Disclaimers: I don’t own them…never have…but I can wish.
Notes: This one hasn’t been betaed so all mistakes are mine. Huge thanks to QS for the read through and the awesome help with the end.
Warning: Character death.
Sufficient Courage by Cheshire
In her short independent life, Seven had only felt despair this overwhelming one other time. Unfortunately, the woman who had offered her courage during that time now lay dying at her feet.
It wasn’t right. Kathryn Janeway deserved more than this unfitting end. She was a woman of strength and poise. Dignity and valor. For her to die on the cold deck of a filthy cargo bay because of the meaningless actions of an ignorant alien was unconscionable.
But her injuries were grievous and die she would unless Seven did something about it.
Janeway knew she was dying, but she insisted that given a little time, Voyager would arrive, and Seven would be rescued. As her last reserve of strength began to fade, she took Seven’s hand in hers and ordered the former drone to take no action that would jeopardize her safety.
"Wait," she said before coughing weakly, effectively cutting off anything else she’d been intending to say.
Seven remained crouched beside her captain, maintaining the awkward position for far longer than anyone else would have been comfortable doing. Seven was not Tom Paris; she could not offer humor to ease the moment. She wasn’t Ensign Kim, who could see the good in every situation. And even as another cough racked her captain’s small frame, staining her lips red with blood, Seven wasn’t able to offer comfort. She was not Chakotay.
Seven of Nine was Borg, and even as she felt Kathryn Janeway squeeze her hand, she did not focus on the dying woman. She studied the exposed circuitry of the bulkheads, analyzed the visible components of the force field that separated the two women from their alien captors. Their leering faces were of no importance to Seven. She was not B'Elanna; she did not seek revenge. She sought the controls of the ship, the means with which she could disable its propulsion or use its communication equipment. She sought a solution to their problem in its most efficient and expedient form.
And she found one.
Her attention returned to her captain. Janeway’s eyes were closed, her breathing short and uneven. Seven slowly removed her hand from her captain’s loosened fingers. Kathryn’s eyelids fluttered open. “…Seven?”
Advice that Janeway had given her recently surfaced in Seven’s memory and she felt it appropriate to repeat. “Your job is to hold on, Captain. Keep trying even when you think you can’t.”
A frightened understanding flared in Janeway’s eyes, but when she tried to reach again for her protégé her eyes fell closed. Her conscious mind succumbed to her injuries.
Seven regarded her for a moment and then stood, straightening up to her full height. “Leave the rest to me.”
Something wasn’t right. She knew it. Instinctively. Subconsciously. Deep down in her soul, her very essence screamed that something was wrong, and her eyes flew open. Burning, feverish swaths of pain swept over her, leaving her body trembling even as her eyes found his.
“Seven?” she managed to gasp out.
He knew her so well. Knew she wouldn’t want the truth sugar coated. But she knew him, too. She could see the sorrow and grief in his eyes before he said a single word.
Chakotay shook his head slightly. “She isn’t going to make it.”
The pain of broken bones and ruptured organs that had only been healed to the most basic life sustaining levels was nothing compared to the pain she felt at his pronouncement. She started to sit up. “I have to see her.”
The Doctor’s hand was suddenly on her shoulder, holding her down. “Remain still, Captain,” he snapped, “I will not have Seven’s sacrifice be in vain.” He attached a device to the back of her neck and she immediately felt a tingling current race down her spine. “You will see her.” His voice was quieter, more solemn. “We woke you so that you could.” He nodded at Chakotay. “The Commander will help you. You will move slowly, and you will only have a few minutes…" the Doctor paused, looking back over his shoulder. "She only has a few minutes.”
Chakotay supported his captain carefully and raised her to a sitting position before sliding her legs over the side of the biobed. Getting to her feet sent stabbing shards of pain racing up her legs, and her grip on Chakotay tightened until her knuckles were white, but they kept moving. Crossing the few meters of sickbay, until they stood together at Seven’s side.
The younger woman’s eyes fluttered open at their approach, but only her right eye moved to meet her captain’s gaze. The left, an ocular implant that Kathryn had forgotten over the years was not organic, had become opaque and motionless. “Cap…tain.”
“I’m here, Seven,” she said, taking hold of Seven’s hand. She swallowed the cry of pain she felt at hearing Seven’s voice. If she hadn’t been looking at her, she’d have never known it was Seven that had spoken. The voice that had been capable of singing so beautifully was now a burnt rasp barely capable of anything above a whisper.
Janeway looked up at the Doctor, desperately seeking answers, but the hologram seemed to be in his own world of pain as he held Seven’s other hand. Standing near the head of the bed, monitoring vitals, Tom answered the unspoken question. “With her Borg implants, she was able to partially disrupt the current of the force field where you were being held. As she passed through it, the energy overloaded all of her Borg components. They've lost all functionality.”
“While the current was still active in her," Chakotay supplied quietly, "she touched your two captors rendering them immediately unconscious. Her actions caused a feedback in the ship’s energy system causing a complete shutdown of the engines. We were able to find you within the hour because of her.”
Janeway heard both men and ignored the tear that ran down her cheek as she held Seven’s gaze with her own. “You disobeyed my order. Why?”
“The choice…of an individual,” Seven rasped in reply. “My plan…was efficient.”
Kathryn felt an almost painful half smile at Seven’s signature defiance before an alarm shrilled on the bank of monitors. Tom quickly silenced it, punching in several commands before shaking his head. No one needed to ask what it meant.
“Seven,” Kathryn started, her voice strained tight with emotion, “what you did today...” her voice broke and she could barely swallow as she remembered how frightened the former drone had been only a few weeks before, standing here in sickbay, fearing that the many personalities spurred on by the vinculum would overwhelm her…Kathryn knew what she wanted to say. “You have always had…sufficient courage.”
In the last moment before falling closed for a final time, understanding flared in Seven's functional eye.
“You can let go now,” Kathryn whispered, hoping she was heard as the former drone took her last breath, “and leave the rest to me.”
Thanks Audabee for giving my words a home.