DISCLAIMER: All characters are owned and copyrighted by Paramount. No profit is intended.
SPOILERS/AUTHOR'S NOTE: Since it's playing after 'Endgame' the whole show could be declared as the spoiler. However most importantly I have to thank my beta-reader Elizabeth Crusade - blame her for any remaining mistakes :-P
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
After All We've Been Through
Although the mess hall was packed with crewmembers, it was rather quiet. Most people were looking out of the windows and a lot of them were crying with joy at seeing their home world again.
The name was like magic to them. Well, there must have been some magic involved; after all, this planet had been able to cast a spell over the entire crew, which had enabled them to overcome immense difficulties on their long journey home.
Seven stood in a quiet corner all by herself, looking down on that strange planet as well. Though she wasn't able to feel the magic, there was something she was feeling she just wasn't quite sure what it was.
She felt no connection to that word. In her childhood, she had only known the Raven. There she had never felt at home, just lonely. The Borg collective was certainly the last place she would call home, but at least it had provided her with a sense of security and unity through the Hive mind.
And Voyager? It had taken almost all of the last four years for her to feel at home on this ship. The crew hadn't made it easy for her to adapt. The Captain and the Doctor had been the only members of the crew who had supported her for a long time. Now she could call Tuvok, Harry, Tom, and even B'Elanna her friends. Maybe even family.
Chakotay had been the first to offer her more than that, but she had been unwilling to take it. Seven wasn't sure whether this was because of what Admiral Janeway had told her, but she couldn't help the feeling that she would have ended that relationship sooner or later anyway. Maybe it was just easier to use the Admiral as an excuse.
Taking all of this into consideration, Seven concluded that Voyager indeed was her home. Looking down at the planet, she did not intend to leave her home and give up what she had for something she knew nothing about.
With a sigh, she turned around and slowly made her way down to Cargo Bay 2.
B'Elanna was half asleep with little Miral lying on her chest. Tom had visited her earlier, bustling around her and generally making a great fuss. However, he soon left and returned to the bridge. He wasn't about to let anyone but himself fly Voyager back home.
B'Elanna had been slightly disappointed that Tom had not stayed, but she knew her husband well. There was no way to stop him when it came to flying Voyager, nothing else seemed to matter to him especially not now.
She was quite lost in her thoughts, though most of her thoughts seemed to be circling around a certain blonde. Of all the people on board Voyager, B'Elanna still couldn't believe that it had been Seven who delivered her child. However, she felt grateful nevertheless. Seven had done a great job. B'Elanna knew that in Seven's place she would've wanted to run away, to pass responsibility over to somebody else. She was quite certain that initially Seven had wanted to do the same, but then had been willing to stay and support her. Seven had been there for her, regardless of her own preferences in the matter. B'Elanna couldn't remember when Tom had ever done anything as selfless as that for her.
Now she couldn't help but wish that Seven was here. She couldn't get the picture of Seven holding her daughter out of her mind. It had just looked so right, so natural.
"How are my two favorite Klingons?" The Doctor interrupted her thoughts cheerily.
"You're the Doc. You tell me." B'Elanna replied slightly annoyed. "When will you release us?"
"Oh, let me take a few more scans. By then I think you'll be able to go home if everything is in order. And then I'll see you tomorrow for your first check-up."
B'Elanna groaned but nodded anyway. A few more scans were fine with her, as long as she was allowed to leave soon. She sat up and rearranged Miral in her arms. The Doctor then took his scans, while whistling some of his favorite songs.
"Doctor to Seven of Nine," he called after tapping his comm badge, much to B'Elanna's surprise.
Seven here. How may I assist you?
"Well, I'm about to release B'Elanna and her daughter. I would really appreciate it if you would come to Sickbay and accompany her and Miral to their quarters. Tom is unfortunately on the Bridge. I would feel better, if she's not alone."
B'Elanna couldn't believe her ears. She was about to protest, when she heard Seven's response.
Of course. I would be happy to be of assistance. I will be there shortly. Seven out.
The Doctor grinned cheerfully, totally oblivious to B'Elanna's astonished expression.
Although Seven would have preferred to stay in her quiet cargo bay, she was more than happy to have another opportunity to see B'Elanna and her daughter, Miral. She wasn't sure why she felt that way, after all, she still felt apprehensive about attaching herself to the crew, or certain people, more than necessary. But that didn't seem to be keeping her from wanting to see B'Elanna.
So she was almost happy while she made her way to sickbay.
"Hey Seven, where are you going? Have you already gathered your things? I'm sure we will be home pretty soon. I've heard that there will be a big reception in our honor. I can't wait to see my parents." Harry rambled on and on, oblivious to Seven's sudden discomfort.
"They've already sent a message informing me that the whole family will be welcoming me. Mom cried, and even Dad shed some tears. Gosh, can you imagine? I'll be seeing them for the first time in seven years and all my cousins as well. Some of them were kids when I left, now they must be teenagers or older even! What about your family? Have you talked to any of them?"
Fortunately for Seven, the lift had reached her deck and she exited. "I am sorry Harry. I am expected in sickbay. Maybe we can talk later."
Harry just grinned at her, engrossed in his thoughts about his family.
Seven sighed, wondering how she would ever answer any of these question. She was quite sure that Harry wouldn't be the last person to ask those questions of her.
When she finally reached sickbay, she dropped all her frustrating thoughts and entered.
They made their way to B'Elanna's quarters without exchanging one word. Miral was asleep. While B'Elanna was deep in thought, Seven occasionally glanced over at her and her daughter. Her eidetic memory provided Seven with images of the birth. It was still amazing to her. And to her surprise, she realized that she was absolutely in love with that little girl.
She had no idea how this was possible. It was safe to say she knew almost nothing about love. Of course, she had done research on this subject; she had even talked with the Captain about it. But, as far as she could tell, she had never experienced this feeling herself. Though she was quite sure she must have loved her parents at one point in her life, she couldn't remember it and now there was no love left for them.
Well, there was still Axum. But her experiences in Unimatrix Zero seemed quite unreal. There was no way to be sure if she had ever loved him. So Seven decided that it didn't matter at all. Only real world memories did matter.
And now she knew without a doubt that she loved little Miral Torres. Seven preferred to think of her only as B'Elanna's child. After all, she knew the two Lieutenants had agreed not to change their names. So, naturally Miral would be named after her mother.
B'Elanna for her part finally came out of her musings and looked up at Seven. She caught Seven looking at her daughter and it shocked her to her very being when she recognized the look in the ex-Borg's eyes. Love pure, devoted, and unconditional love.
B'Elanna stopped dead in her tracks. Because she had stopped so suddenly, Seven didn't realize it immediately and had kept on walking. When she did realize she stopped and turned around to look questioningly at B'Elanna.
"Is anything wrong, B'Elanna?"
"No, I you I was just surprised," B'Elanna replied, chastising herself for stuttering.
"What is the source of your surprise?" Seven knew it was impolite to ask that question, but her curiosity got the better of her.
"You," B'Elanna answered truthfully before stopping herself. Shocked again she felt the urge to run away. Instead of running, she restrained herself and just resumed her way to her quarters.
"Explain" Seven demanded, now surprised as well.
B'Elanna should have known that there was no way to escape Seven's curiosity. Sighing she turned around and looked the other woman in the eyes. "I saw how you looked at my daughter. You love her, don't you?"
Seven's eyes got wide. Was it that obvious? For the second time today, she felt her chest constricting painfully. She wanted to deny it, but was incapable of lying, especially when it came to B'Elanna. "Yes."
B'Elanna saw different emotions passing over Seven's face. It was nothing new to her, Seven's ability to show emotion, though it took her several years to realize it. But to see them so obvious now was indeed new. Usually Seven tended to hide her emotions behind her Borg mask.
"It's okay, you know. I don't mind. Actually, I'm glad you feel love for my daughter. A child can never have enough of it. And who knows, one day I might be selfish and ask you to baby-sit her. After all, you did a great job with the other children in your life." B'Elanna grinned mischievously.
Seven was relieved, but surprised as well, then almost shocked and finally hurt. She was grateful that B'Elanna didn't mind her feelings, but was taken aback. Knowing the half Klingon, B'Elanna might as well have told her to stay away from her daughter. That's why she was shocked when B'Elanna actually suggested to her that she might baby-sit Miral one day. However, the mentioning of the other children hurt her. She still missed them; One, Mezoti, Rebi and Azan. There was still Icheb, but he was no longer a child and had outgrown his need for her. His development had progressed much faster than her own had and now he was well on his way to becoming a cadet at Starfleet Academy. She still had no idea what would happen to her or what she might want to do with her future, if there would be a future at all.
"Hey, everything okay?" B'Elanna inquired when recognizing Seven's suddenly sad expression.
"Yes," Seven hastened to reassure her, but then admitted, "No."
Meanwhile the three of them had reached B'Elanna's quarters. B'Elanna entered her door code, took Seven's hand and dragged her inside without a second thought.
After she had settled Miral in her crib, she turned around and motioned for Seven to sit down. Though hesitant, the former drone sat down. B'Elanna walked over to the replicator and ordered two glasses of Mango juice. She then made her way back to Seven and sat beside her on the couch, handing her one glass.
"I do not require " Seven started, but took the glass and smiled shyly at B'Elanna, "Thank you."
"You're welcome. Listen Seven, I can never make up to you what you've done for me today, but at least I can try to be your friend, if you want that is. And, as your friend, I'm here for you. I can see that something is bothering you, so I will gladly help you." B'Elanna looked at her, honestly concerned. She had no idea how it was possible that she was now sitting here with Seven. This whole day had been an impossibility in-and-of itself. She had given birth to her perfect daughter with Seven's help. Voyager was back in the Alpha quadrant and now she was sitting here with her new friend, who had fallen in love with her daughter.
Seven looked at her, unsure of where to begin. She sighed very un- Borg like and leaned back to make herself a little more comfortable.
"Thank you, I appreciate your offer very much and I will gladly call you my friend. To be honest, I really need to talk with someone and I was unsure how to approach the Captain. She might not understand my feelings." Seven paused and sipped on her juice.
"I thought that Janeway would be the one there for you, no matter what." B'Elanna wondered.
"That might have been true a year ago, but now I am not sure any longer. She has disregarded my feelings on more than one occasion in this last year. Nevertheless, I think she would be disappointed if I approached her with my apprehensive feelings regarding our 'homecoming'. Everybody is so happy and I do not know what to feel." Seven sighed again and looked into her glass, swirling the juice around a little bit.
"Have you ever been on Earth?" B'Elanna had an idea of what Seven might be feeling. She wasn't as happy as the others either. Her memories of Earth were disturbed with bad thoughts of her father leaving her and her mother. Her time at the Academy hadn't been one of her better memories either. Although Tom couldn't wait to introduce her to his father, she wasn't sure about this whole issue. The only place she had ever truly felt at home was Voyager and she had a feeling that the same applied to Seven.
"Not that I can remember. Today Harry asked me about my family, but besides an aunt I have no relatives. Some weeks ago I talked to her and she seemed rather happy to hear from me, but I have no memories of her and I do not feel any connection to her. Nevertheless, I would like to visit her. I will not stay with her, however.
Besides that, there is still the issue of how Starfleet command will treat me. I have no doubt that I will have to give a lengthy and detailed report about the Borg. Captain Janeway already assured me of her support, but she will have to give a report and many explanations herself. I do not want to rely on her.
This is my home. This crew comes closest to what can be considered my family. I do not feel ready to go my own."
"I can remember a time, when I felt the same. It was when we the Maquis arrived on Voyager. I had no idea what to expect and I would've rather been anywhere else. And to be honest, I was rather scared; though I was quite successful in not showing that. Instead, I was angry all the time. Now I find myself in a similar situation. Really, I've done everything within my powers to bring Voyager home, but now I'm dreading our arrival. I have unresolved issues with my father. Tom is about to drag me into his family. I'm officially still Maquis, though all Maquis have been granted amnesty. I have no idea where I will end up and I don't know whether I feel comfortable with the plans others have made for me."
"But what about Chakotay? I got the impression that there was something going on between the two of you." B'Elanna tried to sound casual, but inwardly she dreaded Seven's answer. Though Chakotay was one of her oldest friends, she just couldn't imagine him and Seven together.
"I ended our relationship." Seven stated, feeling slightly uncomfortable.
"Oh, Why? If you don't mind asking me."
"Admiral Janeway told me that my death would cause people to suffer, especially him. It seems that we were married in her timeline. This is very unlikely now. I do not want people to suffer because of me. So I decided to not attach myself to anyone. Now I realize us marrying is even more unlikely. To be honest, I think I used Admiral Janeway's words as an excuse. I felt no commitment toward the Commander and it would have been wrong to let him think otherwise." Seven sighed again. She was grateful to finally be able to voice her thoughts.
"I see and I'm sorry. Listen Seven, it's just a part of life, part of being human, to attach yourself to the people around you. And it shows their feelings for you when they're suffering over your death. We talked about it some months ago and nothing has changed. You are still an integral part of this crew and I doubt that there would be anyone who wouldn't miss you. But that is not the point."
"I don't know what Admiral Janeway told you, but in my eyes she was a rather bitter woman and I'm not sure you should've listened to her in the first place. If you don't feel any commitment toward Chakotay, it would be only fair to tell him as much. But even with him out of the picture, there are still many people who care a great deal about you. So I would say you're in pretty much the same situation as you were with Chakotay. Do you plan on ending all your friendships?"
"No," Seven stated rather adamantly and without hesitation.
"See? That would hurt even more." B'Elanna smiled gently, taking Seven's hand.
"I know. I am aware that I am not alone, but I feel lonely." Seven couldn't help the tears that escaped her human eye.
B'Elanna's heart flew out to the woman beside her and before she had the chance to give it another thought, she engulfed Seven in a warm embrace. At first, Seven remained stiff but soon she gave in and melted into the shorter woman, letting herself be comforted.
They stayed that way for the next half hour with Seven silently sobbing while B'Elanna tried to soothe her, murmuring comforting words. There was no way that this day could get any stranger. However, B'Elanna didn't mind. To her surprise, it felt really good to hold the other woman. It felt as if it was meant to be.
Eventually, Seven was calm again. She released B'Elanna and leaned back on the couch.
"I am sorry for my outburst. And thank you."
"No need to be. And you're welcome. Seven, I've no idea what to expect either. Tom briefly told me something about a reception. I think the next few days will be quite eventful. After that we will all probably be confronted with Starfleet Command. In a few weeks we'll have time to settle ourselves. But how, where and with whom, I don't know. Time will tell. And I'm telling you right now, that I will be there for you. You're not alone."
Seven almost found herself crying again. But she was able to hold herself together.
"Thank you," she whispered, barely audible.
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