Degrees of Separation
by Netgirl

After her first week on Earth Seven had decided that the only redeeming feature the planet had was that it was mostly clean. For the last few days she had been forced to attend Starfleet organised celebrations that made Mr Neelix's gatherings aboard Voyager seem like silent Vulcan meditation.

When she wasn't at the interminable social events she was being debriefed, it seemed as though every department in Starfleet wanted their chance to question Seven. Starfleet Intelligence wanted to know if the Borg had any plans to invade the federation, Starfleet Security wanted to know about Borg enhanced weaponry. And Starfleet Science seemed only able to contain themselves from dissecting Seven on the spot because they had been assured of Captain Janeway's displeasure.

On the rare occasions Seven got away from the social gatherings or debriefings she found herself approached by strangers, all of whom had the same story; their son, daughter, brother, sister, husband had been assimilated by the Borg and did Seven know what had come to them? Seven retained the memory of over ten thousand languages from the collective but she was running out of ways to say 'my link to the collective has been severed, I don't know anything.'

"Hey, I've been looking for you," Chakotay stepped out of the reception hall into the cool air of the balcony.

"I am still uncomfortable at large social gatherings," Seven replied, staring out at the San Francisco sky line. She was unsure if she would ever get used to this view, unsure if she wanted to.

"Me too," Chakotay said, wrapping his arms around Seven, "especially when it's the fifth one this week, and it's being hosted by an Admiral who accused me of being a terrorist earlier today."

Seven leaned back into Chakotay, reminded that she wasn't the only one having difficulty with their re-assimilation into human culture. "How did it go this morning?"

"Not too bad, they dropped all the charges against B'Elanna. But that might have been partly because Tom, Admiral Paris and the baby were all with her."

"Perhaps you should look into to getting a concerned family to speak on your behalf."

"You could come with me tomorrow?" Chakotay asked, his breath tickling her ear.

"I do not think my presence would help much."

Chakotay pressed a kiss to her cheek, "Would you like to come back for a cup of coffee? Starfleet has provided me with a very lovely apartment while they decide whether or not I pose a threat to Federation security."

"Thank you. But I must return to Voyager to regenerate." Seven pulled away from Chakotay and turned to face him with her arms clasped behind her back. At the beginning of their association Seven had noticed a tendency on Chakotay's part to pull back from her when her Borg nature was mentioned, as though it made him uncomfortable, she had started pulling away for him.

"You don't have a regeneration alcove down here yet?"

"No, I believe there is some reluctance to install Borg technology on Starfleet property."

"I can speak to them if you'd like."

"I appreciate that, but Captain Janeway has already offered to take this up on my behalf."

A brief kiss and Chakotay headed back into the reception hall and Seven called for a beam up to Voyager.


Seven was not comfortable with strong emotions, even after the Doctor had removed the fail safe device that stopped her experiencing them. And the fight, if nothing else, had inspired a lot of strong emotions.

After Chakotay had been cleared by Starfleet they had tried to make a life on Earth but before long it had become abundantly clear that the arrangement was not beneficial to either of them. When Chakotay had been offered the opportunity to run an archaeological dig on the third moon of Betazed he had accepted without hesitation, and without consulting Seven on the matter.

Seven's desire to stay on Earth had surprised both of them given her original feelings towards the planet. However, the longer she stayed on Earth the more she found herself becoming attached to her new life.

She was working at Starfleet Science as a civilian contractor, they provided her with a lab and the resources to continue her own research and she used Borg methodology to enhance the work of the other researchers. She had also become attached to her fathers sister; her Aunt had taken to introducing her to other members of her estranged family, uncles and cousins; and had been upset when Seven had told her she may be going off-world.

The discussion that had followed Seven's announcement that she would not be going with Chakotay to the Betazed system had been unpleasant.

"Well, as usual, you are the picture of health," the Doctor said, snapping the medical tricorder shut.

When Seven moved to stand up a gentle hand on her shoulder restrained her, "which begs the question why you volunteered for a check up in the first place?"

"I have volunteered for physicals before," Seven argued.

"No, not during four years on Voyager or our one year on Earth, now what's wrong?"

"I have been feeling unsettled for the last several weeks."

"Ever since Commander Chakotay's departure from Earth, yes I heard about that," the Doctor sounded disgruntled that he hadn't heard it from Seven herself.

"Yes, we had been having trouble getting along for some time now but still I find his absence conspicuous."

"A broken heart, I'm afraid there's nothing I can prescribe for that."

"A broken heart is an inaccurate metaphor, the human heart cannot physically break. And even if it could," Seven breathed deeply, it had taken her a long while to admit this to herself, "I do not think my feelings for Chakotay were what they should have been."

"I'm not surprised," the Doctor was wearing an expression that Seven had heard various members of Voyager's crew describe as smug, superior and conceited and Lieutenant Torres had once described as 'the makes you want to punch him' expression.

"Seven did it ever occur to you that the holographic Chakotay was designed to your exact specifications, you couldn't expect your relationship with the real Commander to be the same."

"I did not, but Commander Chakotay seemed the logical person with whom to pursue a romantic relationship."

"Vulcan's non-withstanding, logic very rarely enters into the selection of a mate. Seven you can't force yourself to have feelings for someone just because you think you should."

"When I created the holodeck program to explore my humanity the initial program did not contain the holographic Chakotay."

"I see, was it anyone I know?" The Doctor asked, a spark of hope in his eyes that Seven hated to be the cause of.

"I no longer wish to discuss this."

"Alright, a change of subject then. I hear Admiral Janeway's back on Earth."


Both programs were identical up to a point.

Seven was standing in her new quarters, black and blue Starfleet uniform feeling strange against her skin. The door chirped, it was the Captain.

"I brought you something for your new home," she said, it was a star chart of the Alpha Quadrant, Seven thought it would look wonderful over the bed.


"Kathryn, please."

"Kathryn, I have recently taken an interest in culinary science, would you care to join me for a meal?"

"Oh, Seven that would be lovely."

Seven had a limited amount of time before she had to return to astrometrics so she skipped the program forwards twenty-four hours, that was the wonder of holodecks.

Seven was wearing the red dress that didn't exist in the real world and Kathryn was wearing the white suit she sometimes wore at receptions for alien dignitaries, Seven hadn't programmed a mirror in her holographic quarters so she could only imagine that they made a striking pair. The holographic Kathryn was an excellent cook and helped Seven prepare dinner.

After the meal they sat on the couch and Kathryn stroked the place where Seven's ocular implant was, the holographic Kathryn couldn't see it, Seven had programmed her implants to be invisible to the simulated crew.

"I'm almost sorry the Doctor found a way to remove your implants, I always found that one very attractive."

When Kathryn kissed Seven it was perfect, just as Seven had programmed it to be. It was warm and soft and Kathryn applied just the amount of pressure that Seven had calculated was appropriate for a first kiss and Seven couldn't enjoy it at all. She kept imagining the look on the Captain's face if she ever found out Seven had been abusing her imagine this way. She pulled back.

"Seven, what's wrong?"

"Kathryn... Captain...I, Computer, delete Janeway character."

The next day Seven altered the program to contain a holographic version of Commander Chakotay, he had many admirable qualities and was the logical choice for a romantic partner. After all the point of the program was to explore her humanity, not indulge in adolescent fantasies about Captain Janeway that were no more likely to come true than Captain Proton.

It did not occur to her to consider how the Commander would feel about the use of his image.


"Seven, I never knew you were so sentimental," Seven turned around in her lab at Starfleet Science to see Admiral Janeway standing in the doorway.


Janeway gestured around the lab, "you seem to have recreated the Voyager astrometrics lab right here on Earth."

"It is the most efficient design for conducting research of this type, I saw no reason to change it," Seven said defensively.

"When we first got back I was tempted to order my ready room beamed down into my house, so I won't tell anybody."

"Admiral, I heard you were back on earth," Seven greeted her former Captain.

"Yes, for a few weeks now. I've been waiting for you to come and see me, then when it became clear you weren't going to I thought I'd use the excuse of coming to see your new lab," the Admiral was smiling as she said all of this.

"I assumed that you would be busy."

"I am, terribly busy, but I'd always make time for you Seven, you know that. In fact how about tonight, you could come round for dinner, I've got a lovely house by the Academy?"

"That would be-"

"acceptable?" Janeway asked, smiling.



It turned out that Seven's holographic simulation of Janeway had not been any more accurate than her simulation of Chakotay because the Admiral was not a gourmet chef, she didn't even have a kitchen, in fact she didn't even have a replicator any more since she'd blown out most of it's circuitry trying to replicate the main course.

"I'm sorry Seven, I guess that's dinner off the menu."

"Don't Starfleet Admirals usually have these sorts of events catered," Seven observed dryly.

"I knew I'd forgotten to do something today. I have some coffee if you'd like?"

"Thank you Admiral," Seven accepted

"Call me Kathryn, we're not on Voyager anymore," they were sitting on a couch drinking coffee instead of wine, Janeway wearing an Admiral's uniform and Seven wearing a biosuit rather than a red dress but it was all starting to seem eerily familiar.

Several cups of coffee each were consumed, Seven was grateful her nanoprobes had a resistance to the effects of caffeine, and all neutral avenues of conversation had been exhausted; Kathryn's promotion, Seven's research, former shipmates.

"I stopped on Betazed on my way back from the neutral zone," Kathryn said casually.

Seven had been waiting for this, on Voyager people's romantic entanglements had been public fodder, and this hadn't changed even though the crew were now spread over half a quadrant.

"I'm so sorry, I had hoped things would work out for the two of you."

"You don't sound surprised though," Seven said.

"No," Kathryn paused, as if she was trying to find a diplomatic way to say what came next, "On the ship you and Chakotay very rarely saw eye to eye, I suppose I never thought you were compatible."

Seven nodded, trying to underplay how much she agreed with that last statement, she and Chakotay had been not compatible in every possible way. She remembered how his eyes and hands had skittered over her skin trying not to look at the places where Borg implants erupted from her skin, trying not to touch. Remembered his breath against her ear as he apologised, "I'm sorry Seven, I-" and she'd shushed him, told him that there was more to human relationships than a few seconds of involuntary muscle spasms.

"So, who did you think I was compatible with on Voyager?" Seven asked in a deadpan voice.

"I didn't think of you like that," Kathryn said, unable to hold Seven's gaze.

Liar. Sometimes Seven was extremely glad for her Borg enhanced senses because the slight blush creeping up Kathryn's neck would have been invisible to human eyes.

"So what do you do with your time here on Earth?" Kathryn asked, regaining the composure that had enabled her to face down better drones than Seven of Nine.

"Work, read, I spend time with the voyager crew that are still on Earth, I cook for the Doctor."

"The Doctor, how does that-?"

"In a holosuite, it is not the same as real food but he appreciates my efforts and it allows me to practice in ways that preparing meals for myself would not."

"I see, well you'll have to prepare one of these meals for me some day."

"Next week then, I have an apartment outside the city," Kathryn looked like she was about to object, "I promise not to blow up the replicator."


After Several weeks of instruction Seven had allowed Kathryn to move up from chopping vegetables to stirring. She would never tell Kathryn but it felt good to be better than the Admiral at something because of natural aptitude and not Borg enhancements.

"No," Seven said, pacing one hand over Kathryn's and the other on her hip for balance, "like this, this is how you get the mixture to thicken." Seven wondered if she was imagining Kathryn leaning ever so slightly against her.

"Kathryn, may I ask you a question?"

"Of course," Kathryn turned around and placed the mixing bowl to the side, Seven's hand was still on her hip.

"Are you happy being an Admiral?" Seven had heard the rumours, Janeway hates her promotion, she's going stir crazy on Earth, she wants another ship but Starfleet won't giver her one.

"Why wouldn't I be, I've wanted this since I was four."

"I thought that perhaps you missed being in command of a starship."

"Seven, I'm an Admiral, if I wanted a ship I could commandeer any one in the fleet. Here," She picked up the stirring spoon, "tell me if it meets your exacting standards."

Seven licked off a little of the cake mixture, it was good, Seven thought that she may have to reconsider her rule about not letting Kathryn in the kitchen while the main course was being prepared. Seven took another lick from the spoon and screwed up her face in disgust as some of the mixture got smeared on her nose.

Kathryn smiled, then tried to look like she wasn't smiling, which just caused her to grin more widely.

"It is not amusing," Seven declared, turning to reach for something to get cleaned up, but her hand was still on Kathryn's waist and Kathryn's hand was gripping her wrist, holding it there. The redheads other hand came up and swiped some on the cake mix off Seven's nose and she licked it off her finger.

"Not bad, if I do say so myself," Kathryn said, smiling. Seven used the hand that was on Kathryn's hip to pull her former Captain closer to her, Kathryn's head tilted to the left, Seven's to the right...

"You should finish getting cleaned up before we eat," Kathryn had slipped out from between Seven and the counter.


"It is an inefficient way to conduct a relationship," Seven observed during her weekly check-up with the Doctor. She felt in perfect health and was capable of conducting most routine maintenance of her cybernetic implants herself, but the weekly appointments gave her the chance to get the Doctors perspective on things.

"It's called flirting Seven, getting to know a person before you leap into a romantic relationship with them."

"I already know Admiral Janeway," Seven pointed out. She knew the fact that she didn't reciprocate his feelings stung him, and she did not want to be the cause of his pain but she had no one else to discuss this with. Besides he had made it clear that he considered Kathryn to be a good match for her and that he supported her endeavours.

"Seven, how did your relationship with Commander Chakotay begin?"

"I merely approached him and informed him that I wished to commence a romantic relationship with him."

"And I'll bet he jumped at the chance," the Doctor harrumphed. "Not literally, but he was not adverse to the idea."

"And look how well that turned out, perhaps it's good that you and Admiral Janeway are taking things slowly."

"We are not taking things slowly, we have come to a complete halt. We have dinner twice a week, she calls me to tell me about irrelevant details of her day, if I leave for any reason she worries if I do not sent her a message telling her I have arrived safely. Yet she refuses to let the relationship progress."

"Have you considered that perhaps she doesn't feel the same way about you as you do about her?"

"No. Don't you have any more useful advice?"

The Doctor shrugged, "faint heart never won fair dame."

"You are not a helpful individual."


Seven didn't look exactly like she had in her holodeck fantasy, her hair didn't fall in quite the same way, a Borg implant framed her eye, metallic circuitry erupted from her upper left arm and try as she might her smile didn't feel as natural as it had in the safe environment of a holodeck, but it was an acceptable approximation.

Kathryn arrived at her door wearing a black dress and carrying a bottle of wine, "What's for dinner tonight?"

"I have not prepared anything, I wish to discuss something with you."

"Alright," Kathryn placed the wine of the kitchen work-surface and arranged herself on the couch. Seven considered sitting next to her, but instead she stood facing her with her hands clasped loosely behind her back. She had always found formality a comfort in situations that made her uneasy, she and Kathryn had that in common.

"I wish to know what the exact nature of our relationship is?"

"Well, we're friends, close friends."

"I have studied the relevant information and asked for opinions on the matter and I believe the appropriate term is 'dating.'"

Kathryn smiled, spreading her arms out along the back of the couch, seeming relieved that someone had finally said it, "Dating, yes I suppose we are."

"For several months now, yet there is no physical aspect to our relationship, so I wish to know...I wish to know, am I unsatisfactory in someway?"

"Oh, Seven no," Kathryn took the blonde woman's hands and pulled her to sit next to her on the couch. "What you have to understand is that when we were in the Delta Quadrant I spent a great deal of time building a barrier between myself and anyone else, particularly those who served under me, it's just taking a while to get it down."

Seven pulled the hand that was covered in Borg exoskeleton away, even though the implants made it many times more sensitive than human flesh.

"It is not because I was Borg?"

"Of course not," Kathryn reached up and gently ran the tips of her fingers over Seven's ocular implant, the former drone flinched. "That doesn't hurt you, does it?"

"When you do it I find the sensation not unpleasant."

"Not unpleasant, well that's a start," Kathryn paused in her tracing of Seven's implants, "the other reason I hadn't done anything before this was that I didn't want to rush you."

Seven wrapped both her hands in Kathryn's hair and tugged her forward, "that would not have been a problem."

Kathryn tasted of coffee and command, and it wasn't perfect, it was awkward, slightly embarrassing and very, very real. And Seven, always willing to revisit a hypothesis in the light of new evidence, came to believe that involuntary muscle spasms were a vital part of human relationships.


Seven stood on the balcony looking out at the familiar San Francisco skyline, inside the reception hall the party to celebrate the second anniversary of Voyager's return raged on.

"Still uncomfortable at large social gatherings?"

"Hello, Chakotay," Seven didn't turn round as her former lover and Commander moved to stand next to her against the railing, "I wasn't sure if you'd come back from Betazed for this."

"I was going to be on Earth next week anyway so I thought I'd book a flight a few days early and come to the reunion."

"Yes, I heard the Federation Archaeological Council was going to honour you for your work."

"We made some amazing findings, Seven. The dig was amazing and ancient Betazoid culture is fascinating. You would have hated every second of it."

Seven smiled at that, it was true that she would be lost with a regeneration alcove and an astrometrics lab. "I heard you were engaged, congratulations."

"Thank you, I heard about you and Captain, sorry, Admiral Janeway. I can't get used to her new rank."

"I just call her Kathryn now, it stops any confusion."

"Yes, I imagine it would. Seven, I need to ask, did you always want her?"

"I think so, I never meant to mislead you though."

"I know, I think I always knew. I am happy for you Seven."

"Thank you, so am I."


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