.

The senior partner was also reputed to chew up and spit out lowly law associates with glee. However, Ana was determined to make a positive impression. She had studied many of the brilliant woman's cases and wanted to learn from her. If that meant picking up lobsters, her dry-cleaning, or anything else to appease the auburn-haired beauty, so be it. And she is beautiful, Ana confirmed.

Ever since she saw the charismatic attorney two years ago while clerking that summer, Ana had been hopelessly in love with the older woman. It wasn't smart, it wasn't safe, but there it was. Her emotions had guided her to her final destination: Janeway's law firm. Once an associate, Ana had heard more about the allusive woman and fallen harder. She lived for the days when their paths crossed, when she'd receive a quirk of the lips or a nod in passing. The young associate shook her head to refocus her thoughts.

Ana was no slouch. She'd graduated top of her law class. Several firms had sought to woo her onto their team, but she knew where she wanted to go—she knew where she belonged. Although Janeway would never know, Ana had spent many days in the courtroom gallery watching the talented attorney decimate the other side. It was fascinating, stimulating, and inspiring. So although Ana played it cool when Janeway's law firm contacted her for an interview, she was ecstatic.

Then the reality of working in a highly-renowned law firm hit her full-force. What a reality check. At the end of the first day, she'd felt like a balled up paper bag. Since then, she'd worked long hours doing whatever anyone asked without complaint. It wasn't long before she became the go-to gal for the tough assignments, particularly for researching case law. Ana had to admit, she loved piecing together the legal theories best. It was like putting together parts of a extremely complex puzzle—worth the effort because of the beautiful and often surprising picture it revealed once completely assembled.

Striding to the T, Ana hopped onto the outbound subway train to Revere. Forty-five minutes later found the suave blonde rushing to her car while calling Joe's, begging him to wait just a few more minutes for her to arrive. Once there, Ana realized that Janeway had neglected to pay for two hundred forty-seven dollars worth of lobster. Ana huffed back to her car while trying to resolve the next dilemma in this arduous quest: should she drive into Boston or take the T back? Ana decided to take the subway, guessing it would be quicker during rush hour traffic on a Friday night. What she had not anticipated was how hard it'd be while hemmed by commuters to hold the plastic bag of lobsters without getting snapped by their claws. Although their claws were fastened, the creatures were alive and angry.

A bit past six in the evening found the young associate stomping uphill in high heels, hands fully extended, arms flexed by the weight of the bag, and a thunderous expression on her Nordic features as she canvassed the Back Bay searching for Janeway's residence. Reaching the correct walkway, Janeway surprised her by throwing the front door open and rushing forward.

"What took you so long? They'll be here in an hour." Janeway turned around, leading Ana inside the brownstone. "You'll have to assist me. This way." Janeway pointed toward what Ana presumed was the kitchen. A large pot of water sat boiling on the stove.

You're welcome, Ana thought as she walked through the house with her burden.

"Set the lobsters down there," Janeway continued, indicating the butcher's block in the middle of a huge kitchen. Top of the line pots and pans hung above the stove while a large, open hearth reminiscent of Puritan days dominated one side. The entire room boasted complex brickwork and detailed brass etchings. The hardwood flooring complemented the earthy tones, as did the throw rugs interspersed throughout the room. "My personal assistant is sick, so I have no one to help me except you."

Ana didn't know how to feel about this development. However, when she'd agreed to the errand, she had hoped to impress the older woman or to at least gain her attention. Staying to assist seemed to be her best option. Maybe Janeway would remember her in the future. It was a step in the right direction.