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Can You Hear Me?
By SDerkins


Part 1

Captain's Log, stardate 48611.10

Although confrontations with local inhabitants have thankfully been non-existent for nearly three weeks, I have this nagging feeling. Call it experience or woman's intuition, but I feel…expectant for some inexplicable reason. Regardless, I can't help but look forward to our passage through the nebula before us. Our science personnel have eagerly scheduled lab time and requested computer access for the study of this unusual star cluster. Even Seven of Nine, with her ability to downplay any display of eagerness, cannot hide the anticipation of studying this section of the Delta Quadrant.

End Log

Seven looked at the screen in wonder as Voyager traveled at three-quarters impulse through the softly lit nebula gases. The bridge crew was quietly performing their duties, unwilling to break the silence. Everyone was listening in amazement to the harmonic and faint sounds that lightly hummed within the structure of the ship. Seven had heard Ensign Kim whisper that it sounded musical, like a song you couldn't quite remember.

The former Borg spared a glance at her Captain, who sat quietly in her command chair. Kathryn Janeway was leaning back, her manner relaxed and somewhat amused. Now curious, the Astrometric Officer walked over to the Captain and kneeled, unwilling to sit in the 1st officer's chair. Kathryn looked down at her.

"I am curious, Captain. You look at the screen as though you were watching a play," she whispered.

Janeway's lips curled at one corner. "Not a play," she said huskily, "More like watching children playing in the park." Kathryn waved a finger at the screen then leaned forward and intertwined her fingers. "It's almost like watching children play. I could almost hear the laughter, can't you?"

Seven strained her enhanced hearing but only heard the rhythmic quality of vibrations passing along the hull. "No, I can't," Seven replied sadly.

"Perhaps your early memories are too dim to recall those times." Kathryn saw the look of hurt cross ever so briefly across the lovely young woman's face. She gave Seven's shoulder a squeeze and whispered for her to follow her. The older woman led the blonde into her ready room, unwilling to have their conversation on display in front of the crew.

She gently led Seven to the portal and had her stare out at the clouds as she interpreted the lights as though announcing the play by plays of a game.

As the Captain softly hinted at games of tag, making childish comments and silly sounds, Seven found herself caught between Kathryn's game of make believe and dim memories of her own childhood, lost so long ago. She could hear the echoes of a child's game, with children laughing and half-forgotten words.

Lost in the past she didn't notice the flash of light from a nearby cloud but did feel the Captain gasp in surprise. Seven blinked, her vision hindered by spots.

"Are you alright, Seven?" Kathryn asked.

"Yes. I am fine. However, I think I believe I ought to begin my regeneration cycle earlier than scheduled. I feel somewhat depleted. If you will excuse me, Captain."

Seven left the Ready Room and then to the turbolift before anyone could possibly delay her. Seven wasn't sure what was wrong. She felt odd but wasn't uncomfortable with the current sensations. Perhaps she had been too optimistic about her ability to delay using her alcove. Once she reached Cargo Bay 2 she quickly set the alcove to the desired settings and stood in place, feeling the familiar sensations as the cycle began.

B'Elanna Torres was busy reading her PADD and barely noticed where she was going. She walked to her quarters automatically while her mind was consumed with the report Joe Carey had given her. It wasn't until she found herself knocked onto her rear that she admitted reading and walking were a bad combination.

"I'm sorry, B'Elanna!"

The engineer looked up in surprise. Seven of Nine was looking down at her in amused horror, covering her mouth and trying not to giggle. She wasn't succeeding very well. "Seven?"

Seven held out her hand and helped the sturdy Klingon hybrid to her feet. "I'm really sorry B'Elanna. I didn't mean to knock you down," she apologized.

The Engineer sighed and straightened her uniform's shirt. She was annoyed that the Borg had plowed her down and just wanted to get to her quarters so she could read the report in peace. "No problem, Seven. Now if you will excuse me…"

B'Elanna saw the tall blonde looking tearfully down and sniffling.

"What?" B'Elanna asked curtly.

"You are angry with me. I said I was sorry!" With that, the slim woman spun on her heels and ran away.

With her mouth gapped in confusion, the Engineer wondered what in Gre'thor had happened.

"I tell you, Doctor, that she wasn't acting herself."

"I heard you, Lieutenant. But the sensors tell me that she's in Cargo Bay 2 and has been in her regeneration cycle for the last hour and forty-six minutes. Have you considered the possibility that you are the one acting strangely and it's you yourself that needs counseling?"

"Very funny, Doctor. If I had a funny bone I'm sure it would be laughing right now. Are trying to tell me that she's been in there and I couldn't possible have bumped into her? I'm sorry, but I know what I saw. I'm going to Cargo Bay 2 and look at her console myself. Heaven knows she is capable of using Borg encryption codes and making the readings display anything she wants."

"Wait, Lieutenant." The Doctor picked up a hypospray and med kit. If something was wrong he wanted to be prepared. He thought it prudent that the bad-tempered engineer didn't go into the bay alone.

The pair entered the cargo bay, its lights slightly dimmed since it was the beginning of the night shift. Seven seemed unaware of their presence as she stood at her alcove. The doctor ran his scanner over her, his eyes intent on the readings.

"Everything seems normal," he told B'Elanna.

The engineer was at the computer, glaring at the readings. "Same here. The readings say she was here since the cycle began but I know better. I doubt that Seven has a double on board."

The doctor placed his equipment into the kit and closed it. "I suggest you return to your quarters and get some sleep. Alpha shift begins in six and a half hours."

B'Elanna moaned. "Don't remind me. I haven't gotten much sleep since that last battle. I no sooner get things up and running than Kathryn pounds up my ship again."

The doctor knew better than to correct the volatile young woman. He was told that all chief engineers thought of the ship they served as 'their' ship. They left the bay and separated. Each was heading for their own destination.

Kathryn read the report from the doctor with misgivings. She recalled the interaction between she and Seven before she left. Could it be that Seven somehow had memories triggered by their time playing make-believe? Kathryn sighed and gulped down a large swig of coffee, regretting once more the ship's lack of a counselor.

She would have to speak with Seven.

When Seven lifted her eyes from her work console a few minutes later she was surprised by the Captain standing before her, arms crossed, and a worried look upon her face.

"Something is troubling you, Captain?"

"Yes." Kathryn pointed at two chairs and urged the former Borg to sit.

"I had a report waiting for me this morning. Something odd had occurred during the night shift."

"And this event was…?"

"It concerns you, Seven. You were seen running through the corridors but the logs say that you were regenerating at the time. It's quite a mystery." Janeway was hoping Seven had an explanation but the young woman looked just as confused.

"I could hardly be in two places at once, Captain."

"We know that. What concerned me the most was the alleged behavior of your doppelganger."

"Which was?"

"Child-like behavior. My concern was due to the fact that you and I spoke of children's games and behavior just before you left my ready room yesterday."

Seven's cranial implant rose. "And you think that I had somehow 'regressed' during the night?"

"It crossed my mind. You have to admit that you have the ability to change the records of your station to give false readings." Kathryn held up her hand, stopping Seven's protests. "I know that you wouldn't do it with the intentions of harming anyone aboard Voyager, Seven. But I would feel better if you reported to sick bay and had a complete physical."

Seven almost protested but the pleading look on the Captain's face was enough to change her mind.

"Very well, Captain. I will comply."

The doctor hummed and looked down his nose at the diagnostic display. He often read from that position, emulating someone whom used bifocals to read. It was a residue habit of the EMH's model physician, Dr. Zimmerman.

Seven was annoyed by his lack of information. "Doctor, you have hummed four times. Would you care to share your findings?"

The doctor cleared his throat and carefully placed his PADD on the table next to the biobed. "Everything is perfectly normal. I see no anomalies of any type."

At his announcement Seven swung her long legs over the side of the biobed and stood.

"And where do you think you're going?"

"Doctor, the examination has been completed and I have my duties at the Astrometric Lab. I am confident that you will contact me if anything significant occurs. If you will excuse me, Doctor." With that, the former drone quickly left the room before the EMH could protest.

Three days later, Harry Kim entered his quarters after the end of his shift. It had been a long day and he was looking forward to time reading an old favorite and relaxing.

Well, the plans of the mighty and famous were often said to be diverted by the Fates. Not that he was either but Mr. Kim had hoped he would at least be remembered.

Harry stepped into the living area of his quarters and stood in shock. Before him was Seven of Nine, her hair tumbling down her shoulders in all its glory, wearing one of his large Hawaiian shirts. Those facts alone weren't shocking enough to leave him standing there slack-jawed with his brows nearly into his hairline.

What sent his poor youthful mind into overload was the fact that Seven had his clarinet to her lips and blowing out horrible flat notes that didn't even pretend to be a badly performed song. Seven was just huffing into the instrument randomly, taking delight in each teeth-grinding note.

Then she noticed him standing there and stopped making the clarinet bleat. She skipped over to him, a huge smile on her face. "Harry! Why didn't you tell me how much fun one of these were?" She gave his shoulder a soft thump with the instrument and he took it from her hands.

Harry looked down at his beloved clarinet and wiped Seven's spittle from the mouthpiece. He had day dreamed a time or two about kissing the beautiful woman but having her spit all over his clarinet was repulsive.

"Why are you in my quarters?" he asked irritably.

Seven's face became woebegone at his tone. She looked down at the carpet and placed her hands behind her back. "You're angry with me," she quietly said, her voice quavering.

Harry heard the hurt tone but more importantly, he noticed she was using contractions. She always spoke formally, using the full words. He sighed. "I'm not angry, Seven. But I do want to know why you entered my quarters without permission."

"I wasn't hurting anything," she whined, avoiding the question.

"That isn't the point. You know that people's privacy is important to them." As he spoke the words he wondered if she understood the concept even if she knew the words. After all, her 'quarters' was the cargo bay where anyone could walk in at any given time. She had no true privacy of her own.

Seven sniffled from the rebuke. "I'm sorry. I won't do it again," she promised then handed Harry his loud and colorful shirt. As he took it from her hand Seven turned and walked out of his quarters.

"Seven, one incident I could wave it off and blame a crewmember's exhaustion and over active imagination to a dream to explain what happened…but two? We did a DNA scan on the clarinet and it does show that you've recently handled the mouthpiece. Will you please explain to me why you are doing these impulsive acts when you should be regenerating?"

Seven stood there in confusion.

"I do not recall any of these instances, Captain. I can not help you."

Kathryn sighed and crossed her arms as she made several decisions. Seven's actions were not of a violent nature so she couldn't justify confining her. For one, she would have the doctor monitor Seven's next few regeneration cycles. As for the woman in question, she would try another solution. "Seven, I want you to report to the Doctor. He will assign you to a holographic therapist since that is all that is available to the crew. In the meantime I am relieving you of duty until such time I believe you are ready to resume. That is all," she said curtly, cutting off the blonde's protests.

The captain watched Seven leave the ready room in a well-mannered, Borg huff.

"Well, that went well," Kathryn muttered to herself.

Part 2

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