DISCLAIMER: All characters are owned and copywrited by Paramount. No money
was made from this work.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: People can usually excuse their behavior, especially when it doesn't make sense to them. No sudden flashes of understanding, no internal monologue explaining your every desire. Sometimes its just a gradual acceptance of what has always been there.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Acceleration In Circular Coordinates
B'Elanna watched as Seven shifted her weight, forward than back, releasing an audible breath through her nose. She'd been doing this at decreasing intervals for the past half hour and it was getting on B'Elanna's last nerve. She'd been working on an idea to improve warp core efficiency and had been running a few computer simulations when Seven had waltzed into Engineering like she owned the place and started work on an adjacent work station. B'Elanna had refused to be chased away and continued working, stubbornly ignoring the ex-drone beside her, or trying to anyway. Seven breathed again.
'That's it!' B'Elanna fumed. 'How can I get any work done with that Borg constantly distracting me!?'
"Is there a problem?" Her tone was as cold as she could get it, but Seven didn't seem to notice.
"No Lieutenant." B'Elanna looked over at the former drone and was almost shocked to see that the normally pale face was flushed, the lips tighter than usual, her whole expression seemed pinched.
"Are you sure?" she asked, stopping herself from saying, 'you don't look so good.'
"The doctor has modified my nutritional intake," Seven admitted. "It is causing some abdominal discomfort."
"You have a stomach-ache because of something you ate?" As she said those words she felt a surge of protectiveness that was mercilessly beat down by her very active dislike of this borg. "Why don't you go to sickbay?" she asked dismissively, turning back to her work station, already forgetting the pinched, pained look on Seven's face.
"The Doctor said it was expected, that it would pass and I should just 'ride it out'" Again that little maneuver which had coaxed B'Elanna's outburst from her.
"Go to my office, sit down and put your feet up." The words were out before B'Elanna even realized she'd thought them. "It might help." Well she couldn't take them back now; all she could do was hope Seven refused her offer.
Seven for her part looked just as shocked as B'Elanna felt. The fact was B'Elanna had simply gotten distracted, and had forgotten she was talking to the ex-drone; it was an offer she would have made to any of her crew.
"I must finish these computations." Seven finally replied and turned back to her work. B'Elanna huffed and handed her an empty PADD. Not wanting to encourage the ex-borg but refusing to be rejected with such a flimsy excuse. The next wave of abdominal discomfort seemed to make up Seven's mind. Without even a 'thank you' she transferred her work to the PADD and walked into the chief engineer's office.
"Finally, some peace and quiet," B'Elanna mumbled under her breath, looking around to make sure no one had noticed the exchange. If anyone did, they were smart enough to pretend otherwise.
Hours later, tired and annoyed, B'Elanna gave up. She couldn't get her idea to work. Whenever she fixed one problem in the formula, it caused another one. She felt as if she'd just spent half the day chasing her own tail. She stretched, yawning, and shook her head to clear it of the mental static she had built up. She didn't have long before her shift ended, not enough time to start a new project and anyway she had some paperwork due.
She turned to her office, took one step towards it and froze. The door was closed. B'Elanna always kept the door open, to encourage people to come talk to her if they had any problems or ideas. The closed door didn't immediately register as anything other than wrong, then B'Elanna remembered sending Seven to put her feet up. Was she still there? She wondered, annoyance surging back. Well no Borg was going to assimilate her office. B'Elanna marched up to the door which opened automatically when she neared. Having prepared herself for the possibility of having to force it open B'Elanna almost stumbled the last few steps into her office. Inside it was dark, B'Elanna's instincts made her hold off telling the computer to raise the lights. Her half Klingon eyes quickly adjusted to the near twilight. Outlines formed as B'Elanna looked around, then details followed.
Seven was sitting behind her desk, feet up like B'Elanna had told her, and hanging cautiously over a corner. Her head was lowered; intent on the PADD B'Elanna assumed was in her lap. Nothing seemed out of place, even the mess of PADDs she had left scattered on her desk had not been touched. Seven had hung her feet over the only corner free of them, the corner where B'Elanna placed her cup of tea, or coffee when she worked late or early.
So intent was she in her inspection that several moments passed before she realized that Seven was not, in fact, reading, but was actually dozing.
Seven was sleeping in her office, in her chair! But no matter how she tried she could not feel more than slight annoyance at the sight. It's not like the same thing hadn't happened to her, more than once. The annoyance inside her suddenly felt more like exhaustion. She decided to let this one go. She was too tired to deal with Seven right now.
B'Elanna moved toward Seven's feet and pushed them off the table, causing them to thump loudly on the carpeted floor. Seven sat up suddenly, blinking her disorientation. B'Elanna casually leaned against the corner she had just forcefully vacated.
"Sleep well?" she asked, nothing in her voice but the weariness she felt in her bones.
Seven blinked a few more times before looking at B'Elanna. "I was not sleeping." There was a hoarseness to her voice which contradicted her words. "I was," she cleared her throat, a very un-Seven like gesture. "I was merely recharging my optical implants."
B'Elanna rolled her eyes. "You were just resting your eyes, sure. How's your stomach?"
Seven placed her human hand on her abdomen, as though she'd forgotten it was there. "I no longer feel any discomfort lieutenant."
B'Elanna stood and looked down at Seven. "Good, so get out of my chair."
Seven looked as though she'd just realized where she was. "I apologize lieutenant," she said briskly. The PADD on her lap had fallen when she'd sat up, now she bent over to retrieve it, then she stood and moved to leave. "Thank you lieutenant," she said, pausing in the doorway, the light from the outside only making her a black silhouette. Then she was gone. B'Elanna sat down in her chair, the residual heat from Seven's body making her squirm. It was an hour later when she put down the final report she had to write that she realized she was still sitting in the dark.
Seven poked at the green substance which seemed to have grown on her plate. Supposedly it contained all the nutrition her body required and could not receive from regeneration. The doctor had insisted on weaning her off the nutritional supplement drinks and on to solid food, a process which Seven was finding very unpleasant. She still experienced abdominal discomfort after meals that was accompanied by fatigue as her body was forced to first break down the solid matter and only then retrieve the nutrients It was all very inefficient and Seven found it distasteful.
"May I join you?" Seven did not need to look up to know that the person addressing her was Captain Janeway, neither did she need to respond as the Captain sat down without pausing.
The solids on The Captain's plate seemed even less appetizing to Seven than what was on her own. Seven prodded the green substance again.
"It won't bite back," the Captain said in a tone Seven recognized as amused.
"It is offensive," Seven replied and put her fork down.
"I'm sure it's not that bad," the Captain said loading another forkful from her own plate. Seven said nothing. The captain sighed and put down her fork. Seven prepared herself from a lecture. "You need to be able to draw nutrients from solid food Seven," the Captain explained. "What if you're on an away mission and don't have access to your alcove or nutrient drinks?" The Captain picked up the fork again, meaning the lecture was over. "We can't have you falling apart because you're a picky eater."
Seven raised her optical implant. The Captain had not told her anything she did not know, however for some reason the solids seemed less unappetizing and the future side-effects less daunting. Seven picked up her fork.
A sudden burst of merriment from one of the nearby tables distracted her. She looked over to see Lieutenant Torres and Ensigns Paris and Kim. Ensign Paris was making broad gestures while talking emphatically, he put his hands on the table and leaned forward, saying something which generated laughter from his companions.
"I'm surprised to see you in the mess hall," the Captain said, returning Seven's attention to her food.
"There is no replicator in Astrometrics," Seven replied taking a small bite of food, which was once again as unappetizing as ever.
Later in Astrometrics the effects of even the meager amount Seven had managed to ingest was noticeable. Remembering Lieutenant Torres' remedy Seven tried to find a place to sit down and elevate her feet, but she could not find a suitable position in Astrometrics, nor could she find one in cargo bay 2. This lack of control over her body was distasteful, but the inability to improve her situation was completely unacceptable. Briefly she thought of asking the Captain for the use of her ready room, but found she did not wish to bother the Captain for difficulties arising from her 'picky eating'. She avoided thinking of going to sick bay; the doctor had not seemed sympathetic to her plight either. Seven wondered if Lieutenant Torres would allow the use of her office again. Though the lieutenant had always reacted to her with hostility she had not dismissed her discomfort outright. However the possibility that the kindness she had shown her was a singular event and would not be repeated made Seven hesitate.
A sharp pain in her abdomen urged her forward. Seven attempted to think of something that could influence Lieutenant Torres but could not come up with anything that would yield immediate results. She walked into engineering and looked around for the chief. The lieutenant was near the warp core, talking to one of the other engineers. Seven headed towards them, still unsure of what to say that would not upset the other woman. She paused a short distance from her and waited, ships business took precedence over personal discomfort.
Lieutenant Torres kept glancing her way but did not verbally acknowledge her until she'd dismissed the crewman.
"Stomach bothering you again?" she said as she brushed passed Seven and walked around the warp core forcing Seven to follow her.
"Yes," Seven confessed. "I wish to use your office again for recuperative purposes." Seven knew it was the wrong way to ask, but could not think of the correct protocol.
"What's wrong with Astrometrics?" Lieutenant Torres asked, still not looking at her.
"There is no suitab-"
"Why haven't you talked to the doctor or the Captain?"
'So she is no longer sympathetic to my discomfort,' Seven thought. The realization brought of flash of distress which Seven ruthlessly repressed. She reminded herself that this scenario had been far more likely than any other, that this discomfort was not life threatening and would eventually pass, that she was Borg and would adapt. "I did not wish to bother them, I apologize for taking up your time," she turned to leave when Lieutenant Torres called her back.
"I didn't say you couldn't," she said looking at her over her shoulder, she jerked her head towards her office. "But you owe me."
Seven nodded seriously. "Indeed Lieutenant. I am in your debt."
It seemed to Seven that her new dietary regime was color-coded and today was brown, brown and oozing. The thought of eating made her stomach ache in anticipated discomfort. She now found her work also suffering at the beginning of her shift, the mid-day meal looming like an unavoidable disaster. She contemplated telling the doctor and the Captain that she could no longer function in this manner, but the thought of admitting defeat to them was enough to get her to raise the fork to her mouth.
"That doesn't look very good," Seven halted the journey of her fork with relief and surprise.
"Lieutenant Torres," Seven replied putting down her fork. "How may I be of assistance?"
Lieutenant Torres was holding a tray with two bowls and a plate of something Seven recognized as crackers. "Mind if I sit here?" she asked and waited for Seven's 'I do not' before sitting down. Without asking she pushed aside Seven's brown oozing lunch and set in front of her one of the bowls from her tray. "Chicken soup," she explained at Seven's raised eyebrow. "It might be easier on your stomach than whatever that is." She pointed at Seven's plate with her spoon. "I need my office this afternoon."
Seven almost blushed. "Yes Lieutenant," she said chastised.
The Lieutenant rolled her eyes. "That was a joke Seven," she said.
"Yes Lieutenant," Seven said automatically. She watched carefully as Lieutenant Torres dipped her spoon in the soup and blew gently on it before putting it into her mouth. Seven imitated the movements exactly and found the flavor surprisingly tolerable, even pleasant. The meal continued in silence and when Lieutenant Torres finished Seven wasn't half-way done and felt no urgent desire to stop.
"I have to get back to Engineering, but I'll see you at the senior staff meeting later?" Seven nodded an affirmative and watched as Lieutenant Torres took the remains of her lunch as well as Seven's abandoned plate to the replicator, recycled them and left, leaving Seven utterly baffled.
Janeway walked into conference room, sat down in her chair and looked around the table. Today she felt she could not ask for a better senior staff. Everyone had given their reports to her earlier so she allowed her mind to wander as they filled each other in. These meetings were more to ensure that all the department heads were on the same page, and Janeway also liked to touch base in person which these meetings did efficiently.
Efficiently, she laughed to herself, I must be spending too much time with Seven. She had tried to spend more time with the woman she saw as a daughter after the doctor had informed her of his plan to move Seven to solids. She knew the transition would not be easy or comfortable and tried to encourage her through the changes. She tried to take her lunch with Seven but today found herself unable to get away from the reports which had piled up. She was glad to see that she was looking better than she had yesterday. Though now that she heard the report from Navigation she realized something.
"Seven didn't you say your scan of the next sector would be complete by now?" Seven looked down at her PADD as if to confirm the information though Janeway knew she had an eidetic memory.
"Indeed Captain. I apologize for the delay, the scan is complete but as of yet I have not compiled a report."
This was unusual, "Why not?" Janeway asked with perhaps a little more force than necessary. "We need to know what to expect."
"Yes Captain, I-" Seven began.
"It's my fault Captain," B'Elanna interrupted. "Seven's been spending a lot of time helping out with some computer simulations in engineering."
Janeway frowned. It wasn't like B'Elanna to keep someone from their duties, then again it was possible that Seven hadn't told her more likely B'Elanna hadn't given Seven a choice. She couldn't chastise either one of them until she knew the whole story, but she couldn't just let this go.
"I'm glad that separate departments are working together," she said slowly, giving herself time to decide what to say next. "However in the future please make sure everything gets done on time." She looked around the table, meeting everyone's eyes. "Dismissed."
Seven's long range sensor report was on her desk before the end of the shift.
It was a few days before she could get away from the ready room for lunch. She headed toward the mess hall after inquiring about Seven's location. Preparing in her mind a few arguments to convince Seven to eat, Janeway walked through the doors. She looked around for the typical ramrod straight posture alone in the crowd. At first she couldn't see Seven but at a second glance she spotted her. She wasn't sitting straight, she wasn't alone, and from the two empty plates in front of her and her companion she didn't need encouragement to eat either.
Janeway loaded a plate and made her way over to the table. "Mind if I join you?" she asked as she sat down in front of Seven and B'Elanna Torres. The two women didn't even seem to notice her.
"That would require the energy of a Borg cube Seven," B'Elanna said in exasperation and sat back in her chair, which caused her to finally notice Janeway. "Captain!" she exclaimed in surprise, this in turn caused Seven to look up as well.
"Captain," she acknowledged. Janeway nodded to them and swallowed.
"What are you working on?" she reached for the PADD. Though the massive amounts of calculations meant little to her without knowing what they were for.
"An improvement to the warp core containment field, to make it less prone to breaching," B'Elanna explained.
"Interesting," Janeway scrolled through the calculations again, some of them making sense to her now. She handed back the PADD and turned to Seven. "Have you finished the analysis of the nebula we passed through yesterday?" she asked, gently reminding both of them that Seven had her own work to do.
"I sent the report to you before I came here," Janeway nodded approvingly. A few moments of silence passed. Finally B'Elanna got up.
"If you'll excuse me Captain I need to get back to Engineering," she took Seven's plate and stacked it on top of hers, taking them in one hand and the PADD the other. "I'll try and work on these energy requirements tonight," she told Seven, who stood as well.
"I too am required in Astrometrics," as soon as she stood B'Elanna held out the plates, Seen took them and collected the utensils from the tables.
"Enjoy your meal Captain." B'Elanna said and headed out the doors, Seven following shortly after.
Janeway strode into Astrometrics surprised when she did not immediately see Seven. "Hello?" she called out.
"I am here," Janeway followed the voice until she stood on the platform with her back to the screen. Seven was on the floor, on her stomach, a panel open and various tools beside her.
"What are you doing?" Janeway asked crouching down next to Seven's hip.
"Realigning the power distribution."
"Did you talk to the chief engineer before you started?" Janeway asked preparing a speech on the importance of hierarchy in a Starfleet crew.
"Unnecessary. I am using only the energy already allocated to Astrometrics," Janeway nodded.
"Speaking of B'Elanna I'm glad you two are getting along," Seven said nothing. "I'm just curious how it came about."
"Lieutenant Torres requested my assistance in augmenting the warp core containment field. I agreed," Seven explained.
"She just came up and asked you for help?" Janeway found it hard to believe. In the past she'd had to order and threaten B'Elanna to work with Seven.
"She first reminded me that I was in her debt, but I believe she meant that in jest."
"Debt?" Janeway didn't like the sound of that. Seven was still learning how to interact with people; it would be far too easy to take advantage of her. B'Elanna was not a cruel person, but she was an angry one and if that anger was focused enough on Seven she could convince herself that she had it coming. "What debt Seven?"
There was a change in the pitch of the machinery around them which quickly blended back in the white noise. Seven stood and walked back to the consol checking the readings.
"She allowed me the use of her office space when I was experiencing abdominal discomfort," she answered, then, apparently satisfied with the energy readings, she returned to close the panel and gather her tools.
"Why didn't you come to the doctor or myself if you were in pain?" Janeway couldn't understand it. Why would Seven go to B'Elanna?
"I did not wish to disturb either of you, Lieutenant Torres noticed my discomfort while were working in close proximity. She offered the use of her office to recuperate."
Janeway couldn't picture it, but Seven didn't lie, not to her anyway. "How's your stomach now?"
Seven looked at her then. "Lieutenant Torres has been assisting me in finding food that does not cause me discomfort. I have been adapting well."
Janeway moved closer and placed her hand on Seven's shoulder. "I'm glad you two are getting along, but B'Elanna's very volatile, I just don't want you getting hurt." She let the statement sink in, then after a few moments she left, leaving Seven alone.
Seven looked at the woman sitting in front of her, she was smiling and sharing an exasperated look with Seven at the antics of their two other companions. Seven answered with a small twitch of the corners of her lips. She no longer felt bewildered by these lunches. She took her meal with Lieutenant Torres nearly every day now, most of the time Ensigns Paris and Kim joined them. It had been awkward at first, she had been unsure of how to behave, and of her welcome. Janeway's warning rang in her mind constantly in the beginning, but as these lunches continued despite her errors in social protocol, the warning slowly faded.
Now she enjoyed these lunches, found herself collecting anecdotes to share with her meal companions, found herself listening to theirs with authentic interest.
However she still preferred her quiet lunches with Lieutenant Torres, time spent in companionable silence or collaborating on an idea. Seven discovered that Janeway had been right; B'Elanna was indeed volatile and unpredictable. Her mind would tackle a problem as if it was a battle. Occasionally frustration caused her to lash out verbally, but she seemed careful not to do it in Seven's direction. Seven in turn began to recognize the signs of an oncoming outburst and had found several ways of distracting the lieutenant.
"So how about it Seven, you interested?" Ensign Paris had been describing his latest holoprogram and had offered them all parts. Ensign Kim had reluctantly agreed and Lieutenant Torres had refused outright. Seven thought she would need to give a more polite answer.
"I apologize Ensign Paris how-"
"Tom," he insisted, had been insisting since she had joined their lunches, as usual Seven simply ignored him.
"However I have some sensor scan that require interpretation," it was not untrue, she did have work to do, however it was not as urgent as perhaps she had insinuated. Ensign Paris looked disappointed for a moment.
"Your loss," he said and smiled again, repeating the description to Ensign Kim with even more enthusiasm than before.
Lieutenant Torres was still smiling at her. On her right Ensign Kim burst out laughing, attracting the Lieutenant's attention. Seven collected the last of her lunch on her fork. It tasted better than ever before.
B'Elanna sat on the edge of the cliff, looking down at the dubious expression on Seven's face with great amusement.
"B'Elanna Torres, I wish to speak with you!" Seven called up. The used of her full name instead of her rank to get her attention when they were off duty had happened rather spontaneously a few weeks earlier. It seemed to take Seven by surprise, as though she'd just discovered that relationships could have more than one layer, and perhaps that was what had happened.
B'Elanna cupped her hands, an unnecessary gesture due to Seven's enhanced hearing, but she never let that stop her from making an impression. "Then come up here!" Seven now looked annoyed which amused B'Elanna even more.
"Why do you not simply end the program?" Their voices echoed around the \cavern, B'Elanna briefly wondered why Seven didn't just use her comm-badge. Either she likes to yell, B'Elanna thought to herself, or she just likes the echo.
"Because I'm not finished yet." She still had an hour left and knowing Seven once the program was off it would not be turned back on today.
"Why don't you come down?!" B'Elanna smiled; this game of illogical answers that made perfect sense was something else that had spontaneously developed between them. The game ending only when the answers became truly nonsensical or one of them gave up, neither of them liked to give up.
"I've already been there!" B'Elanna answered, grin firmly in place. "Come up!" She watched Seven for signs of distress, ready to surrender if it came to that, but Seven surprised her and started to climb up. B'Elanna watched shouting encouragement as Seven reached the top in record breaking time, looking slightly disheveled and very annoyed.
"I am 'up'," B'Elanna couldn't help herself, she started laughing. A full belly grabbing, weakened knees causing, gasping for air, eye-watering laugh. Seven's expression of confusion only made it worse. Finally she calmed, her breathing returned to normal and the giggles slowed to an occasional hiccup. B'Elanna took Seven by the hand and lead them to the edge of the cliff. She sat down with her feet dangling over the edge and waited for Seven to do the same before taking the PADD from her hands. A design for something complicated flickered on the screen.
"What did you need to talk to me about?" After a few moments in which Seven did not answer B'Elanna looked up. Seven was regarding her with an intensity B'Elanna didn't recognize. Her heart thudded in her chest and her muscles tensed, reading to fight or run away from this dangerous unknown. "What?" she said nervously. "What is it?"
When Seven spoke her voice was soft and shaking, scared, hesitant, as though she was about to jump off the cliff. "B'Elanna Torres," she said, "I wish to kiss you."
B'Elanna's hearts pounded but her flight or fight reflex calmed. She looked at Seven, the hair which had escaped her careful bun, the smudge of dirt on her cheek, her eyes, bright in the dimness of the caverns.
"I think I would like that very much, Seven of Nine," she whispered, and leaned forward, inviting Seven to do the same. The kiss was soft, almost chaste, the meeting of lips and the desire for more. Seven pulled away first, flushed and overwhelmed. B'Elanna squeezed her hand in reassurance and raised the PADD in front of them. Slow, she understood, she could wait.
"So what did you want to talk about?"
They spent the rest of B'Elanna's time as she had known they would, working side by side, sitting on the edge of a cliff.
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