Summary: J/7 (J/T), angst, Rated PG. A conversation between Seven and Kathryn years after they return home.

Note: This story depicts a f/f relationship. If this offends you, don't read it.

Disclaimer: Brannon Braga's characters. I'm cleaning up the mess he made out of them.

Tell me what you think! I love getting feedback.

By Daffnie (trekdimension@yahoo.com)

=/\=

I was waiting for so long
For a miracle to come
Everyone told me to be strong
Hold on and don't shed a tear
So through darkness and good times
I knew I'd make it through
And the world thought I had it all
But I was waiting for you

~ 'A New Day Has Come' by CÚline Dion

~*~

I was surprised at how remarkably still it was. I stood on my front porch, staring out at the wheat fields and the trees beyond them. The wheat and the leaves weren't swaying, dancing, since there was no breeze...which was okay since the heat wasn't intolerable. I shifted my gaze to the left where a road split the fields, and I saw the silhouetted figure against the setting sun. As the person came nearer, I could make out who it was.

Seven of Nine.

She walked closer, past the picket fence, and I noticed the clothes she had on. She was wearing a simple, yet very feminine, sky blue summer dress that flowed down to her ankles and dipped low at the chest. She came up the porch steps, and I smiled.

"It's good to see you again, Seven. It's been a long time."

She smiled back...unusual for her. "I go by Annika now."

I noticed that the implants on her face were gone. Now she looked more human, more beautiful, more fragile. And she still appeared to be so innocent.

"How have you been?" I asked.

"I am well. However, it's you I am concerned about. Three years have passed since she died. How are you holding up?"

She was talking about B'Elanna...my wife. I would have been irritated by anyone else bringing her into a conversation, but with...Annika...it was alright for some peculiar reason. It didn't bother me - especially by the way she asked about her. She even talked more human. She must have picked up that demeanor after all these years on Earth. I wondered if she felt at home here.

"I'm moving on with my life," I said matter-of-factly. "Or atleast I'm trying to. I still visit her grave every day."

"You seem unable to get over her. You miss her, don't you?"

"Yes, of course I miss her. I can't help remembering all those times we spent together... I love her, Annika. I don't know if I could ever love someone as much as I love her."

"She was your soul mate."

I nodded. I waited, then, in a comfortable silence for her to respond as I watched the emotions dance across her features. She seemed content and yet I could tell something was troubling her.

"So how are you, Annika?

"I am...unsettled."

I was about to ask her about what, but something stopped me. I would let her explain on her own time...when she was ready. I didn't want to pry, but I was curious.

She looked at me strangly then; eyebrow raised, head cocked, question on her lips.

"You don't know what to think of me, do you, Captain?"

She still refered to me as that, even though my days as captain were years past.

"You aren't the same person I remember," I said. "A lot about you has changed."

"For the worse?"

"Oh, no. Of course not. But I'm not sure if it's for the better, either. Just...different."

"You have always taught me that change is good, that it should be accepted and not avoided, and yet, I sense you're avoiding something. Is there anything you would like to ask me?"

Had she developed telepathic abilities as well?

"There has been something I have been wanting to ask you ever since Voyager came back to Earth. Something that has been on my mind everyday."

I paused to let that sink in.

"Annika," I said softly, "did you...did you ever love me?"

"Of course I did. For all that you have done for me-"

"No," I cut her off. "I don't mean as a captain or a mentor or even as a friend. Did you love me?"

She seemed taken back.

"I'm not sure what you mean," she asked, and the blue of her eyes darkened to a the color of the ocean, deep.

"Did you ever have romantic feelings for me?"

"Why are you asking this?" Her voice shook slightly. I noticed.

She was avoiding the question.

"Because I want to know. Because I feel I deserve to know."

She turned towards the wheat fields, the trees, the picket fence instead of my face. I looked at her profile, and I noticed suddenly how thin she was. She always has been thin, but not like that.

"You haven't been eating, Annika."

She ignored me and stared at a flock of birds flying by, then drew in a breath and exhaled loudly. I wondered what she's trying to prove with her silence. Annika walked to and sat on the bench at the far side of the porch. When I joined her, she looked away. I waited for her to say something. Finally:

"I haven't eaten much for over two weeks. I just...can't."

"Are you ill?"

She shook her head.

"Are you purposely trying to hurt yourself?"

She nodded sadly, then said, "I know it's not right, but I can't help it."

"Why?"

"Because I'm weak. I give in to it. I didn't think you knew how I felt...but now I see you do."

"Are you saying you loved me?"

"Not past tense. Present. I love you, and I starved myself because I thought I deserved it. I kept you ignorant, and I shouldn't have. But you were so far away... I was so distanced that it hurt, and I knew I should tell you how I felt, but I didn't know how. That's why I came here. That's why it came to this...to you having to pry it out of me."

"I wish you would've told me."

"I was scared to," she said, and finally looked at me. I saw tears in her eyes. "I was afraid of rejection, and I didn't want to be removed from the one thing I have to live for. I came so close several times... You didn't know that, did you? I almost killed myself because I thought I lost you."

"But I've always been right here."

"But you've been with...others. You went back to Mark, hoping to rekindle what you used to have. It didn't work. Then you fell in love with Tae. But that didn't work, either. You sent me a letter telling me all about it...about how she used you and left. I still read that letter sometimes."

"That was six years ago, Annika..."

She ignored my comment. "And then there was B'Elanna. You rediscovered her on Luna one day. Do you remember when you sent me another letter telling me how beautiful she looked, how much you realized she meant to you?"

"Yes I remember."

"Did you know how much it hurt to know I held no special place in you? What was worse, with all of your previous tragedies, I knew you yourself would be hurt once again. And that happened. She died, and you were left with no one. You even stopped writing. I assumed it was because you forgot about me. But I thought about you each day, thought about how much I missed you, your smile, your voice. Thought about how much I wish you knew how I felt. But it was impossible to tell you because you were in mourning. It would've been out of place.

"And so I gave it three years to settle. I gave you three years to heal, but I see now that there still is no place for me here."

"That isn't true," I insisted. "You're always welcome here. And I'm glad you came to tell me this."

"Yes, and I'm glad you know. But nothing will become of this, will it?"

How was I supposed to answer that? Truthfully, of course, but with what words?

"I'm still in love with B'Elanna."

I saw the hurt in her eyes, but she nodded in silent acknowledgement and got up.

"Goodbye, Kathryn."

Then she left. I watched her as she went down the road, towards the setting sun.

=/\=

Fini

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