DISCLAIMER: I don't own them. However, I sure wish that Paramount would create a new Star Trek series of good quality that would keep the idea alive so that we Fan Fiction writers don't have to do all the work. :)
AUTHOR'S NOTE: There are several sex scenes in this story. On top of that, sex is talked about. However, this story is not just sex (talk). It simply turned out to be a good base to build on other stuff. Note that this story deals with a relationship that has a more dominant and a more submissive partner. However, this is not Dom/sub by any stretch. This is merely two people that fit well together where BOTH people have an equal say in their relationship, just that they prefer to fulfill different roles in said relationship. Also, note, the Delaney sisters are in this story and they are close. Very close. So close that some people might have a problem with it, but rest assured it's not so close as some Voyager people would wish it to be. :P On a side note, Tal Celes also has a pretty decent role in this story. If you read some Voyager Fan Fiction, you will probably know her because she is very often featured as a supporting character. But when I was checking out her bio, I discovered that she has actually only been seen in two, count them, two, episodes. My point here is I find it interesting how some characters can just stick with you and appeal to so many; not just Tal, but also the Delaney sisters or Ro Laren. (Ro is not in this story, just using her as an example for this side note.) She was also in only a few episodes of TNG yet everyone pretty much knows her. But on the other hand, characters like Tuvok and Neelix are often nothing more than just mentioned because they are part of the main cast and therefore basically have to be mentioned. Strange.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To mhw.weckseler[at]gmail.com

Twenty-five to Life
By H.W.


Chapter 3

Not really knowing where to go to watch her files, Seven decided to first search out the main mess hall of The Glory. As soon as she had entered, she heard someone call her name. She looked to the Urdian behind the counter. Judging from the different Urdians she had seen by now, Seven guessed he was slightly over middle aged. After a moment of hesitation, she walked over to him.

"Hi Seven, great to see you again." He waved her closer and whispered, "Want some of my special pasta creation? I have been telling these people that I have nothing left, but as you know, I always keep something behind for my friends."

"I heard that, you little fink," one of the other Urdian said in fake outrage.

"Fine, fine, I'll save you some as well the next time. But tell anyone else and I'll add some special ingredients to your next meal, if you know what I mean."

Both the Urdians grinned and Seven could clearly recognize the banter of friends. "Do I know you?" Seven asked the man behind the counter.

The man looked at her in silence for a moment and Seven saw a tear escape one of his eyes. "It's really true then, you don't remember?"

He looked at the other man for a moment, who clearly knew when to excuse himself. The other man put an arm on Seven's before merely saying, 'sorry' and then leaving.

"Yeah, you know me, or at least, you knew me. I'm Danna Jalis. You and... um, you know about B'Elanna?"

"If you mean that she and I are married, then yes, I am aware of that."

"Ah," Danna said with clear relief. "Well, when you and B'Elanna left Voyager, you both moved into a housing unit right beside my restaurant, in separate units. Apparently, you liked my food because from that first day you never missed a day. You always at least had dinner at my place and more than once lunch and breakfast as well. You had been living there three days when B'Elanna happened to come in at the same time you did."

Danna smiled and sighed happily. "You decided to have lunch together. When I closed up ten hours later you were still talking, having had dinner along the way as well. You two were inseparable ever since. We became friends since you were there so often. When I heard you were leaving to go back to Voyager, I applied to my government for a spot on one of the ships."

"You left your restaurant, your home, because we were leaving and you wanted to come along?" Seven asked in disbelief.

Danna smiled. "Well, yes and no. I was growing tired and I was looking for a new challenge. I had been thinking for a year now of handing my restaurant to one of my brothers and opening one in a different city. The challenge of leaving came at the same time when I was looking for a change, so I took the challenge."

"But what if you get tired of being in command of this mess hall?" Seven asked curiously. "You will not be able to leave then."

"Sure I will. I never get tired of working with food. I just get tired of being in the same location. But with twenty ships I can move from ship to ship every year for twenty years and still meet new people and have my restaurant looking different or on different decks."

"I apologize for not remembering you," Seven said sincerely. She had a feeling that she indeed had been good friends with him. She already liked him after only a few minutes.

"Don't worry about it. We can get to know each other again. I'm really sorry you don't remember the last months. You missed so much. It hurts me more than I can say that I remember your wedding while you don't."

Seven could hear the pain in his words and felt warmed by how deeply he cared for her. "I thank you for your concern. I would indeed be interested in some food. Also, can you tell me where I can watch video files in private?"

"Well, those four tables over there are surrounded by a dampening field. I did that so people can listen to stuff there without hindering other people. However, if you want even more privacy, then you can step into my office back here. I'll be busy here upfront for the next two hours at least."

"Thank you. I accept the offer."

Seven took a fork full of the pasta and hummed happily. Then she stopped chewing. When had she started to hum in appreciation of food? She took another bite and had to agree with Danna, the pasta was wonderful.

Not long after the food was gone, she picked up the PADD. She navigated to the data crystal's memory. She was slightly surprised to see almost six hundred files. Some, she noticed, were less than thirty seconds according to the time indicators. On the other side of the scale, there were at least fifteen over one hour in length. Most were between five and ten minutes in length. She wondered where to begin. Logic dictated the 'index' would be a good place to start, but then she noticed with some amusement, one of the files was named 'open me first.' With an amused smile, she did.

"Hi, I'm willing to bet my ass that I'm the last person you were expecting to see."

Seven pushed the pause button and for a moment simply looked at the grinning face of B'Elanna Torres. She opened up the directory and brought up the data crystal's tag just to make sure, but it really was hers. Curious she started the video file again.

"So, did I already do something to piss you off?"

The file stopped and two small fields came into view, one said 'yes' while the other said 'no.'

Seven hesitated, and apparently, there was some time trigger worked into the video file, because suddenly B'Elanna spoke again.

"Don't worry, all files stay available, so you can access the other files through the directory if you want. The yes and no answers is just something you came up with to make these files look more interactive."

The file stopped again and now four 'buttons' came into view. 'Yes', 'think/pause', 'unsure', 'no'. It made Seven smile and decide for the time being she would not yet look at the other options in the directory. She pushed think and then laughed when the image of B'Elanna rolled her eyes in response. Seven thought about the question for a moment. Had B'Elanna already done something to annoy her? She had felt a certain annoyance for the Klingon, but she had a feeling this had simply been old habit. In fact, one could say B'Elanna had been surprisingly polite to her. Decision made, Seven pushed the 'no' button.

"No? Wow, I'm surprised. Well, good, that means that I get to you while you might be open to me asking you for help."

Seven was intrigued now.

"You see, I did record a few files for myself, but if I know myself only a little bit, I will come up with some lame ass excuses not to watch it. What can I say? I can be really chicken at times."

Seven frowned. The statement had come way too easy from the Klingon. Married or not, the B'Elanna she knew would not so easily and happily have admitted that she was scared of something. Then realization set in. This B'Elanna was still under the influence of the trace element while she made the recording. Still, this B'Elanna was acting the most like the B'Elanna Seven knew. She felt it safe to assume this B'Elanna would be able to give her insight into the character of B'Elanna Torres, even if she was to say some things that the other B'Elanna normally never would.

Meanwhile the holo-image of B'Elanna continued speaking since Seven hadn't stopped the recording. "So, seeing that I can't trust myself, I'm going to ask you for help. Now, it's more complex than it sounds. You can't just walk up to me and tell me to watch my recordings. That would make me never do it."

Now Seven was sure this B'Elanna had still been clear enough of mind to know herself only too well.

"No, I'm really sorry, but I'm afraid you will have to hang in there, Seven. It will be up to you to give me more chances than I really deserve. It will be up to you to stand up, take my pushing willingly, but not let yourself be pushed over. Of course, you need some reward for that. So now I'm going to tell you, keep a list. For every time I mess up, don't remember what I did wrong, just remember that I need to make it up to you. And then once we do manage to get through this and I am smart enough to stay married to you, then you make me watch the file called 'for B'Elanna' and tell me how many times I have to make it up to you. Trust me. I'll love it, then."

B'Elanna grinned for a moment before sighing. "But, Seven, hang in there. Trust me. I'm worth all the trouble. That's it for now. Next time open the file called 'index.' It will bring you to sub-indexes that my most wonderful wife ordered for you. Oh and talking about my wonderful wife, she wants to say something to you as well."

B'Elanna got up and seconds later Seven saw herself come into view and sit down, making it clear she had been just out of view the entire time.

"There is one big difference between B'Elanna and me. B'Elanna will need work. B'Elanna would never trust herself when she would see a file that tells her to stay married to me. However, I do trust myself. Seven of Nine, let me be clear. Yes, B'Elanna is worth it, yes, you want to be married to her, and yes, she makes you so happy that you fall in love more and more with every minute of every day. She is perfect for you and if the choice is yours than you will stay married to her. Comply."

Suddenly the recording ended, only to be replaced by the main index.

Seven didn't know what to think. She had been expecting things like information on items she now possessed or people that were on the ships that she had known, like Danna. This elaborate plot to stay married to B'Elanna had been the last thing she had expected.

She looked at the screen and lifted an eyebrow. She might have been the one that had arranged and linked all the files, but B'Elanna's flair was clearly seen. One sub-index was called 'major fuck-up' while another one was called 'bonus points'. Seven understood this meant she should open those sub-indexes after B'Elanna had done something as the titles suggested, if B'Elanna did something to make Seven extremely angry, or if the Klingon had been extra nice to her.

There were six categories named along those lines and a seventh one that was called 'samples'. Curious, she opened that one, only to see herself once more.

"Seven of Nine, as my wife likes to say, you are nosy." The Seven in the image smiled before continuing. "She likes that, but do not tell her that you know it. I recorded this in private. This is one of our little games, she likes the fact that she as a Klingon is less 'nosy' than me, so I indulge her even though I can precisely indicate the times that she was 'nosy'. Therefore, I know that she is nosier than I am. Either way, because you are nosy, I know you are tempted to watch some of these files but some of them have some nice surprises that should be witnessed under the right circumstances. I linked a few files here that won't ruin any surprises now. Do not snoop around in the rest until the time for a divorce has passed. Comply, and enjoy. And yes, she really is worth it."

The image faded to show an index of six files, one file each of the main sub folders in the other index. She wondered which one to open. She realized that 'alone' had to mean something else than what she first thought. After all, she would not be with B'Elanna when she watched these files regardless. Now she believed that 'alone' meant she had to watch the file when nobody else at all could hear or see it. Her eyebrow lifted when she noticed it was one of the files lasting almost an hour. Decision made, she started the file.

The image moved as a recorder was moved into a better position, yet all that could be seen was a gray blur. "Ready?" She heard B'Elanna say.

"Almost. I have to do the intro yet."

"Seven, you can't be serious, I'm dying here."

Seven could clearly hear the outrage in the Klingon's voice as holo-image Seven responded.

"You are not dying. You are just horny."

The gray blur moved away as Seven stepped away from the recorder. "Seven of Nine. Since I know very well you never had sex before we landed Voyager on this planet, I felt you might wonder if sex is really that special. B'Elanna and I, yes we both, felt you should witness some of the magic we call lovemaking. The only condition is you will share these files with B'Elanna once she is willing to watch them. Believe me, she will love them."

"Oh yeah, I just love to watch," B'Elanna said somewhere off to the side. Her tone of voice making it very clear she meant more than just video files.

"Enjoy," Holo-Seven merely said before moving further away and finally revealing the holo-recorder pointed at the bed that was now standing in the bedroom Seven had been in not too long ago. Suddenly viewing angels changed and Seven realized that the first part must have been recorded with a computer unit or PADD. While the images she was looking at now had definitely been recorded with the higher quality holo-recorder. Seven wondered why they would have gone through the trouble of getting an extra recorder when a PADD's, and especially a computer unit's, building camera would have been more than enough. And then Seven got her answer when the holo-Seven moved a bit further away yet and the holo-recorder's wide angle abilities and better image quality came into its own.

As Seven moved away further, B'Elanna walked into the picture. The real life Seven had to swallow when she saw the Klingon was dressed in some sexy underwear. And now she was thankful for the fact that they had decided to get a standalone recorder. Seven had not really looked at herself to see the quality of images, but when she saw B'Elanna she definitely looked. She realized that unlike normal recordings, the standalone recorder's image quality was so high that Seven couldn't make a difference between the recording now, and the woman she had talked to not long before. This image truly had the same quality as looking at holograms on the holodeck did. And guessing what was coming next, Seven felt that she was going to enjoy the extra quality.

She swallowed once more when she saw how holo-Seven opened the bathrobe to reveal underwear just as tempting. The only difference being, B'Elanna's had been white and Seven's was blue. Seven couldn't remember ever having tried underwear like that, but seeing herself in it in the video, she had to smile as she realized how stunning she looked in it. That was definitely worth remembering.

"So, what are we going to do? Normal or something special?" B'Elanna asked.

"I am not certain."

"You know, maybe we should have talked about that before starting the recorder."

The Seven in the recording shook her head. "No, I will enjoy hearing us decide what we will do. I think we have two choices. Since I am going to link this file to the sample index, we can either show me how we make tender love, to show me how wonderfully sensual most of our lovemaking is."

"Or?" B'Elanna asked as she kneeled before Seven who had sat down on the edge of the bed.

"Or we show me some of the more intense things we enjoy, just so that I see that you really do not mind to do some of the things I have fantasized about before we fell in love."

"How about both?" B'Elanna asked with a grin before placing a kiss in the valley of Seven's breasts. "First you love me, slow, tender, maybe not even going inside. Once it's my turn though, I chain you to the bed and I fuck your brains out with the biggest toy we have in the drawer."

"Your compromise is deemed acceptable."

Suddenly B'Elanna looked straight at the recorder. "Hear that? You are playing to the recorder, you know. If that thing wasn't running, you would probably have said something like, 'yes B'Elanna, I cannot wait for you to fuck me'."

"You, my wife are a crude pig." The Seven in the file turned to the recorder as well. "And for the record, my wife is correct. I cannot wait for her to chain me down and fuck me until I come again and again."

B'Elanna grinned and placed a kiss on Seven's left breast before lowering the strap of the bra on that side. Then she placed a kiss on the other side...

Before Seven could see more, she stopped the recording. Not that she didn't want to see what was coming next, but because she was in a room with no lock on the door and Danna might interrupt her after all, if he needed something. Besides, Seven had the distinct feeling if she watched much more of the recording she might want to be in a place where she could get naked. At least open her bio-suit far enough to put a hand where she would really need it.

Seven looked at the stopped image on the PADD for a moment before finally smiling. "It is good to have allies. B'Elanna, you are in so much trouble."

"Are you sure I'm welcome here?" B'Elanna asked as she looked passed Tom to the woman a little further in the quarters.

"Sure, come in," The woman spoke up with a smile. "Don't worry; I'm only three months pregnant. The jealous phase starts between the tenth and eleventh month when I'm waddling around like a bloated seal on dry land."

"There really is such a thing?" B'Elanna asked as she walked in, only to be surprised by the woman treating her to a warm hug.

"Oh, yeah. I have to get to know you yet, B'Elanna Torres, but let me give you a little warning. Even if we manage to become the best of friends, when the jealous stage sets in, it might be better if you and Tom only interact as little as possible. I'll be making his life a living hell by then as well. Even if he is just looking where he is walking and there happens to be a woman standing there, if I see him look in her direction, I'll start crying or get extremely pissed, or both. Luckily this stage normally only lasts a week or two."

"I see Tom told you about our friendship?" B'Elanna asked with a smile, but she had chosen her words deliberately in a way that didn't really give anything away.

Tom's wife laughed. "You mean if he told me about what good friends you are and that the two of you enjoyed visiting the sheets from time to time? Yeah, he told me. Come, sit down."

Tom's wife pointed her to the couch before continuing, "In case Tom didn't come around to mentioning it, my name is Vlasana Aliwok. Tom told me about you long before we got married."

Vlasana sighed. "That should have been a warning all by itself. He told me about his good friend, B'Elanna, how much fun you two had together. He showed me a holo-recording of you two visiting some amusement park on your time off during an away mission. He told me you were the person he confided in even more than his other close friend Harry... and yet he never felt interested in visiting you even though you only lived one beaming away. It was always 'maybe next week'."

"I'm sorry," Tom said sincerely as he placed a hand on B'Elanna's shoulder.

She looked up at him and smiled. "Don't be. If you could have visited me with only one beaming, that means I could have visited you with only one beaming as well."

She looked as Tom moved to sit beside his wife before she continued. "That's what really makes this so hard. From one side it doesn't hurt us because we don't remember. In that regard, it hurts people like Vlasana a lot more. What makes it hard for us is knowing none of what we did was real. I... I saw wedding pictures of me and Seven. Only five other people of Voyager were there. Now it's like the universe flipped over again. Once again the people of Voyager care about me, but I don't care about the one person that I'm supposed to be in love with and married."

"So, are you going to get a divorce?" Tom asked, right before looking at his wife when she gasped.

"I'm sorry, the idea that you would so simply..." Her words trailed off when she realized her own marriage was also not a sure thing. "I have to get used to the idea that you people can actually stop loving the person you once fell in love with."

Tom took her hand and placed a kiss on her knuckles. "Maybe we simply got used to breaking up when we have a problem instead of working it out. I want to make this thing between us work, my wife. My promise to you, I'll always do my best to work things out instead of giving up. It's with that mindset that I'll make my choice at the end of this month."

She smiled at him before looking back at B'Elanna. "As Tom asked, are you planning on getting a divorce? You did marry her, you know, so you must like her. Tom told me you're now married to someone you didn't get along with before. But if you married her, it must mean that you found a way to get passed that."

"No we didn't," B'Elanna disagreed. "We merely didn't care anymore. There is a difference. Forgive and forget is easy if something is affecting you that makes you not care about the thing or person you're forgiving. But now... even if I were to forgive Seven all she ever did, and no, I'm not saying I'm blameless either, she still has a character that clashes with mine and we still won't like each other, at the very least. Don't get me wrong. I'm not a fool. I do realize there are things that she and I have in common."

B'Elanna sighed before admitting, "I told her, and I do mean this, I might, maybe, eventually see us getting along well enough to become roommates. I even admitted that if this thing wasn't for life, I would be interested in being married to her for a week or so, so that we could explore the few things we do have in common. The problem is that this is for life. If I don't get a divorce now I'm stuck with her for life and I don't want that."

"You could get the divorce and then marry her under Federation law," Tom suggested. "That way you can try this month to see what you have in common and then divorce her and marry her Federation style so that you can see how long it lasts."

"I can't do that," B'Elanna said frustrated. "Let's say that I do try to get along with her so that I can do as you suggested, marry her Federation style after getting a divorce at the end of this month. What if I find that we do get along... at the end of the month, I would decide that I might as well stay married. Why divorce her only to marry her again? It would seem obvious to me that staying married is the right thing to do. I can't risk that. I can't afford to let me get used to the idea of being married to her. I can't afford to see positives in that, even if there are. I'm not a complete moron. I know the Captain had a point, and so do you. Even if I don't remember marrying her, the fact remains that I did, and that alones tells me that it must be possible, no matter how unlikely the idea sounds to me. But I can't start thinking of that. I can't risk it. Was it a normal Federation timed wedding, all of this would be a moot point. But it's not since this is for the long haul."

"Yeah, but still, if you like her by that time, does it really matter how you are married?" Tom asked.

"Don't you get the 'for life' part?" B'Elanna asked annoyed. "What if I stay married, only to find out a few months later that I don't want to be married anymore? Tom, you know me. There is more at play here than just being married. There is also my honor. You and I had fun as friends who also shared a bed. I think that this was perfectly fine because neither of us was in a relationship. But now that you want to work out things with Vlasana here, going to bed with you would no longer be an option for me because my honor wouldn't allow it."

"Really?" Vlasana interrupted. "Hmm, you just have to remind me of that when the jealousy stage sets in."

It was meant as a joke, but B'Elanna did hear a trace of seriousness in the humor. "I will," she assured. Then she continued on her original point. "Can you imagine if I stay married to Seven and realize afterwards that I made a mistake?"

B'Elanna snorted before continuing. "Yeah, it would be a mistake alright. My honor would prevent me from ever having sex with anyone else as long as I'm married to her, which would happen to be for life. As much as I have to admit I'm sexually interested in her, I also can't keep my distance from her for a month just so that I don't get involved too much only so I can then divorce her with the hope she and I can screw around some."

She went over her last words and shook her head. "Listen to that. Can you believe how screwed up this situation is? Keep my distance from her for a month not to get attached. To divorce her after. To only interact with her again after that time, but only to sleep with her. That's just totally screwed up. I can't and I won't do that. There too my honor would never allow it. I can't get a divorce from the person I'm married to just so that I can have sex with her when we're divorced."

She stopped again, going over her words. She frowned. "Arg, damn it. My point is that my honor demands that if I want to have sex with her, then I should also stay married to her. If I don't want to be married, then I should also not want the sex."

"Crap, you're right. I totally forget about that." Seeing the confusion on his wife's face, Tom explained. "Klingons are very sexually active. It's one of the reasons why B'Elanna and I started to share more than just friendship. She wanted sex and she had a good friend that sure as hell wouldn't mind having sex with her as well. For me, even if you, my wife, were to tell me that we would never have sex, I might still be interested in trying to work things out if the rest between us is good enough of a reason. But for a Klingon? Sex is part of a relationship. If their partners are no longer interested in sex, Klingons see it as there being something basically wrong with the relationship and that the marriage should end. For them a lack of sex is a valid and lawful reason to end a marriage."

Then he looked at B'Elanna and asked, just to be sure, "Right?"

"Right. To us sex is just as important as love and honor. I can't stay married to Seven if I don't love her; my honor would never allow it. Even if I did love Seven but there is no sex, the marriage would still end. After all, if we don't have sex there is no reason to be married. Friends can live in the same house as well; you don't have to be married for that. The 'for life' thing is really the problem here. This balance between love, sex, and honor, demands that marriages Klingons are involved in can end at any point. Hell, a Klingon divorce is nothing more than a slap in the face, spitting on the ground, and throwing some insults around. I simply can't stay married to Seven for life, I can't. I also can't divorce her just so that I can marry her again without the condition of 'for life' attached. Honor demands that if I think I love her enough to get married, then I should have stayed married to her to begin with."

"That's quite a paradox you got there," Vlasana admitted. "But, you talk about Klingons, but what about Humans?"

"Oh, I have enough Human traits as well," B'Elanna assured. "And if this had happened three months earlier than I would have told you that Klingon Honor is a bunch of crap."

"If so, then why not now?" Vlasana asked confused.

"Because I died. Well, the Doctor says it was a deep coma but still. I visited the Barge of the Dead. For Klingons, it brings us to our equivalent of a Hell. Though with us it's not as much about how right or wrong you lived your life, but with how much honor you lived it. There I learned that I have to live my life with more honor. Now, it is a point of discussion whether the Doctor is right and it was just my imagination, or if I really went there. But you know what? It doesn't matter. Either I'm right and I have been giving a warning that I do well to listen to or the Doctor is right, which means that it was some part of me that is telling me that I have to be more honorable. Regardless, from then on my honor became a lot more important to me. I'm not about to ignore my honor because of inconvenient timing."

"So, if I get this straight," Vlasana said slowly. "Even if you find out in the coming weeks that you do really like Seven, you will still not stay married to her because you can't take the risk. If you do take the divorce, you can't marry her again according to your rules because your honor code says that if you divorced her, you then have no right to be married to her again?"

"Something like that," B'Elanna admitted. "It's a damned if I do and damned if I don't kind of thing. I can't stay married to her because the risks are too high, and as soon as I divorced her, I have no right to marry her once more, even simply have sex with her. We even couldn't just have sex without being married. No, when this month is over, so is any possible chance of having a relationship with her."

Then she grinned. "Besides, I would not be surprised if Seven wants a divorce even more than me by the end of the month; as you can see, living with a Klingon is not easy."

B'Elanna had left Tom and Vlasana after an hour of visiting, promising Vlasana she would come and visit more in the next days so they could get to know each other.

As she walked into her quarters she listened for a moment, but nothing indicated that Seven was home as well. As she walked in further, she noticed a vibrant blue package. It was as long as her hand and it was resting on a PADD. She hesitated and walked over to it. She lifted the box and was surprised to find some weight to it. As she did so, the PADD activated, showing that Seven had placed the box deliberately on the activation button.

"Why am I not surprised? Blondie even plans how to place a damn box." She put the package down, picked up the PADD, and read the message.

You were correct. I saw an opening and took it without contemplating the consequences. I apologize. I hope you can accept this offering as a decent peace bribery. Since sex is not a safe topic to discuss, I thought this would be better.


Curious, B'Elanna put down the PADD and took the package. She already knew from the feel that it was a box. She quickly removed the wrapping to reveal a box made from highly polished aluminum. It had a hinge along the length of one side and a fastener on the other. She opened it and couldn't help but bark out a laugh.

"Kahless Seven, you really developed a sense of humor. And you know just what kinds of gifts touch an engineer in the right spot."

She took the mini spanner out of the box and looked at it for a moment. Her approval rose when she saw it was high quality to be used for years and not to break after one or two uses. She looked at the different attachments in the box and grinned.

"Ooh, you are forgiven. You even have the sub-sizes."

Thinking for a moment, B'Elanna entered her own message into the PADD before also replicating a little something. Then she walked into the corridor of the quarters to put the gift with the rest of her tools.

'I do have to get used to the fact that these doors make no sound when opening,' She thought as the walk-in closet door opened without a sound. 'Especially with Seven being here as well. I think it's better if opening doors would make a sound. Maybe I can add something.'

Then she sighed, knowing that it would have to wait a couple of days. This day she still had other things to do and the next day, she would have to be there for the rest of the crew that were 'remembered'.

Seven walked back into her quarters and her eyes drifted immediately to the coffee table. Her little gift was gone, which was a good sign, and replaced with a different package, which maybe was even a better sign.

She took the package off the PADD and was slightly surprised when the PADD didn't activate. She had been sure from the placement of the package that B'Elanna had done the same thing with this one. Then she rolled her eyes. Figures, Klingon and a former Maquis, far be it from her to do the expected. She activated the PADD and read.

Apology accepted. I won't apologize for reacting the way I did. I'm part Klingon and that's part of my nature; take it or leave it.

But, I do sincerely thank you for trying to make up. So, even if I don't apologize, I hope you can accept my version of a peace bribery.


"Take it or leave it? I take it." Seven assured the empty room, just before looking at the corridor when she heard the door to the walk-in closet open.

Unlike B'Elanna, Seven with her enhanced hearing could hear the doors open. She could even distinguish between doors from the sound they made because the different doors opened at different speeds. Seven guessed that this was because even though the door sensors were all made the same, they were still installed by the Urdians by hand, which meant not all sensor fields were set exactly the same distance from the door.

Mere moments after Seven heard the door open and close, B'Elanna walked into the room and looked at her for a moment.

Finally, the Klingon asked, "Well, are you going to open it?"

Seven gave her a small smile before putting the PADD down and picking up the package.

"I, um, have no idea what you like, but I figured that you with your logic would simply replicate what you want anyway, so, um, well, open it."

Seven dutifully did so. Here too was a polished aluminum box though shaped differently. Once she opened it. The content was nothing like Seven expected and most definitely nothing like what she give to B'Elanna. Inside laid a 10x10x10 centimeter cube with a different color on all six sides. The cube was made up from smaller squares of five by five rows; making each side consisted of twenty-five squares.

"I do not understand," Seven finally admitted.

"It's a puzzle," B'Elanna explained. "It's an advanced version of an old Earth puzzle called a Rubik's Cube. This version is called a Professor's Cube. Normally they were made of plastic, but I took the liberty of having the replicator create it out of six different colors of semi-transparent aluminum."

B'Elanna frowned before adding with a grin, "How about that for logic? I take a transparent metal, and then add color to it so that it's no longer transparent."

"But nevertheless highly durable," Seven said in understanding. "How does it work?"

B'Elanna came closer and held out her hand. After Seven handed her the cube she explained. "See, you can twist these around. Now, the basic idea, and I'm sure you'll manage in one hour or so, is to scramble all the colors and then try to get them all back to one color per side again. But, knowing you and that mind of yours, how about if I scramble the colors for you? Otherwise, you'll only keep track of how you scrambled it and simply reverse the process. But that's not all. The reason why I give you this is because there is a more advanced way of doing it. Once you have all the colors back in place, I will give you combinations."

B'Elanna touched different squares on the different sides. "Only one green square exactly in this spot, and one blue in this red field here, and one yellow square here, and... well you get the idea. Once you managed one different color square per side, we go to two, and then combinations, two yellow and one green on one side, and so on. That should keep you busy for a while. There are over 283 trevigintillion different permutations possible. And no, I won't give you the exact number because I don't feel like even trying to look it up again and then pronounce a number that has 75 digits."

"Thank you," Seven said with a smile as she took back the cube.

"You're welcome. Now, why don't we sit down and lay down some ground rules?"

Seven lifted an eyebrow, but never the less sat down on the short couch. "Ground rules?"

"Yes." B'Elanna sat down on the longer couch. "I," Her eyes drifted passed Seven and to the wedding pictures on the wall. "Before I get to that, I have to admit that until now all my thoughts were on how I felt about this situation. So tell me, Seven, what do you think about us being married? Do you want a divorce just as bad as I do?"

Seven thought back to the B'Elanna that had spoken to her in the video file and how the Klingon had asked for her help. She decided part of that help was to ignore the general 'I don't want to be married to you' comments and she started to think, just what was it that she herself wanted?

"I am not adverse to the idea of us being married," she finally said. "However, I still find I have to get used to it as well. Personally, I do believe we have to try to see now if we can get along, if for nothing more than to make the time we have to spend together bearable. The condition clearly stated we have to spend these twenty-five days together and I for one would prefer if we could do so in peace."

"No, it says that we have to be married for that long," B'Elanna disagreed.

Seven dipped her head. "That is how the captain explained it, but that is not what it says in the written conditions. I do not fault her for it because she had to surmise a contract set up by government lawyers, using bureaucratic language, and doing so in their native language that was thirty margins long. I am certain that somewhere in the computer's translation to standard Federation, and then the captain surmising, details were distorted. I already informed the captain of this and assured her that I can hand her a proper translation in two days pointing out the important parts. It can be distributed to the people involved so that they can keep it in mind while it still matters."

"Does it make that much of a difference?" B'Elanna wondered.

"It does. There is a secondary time limit worked in most people are not aware exist. As I said, the conditions say married couples have to spend twenty-five days together. Some might assume this means they can also not see the person for a week and after that they can continue building on the twenty-five days. Basically spread the twenty-five days out over en equal number of weeks."

"That's something I might have tried, if those pictures over there hadn't made me realize that at the very least I should try to get on a civilized conversational basis with you."

At B'Elanna's words, Seven turned and looked at the pictures for a moment. "I see." And she did. "You might find it interesting to know, the man that is standing to your left in the group picture, he is on this ship and operates the mess hall. It seems that he is... was... a good friend of the both of us."

"A Neelix mark two?" B'Elanna asked amused.

"Something like that, though his food is not only edible but even good. You might want to try it. You might also want to try to get to know him again. I like him and I think he might be a very good friend to have."

"I'll think about it," B'Elanna assured sincerely.

Seven turned around and looked at the Klingon once more. "But to come back to the subject, if you had done that, then you would have missed your chance. The secondary timeline is that all chances for a divorce are declared naught once the Armada leaves Urdian space. If you or anyone else decided to not spend the specified time with the person they are married to, they will not be able to spend twenty-five days with them before we leave and the chance for a divorce is forfeited."

"Seven, I didn't spend much time with you today, nor do I think I'll have that much time tomorrow, how can we make this deadline?" B'Elanna asked in shock.

"There is a reason why the contract is thirty margins long. There are sub-conditions," Seven assured. "Apparently they did realize that almost none of the people work in the same location as the person they are married to and that some people might choose to visit friends while the person they are married to decided to work a little longer. The conditions allow for that flexibility. They want to prevent misusing the system. You and I work in different places, unless I have to help in Engineering. This is not a problem and even though we are not together at that point, it still falls in the 'life spent together' category. Just like when I went to the mess hall just now. However, if you were to abuse that by suddenly starting to work twelve hours every day and visit friends on top of that, just so that you only would come home to sleep, then this would register as a misuse of time. Another sub-condition is that during the period of sleeping, both people have to be in the same quarters, so you would not be able to spend the night at a friend's quarters."

"In the same quarters, or the same room?" B'Elanna wondered. "We didn't have time yet to move your alcove."

"The same quarters."

"You know, for them to know the difference, sounds like they are watching our every step."

"They are," Seven agreed. "Or more to the point, the ships are able to keep track. As you know, on Voyager we had to request an active scan of the ship to find someone that was not wearing a combadge. On these ships and on Voyager, as soon as the programming is updated, sensors will keep track on an ongoing basis. With this, your exact position is known every second of the day. It is one of Urdians crime prevention solutions. With the exception for blind spur of the moment actions like hitting someone, the Urdians do not have any crime at all. Or more to the point no unsolved crime. After all, as you would say, things happen. However there is no such thing as burglary, vandalism, or crimes like that. "

"Talk about big brother," B'Elanna said in disbelief. "Of course people don't steal stuff. They know up front that the sensor system will put them at the scene of the crime. I think living like that would make me paranoid in no time."

"You will be living like that from now on," Seven pointed out. "However, I believe it is merely a matter of what people are used to in regards to security and that we all, including you, will get used to it very fast and even come to appreciate the security it gives. For instance, have you ever run adult programs on the holodeck?"

"What? That is," B'Elanna stopped herself from telling Seven it was none of her business. After a moment of hesitation, she decided to answer with a neutral, "Why do you ask?"

"I asked because you as an engineer should know the holodeck sensors track all events, if for nothing more than to make sure the safety settings kick in when needed," Seven pointed out. "And I believe that you, just like most people, will become very appreciative of the fact that with the Urdian security system it is truly impossible for someone to access the holodeck memory buffer without being found out."

"I see where you are going," B'Elanna interrupted. "Most people, me included, forget that if someone were to hack into the security coding of the holodeck computer, then they can rerun the program and have you replaced by a hologram. Therefore, they're able see in, explicit detail, exactly what you did." Seeing the logic of Seven's comparison, she asked, "How secure are these sensor logs from the Urdian ships?"

"They can only be activated by the captains of the ships and even then a message is sent to Admiral Danara."

"Did you look at how easy someone can break into that clearance?"

Seven tilted her head a little before admitting, "Not on that matter, but I did look at some of the secured files in Astrometrics. Since I have to clearance to open those files, I felt I was not breaking any rules by looking at the security coding. It is highly impressive. It is a long string of code consisting of alphanumeric combinations. It randomly resets every thirty seconds with a new code, with the same parameters. I sincerely doubt that in such an advanced system they will rotate used codes, however if they do, then there must be over twenty different codes since I watched the coding for ten minutes. When adding the chance of someone hacking into the system, if there really are only twenty codes, then the chance that the same code coming back in rotation after nineteen codes passed would be unlikely. Plus, I sincerely doubt that such an advanced system would be limited to only twenty codes. I would guess, at the very least, there are one thousand codes in rotation every 30 seconds."

B'Elanna nodded her head in agreement. "If not a multitude of that. Alright, I do feel better about that the security is sufficiently protected from potential hacking."

"You said that it was time to set some rules?" Seven reminded after a moment of silence.

"Ah, yes," B'Elanna agreed. "Alright, let's start with the big one. They put us in here together, so since these are the quarters of the both of us, we both have the same rights to them. I think that decency will make sure we stick to not touching what we don't own. Now, as a peace offering on that front, as I told you earlier, I snooped around in here to see what was here and if I needed to bring over anything from Voyager. I must admit I also looked at some of your stuff at that time."

Seven lifted an eyebrow at the confession.

"I know, it doesn't sound like a nice thing to do when I say it like this but the circumstances played a clear role here. Anyway, as for the peace offering, since I looked around, why don't you have a look around as well? You will also see what I mean. My underwear is folded in a way I'm sure it's you that did it."

That eyebrow lifted again.

"Hey, it's true. You'll see what I mean. When I saw them I figured since you handled my stuff, I could look at yours." Not being able to help herself, B'Elanna asked, "Are you really nude under that bio-suit?"

"Of course," Seven answered the question, not seeing why B'Elanna would ask; it was obvious to her. "The bio-suit regulates my skin temperature. To do so, it needs to be in contact with the skin."

"Yeah, I guess that makes sense," B'Elanna admitted, somehow disappointed there was such a logical reason for it. In her mind, it had been a lot more fun to think Seven was nude under the bio-suit because she got some kick out of it. "Alright, let's see, what else?"

"How about a cool down period of five seconds?" Seven interrupted, before adding, "At least I hope I can also suggest base rules?"

B'Elanna frowned. "Sure, sure, but, um, what do you mean?"

"B'Elanna Torres, you just agreed that this is my home as well. I feel that in my home I should be able to say things without evaluating every word. I may say things that you do not like, so I suggest a cool down period of five seconds before you explode. At least that gives me the chance to word my comment in a different way."

"I... I guess you got a point there," B'Elanna admitted. "But I can't promise you it will work. After all, if I'm pissed because of something you said, I don't think I'll remember that I have to wait five seconds before ripping into you."

"Can you at least promise you will try?" Seven countered.

"That I can do," B'Elanna agreed. "Let's see,"

"B'Elanna Torres," Seven interrupted, "You gave me that cube and assumed I would remember the sequence in which I moved the colors around if I did it myself. Therefore, I think it is safe to say we both agree I will be able to remember every rule you come up with, but the real question is, can you? The more rules you come up with, the more rules you have to remember at a time where remembering things is not normally your best forte. Why do we not simply see where things go. If we run into a problem we make a rule about it at that point?"

B'Elanna hesitated for a moment before agreeing. "Alright, you have a point."

Going to bed brought another surprise B'Elanna hadn't even thought about. She had stopped at the walk-in closet to pick her favorite nightshirt she had seen there when snooping around earlier. She was rooted to the floor when moments after entering the bedroom, so did Seven. 'Crap, there is only one bed here. Double crap, I have to change with her here!' "I had totally forgotten that we have only one bed," B'Elanna finally admitted aloud.

"A very big bed," Seven remembered. "If you want, we can replace it with two smaller beds, but I do not see the use. I am very capable of staying on one side of a bed. Remember, we did share a bed before, in the time we both remember I mean."

"Yeah, on that away mission where Harry, you, and I had to share a room."

Despite her tension, B'Elanna smirked. "I think that Harry was really hoping you would share the bed with him."

"He was," Seven agreed. "He was nervous and then disappointed when I opted for the bed you were in. Either way, it is an irrelevant point at the moment since I need to regenerate tonight. You may have the bed, while I use the alcove. Tomorrow I will be sleeping in that bed though, unless you do want to replace it. After I regenerate tonight, it is three days before I have to regenerate again. Maybe we can move the alcove before that time."

"Yeah, sounds like a good idea," B'Elanna agreed, though privately she was glad she would at least get one night of not having to worry about things like getting naked in front of Seven, or seeing her naked that is. "Um, on that away mission you slept in your bio-suit," B'Elanna reminded. "Is that how you always sleep?"

"B'Elanna Torres, as you just found out, unlike you, I assume, I do not wear underwear. Do you think that it would have been a good idea to take off my bio-suit in a room with Harry and then get into bed with you, naked? I do not think that either of you would have gotten much sleep that night."

"You are so full of yourself, Blondie." B'Elanna shot back. Then she grinned. "But it's probably true. Harry would have keeled over and after that been awake all night because he would not want to let go of the image of you nude. I probably would've wondered how I could convince you that a one-night stand with me on an away mission would be perfectly alright."

"Indeed," Seven agreed before heading to the room that stored her alcove. "Good night, B'Elanna."

"Good night," B'Elanna repeated. She watched how Seven walked into the other room and waited until the door closed before she let herself drop onto the bed. "What the hell am I doing? How the hell will I be able to sleep with her in the same bed? With her being nude? I'm so dead."

Part 4

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