DISCLAIMER: A Seven/B'Elanna story, neither of the ladies or indeed anything Star Trek belongs to me... if it did we would have "Star Trek Amazon" by now... anyway, no harm intended and hopefully none inflicted. Also, the ending remains as I first wrote it due to the persuasive powers of the talented minds of T2AG. ^_^
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

B'Elanna's Knight
By Carola "Ryûchan" Eriksson

"If I survive this and she does not..." The icy glare that bored into him imbued Thomas Eugene Paris with a bone-deep knowledge of the absolute truth in the words spoken. "...then neither shall you."

It had been bad timing for the latest in a small series of experiments and projects onboard Voyager, but despite the misgivings of B'Elanna Torres and Seven of Nine, it had been given the go-ahead by Janeway herself. As a result the ship had been vulnerable right at the time when a solitary but powerful warship belonging to a space-conquering race called the Manestri crossed paths with Voyager and decided the Starfleet vessel was a threat to their recent claim of the sector.

The warship opened fire and combat ensued, and by the time Voyager was victorious other Manestri ships were on their way and escape was the only option. Limping the vessel to a safe distance was all that could be managed, thanks to the frantic work by B'Elanna's engineering crew. Then explosions set off in Engineering, rocking the ship.

B'Elanna Torres realised what was happening and barked over the din, explosions, fire and gas for everyone in Engineering to get out quickly. B'Elanna herself made a dash towards the door but knew she was too far away and had too many things obstructing her path to make it.

Nearest her was Tom Paris. Briefly their eyes met. Then Tom Paris turned around and ran for the door on his own.

Seven of Nine had been nearby when the explosions began, and like many other crewmembers she ran to Engineering to offer aid. She arrived just as the doors closed, her ocular implant catching a brief glimpse of the solitary figure trapped inside the smoking, fiery chaos and recognising her. Just in time to see Tom Paris squeeze himself through the closing doors.

Bright blue eyes turned in horrification to those of Voyager's helmsman.

"You left her."

Surely hell hath no fury like that which suddenly stormed in pale blue eyes, eyes so many mistook for being void of emotion. A hand lashed out and lifted Tom by the front of his shirt.

"You _abandoned_ her!"

A pause, no longer than a heartbeat, and decision shone along with the fury in those eyes.

"If I survive this and she does not..." The melodious voice growled at an ever deeper pitch than usual, somehow managing to ring clear despite the blaring of warnings over the ship's internal speakers. "...then neither shall you."

With that Tom Paris was not merely dropped but hurled away in haste, and one Borg-enhanced hand plunged into the crack between doors and, with a shriek of grinding metal, forced them open long enough for Seven's lanky form to press through.

The doors closed behind her and she was gone.

B'Elanna heard the tortured sound of the bulkheads crumbling and the wall beginning to shatter before the ship's computer even registered it and sounded another warning. She cast her eyes about wildly for something to hang on to when the wall would tear off into space, even though she knew she would not survive the explosive decompression that would follow until such time as the ship had erected a forcefield in place.

Suddenly she was just... there.

In the midst of smoke and fire the tall figure just seemed to materialise next to B'Elanna, and while B'Elanna was still registering her surprise at Seven's presence, the former drone grabbed onto her and leapt.

Over a crumbled piece of railing and right into a still solid niche between sections of walls Seven leapt, and then she slammed herself into B'Elanna. She buried her hands into the metal of the walls and wedged B'Elanna painfully tight against the wall, forming a shield against what was to come just as the side of the ship was ripped open to space.

The force of all loose objects and all air being sucked out into the vacuum of space was brutal, yet Seven held on. Even the air in B'Elanna's lungs was ripped out when the excruciating pain became too much and she was forced to exhale. It was ironic that she would be saved from being hurled out into space only to die from asphyxiation.

She looked into Seven's eyes... and nothing could have shocked her more.

Staring back at her was something B'Elanna had dreamt of but never seen in another person, or at least not directed at herself. It was love, complete and utter.

Still in the instant of B'Elanna's shock Seven surged her head forward and downward, meeting B'Elanna's lips with her own. Warm and soft full lips moulded to B'Elanna's, who on pure instinct parted her own lips to match the ones covering them. It was an instinct that defied the circumstances in order to respond as the parted lips pressed even more firmly into her own, and...

... all the oxygen housed in a pair of Borg-enhanced lungs came rushing into B'Elanna's own burning pair. Seven's lips held on, sealing B'Elanna's and preventing a startled waste or possible refusal of the gift.

Then a jolt shook them and a sheen of red washed across B'Elanna's vision. She never noticed the pain of the sheet of metal that had cut through Seven's body and pierced her own side. No, the last thing B'Elanna knew before darkness took her was, through the red veil of blood, how life was extinguished in Seven's eyes.

When B'Elanna Torres opened her eyes again it was to the familiar sight of the Sickbay ceiling above her. Disoriented she tried to sit up and remember why she was lying on a cot in Sickbay, but the doctor reached her side moments before the memory came back to her.

The frantic cry for Seven never left her lips as the doctor quickly but gently turned her head slightly, letting the other medical bed come into B'Elanna's line of sight.

As B'Elanna gasped and tried to climb out of the medical equipment that held her to her bed the doctor spoke quietly yet rapidly, informing B'Elanna of her own condition as well as Seven's. He also put a restraining hand on B'Elanna and managed to coax her back on the cot though he couldn't make her lie down. Captain Janeway appeared on B'Elanna's other side, getting the anxious young woman to lie down as they spoke and the doctor returned to Seven.

Right at that moment the how and why didn't matter to B'Elanna. Seven had died saving her life, no, more than that; Seven had consciously given her life to save B'Elanna's. An anguished cry tore from her throat unbidden.

"Nooooo!" B'Elanna wailed "Why, Seven?" She threw an arm over her eyes, instinctively hiding her tears.

"Oh no, she's not dead!" Kathryn hastened to assure her Klingon friend "Seven is not dead, B'Elanna, she's not."

The arm came down and Kathryn gently wiped tears from B'Elanna's cheeks as the supine woman looked at her for further confirmation. And Kathryn told her what had happened.

Seven had been dead and B'Elanna unconscious only for moments before they had been transported to Sickbay where the doctor had wasted no time in removing the metal sheet and getting both women where he could operate on them. The doctor had stabilized both women before initiating the Borg procedure that allowed him to revive Seven and put her in suspended animation.

B'Elanna had then been healed, but her lungs had been in so bad shape that they would be weak for a while even after being fully healed. The doctor decided to keep her in Sickbay for observation for two days, and B'Elanna had shocked both the doctor and Kathryn by accepting the decision without protest.

Seven on the other hand was in far worse shape. If not for Seven's Borg implants both women would have been cleaved in two by the metal sheet that struck them, and as it was the Borg implants were all that held Seven together when she had arrived in Sickbay.

Seven had already undergone long hours of intensive surgery, yet a few things remained to be done before the doctor would make her regenerate until her own system decided it was time for Seven to wake up. Once B'Elanna had been sufficiently assured that although Seven's condition was not to be taken lightly, the tall ex-drone was not going to die again, it left her with nothing else to do but think. And B'Elanna had a lot to think about.

Kathryn Janeway was the first to admit, should anyone ever work up the courage to ask, that she was not the most sensitive of women. True, part of what made her the good captain that she was famed to be was her sensitivity towards her crew, their moods and problems. But it was also true that to be a good captain one also had to be almost staggeringly ignorant of the before mentioned things, and Kathryn Janeway had her fair share of that quality as well at times.

As a woman, Kathryn would admit to herself, she had a history of bad decisions and wrong choices, of could-have-been's and if-nots. No-one in Voyager's crew would have suspected that their illustrious leader had once been a girl socially awkward on a scale somewhere between Seven of Nine and B'Elanna Torres. Kathryn Janeway had come across as rude, arrogant, aggressive and aloof... when the truth was that outside of her beloved science, Kathryn was just... shy.

The greatest personal failure in Kathryn Janeway's private world would be her inaptitude for romance. Matters of the heart never went well for Kathryn, and time had her resigned to a solitary life... but it also created a huge blind spot in her perceptions of her crew. She just did not pick up on any romantic undertones most of the time, regardless of how obvious they were to others. And that was why these recent events hit her like a sizeable piece of ancient non-replicated building material between the eyes.

Kathryn had been informed in detail about what happened outside Engineering when Seven forced herself inside to save B'Elanna's life, in fact she had gotten the report from several different sources. Most had been neutral though detailed, but Tom Paris had also filed a report. Apparently Voyager's helmsman took Seven's death threat seriously, seriously enough to ask that Seven be reprimanded and possibly even restricted.

Tom's request aside, the reports gave Kathryn a good idea of what had happened outside Engineering, it just did not tell her why. That Seven would risk her own life to save that of a fellow crewmember was a knowledge that filled Kathryn with both pride and gratitude, if not a tiny and quickly covered stab of motherly concern, and even more so when the life saved had been B'Elanna's. But something about the course of events made Kathryn suspect that there was something else there, something she should be aware of.

Her suspicions of something, whatever that something might be, were reinforced when B'Elanna offered not even the slightest argument against her confinement in Sickbay. That in itself was almost unheard of, and then B'Elanna had been absolutely beside herself in worry for Seven... during the visits with the younger woman Kathryn noticed that B'Elanna only rarely tore her eyes away from Seven's unconscious form.

Kathryn hesitated but eventually, after making sure that the doctor gave them some privacy for a while, asked B'Elanna herself what was going on.

The reply was more surprising than anything Kathryn had imagined, not to mention bewildering. B'Elanna was uncharacteristically unguarded and told Kathryn everything about what happened in Engineering, and the discovery she had made. To Kathryn's cautious question about how B'Elanna herself felt regarding the discovery, and most importantly, regarding Seven, the younger woman's expression turned to one of open confusion.

"I'm not sure." B'Elanna tried to find the words to express what she was feeling. "It feels like it could be the best thing that has ever happened to me, but how do I know that I feel that way because it is Seven, and not just because I want someone to feel that way about me and it doesn't matter who it is?"

"All I know is that she has to be allright, and I can't wait for her to wake up." A sigh. "With all the things I've said and done... how could I possibly have inspired this? How could I be worthy of something like this?"

Dark brown eyes longingly caressed the figure on the other bed. A small, partly amused and partly sad smile tugged at the corners of B'Elanna's mouth.

"How did I ever rate my very own knight in shining Borg armour?"

When Seven of Nine opened her eyes the first thing she noticed was that something in her regeneration procedure was off. She felt... sluggish, and it took far too long to retrieve memory and system data that normally should have been there the very moment she opened her eyes. She immediately ran an internal systems check to locate the malfunction.

The second thing Seven noticed was B'Elanna Torres, sitting next to the bed upon which Seven lay, leaning over her with an intense expression on her lovely features. Seven spared a moment to mentally chastise herself for adding irrelevant aesthetical commentary to her observations. It was something she more often than not found herself doing when associating with the engineer.

Straining to sit up a number of responses was discarded in favour of one responding to the intense look in dark brown eyes. "Yes Lieutenant? Can I be of assistance?"

B'Elanna closed her eyes and visibly sagged with relief for a moment, before opening her eyes and offering a crooked little smile at Seven. Seven was surprised to feel her Borg-enhanced hand squeezed in both of B'Elanna's, and stunned when B'Elanna lifted that hand to place a tiny kiss on her fingers.

Blue eyes went wide as saucers and Seven was speechless.

"I..." B'Elanna began to speak and then stopped to clear her throat. "I'm glad you're awake at last."

The doctor spared them both from what might have been a very awkward silence then by stepping around the divider, carrying on in his usual oblivious cheerfulness. "Ah, our sleeping beauty awakes at last." He smiled as he began to take her readings with his medical tricorder. "Welcome back to the land of the living, Seven. How are you feeling?"

B'Elanna growled at the joke, causing Seven's ocular implant to rise and the doctor to cast her a look.

"Ah, my witty repartee was perhaps not altogether in good taste." He sounded semi-apologetic but did not pause in the examination. "All jokes aside, Seven, how are you feeling?"

"I..." Seven cocked her head slightly, her concentration turning inward. "I am operating within 78 percent of normal capacity, although there is marked lag in access to memory engrams and system status. Also I seem to be depleting energy stores at an accelerated rate." Seven blinked and looked at the doctor. "I am... fine."

"That is good." The doctor smiled and shut his tricorder. "The lag in your system is a side-effect of not being able to properly regenerate for a while, but the trouble with your memory is due to the revival process and should be gone by your next regeneration period. Your body has gone through a lot, Seven, and it is still healing itself, that is why you need more energy than usual."

"In other words, you need to rest and build your strength back up." He patted the hand not claimed by B'Elanna. "The fact that you have been able to regenerate at all lately is due to the ingeniality of B'Elanna here in designing a portable unit for you. You are far from up to standing in your alcove just yet."

B'Elanna squirmed under the surprised gaze turned her way and muttered under her breath that it was nothing and she still needed Seven to have a look at her designs to see how they could improve the unit.

"Don't be so modest Lieutenant, that is an impressive piece of work and you put a lot of effort into it." The doctor praised, unaware of B'Elanna's increasing embarrassment. "It may not be as effective nor perform all the additional tasks an alcove does, but it is a splendid invention to have for emergencies such as this. I am quite impressed."

"I concur." Seven spoke softly and, on some impulse she normally would not have allowed to run its course, gently squeezed B'Elanna's hand.

The expression in B'Elanna's eyes as she looked at Seven was one Seven was quite unfamiliar with, and for some reason her breath caught for a moment. Then B'Elanna blinked and offered a crooked little smile, and Seven was left wondering what she had seen.

"You just rest, Seven. Everything and everyone is taken care of, so there's nothing you need to worry about." B'Elanna rubbed her thumb lightly on the inside of Seven's wrist.

The doctor interrupted whatever B'Elanna was about to say next, completely ignorant to what was going on between the two women in front of him. "That is sound advice, Lieutenant... I would like to see you follow that advice as well." He harrumphed theatrically. "You were in Sickbay for observation and you are on sick-leave in order to rest up and heal, not to overwork yourself like you have been doing."

He smiled at Seven and added. "Even if it was for a good cause."

B'Elanna glared at him. "I've been here, haven't I? I haven't set foot in Engineering for days, that should count for something. Now, don't you have some diagnostics to run or something?" A pointed look.

"Yes, yes, I'm leaving you in peace... what do I know, I'm only the Chief Medical Officer..." The complaint was spoken with the tiniest of grins, then the doctor hummed to himself as he walked back into his office. He paused at the door briefly. "Don't forget to rest, return in the morning for your checkup, and let me know when you leave so I can examine Seven a bit further."

"You wish, you holographic letch." B'Elanna muttered quietly under her breath, causing Seven's ocular implant to rise again.

The doctor's head appeared in the doorway again. "Oh, and keep it short, Seven will need to regenerate again soon."

B'Elanna sighed in frustration, letting her head fall forward slightly so her hair obscured some of her face. She could feel Seven stare at her and took a moment to gather her thoughts.

She glanced up at Seven with a sheepish little smile. "This is even harder than I imagined it would be. I have no clue where to begin."

Seven began to speak in response, but B'Elanna quickly pressed a single finger to her lips. "Seven... what you did... what happened, I..." B'Elanna tried to suppress the shiver the brief contact with Seven's lips had caused. "First of all, thank you for saving my life."

"But there's more."

"I... I discovered something back there. About... you, me, us." Quite without conscious thought the caressing of Seven's hand started up again. "Something I've never realised before, and it gave me an awful lot to think about, Seven. I've done precious little else than think about it while you've been... asleep."

B'Elanna was uncharacteristically hesitant, looking down at where she was intertwining her hands with Seven's, occasionally tracing the exo-skeleton on the back of Seven's fingers. After a moment of silence, finally B'Elanna spoke again. "I've thought a _lot_ about this, and I think that if you, that is, if I am, I mean, it could be real and it could be something good and you are I mean I am and I always thought you were but whywouldyoueverconsidermeandthat'sjusttooincrediblewhatifI'mwrongand...."


B'Elanna sighed. Seven's eyebrow had arched up to match her ocular implant and she looked very confused. B'Elanna chuckled softly and threw Seven an arch look.

"If I seem terribly confused and incoherent, well, it's your own damned fault. You sure picked a fine time to go kissing me."

The words were playful, but Seven's eyes shot impossibly wide and the expression on her pale features could only be described as complete shock. The hand in B'Elanna's jerked once, involuntarily, but the smaller woman did not let go. She looked at Seven with concern and rising alarm. Could it be that she had been wrong? Seen something that wasn't there? No, surely not!

B'Elanna's heart ached with the notion, but she wouldn't give up just yet. "What's wrong Seven? Does the idea of kissing me scare you that badly?"

Seven blinked. "I apologise Lieutenant. My actions... I had not realised..." A quiet exhale, almost too quiet to hear. "I apologise. It was an... unseemly act."

B'Elanna almost choked. "What? Unseemly? Why in Kahless name would it be unseemly?"

Honest and surprised blue eyes met slightly hurt and defensive brown. "It is unseemly for me to act in such a manner towards yourself as you are already mated, and as we are both female."

Choosing to ignore the first part of Seven's reasoning, B'Elanna clinched on what truly _would_ be a problem... for her at least. "It's unseemly because we're both women? So you're saying what, that you are only interested in men?"

Another surprised look and a moment of silence was Seven's initial answer. Then slowly "Are you saying that... it is permissible to be... 'interested' in individuals of the same gender?"

"What?" Now B'Elanna felt truly confused. Whatever happened to her vaguely planned 'you like me, I think I really like you, let's give it a try' conversation? "Of course it is allowed Seven! Ninety percent of humanity isn't bound to a specific gender when it comes to attraction, no more than to a specific hair or eye colour. There are those that are though, and there's nothing wrong with that either. Do you think you might be one of those ten percent?"

"I... have been misinformed." Seven's gaze turned inward. "And yes, I believe that I must be one of those people exclusively attracted to individuals of one particular gender."

B'Elanna tasted bile in the back of her throat, and dropped Seven's hand as if stung.

Awkwardly Seven clasped one of B'Elanna's hands in her own newly released one and squeezed gently. "Thank you Lieutenant. I had feared that my preference for the female form was a... defect, and did not know what to do about it."

"You like women?"

"I... like women."

"Oh." A beat. "Allright." B'Elanna grinned and held Seven's hand a bit tighter. "What about me?"

"You, Lieutenant?"

"Yes, me." B'Elanna leaned rather close to Seven's surprise. " Do. You. Like. _Me_?"

Leaning in as close as she did B'Elanna could not miss the faint blush that suddenly graced Seven's cheeks. "It is still unseemly." Seven whispered, looking away before continuing. "But the answer is yes."

"Yes as in yes, you like me?" B'Elanna had to know.

Seven met B'Elanna's gaze with eyes that were completely unguarded and utterly sincere. B'Elanna gasped.

"No." B'Elanna's voice was choked. "You don't 'like' me... you love me."

"I do, Lieutenant."

B'Elanna sniffled a little, fighting back surprising tears. "You know Seven, now that we're going to be dating you'll have to start actually using my name." She beamed a silly little grin at Seven. "I'm sure you still remember it, but if you need reminders I'll think of something... creative."

"Does that mean...?"

Another silly grin. "Yes. I do. I really think I do, and I want to give it a chance."

B'Elanna quickly decided that the smile that bloomed on Seven's face was one of the most beautiful sights she had ever seen, and that she would try her hardest to make it appear as often as she could.

She almost protested out loud when the smile faded away to a confused and sad expression.

"But you are still mated to Lieutenant Paris." Seven frowned. "We cannot... date."

B'Elanna grimaced and moved a bit closer. "No, I'm not seeing Tom, not really. We've been over for some time now, he and I... we just never got around to actually sit down and say the words. Probably because we never see one another anymore, and I for one am glad it's over with."

"You are not involved with him."

"I am not involved with him anymore." B'Elanna swore. "It is over."

"You will inform him of this." It sounded like an order but it was clear to B'Elanna from the vulnerable yet hopeful look on Seven's face that it was anything but. It was a question or perhaps even a plea, and one B'Elanna certainly intended to honour.

"I will tell him in no uncertain terms as soon as I can talk to him." She smiled and leaned in close over Seven, gently caressing a pale cheek. "Is that acceptable?"

"It is." Seven whispered in answer, eyes focused on B'Elanna and brimming with awe.

"You are tired. I really should let you rest." B'Elanna spoke very softly, not wanting to leave this happiness she had found, not ever or at least not so soon. But this was taxing Seven's strength, and she if anyone knew how close it had been... how close she had been to losing the other woman.

"I want you to know something first though." B'Elanna looked deeply into Seven's eyes. "I haven't treated you well in the past, in fact I've been a damned petaQ. I intend to make it up to you Seven, if you'll let me." An adoring smile. "My knight in shining armour."

Feeling ridiculously afraid of the other woman's reaction, B'Elanna nevertheless felt compelled to take a chance. She leaned in that small distance left between them and ever so gently pressed her lips to Seven's in an all too brief kiss.

They were both a bit wide-eyed when they parted. "Wow." B'Elanna breathed softly, at a loss for anything else to say that better fit what she was feeling. "Wow."

She had intended to say goodnight to Seven then and, somehow, tear herself away to go to her own quarters so that Seven might rest. That was B'Elanna's intention. But then Seven copied B'Elanna's earlier move and pressed their lips together, only this time not withdrawing like B'Elanna had.

The softness of Seven's lips was intoxicating, and within moments B'Elanna had all but climbed the medical bed in response to their hungrily passionate kissing. Seven's hands were in her hair, cradling her head, and someone moaned though B'Elanna was unsure who. Was that Seven or herself? She was too busy revelling in the taste and feel of Seven to tell.

The shrill shriek piercing the mood and the sharp tug on her arm did snap her out of the fog of passion though, and made her lift her head away from where she wanted to be. She glared angrily at the source of this disturbance.


Tom's voice reached an almost painfully shrill level as he walked into Sickbay to one of the greater, and according to him one of the unlikeliest, shocks of his life. "Oh my god, B'Elanna!"

On instinct he threw himself over to the women and grabbed onto B'Elanna's shoulder, trying to yank her away. "Get your hands off her!" He was only partially successful as the women came apart and B'Elanna turned slightly to glare in his direction.

With a supreme effort Tom then managed to yank B'Elanna a step away from the medical bed and halfway insert himself between the two women. Seven shot up to a half-sitting position, startled and more than a bit uncomfortable with Tom's sudden closeness.

Calmer now that B'Elanna was more or less behind him Tom nevertheless was upset enough to bark at Seven, making the still recovering woman flinch slightly. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"

His mistake should have been very apparent by the suddenly loud and angry growl issued from directly behind him, followed by B'Elanna grabbing both his arms and roughly shoving him several feet away from her and Seven.

The doctor, alerted by all the commotion, arrived just in time to see Tom Paris skid across the floor. While he could quite understand the urge to toss Voyager's helmsman around it was something he expected to be kept well out of his Sickbay, reasoning privately that if he wasn't allowed to do it, no-one else should either. "What is going on here?"

Seven looked at him with large, confused eyes. "I... I am not certain, doctor."

"What are you talking about?" Tom kept his voice just a breath shy of shouting. "Doc, she assaulted B'Elanna!"

Being a hologram was no protection against confusion the doctor noted. "Huh?"

"Oh don't be an ass, Tom." B'Elanna snapped in irritation. "You may act like it most of the time, and you like to pretend that you are, but you're not really that stupid. Did it look like she was doing anything I didn't want her to?"

The doctor recovered sufficiently to throw an astonished glance over at Seven and find his friend blushing and looking surprisingly shy.

"But..." Tom both sounded and looked very confused. "But... B'Elanna... what, why... and what about us?"

B'Elanna sighed and gentled her voice somewhat. "What us, Tom? I don't love you and you don't love me. On a good day we're kind of friends, usually we can barely tolerate each other, and on a bad day I want to throw you out an airlock. There hasn't been an us for... longer than I can bother to recall, really."

"Look, this isn't how I would have wanted you to find out about me and Seven, but there's nothing to be done about that now. Just... get on with your own life Tom. Don't pretend you're in any way attached to me because we both know you're not." B'Elanna had crossed her arms over her chest, her entire stance daring Tom to contradict her.

He didn't.

Instead Tom glared right past B'Elanna at Seven, pale and sitting up with some difficulty. "So you swooped right in and stole her away, huh?" He bit out between clenched teeth. "What makes you think you can be worthy of her..."

The 'Borg' was omitted from the sentence but his meaning was made clear by the baleful glance at Seven's visible implants. B'Elanna growled and made as if to move, but the doctor intervened and restrained her as gently as he could, just in case.

Seven sighed deeply.

"I know I am not. Nor can I ever be." The earnestness of her reply took even Tom aback. "But I will never abandon her."

Tom flinched as if struck. "I didn't have any choice! And if you know her at all you'd know just as I do that I only did what she'd tell me to do."

Seven nodded. "Yes, she would tell others to go to safety while she remained behind." Bright blue eyes pierced Tom with the simple truth of Seven's statement. "But unlike you, I would never leave her behind even if she ordered me to do so."

That was when Tom knew it was over. He could not match Seven's devotion, he just didn't like B'Elanna well enough to love her that much, and one glance at B'Elanna's reaction to Seven's declaration told him that he could never inspire such joy and love in her as Seven did. It hurt, but it was the truth.

Tom sighed and held up a hand in a stopping motion. "That's enough." He looked at B'Elanna. "You've made your choice and I won't interfere anymore. I'll just..." A wry grimace that was supposed to be a smile. "get on with my life."

With that Tom Paris turned and walked out of Sickbay and on towards a night of deep thinking, on life and love and on the person he wanted to be. And how sad it was that as shocking the day's revelations had been, his life would remain very much the same as it had before.

B'Elanna was barely given enough time to kiss Seven goodnight and promise to be there in the morning, before the doctor shooed her out of Sickbay as well. The holographic doctor then offered a few words of sympathy and understanding before urging his exhausted patient into regeneration.

When that was done and Sickbay was once more a quiet and almost empty place save the for the woman regeneration on her medical bed, the holographic doctor sighed and sat down in front of his computer. He was supposed to write a report to give to the captain, but... how did one caption a day like this?

It took two full weeks before Seven was released from Sickbay, and another week before she was returned to partial duty. She was brought before the captain privately for threatening Tom and reprimanded for that part of her actions. The punishment was decided to be that her heroic deed would not be put on her official record either, and as Tom had dropped his charges, that was all captain Janeway chose to do.

Tom Paris kept his distance to both women, remaining always civil and did his best during working hours, and during off-time simply avoided both as much as possible on a ship of Voyager's size.

The news about Tom and B'Elanna's break-up and then the ensuing hot piece of gossip about Seven and B'Elanna's relationship spread quickly onboard. B'Elanna, aware of Seven's lack in dating and relationship experience, fought her more direct instincts and treaded very gently with Seven.

So gently in fact that Seven after some time decided to take the initiative.

"She's here now Seven." The little girl giggled and B'Elanna was tempted to peek between her fingers at what was waiting for her in the holodeck, but she had promised the child to keep her eyes closed and her hands over her eyes until Seven told her it was ok to look. And a promise was a promise.

"Thank you Naomi." Seven spoke up warmly from somewhere in front of B'Elanna. "You may leave now." The girl giggled again and stepped out the holodeck doors.

Feeling a bit silly B'Elanna lowered her hands but kept her eyes closed. She waited for a moment, and when Seven did not speak, asked with a touch of impatience. "Can I open my eyes now?"

"Yes B'Elanna." Seven spoke barely above a whisper. "You may open your eyes now."

Grinning in anticipation at what Seven might have conjured up for their latest date B'Elanna snapped her eyes open... and focused on Seven with a gasp.

B'Elanna was speechless.

Seven looked slightly nervous at the silent reaction. She fidgeted slightly and then explained herself. "I have through various sources become aware that you have referred to me as your knight in shining Borg armour on several occasions."

"It is difficult to make Borg metal shine, but I hope this will be satisfactory to you."

Seven then stood tall and still, allowing B'Elanna to stare at what she was wearing. Seven had gone to considerable trouble to find information about knights and then fashioned an armour that would appeal to B'Elanna... it was Borg metal, polished until it gleamed dully, shaped like Klingon battle armour but with metal instead of leather. It was very form-fitting and, as most female Klingon attire, rather revealing.

B'Elanna grunted something indiscernible and continued to stare hungrily.

"I have done research on knights." Seven added. "According to Naomi Wildman and her research material, a knight's purpose is to slay a dragon or other kind of ferocious beast."

She stepped closer to B'Elanna. "What kind of beast do you wish for me to slay, B'Elanna?"

With a sound that was partly moan and partly a low-pitched growl, B'Elanna pulled Seven tight against her and buried her face in the taller woman's neck, inhaling her. "I have only one beast for you to... conquer, my Seven" She whispered unsteadily. "...and you wouldn't need your armour for that."

"I am wearing nothing underneath it." Seven said softly and in one smooth motion inserted her hands between their bodies to undo five clasps. It was done very swiftly and as B'Elanna stared at Seven the armour quietly slid off to land with a minor clinking on the ground.

B'Elanna stared.

Seven waited for a long moment, then, no longer certain of herself and increasingly self-conscious, whispered. "B'Elanna?"

Snapping herself out of her lust-induced stupor, B'Elanna breathed. "Oh Seven... are you sure?"

Seven pulled closer and put her arms around B'Elanna's neck before replying. "Yes." She leaned down until they were almost kissing. "Where, B'Elanna? Here or in..."

B'Elanna croaked weakly, then cleared her throat and tried again. "Computer, two to beam to Torres' quarters, authorisation Torres alpha alpha pi!"

She kissed Seven deeply when the computer obeyed her command in a swirl of light.

B'Elanna was late for her duty shift the following day, but in so happy a mood that no-one wanted to jinx themselves by mentioning it to her. She breezed through her morning with a smile on her lips and met Seven for lunch in the Messhall, like they had made a habit of ever since they began to date.

She gleefully ignored the comradely ribbing from her friends gathered there and concentrated on Seven who was in equally good a mood but somewhat less obvious about it. Then the Wildmans' joined the dining crowd, and little Naomi walked up to her tall friend.

"Did you slay the dragon, Seven?" The child innocently wanted to know.

B'Elanna turned beet red and showered Chakotay in a large mouthful of Neelix elixir of endurance. She managed to choke on air and ended up leaning over the table with a cheerfully vengeful Chakotay pounding away on her back when Seven turned to the child and replied in contemplative seriousness.

"It was an even battle. I will endeavour to improve my skills as I expect I shall contend with this beast upon many occasions in the future."

The End

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