DISCLAIMER: The story, and characters and anything and everything else concerning Star Trek belong to Paramount etc, they are so not mine and no money is being made from this and no copyright infringement is intended, absolutely none what so ever. This is just a fanfiction using the characters that were created by some wonderfully imaginative people, brought to life by some wonderfully talented actors purely for entertainment. Oh yeah another note this story depicts a relationship of a loving and sexual nature between two consenting adult women.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

A Mile
By Elizabeth Carter

Part Seven

Out of the need to keep the chaos down, the Brig was off limits to all personnel save for security and the Captain of course. And those security officers were hand picked by Lieutenant Rothery; all of which were sympathetic to both Seven and B'Elanna. And they had no love for the Helmrat with a Peter Pan complex.

It was three hours after her shift and Amanda had yet to leave her temporary office. Granted, Tuvok rarely used it, but as Chief of Security he had a small office near the brig. More often than not he had delegated Amanda to take charge of the lesser duties of Chief. In that respect most of the security staff tended to see the office as Rothery's.

Reading over the last four lines of a latest security report for the ninth time, Amanda knew that to try to plow through the work was futile at best. Gathering the stack of PADDs with her, she headed towards her quarters hoping that in the comfort of her home she would find some solace. Her mind so wrapped up in her thoughts that she didn't see the person she collided with until the other was flat on her bum in front of her.

"Captain!" Amanda paled at the sight of seeing her CO on her backside in the middle of the corridor. "I'm so sorry. I didn't see you."

The redhead put up her hand and smiled. "It's okay." Janeway found her feet with Rothery's aid as the taller woman hoisted her up. "From the expression you have on your face, I'd say you have a lot on your mind."

Amanda only nodded.

Janeway frowned. She took her young officer by the arm and pulled her along with her. "Something tells me you need to talk."

Again Amanda only nodded. She followed blindly as Kathryn led her to her own quarters. Once there she went to the replicater. "Two whiskeys and coke."

Within seconds the green grid fizzled and two eight ounce glasses of amber liquid. Amanda raised a golden eyebrow but remained mute.

"I know that look Amanda." Janeway said as she handed her companion a glass. "I've known you for awhile now. What's wrong?"

Amanda set the decanter of whisky down and started pacing, as she was a bundle of nervous energy. "Captain…I…What happened with Paris, Naomi, Seven…a part of it is my fault."

Janeway stared frowning. "How did you come to that conclusion?"

"I should have intervened when I saw the altercation in the corridor that night. I didn't. Paris said some pretty raunchy things and I was glad that Seven stood up for B'Elanna and hell…womankind. I thought he deserved it. But I should have stepped in. Did my duty. I didn't. I just let it happen." Amanda sighed miserably and ran her hands through her short-cropped blonde hair.

"Amanda you mustn't blame yourself. You can't be held accountable for someone else's actions."

"You do."

Kathryn's expression was troubled, guarded. "I am the Captain." Janeway tried to smile. "It's a part of the job description."

"I do blame myself, Kath."

"Well don't." Kathryn's absolution of the younger woman of responsibility somehow obligated Amanda to voice her own misgivings.

"I should have done my duty. I took an oath…to protect…I let…the altercation…go without intervening. If I would have stepped in, stopped it, Naomi and B'Elanna wouldn't have gotten hurt, Seven wouldn't have lost it."

"Amanda stop." Kathryn said firmly. "You are not responsible for what Tom did any more than I am. Do I feel guilty that I didn't pull him aside when you said you saw the altercation? Yes. I knew he might pull something, but I did nothing more than to send you on his trail. You did all you could, Amanda. You even suspected he was in the Cargo Bay. Now Naomi…you didn't monitor her actions because she and Seven are close. She got hurt because of Tom's pettiness. And Amanda, I won't pretend that a part of me would have wanted to see Seven strike Tom the way she did. But…" Kathryn looked down to her glass not saying anything further.

"There is something I have to tell you." Taking a swing of what was left in her glass Kathryn related all of the facts about the transformation of bodies and souls of Seven and B'Elanna. "…I don't think B'Elanna meant to brake Tom's sternum, she wasn't accustomed to just how strong Seven truly is."

"Tom had no idea it was B'Elanna in Seven's body?" Amanda raised a golden eyebrow into her unruly honey colored hair.

"None." Kathryn shook her head. "That was the other reason I didn't say anything. B'Elanna could have done a lot worse and that would have but her in the brig. Her temper is renowned; I am surprised she held back as mush as she did. But probably for the same reasons I didn't directly intervene. B'Elanna was ordered by Chakotay to play the part of Seven. I doubt Seven would have done anything more than to "shove" Paris down, if she took any physical altercation at all. So when you said you only saw her "Seven" push Tom, I let it go. To everyone else, it would look as if I punished Seven for something the soul of B'Elanna did. And doing so would have gone on Seven's record. B'Elanna and I both knew that."

"I don't think Seven would have protested the mark against her." Amanda said lamely.

"Probably not. But Amanda listen to me because I am only saying this once. What Tom Paris did are his crimes not yours. You take your duty so seriously Amanda, that it's become your faith, your religion. Yes, I admire your dedication, but that is not all that there is. And yes, I understand what you feel; I am not trying to make them trivial. As a Captain I keep thinking there should have been more I could have done to avoid what happened. I know the shame you feel Amanda, but it isn't yours." This time Kathryn took Amanda by both arms and held her in place. "Don't you dare take his crimes upon you."

Amanda looked away unable to look at the storm-blue orbs of her captain.

"I'll make it an order if I have to." Janeway dropped her voice an octave until it was only a purr of her smoky voice.

Amanda nodded, unconvinced. Tom Paris's discretions were his own; however, had she intervened in the beginning, Amanda felt she might have been able to stop the horrors that had unfolded. Surly Tuvok would not have allowed such a thing to happen. And yet within a week of her new though temporary position as Chief of Security, Voyager had fallen apart.

"Amanda…" Janeway was persistent. "I know you. Please. I'm asking you as your friend. Let it go."

"Tuvok would never have allowed this to happened." Rothery suddenly voiced her thoughts.

"Don't be so sure of that. I've been friends with him for a very long time. You see him only as your superior officer. I know him, Amanda, as I know you. The events would have unfolded the same. Tuvok, if he was off duty and witnessed what you saw, he would have allowed it to play out using the fallacy of logic to back up his decision."

Amanda looked at her disbelieving.

"A normal person hit like that after antagonizing a pissed off ex-Borg or even a Klingon would count themselves lucky. And if they wanted retaliation they would have come to me or to Tuvok or you as his 2IC and press charges. Tuvok knowing Tom would not do so, our Vulcan would have thought the lesson given to Tom by the strike might have made him think twice about shooting his mouth off a second time. And Tuvok, would as you did, relate to me what he had seen and asked if something should be done. Amanda, give yourself some credit will you?"

It was only then that Amanda allowed herself to be absolved of her guilt. She believed the words her Captain had spoken. Tuvok would have indeed allowed things to be played out was they had and report it to the Captain. He would have asked if any action should be taken against the Seven / B'Elanna and followed whatever it was the Captain had said.

Amanda sat down on the sofa and for the first time since the whole thing started, she felt relaxed. No not relaxed. But at least she felt blameless. Some how, some way Kathryn had made it better. But then Kathryn had always had a knack for making things better.

"However, we do have a problem." The compact woman said as she took the empty glasses to the recycler then ordered two new drinks. "What do we do with Paris? What he did would cost him a life sentence in a penal colony."

"Yes, it would." Rothery said. "And we had better do something soon, because there is a que waiting to take his head off starting with Samantha Wildman."

"You can count me in that que, Lieutenant." Janeway titled her head. "You want to talk about should haves? I should have never taken him out of prison in the first place. I didn't listen to his father when he said that no good would come of it. All things considered, Admiral Paris was right. I won't maroon Tom as much as that idea appeals to me. And I can't keep him in the brig indefinitely…that would tax the reserves and personnel too much but…he must be punished severely."

"Captain….I have an idea."

Amanda Rothery, Janeway knew, was inventive and insightful. And she trusted her junior officer as much as she trusted B'Elanna and Seven of Nine for their incites into problem solving. "I'm all ears." Kathryn prompted.

Amanda took one of the PADDs she had been trying to study earlier and handed it to her Captain. "What's this?" The redhead quirked a half smile as she looked upon the tall blonde.

"I've been thinking about the sentencing Paris would receive back in the Alpha Quadrant. For the assaults and premeditated conspiracy of rape he would earn a life sentence in a penal colony. We can do that."

Janeway frowned. Amanda had the moral fortitude to stand up for what she believed in and the laws she enforced. The younger woman knew that dropping Tom Paris off in a penal colony in the Delta Quadrant was not possible. So she was more than curious as to what Rothery had conceived. There was such a look of resolve in the young woman's face that Kathryn found herself drawn to her, more than she was supposed to.

"I've downloaded some interesting information from the data banks." She flashed her own smile. "Something not dissimilar to what Commander Chakotay did with B'Elanna and Seven. Let me explain." This time when Amanda paced it was from excitement over her proposal. And once more Janeway couldn't help but to be pulled into the woman's aura.

"The stardate is irrelevant, but there was a time when the now Ambassador Spock had been a Commander, his mind was downloaded into a computer core as he was taken hostage. There were other such instances when the human mind was placed within the confines of a such a matrix." Blonde eyebrows up, and dark brown eyes twinkled in her excitement. "You of course know where I'm going with this."

Janeway sitting leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees, her hands clasped in front of her, a warm smile found its way to her heart shaped face. "Go on."

"Well, Captain…the idea came to me as I watched Seven laying in the bio-bed really. The Borg maturation chambers, they are locked into the Hive mind and given all the information they need. We can do this…in reverse." She looked up underneath her unruly blond bangs. "Dumping Paris's mind into a portable computer matrix will not be difficult especially if we use Borg technology."

Janeway just stared. "I hate to ask but how is this putting Tom into a penal colony."

"The matrix we put him into is a holomatrix." Amanda grinned. "Kath, when I was on the Enterprise, there was an incident involving a sentient holocharacter named James Moriarty. He became aware of where he was and the ship not unlike the characters of Fair Haven. But instead of just taking crewmembers as hostage, which he did. He took over the ship. It was Commander Data and Commander Laforge that in time figured out how to trap the character in a small holomatrix. It had its own power supply and indefinite programs so that Moriarty felt as if he was exploring the universe."

"If I understand you correctly, you want to create a holoprogram…this matrix and dump Tom Paris's consciousness into it. What into a holocharacter?" Kathryn narrowed her grey-blue eyes.


"Amanda putting Tom into a holoprogram is hardly punishment."

"That depends what program, Captain." Amanda smirked.

"A penal colony?"

The blonde nodded.

"What happens to his body?"

"Stasis. The stasis chambers are self-contained." Amanda shrugged. "We put the body into a stasis chamber, and the chamber into an escape pod. Should something happen to the ship we can eject it so he can be salvaged along with the rest of the crew. In the stasis chamber we can also place the holocube and a data PADD so that the process can be reversed."

Janeway blinked, the look of astonishment flared in her eyes. "Amanda that is brilliant. Do it."

Amada basked in the praise.

"But the penal colony…"


"Make it Rura Penthe. No reason to make it easy on him."

"Rura Penthe? Fitting since he did try to attack a daughter of the Empire." Amanda smiled.

For the last three days, Seven had been recuperating in the newly designed alcove, healing faster and with far more success. Actually the alcove had been installed in her new quarters, giving Seven both privacy and security. It was mobile and made to fit under her bed almost like an antique tumble bed and completely storable. Icheb's too, was made to fit under his own bed as he was now sleeping more than regenerating. It was an efficient design that the tall Nordic beauty would appreciate.

B'Elanna had promised Harry and Icheb that she would rest after the alcoves were completed and Seven was on the mend. So when a worried Captain approached her and ordered her to take the next three days off, she did not argue.

B'Elanna had slept a full ten hours before she woke. After taking a care of her privy needs and taking a shower, she came back into Seven's bedroom and became captivated by the sight before her. Her beloved Annika was still locked in the coma. She was so still the only sign that Seven was alive was the small rising and lowering of her chest.

Quietly, B'Elanna padded to the bedside gazing at the woman that somehow had stolen her twin hearts. She was an angelic beauty, her golden hair fanning out around her head as a halo, lying in what appeared to be a blissful slumber. B'Elanna stroked the locks of gold away from the alabaster face of her Annika with ghost like touch. "You have to wake up, Annika, and tell me how inefficient it is to have your hair down." B'Elanna whispered into the ex-Borg's ear. "Then, I will tell you that you look beautiful with it down. I have something for you but you have to wake up to get it."

When there was no reaction, B'Elanna steadied her frayed nerves. "Look I didn't spend three straight days making this new alcove for you so you can just sleep the day away. Now wake up! Comply!" B'Elanna sat on the edge of the newly designed bio-bed / regenerator. She took Seven's meshed hand into her own; turning her wrist, B'Elanna gingerly placed a kiss upon it. "Comply. Please Annika. Wake up." The young Klingon rested her forehead on Seven's. Her hybrid eyes glinted with tears no full Klingon could shed. Small droplets fell on the still form. "Come on Annika…comply…you have to. You have to get your pips and your field-commission to Lieutenant."

"jItlparmaq SoH Annika, JiH'oh." B'Elanna whispered. "It's true. I do love you and I am yours. BangwI, you must comply." She continued to stroke the soft skin of her love, hoping that she would stimulate Seven consciousness. It's so unfair. I just found you and your gone. You can't do that to me. You can't…"

B'Elanna hadn't paid attention to the door, or the fact it had been chimed, at least a few times before it swished open. The young Klingon was intently focused upon the woman laying so still, so quite, as if she was not real at all but a porcelain doll.

Somewhere in her peripheral consciences, the engineer had heard the intrusion into Seven's quarters, just as she knew it would be the captain who would dare take liberties. Security would have announced themselves. Rothery was, as Tuvok, almost married to rules and regulations.

For a moment B'Elanna allowed herself to drift into thoughts. Rothery's dedication to law and protocol was almost as annoying as Seven's blatant disregard of it. The annoyance with Seven was that, for a time, the tall blonde seemed to get away with it when B'Elanna, herself, could not. And most protocol was inefficient. Asking an ex-Borg to be inefficient was as successful as telling a Klingon that Honor was pure fancy.

B'Elanna knew of Rothery's background too. The young woman had grown up for most of her life in a lawless world, but it was law and regulations that had saved her, from that particular hell, in the form of Kathryn Janeway. Was it any wonder that Rothery held tight to it?

Kathryn had indeed been the one to enter Seven's new quarters, but she was not alone. Behind her tagged a little strawberry blonde. Naomi tugged on Kathryn's uniform jacket. "Captain?" she whispered.

The compact woman knelt before the child. "What is it sweety?" Concern filled the smoky voice, as did doubt, to the wisdom in allowing the girl to accompany her. But then it was no different for Naomi to see Seven here or in Sickbay.

Naomi cupped her hands over the captain's ear and whispered. "I think B'Elanna is crying."

Janeway looked over to the hunched form of her Chief Engineer. "Perhaps we should give them some private time." Kathryn murmured. She was deeply worried for Seven, which was why she used her rank to override the lock on the door.

Naomi thought of what the Captain said. She wasn't using her Captain's voice, so Naomi disregarded the suggestion and walked towards the bedroom. "I just want to see Seven for a minute."

The child crept up to B'Elanna and Seven. "She's still asleep." It was not a question.

"Yes." B'Elanna said softly. She stoked the locks of hair away, never lifting her eyes from the prone form.

"Maybe if you kissed her she would awake up."

Privately, Kathryn felt her lips curl up into a smile as she thought of B'Elanna waking Seven up with a kiss.

"Mum read me a story the other night," Naomi continued to explain. "The princess had golden hair just like Seven. She was a princess…and…well Seven was taken by the Borg Queen, that kinda makes her a princess…and Seven is the Queen of the good Borg. So she is kinda royalty. And the prince had dark hair. He was a boy but that is...um…irrelevant. But you're a daughter of the Empire and an empire is like a kingdom….so… you're like the prince. When the prince kissed the princess, she woke up. So what if you tried to kiss Seven?"

B'Elanna, despite her worry, smiled at the child's innocence concerning the situation. "I don't think it works that way, Naomi. Besides I have kissed her and she's still asleep."

"Maybe you have to be in armor. The prince was in shinning armor," Naomi pointed out. "You could wear your Klingon armor."

B'Elanna gestured for the child to approach her with a waving of her fingers. "Come here Spike." She opened her arms allowing for Naomi to go into her embrace. "Look sweetie, sometimes...most of the time real life isn't anything like a story book."

"I know that." Naomi folded her arms and looked at the adults.

Kathryn had moved into Seven's darkened bedroom. Considering that Seven had yet to officially move in, the chambers were decorated in the typical Starfleet utilitarian fashion and thus the portable alcove was the only decoration in the room. The Captain noted that unlike the Borg eerie green, B'Elanna had changed the spectrum of light so that it shown an electric blue/purple of a lighting globe. Kathryn could understand the need for change. The green lighting would almost hinder Seven's physiological recovery, as it was forever a constant reminder of the Borg. However, a simple change in the spectrum of light would aid in the recovery of Seven's self.

"But you could try." The child insisted.

Kathryn placed a hand on B'Elanna shoulder. "Here's another thing you should try."

When the dark eyes lifted up to meet her Captain's, B'Elanna's unasked question was answered. "Sleep. You are no good to her if you're off your feet on your own medical leave."

"I don't wan to leave her," B'Elanna said.

"I don't see why you should." Kathryn pointed to the still made bed. "I don't think Seven would object if you spent the night in her bed. "I don't want to see you collapsing either." The captain was deadly serious. "I can't afford the lack of senior staff." Kathryn added trying to lighten the mood. B'Elanna didn't even acknowledge the jest she only nodded. This worried the Caption immensely. "B'Elanna, you pushed yourself so hard, now rest. She's been in the new alcove for three days. Thanks to you, she'll come out of it."

B'Elanna nodded. "I hope you're right, Captain."

"She will," Naomi said with all the confidence of a child's hope. "She'll adapt and be functioning within acceptable parameters." She patted Seven on the shoulder, and then placed a soft kiss upon her dearest friend's forehead.

"Lanna?" Kathryn dropped to the nickname subtly telling B'Elanna that it was her friend and not the Captain sharing her company. "Icheb…you've spent the last few days with him. How's he holding up?"

"Like all kids, worried about their mothers when they're ill." B'Elanna said softly, "He shows a stiff upper lip and all that. But he's worried." She wasn't aware that her hand was continuously stroking Seven's cheek, only knowing she needed the contact.

Kathryn nodded. "I'll talk with him."

"He asked me a question that got me thinking." B'Elanna said. "He asked if I was forming a Unimatrix with Seven, what did that make him and me."

Kathryn was intrigued. "What did you say?"

"The truth. That it never occurred to me. But now…for what I feel for Annika…"

Both the Captain and Naomi looked at the Klingon in astonishment when hearing the true name of Seven spoken. B'Elanna offered a small smile as her fingers, that had been stoking the soft skin, feathered back the locks of golden hair. "She allowed me to use it," came the answer so softly spoken that the others had to strain to hear her.

"I don't know what to make of it all. I know Seven and Icheb are as much mother and child as Spike here is to Samantha. If I can be a part of that, great, but I am not going to get in the way of it either."

"You can always be Icheb's other Mum. Neelix is my stepfather…" Naomi pointed out.

"Instant family, just add water." B'Elanna jibbed. "It's a lot to take in."

Kathryn placed a hand upon the klingon's shoulder. "Considering what you went through, and opening up for what you feel for Seven…I can relate."

B'Elanna turned back to the woman she loved and frowned. "Captain. Tom, what will happen to him?"

Kathryn took in a deep breath then looked to the child in the room who was perched upon the side of the bed. "Naomi will you excuse us please?"

The Kataarian nodded and moved away from the bed, but not before placing another tender kiss on Seven's forehead. "Get better Seven. Love you." With that she moved away from the bedroom.

Once she was gone Kathryn turned to her junior officer. "He will be punished according to Starfleet and Federation laws."

B'Elanna thought about it for a moment. "Wouldn't that mean he would be put back in a penal colony?"

Kathryn nodded.

"Look the man pissed me off, if it wasn't for Rothery, Spike would be dead, he's the real reason my BangwI is here in coma….but I can't believe you'd drop him…"

"No, he won't be marooned off ship, Lanna. Actually it was Amanda that came up with an inventive way to enforce the punishment." Taking a steady breath, the captain fixed her storm-blue eyes upon B'Elanna's dark chocolate ones and began to explain the whole process of Paris's punishment. The Captain had also told B'Elanna of Tom's intent to rape her by using an aphrodisiac and the muscle relaxant to subdue her.

The Klingon shuddered with rage and sickness.

"I am sorry, Lanna. But you had to know. When Rothery figured out what he was going to do, she put a stop to it. She set up a transporter trap in your quarters, any fully human person would have been beamed out, as well as anyone who had Paris's DNA or wore the combadge issued to him. Given the very minuscule aspect someone would have attempted to frame him. But when he was beamed to the containment cell in Cargo bay One, he proved his guilt. He also had the narcotics in possession. Rothery did a full and complete investigation. Paris is guilty. I promise you, he will be made to suffer. The holo penal colony is Rura Penthe."

B'Elanna stared. "He'll be killed within an hour." She said with a new coldness in her voice.

"Minimal safeties are on line." Kathryn said. "He won't be killed, only wish that he was." The Captain moved away from B'Elanna. "Now try to get some rest."

"You know everyone has told me that."

"Well, it's about time you listened, Lieutenant. Or I will make good on my threat and have the doctor sedate you."

"Is that an order, Captain?"

"Yes, it is."

"Lieutenant…" Tom Paris spoke to Amanda when he saw Icheb walking forward

Dark cold eyes looked as death when they looked at the captive sitting on the bio bed. "Put your hands behind your head Paris." When the helmsmen didn't comply right away, Rothery pointed her phaser at him. "Just give me a reason to shoot you. Because right now, there nothing I want to do more."

Slowly, Tom placed his hands behind his head, knowing that if he didn't comply, Rothery would have him face down on the floor again, wrenching his arm out of his socket. His pale blue eyes watched in terror as Icheb approached him, with his fist clinched poised to insert the assimilation tubules into Tom's neck. He would not be fully assimilated but enough Borg technology would be fused into him to create a nero-interface with the holo-matrix.

However, the acting Chief of Security would not make a move until the Captain appeared to oversee the process. The Doctor stood by, as well, ready to place Tom in stasis. The body would be in perfect hibernation as the mind of Paris was locked into the matrix of the false world of Ruhr Penthe.

Tom looked from Rothery to the boy. Icheb had the expression of absolute loathing on his face. "Icheb…"He addressed him slowly. "You gotta believe me I didn't mean for Seven…"

"What you intended, Lieutenant Paris, is irrelevant. You choose to hurt her, and you did."

Tom looked down finding his shoes immensely interesting.

"Tell me what would you do to a person who hurt your mother the way you hurt mine?" Icheb snarled. "Do not fain guilt with me; you are terrified only of what will become of you, not of your crimes."

"Icheb." Rothery said slowly. "The Captain is here."

The boy looked over his shoulder and saw the proud and powerful woman stride into Sickbay. He stepped aside-allowing Janeway to step up to the bed.

"Thomas Eugene Paris. You confessed to the crimes charged against you. You also signed a no-contest waver to your court martial. Has Lieutenant Rothery explained the nature of your punishment?" Captain Janeway held the man before her in a force ten glare. Her voice unquestionably holding power that would make the Borg Queen take notice. Tom barely maintained his composure in front of the strong woman.

"Yes, Ma'am," Tom nodded.

Janeway nodded. "I am sorry it has come to this. So far everything I've tried with you hasn't worked to curb your insistent disregard for your crewmembers. Now it had bordered upon the near death of two of them. Had it not been for emergency intervention, both Naomi Wildman and Seven of Nine would have died. The fact they needed to be resituated proves they had died by your indiscretions. You premeditated a sexual assaulted on another crewmember, an offence I find reprehensible. I can't even imagine what gave you the right to think you could get away with it or what you tried to prove. This is the worst thing you have ever done, Paris. I am sure you are aware that half the crew on this ship wishes you to be executed. Fortunately, for you, Federation law decrees another punishment. Your interment in a holo-penal colony will begin now."

Janeway turned to Icheb and nodded, "Do it."

The teen looked at the man, who had hurt his mother and Naomi with more than contempt, he had not been aware that Paris had planed to violate a crewmember sexually. He surmised that crewmember could only be B'Elanna Torres. Overcome with rage, the young man slammed his fist into Tom's neck, forcing the tubules into the spinal column.

The thought that ran through the boy's mind was the axiom of the Borg, 'Resistance is futile!'

Resistance is futile.

"Okay fine." B'Elanna had been staring at the ceiling of Seven's quarters for the last half of an hour. She was beyond exhausted and for the life of her, she could not fall asleep. Just when she started too, her dark chocolate eyes would snap open as if imagining some sound coming from Seven.

Throwing the dark blue coverlet aside, B'Elanna rose and sat at the edge of the bed. She ran her hands over her face in a pseudo message before standing. Sighing, as sleep simply would not take her, the young Klingon moved across the dark room.

"Lights one quarter." She ordered the computer, giving the young Klingon just enough illumination to maneuver around the room without stubbing her toe or run into something. Dressed in boxers and a muscle shirt, as she always did for bed, she didn't even think of putting a robe around her athletic frame. After all, the atmosphere in Seven's quarters had been altered to that of the environment found in a Borg cube. To the Klingon, she found it relaxing considering her Klingon physiology asserted itself making her feel cold in most places on the ship. Well, the temperature in her own quarters was always warmer than the rest of the ship, set to mimic the temperate climate of the homeworld Qo'nos. It was something that B'Elanna and Tom could never agree on and more often than not, she had to lower the near tropical temperature back to ship's standard because it was easier to put on a jacket than it was to listen to the helmrat whine.

"At least dating you, Angel-face, we can enjoy the same warmth." B'Elanna knew she would receive no response from the tall blonde, but keeping the conversation up made it feel less lonely. She snorted in mild amusement. "Share the same dedication and love of our work, the same drive to improve the ship. I saw your specs on collecting resources and new energy reserves, Annika, I am so impressed, and I can't wait to start working on them with you. Yeah, I know a while ago I would have balked. Not why you think though." B'Elanna kneeled before her still love. "Pretty much because I had a thing for you and had to repress it. You were supposed to be Janeway's and …I hate to admit it but you are one hell of an engineer. We both have bravado. Say I said that and I'll deny it, Angel-face." B'Elanna kissed the soft pouting lips of Seven. "But I didn't want to admit how much you reminded me of me, that and your beautiful to boot. 'Beauty is irrelevant, right?'" B'Elanna chuckled.

"Annika, I'll just be gone a minute. Okay?" She waited as if she would hear an answer and a sad smile found its way upon her face. "Like you'll protest…"

B'Elanna padded across the bedroom to the common room and out the door. Her quarters were directly next-door. She tapped the combination to her quarters and headed for her own bedroom. The engineer smirked as she realized that Seven's quarters was a mirror image of her own. "It figures…we're kinda mirror images of each other." Kneeling on the blue carpet before her bed, Lanna reached under it and retrieved Toby from his hiding place. Once she had him, she stuffed the plush targ into a gym-bag and moved away from the bedroom. It took very little time to return to Seven's bedroom and slip under the covers.

Resistance is futile

An hour went by and B'Elanna still could not sleep despite Toby's presence.

"Oh, for crying out loud! Kah'less, Spike you had to go and put that image in my head!"

Growling the young Klingon once again rose from the bed and looked to her lover.

"You know for a girlfriend, who isn't even conscious, you are high-maintenance!" Sighing heavily, B'Elanna raked dark caramel hands through her black hair. "Good thing I am Chief of Engineering and used to high maintenance. The Warpcore and you, Angel-face, require a lot of my attention."

Stomping back out of the bedroom, into the living room and out the door, B'Elanna forcefully made her way back into her own quarters through her living room and into her bedroom. Opening the closet, the young woman reached into the darkest deepest corner of the closet and took out a medium sized storage box.

Inside the chest was B'Elanna's hereditary set of Klingon Armor. The dark black and silver armor glistered in the half-light of the bedroom, smelling richly of metal and leather. B'Elanna always loved the scent of leather, and so she brought the jerkin up to her nose and inhaled deeply. Reverently, she set it down on her bed, tracing her fingers over the interact designs on the breastplate. Bit by bit, B'Elanna took out the heavy leather and metal armaments.

B'Elanna slipped on the leather tunic followed by the leather-padded jerkin that went down to about her mid thigh. She then placed the duranium cuirass that accentuated her breasts and abdomen over that.

B'Elanna wore accented shoulder guards and an intricate garrote around her throat, complete with the insignias of her house and the Empire. There was a silver chain that ran from her right shoulder across her chest to her left hip that would hold the frog for the Bat'lath that was to be worn across the back. Duranium reinforced leather gauntlets and spiked fingerless gloved protected her forearm and hands. Her leather pants covered her legs accenting the muscles and lines of her legs. The thigh high boots added t the ferocity of the image of a warrior, as did the thick belt across her waist.

The last things B'Elanna added were the weaponry. In her boot went the D'ktahg dagger; at her right side, the Met'leth tri-bladed dagger; to the left side B'Elanna placed her mother's disrupter; across her back, her Bat'lath. Now, B'Elanna Torres was the living embodiment of K'ellein. K'ellein, Daughter of Vath'rag had told Kah'less how to defeat his enemies and how to make the first Bat'lath, which would later become known as the sword of Kah'less. If the Klingons had a goddess, K'ellein was her. And a goddess beat a prince in shinning armor every time. Besides only a goddess could champion a queen.

When B'Elanna stepped out of her Quarters this time, she passed two crewmen, Tel Celess and Jennifer Delaney, both of which dropped their mouths when they saw a Klingon warrior walking down the corridor of Voyager.

"What?" B'Elanna snapped. She placed her hands on her hips and the scowl deepened giving her added intimidation to those who looked at her.

Neither dared say a word. They shook their heads and took an involuntary step back. Of course, despite the fact they were seeing each other; they could admire the view of the powerful form of B'Elanna Torres in her armor.

"Nothing." Celess uttered

"You look good." Jennifer managed.

"Yes…very beautiful."

"Imposing." Jennifer echoed her girlfriend's complement.

B'Elanna's scowl softened a bit, until there was the fairest hint of a smile upon the dark wine lips. "Thanks…excuse me; I have something I have to do."

The others nodded and quickly made their way to the turbo lift that would take them to the Holodeck. B'Elanna watched them depart before she tapped in the code to open Seven's quarters and entered. Squashing down a bit of self- consciousness that tried to rear its head, the young Klingon moved with direct purpose into the bedroom.

She stole quietly next to Seven's bedside and knelt down upon one knee. "Annika, come back to me." Her hands stoked the soft skin of the too pale face; her dark eyes locked upon her beloved as she spoke the words of her mother's tongue.

"Hoch'wi Iuqwi Annika qaparmag. qaqoy tatlh' jh … achjI'oy BangwI qaghajhis'" (my everything, my heart, Annika, I love you. I beg you, return to me… I ache…beloved…I need you). "Annika I want to make a life with you. Benel…I choose you…without you, I am in Grethor. Annika….come back to me. Please comply. "

Opening her heart B'Elanna had related the depth of her love for her Annika. "Come back to me, Annika." B'Elanna leaned in and placed a deep, full kiss upon the silent lips of the woman she had given her heart to.

Nothing happened.

B'Elanna had felt foolish to even dare to hope that dressing in the armor, acting the part of the champion would bring back Seven from the deadly coma.

"I love you anyway, you stubborn blonde." Falling back on her haunches, B'Elanna rested her head against her folded hands and closed her eyes for the moment. "Even if you never wake up, I will always love you." She mumbled into her folded hands.

B'Elanna felt something soft, as if someone was trailing rose petals across her lips. Flickering her eyes open, trying to move away form the fog that had settled into her mind, the young woman realized she was laying flat on her back looking up and the most gorgeous site she had seen in a long time.

"Annika!" B'Elanna sat up and pulled Seven into her arms, into a bone crushing bearhug. "Oh God, Annika! Annika!" B'Elanna wept holding her beloved tightly to her armor-clad breast. "Kah'less… you're…awake."

"Yes." Seven nodded. "Ten minutes and forty five seconds ago I awoke and found you collapsed on the side of the...new alcove. I removed the Bat'lath before I placed you on the mattress of ...my bed."

B'Elanna gently nudged Seven just enough so she could stare into those wonderfully blue eyes. "You scared the hell out of me, BangwI."

"I am sorry." Seven smiled as she heard the endearment, beloved, from B'Elanna's sweet lips. "I will endeavor not to frighten you in this fashion again."

"Well, see that you don't. My hearts can't take it."

"BangwI." Seven whispered the endearment back and was delighted to see the most gorgeous of smiles grace B'Elanna's face.

B'Elanna had never had the endearment uttered to her. None of her past lovers had bothered; some feared any mention of her Klingon heritage would send the woman high and to the right. When B'Elanna had made peace with her Klingon self, Tom had never bothered to learn. In fact, he wanted little remainder that the woman he was dating was a Klingon warrior. Seven had another reaction. She had embraced the Klingon heritage.

Seven traced with her meshed hand the ridges upon B'Elanna's forehead. "May I ask a question?"

"Hummm…" B'Elanna managed, enjoying the butterfly touch of her lover's fingers.

"Why are you wearing Klingon battle armor?"

"Oh…Nic!" B'Elanna swallowed hard. She tried to focus but it was so difficult all she knew was that at this moment, she was holding the woman she loved. "I didn't know what to do. You were in a coma for so long…" She held Seven closer to her body. "I was so worried, desperate. I even played the part Spike suggested."

Seven titled her head ever so slightly not understanding. But she knew only that B'Elanna had clearly called out to her, professing love. More than that, in the fog of her memory, Seven knew B'Elanna Torres had pledged her hearts to her. "'Play the part'?" The silver implant arched into golden locks.

"The armor." B'Elanna said. "Look it can wait. I want to have The Doctor look at you."

"I will comply." Seven automatically responded. "However, I will not comply if the Doctor wishes me to stay "in bed." I find the whole ordeal inefficient…and 'boring'."

"God, I missed that about you." Lanna hugged her lover closer. "You stubborn Blonde."

Seven arched an eyebrow. "That is not the usual 'slur' you use when you are frustrated with me."

"Yeah well you are blonde. You are not Borg." B'Elanna bit her lower lip. "I can't go around and call you that, can I?"

"I do not think that "the Blonde" will have the same impact during our confrontations as the other."

For a moment B'Elanna was worried that Seven was retreating in to the self-destructive loathing. But then she saw a glimmer of a smirk upon the too pale face of her beloved. Crossing her arms, B'Elanna tried to remain stoned faced but couldn't keep it for long. "Oh, I don't know. I think it could." B'Elanna edged closer to Seven, placed her hands on either side of the taller woman's face and pulled her in to kiss her. Her mouth was hot against Seven's, as she slipped her tongue into her mouth, causing surges of desire to flood into the younger woman. B'Elanna took the soft moan as a signal to deepen the kiss dueling with Seven's tongue in a lover's dance. Seven was a quick study. She darted her own tongue into B'Elanna's teeth, tasting her, suckling her lower lip.

"We…" kiss…"have…" kiss "to" kiss…"get you "...kiss…"to the" kiss…"Doctor's" B'Elanna managed to find her words despite the dazing euphoria she had been sent into. Still kissing Seven, the Klingon found that the floor really did exist and she was able to stand upon it. Seven had her floating from the intensity of the passion. B'Elanna had not been certain the floor was truly there until her booted feet touched down.

Seven only moved with her in order to continue the kiss. Her ever-efficient Borg systems were on overload. Always acutely aware of the ships movements, even down to a micro-fraction of misalignment in the warp drive, Seven felt as if the inertial dampers had been offline ever since she had started kissing B'Elanna. "I do not wish to discontinue this activity." Pouted the ex-Borg.

"Seven, please. I need to know you're all systems go."

"I am functioning within acceptable parameters." Seven assured the young Klingon. "Can we kiss now?" Her blue eyes pleaded, almost making B'Elanna succumb, but the engineer's worry overruled her fiery libido.

"If you comply with me and see the doctor, I'll kiss every last inch of you." She purred into Seven's ear.

"Very well." Grumbled Seven. "But I will hold you to those words B'Elanna."

B'Elanna tapped her combadge. "Torres to Sickbay."

"Sickbay." The Doctor answered.

"Doctor Seven has recovered. She's awake and I am bringing her in."

"Good news. Seven how are you feeling?"

The former drone looked at her beloved a little disgruntled that she had to stop the pleasurable activity she had been in, but she knew B'Elanna would not like the reason given to the gossipmonger in sickbay. "I am functioning within acceptable parameters." She said automatically.

"I'll be the judge of that." The Doctor responded with his usual haughtiness.

B'Elanna could have sworn she'd seen Seven roll her eyes. She defiantly saw the defiant jaw set. Seven, like B'Elanna, was notorious for hating to go to Sickbay. During her first year aboard Voyager, she had to submit to full physicals every two week. It was also where the doctor had first initiated the hated social lessons. B'Elanna thanked Kah'less she didn't have to go through that ordeal when she was in Seven's body.

"Annika, I know how you feel but…there was so much damage." The words were barely audible, but the enhanced Borg hearing would detect every word clearly. "You were in surgery for a long time BangwI, I need to know you're safe."

If any crewmember thought to say something to the passing ex-Borg and a Klingon hybrid in full battle armor kissing, they clamped their mouths shut quickly and went about their business. Indeed the two had gained more than enough stunned stares and gasps. In record time, the rumors of Seven of Nine and B'Elanna Torres as a couple would be widespread through out the ship until eventually reaching the bridge.

In her ready room, Kathryn Janeway stood in front of young Icheb; she had placed a hand upon his shoulder in an attempt to make the boy more relaxed. Morale was Neelix's specialty, however Janeway felt compelled to speak with the lad.

"Icheb, I know you are concerned for Seven…"

"My Mother." Icheb quietly corrected.

Janeway knew that the bond between Icheb and Seven ran deep, but she didn't know that her Astrometrics officer had allowed the young man to call her mother. Storm-blue eyes twinkled in slight merriment at the thought however. And for a moment she allowed her thoughts to drift in a more legal procedure to make the declaration more solid. If Icheb became Seven's son, it would solve a few problems once they returned to the Delta quadrant. Granted by that time Icheb would be well over eighteen; however, his placement in the Federation would be assured. Janeway made a note to speak to Chakotay so that he could start the paperwork. She knew that both Seven and Icheb would comply in signing.

"Alright, your Mother…I know you worry for her. And I know you were very angry with Lieutenant Paris for what he did and what had happened. Sometimes when we worry for those we love it motivates us to think of…acting out against those that hurt them."

For a moment the boy blanched.

Janeway took note of the drain of color in the boy and surmised that her hunch was spot on. Something more had happened in sickbay than creating a nero-interface with the holomatrix. The Doctor's post-procedure exam didn't detect full assimilation but there was more to the interface than was needed.

Just as she was to ask a question concerning what Icheb had done in sickbay, Janeway's combadge chirped. She hit it, opening a channel. "Janeway here."

"Captain I thought you would like to know Seven is conscious and heading for Sickbay." The Doctor said in his upbeat tones.

"Wonderful news doctor. I'm on my way. Janeway out." The woman turned to Icheb and found the boy smiling widely. "Shall we see how your mother is?"

The boy needed no further prompting.

The Doctor ran the medical tricorder over Seven as she lay on the bio-bed making small humming noises as he did so. His photonic eyebrows rose and he nodded his baldhead. B'Elanna, who was standing by Seven's bedside unwilling to move, added to the fact she was still wearing the armor, she struck a very imposing figure. Her hand stroked the blonde locks as she had done when Seven had been unconscious. The movement had a two-fold effect, it soothed B'Elanna's worry over the woman she loved, and it caused Seven to become relaxed.

It was upon this scene that Janeway and Icheb walked in. The vision itself was enough to bring a smile to the austere Captain's face. She would never have wagered that the women she held dear to her would have found love with each other. Perhaps the reason for their fire was due to an unanswered call of their hearts, until now.

The Captain also found herself smiling at the stunning site of B'Elanna in full Klingon regalia. The only thing that was missing was the ancestral sword strapped across the proud woman's back. In truth, Janeway was gratified to see that B'Elanna wasn't wearing the Bat'lath as the small Engineer struck a very intimidating figure as it was without it.

Icheb had another reaction altogether. The boy stopped dead in his tracks and starred at her. He knew that B'Elanna had wanted Seven in her life as a mate. He had surmised that much after talking with her when they had created the portable alcoves. He had to wonder if B'Elanna enacted the ancient traditional Klingon Oath since she was wearing the armor. Or had she worn it in order to intimidate not only Tom Paris (that she may not have known was now in stasis) or potential suitors for Seven's hand. Those suitors included Harry Kim, The Doctor and of course, Captain Janeway. By wearing the armor, Icheb thought, anyone vying for Seven's attention would be easily cowered. They dare not challenge the Klingon's right to be Seven's lover.

"That's a different look for you." Kathryn said as she approached the biobed that Seven was now sitting on.

B'Elanna shrugged causing the leather to creek and metal to clang. "I…got tired of waiting."

"Explain." Seven looked to the woman she had fallen in love with. "You became tired of what?"

"Look don't laugh and I will tell you." B'Elanna now felt almost ridiculous that she had even entertained the idea spawned by Naomi.

Kathryn hid a smile; she thought the whole idea exceptionally romantic. More to the point, she had no idea that B'Elanna was capable of such a gesture. She thought even sweeter now that B'Elanna was trying to posture to remain in control of her dignity.


"Bella, if I promises you I will not laugh, will you comply with my request and tell me why you are dressed in your battle armor?"

"You'll think it's irrelevant." B'Elanna scowled.

She was so prepared to be ridiculed for playing the part of the prince of the faery tale that it never occurred to her that Seven would react in any other fashion. So stuck in her self-inflicted chiding that it startled her when Seven placed both her hands on either side of her face and pulled her into place a warm kiss upon her lips. " I gave you a promise Bella."

B'Elanna rested her ridged forehead against Seven's smooth brow. "Naomi told me a story were a prince dressed in armor, came to a fair princess locked under a spell and woke her with a kiss." She sighed. "See I told you it was ridiculous."

"You did that for me?!" Seven was agog.

"Yes." B'Elanna knew Seven would have found the idea irrelevant and…

Seven wrapped her arms around the muscular body of her lover and held her tight. "I love you. B'Elanna Torres…my Bella…BangwI." This time when Seven kissed B'Elanna the Klingon knew she had been kissed. Such power, such hunger, such fire had been present in that single kiss. It was enough for B'Elanna to lose site of her balance and she felt as if the whole universe had been reshuffled in a cosmic quake.

Icheb could only stare. He had never thought that his mother…that Seven of Nine could cause a Klingon to become faint. He had never seen her display such powerful emotions before. He turned to the Captain for an explanation and found the older woman blushing. This furthered his curiosity as he had found the idea of dressing in armor an unfounded means to awaken someone locked in a coma. It wasn't logical…nor was it medically sound. It was obviously a coincidence that Seven, his mother, had awakened just after the kiss B'Elanna had given her. He had also noted that Seven had not called B'Elanna by her more common nickname, 'Lanna' but by Bella. Whether this was to differ from others, especially Tom Paris, in the usage of the first syllable of the Klingon's name or intentional as Bella was both Italian and Spanish for beauty, the boy could not say.

True to form the lad had no qualms about asking such a question. Borg and ex-Borg alike were anything if not blatantly blunt. "SoS," He addressed Seven. When she did not respond he tried. "Mother."

This time Seven did respond. She rose an eyebrow but did not frown. Indeed B'Elanna's kiss seemed to spot-weld a smile upon her alabaster features. "Icheb, why have you addressed me by this designation?"

Now the boy felt heat coming to his face. "I…I wish to call you this designation if you will let me as it is how I see you. You have always been more of a mother…a SoS then my birth mother ever was. You fulfill all obligations of a mother…May I call you so?"

B'Elanna nuzzled Seven's neck whispering. "I think you should, Annika…he loves you as if you really were his mother…his SoS. He was worried for you just as a son would be for his mother. It would mean a lot for him to call you at least Mom."

Seven's smile turned from one of passion to something softer…a mother's smile. "I would like that. Mother…seems very formal however. My own parents I once called Mama and Papa… I prefer…" She looked to B'Elanna then back to her 'son.' "SoS'oy. "

SoS was Klingon for mother…but adding the suffix 'oy, made it an endearment not unlike mommy. In time Seven hoped that B'Elanna would take the mantel of SoS for Icheb, which was why she had left the other open. "However if you wish to use Federation standard…"

"No, SoS'oy…is acceptable." Icheb intoned. He knew that Seven must be trying to honor her lover, by using the Klingon designation. Borg were not subtle, and neither were ex-Borg, however Icheb reasoned this was Seven's way of displaying to B'Elanna, her desire to become a Unimatrix…a family. He also reasoned that acts of love were very illogical, the part of that was B'Elanna wearing Klingon armor and playing out a part of a child's bedtime story. It also attested to the fact that love caused one to utilize designations of endearment. It was inefficient to have so many designations.

This brought Icheb back to his original question. "SoS'oy, why do you call Lieutenant Torres, Bella?"

"It is efficient." Seven said.

Well that blew everything Icheb knew about efficiently right out an airlock. "I do not understand."

"Bella describes B'Elanna perfectly." Seven stated. "Beauty is what Bella means. For she is beautiful, far more the Omega."

B'Elanna stared open mouthed at Seven. She could not believe the woman who was holding her had said what she had said. Seven of Nine Tertiary Adjunct Unimatrix Zero One, had just proclaimed B'Elanna Torres more beautiful than the perfection of the Omega Molecule. What was more astonishing was that B'Elanna knew in her hearts that Seven…no Annika, (her Annika) must believe it so. Borg and ex-Borg do not lie nor do they exaggerate. At least Seven never lied nor did she exaggerate.

"Bella…I have upset you." Seven said when she looked to the darker skinned woman. "I have made you cry…I…I…" with the pad of her left hand she wiped away the tears gathering in the corner of B'Elanna's chocolate eyes.

"No, you silly Blonde!" B'Elanna crushed Seven to her. "God, I love you. Sweet Kah'less woman…you have a way with words."

Seven grinned

Kathryn stood back feeling privileged to have witnessed such a wonderful display of unshielded affection. It had been a long time since she had seen anything so real and so true. A part of her was a little jealous. Not that Seven was in the arms of B'Elanna or the other way around, but for the simple fact that it was a real love. She herself longed to know that kind of love. To be loved like that, to love like that, she could only imagine. But the slight jealousy aside, she could only give her fondest hope that Seven and B'Elanna would have a long life of such love. To such she also gave her blessings upon them.

"If that is the cause, Bella, perhaps then I should duck quickly." Seven teased.

"Why would you wish to dodge?" Icheb asked.

"In Klingon courtship traditions, the suitor recites love poetry as the object of his or her affection roars and throws heavy objects. The suitor ducks…a lot." B'Elanna answered.

"Now see here!" The Doctor, who everyone in the room had conveniently forgotten about, piped up. "Seven you are in no condition to engage in such activities!" He stood before the couple scowling deeply. "B'Elanna, I am surprised you would even consider encouraging such activities so soon after Seven's recovery from her coma."

"Doctor, how is Seven?" Janeway briskly intervened before either woman could retort.

"As long as she doesn't engage in any strenuous actives," he emphasized, "she should be fully recovered in nine or ten days. She will need to regenerate at least four hours everyday, and not over do it. You can not pull your typical eighteen hour shift in Astrometrics, Seven." The doctor pinned the young woman with a blazing glare. "Nor should you even try for a typical eight hour shift. You are still very weak and need time to heal properly. I also want you to consume nutritional supplements every five hours."

Seven made a face of distaste.

"I'll make sure she does, Doctor." B'Elanna commented as she stoked Seven's long back, offering her love. "But can she eat anything else, like soup, salads…that sort of thing?"

"They are easily digestible, and with the modifications we had to do to her abdominal implant she will be able to consume such things. But I want the introduction to other foods to go slowly. It would be dangerous to shock her system so soon. On that note, I also want you to drink plenty of water Seven." The Doctor moved once more around the bio bed. "And she will need to sleep in addition to regeneration.

"I'll make sure she complies." B'Elanna commented.

"And I'll see to her duty shifts in Astrometrics. Doc she shouldn't go back to work right away should she?" The Captain said.

"No. I want her on medical leave for at least three full days. And I don't want you to engage in any strenuous activities Seven is that clear?" Though the words were given to Seven the Doctor fixed his photonic eyes upon B'Elanna.

"I will comply." Seven grumbled. "But there is no reason I can foresee why I can not go over reports…in my quarters." She pointed out. "Reading is not a strenuous activity."

"Doc, she'll go stir crazy if she doesn't have something constructive to do." B'Elanna quickly defended the request. "And if that happens, she will be stressed out."

"Point taken. But reading only Seven…no direct interaction." The Doctor strained his directives. "Any deviation and I'll…"

"You don't need to make threats Doctor, I have already complied." Seven almost snapped. The young blonde was not known for her patients.

"Very well." The Doctor puffed out his holographic chest in the gesture of besting the two stubborn women. "I also want to schedule a follow up exam in forty-eight hours to insure that you are on the mend. But let me know if you experience any fatigue or dizziness."

Seven nodded slowly. She wanted so badly to leave sickbay she would have said almost anything to escape. B'Elanna sensed her unrest and rubbed her beloved's back again soothing her. "Doc, if that's all I'm going to take her back to her quarters so she can relax."

"See that she does relax Lieutenant, it is imperative to her full recovery. She is not to be overly stimulated or over excited…understood?" The Doctor warned. "Or she could go into a relapse."

"Doctor. B'Elanna is very capable guardian," The Captain intervened once more. "She will see to it that Seven adheres to the requirements. And when B'Elanna is on shift, Seven will not be left without company."

"I do not need a nursemaid when B'Elanna is on shift. I will simply take that time to regenerate." Seven pouted. "I am not a child that needs tending."

B'Elanna took the sting out of the proposal as she kissed Seven's temple. "BangwI, it's just that we are worried for you. Being in your company is as much for our benefit as it is yours. Besides, I think Spike would love to spend some time with you. She's missed Annika."

"In that case, I will not protest." Seven submitted. She wanted to be in the child's company if only to reassure herself that Naomi was safe and sound. And teaching the child mathematics, physics and astrophysics would be away to keep her mind active, or she really would go stir crazy from inactivity.

"First things first." B'Elanna took hold of Seven's arm and helped her off the biobed. "We'll hit the mess hall, I'm sure that there are a few faces that want to see that you're a live and well. And we'll get some food down into your stomach. Hey, I programmed the replicaters to make a new flavor for your supplements."

To this Seven perked up. The last flavor had been banana pancake. She couldn't help but wonder what tantalizing taste her love had in store for her. Both Kathryn and Icheb followed closely behind.

"What flavor did you program?"

"Chocolate of course." B'Elanna smirked.

"Explain Chocolate."

B'Elanna stopped dead in the corridor she looked to a stunned Captain then back to Seven. "What? You really don't know what chocolate is?"

"I wouldn't have asked you to explain it BangwI if I knew what chocolate was."

"Ohh baby you haven't lived until you had chocolate. Just ask the Captain." B'Elanna was all grins.

Seven turned to Janeway. "This is true?"

Kathryn placed an arm around Seven's shoulders and smirked. "You're 'BangwI' is right Seven. Chocolate is food of the gods."

"I doubt Kah'less had anything to do with chocolate. Or Omega for that fact." Seven said firmly.

"Ah well see one's just a molecule and other is a male…neither can appreciate chocolate." B'Elanna chided.

Icheb frowned. "I am male. But I wish to try chocolate. Is it only permissible for females to consume?"

B'Elanna clapped the boy on the back. "No sport you can eat it too. See you're still a kid and kids love chocolate just as much as we women." She then turned to Seven. "And there are other applications for chocolate syrup than just to spice up nutritional supplements."

The sliver ocular implant rose. "Explain, BangwI."

"Not in front of the kid…or the Captain."

"Defiantly TMI." Janeway smiled knowingly.

"TMI?" Icheb questioned.

"Too Much Information. You say that when you find something personal out about someone or someones that you wished you didn't know or don't want to know. TMI." Kathryn explained. "And in this case of chocolate syrup…defiantly TMI." But she snickered. "I think you'll enjoy B'Elanna's applications of chocolate, Seven."

"Captain!" B'Elanna almost blushed.

"B'Elanna Torres…I haven't always been celibate, chocolate can be...fun." With that the feisty redhead walked away leaving two-puzzled ex-Borg and a stunned Chief Engineer in the hallway.

"Well who knew?" B'Elanna muttered shaking her head. She looked to the still baffled Seven and placed a possessive arm around her. "I'll explain latter BangwI, when there isn't a minor around."

Seven felt her heart flutter at the single contact of B'Elanna's arm that held possessively around her as they continued to walk towards the Mess Hall. She had no idea such happiness could be had. Or that it would ever be her's. She never felt that happiness was something she was deserving of. She had been Borg, responsible for assimilating thousands. That guilt lingered in her mind always, it was her penitence for what she had done. But also served as a driving force to protect life. Seven was even more protective of innocent life than perhaps anyone else on board Voyager because she knew the horrors of being lost and taking innocent life.

That reminder was never more evident than when Naomi had been injured. Seven's reverence for efficiency and pursuit of perfection was rivaled only by her reverence for her guilt. Of which she had an immense capacity for. Seven felt the pressure of B'Elanna's hand almost tightened the grip around her back as if her love had felt her unrest.

She turned to the woman she had loved for the past three years from afar in astounding wonder. She had never dared to hope, to allow herself to dream B'Elanna would return her love let alone go to the lengths she had to show her love. Dressing in the armor, publicly declaring her love in Sickbay, the protectiveness. All of it was astounding and almost frightening, as the relationship had in Seven's mind happened rapidly. The cerulean eyes gazed to the woman at her side and wondered if B'Elanna hadn't loved her before all of came out in the open.

She certainly didn't feel worthy of the love B'Elanna had shown her. How could she reciprocate? Seven had no idea on how show her love as B'Elanna had. Even if she had the Borg armor it was not a symbol of honor and bravery as was B'Elanna's, the Borg armor was a depiction of terror and death. She had so badly wanted to show B'Elanna her love, to make a grand gesture but she had nothing to give. B'Elanna had spent hours…days on the new alcove, had stayed at Seven's bedside out of love. B'Elanna though the woman would never know had made an appearance in Seven's nightmare with the Borg Queen and had killed her. Seven had only her heart to give and she had given that to B'Elanna a long time ago.

Seven's mind was so lost in her inner contemplations that she had paid very little attention to what was going on around her. It was a remnant of the myopicness of her former life as a drone. (The Borg would ignore anything outside their given task if they did not view it as a threat.) And so it came as a shock to her when both Samantha and Nomine Wildman came around the corner heading.

Blue eyes widened with her surprise. Taking an involuntary step back Seven nearly backed into Janeway and Icheb in her retreat.

"Seven!" Naomi cried out in her glee and made a run for the tall blonde.

Seven's eyes landed not on the child but on Samantha. Taking another step back out of Naomi's reach, she turned to B'Elanna. "I…I…must return to my quarters." She turned and swiftly left the corridor.

"Seven!" Naomi hollered out. "Hey wait Seven." The child made a run for her friend, but her mother caught her.

"What was that all about?" Janeway asked.

B'Elanna looked to Samantha. "I think I know."

"Why did Seven leave?" Naomi was on the verge of tears. "Did I do something wrong? Mum…Captain...is Seven mad at me?"

B'Elanna steadied her gaze on the shorter blonde woman. "No sweetie." The Klingon said. "Seven is not mad at you."

"I think Seven is just tired…" Kathryn tired to sooth the girl. "We should give her some time to rest. I'm sure that if she had a little time you can see her." Pale blue eyes rested upon Samantha. "Provided your mother allows it."

Samantha dropped her eyes.

"Excuse me I am going to make sure Seven's okay." B'Elanna ruffled little Naomi's strawberry blonde hair then for good measure did the same to Icheb's dark mop, then left following the path Seven had used in her retreat.

"Captain, I don't understand…my SoS'oy was well before…if she was ill would not The Doctor have detected it?"

"Icheb." The Captain placed a hand upon the young man's shoulder. He had not been present during the altercation in sickbay when Samantha in her fear and anger of being helpless to protect Naomi had lashed out at Seven. "I simply think Seven was a little overwhelmed. She's been through a lot."

"I should see to her." The boy said.

"I want to come!" Naomi chirped.

"Why don't you give B'Elanna a moment of time first then you can." Janeway suggested firmly though not without a great deal of compassion in her smoky voice.

Samantha and the Captain both knew why Seven had retreated so quickly. The tall young blonde had no idea that Samantha had recanted her early remarks. Nor was she aware that little Naomi had come by to see her while she was still in critical condition. All Seven knew was that she was forbidden from interacting with the child and so she had retreated as quickly as she could.

Part 8

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