"That was enjoyable." Seven said as they walked towards cargo bay 2. "Thank you for inviting me lieut...B’Elanna."
"Yeah, it was fun wasn’t it?" B’Elanna questioned rhetorically as they walked.
After a moment of companionable silence, Seven couldn’t help but ask. "What will you do now?"
"Well first, I’m going to escort you back to the cargo bay, then I’m going to go to my quarters and get some sleep." B’Elanna answered with a cheeky grin.
"I was not referring to your activities at this moment." Seven replied with a slight grin of her own. Usually, flippant answers like the one she’d just gotten from the hybrid would irritate her immensely. She was not about to wonder why she now found the answer amusing.
"I know." B’Elanna answered.
Falling silent once again Seven thought the dark Klingon had decided to ignore the question.
"I’m going to just take this as it comes. Kathryn and I will eventually come to terms and I’ll go back to work. Until then, I expect it’s going to be a bumpy ride." she finished with a grin.
"It was never my intention to be the cause of any discord between you and the captain." Seven said quietly.
"I already told you, you’re not." B’Elanna answered with a chuckle. "This is something that would have happened sooner or later. Don’t let it bother you."
Seven believed her. Realizing that this was, indeed, something that would have happened between the two stubborn women eventually, she let the matter drop. They reached the doors to the cargo bay in short order and Seven found herself pausing, reluctant to go in and end her time with B’Elanna.
B’Elanna noticed the hesitation. "I’ll see you tomorrow." she said softly as their proximity tripped the doors controls.
"Yes, tomorrow." Seven agreed as she slowly walked into the cargo bay.
B’Elanna was just about to turn and walk away when a thought occurred to her. "Seven?" she called through the doors, still held open by her nearness. "You really need private quarters."
"My regeneration unit is here," Seven answered reasonably, "and privacy is irrelevant."
"Privacy is relevant and the regeneration unit can be modified to fit into regular quarters." B’Elanna responded. When she noticed the skeptical look she added. "Just think about it OK?"
Not wanting to spoil the evening by ending it on an argument, she left it at that. Goodnights were exchanged and B’Elanna walked back to her quarters while Seven stepped into her alcove to begin her regeneration cycle.
Janeway gave the big native a look as he sat opposite her. Chakotay had joined her as usual for morning coffee in the ready room before their shift. After yesterday he didn’t have to guess at the meaning of the look he was getting.
"She didn’t show up for her shift." he stated as much as asked.
"No, she didn’t. When I tried to contact her, she wouldn’t answer the hail." Janeway replied crossly.
Both sipped their coffee in silence. They needed B’Elanna in engineering and they knew it. The question was how were they going to get the volatile woman back on the job.
"I’ll talk to her again after my shift." Chakotay offered. He knew that B’Elanna wasn’t going to simply give in but he could at least try to find some compromise.
"I have a better idea. She thinks she can tell me how to run my ship? Let’s see if she still feels that way in a few days." she said with sneer. "Computer. Remove all command access for Lieutenant B’Elanna Torres, authorization Janeway Omega one three oh one. Cease all replicator and holodeck access for B’Elanna Torres." Leaning back she took a long swallow of her coffee and gave Chakotay a look that dared him to argue. She’d show Torres who ran this ship.
Chakotay just sat and quietly finished his coffee. Janeway obviously hadn’t believed it when B’Elanna told her rations and privileges of rank meant very little to her. He decided that the gossip of Seven’s sudden interest in the hybrid was best left for later. Besides he’d made the mistake of mentioning it to Tom and Harry already over a beer at Sandrines. The news would reach Kathryn soon enough.
Breakfast was immediately interrupted by the arrival of Tom and Harry. The two had been waiting for her to sit so they could get more of the gossip that Chakotay had started the night before at Sandrines. B’Elanna hadn’t even taken her first bite before the two were at her table. B’Elanna resolutely ignored them.
"How can you eat that stuff?" Harry asked as he took the seat beside B’Elanna.
"Like this." B’Elanna answered with a toothy smile as she took a bite.
Tom looked at the contents of her bowl and cringed. "Isn’t that leftovers from yesterdays dinner?" he asked with a grimace.
"Yeah, it was either that or this weird blue grainy stuff." she replied with a grin as both men paled.
"So it’s true? The Captain took away your replicator access?" Harry asked with a frown as his stomach clenched in sympathy.
"Yep, and my holodeck privileges and she locked me out of all the command systems." she answered indifferently.
"And now you have to eat that?" Tom asked in disgust from his place opposite Harry.
B’Elanna just shrugged. "I’m a Klingon remember? This isn’t really that bad."
Before B’Elanna could take a second bite, Tom got his courage up. After meeting Chakotay in Sandrines last night both men had a lot of questions.
"How did your date with Seven go?" he blurted.
B’Elanna just looked at Tom for a minute. Her expression was unreadable. It took only seconds for the helmsman to start worrying. Finally she answered. "It didn’t. I turned her down."
Now it was Harry’s turn to blurt, "What? You’ve been hot for her since she first came on the ship. Why would you turn her down."
"Because she is not hot for me." she answered bluntly. Harry could understand that. B’Elanna was honorable. She would feel she was taking advantage of Seven if the attraction was not mutual.
Tom didn’t have that same insight into his friend. That was why she’d dumped him after only a few dates all those months ago. Shaking his head he said. "So? Does that really matter? If you don’t go for it now, the Ice Princess might never give you another chance."
Reaching across the table she grabbed Toms collar and snarled. "What matters right now is that you will not refer to her as the Ice Princess again, or I’ll rip out your heart and show it to you." With a little shake to make her point she let go and picked up her fork again.
"Sorry." Tom said sincerely. "I didn’t know you’d be so touchy." He didn’t understand why B’Elanna could suddenly be protective of Seven but he wasn’t stupid enough to challenge her on it.
B’Elanna just gave him a look and said nothing. She was not about to discuss Seven with Tom, or Harry for that matter. What was between them was private and B’Elanna guarded her privacy jealously. She also knew that Seven didn’t need their personal interaction to become common ships gossip.
Harry, seeing that Seven was off limits quickly changed the subject and the three resumed their meals.
It seemed like only seconds and Seven was standing at their table with nutritional supplement in hand. Without waiting for an invitation she took the fourth seat across from B’Elanna beside Tom. Tom and Harry hardly dared to breathe as they waited to see how the two would get along.
"Good morning." B’Elanna said.
Rather than return the greeting, Seven gave the contents of B’Elanna’s bowl a pointed look. "That is disgusting." she stated bluntly.
"That," B’Elanna said with a grin, "is breakfast."
"I wish to continue this interaction but I find your choice of meals to be unacceptable. If you continue to ingest that, "she said with a distasteful look at the contents of the bowl in front of the hybrid, "I will experience uncomfortable sensations."
"I’m eating not ingesting." B’Elanna said with a roll of her eyes, "And would the uncomfortable sensation be disgust or nausea?" B’Elanna asked with a smile.
"Both." replied Seven deadpan as B’Elanna laughed out loud.
"Sorry, but Kathryn revoked my replicator rations this morning. It’s either this or blue stuff." B’Elanna said with a grin.
"I do not find either choice acceptable, I have chosen a third alternative." Seven stated calmly as she nodded to where Neelix was standing nearby. Before B’Elanna could protest a full traditional breakfast of eggs, bacon, and all the extras was put in front of her.
With a cheeky grin she looked from the heaping plate to Seven. "What if I tell you I prefer Neelix’s dish?" she asked.
Seven’s return grin was slight but unmistakable. "Then I shall question your sanity as I remove my selection and resolve never to speak to you again." Even Harry and Tom could not miss the humour of the statement. Both men chuckled along with B’Elanna.
After a moment Harry said. "Tom and I are probably going to be late for work, if you ladies will excuse us?" And with a nod to both and a pointed look to Tom the two men left allowing B’Elanna and Seven some measure of privacy.
After the two men left, B’Elanna smiled at Seven. "Thank you. This is very thoughtful of you." she said as she took a bite.
"You are not angry?" Seven questioned seriously.
"Why would I be angry?" B’Elanna asked confused.
"I joined your table without asking. I did not return your greeting. I made a disparaging remark about you food choice. I then replaced your meal with one of my own choosing without your permission." Seven stated bluntly. "I behaved exactly as the brat you accuse me of being." she finished with her eyes on the table.
"If we were working, I’d probably be screaming at you for it by now." B’Elanna admitted calmly. "But this isn’t work so it’s not a big deal."
"I do not understand." Seven said perplexed.
Reluctantly setting her fork aside, B’Elanna focused her attention on the woman across from her. "Why did you do those things?" she asked gently.
"I wished to spend time with you. I also wanted to show my thanks for last nights dinner." Seven stated calmly. Only the fact that she refused to meet B’Elanna’s eyes while she said this betrayed her confusion.
"And when you behave like this in engineering?" B’Elanna asked as the silence drew out.
"I am simply performing my duties. It is inefficient to waste time with niceties or protocol." she stated with dawning realization.
"At work I have to deal with you even when you are being extremely difficult. Here, if I decide I’m offended, I can just walk away. Besides this time you were trying to be nice and not trying to make me feel useless or inefficient or challenging my authority." B’Elanna said quietly.
Seven said nothing as she continued to stare at the table. B’Elanna picked up her fork and took a bite as she waited. She knew Seven needed time to process this. As far as she knew it was the first time anyone had ever given her reason to think about her behavior. Besides, a part of her found the whole thing funny as hell. A few days ago she’d have been happy to rip Sevens head off for such presumption, yet here she was calmly waiting for the ex-drone to think it through.
After a moment B’Elanna spoke. "Look, Seven. This isn’t something you’re going to sort out in a few minutes. You’ll just have to accept that your reasons for behaving a certain way are often almost as important as the behavior itself." When Seven was about to speak she held up her hand for silence. "You’ll also have to accept that half-Klingons don’t do warn sensitive chats often and I think it’s a little early in the day to stay on this topic for long." With a grin, she added. "You’re also going to have to accept that I’m hungry and I’d like to eat this before it gets cold."
"Humans are very confusing." Seven stated with a raised brow.
"Yes we are, now help me eat this before it gets cold." B’Elanna replied, handing Seven a piece of toast. Amicably chatting about their respective plans for the day the two cleared the plate in no time.
With a slight lift of a lip, Seven gave her version of a grin as she took note of the untouched nutritional supplement. B’Elanna shook her head with a grin and after promising to meet later, Seven headed for the door.
B’Elanna resisted the urge to laugh out loud. There, just passing the ex-drone in the doorway was Janeway. There would be no way to discreetly disappear before the Captain spotted her. Not that she wanted to, but she didn’t think a public confrontation would do anyone any good.
With the foresight he was known for, Neelix suddenly appeared beside B’Elanna’s table. "Here let me get that for you." he said smoothly while dropping a napkin over the remains of breakfast. In an instant the plate and its evidence was gone. B’Elanna smiled gratefully and silently thanked the small man as he walked away. If Kathryn had seen the plate she’d probably have thrown a Captain style fit.
On cue Kathryn approached the table. "How was breakfast?" she asked in her most neutral of tones. It was obvious she was there to gloat over B’Elanna being forced to eat a meal that most of the crew had chosen to go hungry over, rather than consume.
"It was delicious. Thanks for asking." B’Elanna replied with a shark like grin, as she again mentally thanked Neelix for taking care of the evidence. "If you’ll excuse me, ensign Vorman asked me to fix his holocamera since I’m not busy today." and with that she rose and left the mess hall.
Janeway said nothing as she watched the younger woman go. She knew as well as B’Elanna that any kind of public confrontation would cause more problems than it solved. Instead she simply smiled, convinced that B’Elanna had suffered through one of Neelix’s meals, and gloated silently at the well concealed attempt to hide the presumed suffering.
As B’Elanna walked down the corridor, she studied the Padd she’d been working on the night before. On it was a list of requests to repair, upgrade or modify personal items of the crew.
For almost as long as she’d been on Voyager, B’Elanna had earned extra holodeck and replicator rations for herself by doing small personal repair jobs for the crew, when she had the time. There was a high level of technology on the ship but nowhere to go to repair or replace anything. If something stopped working they had to either fix it themselves or do without. Since keeping the ship running was always the priority, they often did without. With her Maquis background B’Elanna had the skills to fix anything. Even though Carey and a few of the other engineers earned extra rations the same way, she had always been the most in demand. Within hours of her walking out of engineering the crew had taken advantage of the chance to get their gadgets fixed. Even Joe Carey had put in an order for a particularly stubborn trimetron regulator that he’d been unable to fix himself.
B’Elanna resisted the urge to laugh out loud as she calculated her profits. There was a set "fee" for each kind of repair with special jobs negotiated separately. The rationing system allowed the crew to get about half their meals from the replicators. They also got 5 hours of holodeck time a month. If she did all the work requested, she’d have enough rations to avoid Neelix’s cooking entirely for several months and enough holodeck time to plan a weekend getaway. Grinning at the irony, she headed for the first "job" of the day.
While B’Elanna was off making the crew generally much happier by repairing all their favourite gadgets, Janeway was slowly coming to a boil.
B’Elanna had been away from engineering for exactly a day and a half. In that time there had been over a dozen reports forwarded to the bridge. The ship had changed too much to simply be a Starfleet vessel anymore. Integrated into the ships systems were Borg enhancements, Maquis refinements and alien technologies. All of it was held together and made to work with a system that was uniquely B’Elanna. No matter how many people worked on a repair or upgrade, or how many of them could deal with the workings of a certain change in the systems, only B’Elanna understood them all.
A simple diagnostic on the deflectors that usually took under an hour, had taken six hours. The deflector no longer ran under Starfleet specs because of three separate upgrades using alien technology. No one had thought to use the specific modified test sequence devised by B’Elanna months ago to solve the problem.
Almost every single system had some modification or alteration. Each and every one was listed and approved by Janeway herself, but she had never give any real though to the sheer number of things that had actually been changed beyond all Starfleet specifications over the last three years. Without someone to keep track of it all, the whole patchwork system would be incredibly difficult to maintain. B’Elanna as chief engineer, was that person. Without her they could still muddle through if they had to, but it would be a very difficult job for everyone.
Deciding to forego her normal coffee and give the soothing effects of tea a chance, she moved to the replicator. First she’d relax a little, then she’d think of a way to turn up the pressure. They needed the hybrid back on the job. Luckily they were in a very quiet sector, but experience had proven it would not stay quiet for long.
Just as she got comfortable on the small sofa in her ready room the chime sounded. Raising her cup to her lips Janeway called "enter" and took a sip of tea. She promptly spewed it back out when she saw who had entered.
Two quick steps and Seven of Nine was standing in the middle of the captains ready room. That in itself was not unusual.
What had Janeway dripping tea from her slack jawed mouth, was the sight of the ex-drone standing in the middle of her ready room at parade rest wearing a star fleet uniform.
"What can I do for you Seven?" Kathryn finally asked after a long moment and a quick wipe of a napkin.
"It is past time I was assigned quarters like the rest of the crew." Seven answered calmly.
"Excuse me?" the older woman asked confused.
"You can also treat me like a normal member of the crew and stop coddling me." Seven added matter-of-factly. Seven couldn’t figure out why the captain was choking since she’d already spit out her tea. Saying nothing she simply waited.
"Coffee, double strong, black." Janeway told the replicator as she headed for the machine.
By the time Seven left the room, Janeways head was ready to explode.
The fact of Seven showing up in uniform was nothing compared to the facts of how and why she had done so. Kathryn had become very good at sorting out Seven’s sometimes odd behaviors. By the time she had patiently questioned Seven, she had a very clear idea of the woman’s dealings with B’Elanna recently.
She had no choice but to accept Seven’s decision to wear a uniform. After all, the rest of the crew did too. She could also see the reasoning in Seven’s request for quarters. It was long past time she had the same privacy everyone else had.
Even the accusation of coddling she could not deny. She had protected Seven from the minute her link to the collective was severed. Though it stung to admit it, she had indeed coddled the ex-drone. Her maternal instincts had kicked in and she’d been actively overprotective of the young woman.
And all of that meant very little to Kathryn at the moment as she remembered Seven’s dispassionate retelling of the candid conversations between herself and B’Elanna. She had without an ounce of hesitation, detailed all of the events following the Klingons admission of attraction.
She was angry and upset. She was also more than a little jealous.
She did not believe Seven was ready for a relationship. She could not even wrap her mind around the possibility of Seven involved with the single most temperamental person on the whole ship. Kathryn had been so absorbed in her own shock at this turn that she’d completely missed the barely hidden look of wonder as Seven told of the kiss they had shared.
She was outraged on Seven’s behalf over B’Elanna’s subsequent rejection. She was so caught up in her own anger at B’Elanna that she failed to see the restraint it must have taken for the Klingon to walk away.
And above it all was an intense jealousy that in just a few hours, B’Elanna had managed to bring Seven closer to her humanity than she ever had. Kathryn had always prided herself on her leadership skills and ability to deal with people. Seven had been a unique challenge that she could not give up. Yet here she was looking at a young woman who seemed much less like a recovered drone than she had a mere day ago and none of the credit for that change was hers.
The two were famous for their arguments. She could not believe they could have become so close so quickly, no matter how adamant Seven was that they were. B’Elanna was up to something, she just knew it. Quietly seething, she tried to think of a way to get the hybrid back to work and keep Seven from being hurt by whatever game B’Elanna was playing.
"Ensign Kim? May I have a moment of your time?" Seven asked as she approached the young man. He was just leaving the bridge and the two entered the turbolift together. She had just left the Captains ready room and had no idea what mayhem the Captain was planning.
"Sure Seven, what can I do for you?" the tall Asian asked with a smile as he gave the computer his destination. .
Since leaving the cargo bay this morning, she had been greeted with a variety of odd looks and stares as the crew took note of the uniform she was wearing. Except for Tuvok who was surprised by nothing, Harry had been the only one not to react oddly at her new appearance.
"You do not seem surprised to see me wearing a uniform." she stated bluntly. Instead of giving a destination so the lift could move, she remained silent and waited for the reply.
"I’m not." He answered with a shrug. "I always knew you would sooner or later."
"Explain." Seven demanded shortly. When she noticed the man suddenly blush crimson she asked, "Are you functioning normally ensign? I can escort you to sick bay if.." A raised hand cut her off.
"I’m fine Seven, you just caught me off guard." when Seven just gave him a confused look he made a decision. "The reason I knew you’d put on a uniform eventually is a little personal." again he was treated to a confused look. "When you first joined the crew I had a huge crush on you."
"I remember." Seven offered. "When you were in close proximity to me, your skin temperature would rise by 1.45 degrees and you’re respiration would increase by 20%. There were also other physiological changes in my presence. Over time these reactions subsided and you ceased to be effected in that manner."
"Well that’s putting it clinically." Harry joked. At the serious look he got, he went on. "I used to watch you. Not in any bad way." He hastened to assure, "It’s just that you tend to be overly aware of someone when you’re attracted to them. So I became aware that you were trying to fit in and be more like everyone else. Wearing a uniform is just a logical step in something I noticed a long time ago." he finished with a shy look. Even Seven had been aware of his childish crush all those months ago, but this was the first time he’d openly admitted it.
Feeling a sudden new respect for the young man, Seven’s train of though took a quantum leap in a new direction. "Will you kiss me?" she suddenly asked.
Harry looked like a deer caught in a bright light as he simply gaped. He’d outgrown his crush a long time ago, but Seven was still a very beautiful woman. "Excuse me?" was all he could muster as he tried to figure out this turn of events.
"I find that I am confused by many of the events of the last twenty seven hours. One of the most confusing was kissing B’Elanna Torres. Her kiss evoked strong feelings in me but I am unsure if it was simply a reaction to a new situation." Seven stated calmly.
"B’Elanna kissed you and now you want to kiss me?" Harry croaked confused.
"So that I may have a basis for comparison." Seven confirmed. "She stated that she would not enter into a romantic affiliation with me until I could wish for her kisses. I need to understand this better. Since I have never experienced kissing before, I have concluded that it would be in my best interest to kiss someone else so that I may be sure my enjoyment of B’Elanna’s kiss was genuine."
"If I kiss you, B’Elanna will kill me." Harry stated flatly.
"I am not currently in a relationship with the Lieutenant." Seven reasoned. "She has no reason to harm you for this."
"You’re asking me to kiss you so you can see how I compare to her. I can guarantee you that she will not like that one bit." Harry said. "Why me?" He muttered to the wall
"Because you are honorable. I have long thought of you as a friend. The fact that you willingly answered my question, even though it caused you some embarrassment, tells me that you also regard me with some level of respect." Seven answered.
"Seven you know I think of you as a good friend." Harry cut in. "That doesn’t change the fact that you can’t just go around kissing people."
"I am not *just* kissing anyone. I would be kissing you. You are correct that B’Elanna may be displeased, but I believe she will understand. I also believe she will be more understanding if I choose someone who she respects." Seven said as Harry switched from looking at the wall to looking at the floor. After a moment she said, "I have offended you. I apologize. I will not ask this of you again and will instead ask Mr. Paris."
"Are you crazy?" Harry blurted. "You can’t kiss Tom. He’d tell half the ship and never let B’Elanna live it down." Hoping he hadn’t just committed a complicated form of suicide, he made up his mind. "I’ll do it. If you’re willing to let Tom kiss you, you must feel really strongly about it."
Before he could change his mind, Harry leaned forward and kissed Seven.