Title: Home Front Author: Jemima Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Series: VOY Part: 14/19 Rating: PG Codes: K, 7, Section 31, AU Summary: Every universe is an alternate universe for Harry Kim, most travelled ensign in history. This AU is based on Harry's other life in the episode "Non Sequitor", with the events of "Timeless" mixed in. Disclaimer: I took these characters from an alternate universe without copyright laws. Mwhahahaha! Date: May 2001
"Harry, come back to bed."
Ensign Kim felt a gentle touch on his shoulder. He tore his eyes away from the night sky over San Francisco to look at Libby.
"Sorry, hon. I couldn't sleep."
"You were thinking about Danny Bird again, weren't you?"
Harry had gotten one message from his old friend about the slippery Ferengi of DS9, and that was the last anyone had heard from Voyager.
"It seems so unfair - I have a fiancee, a good job, a nice apartment and a Cochrane award, and Danny's out there somewhere. I was so jealous when he shipped out, and now..."
"You were lucky, Harry. *I* was lucky."
He knew Libby thought Voyager was lost with all hands. Soon enough, Starfleet would make an official declaration along those lines, but somehow Harry couldn't imagine Danny dead. He preferred to believe that Danny was having an old-fashioned Starfleet adventure, the kind Captain James T. Kirk used to have. They'd grown up together on holovids of time travel and alien spores, and Harry liked to think that Danny was somewhere in an alternate timeline or inescapable gravity well.
"You're not sorry you were left behind, are you?" Libby asked, after his long silence.
"Of course not!" Danny was welcome to his adventures, whatever they might be.
Soon after Starfleet officially declared Voyager lost, Harry and Libby were married. He wished Danny could have been there to be his best man. Otherwise, Harry had it all: his prototype runabout would be in full production within the year, and he had gained a reputation in Starfleet Engineering as the boy could produce shuttles out of thin air. He was glad, very glad, that his talents hadn't been wasted behind an Ops console, or - he thought as even he became pessimistic about Voyager's fate - dying in the cold vacuum of space.
When Ensign Kim was three years out of the Academy, the Borg arrived. Captain Picard drove them off, but in the aftermath Harry was promoted to lieutenant and reassigned. Those admirals he'd bowled over with his prototype ship, the Yellowstone, remembered him when propulsion became an issue of the gravest strategic importance. He was transferred from San Francisco to the research labs at Utopia Planetia. Libby remained planetside; Harry went home every weekend.
Starfleet wanted to understand transwarp, and Lieutenant Kim plunged into the project with the boundless enthusiasm of youth. Soon, however, he found himself uncomfortable in the lab. He couldn't put his finger on the problem, but something was definitely off.
"Greg," he asked his new boss after a couple of months on the job, "who runs this lab?"
"What do you mean, Harry? You know we're attached to Starfleet Research."
"I have friends back in Starfleet Research in San Francisco. We're not following the same research program."
Lieutenant Kim hadn't quite learned when to keep his mouth shut. "So who's program is this?" he asked.
It was another lie, but in that moment Harry finally learned to think before speaking, and he let it go at that. Danny had always been paranoid - whispering stories of alien infiltrators in Starfleet and dangerous rogue forces among the admiralty - and Harry had always laughed off his friend's suspicions. Today he felt a chill, not a chuckle, coming on. At the very least, plenty of people were willing to do anything to save the Federation from the Borg menace, and Greg was one of those people.
He didn't ask for a transfer; he had begun to worry for Libby's safety. Greg asked him about a fine point of Vulcan Poetics, although he was sure he'd never mentioned that that was Libby's new hobby. Fortunately, her job kept her busy while he was away from San Francisco - longer and longer as he was given more responsibilities. He told her nothing about his suspicions and she didn't seem to notice the change coming over her husband.
A year later, Danny returned in a makeshift shuttlecraft, accompanied by a Borg drone Captain Janeway had recovered from the Collective. He was a broken man. The two survivors of a crew of 151 had been leading Voyager through a slipstream when they had found themselves alone. Harry knew what Voyager's sudden disappearance from the slipstream must mean; the star-crossed ship was declared lost with all hands once more.
The shuttle had come out of the slipstream near DS9. Danny and his Borg companion were debriefed there, but only the Borg made it back to Earth. Danny was found dead - a suicide, they called it. Harry wondered why he doubted that explanation. It stood to reason that after four whole years in the Delta Quadrant, in flight from hostile aliens, struggling to keep the ship space-worthy, with only 150 companions from your end of the galaxy, the stress had gotten to Danny. Ensign Bird blamed himself, Starfleet explained, for the death of every Maquis, Starfleet crewmen and Delta Quadrant native who was lost with the ship.
Harry waited impatiently for Libby to return from her conference on Vulcan - Danny's mysterious death shook his old friend and made him that much more fearful for Libby's life and his own. But a week after Libby's safe return, Harry found himself with an unusual addition to his lab staff.
"Meet Seven of Nine, former Tertiary Adjunct to Unimatrix Zero One," Gary intoned suavely. "Seven, this is Lieutenant Harry Kim. He'll show you around the lab."
The tall, blonde drone nodded to him, saying only, "Lieutenant Kim."
She settled in with due efficiency, adding nanoprobes and Borg interfaces to her personal console. Otherwise, she was just another mid-level Starfleet researcher attached to the Utopia Planetia labs. Harry spent weeks attempting to engage her in conversation, always being rebuffed with a dismissive 'Irrelevant' or, when he asked about Voyager, the ubiquitous 'That information is classified.'
One day, however, perhaps influenced by her own blunt parlance, he blurted out, "Danny Bird was my friend."
It seemed, though he couldn't be sure, that Seven was surprised. She actually looked at him for the first time, but he was disappointed when she replied, in her usual sterile tones, "The secondary test chamber requires modification. Please assist me."
Harry followed her into the heavily insulated room.
"We may speak freely here," Seven said after closing the access hatch.
"Are the labs under surveillance?" Harry asked, not at all surprised.
"At least three organizations have surveillance devices planted there."
That, at least, was surprising. As Harry gaped, Seven got down to her own business. "Were you Danny Bird's friend?"
Seven forced him against the lead-alloy wall and plunged her assimilation tubules into his neck. He had no time to react to the assault - the faint whisper of voices filled his mind momentarily, but the sound faded before he could make any of them out. Seven stood back, releasing him.
"What did you do?" Harry gasped.
"I corroborated your story. The Borg have methods of extracting information from non-serviceable units - my nanoprobes created a temporary neural transceiver for you. By now they have disassembled it and are themselves dissolving in your bloodstream, leaving no trace."
"That was hardly necessary."
"On the contrary, since I returned to the Alpha Quadrant I have met with nothing but deception, manipulation and murder."
"All I said was that Danny was my friend," Harry protested.
"Danny Bird was also my friend. Therefore, we are friends." To Seven of Nine, friendship was transitive.
Before Harry could respond, she added, "It will arouse suspicion if we remain here longer," and opened the hatch. He knew better than to argue.
It was more than a month before Harry had any evidence that his encounter with Seven had been more than a dream, or rather, a nightmare of assimilation.
"Lieutenant Kim, you are returning to Earth this afternoon."
"Yes I am, Seven," Harry replied warmly. He hadn't seen Libby for three weeks; they'd both been too busy at work.
"I will accompany you. I wish to see San Francisco."
"I'd be glad to have you. You can have dinner with us at my apartment and meet my wife."
"That will not be necessary. I wish only to 'see the sights'."
"As you like, Seven."
Harry left Libby a message saying he'd be late getting home, but not why. Seven's idea of the sights did not match Harry's - she dragged him out on the Golden Gate Bridge walkway. She gazed at the water as they strolled out past midway along the bridge, but more often she gazed at the structural components of the ancient span.
Suddenly she stopped and leaned over the railing like a normal, non-Borg tourist. "We may speak freely here. Please watch my left hand. If I lift it from the railing, it means we have been found and are being observed. You may no longer speak freely then, of course."
"Of course." Harry wondered how his life had become so complicated. He watched the gentle waves on the surface of the bay - despite her impolite habit of assimilating her friends, Seven made Harry feel comfortable, somehow. But he also felt the press of time, the risk of observation, so he asked, "What happened to Danny?"
"Once our debriefings were over, we prepared for the trip to Earth. We were scheduled to leave at 0800 hours. Danny mentioned that an old friend was coming to see him. I went to my cabin to regenerate, but I could not sleep. I proceeded to Danny's cabin to speak to him, if he were still awake. I saw someone leaving as I approached - his old friend, I assumed. He did not answer the chime, so I overrode the lock and entered. I found his body and summoned security.
"Odo, the security chief, interviewed everyone on the station. He found no 'old friend' of Danny's, nor anyone matching my description. In fact, mine was the only presence revealed by DS9's internal sensors, and I myself fell under suspicion."
"Why would you kill Danny?" Harry asked.
"The Borg do not require a motive, apparently. The accusations were founded on mere prejudice - Odo understood that much - but the evidence was against me. Then Commander Meron came to visit me in the brig."
"Greg?" Harry exclaimed in surprise.
"Yes, Greg, though his papers said he was attached to Starfleet Judiciary, not Research."
"He's not really Starfleet Research either, Seven. I think he's Intelligence."
Seven raised an eyebrow. "In any event, he offered me a choice between dissection and joining his lab. Once I agreed to work for him, he ruled Danny's death a suicide, though Danny knew the risks of slipstream travel as well as Captain Janeway did - he would not have killed himself over the accident."
"So that's how you became involved with the transwarp drive research. But if you'd known how to create one, wouldn't you have done so aboard Voyager?" Harry asked.
"We are not making a transwarp drive."
Harry stared at her blankly. "Then what exactly was the point of these years of research into transwarp?"
Seven said nothing. Her left hand was off the railing, pointing at a distant sailing ship.
"That's a two-man yacht, Seven."
"It is a primitive, wind-powered device. What is its purpose?"
"Humans enjoy sailing the old-fashioned way. It's...relaxing. You should try it sometime."
"Perhaps. I have detained you long enough, Lieutenant Kim. Thank you for showing me the 'sights'."
"You're quite welcome, Seven. We should do it again sometime."
They walked back to the city silently, parting at a public transporter. Harry went home; Seven didn't say where she was going.
Such meetings were few and far between; only occasionally when Harry went Earthside did Seven go with him. When they toured an old quicksilver mine, Seven told him about the Borg - how each drone's experiences were preserved forever by the Collective. She seemed to believe that she was carrying the memories of Voyager's crew. Seven also explained how her implants enhanced her senses - Harry assumed that was how she detected surveillance equipment. There were other people touring the mercury mine, however, so they didn't discuss transwarp or Danny Bird.
At Angel Island two months later, they explored the trails and enjoyed the view of the bay. Seven indicated it was safe to talk, so Harry asked her again about transwarp.
"Our research is aimed at destroying ships in transwarp," Seven answered. "If possible, Section 31 intends to alter subspace to make transwarp travel impossible."
"What's Section 31?" Harry asked.
"It appears to be a branch of Starfleet Intelligence. Greg works for them. I believe they were the ones who killed Danny."
But Harry's mind was not on Danny at the moment. "What happens to you when our research is complete, Seven?"
"Greg has promised me another posting with Section 31," she replied. Harry let out the breath he hadn't realized he was holding. "He was lying. As soon as I complete this research project, the Section will have me dissected for my Borg technology."
"No!" Harry protested.
"I will not allow myself to be dissected."
"But what can you do? Will you tell the authorities?"
"Section 31 is 'the authorities', to my knowledge. However, I have a plan. It will require your assistance."
"Seven, I'd like to help, but I can't endanger Libby."
The former drone raised an eyebrow, then suddenly looked out over the Bay. She gave a small hand-signal that meant they were being observed, and changed the subject. "B'Elanna Torres, Voyager's chief engineer, told me a Klingon proverb once: 'Revenge is a dish best served cold.'"
Harry didn't respond.
Months passed. They were finally making progress in the lab, and Harry, now that he was looking for it, saw plenty of evidence that the transwarp project was indeed an anti-transwarp project.
It was autumn in San Francisco. Seven suggested a hike among the redwoods of Muir Woods; Harry complied, although Libby would be angry. Things weren't going so well with Libby lately - his wife didn't appreciate his running around Northern California with another woman, however infrequently.
She didn't seem to understand that Seven was just a lonely drone, not a romantic rival. Maybe he could finally convince Seven to come home with him tonight and meet Libby. Once she'd met the Borg - somehow Harry knew Seven would be her usual icy self around Libby - his wife would realized that she posed no threat to their marriage.
First, though, Harry asked Seven about her plans to escape Section 31.
Seven sat down on a log and motioned to Harry to do the same. "I have constructed a Borg temporal transmitter," she explained. "With it, I can use my Borg interplexing beacon to communicate with my past self aboard the Delta Flyer, and tell her to turn back before Voyager is destroyed."
A bird sang somewhere far above them.
"You'd be violating the Temporal Prime Directive," Harry said.
"The Temporal Prime Directive is irrelevant. There is nothing special about this timeline - I prefer a timeline in which Danny was not murdered. However, Terran security is likely to detect the temporal disturbance and block my transmission. Therefore I need a ship, one that can evade pursuit."
"We could steal the Virgo." The Virgo was the lab's prototype transwarp ship. The experimental drive was nowhere near completion - it certainly wouldn't get them anywhere - but the standard warp drive would, and the little ship could turn on a dime. Suddenly Harry realized he was suggesting larceny of a Starfleet vessel. "Seven..."
She seemed to know the cause of his reluctance. "Do not be concerned, Harry. If we are successful, the theft of the Virgo will never have happened."
"The last two years will never have happened. You and I will probably never meet." Harry looked up at the fading sunlight in the tall trees. He really oughtn't feel that he was losing the entire world in losing Seven of Nine.
"Perhaps not. I will inform my other self that we are friends."
Borg comfort - someone in the Collective would remember these days, even though Harry went the way of all drones. "But I won't know," he began to protest, then stopped to think through all the implications. He would still be working for Section 31, but he wouldn't know it. Danny would still be alive. Suddenly, he chuckled.
"What are you laughing at, Harry?"
"Oh, just something Danny used to joke about when we were kids watching the holovids. 'When you're in a dead-end timeline,' he'd say, 'always remember to kiss the girl!'"
He was still chuckling over Danny's old advice when Seven leaned over and kissed him. The silence of the forest was deafening; he could feel every knot and crevice in the bark under his hands, the cool kiss of the breeze through his clothes, the warm kiss of the Borg... He tried to pull away, but she was stronger than he.
Someone is watching, he told himself, that must be it. Seven had no interest in human irrelevancies like this kiss, never mind that she had access to a billion lifetimes of kisses, and seemed perfectly willing to put that knowledge to use. It was only a cover story - an affair with the Borg, here among the crackling leaves and dry needles - and this timeline would never have happened, anyway...
"Seven," he gasped as, with one final, desperate burst of energy, he broke off the perfect kiss, "I'm a married man!"
"You are not happy with Libby," Seven answered mildly.
He opened his mouth to object, but realized she was right. "That's irrelevant," he said instead.
"Perhaps. I will have dinner with you and Libby tonight, if the invitation is still open."
Harry nodded dumbly and followed Seven as she walked back down the trail to the park entrance. How had his life gotten so complicated?
"Libby, hon, we have a guest for dinner," Harry announced as he opened the door to their apartment.
"Who is it, Harry?" Libby asked as she came out of the kitchen. "Oh, your coworker," she added coldly when Seven stepped into view.
"Seven, my wife Libby; Libby, Seven of Nine," Harry introduced them nervously. "Seven missed her transport back to Utopia Planetia. There's another one at 2300 hours. I invited her over so she wouldn't have to wait at the shuttleport."
The conversation didn't improve much after that. Libby suggested they sit down to dinner immediately and went into the kitchen without waiting for an answer.
"I don't think this was a good idea, Seven," he said softly, leaning back in his chair and closing his eyes. Seven didn't answer; she only put her hand on his knee under the table. He opened his eyes and stared at her, and then he felt it - the same twin stabbing pains of her assimilation tubules that he had felt two years before. "What--" he hissed, but Seven had turned away.
His glance followed hers. Libby was coming out of the kitchen with the main course. They took refuge in chewing for some time, but eventually Libby had to attempt to be civil.
"So what's it like being a drone?" she asked.
"Indescribable," Seven answered.
"How are things going at work, Harry?"
Libby had given up on their guest rather quickly, Harry thought. She couldn't possibly know about the kiss, but something was certainly bothering her. "We've made a lot of progress. I think we're close to a breakthrough."
"That's good, dear." The conversation died again. After an uncomfortable silence, Libby piled up their plates and said, "Harry, I don't have anything in the house for dessert. Why don't you run down to Cosimo's and get us one of his homemade cheesecakes?"
"Good idea. I'll be right back." What was he saying? He did not want to leave these two alone - Libby was fit to be tied, and if Seven started applying her Borg honesty in his absence, his marriage would be over. He'd already stood up, but now he hesitated, looking at Libby.
"What's wrong, Harry?" his wife asked.
*Go,* Seven's voice said in his mind. *I'll be fine.*
"Nothing, Lib. I'll be back soon." Harry almost ran out the door.
What is going on? he asked himself as he walked down the stairs.
*My nanoprobes have assembled a Borg interlink node alongside your second cervical vertebra.*
"Why?" he asked the empty hallway.
*We are in grave danger. Please proceed to Cosimo's. You will be able to hear us through the interlink.*
Us? he wondered, but obediently hurried out the door.
"Keep away from my husband," he heard Libby say, once he was out in the street. At least, it must have been Libby, but he'd never known her to sound so...cold. Or look it - he could *see* Libby, too, standing by their picture window, looking down at him in the street below. He fought off a wave of vertigo and the temptation to look up. His legs felt like lead as he forced them across the street.
"It was not *my* choice to work with your husband," he heard Seven answer Libby.
"I know you recognize me. The Section is well aware of Borg visual acuity."
Recognize Libby? Harry didn't want to understand, but it was too late. Superimposed on the dark streets before him he saw the dark corridors of Deep Space Nine. A green, glowing, three-dimensional grid was superimposed on the scene. Harry knew this was Seven's Borg visual record of the night Danny had died.
Down one hallway, a familiar figure fled. Harry had no need of the extensive Borg calculations which matched the dimensions of this old image with the living Libby before Seven's eyes - he would have known that graceful figure anywhere. But now he knew Libby's was a deadly grace.
Harry collapsed on a chair at Cosimo's. "You look like your best friend just died," the old proprietor said.
"He died two years ago," Harry answered. "Could I have a cheesecake, please? I have to get home before I lose another friend." And he would have to calm down before he reentered that dangerous scene.
Libby seemed annoyed at Seven's prolonged silence. "I can have you dissected, you know."
"I am well aware of that fact," Seven answered.
"There will be no more walks in the woods, tours of mines, strolls across the Golden Gate bridge, or trips to the islands. Find someone else to show you around Earth, or better yet, stick to your job."
"As you wish."
Libby turned away from the window when Harry reentered the building. "He's back. We were talking about life as a drone."
"Yes, we were."
Harry burst in with all the enthusiasm he could force. "Dessert has arrived," he announced cheerfully. "So what have you two been talking about?" he called from the kitchen, where he was digging through the silverware drawer for dessert forks.
"Life as a drone," Libby answered promptly.
They settled down in the living area, plates of cheesecake in hand. "Do you miss the Collective, Seven?" Harry asked around a cheesy mouthful.
"Yes, but I miss the crew of Voyager more."
That put a damper on the conversation. When Libby collected their empty plates, Harry followed her into the kitchen.
"Libby, hon, I can see you're not hitting it off with Seven," he said, wrapping his arms around her from behind. "She's kind of a cold fish - I've been working with her so long I'd forgotten she's barely human."
She turned in his arms and kissed him. He pushed the thought that he was kissing a viper out of his mind, and pretended she was Seven.
"I'll walk her back to the shuttleport now, okay? I promise I'll wake you up when I get back," he told his lovely, innocent wife.
"It'll take you at least an hour to walk over there. What will you talk about?" Libby asked.
"She doesn't talk much - unnecessary speech is...unnecessary. I'm used to it, though. It's like being alone."
"She's spooky," Libby replied. "Go ahead, take the drone away. I'll see you later." She kissed him goodbye.
Harry and Seven walked in apparent silence down the dark streets of San Francisco.
*This is a strange feeling,* Harry thought at Seven. *Is this what it's like to be a drone?*
*In part,* Seven replied silently. *I'm sorry about Libby.*
*I feel like I've known all along. But I won't remember afterwards, will I?*
*No, you won't. We have to take the Virgo tonight.*
*Libby is expecting me back.*
*I drugged the wine. Our nanoprobes have neutralized the sedative, but Libby will be unconscious before we reach the transport.*
The plan proceeded like Borg clockwork - Harry took the transport to Utopia Planetia with Seven. They removed her temporal transmitter from its hiding place in her regeneration alcove, smuggled it and themselves aboard the Virgo, and began the pre-launch sequence.
They were past Neptune before anyone realized they were gone. Harry piloted while Seven adjusted the temporal transmitter. Even now that they were alone, they didn't speak aloud.
*The device requires 3.24 minutes to form a temporal link.*
*I can keep us out of trouble while it warms up. There are a couple of ships on long-range scanners, but we should be able to avoid them.* Harry turned his attention to evasive maneuvers.
*The link will be ready in 0.89 minutes,* Seven communicated. *I am sorry. I am returning to my friends, while you are--*
*Returning to my wife. Don't worry about it, Seven - I won't.*
Seven recalled Danny's advice, *When you're in a dead-end timeline...*
So Harry kissed the perfect girl for 0.68 seconds. She made the interplex transmission without breaking the kiss, and as the other Seven received it, the drone, the Virgo and the universe disappeared around Lieutenant Harry Kim.