Willow opened her eyes and felt a slight kink in her neck as she woke up in her seat. Seven was operating the shuttle’s controls in the seat next to hers, and Willow took in the lines passing by through the glass. Seven said that those were stars, passing by so quickly that it’s all a blur. I gotta figure out how a warp engine works!
“You’re awake,” Seven noted from beside her. “Did you rest well?”
“Yeah, thanks Seven,” Willow said. “My neck is a bit achy, though. How long has it been since we left Voyager
“Almost four days.”
Willow nodded absently. She’d been passing in and out of consciousness since they’d left the larger ship. The adrenaline the Doctor had given her had kept her going for a while, but the amount of magic she’d been using to compel Janeway to speak the truth had caught up with her, and she’d had to rest. She didn’t think she’d be falling asleep again anytime soon, but she didn’t know for certain.
“And, you’re sure that your alcove is okay back there? No problems with it?” The last thing Willow had done before collapsing in her seat was to help Seven to beam her alcove onto the shuttle in a non-intrusive manner.
“The alcove is functioning normally,” Seven said coolly. The blonde regarded her companion. “Your neck is what aches, Willow?”
“Yeah,” Willow said with a wince. “I just slept on it funny, is all.”
Rising to her feet, Seven moved behind Willow’s seat and began to massage her tense neck muscles.
“Oh! Oh, wow! Oh, Goddess! Seven, where did you learn to do this?” Willow said as her companion kneaded her tense muscles quite skillfully.
“As a Borg, I possessed detailed knowledge of the anatomy of thousands of species. I only meant to be helpful. Should I stop?”
“No! Goddess, no! It feels great, Seven. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” Seven said softly. “The Doctor recommended this practice to improve our relationship,” she confessed. “He believed it would bring us closer.”
“Mm. Yeah…” Willow closed her eyes and let herself relax under Seven’s firm, steady hands.
“Willow? Do you need to rest again?”
“Huh? Nope. All good here. Just that this is really turning me on, you know?”
The kneading stopped for a brief moment before resuming. “No, I do not know. Please explain.”
Willow chuckled. “A massage is usually something that you either have someone professional do to you, or else someone who you feel close to. I like to think that I have both with you.”
“Thank you,” Seven said carefully, and Willow thought she detected some unspoken uncertainty in the blonde’s voice.
Turning her seat around to face her, Willow looked up into Seven’s eyes. That’s right, Rosenberg. Look up into her eyes. Don’t let yourself be distracted by what’s at chest level. Don’t stare at her big, gorgeous breasts any longer than you have to. Don’t stare. Don’t stare.
“Willow? Is everything all right? You are staring at my chest.”Crap.
“Uh, yeah. Hold on a sec.” Willow got up out of her not-quite-comfy seat and found her eyes closer to Seven’s own gaze. “Okay. Better now. So, um, I was actually going to ask if you were okay. You sounded a bit funny a second ago.”
Seven looked away for a moment, but quickly brought her gaze back to look at Willow. “I am unaccustomed to feeling this way about someone. I feel attracted to you, Willow. You know this. We have had sexual relations. But I am uncertain of what to feel now. I had assumed that such things would continue, but you said we needed to take things at a slower pace. I do not understand why this is.”
Willow sighed and smiled patiently. “I’d ask you to sit down, but I know you prefer to stand. So, let me think of how to put this, Seven. When we first slept together – well, spent time awake together, technically – we had known each other less than a day. I felt attracted to you as well, but I was acting mostly on impulse there. Sex doesn’t usually happen until both people know each other a lot better than we did when we first, um, did it together.”
“But we know each other better now,” Seven said, clearly puzzled. “Does your refusal to have sex with me mean that you do not care about me anymore?”
“No!” Willow cried, suddenly feeling quite trapped. “It’s not like that, Seven! It’s just that…” Willow took a deep breath before continuing. “I shouldn’t have engaged you like I did as soon as I did. I should have waited until we knew each other better. Sex is something that’s meant to be a sign of trust and intimacy between two people. I guess I had just been so lonely, lonelier than I realized, and I found that I wanted you so badly that I couldn’t help myself.”
Willow sighed, and now she did sit down. “It’s a problem I have. I see something I want, and I take it. I don’t think, I just do. It makes things messy.”
Seven sat down as well, and the gesture struck Willow as sweet. Seven hated sitting down normally, she knew. That she did so willingly now was indicative of… Of something. “I still feel strongly for you. Not just in my body, but my emotions will not let me think about much else. You have treated me as a true equal, Willow. You have shown me things that no one else has, and you have shown me new ways of looking at things that had never occurred to me before.
“You make me act irrationally. I cannot focus when I am thinking about you. My efficiency is impaired, but I find myself not caring. These feelings frighten me, but they also feel right. I don’t understand any of this, Willow!” she cried.
Willow took Seven’s hands in her own and shushed Seven gently. “It’s okay, Seven. It’s okay. I feel things for you, too. I just don’t want to take advantage of you by mistake. In some ways, you’re a lot younger than me. You know a lot about tons of species, but socially, you haven’t done what most people your age have gone through. And I’m not trying to insult you or make you feel bad. I just want you to know that, how do I put this? In my experience, using someone younger than you to get what you want is wrong. And I guess I decided to slow things down because I was afraid I would be, well, violating you.”
Willow hung her head. “And, I was afraid that I had already done so by making love to you the once already. You deserve better, Seven.”
For her part, Seven of Nine looked like she’d just been struck. It wasn’t often that anyone called her childish, nor was it every day that a human showed her this level of compassion. Putting together the notion of compassion along with that of calling her young, and Seven found herself at a loss.
“I don’t know what I deserve,” Seven said at last. “But I want to be with you, Willow. And if we’re going to be together for a while, then I want to get to know you. Shall we start now? Or do you require more rest?”
Willow looked up and smiled. Seven was so cute when she got eager about learning new stuff. “Sure thing. You remember that dream we shared? Let me tell you about myself. And feel free to interrupt whenever you want with a question, no matter how stupid it may seem.”
Seven nodded and smiled slightly. “I will comply.”
Three weeks later, Seven found herself increasingly drawn to Willow. She found herself sneaking glimpses at the redhead as she slept, and began to fantasize about what it might have been like to grow up beside Willow, seeing the things she had seen.
Willow had described things to Seven that had caused the witch great fear, but it seemed that a mere touch from Seven helped to quell those strong emotions. It was curious, but not at all negative. To Seven, the various demons that Willow described were nothing more than unexplained alien phenomena. Superstitions were irrelevant so long as they had no basis in truth. When reality intervened, they ceased to be superstitions.
That the object of her affections had taken up armed conflict against overwhelmingly superior forces at such a young age spoke highly of her character. Seven found herself ashamed at her cowardice of the Borg by comparison. When they had come for her aboard the Raven,
she had tried to hide, and she hadn’t been able to resist. And then she’d become one of them.
Willow had explained that while she couldn’t understand what it meant to be Borg, she could understand how it felt to lose someone to them. The Vampires that she described were similar in that they destroyed an individual and added its body to their own numbers. She claimed to have even met a vampiric version of herself from an alternate reality. The mention of that encounter had again made Seven reflect on how things might have been for her if her life had gone differently.
The console beeped, and Seven disengaged the warp engines. “We’ve arrived, Willow.”
“All right!” Willow said excitedly. “I hope we don’t make them feel bad or anything. I guess we should hail them. That’s what it’s called when you call someone in space, right?”
“Yes, Willow. Hailing frequencies to the Topara are open.”
Willow leaned forward. “Uh, hello? This is, um, this is Willow Rosenberg and Seven of Nine calling whoever’s down there on Topa. So, yeah. Hi there!”
A small screen lit up to display the faces of the High Clerics. “Guardian Willow! Seven of Nine! Welcome back!” Teya said warmly.
“Thank you for welcoming us,” Willow said diplomatically. “Uh, would it be okay if we landed? We’re in a shuttle. It’s not very big compared to the ship I left on. As for why we’re no longer with Voyager
, well, things didn’t quite work out with us, and I also have an idea. But I need your permission.”
“We will do whatever we can to assist you, Guardian. Do you remember the site we showed you once from where we launch our satellites?”
“Yup! Is that where you want us to land?”
“That would be optimal, Guardian. Thank you for your consideration.”
Willow chuckled. “It’s your world, not mine. I don’t want to do anything to make things tough for you. I’ve told you all to never give me a free pass, haven’t I?”
“So you have,” Yorei said, speaking for the first time since the conversation had begun. “I will arrange to have a vehicle bring you to us.”
“Thank you, both. May Peace go with you.”
“And with you,” the Clerics said as one, bowing their heads before signing off.
“So,” Willow said, turning to Seven. “Do you think you’ll be able to go without regenerating for a little bit longer? It’s been a few days.”
“I do not need to regenerate at this time,” Seven said, and as she said so, she reflected on the strangeness of that. She had always had to regenerate after a few days at the most, but the further they’d gotten away from Voyager and closer to Topa, the less time Seven seemed to need to spend in her alcove.
“Weird,” was Willow’s contribution to the discussion. “Not complaining, but it’s still strange, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is,” Seven said, not elaborating on her uneasiness.
A few minutes later, they had touched down on the surface and were being escorted to the capital by a pair of friendly Toparan men who worked at the launch site. Unlike most other species, they did not act strangely around her, or fearful. It was reassuring.
On her second trip to the temple garden now, Seven found herself looking around at her surroundings with a different eye than she had before. The first time she had walked here, Seven was alert for threats at every turn. Now, however, she found herself taking in the simple beauty of the place. She was forced to concede that beauty and aesthetics were not irrelevant as she had once thought. They could bring immense pleasure, and that was also relevant.
Willow had left her side to speak with the High Clerics, leaving Seven to explore the luscious area. She stroked a fern with one hand, feeling its softness and coolness beneath her fingertips. Since her sexual encounter with Willow, Seven had been more prone to touch things, and she found herself in awe of the joy that could be found from such simple things.
Willow rejoined her shortly with both of the High Clerics. “So, uh, Seven… I’ve discussed my idea with High Clerics Yorei and Teya, and they’ve agreed that as long as we’re careful, we can go ahead with what we discussed. But I have to know that you’re sure it’s what you want, Seven.”
Taking Willow’s hand in her own, Seven smiled gently. “I am sure.”
“Very well,” Teya said softly. “The ritual will be lengthy, but it will allow us to fulfill a debt long since overdue. And if you can benefit from it as well, Seven of Nine, then it will bring us all the more joy. To heal one such as you is an honor and a pleasure.”
Seven didn’t know what to say, so she simply nodded as the High Clerics went about to make preparations.
Willow took Seven’s other hand with hers and smiled. “And now, we just have to wait a little bit longer.”
Willow found herself sitting on the altar where she had been a statue for almost four hundred years, but this time Seven sat with her. They held hands and looked into each other’s eyes. The clerics had told them that when Seven had touched Willow and woken her from her sleep on the altar, a bond had formed between them. Willow didn’t know what to expect from the bond, and she didn’t know what it entailed, save that it was there in some form or another. It was magic of some kind, she was sure.
Was this why they had felt so attracted to one another? Willow didn’t want to think that magic was responsible for what they had together, and upon further thought, she knew that what she felt was truly genuine. Unlike the love spell that Xander had misused back in High School, this was not sudden or compelling. It was natural.
It might have explained why Seven no longer seemed to need to regenerate at all, though. What other benefits might come, Willow didn’t know, but she guessed that shared dreams were part of the package.
The sun was setting over the horizon as a circle of clerics continued their chanting.
“By the Power, by the Will, and by the Spirit, shield these souls from sight.”
Upon hearing the clerics words, Willow knew that she and Seven had become invisible. And she knew that Seven knew this as well. She could feel their hearts beating as one, their meditation bringing them closer for the ritual. And it felt damned good, too.
“By the Earth, by the Water, and by the Air, deliver these souls unto their Time of Life.”
Willow felt the wind gust about her, and she knew that she had to keep her eyes closed, even if it was so tempting to snap just a peek.
The wind died down, and the feeling of stone beneath her was gone. Opening her eyes, Willow got to her feet alongside Seven.
Looking up at the moonless night sky, Willow saw the familiar sight of a Borg cube coming ever closer to the planet’s surface.
Behind her, she heard a different chant from a larger circle of clerics, and a portal of blue light was coalescing. She knew that this chant had been going on for days, and only now was it about to reach its completion. Outside of the circle of clerics, which they themselves were within, thousands of people made ready to flee through the portal.
It finally opened, but the clerics were immediately met by the sight of a large party of pissed-looking Slayers, Buffy taking point with the Scythe in her hands.
“Don’t any of you even think of setting foot here,” Buffy snarled.
The clerics began to stammer pleas and apologies that Willow was all too familiar with. They begged Buffy to let them pass, professed that they were harmless and needed to flee. But Buffy was a Slayer, fiercely protective of the Earth. And with their red and black eyes and their green skin, Willow couldn’t blame her friend for mistaking the Topara for demons.
“Hang on!” a voice called out from behind Buffy, and Willow realized that the voice was her own. Seven’s hand tightened around her own as she saw herself come forward to take a magical reckoning of the Topara. She stepped through the portal and looked up into the night sky.
“Oh, damn! Buffy, get some of the other witches and seal this portal, quickly! These aren’t demons at all, but there’s something terrible about to attack them.”
“What about you, Will?” Buffy asked. “Can’t you close it?”
“Of course, I could. But then I wouldn’t be able to drive off whatever that is in the sky.”
“What?! You want us to leave you behind, Will? Not gonna happen.”
“It’s gotta happen, Buffy. These people are innocent. They may not be human, but they’re not demons. I’m not gonna stand by and let this world end. I almost did that to our world once, and I’ll be damned if I do anything to let another world die because I was a coward!”
Willow saw the pain in her friend’s face, but she knew that Buffy knew wouldn’t be winning this argument.
“Don’t worry,” past-Willow said. “You’ll see me again, Buffy.”
“How can you know that, Willow?” Buffy protested.
“I don’t,” Willow heard herself confessed. “But I just know it somehow. Now get that portal closed, Buffy! If you don’t, then Earth really will be at risk.”
Knowing that the portal would soon be closed from her native side, Willow took Seven’s hand and slipped through the portal as the Slayers parted to make way for the witches. Still invisible, Seven and Willow went through unchallenged.
A round of chanting began to echo around them, only with human voices this time. Willow looked back and saw her other self look right at her, and she could swear that her past self was seeing her despite her invisibility.
In a brilliant flash, the portal disappeared. As it did, Willow and Seven became visible.
“I don’t believe it,” Buffy said to herself. “Do any of you really think we’re going to see Willow again?”
“I think so,” Rona said.
“You do?” Buffy asked, her eyes wet with tears.
“Uh huh,” the younger slayer said, gesturing with her head to where Willow and Seven were standing, hands still holding each other.
As Buffy turned to face her, Willow gave a nervous little wave. “Uh, hiya, Buff!”
“Willow!” Buffy cried, tackling the witch in a bear hug.
“Air, Buffy!” Willow said, fond memories of Slayer-hugs coming back to her in a rush.
“Oh! Sorry. But, how? What happened? And who’s this?”
“This is Seven of Nine. Seven, this is Buffy Summers, Senior Slayer and longtime friend of mine.”
Seven extended her hand. “It is an honor to meet you, Buffy. I’ve heard a lot about you.”
Willow watched with bemusement as Buffy took Seven’s hand. “Uh, it’s good to meet you, too. Can’t say that I know anything about you, though. And what the hell is that you are wearing?”
Seven shifted uncomfortably. “Willow has indicated to me that I am in need of ‘real clothing.’ She intimated that you would be willing to assist me in this.”
Buffy got an evil grin on her face that Willow knew all too well. “Oh, I think that can be arranged. It’s been too long since I’ve been to the mall. But, later. This portal has been building for days, and now that it’s gone, I think we’ve all earned a day or two of R&R.” A round of cheers from the younger slayers greeted Buffy’s remarks.
Seven took in the empty building around her, which seemed filthy and long abandoned. Willow’s living quarters were not distant, she had said, and Seven was hoping they were more amenable.
Hand in hand, the two women stepped outside, and Seven had to shield her eyes at first. The sun was shining overhead, and a fresh breeze whistled through the air. A pier was off to one side, and a body of water greeted Seven’s eyes, the cawing of gulls touching her ears in a way that was not quite unpleasant.
A city waited for them in the other direction. It was primitive to her eyes, but something simply felt right about it. This was Earth. For the first time in her life, Seven was standing on the human homeworld. The sun on her face felt warm and wonderful, and she felt an urge to tear off her biosuit and expose the rest of her body to her native star. She held in the impulse for now.
Willow looked at her, a warm smile on her face. “Well, this is it. How do you feel, Seven?”
Seven of Nine, not quite a Borg, not quite a human, took Willow in her arms, feeling sure of herself for the first time in a long time. “I feel like I’m home.”
Willow smiled and pressed her lips to Seven’s, and the two held each other for what might have been a second or an eternity. As they held each other, the two lovers found themselves knowing each other in a way that they couldn’t explain, but that they knew was right.
“Yes,” they said as one. “We’re home.”
I don't own Star Trek or Buffy, I'm just playing in their sandbox.
I want to thank all of you who read and reviewed this story. Your support has been outstanding, and has really been a great help to me. I can only hope that this story as a whole is to your liking.
Special Thanks to Hecatonchires for catching a silly error on my part.
I may write a sequel, if my muse is feeling cooperative. If anyone has any ideas for what such a story might involve, I'd love to hear from you.
With that said, thank you all again for your support, and I hope you have enjoyed The Pursuit of Perfection. ^_^