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Under the Mistletoe

Under the Mistletoe

This is just something I wrote for the sake of being different. No reason really, just a personal challenge to see if I could do it. It all started as a part of a *what if* conversation. What if Vampires really did exist as a branch of the human race? What would they really be?

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Kathryn Janeway had seen some odd things in her time as Captain of this small stranded vessel. She had seen spatial distortions and neutrino stars. She had experienced time shifts and sub-space vortexes. She had led her small crew in battle against many hostile races. Indeed, a former member of the most formidable of those races now stood beside her.

Turning her attention to that person she asked. "Seven, do the Borg have any knowledge of this kind of phenomenon?"

Seven turned from studying the third person in the room. "No. None of the species the Borg have assimilated in this sector have any information on this."

Both women silently turned back to their study of BíElanna Torres.

She was pacing back and forth behind the force field of the small cell. Her eyes were actually glowing with an eerie red tint and her canines had elongated into fangs.

"Would someone care to explain this?" the EMH asked with his usual sarcasm as he walked into the brig closely followed by Chakotay, Tuvok and Tom.

"There is very little to explain doctor. BíElanna Torres was in attendance at the Christmas party as were all of us. She appeared normal and healthy. Without warning her appearance transformed and she attempted to attack Mr. Paris." Seven supplied calmly. "I was closest to her so I restrained her and she was immediately transported here."

"Has anyone taken scans of the area where she was just prior to attacking Mr. Paris? What about events leading up to this ... whatever this is.." the doctor asked.

"We just donít know doctor." Janeway replied. "She was standing with Seven and suddenly she was charging at Tom. It wasnít until Seven grabbed her that we noticed the change in appearance."

"All readings of the holodeck are normal. Thereís a team there now looking for everything from tachyon particles to a sub-space rift." Harry reported as he entered the brig. At the sight of his friend still pacing the small cell, he stopped and stared. After simply gaping for a minute he finally found his voice and asked. "How is she?"

BíElanna seemed calmer but she was still pacing. At the moment she seemed more restless than enraged as she had been earlier.

"Sheís settled down some, but still no answers. She wonít talk, just paces the cell." Tom answered distractedly. Heíd been unhurt in the attack but was still shaken. He also could not stop staring at his former girlfriend.

"The physical manifestation you can observe for yourself." Seven added.

"Observe?" the doctor questioned. "What I observe is a woman who looks very much like the old Earth version of a vampire."

"I am Vampire." came the whispered comment from behind the force field. All eyes instantly turned to BíElanna.

"Vampires are a myth." Tuvok commented placidly.

"Do I look like a myth?" BíElanna grated as she came to a stop in front of the shimmering field. The fangs were clearly seen as was the red glow of her eyes.

Stepping forward, Janeway put up a hand. "Listen BíElanna, we donít know whatís happened to you yet but we will find...." she was cut off by BíElannaís coarse laugh.

"I know exactly whatís happened, I just didnít think I would ever go through the Change." BíElanna growled as Janeway reflexively stepped back.

"BíElanna there is no such thing as vampires. Theyíre just old Earth legends." Harry offered gently.

"Perhaps whatever this is that has infected the Lieutenant has affected her judgment as well." Tuvok commented to the doctor.

"That is a distinct possibility. Aggression and delusional behavior are often connected. Iíll have to run some tests but..." The doctor began.

"Enough." BíElanna roared. "Iím a Vampire and all your tests canít change that. What Iím going through right now is the final process of my Vampire DNA asserting itself. We call it the Change."

Everyone immediately began whispering among themselves. It was Seven who finally stepped to the front and addressed the group. "What we personally believe does not matter. The fact is that the Lieutenant believes it. As she seems willing to speak on the matter, perhaps we should listen. There may be clues within her story that could be useful in helping her."

"Imagine, a vampire story on Christmas eve. Only in the delta quadrant." the doctor quipped without humour as he approached the force field.

"Sevenís right." Janeway stated with authority. "At the moment helping BíElanna is our priority and if she has a story to tell, we should hear it."

"I concur." Tuvok added. "Evidence suggests that the Lieutenant has been conscious and aware throughout this incident. Victims of trauma often choose to remember the events leading to the trauma as whimsical fact."

"You mean even if sheís hallucinating, we might get to some of the truth of what happened if we hear her out?" Harry asked.

"Do you want to hear this or not?" BíElanna suddenly asked. Taking a seat on the narrow bench in the cell she leaned back tiredly. "Youíre probably the first humans to hear the story in centuries, Iíd suggest you donít waste the opportunity.

My grandmother told me the story so many times I almost know it by heart.

ĎThe colour of a mans skin, his eyes, the shape of his face. They are merely regional variations, nothing more. Humans believe there are many races of man. There are only two.í She always started the story that way."

"Was this your maternal or paternal grandmother?" Seven asked curiously.

BíElanna stopped and looked at Seven for a moment. "Thatís right." she said with an unreadable expression. "You havenít been onboard long enough to know much about me except what the records list."

"You are a Klingon/Human hybrid. Your mother is Klingon and your father Human. You attended Starfleet academy and dropped out in your junior year." Seven recited. Linking her hands behind her back, she continued. "A number of years later, you were found to have joined the Maquis where you apparently assisted in numerous operations against the Cardassians and their allies."

Standing, BíElanna ignored everyone else in the room and moved to stand opposite Seven of Nine. With only the force field separating them, she looked Seven from head to toe before commenting. "Not bad. But tell me Seven, is there anything you know about me that isnít on record?"

Seven found herself unable to watch the red glow of BíElannaís eyes. Looking slightly to the side, she answered. "We do not interact often. Aside from official ships records, there is very little that I know about you."

"My favourite colour is red." BíElanna stated with a grin that showed her fangs clearly. "There, now you know something about me that isnít in the records."

"Your favourite drink is Racktajino." Seven added with a slight but unmistakable grin only BíElanna could see. "I said that I know very little. I did not say I know only what the ships records provide." Surprised by her own impulsiveness, Seven again looked away as she blushed uncharacteristically.

"Flirt later you two." Janeway grumbled while BíElanna grinned and Seven looked startled. "BíElanna could you please continue?"

"She is my paternal grandmother, my fathers mother." BíElanna answered Sevenís earlier question as she moved back to the bench. Retaking her seat she resumed. "After my father left, Mother made sure I had plenty of opportunity to keep in contact with his side of the family. After all, someone had to teach me about my Vampire side."

"Your mother knew your father was a Vampire?" Seven asked.

"My mother was a good Klingon and she was a also a good scientist. While humans ignored Vampires as a myth, Klingons sought us out. My mother was one of the few who managed to find one. Once she found him, she married him." BíElanna answered.

"I realize you didnít know your father BíElanna, but asking us to believe he sucked peoples blood is a little far fetched." Tom commented.

"I said he was a Vampire. I never said he sucked blood." BíElanna said with a growl. "The fact is that the vampires in stories and real Vampires have very little in common." Looking at the overhead lighting BíElanna grinned. "Light doesnít kill us. We donít sleep in coffins and we donít drink blood, even though we can." Standing again she moved this time towards Tom. "I suppose it really doesnít matter what I say since you think Iím delusional."

After a long hard look at the suddenly nervous man she retook her seat on the hard bench and picked up her narrative. "I suppose a little more of the history of the Vampire race is in order before I tell you my own history." 

Looking directly at Seven she continued. "There was a time when Vampires and humans lived in peace. Then, one wanted to rule over the other. Humans have no knowledge of the war and we only know that it happened, not who started it. Of course, that doesnít matter since with any war, the losers become the bad guys. We lost because we were vastly outnumbered plain and simple. Thatís the one thing the stories did get right. There has never been many of us.

As for the rest; Our night vision is vastly superior so we attacked mostly at night. We have the ability to regenerate our bodies to a degree by going into a kind of coma. Imagine the surprise of human soldiers when Ďdeadí vampires suddenly recovered. We also retain the ability to digest blood and raw meat that our human cousins lost in their evolution. And you can see for yourself the kind of physical changes we experience. We are different and those differences were expanded on until we became the monsters you know today."

"If Vampires are real and wanted to live in peace then how come none have ever been proven to exist? Humans are long past that kind of prejudice, why would they still be hiding?" The Doctor asked in spite of his best effort to approach this story with clinical calm.

"Your history is full of examples of one culture fostering resentments toward another for their own gain. You killed each other for millennium because of skin colour. You even fought wars just to prove whose god was stronger. It was much easier when the culture being attacked was not even of your own race. For hundreds of years you have made us monsters. The human race is not ready to accept us." With a fang flashing grin, she added. "You arenít even ready to accept we exist. We are not ready to show you our existence."

"If you really are a Vampire then why havenít we found out before now? Youíve been on this ship a long time BíElanna." Janeway commented.

"If it werenít for the Change, you would never have found out about my true heritage." BíElanna answered bluntly. 

"You have referred to this Change. What exactly is it?" Seven asked.

Looking squarely at Seven, BíElanna merely looked at her. Just when is looked like she would not say a word she finally answered. "The Change is what I said it was. Itís the last stage in our development."

"Vampire puberty." Tom muttered.

Closing her eyes and leaning her head against the cool wall, BíElanna responded. "To a degree thatís accurate. As well as our physical development there is the mental." Everyone looked at Tom as he snickered, but no one said a word. "Not that kind of mental." BíElanna muttered. "Itís mostly on the psychic level that the last part of our development occurs."

"You believe you have acquired telepathic abilities?" Tuvok asked curiously. Closing his eyes he mentally reached out to the dark woman. The instant minds touched, he staggered back as if heíd been slapped. "Remarkable." he murmured staring at BíElanna.

After flashing him a quick, fanged grin, BíElanna ignored Tuvok as she commented. "When I was little, I was stronger than any other kid my age, Klingon or Human. I was faster that all of them too. I could eat things that would make even a full Klingon ill, even though I wasnít born with a redundant stomach. I was raised primarily among humans. Being half Klingon meant I didnít have to hide my abilities as much. After all everyone assumed it was simply my Klingon side. I grew up being an outcast for being different. The irony was that I was more different than any of them could begin to realize. As far as anyone knows, I'm the only Vampire/Klingon hybrid."

"This story is getting more ridiculous by the minute." Harry muttered while everyone nodded worriedly.

"Indeed." Seven commented. "Moments before the Lieutenant attacked Mr. Paris, were you not regaling Naomi Wildman with a tale of an elderly, rotund, Caucasian gentleman wearing a red suit descending a chimney with the use of magic, in order to deposit wrapped gifts beneath the decorated top section of a severed pine tree?"

Harry turned red as the rest shared sheepish looks. The truth be told, all of them had told the youngest member of Voyagers crew some kind of story about Christmas and Santa Claus. Even Tuvok had allowed the child to hang a small decoration in his quarters, Ďso Santa can find youí as Naomi had phrased it.

"Only you could reduce Santa to the basics like that Seven." Chakotay said with a smile and a depreciating laugh. Looking at BíElanna he said. "We want to hear the rest of it BíElanna. If we can listen to stories about Santa Claus, we can listen to this."

"It doesnít matter as much as you think. In a couple of days Iíll be through the Change and as far as anyone will ever be able to tell, Iíll be perfectly normal again. There's only one reason why I'm telling the story at all and Iíll get to that soon enough." BíElanna said roughly.

Standing, she began pacing the small cell. "Now, where was I in this rather rambling account?" she asked of no one in particular.

"Not everyone experiences the Change. As the only Vampire/Klingon hybrid thereís no way to tell how itís going to effect me." BíElanna commented. "There have been Human/Vampire hybrids. In those cases the Vampire DNA always asserts itself over the Human during the Change, but both races have the same source. Since I have the DNA of two separate and distinct races, there is no way to be sure what will happen."

"How do you know you are the only one?" Seven asked curiously. Stepping closer to the force field.

"We keep records just like any bureaucracy." BíElanna said with a laugh. "I donít know for sure. But I am the only one my clan knows of."

"Clan?" Janeway asked curtly.

"Clan." BíElanna confirmed. "Itís a system almost identical to the Scottish one of interrelated families. We have our rivalries and some families have more political power than others. And we.."

"What kinds of rivalries?" Chakotay interrupted. When red eyes shifted to him he shivered involuntarily.

"Not the kind youíre thinking of. We have pretty much the same problems as any society, but we outgrew the Human tendency towards civil war and other forms of internal violence a long time ago." BíElanna answered. "Itís all pretty dry actually. Where Humans solve a problem by killing each other, we debate again and again until we reach an agreement."

"If Vampires are such peaceful negotiators, why does almost every story involve Vampires killing people?" Tom asked with a cocky grin.

"I said we outgrew violence against each other. To most Vampires, Humans were little better than animals one would kill for sport." BíElanna growled. Her agitation seemed to renew itself as she stopped pacing to stare at the assembled group. "You forget, we lost a war that your race doesnít even remember. Killing a few Humans from time to time was considered by most to be simply retribution for what we had lost. It wasnít until Count Dracula went insane that steps were finally taken to protect Humans."

"Count Dracula was a character of fiction." Tuvok commented.

She ignored Tuvok in favour of Seven. Looking right at her, BíElanna answered softly. "He was real. He attacked at night and drank his victims blood. He had gone through the Change and used every one of his abilities without mercy in a single handed attempt to wipe out the Human race. He came so close to exposing our existence that he was finally killed by other Vampires. Years later, the whole thing was brushed aside as a myth. Of course by the time outsiders encountered the story, my ancestors had removed anything that could provide evidence of what had really happened."

"You said Vampires donít drink blood." Harry interjected. Heíd gotten so caught up in the story that he almost seemed to forget what his friend was going through, until a red tinted stare brought him back to reality.

"I said we do not drink blood. I never said we arenít capable of it." Again she flashed that fanged grin, as everyone took an involuntary step back.

"He went through what you are experiencing now?" Seven asked with a slight frown. "Does this Change cause insanity?"

"No." BíElanna answered. "The Change doesnít drive us crazy. Dracula went through the Change normally. It was later that he lost his sanity, when his wife was killed by Humans. The aggression is a fairly normal first symptom, the rest you can see for yourself. In a few days, once the Change is complete, Iíll be back to normal."

"But you will not be the same." Tuvok commented blandly.

"I will never be the same again." BíElanna agreed sadly. Seeming to talk to herself BíElanna closed her eyes and leaning against the wall, continued. "My mother married my father for the same reasons most Klingons marry, to have the strongest possible mate. He was probably just as glad to find a woman he could be himself with. She knew that once he went through the Change, he would be the most powerful mate a Klingon could hope for. When I was four and he still hadnít Changed, they realized he never would. By the time I was five he was gone."

"You said not all Vampires experience the Change. Why would it matter that your father didnít experience it?" Chakotay asked.

Red eyes snapped open. "The Change only happens when we find our chosen life-mate. Once we find that mate, we experience the last and most powerful stage in our development. Thatís what the Change is."

All eyes turned to Tom. "Not him." BíElanna growled.

"Me." Seven whispered, looking into glowing eyes with sudden understanding.

Everyone turned to study the two women. BíElanna was at the force field and looking at Seven with the same red eyed stare she had turned on everyone all evening. Seven was just inches away across the invisible barrier and had, if possible paled even further than her normal colouring.

"You." BíElanna whispered back. "We were standing under the mistletoe, so I kissed you. It started when you kissed me back."

"I was disappointed that you stopped when Mr. Paris announced it was his turn to kiss me." Seven admitted, blushing furiously. "That is why you attacked him." Seven said with sudden understanding while BíElanna nodded.

"This is a part of our mating cycle. Itís not something that always happens. As a matter of fact, most Vampires donít go through the Change. They live perfectly normal lives. Some, like my father, feel the lack and try to look for it. Most accept it if it happens and donít worry too much if it doesnít. Itís when we find the one who is our perfect match, then we Change. We bond to that person, for life." BíElanna said for the whole room to hear. "Once we bond, all our abilities become enhanced and we develop new ones. I suppose itís natures way of evening the odds for our survival, since humans have always outnumbered us on the order of about five thousand to one."

Tuvok cleared his throat. "When I tried to touch your mind I found a state similar to Vulcans during certain times. Is this bond a psychic one?"

"If you mean Ponn Farr, then the answer is yes. What I am going through is similar, but only on some levels." BíElanna answered though her eyes never left Seven. "Itís not as emotionally disturbing for the simple fact that Iíve had a lifetime of experience with having emotions. It does increase my aggression, but only initially, which is why I couldnít control the urge to attack Tom. The bond however, is not the controlled mind melding of Vulcans. Itís spontaneous and since nature has a cruel sense of humour, one sided. Normally it doesnít matter since Vampires usually only go through the Change after mating. "

"Then why are you experiencing this now? While I freely admit to an attraction, we have not yet mated." Seven commented reasonably.

"I suppose itís because I recognized that attraction when you returned my kiss. Iíve wanted you since I first saw you Seven. Of course, it could be because of my Klingon side. After all, Klingons have never been known for patience." BíElanna commented with a small grin.

"I, for one, have heard enough." The EMH commented. "This story is getting stranger by the second. First you want us to believe you are a Vampire. But not the kind of Vampire that exists in stories. Oh no. You have to be a benevolent Vampire whose physical and mental abilities are all part of some elaborate, nature endowed plan to find and protect your true love." Turning to Janeway he continued. "Captain, as chief medical officer I recommend we clear this room and keep Lieutenant Torres calm until I can run some tests and find out just what is wrong with her."

"I have to agree." Janeway answered running her hands through her hair in frustration. "This is getting us nowhere. Weíre not accomplishing a thing standing here listening to this. I wish I could say itís given us some clue to work with, but weíve just wasted our time."

"We do know that she was normal when she kissed Seven." Tom offered. "So whatever happened, happened under the mistletoe. You know most people only have to worry about getting slapped." he finished with a grin.

Seven looked disappointed as she stepped back. "I should have made you kiss me longer." she whispered for BíElannaís ears alone. "I think if you were not in that cell, I would ask you to kiss me again."

"Right now I have fangs and red eyes." BíElanna whispered back.

Seven simply looked at her with a raised brow and a look that said *So?*.

"I want all of you to leave, now." BíElanna said loud enough to override the murmuring in the room. "Seven and I have a lot to talk about."

"Right now, you and I have to talk about what samples Iíll need for the tests I want to run." the EMH commented dryly.

BíElanna raised her hand and closed her eyes for a moment. When she opened them, she stepped through the force field as if it werenít there. Before anyone could react, she closed her eyes for barely a second before turning that red glow on them all. "You will all leave this area and go back the Christmas party. You will forget what you saw in this room. You will remember that Seven and I left early, nothing more. You will not look for us." As one, they left the room without a word. While the room cleared BíElanna turned off the force field and returned to the bench sheíd been sitting on earlier.

"Why did you not do that earlier?" Seven asked curiously.

"Earlier I couldnít." BíElanna said with a small laugh. At Sevenís questioning glance she clarified. "The Change takes a few days to complete. Every hour I seem able to do more."

"What will happen to you?" Seven asked as she moved to sit stiffly at the other end of the narrow bench.

"It varies with the individual. With me being half Klingon? Who knows." looking to the now closed brig doors she grinned. "I kind of like what I can do so far."

"Will they remember any of this?" Seven asked.

"Probably not." BíElanna commented with a shrug. "I forgot that thereís a team scanning the holodeck and a few other details. How they react to the discrepancy should be interesting." She added with a grin.

"Will I remember any of this?" She asked with calm resignation.

"Youíll remember all of it. I bonded to you Seven. From now on, Iíll have a sense of you. Iíll also be incapable of hurting you. No matter what kind of abilities I develop during the Change, I will be unable to ever turn them on you. The Change is entirely a survival mechanism for the protection of ones mate. Thanks to Count Dracula and others like him, itís become the stuff of some of Earths scariest stories." BíElanna replied.

"I see." Seven commented and with a startlingly shy look asked. "So this change means you are now my mate?"

"No. You donít have to feel an obligation to me Seven." BíElanna said roughly. "Itís not supposed to happen like this and I donít want it to ruin your life."

"Why would having you for a mate ruin my life?" Seven asked curiously.

BíElanna looked at the floor and said nothing.

"Will you kiss me again?" Seven asked suddenly. Her cheeks flushed red as she waited for the answer.

It only took BíElanna a moment to recover her composure and her nerve.

"Seven, Iím going to be like this for a few more days. How about we just talk for now. Weíll have time for kissing when I look normal again." BíElanna said with a laugh. "Besides, my fangs are sharp, I donít want to hurt you."

"You are half Klingon, your teeth are almost as sharp as the fangs you have now." Seven said just before she closed in.

The kiss was as slow as it was careful.

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