I Forgot to Tell You: Solo

by Susan P.
  Fandom: Star Trek: Voyager      Pairing: Janeway/Seven  
  Rating, etc.: 13+  
  Spoilers: Spoilers up through and including "Imperfection" (7th season). Major spoilers for that episode, and minor spoilers for "Scorpion II," "Hope and Fear," "Dark Frontier," "Bliss," "Nothing Human," "Survival Instinct," and Jeri Taylor's novel Mosaic.  
  Summary: Seven came face to face with her own mortality in "Imperfection" (7th season). What effects might this experience have on her, on Janeway, and on their relationship? "Solo" and part two, "Duet" are two halves of the same story.   
  Author's Notes: I shamelessly stole the title and one of the main ideas behind this piece from a line in the J/T story "Despair" by Inspiration's Muse, who I hope will consider it more of a tribute than a theft. <g>  It was on the Infinity Complex site, which is now only accessible via the Wayback Machine: here  
  Disclaimers: The characters belong to Paramount, but this story is mine. This is a not-for-profit effort, done for my own enjoyment.  
  Permission to Archive: Passion and Perfection. ShatterStorm Productions Anyone else, please ask first.  


I forgot to tell you I love you.

After all I watched you go through. Even when I tried to deny what was happening. I almost lost you. And I forgot to say I love you.

Well, I didn't forget to say it. But I'm not free to say it. I'm the Captain. When we spoke in Astrometrics, I tried to tell you in as many ways as I could without saying it aloud. I came waltzing in full of false cheer, trying to make you feel better when I was dying a little inside. When I saw you looking at the image of the Grand Canyon, I suspected why. How like you to investigate something so thoroughly, even if you thought you might never experience it first-hand. I wondered if that was the first time you'd studied images of Earth. Or did it begin after our encounter with Arturis? Or after the ordeal with that bio-plasmic organism that used the crew's desire to get home to lure us in? 

I wondered whether it was easier for you to look at pictures from Earth because you thought you wouldn't live to see it, or if it just made you long for it. I wondered whether you were feeling nostalgia for some place you'd never been. It made me want to share my memories of it with you. When I said I preferred farm country and you immediately switched to a picture of Bloomington, I allowed myself to hope that it was not simply out of a desire to please me. I wanted it to mean something to you because I meant something to you. I wanted the fact that you remembered the name of my hometown--that you'd taken time to find information on it--to be because you cared for me. So I offered to take you there. And I wanted to share Bloomington with you--I wanted to believe I would get that chance. I wanted to be able to show you the 'old homestead' and introduce you to my mother and Phoebe. I found myself hoping you would like the place as much as I did.  That you would learn to care for my family as I do, and they for you.

And then you had to say what I was trying so hard not to think about. I don't know what was more disturbing: hearing you voice my worst fear, or that you seemed so resigned to it. I couldn't bear the thought of you giving up. I couldn't bear to think we would not find a way to help you in time. Couldn't bear the possibility of losing you. And then you had to remind me of all the others Voyager--I had lost along the way.

"You accepted their deaths. But I don't believe you will accept mine."

I called you presumptuous, but you were right. Right conclusion, but based on an incorrect assumption. You may have required my constant assistance to develop your individuality, but I've never regretted a moment I've spent with you. Things were difficult between us in the beginning, and more than a few times since, but even when we butt heads, it's a conflict I relish. You challenge me. And because of that, you've always intrigued me. From those first moments on that Cube, I think. 

You thought my problems dealing with the prospect of your death were based in disappointment in your development, or some sense of failure on my part. Far from it. I meant it when I said you'd exceeded my expectations. You are an extraordinary individual. But, I suspect you were an extraordinary Borg, as well. That would explain the Queen's fascination with you and her determination to get you back. Granted, you still have far to go, but that just puts you in the same boat as the rest of us. And you are one of the most amazing souls I have ever encountered--or that I am ever likely to encounter.

I called you extraordinary, and I called you a friend. But I forgot to--or couldn't let myself--tell you I love you. I can't forget how I feel about you, though. That's why I couldn't accept the possibility of losing you forever. It's why I've never been able to accept it. Every time I've been faced with that possibility, I try telling myself I'd feel the same for any of my crew. But every time you're in danger, I recognize the touch of desperation in me as I go charging off to save you.

And the crew, or at least the senior staff, recognizes it too. I could tell by the way they all looked at me, by the way none of them questioned me. Except the Doctor, and then rightfully so. 'Seven's in danger, and Janeway's off on another of her crusades to save her. Best to indulge her--at least until she crosses the line.' It was implicit in most of their looks. I don't know whether any of them suspect why the thought of losing you is so threatening to me, but they all seem to take it for granted now. I'm not sure when that happened, exactly, but I can't remember ever seeing it reflected so clearly in their eyes, as it was when I planned to take the Delta Flyer into that Borg debris field. I recognized it in myself long ago, but it's almost shocking to find out how transparent I've become where you're concerned.

But my behavior during those few days was shocking to me. I threatened a life--two, in fact. I threatened that alien with a laser scalpel in order to keep that first node. And when I found out that node wouldn't work, I immediately threatened to sacrifice a drone's life for yours. I'm not sure I want to know whether I would have followed through in either case. I'm very glad I never found out for sure. And I dearly hope I never come so close to crossing that line again. I'm glad that the Doctor was the only one who witnessed my little outburst after our simulations failed. Even so, I should be grateful that he seemed to chalk it up to the stress of the moment, and that he didn't decide to file an official report on my behavior.

I watched you in the briefing room when we were discussing Icheb's plan to give up his cortical node for you. As much as part of me wanted to shake you into accepting his offer, I was proud of you, too. And ashamed of my own eagerness to take a life to save yours.

Icheb accused me of being all too willing to let you die. I wasn't, but seeing you put Icheb's safety above your own, I knew that even trying to convince you to undergo the procedure would violate your spirit in a way I couldn't fix. I crossed that line once with B'Elanna, and I think she even managed to forgive me. But I couldn't do it to you, much as part of me wanted to--even if it meant I had to let you go.

But then Icheb forced the issue. And I can't really say I'm sorry for that. Even though I didn't agree with his method, he was right. While most humanoids live as individuals, we are still all part of a collective. We can't survive on our own any more than most Borg drones can when severed from the Hive. I listened to Icheb catalog all of your attempts to separate yourself and avoid depending on others throughout your illness, and I realized that he understood something that you either hadn't, or that you chose to ignore. That individuality and independence may go hand in hand, but they are not the same thing. We are all inherently dependent on one another. Although you've shown a definite willingness to give support to others, you are still resistant to accepting help when it's offered.

Icheb said that you would risk your life to save mine, if it came to that. And I knew it was the truth, though I might find it as difficult to accept you risking yourself to save me as you did with Icheb. 

I saw the both of you grow up a little in those few moments in Sickbay. And when you relented and agreed to let us proceed, I couldn't have been prouder of you. Or happier for the both of us. Because I had forgotten to say 'I love you,' and then I knew I might still get the chance. If, or when, I find the nerve.

Each day following the procedure, I spent a little time in Cargo Bay Two, watching over you during regeneration. I had done it before, of course, but only occasionally. Usually I could resist the urge to watch you unobserved, but now I allowed myself the indulgence.

And I made sure I was there when the cycle ended. I can't describe how happy I was at seeing you wake up. Your reaction wasn't quite the one I had hoped for, but it was certainly an understandable one. But there seemed to be something in your eyes those first few moments that indicated you were glad to see me. And then I remembered the look on your face when I called you a friend--kind of shy and pleased and touched all at once. And I think there is potential there. I think you'd be glad to hear me say 'I love you'. 

And, if that translates for you as something like 'I consider you a friend' and not the full offering of my heart... Well, at least I'll be able to say it once in awhile. And I would know what it meant, even if no one else did.

So maybe I will tell you. Someday.


I forgot to tell you I love you. 

I seem to recall reading that line somewhere in the database. Or maybe it was part of one of the Doctor's social lessons on dating. I wonder if my inability to recall where I've seen it is related to the failure of my cortical node, my adaptation to the new one, or my relative lack of interest in the line when I first encountered it.

I do know that it was the first thought I had when my extended regeneration cycle ended and I saw you. You were standing so close to me. Your voice was so warm and inviting and...happy. Although it could not have been possible, your face seemed to glow from within. You outshone the illumination from my alcove. I thought I should tell you so. I wondered if your expression, and that smile, were for me alone. Or if there were some other 'good news' you had received that you wished to share with me. Had Voyager somehow managed to find its way home while I was incapacitated?

But the Doctor was there and, for some reason, it seemed inappropriate to say what I was thinking in front of him. So I merely asked how long I had been regenerating. You seemed both amused and disappointed by that question. I did not understand why. But then I remembered Icheb. Your expression turned serious then, but I sensed nothing negative in it. I knew then that Icheb had survived.

You did not offer to accompany the Doctor and me to Sickbay, and I was both relieved and disappointed. I was glad to see you, but your presence--your closeness--was having an odd effect on me. And I wanted to speak to Icheb alone. To see for myself how he was recovering.

He gave me my life and I gave him pain--and disrespect--in return. I gave him too little credit. He is young. But you were right; he is no longer a child. He made his choice having considered the possible risks, and he was willing to make the sacrifice anyway. It still troubles me that he suffered because of me. But I realize now that he also suffered from the thought of losing me. And he was not the only one.

At one time I would have claimed that 'mortality is irrelevant.' I can no longer do so. My own anger at being subject to my body's failure taught me that. I now believe I know how it must feel to grow old as humans do. I do not know whether I will grow old in the same way, assuming I survive both the trip back to the Alpha Quadrant and Starfleet's reception. If I do, it seems more likely that my current cortical node will fail at some point and I will again be rendered helpless by the failure of my body's technological components. In such a case, I consider it unlikely that an easy solution will be found. I think I could face dying in a battle, especially if it were to save Voyager. But I find the thought that I might grow ill and die and be helpless to stop it...more disturbing than I can express.

But it was not only my own reactions to facing death that taught me what it means to be mortal--or what it means to me now, at least. It means leaving behind those I have come to care about. And my death would affect them, as well. As much as I tried to isolate myself once I knew the severity of my condition, I learned more from the reactions of others than I would have imagined.

When I first learned of the diagnosis, I knew from the way you avoided my eyes that my condition was serious. I wanted to convince you, and myself, that I would adapt. That I would be all right. And I knew from the way you looked at me afterward that you were determined to find a way to save me. I wondered if that look in your eyes was the same one Commander Chakotay had to face when you ordered Voyager on the mission to rescue me from the Borg Queen. I wondered how many times he had seen that look

I had expected you to react badly to the prospect of my death. I think that was part of the reason I did not want you to know of my condition initially. But, I thought I read something in the Doctor's demeanor, and Neelix's as well, indicating their worry--their fears of losing me. And, though I assume both would react similarly regardless of whose life was in danger, I knew that they were worried about losing me--not because of my role on the ship, but because of who I am. Because they...care for me.

It was B'Elanna's reaction that really made me think, however. She seemed genuinely...shaken by the news that the salvaged node would not work. There was no doubt she realized the implications of that, and of my question about her belief in an afterlife. I am still not sure why I asked her that question, and not you. Or anyone else, for that matter. I suppose that, after her promise not to report me to the Doctor, and given her recent near-death experiences, she seemed as good a choice as any. 

The fact that she seemed so disturbed by the possibility of my death surprised me. We have managed to develop a reasonably stable working relationship over the years--most of the time--but until those moments in Engineering, I would not have presumed to call us friends. But the look in her eyes as she sat down and as she spoke with me was sincere. Her response to my query was carefully considered and...compassionate. And there is also the fact that she conspired with me in my escape from Sickbay. Perhaps her time as a Borg caused her to reconsider her opinion of me. Or maybe she would just have missed having me as a--I believe Commander Chakotay calls it--'sparring partner.' In any case, our conversation was beneficial. I now think of her as a friend, regardless of her feelings in the matter. I should perhaps speak with her, to let her know how much that conversation meant to me.

Icheb was right. If Voyager is my collective now, then I must be able to rely upon members of this crew for help, when necessary. And I must let others know of their importance to me.

And you. I had believed your unwillingness to accept my condition was related to your disappointment in my progress and your feeling that your 'project'--as I once overheard a crewmember call me--was still incomplete. And I did not want you to feel as though you had failed me. Far from it. Though I resisted your efforts at first, you saved me. And you never gave up on me. I can never repay you for that.

But you let me know my assumption was in error.

"You haven't failed, Seven. You've exceeded my expectations. You've become an individual. An extraordinary individual. If I'm having trouble accepting your condition, it's only because I don't want to lose a friend."

I ached at the pain in your eyes as you spoke those last words. But knowing that I had not failed you. That you were proud of me. Hearing you call me a friend. It all meant more to me than I could possibly express to you then. More than I may ever be able to tell you.

Hearing how you felt made the thought of dying a little less bitter, for some reason. It was somehow easier to face than when I believed I had failed you.

When I learned of Icheb's plan, I was afraid I would disappoint you with my refusal. I could tell you were encouraged by the possibility, but Icheb is my responsibility, and I would not risk his safety. I could see you were troubled by my decision, but I hoped you would understand. Icheb was correct when he said I would risk my life to save yours. But I have no doubt that, under similar circumstances, you would be as unwilling to accept my sacrifice, as I was to accept Icheb's. 

Believing that, I wonder whether it was weak of me to give in and accept Icheb's offer. While I now accept that I need to rely on others more, I feel certain that no amount of convincing could have induced you to consent, had you been in my position. Little wonder Icheb chose to take matters into his own hands.

While a part of me is still angry with him for doing so, I am pleased to see that he is recovering. I am still unsure whether either of our decisions was correct, but it helps to know that he will be all right. And despite my doubts, I am...grateful to have survived. I am happy to continue as a functioning member of this crew. And to remain here--with you.

There is so much that I felt while I was ill, and so much that I am feeling now that is confusing to me. I find myself...wanting, desiring. In a way that I have not before. Before, there were so many things about human behavior that I considered 'irrelevant.' I had few interests that were not related to my duties, aside from our Velocity matches, the time I spent with Naomi Wildman, and perhaps music. I often spent my off-duty hours working on any of the various projects I had undertaken to improve the ship's functioning, or my own. Now I find myself less interested in doing so. I begin to see the value of engaging in an activity simply to derive enjoyment from it. And while I do enjoy my work, I find it no longer seems to be enough. 

After I was severed from the Collective and joined this crew, I turned to work partly because, as a drone, all I had ever known was work and regeneration, but also because I wanted to prove my value to this crew--to you. But I am no longer a drone. And I believe I have proven my worth to this collective. 

I confessed to B'Elanna my fear that my accomplishments as an individual would die with me. She helped me see that those accomplishments would live on, if only in the memories of others. But now I fear that my legacy, as she called it, will be based more on my work than on my...self. And so I wish to develop and pursue interests outside of my duties to the ship.

I am uncertain how to proceed, but then I am uncertain about many things, since my illness. I feel the need to speak with you about this. But as much as I understand, or believe I understand, about my current state of mind, there are things that I am thinking and feeling that I barely comprehend myself. I do not know how I can articulate them to you. But speaking with you often helps clarify things that are confusing me. Perhaps you can help me to understand. I feel a need to see you.

You are my...friend.

I forgot to tell you I love you. The thought keeps recurring in my mind. It is often difficult for me to express my emotions. Given my recent experiences, I feel I should let you know how much your help, attention, and friendship have meant to me. But I am unsure how.


© December 2000

To be continued in part two: I Forgot to Tell You: Duet