Alternate Consequences
By H.W.


Chapter 6

"Did you have fun tonight?" Torres asked Seven when their friends had left for the night.

"I did, very much so," Seven said while holding the bat'leth against the wall. "Is this acceptable?"

Torres looked at the bat'leth for a moment and a small smile crept onto her lips. She had to admit that the bat'leth looked good, right under her own bat'leth. "Yeah, that's fine."

"Why are you smiling?" Seven asked as activated the hooks that she had clipped to the bat'leth, holding the weapon securely in place while hooks cold-fused themselves with the wall. Once secured, Seven took the bat'leth out of the hooks and placed it back; satisfied with the secure hold the hooks had on the weapon when it was placed in them.

"Nothing," Torres answered once Seven was finished putting her bat'leth in place. "It is just a mere two months ago I would never have believed that I would meet someone who I would allow to live in my private quarters. Now, I'm in love, it's no longer my quarters but ours, and for the first time ever, my bat'leth is graced by the company of another bat'leth. Who would have thought?"

Seven turned away from the now secure weapon and moved closer to Torres. "Do you object to the fast pace? I do not think that I could have moved at a different pace, that I can move at a different pace. This is how the situation evolved, and I am not sorry about it."

Torres shook her head no. "No, my pet... sorry, Seven. Though you do sometimes drive me to where I want to pull my hair out, I wouldn't change a thing, including how fast things went between us."

"You do not have to correct yourself. I do not mind if you call me 'my pet' even if we are on an equal level. As I told you, I like that name."

"Well, it's good to know that I don't have to correct myself when I slip up, but really, Seven, I would like to keep 'Seven' and 'my pet' separate. I kinda like that difference, how with nothing more than the change of a name we can switch to master/slave or to equal partners."

"Very well, I just wanted to let you know that I do not mind the name regardless of on which level we are communicating."

"Good. Now, as for the fast pace, fast pace is not uncommon for Klingons. It's not uncommon to meet someone, and be married to them the next week, and be divorced the week after that."

"Which is probably why you have a Klingon marriage, and a Klingon marriage where the oath is given and taken," Seven guessed.

"Mmhmm," Torres agreed. "Short term and long term marriage. So you see, I have no problem with the pace. I was only contemplating. It's amazing how a life can change in a mere two months."

"Indeed," Seven agreed. "Which is why a smart person plans ahead, but lives for the moment."

Torres grinned at that. "That sounds very profound, that's what you do?"

"Now, yes. But before I met you, I merely planned ahead. Now I plan ahead, but live for every moment I can spend with you."

"You know, you really have a way with words. And talking about spending time, I really, really would like to go to bed with you right now and celebrate you birthday some more."

"Are you going to give me another birthday gift?" Seven asked with a smile.

"Oh, yeah," Torres agreed. "But it is the kind of gift that has to be given personally, very, very, personally; preferably on a soft horizontal surface like a bed."

Seven stepped closer to Torres until she could kiss her, which she did. "I would really like such a gift right now."

"Good, but first you turn that thing around."

Seven followed Torres' pointing finger and looked at the bat'leth that she had just placed on the wall. "I like that engraving better than the ones on the other side."

"Seven, I'm not going to have a picture of two lovers hanging on the wall. How would it look if... just no, alright?"

"These are your private quarters. Only people you consider friends, and servants, are ever allowed in here. Having this side facing out, adds to the personal value. This is what makes this bat'leth personal."

"Seven," Torres sighed.


It was nothing more than a single word. Yet the second most powerful person in Coalition space had absolutely no defense against it. "Fine, leave it like that, it's not like I care either way."

Seven smiled at the gruff words. She leaned in and shared a long and tender kiss with Torres. "I love you," Seven said once they finally broke apart.

"Well, now that you have a personal bat'leth, I guess I have to train you in the use of it," Torres said, as always not really knowing how to react to Seven's declaration of love.

Seven kissed Torres once more before moving away from her to take the Daqtahg. Where Torres could carry her ceremonial blade with her whenever she felt like it, Seven could never do so, she couldn't even display it in the privacy of the private quarters. No, the only place where it could be kept would be in the drawer of the nightstand. "I know how to use a bat'leth."

"No you don't," Torres disagreed. "Oh, you know how to kill very efficiently using a bat'leth. But a bat'leth fight can be so much more. If you spar with a friend, or when you fight someone to show how skilled you are, and not how quick you can kill, than you have to use the bat'leth in a whole different way. Sometimes deliberately leaving openings in your defense, just so that you can show how you handle an attack while being on the defensive."

"That does not sound logical."

Torres shrugged her shoulders and put her arm around Seven, starting to move to the bedroom. "Logic never stopped a Klingon, my dear. The 'logic' thing to do is not fight in the first place. A Klingon isn't into logic, a Klingon is into showing off."

"I see. So are you telling me that you are nothing more then a showoff?" Seven asked with a smile.

"Funny, very funny. Come on, let's get naked."

Seven shared a long and tender kiss with Torres. "You sure know how to sweet-talk a girl."

Torres laughed at the remark. "Baby, you ait'n heard nothing yet."

"I do wonder though, how Jadzia knew that it was acceptable to give me a bat'leth," Seven said as she started to strip.

"Well," Torres said while starting to strip as well. "As I said before, when I contacted her and Deanna earlier, I told them what Martok would be bringing, I didn't want there to be any unpleasant surprises so I wanted to give them a chance to 'graciously decline' coming by. So, knowing what Martok would bring, Jadzia knew that it would be alright to bring the bat'leth."

"I can understand that part, but there is still the fact that a bat'leth is normally only given to someone who has proven themselves in battle. How did she know that I had proven myself, how have I proven myself as a warrior?"

"Seven, you seem to forget about K'Trelan Erzian. If you haven't proven yourself as a warrior when you and I took on his group in my house, than I don't know who has."

"But how would Jadzia know about that?" Seven persisted.

"Well, I did confiscate all of his positions, not that there was that much to confiscate. As a reason I did give the fact that he tried to kill me. I can only assume that Jadzia's spies informed her of what happened."

"She has spies inside the Klingon forces?" Seven asked surprised.

"Sure," Torres said as she stepped out of her panties, leaving her naked. "I told you, every Coalition member has spies in the other faction. I also told you that in fact you couldn't really call them spies anymore because the really don't do any efforts anymore to change their appearance. To be honest, I think that nowadays the term 'observers' is a lot more fitting than 'spies'. But where observers normally only observe, these spies/observers actually do good work for the party they are spying on. "

"You did tell me about the spies," Seven agreed as the slipped her naked form into the bed. "I just find it strange that people who are clearly your friends still have spies to check on what you do."

"Back to that subject huh? Remember though that I also have spies to keep track of what they do," Torres pointed out, getting into bed as well. "You really do have to see the people of Jadzia Dax, Deanna Troy, and yes, B'Elanna Torres, separate from the Intendants. As people we might be friends, but as Intendants our own faction is our first priority. Besides, we have a saying here that is very popular between the Intendants. 'Friends will only be friends for as long as they know that you check what they do."

"Trust, but verify," Seven said in understanding.

"What?" Torres asked as she crawled closer to Seven, placing a soft kiss on the blonde's throat.

"It is a saying much used in the Federation. It means that you trust people, but do verify whatever they say or do."

"Yeah, I guess you can compare it to that," Torres agreed. "So, are we done talking now?"

"Why?" Seven asked, knowing the answer only too well.

Torres moved one of her hands up until she was cupping one of Seven's breasts. "Because I would really, really like to make love to you right now."

Seven put her own hand over Torres' "I would really like that."

"Good," Torres said before softly kissing Seven. "I think I would really like to..."

"Martok to Torres."

"No!" Torres half shouted, half growled. She knew that it had to be important, otherwise Martok wouldn't have overridden the 'do not disturb.' "This is SO not happening."

"Martok to Torres."

Torres rolled off Seven and sighed. "Computer, open the channel. "Martok, you better have a damn good reason to interrupt me, I'm lying beside a very hot and willing naked blonde right now."

"Sorry to interrupt, but this is really important."

When Martok didn't use the opportunity to tease her a little it told Torres that what ever the problem was had to be important indeed. "What's up?"

"You have a very big problem. The drone ship sent back something I think you might want to see. Go to a monitor."

Torres got out of bed and walked to the wall mounted monitor in her bedroom. She activated it and merely said 'go' when she saw Martok filling the screen.

"The slave ship encountered a Cardassian ship and there was a battle between them."

"Oh, that's just great," Torres said. She looked to her side when Seven handed her something. She had to smile when she saw that Seven was handing her a robe. Klingons weren't vain, and Martok had seen her naked before, but apparently Seven didn't want other people to see what she considered hers. Seven lifted her eyebrow and Torres merely grinned in response. "Thanks." Torres put the robe on and as Seven turned away, she added, "Oh, and put a robe on as well, my pet."

"Yes, mistress," Seven said with a small smile, making it clear that she had totally forgotten about her own nakedness.

Torres looked at the blonde for a second longer before turning back to the screen. "Alright, let's have it."

Martok started the recording that the drone ship had sent, including the communications between the two ships that the drone ship had intercepted.

"So much for them not causing any trouble," Torres said with a growl once she had seen what happened.

Seven merely stood by and listened, she had no idea how Torres would react to this, but she did know that Voyager had just caused a big problem for the Intendant.

"My spies informed me that Dukat has been awakened for something important, I have a feeling that you will hear from him in a really short time."

"I'm willing to put credits on that one," Torres agreed. "Alright, I'll take care of this. As soon as he contacts us, let me know and put him through."

Martok merely nodded his head and then terminated the connection.

"What are you going to do about this?" Seven finally asked.

"Kill them? Hunt them down and use their heads in a match of Jak'I ball? Skin them alive?" Torres asked as she got up and moved to the replicator to replicate her uniform. Better to speak to Dukat in her battle uniform than in a night gown. When Seven didn't reply, Torres looked at her and saw that the blonde was looking at the floor. "What? No raised eyebrow? No asking me what I'm really going to do?" Torres asked surprised.

"No mistress. I know that they broke the one rule you set forth for them; to not cause you any problems."

"Hmm, mistress, is it?" Torres asked. "Can you tell me the same thing and address me as B'Elanna?"

Seven lifted her eyes and looked straight into those of the Intendant. "Yes I can, but I am not happy about it."

"Well, don't worry," Torres said after a moment of silence. "You don't have to tell me that. I'm not going to kill them."

"For me?" Seven asked, needing to know the answer, but also fearing it. She didn't want Torres to start making Intendant decisions on nothing more but her feelings for Seven.

"No," Torres said in a clear voice. She took the replicated uniform out of the replicator before adding, "Look, Seven, me telling you to tell them to not get into trouble was really nothing more then wishful thinking on my part, in hindsight. They are a ship with slaves, according to the entire Coalition. It is bound to happen that they run into problems. I won't hold it against them that they defended themselves today. I saw that they didn't start the fight, in fact, they first tried to get away. That is good enough for me, for now."

"I am glad that you feel that way," Seven said relived. "But how are you going to... handle this situation?"

"I got a few ideas, but I really must see what Dukat brings up, I'm going to react to whatever he does."

"So you are not... displeased by this?" Seven asked as she came closer and shifting some of the armor pieces on Torres' uniform to make them fit better.

"And here I though I didn't need any help with putting my clothes on," Torres said with a half grin. She didn't know how Seven had done it, but that uncomfortable piece of metal that was always pinching her suddenly didn't pinch anymore. Until now she had always ignored it, knowing that the pinching was simply a part of wearing a battle uniform with metal in it, now, with nothing more than a twist of the armor piece, Seven had proved her wrong. "From now on, one of your tasks as my slave is to put all of my armor bits in their right place."

"Yes, mistress," Seven said, glad that she had one more thing that she could do for her mistress.

"And as for me being displeased," Torres continued, "You bet your ass that I'm displeased. As a matter of fact, I'm downright pissed. But, I understand why your friends did what they did. I would have done the same, therefore I can't hold it against them and just have to accept it." Torres sighed and started to walk to the door. "Come on, I'll wait for Dukat to contact me in the official part of my quarters."

A mere ten minutes later, Martok contacted them. "Torres, he's online."

"Alright, put him through." Torres pointed in front of her, and Seven, still in her robe, reacted right away, kneeling in front of Torres, facing away from her so that she was looking at the screen as well. Torres had told her that this was how she had to kneel when there was company, and she had to kneel of course.

The face of Martok on the wall screen disappeared, only to be replaced by the face of Dukat. "Dukat, to what do I owe the pleasure of you contacting me at this time of day?"

"You know damn well why I'm contacting you," Dukat said very clearly extremely annoyed. "A Cardassian ship was attacked and nearly destroyed inside Klingon space. I can't tolerate that."

"Now, how would I know that a Cardassian ship was attacked in Klingon space? Was it attacked by a Klingon ship maybe?"

"I don't know what kind of ship it was," Dukat answered evasively.

"So it could just as well have been attacked by a second Cardassian ship."

"Nonsense," Dukat said dismissively, as if he was almost offended by that idea.

"And just why is it nonsense?" Torres persisted.

"Because a Cardassian ship would never attack a second Cardassian ship," Dukat said, forcing himself to remember that he was not talking to some Cardassian commander, but to someone who he could only negotiate with; not pressure.

"If you say so," Torres said, brushing off the subject in a way that made it very clear that she didn't believe it for a one minute. "But answer me this question, Dukat, just what was that Cardassian ship doing inside Klingon space?"

"What?" Clearly Dukat hadn't expected that very obvious question.

"I asked just what that Cardassian ship was doing in Klingon space? Was it on its way to or from Cardassian territory and simply passing through Klingon space?"

"Well, yes, of course it was."

"Than maybe you can explain to me what this ship was doing deep in Klingon space. Cardassian space is a damn long distance away from sector 1563. There is no way that a Cardassian ship could be there if it was simply on its way through Klingon territory. So, just what was that ship doing there?"

"So you do know that the ship was attacked, you know the place where it was attacked."

"Of course I know!" Torres said annoyed in a raised voice. "I know everything that goes on in Klingon space." It was an exaggeration, and both of them knew it. But the thing was that Dukat had no way of knowing just how much of an exaggeration it was. "For instance, I also know that Cardassians are behind the smugglers that plague the Coalition."

"What?" Dukat asked, wondering why Torres was suddenly bringing that up, and where he had lost control over the conversation.

"Dukat, just how stupid do you think I am? Klingons normally serve on those smugglers ships. Do you really think it would take long for me, the Klingon Intendant, to find out that while Klingons normally man those ships, they are always commanded by Cardassians?"

"I can't simply ignore an attack on a Cardassian ship, Torres," Dukat said, trying to get back the control over the conversation. "If you don't do something about this, I'll,"

"You'll, what?" Torres interrupted in an absent voice as she played a little with Seven's hair. "Remember who you are talking to, Dukat."

The tone in Torres' voice told Dukat that he was pushing a line that even he didn't want to cross. "Damn it Torres, if I start to ignore attacks on Cardassian ships simply because they took place in Klingon space, my days as Intendant would soon come to an rather abrupt end, and you know it," Dukat continued, both of them knowing only too well that he hadn't continued his threat and instead had backed down.

"If you start ignoring attacks on smuggler ships you mean."

"Damn it, Torres, that wasn't a smuggler ship, it was a Cardassian military ship."

"Dukat, don't be upset with me simply because you got careless. Now I have no idea why you as Cardassian Intendant want to bother with supporting smugglers, and really, I also don't give a damn. But if you, or the people that work for you, are so careless to actually use a Cardassian ship then don't come crying to me if something happens to it. You wouldn't have contacted me if it had been one of the ships the smugglers normally use."


"Look," Torres interrupted. "We can go back and forth here all day, so let's cut to the chase. I'm going to simplify this to the extreme for you. I will continue to ignore those smugglers, for as long as they aren't a real problem, and you will ignore that ship."

Dukat seemed to think about that one for a moment. "And what if I decide to hunt down that ship?"

"Bring even more Cardassian ships into Klingon space?" Torres asked in an amused way that sounded far from pleasant. "Do you really want to go down that road, Dukat? You know only too well that even if we hadn't had this little conversation I could never let that pass without reacting in an appropriate way... like destroying the ships. Do you really want to go there? For be assured; I will if you make me."

"I'll ignore the ship," Dukat smartly agreed after thinking about it for a few seconds. "But only for as long as they are in Klingon space. If I find them outside Klingon space though..."

"Fair enough," Torres had to agree. she looked at Dukat for a moment. She had a fairly tolerant working relationship with him; she didn't want to jeopardize that. "Dukat, what I tell you now will stay between us. I'm just telling you this to prevent this little, nuisance, from becoming a real problem between us."

"Go on," Dukat said intrigued.

"That ship, those people on that ship, they aren't escaped slaves; I let them go, and I had a very good reason for doing so. I have plans for them, and that ship. It would be for the best of both our interests that you really do ignore that ship. For you, that ship doesn't have anything of interest. Let me give you some free advice, Dukat. Don't go against this deal. Because I promise you, if you do, you'll get on my bad side more then anyone ever has in my entire life, and I would act accordingly."

"That is quite threat for just one ship," Dukat pointed out, not really sure what he should make of Torres' statement. There was one thing he did know though; Torres didn't bluff. He knew that even if Torres had told him that the ship would have been the answer to all problems, he still wouldn't hunt it down. Being on Torres' bad side like that was something even he didn't want.

Torres grinned slightly. "I consider that ship mine, Dukat. Have you ever known me to be anything but fiercely protective of the things I consider mine?"

Dukat dipped his head in agreement to that statement.

After a moment of silence, Torres softly patted Seven on her head. "My pet, how safe are ships that don't bother Voyager?"

"Mistress, even under Captain Janeway, Voyager was not in the habit to be the first to attack, I sincerely doubt that this would be different now."

Dukat looked at Seven for a moment as if seeing her for the first time. "I saw the log of the attack, you do realize that she looks just like the captain on that slave ship?"

"Hmm, I wondered about that when I saw the log," Torres agreed.

"You saw the log?" Dukat repeated.

"Yes, I have that ship followed; I'm keeping an eye on them. As for their captain looking like my pet, the reason for that is that they are sisters." Both Torres and Seven knew that this little lie was the easiest way of explaining the resemblance. An idea struck Torres, and she smartly added, "Which also gives you a little peek into one of the reasons why the ship is so important to me, as long as her sister is alive, my pet is happy. As long as my pet is happy, I'm very, very happy, get my drift Dukat?"

"I do," Dukat said while nodding his head a little. "It is an... odd way of dealing with a slave though."

"It would be, if my pet was just another slave. But she isn't a mere slave; she is my body slave."

"You, got a body slave?!" Dukat asked surprised, suddenly the woman that he had been pretty much dismissive of, was set in a whole new light.

Now Torres grinned. "I do, and I'm sure that you will understand that the normal treatment for a slave won't really work with someone that lies in the same bed as you while you sleep."

"Right," Dukat said, finally understanding why the ship would be of importance to Torres. Not knowing that it really was only one of many reasons. "As long as her sister is safe, your slave will be more then willing to do freely whatever pleases you. But if you lose the ship, your leverage over your slave is gone." Dukat lifted his hands slightly when he saw that Torres was about to say something. "I know, I know. If I were the one to take that leverage away by destroying that ship, you would be less than pleased with me. Don't worry, Torres, now that I know why the ship is of importance to you, I can also see that it is of no importance to me. If I were to, take possession, of your slave's sister it wouldn't get me any leverage with you, but it sure would get you pissed at me. See, Torres, I'm an reasonable person, all I needed was an honest explanation."

"As long as we understand each other." Torres frowned her eyebrows a little. "Though I must admit that I have no idea why they made my pet's sister captain. My pet, why would they do such a thing?"

"I do not know, mistress, all I can do is speculate," Seven said in a low and soft voice, her eyes low, once more being the perfect slave.

"Then speculate."

"Yes mistress. I can only assume that they made her captain because she knows the Klingon part of the Coalition much better than any of them," Seven said, making sure to not bring up the thing that Torres was clearly keeping from Dukat; that Voyager didn't actually come from that Universe. "The others do not know what is dangerous and safe in this part. However, they do know that their mentality of always first assuming that people are good, until they proven otherwise, will not work here. They need someone on the bridge that can make decisions right away, without having to ask someone else first if they can tell them about a situation. However, I did notice that the Voyager crew took a precaution. They made her Acting Captain, and not a normal captain."

"You take advice from you body slave?" Dukat asked disbelievingly.

Torres patted Seven's head before replying. "Oh, my pet here is not just your average body slave. Do you really think that I would have made her my body slave if the only asset she has was that she is good in bed? She also is highly intelligent. In fact, she possesses more knowledge than any of the Klingon scientists... combined. And on top of that my little pet here is as loyal as they come, even without me keeping her sister alive, though the fact that I do keep her sister alive makes her that much more loyal. I suggest that you catch up on your spy reports, Dukat, and read what happened on my home planet, and you might understand one of the reasons why I made her into my body slave."

"If you say so," Dukat said, not quite believing Torres boast about her slave.

"Now, Dukat, since we are talking about things that will stay between us, tell me, just why the hell do you bother with those smugglers? You sure don't need the profits."

Dukat leaned back in his chair, for a moment wondering if he should answer that question. Finally he grinned. "It's a hobby."

"A hobby?" Torres asked surprised.

"Yes, as you know, as Intendant you can have things done simply by saying that you want them to be done. But 'playing' with those smugglers keeps me sharp. It is, interesting, to do things and succeed in doing it without the power of being the Intendant."

"If that is the case, then why did you contact me now?" Torres asked. "Losing ships is a part of the smuggler existence."

Dukat spread his arms a little. "Honestly, Torres, a Cardassian ship almost being destroyed in Klingon space, I would be stupid not to try and get an advantage out of it, which I have."

"That almost sounds as if you deliberately used a Cardassian military ship, Dukat. In fact, your smugglers using that ship does sound a little suspicious."

Dukat shook his head no. "Believe me, Torres, while I did use that attack to get the deal we just made, I myself am less than pleased that they used a military ship for that. It seems that some of my commanders became a little complacent. Don't worry, I'll take care of them. This won't happen again."

Torres nodded her head slightly. She had known from the beginning that there had to be an ulterior reason. Dukat couldn't care less that a ship had been destroyed, especially since the ship hadn't been on official Cardassian business. She patted Seven softly on the head. "My pet, what's so special about her being Acting Captain instead of Captain? We don't have a position with that name. And furthermore would they attack a ship without being attacked first?"

"The position of Acting Captain means that the senior staff has put her in charge of the ship, but that they can take her out of that position without it being considered mutiny. As for if they would attack first, that is highly doubtful. They have a standard policy of never opening fire first. Though Captain Janeway sometimes disregarded that policy, I do know that Commander Chakotay and Commander Tuvok disagreed with her on those occasions. I am farley certain that they would hold Acting Captain Hansen to the rules they are used to."

"Good enough?" Torres asked looking at Dukat.

"For now," Dukat agreed. "I will give the command to ignore the ship from now on. But let there be no mistake, if they do attack ships, and especially Cardassian ships on a mission, than we will be talking again."

"Fair enough," Torres agreed. "But let there also be no mistake about the fact that I will take a close look at just who started the fight. Remember, I have the ship under observation, so I will know who started the fight. If you contact me about a fight when it was your side which started that attack, than I will be severely... displeased."

Dukat looked at her for a moment before giving a short nod. "As you like to say, fair enough. But, if they wander into Cardassian space, than all bets are off."

"Of course, as long as they wandered there by themselves, and weren't lured there. Remember, I will know."

Dukat tilted his head slightly in agreement. "Well, as interesting as this is, I have other things to do. We will be talking again, Torres."

"I'm sure," Torres agreed. A moment later the connection was terminated. "So much for that."

Seven turned around until she was facing Torres. "Mistress, I am sorry that this is causing you so much trouble."

"B'Elanna," Torres corrected. "Remember, tonight it would be B'Elanna and Seven. We had to take a little break from that to deal with this, but the night is far from over."

"Very well, B'Elanna. But I am still sorry about the trouble this is causing you."

"No need to be sorry. As I said, I can understand why they did what they did; I would have done the same thing."

"Still, you had to use a piece of information and deal with Dukat. Now you can not use that information to deal again."

"Seven, stop trying to feel sorry alright? Look, yes I had to use some valuable information. But really, I have known this for two years already, and never before found a reason to use this info. Normally if I need help from Dukat I call in one of those favors he owes me. In fact, I could have done that today as well, but I decided to finally use that info. Now was as good as time as any."

Seven came closer until she was almost touching Torres. "I just do not want you to jeopardize your position for me."

"Seven, listen to me. You made your decision to stay with me. Now let me make my own decisions on how I deal with you being here. I know what I can do without it hurting me in whatever way. Making that deal with Dukat just now? Believe me, you haven't seen anything yet. What do you think we do if we have to negotiate about mining rights on some border planet? Or if some Klingon High Council member makes an ass of himself on his visit to Cardassia Prime? That what you just saw was nothing more than a friendly talk between Dukat and me, in comparison."

Seven sighed. "Very well, I will accept that you know what you are doing, and do not let the matter that you like me cloud your judgment."

Torres laughed at that. "Like you? My dear, I do a lot more then like you."

Seven leaned in and kissed the Klingon. A moment later she stepped back and pulled Torres along by their linked hands. "Come to bed with me, B'Elanna. I need you."

Torres was only too happy to follow along.

B'Elanna looked at the box and nodded her head a little. She had just put it down on the table when the door opened behind her. She turned around to face the door, very effectively blocking the view of the table. "Hi. Long day huh?" B'Elanna asked the obvious.

"Very long," Annika agreed as she set down on the couch. "Hi, by the way. Oh, talking of by the way, I asked Chakotay if the could plan our next off days at the same time so that we can use that time to move to the captain's quarters."

Sounds like a plan," B'Elanna agreed. "But why have Chakotay plan that?"

"Personnel planning is his department. Besides, I don't think it would look to well if one of the first things I'd do as captain would be to make sure that we have time off at the same time. I did not tell him to plan our time off at the same time; I asked him, just like any other crew member would do."

"Guess you got a point there," B'Elanna had to agree as she picked up the box and slowly walked towards Annika, hiding the box behind her back. "So, do you plans for this evening?"

"Actually, Chakotay invited us both to dinner at the mess hall in two hours."

"Really?" B'Elanna asked innocently, knowing only too well that Chakotay was going to invite Annika to the mess hall. In fact, it would have been B'Elanna's task to take Annika there if she had declined Chakotay's invitation.

"Yeah. I hope you don't mind that I accepted for the both of us. I figured that if you had other plans, we could still let Chakotay know that we can't make it."

"That's fine. I do have plans, but that doesn't cross the dinner plans."

"What plans?" Annika asked, looking up at the standing Klingon.

"Here," Was B'Elanna's reply as she handed Annika the box she had been hiding.

Annika didn't take the box, instead she looked at it for a moment before looking back at B'Elanna's face. "What is that?"

"A gift," B'Elanna said, not knowing what the problem was.

"And what do you expect from me in return?"

"What? Why would I expect something back?" B'Elanna said as she set down beside Annika.

"It is my experience that people who want to give you 'gifts' usually want something back in return."

"What? No, no I don't want something back in return. Look, it's just a birthday present for you." B'Elanna once more tried to hand the box to Annika, but once again the blonde didn't take it.

"Birthday present?" Annika asked, clearly not seeing the concept of it.

"Yeah, why..." Suddenly B'Elanna realized what the problem had to be. "Today is the same date as it was in the year that you were born. In the Federation it is customary, though not mandatory, to give friends and family a present for their birthday."

"Why would you do that?" Annika asked bewildered.

"Because... um, come to think of it, I actually have no idea," B'Elanna admitted with a sheepish grin. "But that doesn't take away that it is normal to give friends and family a gift."

"So you want nothing from me in return?" Annika asked again to clarify that part.

"Nope," B'Elanna assured. "Well, a thank you would be nice."

"You know for sure that today is my birthday?" Annika asked suddenly.

"Well, um, I think it's a pretty sure bet. Today is the birthday of Seven, and since she and you are the same person, I'd say that today is your birthday as well."

"Do... do you also know how old I am?"

Suddenly it struck B'Elanna truly how bad Annika's life as a slave had been. True, B'Elanna knew about the horrors of being at all time at the mercy of the 'Master' about the forced labor, about the sex slaves, but there was even more than that that was taken away from the slaves. Slaves simply did not have a real life, they couldn't do anything but live to serve the masters. They didn't even know simple things like how old they were, certainly for them every day was nothing more than a continuation of the last day. Why keep track of that? Why calculate just how many days, months, years you had to suffer? "Twenty-seven standards Federation years," Annika said after a moment.

"Which is?"

"Here on voyager we use standards Federation days, and there go three-hundred sixty-five days in one standard year."

Annika did a quick calculation and decided she liked the number. "How old are you?"

"I'm thirty."

Once again Annika thought about that for a moment, then she smiled. "Good thing I like older women huh?"

Seeing the smile, B'Elanna was only too happy to go along. "Oh yeah, I'm so old compared to you, my child, that history will see me as a cradle robber. Now, I assure you that I don't want anything in return, will you please take my gift?"

Annika slowly took the box, and once she had it, B'Elanna grinned. "You know, this is the hardest I ever had to work to give someone a gift."

Annika looked up from the box and saw B'Elanna's grin. A smile came to her lips. "Thank you, this is beautiful."

"You don't even know what it is," B'Elanna pointed out.

"It doesn't matter. Getting this is beautiful. It could be filled with nothing more than dirt and I would still find it beautiful." Annika looked down at the box once more before softly adding, "My life changed so much ever since I was appointed master slave to Voyager. It is so much more now. I'm alive now, and at every beautiful moment in my new life; you were there. You are so good to me. I love you, B'Elanna Torres."

B'Elanna's eyes fluttered close when hearing those last words. She had heard the words before, Tom had never be hesitant to say 'I love you,' but those words never had to impact on B'Elanna as they did now. Now she could finally understand why so many deeds in history were done for those three little words. Why wars had been fought for three little words. B'Elanna took hold of one of Annika's hands and brought it to her lips, placing several soft kisses on her knuckles. "I love you too, Annika Hansen. I think I fell in love with you that night we first slept in the same bed."

It had been while they were still sharing a cell. One night B'Elanna had been awoken by a soft sound. It had turned out to be Annika pleading and begging in her sleep, of what Annika had been afraid, B'Elanna had never found out. She knew that with Annika's life, just what exact moment the blonde had been reliving in her sleep hadn't been important. What had been important was how B'Elanna had gone over to awaken Annika, only to be gripped in a tight hold. B'Elanna had held Annika for the rest of the night, and the secure hold of B'Elanna's arms had held Annika's nightmares at bay for the rest of the night. Even since that night, whenever Annika had nightmares, B'Elanna would go over to hold her, and every time, B'Elanna succeeded in keeping the nightmares at bay.

"But I think that for fairness, I have to point out," B'Elanna continued, "that maybe your feelings for me are guided by the fact that I was the first person who actually was nice to you."

Annika put her head on B'Elanna's shoulder. "That may be," She was forced to admit, "but I'm not sorry for the fact that your kindness made me realize that it is actually possible for me to love someone."

B'Elanna put her arm around Annika, pulling her a little closer. "Now that I have done my good deed and pointed out that the situation in which we got to know each other might be important to how you feel about me, let me also tell you that I'm damn glad that I happened to be the person 'volunteered' to be in that cell with Janeway."

B'Elanna changed position until she could kiss Annika, which she did. They shared a long kiss which soon threatened to become much more. With much difficulty the broke apart. B'Elanna softly caressed Annika's cheek. "I love you Annika Hansen."

"And I love you, B'Elanna Torres." A smile came to Annika's lips. "You know, it feels damn good to sit like this, I could do that for the rest of the evening."

"So could I," B'Elanna greed. "But we have a dinner appointment in..." B'Elanna quickly looked at the timepiece hanging on the wall. "...one and a half hours. So how about you open my gift and after that we can sit for a little longer before getting ready to go to dinner."

"Alright," Annika said with a smile before looking at the box she was still holding in her hands. She slowly took the lid of the box and looked inside. Inside there were two plain but beautiful necklaces. "Thank you," Annika said after a moment, not really knowing what to make from the fact that B'Elanna was giving her two necklaces at the same time.

B'Elanna gave Annika a small smile before starting to explain, she knew only too well that Annika was a little confused. "They are Bolian commitment necklaces. It is an indication that you are committed to the other person that is wearing the same necklace." Seeing Annika's eyes shooting up to look at her, B'Elanna was quick to add, "It isn't a heavy commitment, Annika; which is why I choose it. I don't want to pressure you into anything, but on the other hand, I did want to show you how much I care about you.

"If you accept the necklace, you accept the fact that I'm interested in you, it's kinda like saying that you don't mind me being interested in you. It is up to you if you give the second necklace to me."

"If I were to give the second necklace to you, I would be stating that I'm interested in you?"

"Right," B'Elanna agreed. "And if I take it and wear it, I'm saying that I like you being interested in me. Having said that, I don't think that many people on Voyager would know about this custom. Maybe the Bolians, but I'm not sure about that, it is not commonly done these days. Once they joined the Federation they drifted more to using the more common Federation commitment symbols."

"It doesn't matter," Annika said as she handed one of the necklaces to B'Elanna. "Would you?"

"It would be my pleasure," B'Elanna said with a big smile as she took the necklace and opened it. She put the necklace around Annika's neck and used the opportunity to place a soft kiss on that elegant neck.

"Thank you," Annika said softly as she looked down at the necklace she was now wearing. After a moment she looked at the second necklace that was still laying in the box. She took it out and looked at B'Elanna. "Would you?" She asked. It were the same words that she had used a moment before, but it was a totally different question.

"It would be my pleasure," B'Elanna said right way, reaching to the necklace. "But I should tell you that we are only allowed to wear these when we are off duty. Federation regulation; no wearing of jewelry while on duty."

"No, let me," Annika said while keeping the necklace out of B'Elanna's reach.

Only too happy to oblige, B'Elanna turned away from Annika, offering her neck to the blonde.

Annika put the necklace around B'Elanna's neck and also used the opportunity to place a kiss on B'Elanna's neck, soon followed by a second one, and a third one. When B'Elanna felt one of Annika's hands drift up her side, B'Elanna finally spoke up. "Annika, what are you doing?"

"Touching you, of course," Annika stated the obvious.

"Annika, you don't have to do this," B'Elanna pointed out, but she could not bring herself to tell Annika to stop.

"I know that I don't have to do this, which is why I want to do this. "B'Elanna, I'm still not ready to go all the way with you, but I am ready to touch you a lot more intimately than I have been doing until now." The hand drifted higher until it was cupping one of B'Elanna's breasts. "A lot more intimately. Would you mind me touching you like this as we sit here and hold each other? Would you mind me touching your breasts, caressing you all over you body without going all the way, for now?"

"I wouldn't mind at all, under one condition," B'Elanna said as she turned around to face Annika.

"What condition," Annika asked, tilting her head slightly.

B'Elanna placed her hand on Annika's hip. "That I can do the same to you."

Annika took B'Elanna's hand and placed it on one of her own breasts. "I would really like that."

B'Elanna relished her first real feel of Annika's soft breast in her hand, even if it was still covered by a Federation uniform. "You know, Annika, you have really lousy timing."

"Why?" Annika asked as she started to explore B'Elanna's body with soft caresses.

"Because we can only sit here for an hour before we have to get ready to meet Chakotay."

Annika smiled at that. "I think that this is actually very good timing, it prevents us from getting carried away."

"Is there a chance of that?" B'Elanna asked as she started her own trek of exploration.

"Oh, yeah," Annika said, arching her back as B'Elanna hit a sensitive spot. "A very big chance."

"Good," B'Elanna said as she leaned in to kiss Annika. B'Elanna knew that she would end up telling Annika about the surprise party. Having seen how Annika reacted to getting a gift, she didn't want to spring a fully organized surprise party on the poor woman. Most people, including B'Elanna herself, tended to forget that this confident commander, their new captain, could still be a very insecure person when confronted with personal situation.

Chapter 7

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