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 6

Day eight.

"Ladies, how are things going?" Janeway asked as she walked into Voyager's Engineering. She looked at the empty place where once the warp core had stood and couldn't help but feel a trace of sadness. It wasn't that if felt like she lost a family member, the feeling wasn't that strong. It felt more like a an acquaintance had moved away and Kathryn now realized that she would never see them again; a bit of sadness, but not enough to spoil the day.

"Captain," B'Elanna greeted as she turned away from the console who's inners she had been rearranging. "If all goes according to plan we should be installing the new warp core tomorrow morning. After that I would say that it's another five days or so for the consoles and the rest of the Engineering systems. Then I think we can consider the upgrading of Engineering itself ready. Of course, there still is all the cabling, conduits, and circuits outside of Engineering itself, but I only have to check that from time to time; the Urdians will be doing all the work. And once that's done there is the finishing touches of paint and stuff. And, um, I heard that I'm getting a bigger office in here?"

"You are," Janeway agreed.

"Not that I really mind," B'Elanna was quick to say, before wondering, "But why? My office always served me well.

Kathryn chuckled. "Your office always served you well because you were hardly ever there. Just a place to store PADDs and to sit to write reports. But once we are underway, Voyager will be the center of a Fleet. I'm sure that you will have to sit and write a lot more then you did until now. If for nothing more than that you will have a bigger crew. Before B'Elanna could reply, Kathryn shifted focus and asked, "What would you want to tackle next now that you aren't really needed here?"

B'Elanna put down the tool she had been using moments before. "Unless you want me to do something else, Seven and I are going to oversee the changes to Astrometrics. With all that new technology the Urdians are putting in there, the both of us want to be present so that we know just what is where, and how it works, if it ever needs fixing."

"That's fine," Kathryn approved. "In fact, considering that Voyager's sensors are basically our senses once we are under way, I will feel a lot better of the both of you know all about them."

Kathryn looked at Seven for a moment before looking at B'Elanna again. "Talking about your office, let's go there for a moment. Seven if you will excuse us for a moment."

"Captain?" B'Elanna asked as she sat down behind her desk.

Kathryn sat down in the visitor's chair while thinking where to start. "I want to talk to you off the record for a moment, B'Elanna."

"Um, sure."

"Officially I'm not allowed to ask unless there are problems that can harm ship's business. But personally, as your friend I am curious."

"Yes?" B'Elanna asked, surprised about Kathryn's efforts to make it clear that the conversation was truly off the record.

"You and Seven seem to get along very well," Kathryn noted. "Yesterday I heard you both joking, and I have seen you eat lunch together three times now. Also, before you did as much as possible to spent as little as possible time with her, but now you are together all the time. I even had you request, twice, that I pull Seven off the project I had her working on so that she can come help you."

B'Elanna thought for a moment. She noticed that Kathryn hadn't actually asked a specific question; clearly leaving it up to B'Elanna to decide what she wanted to say. "I still don't want to stay married to her, if that's what you are getting at. And I also didn't look at the data crystal, if that's what you mean."

"I see."

"No, I don't think you do," B'Elanna disagreed. "No disrespect, Kathryn; I mean that literally. Because I just told you what I don't want, and what I won't do. But I didn't tell you what I 'do' want, and what I 'am' doing. It started with the quarters the first day. I realized that she had just as much right as I to live in those quarters, unless one of us got other quarters. But even then, who would have the right to keep the quarters and who would have to move out? So for my own benefit I tried being social to her."

Kathryn only chuckled.

B'Elanna grinned. "What can I say; I can be selfish at times. But you know what? I, no, we, because Seven also put in an effort, we realized that, damn it, that being social thing actually seemed to work. I find myself liking her more and more. We already agreed that after the divorce we will stay roommates."

"Seven wants a divorce as well?" Kathryn wondered. She had never asked because when she told Seven that she was married to B'Elanna, the blonde's only reaction was an lifting of an eyebrow and a mere 'interesting'.

B'Elanna was quiet for a moment before explaining, "Seven is doing the thing that I'm pretty sure you would love if I did it as well. She has decided to not decide until the decision has to be made."

"And why don't you do that as well?" Kathryn asked. She knew that B'Elanna's first reaction had simply been because of dislike of Seven, so she was wondering why B'Elanna was still sticking to it despite now starting to like Seven.

B'Elanna sighed. "It's very complex, and would take more time than we now have; it involves Klingon honor. Tell you what, you liked to invite Seven to your quarters for philosophical discussions. Why don't you switch that to an invitation for dinner and invite me as well? Then I will explain it all to you. Seven knows my reasoning, so it's not like she isn't allowed to hear that."

"I'll check with Brika about her plans for tomorrow, sound good?"

"Then I'll check with Seven," B'Elanna agreed. "And talking about her. Kathryn, I think you can say that we have become friends. I hated to be around her, now I like having her around when I work because I appreciate her qualities. She is a damn good engineer."

B'Elanna laughed, and having a good idea why, Janeway did the same.

"Can you imagine," B'Elanna continued. "Me saying out loud that I think she is a good engineer?"

"So I can stop setting up her schedule in a way just to keep her busy and out of Engineering?" Janeway asked with a grin.

B'Elanna smiled before saying sincerely, "Yeah. I think that now that we are starting with an upgraded Engineering, I would like it if she could spent more time here. In fact, Carey was hinting that he would love to transfer to one of the Urdian ships, if there is a spot free as second in command, or even maybe as Chief Engineer. If there is such a place for him, I wouldn't mind if Seven became my second in command."

Now Janeway just looked at her in slight shock; making B'Elanna grin. "Just seeing that face was worth making the suggestion."

"If you are serious, then now is the time to shift people around," Kathryn said once she had found her tongue again. "Both Megan and Jennifer acted a Seven's second in Astrometrics. Maybe Seven has told you about this already, but Jennifer and Megan have enlisted Seven's help in trying to convince me that the tasks of Astrometrics should be expanded."

"She told me," B'Elanna confirmed. "And if you ask me, I think they have a good point. There are overlapping fields now and I think it's better to have all of it clearly controlled by one department. As Seven explained it to me, the other departments would still all get their data, or put in a request for specific scans if they want to know something that isn't in the standard report. So it's not like data flow will suffer. It's just that with the new approach everyone will clearly know where to go for info, all the way until you say 'station keeping' and we are officially in orbit."

Kathryn chuckled and lifted a hand to stop the Klingon. "You don't have to sell me on the idea. I like the idea of having that clear line. I like the idea in general. I think I'll agree to it, but before I do I first have to run it past Chakotay and Tuvok to get their input and also set up some clear guidelines. Astrometrics exists, but still isn't an official department on the roster. Technically it still falls under Engineering today. So when we make it a separate department we need a clear manifesto and clear report and notification rules."

"Like if there is an unknown element found in the air or water, medical has to be notified?" B'Elanna asked with a smirk.

"Yes, like that," Kathryn agreed.

"So you wouldn't mind Seven leaving Astrometrics and coming here?" B'Elanna asked.

Kathryn shook her head. "No. Of course, her knowledge is not something we can ignore so I'm certain that she will still have to help out in Astrometrics often enough. But it would be just that; helping out. When we started Astrometrics it was just Seven and her knowledge. But seeing how much of her time was taken up by tasks that she really shouldn't have to bother with, I looked for some people to help her. Just do some of those mindless tasks; nothing more. Jennifer and Megan were the obvious choice, having had experience on another ship. They were just supposed to be some extra hands, nothing more. But they bloomed in Astrometrics. They surpassed anyone's expectations."

"With one exception," B'Elanna reminded. "They are good, but you normally only bloom if you have someone around that can teach you things, that pushes you, that is demanding."

"True enough," Kathryn agreed. "But what I was getting at is that the sisters have now bloomed to a point where I feel that they can be in charge, that they can become official heads of a department."

"If they are official heads they would become part of the Senior Staff," B'Elanna reminded.

Kathryn frowned. "True, I have to think about that one. Neelix was once our guide and became an unofficial part of the Senior Staff. But he also had other abilities that justified him sitting at that table. He still does, and is still sitting at the table. Then Seven became our guide, and," a chuckle, "I don't have to tell you what else she brought to the table. Astrometrics would be important since they would be the ones telling us about potential risks in courses we set, or that would have the initial data that makes us decide if we visit a planet. But on the other hands, they would just be a department, and not every department on Voyager sits at that table. Xenobiology doesn't,"

"Because until now, and probably for some time to come yet, Seven would give you basic information," B'Elanna interrupted, knowing that she could do so because of the informal setting of the discussion. "But yeah, I see you point, Samantha Wildman as head of Xenobiology isn't sitting at that table, so why would Jennifer or Megan? And on top of that, if they become the department heads together, would they both be at Senior Staff meetings? And, um, can a department be headed up by two people at once."

Kathryn smirked. "It can't, unless it's two sub departments. Everyone would know that it would be just for the record anyway, but it would be easy to 'officially' split the department into Astrometrics, and, say, Stellar Cartography. As you know, before we created Astrometrics we had a Stellar Cartography department, but it was so small that it reported to Chakotay instead of having an official head, and it was mostly done by a few people on the side under the 'who can we miss in other jobs today' mentality. If we were to split Astrometrics up and reinitiate the Stellar Cartography department, it would then be officially in charge of the star charts, while Astrometrics would be in charge of the rest."

"Kinda ironic to split a department, officially, because you don't want to split the people that work in it," B'Elanna pointed out.

"It's not something I would do if we were talking about two other people," Kathryn said in somewhat of a defense. "Not even you and Seven no matter how close you are now. Let's face it, all of us have a big ego, Seven, you, and me included. We all know that we are the best and that our way is right. But that's what I love about Jennifer and Megan. They too have that ego, but that ego is of them together. They don't care who of them gets the credit or who was right, because it still means that 'they' were right."

"But having only one of them sitting at that table could change that," B'Elanna pointed out. "If you put one so clearly ahead of the other, if you were to have, say Stellar Cartography report to Astrometrics."

"True. It would have to be both of them or neither." Kathryn sighed. "As I said, I have to think about it. I would be inclined to say that they won't get a seat because even if Seven isn't part of the department fulltime anymore, she still knows a lot. And just like we look to her for basic info on new species, we would look to her and ask her if she knows of any species in the neighborhood."

"Well," B'Elanna hesitated, "Maybe that deserves a rethink though. I mean, don't get me wrong, now I would be more inclined to boast about Seven's abilities instead of knocking them down, but you have to admit, we relied on her knowledge a bit too much sometimes."

Seeing Kathryn's more than surprised look, B'Elanna was quick to add, "I'm only talking about the knowledge of species and space now. And it's really not her fault. Maybe it would be better to say that we relied on Borg knowledge too much. Seven knows those things because the Borg know them. But we are skirting Borg territory. Sometimes we are close, sometimes not. Sometimes Seven knows everything, but more than once she didn't know a thing. The Urdians are a good example of that. Seven didn't know about them. Simply because the Borg don't know about them. Now, until now we relied on Seven so much because we had no other choice. We needed her Borg info because she knew things about planets and species that were way beyond our sensor range."

"But now," Kathryn interrupted since she knew what B'Elanna meant, "Now we have the Urdian sensors. Now the long range sensors can tell us basic things about planets, and about much more planets than Seven ever could. Just that about some planets she will have more detailed information. It can be argued that the new sensors are an indication of our line of 'need to know'. Because, if we know about something that is even further away than our new long range sensors can reach, would we go? Would we take that extra time? The long range sensors will reach an area that we can cover in about ten days at maximum cruising speed. So, if Seven could tell us something that is further away, sure we would go if it's really interesting, but then Seven would tell us about it anyway. But would we travel ten days out of course just because there was a blip on the sensors and it might be something?"

"That's my thinking," B'Elanna agreed. "You still have Seven to point out things she does know, species that are important, territories in space she knows about. But for the rest, for the things she doesn't know, we now have the new sensors. But if Seven is no longer in Astrometrics every day to update her knowledge with the latest info from the sensors, then you can't ask Seven because she won't know what Astrometrics knows, unless you would have her check the daily reports."

Kathryn shook her head. "That's not her task, if she is no longer in Astrometrics at least. Checking daily reports is the task of Chakotay, Tuvok, or me, depending on what the report is. You are right, if I move Seven out of Astrometrics, then Astrometrics would still need a... well two if this theoretical thinking were to come to fulfillment... chairs in the Senior Staff meetings to bring us the reports about what they found, planets that are suited for restocking or shore-leaf and whatnot."

B'Elanna shrugged. "If you are thinking of handing Astrometrics more tasks, as you said you agree they should have those tasks, then two chairs might not be a bad idea anyway. You could make what you just used as an example a real thing. Make an official Stellar Cartography department that is in charge of the Star charts and knowing what's where in the universe. And make one of the sisters the head of that, and then have Astrometrics be in the control of the other sister and have that department do the scans for life, if a gas cloud is dangerous, and all that stuff."

She grinned. "Everyone will know that the sisters are doing all of the work together, but at least at the Senior Staff meetings you would know who to look at when asking questions, and they would know who of them needs to answer since it is a question that is directed at her official department. Who cares that as soon as the meeting is over the sister that is officially in charge of Stellar Cartography is doing a scan for a life supporting planet?"

"Good point," Kathryn agreed. She didn't necessarily think that they were perfect solutions, but B'Elanna was giving her ideas to work with. Ideas she had to flesh out now, which was her task as Captain. "Well, as I said, now is definitely a good time to think about making changes. If Seven wants to work fulltime in Engineering, and the sisters would want the job of department leaders, I could make Seven your second in command then. And finding a place for Joe won't be hard. If he wants to go, then I won't stop him."

She sighed before admitting, "I talked with Brika about this. Well, not literally this, but the changing of crews. We may leave with Voyager's crew serving on Voyager, but it won't be long before some decide that they might want to serve on the Glory since that's where they live, or try their luck on one of the other ships. Let's not forget, we all have been doing the same jobs for years. Some people like you and I are lucky that we love our jobs, but others were given certain jobs because that's where we needed people. Now that there are chances for other jobs, they might just want to take them."

"And Urdians will want to work here because it's so different than what they are used to," B'Elanna guessed.

Kathryn nodded her agreement. "Right. It can't be stopped unless I refuse the transfers, but I won't. They will stay Federation crew, but they are highly trained. Every single one of them has at least six years of Starfleet experience here in the Delta Quadrant, and then whatever they already had before we left. They are a veteran crew. While on the other hand most of the Urdians have never served on a starship before. They can use our expertise, and it will help in letting people understand our Federation mentality."

"So, Seven's coming to my department?" B'Elanna prompted.

"If you really want Seven in Engineering, and she agrees to the switch, I'll transfer her," Kathryn assured. "She has been complaining more than once that she felt not useful enough in Astrometrics. But, B'Elanna, I need you to be sure. I can't have you coming to me shouting that Seven needs to go as soon as you two had a fight."

"We still fight," B'Elanna said with a grin, "But did you see me in front of you complaining about it? The thing is that we did something we should have done long ago; we found a way to deal with it. We argue until one is able to convince the other, and then that's it. Point made, and of discussion, we move on."

"Just like that?" Janeway asked amazed.

B'Elanna shrugged. "Yeah. We even already talked about what we will do in an emergency. It's nice and good to argue here, but out there some decisions need to be made 'now'. And then it is my task, as head of Engineering to make those decisions 'now'. Maybe what you should have done back then is throw Seven and me together in quarters in the first week. It is amazing how willing to compromise both Seven and I became when we realized that now we would be taking our fights home with us if we didn't deal with it before getting home. We didn't want that. Honest Kathryn, it's alright. We are working things out. I may not want to be married to her for the reason I'll tell you tomorrow, but I do want to be her friend."

"I'm really glad to hear that," Janeway said with a smile. Then she decided to change the subject. "There is one more thing, but for that I would like Seven here as well."

"Sure," B'Elanna said, wondering what Kathryn was getting at.

Kathryn got up and moved to the door to ask Seven to come into the office as well. Once the door was closed again, she looked at them and started slowly. "There is one thing I would like to ask the two of you, personally, as your friend. As I mentioned at the Senior staff meeting, I have already decided that I will stay married to Brika. We have decided to repeat our ceremony, this time on The Glory, and the people that were at the wedding last time have already been invited. But when we married we didn't have any guest from Voyager, you know why by now."

"Yeah, nobody cared; we were all just happy with our own life," B'Elanna said.

"Right," Kathryn agreed. "Brika said that I didn't even invite anyone, so I didn't even give people the chance to think about coming. I will do so this time though. But there is more. In an Urdian wedding it is normal that two close family members give the to be wed person away. At the wedding I told Brika that my family was back in the Alpha Quadrant, and I had nobody give me away. Now that I once more care about the people on Voyager, I know that this is not true. My family by blood may be in the Alpha quadrant, but I have family here on the ship as well."

Janeway was quiet for a moment before saying with a voice filled with emotion, "I would really like it if the two family members that mean the most to me would give me away at the wedding."

B'Elanna put her worn uniform in the hamper and frowned when the lid didn't fully close anymore. "I guess that I postponed laundry day long enough." She sighed and put on the bathrobe she always wore in the time between shedding her uniform and having her shower.

Curious she lifted the lid of the hamper on Seven's side and saw that it too was filled to the rim, though not so high that the lid couldn't close anymore.

"Hey Seven, what did you do with your dirty clothing on Voyager?" She asked, not bothering to shout because the closet door was open and therefore Seven, who was in the living room, would be able to hear her.

Fifteen seconds later, Seven appeared at the doorframe. "I took a shower in sickbay every day. As I did so, the doctor put my bio-suit through the replicator for me."

B'Elanna gestured to the hamper. "So putting them in a hamper is something you started to do in those four months?"

"So it seems; now it is something that I consider a normal activity. Why do you ask?"

B'Elanna opened both lids. "Because we really have to do something about this. But that's not the only thing. There are a few other things as well. I don't know about you, but I like to change my sheets once a week, and it's actually been seven nights for me. I think we really need to sit down and divide some tasks."

"How about you sit down while I stand?" Seven countered. "Do you want to watch me again?"

B'Elanna chuckled. "Have I turned that down even once since that first day? Of course I'll watch you, and then you me. Come on, let's go shower."

Once Seven was standing under the shower, and B'Elanna was watching her, the Klingon asked. "So, do you have any preferences?"

Seven lifted an eyebrow. "Do I have any preferences? There are so many ways I could answer that question. To what exactly are you referring?"

B'Elanna grinned ruefully. "Yeah, I could have worded that better. I meant about the how work, about keeping house."

Seven shook her head a little. "I do not. As you know; this is the first time I live in quarters. I do not know how to 'keep house', or better said, I do not remember."

After that first time, B'Elanna had playfully gotten a sponge and told Seven with a grin that it was easier than using slippery soap that seemed to drop in very tempting ways. In reality, and B'Elanna had admitted it later that day, she had gotten the sponge because it simply looked sexier. At that moment Seven was slowly moving the sponge along the metal bands of her abdominal implant, and B'Elanna licked her lips in response. But despite that, her mind was still thinking rationally. "You know, I don't think that a normal dividing of the tasks, like you do that this week, and I do it next week, will work for us."

"Why not?"

"Well, think about it," B'Elanna reasoned. "let's say today it's my turn to clean the tables and desks... all that would happen is that you walk behind me and straighten everything out because its state of disarray is driving you insane. Don't think that I didn't see you trying to arrange stuff when I don't see it."

Seven looked at her for a moment before finally admitting with a smile, "Guilty as charged."

B'Elanna shrugged. "So, I think that the best thing to do is play into that; don't fight it, but use it. On that first day when I was snooping around I saw that you must have arranged my clothing, even my underwear. I think we had this talk before and we reached an agreement along the line I'm going to suggest."

"Please continue," Seven said as she put the sponge away to wash her hair for a moment. She knew she would use the sponge again later. A shower always lasted at least thirty minutes; she liked how B'Elanna watched her.

By now they were both so comfortable with their little arrangement that B'Elanna didn't feel the slightest bit of shame for asking boldly, "Could you turn a bit, I love to see you a bit from the side when you wash your hair; I can see your breasts move even better then."

Without a word, but with a small smile, Seven willingly obliged. And as B'Elanna watched the blonde wash her long hair, she continued, "So, here is what I am thinking. I take care of the cleaning. The vacuuming, putting both your and my clothing through the replicator for cleaning. I clean the tables and the kitchen unit. While you are the one that runs around after I'm done and straightens it all out. You will be the one that keeps it all neat and in order between the cleaning days. And you are the one that folds all the clothing. As you know, it's not like I make a mess. Sure I don't put things straight down to the millimeter, but I do put it in the same spot. I don't throw clothing on the floor. So it's not like you will have to walk behind me every second of every day to straighten everything out."

"But this agreement would mean that I can do things like arranging the bears more precise without you rolling your eyes," Seven said in understanding as she washed the shampoo from her hair. "Of course, your desk and your tools closet are off limits."

"Oh, I will probably still roll my eyes. It's like teasing you in a way you don't mind being teased." B'Elanna smiled as she saw how Seven took the sponge again and now started to wash her body slowly from her face down. "But you know what? No; all or nothing. You can straighten out my desk and the tool closet as well. But with conditions. One, you don't throw anything away just because you think it's garbage. If I keep it on the desk or in the closet, I want to keep it. You can straighten it out, but you leave it be."

"I could designate a certain spot," Seven offered. "I have seen that there are things on your desk that you have not yet used to date. I am certain the same will be true for your things in the closet. So I could designate a spot where I put things that I noticed that you are not using. That way you can look at them and decide for yourself if they need removing, or merely need to be in a different spot. One where you will see the item more for instance, so that you will remember it. Of course, I am talking logical deduction. If something is part of a set and you only use certain parts of said set, I will not remove the other items from the set. The number three spanner will not be removed from your spanner set, even though there is not a single screw on Voyager that requires a number three spanner."

"There isn't?" B'Elanna asked surprised as she tried to remember any spot where the spanner was used. "Hmm, you are right. There isn't, at least none that I can think of. Maybe on other Federations ships or on starbases. Alright, that designated spot thing will do, as long as... and I know you just said this, I'm just repeating the point... I'm the one that eventually throws stuff away."

"I will have a look at your items," Seven said before assuring, "I will try to keep engineering logic in mind when placing items. Plus what I know from your personality and therefore what I assume you will want within easy reach."

B'Elanna dipped her head in agreement. "And second, I know about that brain of yours; once you straightened out the desk and closet once, you know exactly where you put everything. So, that's what you do. After you straightened it out the first time, the place where you put the things is where you going to put them again the next time. That way I at least know where to find them. And if you decide that it has to be placed somewhere else, then you let me know. Deal? Even if you rearrange an entire closet. Then you will take a moment to show me and point me in the direction of where the things are located now."

"Very well," Seven agreed. "Thank you. I have to admit that when I sit at my desk and I look over at your side, the disarray sometimes hurts my eyes."

B'Elanna looked at how Seven tried to reach the middle of her back with the sponge. "We really have to get a shower brush."

"Indeed," Seven could only agree. "I wonder why we do not have one."

"Well, considering that at one point I did have one, I can only guess that I got rid of it because I found something better," B'Elanna pointed out the obvious, or at least the to her obvious.

Seven lifted her eyebrow in question.

"Seven, as much as I love to watch you, and you like to watch me, do you really think we would not have used the excuse of washing the back of the other to touch a little as well?"

"I see. Too bad that this is not an option now."

B'Elanna snorted. "Yeah right, like you would let me wash your back. You know damn well that I would not stop there; your breasts would be way too close."

"And you think I would object to that?" Seven merely asked.

"Let me get this straight, you would not mind it one bit if I got in there and touched you like that?" B'Elanna asked in disbelief.

"I would not," Seven assured. "However, I think that you would mind. Do you really think that you would be able to touch me and not want to have sex with me as well?"

"You know what?" B'Elanna asked as she hopped of the vanity. "Fuck this."

Seven was surprised and started to think what she could have said that would have offended the Klingon, but then she was shocked to see that B'Elanna took her bathrobe off and came closer. "B'Elanna Torres?"

"Are you willing to put your money where your mouth is, Blondie?" Seeing Seven's confused look, B'Elanna rolled her eyes and clarified, "Are you truly willing to do as you just said?"

"You want to shower with me, at the same time?" Seven asked in disbelief.

"Not only that. I want to shower with you and wash every square centimeter of that body of yours."

Seven took a step back, inviting B'Elanna to continue; both with her words, and with coming closer.

"Here's the deal. Seven, I want to have sex with you, but you know I can't. But that doesn't mean that I can't enjoy some things that don't cross that line, if you are willing. I love to watch you, and you like to watch me. Would you call that having sex?"

Seven watched how B'Elanna took that last step that would bring her under the shower with her. "Of course not."

"Then, if I were to wash you, and you me, would you call that having sex?"

"No, but you cannot tell me that the temptation would not be too big for you."

B'Elanna laughed. "Seven, don't you get it? It's all about the temptation. Be honest, and don't tell me what you think I would like to hear. Honest, if I asked, would you be willing to have sex with me?"

"You know I would," Seven could only say. "It is you that is against us having sex because your honor does not allow having sex, and then getting divorced just to make sure that we are not married for life."

"And that's the point Seven. I have gone from holding back out of convenience, to me using this as a true test of my honor. Seven, I know that I can have sex with you, but my honor does not allow it. I'm now using this as my biggest test ever of just how much I believe in my own honor. Klingon pain sticks are child's play compared to this. If I can't do this, if I can't touch you without also jumping you, then I have no right at all to say that I'm an honorable person. But if I do manage. If I manage to get out of this with my honor intact, then I can proudly say that I have been tested to the max, and survived."

She let her eyes drift over the blonde's body. It was interesting how distance changed things so much. Seeing Seven from the Vanity was great because it was still pretty close, yet allowed for a full body view. But being so close, almost touching her, it was a whole new experience. To be so close that she had to shift her eyes just to look at a different breast. So close that looking Seven in the eyes basically meant seeing nothing but those incredibly blue eyes. So close.

She shook her head, trying to focus. "Seven, I made up my mind about new borders between us, but this is your choice. You have to decide. Yes or no, can I touch you? Not to have sex, but to wash you. And yes, I will touch your breasts. Yes, I will touch your ass. Yes I will test myself to the extreme by also washing between your legs. But there I will leave the real cleaning to you, and you will do the same to me. Your choice."

"I agree," Seven said right away. "However, I have one condition; no sexual stimulation. You have seen how I wash myself when you watch me; there will not be more than that. In fact, I do like how we settle our disagreements now; one winner, one loser. So I think this would fall under that. If you massage my breasts for the sexual pleasure of it. If you stimulate my nipples other than by simply brushing the sponge over them during washing. If you stimulate my clitoris other than merely washing over it, I win and we will have sex. And if you move even a single tip of one finger inside me, not only will we have sex, but you will then do exactly whatever I say when we have sex. You will be mine then; for at least three love sessions. So, B'Elanna Torres. Your choice; do you dare to take these higher stakes?"

B'Elanna warred with herself for a moment, knowing only too well that she was setting herself up for a world of trouble. But then again, if she truly managed to survive this she would pretty much be assured a direct passage to Sto-vo-kor because her Honor had been tested in ways that few Klingons dared to test it. And if she lost... well, would it really be a loss? She shook her head once more to get rid of that last thought. No, she could not start to think like that. "Alright, deal, with one condition."

"Which is?"

"Those stakes only start in five minutes. You give me five minutes. Five minutes in which I can feel your breasts, massage them, and touch your ass, and even just hold my hand between your legs. I promise that I won't enter you, but, damn it Seven, I admitted on that first day that I watched you shower that I would love to get my hands on your breasts, literally."

Seven smiled. "Very well. Five minutes, starting now. And I will even be nice and warn you when your five minutes are over."

"Thank you," B'Elanna said sincere. She lifted her hands and was almost touching Seven's ample chest. She looked at the blonde's eyes for one more time, just to make sure. Seeing the assuring nod, B'Elanna finally touched Seven's breasts.

B'Elanna moaned at the wonderful feeling. She just knew it, and by now she didn't care if it was because her subconscious knew Seven that well. Those breasts simply felt perfect to her. She massaged the supple flesh. "Fuck me," B'Elanna said in awe for the wonderful feeling.

"Is that an exclamation or a plea?" Seven asked with a smile.

"Bitch," The grin took the sting out of the word. Then B'Elanna hesitantly lowered one hand between Seven's legs. Her eyes never leaving those of Seven, she cupped Seven's sex. She whimpered when feeling the soft and heated flesh against her hand. She could feel the clit against her palm, felt how it was hardening to the touch, proving that the situation definitely didn't leave Seven unaffected. She rested her head on Seven's shoulder. "I'm so dead, aren't I?"

Seven hesitated, she knew that she couldn't push B'Elanna, but maybe a little pressure would not be considered a push. Hesitantly she asked. "Does it really matter? What if it is a death you would love to suffer?"

"What do you mean?" B'Elanna asked as she looked up at Seven's eyes.

Seven looked back, her eyes deep and unguarded. "What I mean is that you have two minutes left and you have yet to touch my behind. For the rest you have to make your own choice. Just know that I have already made mine."

"And what is your choice?"

Seven lifted her eyebrow. "B'Elanna Torres, considering what I am allowing you to do right now, do you really need to ask that? But please, also know that the most important thing I want is for you to make your choice freely, even if it is not a choice I would like you to make."


"One point five minutes left," Seven interrupted.

Reluctantly B'Elanna removed her hand from between Seven's legs and placed it on the blonde's behind, her other hand never stopping the massaging motion of Seven's breasts. As she did so she noticed that the wetness on her hand was far slicker than the water of the shower could ever be.

With a soft moan, B'Elanna stepped that little bit closer, molding her own body against that of the blonde, trying to feel her, trying to make as much skin as possible touch. She put her second hand on Seven's behind and pulled her closer yet, crushing their breasts between them.

"One minute left," Seven informed, and from the tone of that voice B'Elanna knew that the blonde was definitely also enjoying this contact.

B'Elanna removed her hands from Seven's behind and put her arms around the willing woman to hold her in an intense hug. "I think that this is the most severe test of Honor any Klingon has ever placed on themselves. Seven, just for the record; you don't just look incredible, you also feel incredible."

Seven didn't answer. But after letting B'Elanna enjoy, she reluctantly informed her, "Your time is up."

"Thank you," B'Elanna could only say as she removed her hands and took a step back to bring some distance between them. "Do, you, um, want some time as well?"

"No need to," Seven said, and for the first time ever, B'Elanna saw an evil smile on those wonderful lips. "You set conditions for how you wash me; not for how I wash you. I will not have sex with you, I will not enter you, I will not stimulate your clitoris or nipples. But B'Elanna Torres?"

"Yes?" B'Elanna swallowed when the smile turned into a grin.

"You are so dead."

Tal Celes took a deep breath before stepping into the mess hall of The Glory. It was over a week ago now that she had literally ran into the huge Olik. There had been a clear attraction between them, and that first day Celes had been pretty sure that it wouldn't be long before they would share a bed. Maybe one more dinner. But no, as they spent more time together, Olik started to show less and less obvious interest in her. Yet at the same time he still looked at her with that hungry gaze, still was incredibly charming and wanted to spend time with her. It was weird.

Celes looked around the mess hall, looking at the corner where they normally sat. And for a moment Celes felt like her entire world came crashing down. Olik was there, but he wasn't alone. He was in the company of a beautiful Urdian woman, that, judging from the fact that she also had some facial tattoos, might just be a Clan woman. And then Celes' world didn't just come crashing down, but was even pulverized when she saw the giant Olik lean over and place a tender kiss on the woman's cheek.

Celes was just about to turn around and run away when she saw that Olik had noticed her. To Celes' utmost confusion the man that was so clearly with another woman treated her to a charming smile and stood up to greet her, like he always did.

'Manners be damned,' Celes thought when she felt how her traitorous feet were carrying her to the table where her heart was so brutally smashed.

"Celes," Olik greeted as he placed a quick kiss on her cheek in greeting. "Come, sit. I hope you can forgive me for bringing my sister along without telling you first. Since we talked the last time about you and my sister meeting, and when she found herself without anything to do at the moment, I asked her to come along."

Celes really only heard one word out of that explanation. Sister. She immediately felt like sinking through the floor in embarrassment for her earlier thoughts. Olik had told her about his sister more than once, had actually told her how the woman had become his adopted sister. And now she felt like shit for being jealous of the woman the man she liked clearly adored so much.

"I see that it would have been better if Olik had told you I was coming," Olik's sister noted. "It must have been a shock to see the man you like with another woman."

Celes blushed, proving that Olik's sister was spot on. Somehow managing to find her voice, Celes dipped her head in greeting, "Kinal, Olik has talked much and very fond of you. I apologize for jumping to conclusions, but, I'm finding out more and more about you Urdians, and then I saw him sitting with you, I, um."

Kinal smiled in apparently total understanding. "Ah, I guess you heard about how we Urdians have casual sex with pretty much everyone that says 'sure' as long as we are not committed."

"Kinal," Olik rumbled, half in warning and half in embarrassment.

"Well, yes," Celes admitted.

"It's true, you know," Kinal said happily, ignoring her brother. "Since I set foot on this ship a week ago I already had sex with six different women." She smiled before explaining, "That is one of the things that make Olik and me so close. We both appreciate the female form. So no matter what gender someone prefers, one of us at least has a chance."

"Kinal," Olik warned again, but his sister just waved him off before continuing. "But as much as that is true, we do have decency. When we sleep around we know upfront that neither partner is looking for anything more than some casual sex. But if there is more of an interest than we do have the decency to not go sleeping around while we are seeing that person we are interested in. And you, my dear, are apparently someone Olik is very interested in. He hasn't been with someone since he met you. And believe me, as a Clan person, and a First Warrior on top of it, it's not because a lack of willing people."

"You are very direct," Celes noted. She wasn't quite sure if she appreciated the directness with her Federation trained rules of etiquette mind. But the part that was simply Celes and wanted to know things was exhilarated at hearing the news.

"Oh, I can do the talking around stuff kind of talk," Kinal assured. "But I'm a healer. It's in my nature to see things that need fixing and then try to fix it. I could see right away in your eyes that you definitely needed a dose of relationship explanation."

Celes gave them both a shy smile before braving with a deep blush, "If this is so, if casual sex is so normal with you, then why, um, why haven't I, um, why didn't Olik, um," Celes lost her nerves after that, but luckily her stammering had been clear enough.

"That is something Olik needs to explain," Kinal said before standing up. "So why don't I get us all something to eat and pretend to stand in line for five minutes or so? You both are fine with the day's special? Good, see you in a few."

Once Kinal was gone, Olik looked at Celes for a moment to gauge her reaction to his sister. Seeing that the Bajoran wasn't running away, he finally chuckled and said. "You just got to love her."

Celes favored him with a shy smile before looking down at the table, not daring to look in his eyes as she asked, "So you seem to really like me? From how you were acting the last couple of days I would have said that your interest in me is diminishing."

Olik reached across the table and took one of her hands between his huge hands, making her hands look like those of a child in size. "Oh, far from it, I assure you. It's just... this is new to me Celes. As my sister just pointed out, in my position I never had trouble finding a partner for the night. I have slept with more people than I can count. But never before have I met someone that I am sexually interested in but that I want to be with to do other things even more. That I would much rather talk with than sleep with."

"Hey," Celes noted, looking back up at him. She wasn't really sure if she liked that comparison. She had felt wanted by his hungry gaze, and she had liked it.

He chuckled, and now it was his turn to study the table. "Oh, don't get me wrong, I definitely also want that other thing. You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen,"

"In your opinion," Celes noted, her self-consciousness reasserting itself.

"Does anyone else's opinion matter?" Olik reasoned. "We Urdians aren't forced into relationships, so for what I think about you only what I think about you matters. But my point is, you are the most beautiful person I have ever seen... In my opinion," He added to prevent another objection. "I definitely want to sleep with you, make no mistake about that. But you see, I find myself for the first time ever wanting to know all about someone, wanting to know all about you. When you talk about your childhood on Bajor, about chasing that spider only to fall into a nest and then having the spiders chase you, I'm not trying to picture you naked; I'm trying to picture what you are describing."

"You say the sweetest things," Celes said with a smile. And to her it was. It was so nice to hear that someone cared about the silly stories about her childhood. Cared enough to remember detail of a story she had talked about four days before. And at the same time wanted her so badly that he was ignoring all the women that were standing in line to gain his interest. "But that still doesn't explain the distant behavior I have seen. I mean, Prophets, I see the way you look at me, but we haven't even shared a kiss."

"I'm afraid," Olik mumbled. "Afraid that it wouldn't stay with just one kiss. Afraid that I wouldn't be able to stop myself."

"I see," Celes said slowly as she looked at the huge man. A man that was easily strong enough to overpower her, and on top of that a trained fighter. "You, um, ever forced yourself on someone?"

Olik gave her a humorless smile. "I never needed to. If someone isn't interested, normally a friend is standing right beside her waving her hand frantically to get my interest, and assuring me that she doesn't mind being second choice. But then, I never wanted anyone like I want you. With others I didn't really care just who I shared the bed with that night. As long as she looked nice enough and seemed to enjoy herself. But now I do care. I do care about what you think, and about wanting to do things right."

He looked her directly in the eyes before adding, "I don't want a casual one night fling with you. I want for you to be eager to spend more than just one night with me. I want for you to wake up in the morning and smile at me. For you to wake up and feel that you never want to leave the bed again because you like being with me way too much, even if it is just lying by my side."

Celes wondered if it was even possible for this guy to become even sweeter. She stood up a little so that she could lean across the table and placed a gentle kiss on his lips.

"Next time when you bring me home, kiss me goodnight and don't worry so damn much," She said right before treating him to a second kiss. It was only when she had sat back down that she noticed that the mess hall had gone completely silent. She frowned and looked around her, noticing to her utmost surprise looks of envy and disappointment on more than one Urdian face. Or more to the point, on the woman's faces. The men looked almost relieved.

"Did I miss something?" she whispered into the total silence.

Olik cleared his throat before managing a chuckle. "Um, you could say that. You know how I told you about having tattoos on your head and how you have to earn them? Well, same here. It's not a law as such that you find it in the archives, but, um exactly because we Urdians are so casual about sex, it's actually a bold statement of a relationship to kiss someone on the lips. We don't kiss on the lips with our casual interests."

Realizing her cultural mistake, Celes managed to blush a deep crimson once more. Shyly she asked, "So that was actually the first time ever a woman kissed you on the mouth?"

"It was," Olik agreed. "And with us what you just did means that I should be considered unavailable as of now."

Finally Celes managed a chuckle. "That explains why the woman looked disappointed while the men looked relieved. I just took out the biggest competition for casual sex because all of the women first look at you."

Olik chuckled as well. "You could put it like that."

"Some of them will think, or hope that I just did that because I didn't know," Celes noted. "And they will know that you just explained it to me." Not saying another word, she stood up again and leaned closer. But this time she didn't close the distance between them fully.

Olik got the hint, knowing that he would have to stand up a bit as well to reach her. That he, knowing the social rules full well, would have to make the effort to finish the kiss. He stood up and squared his shoulders, standing as tall and proud as a warrior could. Then he placed his hands on the table and leaned over it until he could reach her lips. It was a short kiss, publicly very decent, just that it was also a very public statement.

"You are trouble," He mumbled as the kiss ended.

"Maybe," she agreed. "And I notice that I like being trouble."

"Aww, isn't that sweet, I'm almost crying," a teasing voice beside them said.

They looked to the side, only to see Kinal sit down and place trays with food in front of them. "Get a room you two," the smiling woman added.

"I'm trying to convince him of that," Celes said, her face still, or once again, a nice crimson. "But he feels that he has to protect my virtue or something like that."

"I will take you up on that offer for a goodbye kiss," Olik rumbled, committing to only that for now.

"Well, with today's entertainment taken care of," Celes said a few minutes later after having finished her meal, "How about me asking you a question I was wondering about. I was going to ask Olik this anyway."

"Sure," Olik said as he placed his own empty tray on the two already stacked trays of the women.

"I was wondering, why are all the Urdians already on the ships? It's going to be weeks yet before we leave. Why not stay at home with family or stuff like that?"

"Well, the answer to that is really simple," Kinal said. "A lot of us are doing exactly that. But you have to keep in mind that the Fleet was supposed to leave pretty much just as it was found out that you were actually not so willingly on our planet. As a result of the marriages between Urdians and your crew, and because Voyager needed an upgrade, the leaving of the Fleet was postponed by one of our months. Now for a lot of people that wasn't a problem because they can just stay on the planet with family or stuff like that. But you have to keep in mind that the Fleet won't come back here. Because of this pretty much everyone has severed their ties for good. They sold their house, they quit their job, they spent all their trading points. So now you have a lot of people that suddenly don't have a job, or a house, or a way to pay for stuff. All because the Fleet was delayed."

"So the solution is simple," Olik added. "You let the Fleet already do what it's supposed to do. People can already come onto the ships, already start their new jobs if they want. Take Kinal and me, we already handed over all our responsibilities. If we were to suddenly stay in the village we would only be in the way. So we are here on the ship instead. And this is the case for most people. There are also a lot of people that still spent the entire day on the planet, but then beam to the ships at night to go to their home since the one on the planet is already sold."

"I never thought of that," Celes admitted. "We are basically a hindrance to your Fleet before we even left."

"But you could also say that thanks to you we already have a goal before we even left," Olik countered. "That's worth a lot too. Otherwise we would have lost that month eventually anyway just by skipping around while we decide what to go and do. Remember, this is the free goal Fleet. Before it was decided that we would join you on your journey, nobody knew where we would be next week. And now we know, even if that means that the first couple of weeks we are right here. Which isn't that bad. I like the fact that I can still go and visit friends that I thought I would never see again. I just wish that you could visit the planet. I would love to show you around."

"Why don't you make some holo-recordings," Celes offered. "Then you can show me all the places you really like of the holodeck."

"All alone," Kinal teased playfully before adding a clearly exaggerated happy sign. "Visiting a nice grassy meadow, the water in the nearby lake nice and warm. Bliss."

"Oh, shut up you," Olik growled. "Or else I'll start telling the story about you trying to capture that honey bird."

Kinal's eyes went round in horror. "You wouldn't dare."

"Try me," Was the big man's only reply.

Kinal turned to Celes and asked with a voice full of interest, "So, how do you like living on The Glory?"

Celes burst out in a laugh. She doubted that she would ever find out what the story was, and she really didn't care. Everyone had childhood stories that they wanted nobody to know. But it sure was fun to see the interaction between the two siblings.

Seven was sitting on the couch, concentrating on the Rubik's cube. Suddenly she looked up at B'Elanna who was sitting on the couch across from her, reading a PADD. "Thank you."

"You are welcome." Then the Klingon grinned. "For what by the way?"

Seven lifted the cube to indicate it. "Before, the only choice I had with my free time was to decide what kind of information I would read from PADD. It is... fun to have something I can do that does not involve reading and taking in information. This is merely calculating and concentrating on solving the puzzle. I find that very relaxing; I think of nothing but possible combinations."

"You are welcome, now that I know what you are welcome for," B'Elanna grinned. "Tell me, once you solved one of the combinations, do you also remember how you did it?"

"I do, now," Seven agreed. "However, I am not deliberately storing the information in my memory. I believe that after ten thousand combinations or so, that I will no longer remember which one I had before, unless it is a very simple one."

"Good to know. Then I can add that to the PADD." Seeing Seven's raised eyebrow, B'Elanna explained, "Unlike you I can't remember what combinations I have already given you. So, I have a PADD that keeps track of the combinations you did. And I have a second one, a Quantum calculations PADD, that spits out those combinations randomly, within parameters I set, like what we are doing until now; only one other color square per side. But the thing is, no matter how big the possible number of combinations is, eventually it would still be a process of elimination. Eventually I will have given you so many of those one square per side combinations that you can already dismiss fifty, or seventy, or even ninety percent of the combinations simply because you had them before."

"That is correct," Seven could only agree. She realized that B'Elanna was right; knowing that would make it a lot easier to find the next combination, and a lot less fun.

"So, I will add a parameter to the random selection," B'Elanna continued. "A combination can be used, and once ten thousand combinations have been used, that combination will be added again to the potential combinations that can come up. The chance that they will is small, but no smaller than the chance of any of the other unused combinations coming up. It should stay interesting, and not become boring because of process of elimination."

"Thank you," Seven said with a smile that B'Elanna would best describe as sweet.

"Hmm," B'Elanna watched as the blonde, once more dressed in the bathrobe she always wore for the rest of the evening after taking her shower, started to play with the cube again. Then she decided that that subject needed some talking about. "Showering was fun."

"It was," Seven agreed with a smile. "I have to admit that I am deeply impressed with your ability to restrain yourself."

B'Elanna grinned. "Well, there is this saying; if you can't beat them, join them. Before you ask, I don't mean that literally here. But what I do mean is... If I'm practically sitting on my hands just so that I don't get up, then why not get up? Do some of what I want to do and use that as a test to train my ability to control myself. This whole thing; all of it is about new beginnings basically. A new life in new quarters, new friends; I'm already getting kinda close to those Urdians that will become part of my crew once we are finished. You and me, that's a new beginning as well. So why not use this opportunity to train myself and make a new beginning to my temper? And since you don't mind, why not do that training with the most wonderful torture in existence? Oh, and talking about new beginnings. Don't be surprised if Kathryn offers you a position as my Second in Command in Engineering."

B'Elanna laughed when she saw an expression of shock on Seven's face. "Come on, this new agreement between us is working. And now that I know our arguments are truly only about us thinking that we are right and trying to make the other see our point, I actually appreciate them."

Suddenly Seven dropped the cube and got up to move to B'Elanna. She placed her Borg enhanced hand against the Klingon's neck before threatening, "Who are you? What have you done to the real B'Elanna Torres? Answer me or I will assimilate you."

B'Elanna laughed and batted Seven's hand away. "Get away from me, Borg." Then she grinned up at her friend. "You do have good points, Seven. Just that where before you wanted to push them down my throat, now you put them on a plate and see if I want to eat them."

Seven smiled. "Interesting analogy." Then she moved back to her couch.

Wondering, B'Elanna asked, "Hey, just out of curiosity, why do you always sit there? There is room for three people on this couch here."

"Because," Seven sat back down and picked up her cube once more, but did not do anything with it. Then she hesitantly admitted, "Because from here I can see you better; I like looking at you."

Seeing that she had surprised B'Elanna with the answer, she covered slightly by continuing, "Which is why I believe we have a problem with the new approach to showering."

"Really?" B'Elanna asked, but her mind was still trying to analyze just what exactly Seven had just told her.

"Yes," Seven affirmed. "While it was fun to wash, and be washed, by you, and while I really liked the touching, it was too close for a whole body view. I also liked to sit on the Vanity and watch you wash yourself."

"I guess you got a point, I also really liked to watch you." B'Elanna admitted. "And from how normal that came to me, I think I liked it from the beginning, and that I even did that when we are intimate and I could do a lot more than just wash you if I wanted. Maybe we can compromise. One day we wash each other, the other day we watch."

Seven thought about that for a moment. "That would still leave every second day where we cannot wash our backs as we should, unless we really do get a bath brush."

"You have a better idea?"

"I might. We can combine the two," Seven suggested. "I am always the first to take a shower. We could continue doing that. I start the shower, you watch me. Then once I am done, you join me and we wash each other, including our backs. And once we have done that, you take a shower while I dry off and watch you shower and dry off as well. Then we leave together."

B'Elanna nodded. "I like the idea. But you do realize that we will spend pretty much over one hour in the bathroom every day then."

Seven shrugged, making B'Elanna's eyes almost pop out. "You can shrug?"

Seven frowned. "Of course, it is merely a movement of muscles. I just do not do it normally because I realize that most people will not be satisfied with seeing the gesture as an answer. I am starting to believe that, seeing how easy communication between us is becoming, that you would appreciate the gesture as an answer."

B'Elanna grinned, realizing that Seven had just given her a huge compliment. "Alright, let's see then just how good I am at interpreting shrugs. You basically think 'so what' because it is an off duty activity that we both enjoy, and it's not like we are wasting any resources since the water is turned back into energy as soon as it goes down the drain and hits the waste processing unit there."

Seven smiled. "I believe that I shall shrug more often in your presence; it seems a good way of communicating."

B'Elanna watched how Seven once more started to twist the cube around. Then she decided that she might as well mention what was on her mind. "Hey Seven, no matter how the rest works out, I just wanted you to know that I'm really glad that we are sharing quarters; I really like having you around."

Seven looked at her and assured with a smile, "Likewise, B'Elanna Torres, likewise." Then she tilted her head slightly while thinking and finally asking, "B'Elanna, since we have moved to actually appreciating each other's company, how would you feel about starting to do activities that can be done together?"

"I'm listening," B'Elanna merely said, knowing that Seven would interpret it as 'I'm interested.'

"I have heard that the holodecks of The Glory are quite impressive, and the both of us get holodeck time. Maybe we can go over some programs to see what we would both find interesting. But I was also thinking, since you gave me this cube, my guess is that you do appreciate the value of games."

B'Elanna nodded. "Sure, as long as I find them fun. But while I did know that you would probably like the cube, and I'm really glad that you don't just like but even love it, that would not be something for me."

"I figured as much," Seven assured. "However, we could both look at the database to find some games we both would like to play and then see if there are things that the other would be interested in."

"Deal," B'Elanna agreed. The word reminded her of something. "Oh, hey would you be interested in old fashioned Earth card games? I think I know a game that the both of us can really like."

"I would be interested, depending on the game."

"Did you ever hear of poker?" B'Elanna wondered. "I think it would be perfect. You might like it because you can use mathematics to calculate chances and all that stuff, and I would nevertheless still stand a chance because in poker bluffing is just as important than the actual cards you have."


"Yes," B'Elanna said before elaborating, "Pretending that your cards are so good that the other quits even though their cards were actually better. Since you don't know the game, let me use and example. Let's say that the number one is the best card combination you can have, the number two comes right under that, and so on. Now, you have a number two. So mathematically you know that your chances are damn high that you have won, right?"

Seven nodded her agreement.

"But the thing is, you can't be sure. Because the chance is small that I have that one combination. Small but it is still there. So now I'm betting all my possessions away. So, what is it, do I have that one, or am I only bluffing? Should you match my bet, or should you not take the risk and fold. See? No matter how good you are at calculating, I would still have a fair chance in the game."

"It sounds interesting," Seven agreed before asking, "Betting your possessions away?"

"Well, not literally for me, but yeah, people that play the game for real stakes do sometimes lose all they have. But come to think of it, just playing for chips... round disks with a value printed on them... is not fun if you aren't really winning anything."

"Then what would you suggest?"

B'Elanna hesitated for a moment while giving the question some thought. "I think it should be something so that even losing would still be fun and not really loosing. So not that the losing person suddenly has to start doing all the chores in the quarters or something."

Suddenly she snapped her fingers. "Actually, I think I have just the thing. We can combine it with what you just suggested. You said that we can do things on the holodeck. How about this? One holodeck minute is one credit in the game. Then we play for that. I can win your time, and you can win my time. But since it should still be fun for the both of us, this 'winning' means that if I win that I am the one that can decide what the both of us are going to do with that time I won off you, and if you win, it's your choice."

"But you might not like what I want to do on the holodeck," Seven noted.

"All the more reason for me to try and not lose my time, but to win yours," B'Elanna countered. "There should be some incentive. Plus it would be a nice way of getting some company on those things that you know you normally never find someone that wants to do it with you. Like, like, well, like for me. Since I embraced my Klingon side more I want to run Klingon orientated programs on the holodeck from time to time. Not just the rituals, but also something like going out on a hunt. I normally never find anyone to do stuff like that with me because they feel bad for killing to poor animals, holographic or not. I could use some of the time I won for such a hunt and you then accompany me."

Seven thought about that for a moment before admitting, "Even without having to do so because you won the time, I think I would not object to such an activity. I do not condone killing for a sport, yet unlike most people I can make a clear distinction between a holodeck and real animals. I would not have quarrels with joining you on such a hunt on the holodeck, just as long as you do not ask me to also participate in a real hunt."

B'Elanna's whole face had lid up at the explanation. "You are kidding. You wouldn't mind getting blood all over you? Klingon hunts are done with blades you know?"

"I would not mind getting holographic blood all over me," Seven assured, and slightly corrected by putting the empathies on the 'holographic'.

"How about holographic people?"

"The same thing," Seven assured immediately. "As long as you do not ask me to kill holographic renderings of people I know. For instance, the Voyager crew once played a game that was really a training exercise of Tuvok. In it they had to take over Voyager. Some people liked to kill other crewmembers, saying that it was alright to do so because they were just holograms. That is something I would not do."

B'Elanna frowned, "I know what you are talking about, I did a couple of rounds of that program myself back then, though I preferred to capture the enemy. But that was before your time though, how do you know this?"

"I have read all the publicly accessible reports of Voyager from the day she left the shipyards," Seven pointed out. "As for the holoprograms, I have one more stipulation. The enemies have to be obvious enemies, regardless of whether they are human or animal. So no killing babies, nor puppies. I do know that certain holodeck programs consist of eventually clearing out the nest. And often the young are then also mean animals, puppies have a venomous bite for instance."

"Kahless, Seven. If we weren't married already I would ask you to marry me right now."

Seeing Seven lift her eyebrows in surprise, B'Elanna assured with a grin, "A figure of speech. It's something you say if you like someone very much at that moment for something they said or did. It is not considered a serious statement. And I just said it because you just pretty much described what I myself want in such programs. You seem to be my perfect holodeck partner."

Seven felt it her duty to remind, "They have holodecks on the planet,"

B'Elanna interrupted her with a dismissive wave of her hand. "Yeah, yeah, and maybe we already talked about this before and agree so much because we felt each other out then and adjusted ourselves to what the other likes. But you know what, I don't care. I just like the fact that I found someone that won't hesitate to slit a holographic targ's throat."

"If I win you would probably be doing a lot of walking," Seven pointed out.

"You also do a lot of walking in a Klingon hunt," B'Elanna pointed out in turn. "But what exactly do you mean?"

Seven hesitated for a moment, wondering how to word what she wanted to say. She knew that in the end she herself was to blame for never speaking up and just letting people assume, so she didn't want to sound like she was accusing someone. "Normally, when there were shore-leaves I was one of the people that were assigned to the skeleton crew, and on top of that was asked to do scants, work on report backlogs, things like that. This was done because most people thought that shore-leave was irrelevant to me, something that was enhanced by the fact that if I was on planets, I rarely engaged in activities that the others engaged in. They never understood that it were those activities that were irrelevant to me, and that I did not do any other activities because I knew they would not be approved."

"Like?" B'Elanna prompted.

"Like walking through a jungle to appreciate its diversity. Normally shore-leave on uninhabited planets exists out of a spot being chosen and the crew having to stay within a two to five kilometer radius. For most people it is enough to stay in one beautiful spot, but for me, once I enjoyed the scenery for half an hour or so, I have seen it and I lose interest. I want to be moving, to see a different angle every minute, to see creatures scurrying away because they were startled by me setting foot where nobody ever did before. Or at least nobody from Voyager. But walks in unsecured environments is not allowed on shore-leave, unless the entire planet is considered secure. But even then travel has to be done in pairs for security. And not many people like to walk through uncultivated nature, to have to walk where there are no trails."

B'Elanna shrugged. "Well, as I said, I don't mind a good walk. Oh, and next time we are on a shore-leave and unrestricted traveling is allowed, consider me your walking partner." B'Elanna knew immediately that she had done right by making that offer. The brilliant smile she got in return managed to make her massive eight chambered heart skip a beat or two.

"Thank you," Seven said softly, in a way that added another skip to that Klingon heart.

After a moment of them just looking at each other, B'Elanna decided to move the conversation along. With a grin she asked, "If you have enjoyed nice views after a few minutes, how come you still like watching me?"

"Because you are beyond nice," Seven stated boldly. "Normally visuals are visuals. If I have seen it, I have seen it. But looking at you is like eating. If I had one bite of food, I need to have a second one to get that taste again. If I am watching you, every new second is a new treat."

"You have an amazing way with words sometimes," A now blushing B'Elanna admitted.

Deciding to change the subject since there was still that dangerous line between nudging the Klingon and pushing her, Seven asked, "Very well. Tell me more about poker."

Glad for the distraction, B'Elanna explained, "Well, there are about a gazillion different styles, or I can just make up some rules that make sure that I win all the time." She grinned at that last comment. "So how about I download some different styles and their real rules and then we choose?"

"Alright, Texas hold 'em it is," B'Elanna agreed. "But don't think that I don't know that you like that version because the exposed cards help you with your calculations."

"But it is not at all that you like it because there are several opportunities to bet before all cards are revealed, and therefore you have more opportunity to out bluff me," Seven countered.

"Guilty as charged," B'Elanna admitted as she started to shuffle the cards.

"The game description did state that it is a game best played with four to six players," Seven noted.

"Yeah, but that's mostly because of winnings. More people, more betting; easy as that. But have too many people and you have to wait too long for your turn to bet more or get out is too long. And granted, if you want to make a fun game night out of it, two players are just that bit too few. But for the casual playing we will do, two people are fine. But come to think of it, maybe we can organize a weekly poker night. I'm sure Tom would love it, and Harry might like it too. If we get their partners on board as well, that would already be six of us; we could then even start having a designated dealer; someone that doesn't play that round."

"In general I would not object to that," Seven assured. "However, I would like to play the game several times before that to see if I actually like it."

"Good idea. How about we play in the next couple of days, and if we then still like it by the end of this week, we ask them if they are interested," B'Elanna suggested.

"Very well." Seven looked at the cards B'Elanna had given her and decided to open her betting by placing five hundred points. Knowing that she could do so because that night they were only playing to practice.

B'Elanna laughed. "Seven, hon, I'm supposed to be the bluffer here."

"Who says I am bluffing?" Seven countered. Then she asked, "What does 'hon' mean?"

B'Elanna stopped in mid motion. "Hon? Damn I did say that, didn't I?"

"You did."

"Um, well, hon is a term of endearment. Technically it is short for honey." B'Elanna finally placed her own chips before adding, "But it's wide spread though. It's something that is used between lovers, but also between friends and family. As in; hon, don't worry about it."

"I see."

"Sorry, I don't know where that came from."

"I do not object to it," Seven assured. "I merely stated that I understood what you were saying."

"So you don't mind if I were to say that from time to time?" Then B'Elanna admitted, "I kinda really like the fact that we have moved on from me trying to find the best insult to use for you, to me actually using a term of endearment for you."

"I do not mind at all," Seven assured. "After all, I do the same."

"You do?" B'Elanna asked confused.

"Yes. Did you never wonder why I call you 'B'Elanna Torres' quite often? There is only one B'Elanna on Voyager, or even in the entire Fleet. I do not have to add the 'Torres' to let you know that I mean you. However, I do like how 'B'Elanna Torres' sounds."

B'Elanna snorted. "Trust the Borg to turn a normal name into an endearment." Then she frowned. "Do you mind that? Me calling you Borg?"

Seven thought about it for a moment. "It is interesting. I can mind it and I cannot; it all depends on the situation. Would you object to me saying 'trust the Klingon to act before thinking'?"

B'Elanna shrugged. "In a situation like this? No. It would just be a little jibe between friends."

"But you would object to me saying that you are being an irrational, volatile, and unpredictable person because you are Klingon?"

B'Elanna merely growled, but didn't react further because she knew Seven was making some kind of point.

"It is the same for me," Seven continued. "I do see myself as an individual, and I do not want to go back to the Borg Collective. Yet as a person, I prefer to see myself more as Borg than Human. I would much rather say 'I am Borg' than 'I am only Human'. More so since 'I am 'only' human', is often used as an excuse for why something did not succeed, or to cover an error made. While 'I am Borg will in case bring people to expect a higher standard from me then from a 'mere' Human'. As such certain references to me being Borg are not minded at all, or even seen as a compliment, while others I will see as an insult; all depending on the situation."

Interesting," B'Elanna said thoughtfully. "Well, to come back to the endearments, "I think that the real difference is that 'B'Elanna Torres' sounds like my name; nothing more. While 'hon' is something that pretty much everyone, at least on Voyager, will see as a term of endearment."

Deciding that a change of subject might be in order before the Klingon started to analyze her own actions too much, Seven asked, "What did you think of Kathryn asking us to give her away at her wedding? You did agree to it."

"I felt honored by it," B'Elanna assured. Figuring that Seven should not be the only one that dared to bet high, she boldly placed a thousand points in the pot. "I think that, just like the two of us, she has decided that maybe new beginnings aren't bad. Before she did all she could to keep a distance between herself and the crew. Now she is married to her own boss and I think she realizes that it's alright to get a little closer to some of us."

"Brika in not technically Kathryn's boss," Seven felt a need to point out. "She has a rank that is higher in the Urdian command structure then Kathryn's is in the Federation structure. Yet, it are two different structures. It would be the same as saying that a Klingon General should be considered higher than Kathryn since in the Klingon army the General compares to an Admiral in Starfleet. And yet, if we were to come across a Klingon ship now, Kathryn would most definitely not bow to an General's wishes."

B'Elanna wiggled her hand a bit. "Eh, that depends. One ship, no, probably not. But if we were to have come across a Fleet of twenty Negh'Var class ships and they would have said, You can tag along with us to the Qo'noS, but our General is in command, Kathryn would probably have taken the deal, as long as she would stay in command of Voyager; which she now still is. It's just that the Urdians are more into working together and all Kathryn has to do to keep the Fleet happy is play nice with the Admiral."

Seven lifted an eyebrow at that.

"Not that kind of play," B'Elanna chuckled. "Personally, I think it's a good thing for all of us, including Kathryn. I mean, even if she would start to lose her objective view with the power of such a Fleet at her disposal, Admiral Brika is right there to kick her butt. I think that Kathryn realizes that family can be more than just the person she is married to. And I for one consider myself honored that she considers me, us, part of that family. You?"

"I think that I am glad that she and I have come to an agreement," Seven said thoughtfully.

"What do you mean?" B'Elanna asked confused.

"Promise me that you will never tell anybody what I am going to say now?"

"Alright," B'Elanna said slowly as she put her cards face down on the table, figuring that this might need all her attention.

"I believe that from the moment I realized that I did not want to leave Voyager anymore, that it was clear to both Kathryn and me that I fitted in her life, somehow," Seven stated.

"Somehow," B'Elanna repeated.

"There was a short period of time in which Kathryn and I were romantically interested in each other," Seven explained more clearly.

It was as if a switch had been thrown, and B'Elanna instantly felt like puking. Apparently her reaction was easy to read for Seven, because the blonde reached over the table to place a hand on B'Elanna's. "Nothing happened. But we did share dinner, and we did kiss. But as we were doing so, the both of us felt that it was wrong."

"Nothing happened?" B'Elanna repeated.

"We kissed, once; that is all," Seven assured. "But after that time we were uncomfortable around each other. We didn't really know what we were to each other. It, that kiss, had hurt our friendship. After that we slowly but surely moved to what you have seen the last year; pleasant, friendly, but purely professional interaction. Kathryn was a good friend of mine, and I would like to have that friend back. Now it seems that I can."

"New beginnings," B'Elanna repeated once more. "You moved from being a potential lover to being a potential daughter."

Seven smiled. "Well, I for one would prefer to have an older sister, not a mother."

Finally B'Elanna grinned. "You should tell her that. If you are unsure just what your interaction with each other is supposed to be, so is she. You can either spend another year or so trying to figure it out, or you can simply cut to the chase. Tell her that would like to see her like that and then you at least both know how you can interact with each other."

"You have a valid point," Seven agreed. "And what will you tell her?"

B'Elanna's expression grew serious. "I'll tell her that if she wants, she can have two younger sisters, but if she ever dares to kiss my wife again, I'll kill her."

Total shock suddenly hung between them.

"Fuck this," B'Elanna suddenly growled as she got up and briskly moved away to the bedroom.

Seven only hesitated for a moment, but still it was enough for B'Elanna to have moved to her own room. Seven hesitated once more, but then pushed the button to open the door, letting the Klingon know that she was not going to accept this forced separation.

The door stayed closed, but Seven had Borg determination. After five minutes of pushing the button and driving the Klingon inside the room insane, the door finally opened.

"What?" B'Elanna growled.

"Come here," Seven demanded, wanting it very clear that she wanted B'Elanna in the bedroom, on equal ground.

B'Elanna only did so because she knew that Seven would not let her get away with closing the door again. Then she was surprised when the blonde suddenly took her in an embrace. "B'Elanna Torres, I could try to explain to you how that was probably your subconscious speaking. I am sure that I could find the words to convince you of that."

Seven stepped back, but held her hands firmly on B'Elanna's arms. "But I will not do that. I made several friends on Voyager, but no matter what you decide at the end of this month, I would really like it if we could come out of this with you being my best friend. And as such you have full right to be protective and possessive of me."

B'Elanna sighed and stepped away from Seven to sit down on the bed. "Protective, yes, but friends should not be possessive. You aren't my property."

"Maybe not your property," Seven allowed. "But I personally like the idea of there being someone in my life that is so close to me that it transcends all other bonds I have. That even if Kathryn and I become so close that we are truly like sisters, that you still are more special to me because you are the only one I give the right to be possessive of me."

B'Elanna took a moment to look up at the still standing blonde before sighing. "You really would like to stay married to me, wouldn't you?"

"Yes," Seven finally admitted. "I know that I said that I would make my decision at the end of the twenty-five days, but that was before. When I still thought that we would first have to break down the walls between us so that I can see if I like the person that is hiding behind those walls."

"I'm sorry, Seven. It's not fair to you that how your life evolves depends on my choices."

Seven sat down beside B'Elanna and put her arm around the Klingon to pull her close. "That is a part of being a two person collective; each and every thing you do affects me, just like each and every thing I do will affect you. In this, your choice affects me because it is you that decides if we stay married. However, it is also you that decides if we can be happy. Do you really think that I would want to be married to you if you only did it to do me a favor? If I have a choice between being married to you because you feel you have to, or us simply being the best of friends that are not married, then I will gladly take being friends."

"So you really don't hold it against me that I happen to start believing in Klingon honor at the wrong time?" B'Elanna worried.

"Not at all," Seven assured. "It is one of the things I like about you."

B'Elanna snorted. "What? The fact that I make your, and my, life a living hell because I am scared of commitment?"

Seven shook her head. "No, the fact that you are the one of us that keeps focus on the fact that this decision reaches a lot farther than merely a convenient excuse for physical intimacy. Just think, B'Elanna Torres. In eight days, we went from enemies to being friends. We were able to do that because thanks to you we were only focusing on the emotional connection between us, not the physical one. Physical is easy; I know that we will enjoy having sex. Emotional is a whole different matter."

"And just how do you know that we will enjoy having sex?" B'Elanna wondered. "Just because we have a whole supply of sex toys, doesn't mean that our sex life was great. As I thought when I found them; it can also mean that we are so different that we need all those toys just to find some middle ground we can both enjoy."

Seven hesitated, then she decided that it was time to tell the Klingon how she knew. "You know those holo recordings I watch a few of every day?"

"Yes?" B'Elanna asked confused. She had never seen one of them because Seven always watched them in her own room, but she still knew from the blonde that she was watching them.

"It seems that the two of us realized that because I was a virgin before we got married, and therefore I cannot remember having sex, I should see just how good sex can be. We recorded several files of the two of us having sex."

B'Elanna just looked at her in disbelief.

"Honest," Seven assured. "In one of the other files I told myself that I should let you watch those files once you were finally willing to watch the recorded files you have for yourself. But I have now decided that I will not do that."

"Why not?" B'Elanna asked confused.

"Because, if we do not stay married and do not have sex, I do not want you to see the things you cannot have," Seven explained. "And if we do stay married,"

"Seven," B'Elanna interrupted, only to be interrupted herself.

"'If,' we do stay married, than I think you will enjoy it a lot more to first experience those things in reality, and only after that I will hand you those files so that you have something to watch on those times that I cannot spent the night with you because of duty. But believe me, we have a very active, very fun, and very fulfilling love life. Now all we have to figure out is if this new sense of friendship between us can be more, or if this is merely a case of... ecstasy of having found a friend in a former enemy."

"I can't belief we really recorded that."

"From the files, I have a feeling that we actually enjoyed it; as if it was another variant of a sex toy."

"I never was into being watched," B'Elanna noted.

"I am not 'into' being watched either, yet I like when you watch me as I shower," Seven reminded. "I think that we were being 'into' being watched because we knew that we would be the only ones that would see the files. I checked. I seem to have put extreme security measures in those files. The PADD has biometric recognition and only you and I can watch the files. If someone but us were to try and access the files the data gets deleted and the device that is being used will be destroyed by a power surge."

"Ouch," B'Elanna said, imagining holding that PADD in her hands.

"Indeed," Seven agreed. "But the point is, we made sure that nobody but us can access those files. So we are not into being watched by anyone but us. However, we ourselves love to watch and there are so many ways that this can be used as fun. For instance, I did promise you that if we were to stay married, you would also stay sexually active. But as I just said, there will be days that I have to work and you do not, even if we do work on the same shift. Or one of us is on an away mission. I think making such recordings so that you can enjoy them when I am not with you would be something we would both enjoy."


"I am not saying that to try to persuade you, B'Elanna Torres. You already know that I said you would stay sexually active; this is not news to you. This is merely one more suggestion of making sure that this would happen. Of course, now it sounds like I would be merely agreeing to please you. Believe me, I am also very selfish in this; I would watch the files as well."

Despite her determination not to want to know things like this, B'Elanna couldn't help but ask, "Do you watch those files when, you, um, I mean, as you watch them do you, um,"

"Yes." Then Seven asked on her turn, "What about you? You do not watch your files, nor do you have a computer unit in your room. Do you read PADDs?"

"No. I, um, fantasize. I have a very lively imagination."

Seven smiled. "I will be nice and not ask you the very obvious question." Then she asked, "So, are you alright now? Do you now realize that the next time you say something you don't want to say, that you do not have to go off the deep end. How about an 'I did not say that' the next time; it is a lot simpler."

B'Elanna finally grinned. "Deal. Thanks for being such a great friend, it is a shame that we didn't realize long before now what could have been. As I told Kathryn; she should have thrown us together in quarters in the beginning. She would have saved herself a lot of problems."

Then B'Elanna snapped her fingers. "Oh, talking about Kathryn. I told her that I would explain in more detail about this complexity called Klingon Honor, and that I would do that tomorrow during dinner. You are invited, if you are interested."

"I am," Seven assured as she got up. She offered a hand to B'Elanna and pulled her up. "Now that this little Klingon drama is over we might as well move back to the living room."

"Klingon drama? Funny, very funny, Borg." Before they left the bedroom, B'Elanna said, "Oh and fair is fair, since I now know that you watch those files when you, you know. Let me just say that the answer to that question you didn't ask, is yes."

Seven merely smiled.

Part 7

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