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Can You Hear Me?
By SDerkins


Part 4

"Listen, Seven, we just can't change the mixture to that ratio or the warp core will begin deteriorating," B'Elanna argued.

"I disagree. My way is more efficient. Why must you argue with me? You know I am correct."

B'Elanna opened her mouth and was about to give Seven the lecture of a lifetime when she noticed that Seven's eyes were twinkling. 'Why that little-' the engineer finally caught on that her friend was actually teasing her. Why hadn't she figured this out before now? 'Because you were too busy fighting with her to pay attention,' her inner voice reminded her. All she had seen was the rigid posture and arrogant expression and never looked into her eyes.

B'Elanna tried to hide her own mirth and crossed her arms. Two could play this game. "But I am the Chief Engineer and what I say goes. Understand, nguq cha'qu'?"

"Jiyaj," Seven answered, wondering why B'Elanna referred to her as an arrogant bird. Then she saw the smaller woman's lips quirk and understood. She grinned at B'Elanna whose own smile spread.

Without thinking, Seven leaned forward and placed her palm on the shorter woman's lower back. Seven said in a stage whisper near B'Elanna's ear, "I still think I'm correct but we will do it your way until you admit it."

B'Elanna felt Goosebumps spread across her skin at the contact. This was the first time Seven had ever touched her or stepped into her personal space for that matter. To her embarrassment, she felt her nipples pucker in response. Unbelievably, she found herself blushing for the second time that week. This was getting ridiculous. Seven didn't know that invading her personal space and arguing could be considered flirtation amongst Klingons. It was innocent on her part, sadly enough. She stepped back from Seven's touch and cleared her throat, doing her best not to show her reaction.

"I will never admit it, imp. Now, let's get this job done so we can get some lunch. I'm starving."

Seven was once more in her alcove and one of the children using her image stepped into the holodeck. The child looked around at the black and yellow grid curiously. She searched Seven's memories and found out what it was.

"Computer, activate the last non-restricted program ran."

"Working," the female voice said.

Suddenly the kid found herself clinging to the side of a mountain. Ropes were around her body, holding her high above the ground below.

Now, the energy being, accustomed to the vast void of space found herself terrified of heights. She screamed for all she was worth, forgetting that she could merely turn off the program.

The adult energy being, the child's life-giver heard her child's terrified screams and appeared a few feet above her. The parent reached out her senses but was unfamiliar with the technology and was afraid of doing more harm than good. She did the only thing she could.

Captain Janeway was about to climb into her bed when she found herself just inside the doorway of Holodeck 2. She could hear screaming.

"Computer, freeze program!" Kathryn ordered. The screaming continued but at least the sound of the wind was no longer distorting the sound.

"Please, don't be alarmed," she shouted. "This is Captain Janeway. Stay calm and I'll be there in a moment." Kathryn ordered proper attire for the chilly program and was instantly garbed in climbing gear. Thankful she was no longer barefoot on half-frozen stone, she began heading in the direction of the screams. She knew she could just end the program but she wasn't sure where the screamer was and they couldn't be in such danger than another few minutes would be unbearable.

She traveled about 19 meters and spotted 'Seven' dangling in a climbing harness on a rock face. She shook her head. Kids, they just had to poke their noses into every rabbit hole, didn't they?

"Well, what have we got here?"

"Please, get me down!" the energy kid pleaded.

"Okay, calm down. Here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to cancel the program. Since you are not standing on the ground you'll experience a small drop to the floor when it shuts down, okay?"

"I don't want to fall!" the child told her in terror.

"It's okay, you'll only drop about a meter at the very most."

The child was too frightened to access Seven's memories. "A-a meter?"

Kathryn nodded and spread out her hands, showing the distance. "Just this far."

The child gripped the ropes and nodded, still a bit frightened but she trusted the Captain because Seven did. "Okay."

"Computer, end program."

Everything disappeared and the child dropped suddenly to the floor. Her legs weren't braced for it and she landed with a thud onto her bottom.

Kathryn helped her to her feet. "Are you okay?"

The child nodded her head and rubbed her posterior.

"I think this was a lesson in looking before you leap," she teased gently.

"I didn't leap."

"It's an expression. It means to think before you do something impulsive."

"How did you know my name?"

Kathryn bit back a groan. The next few weeks were going to be an experience most certainly.

"Why are you walking funny?" B'Elanna asked of her friend.

"One of the children landed on her posterior and I seem to have inherited the bruise," Seven said in irritation.

The engineer glanced at Seven's bottom and bit her lip. 'Bad, B'Elanna, bad!' She told herself.

"Ouch. I hope they don't hurt themselves. It's no fun being the one who has to walk around sore. How about we skip our velocity practice today and do something tamer?"

"What do you suggest?"

"How about a nice holographic program. We could always visit the Hoobishan Baths of Trill."

"I am unfamiliar with that program."

"It's a nice tame program. I have a few hours of unused holodeck hours. We can enjoy the steam rooms and get a massage. What do you say?"

Seven thought it over. She enjoyed warm and humid environments and it would certainly be cleaner than B'Elanna's last suggestion. "Very well. I accept your invitation."

B'Elanna checked the holodeck schedule and found a time slot open. She tapped in her code to reserve it. She suggested that they get something for lunch in the meantime.

Seven wasn't actually hungry but she had learned that not eating when others were at the table made people uncomfortable. She asked Neelix for a bowl of bread pudding and joined B'Elanna at the table. The engineer was staring at the stew that the Talaxian had prepared with trepidation.

Their eyes met and B'Elanna made a face. "I'm not sure but I think his stew bred with some gagh."

"It is moving?"

"Yeah." B'Elanna spun in her chair and faced the cook. "Neelix, what exactly is this?"

"It's seaweed stew. I scanned it and it has a remarkable amount of protein for a plant," he said with a pleased smile, happy that he found a healthy food source for the crew.

"Protein? Neelix, I think it's alive. I saw it moving," the hybrid complained.

The cook looked perplexed, taking the bowl from the table and peering into it. "My goodness, I think you're right." Neelix walked away with the bowl, mumbling about the odd properties of seaweed.

B'Elanna let out a frustrated sigh, patted Seven's forearm and said she would be right back.

Seven watched her friend walk to the nearest replicator and ordered a meal. It was a matter of habit to watch B'Elanna walk away. She enjoyed the sway of the woman's hips. She wondered if other people did the same thing or if she was unusual in that habit. She tore her eyes away from B'Elanna's hips and looked at the people around her. To her surprise, more than one set of eyes glanced at B'Elanna as she walked past them. Perhaps she wasn't alone in her appreciation of the slim engineer.

B'Elanna returned with a plate and glass and sat down.

"Why the puzzled expression?"

"I was watching others as they watched you. I was surprised how many people stare at your hips when you walk by."

B'Elanna was just begun chewing a bite of her sandwich when Seven blithely confessed her observations. The engineer began choking and grabbed her napkin to cover her mouth as she coughed out the food particles. She didn't know if her cheeks were red but she certainly felt flushed.

"Seven!" she hissed quietly after taking a breath. "Why in hell are you watching people watch my ass?"

Seven shrugged with a human mannerism that she was attempting to master. "I was curious," she said, not confessing her own pleasure in the same act.

"Geez, now I'm not sure I ought to eat this. I wouldn't want my butt to get wide." B'Elanna glanced at her Rueben sandwich. "Oh what the hell. Let them find someone else's ass to watch." B'Elanna took a healthy bite from her sandwich.

"What are the parameters needed to have a 'watch worthy ass'," Seven asked, making her friend almost choke again.

"Seven, you are trying to kill me aren't you?" she avoided the question.

"That does not answer my query. Are there certain characteristics that provoke others to study others' bodies?"

B'Elanna carefully chewed her bite then looked at her friend, hoping her face wasn't as red as she felt.

"Can we save this conversation for later? I'd like to finish my meal and get to the holodeck before our time begins."

Seven nodded, determined to continue this at the baths. Between her therapist and B'Elanna she had many questions she needed answered.

The engineer on the other hand, was praying Seven would forget once the new experience took her attention. She didn't want to spend the afternoon explaining sexual stimulation and the delights of eye candy to someone as reserved as Seven.

They arrived at the holodeck only a minute late. B'Elanna led Seven to the changing rooms where they undressed and put on lightweight towels around their bodies.

Attendants escorted them to the steam rooms, placing wooden boards on the stone seats. The women sat down, joining several holographic customers there. One was a female Trill and the other was a female Vulcan. They spent time in idle chitchat as the warmth of the room took away the chill from living in a cool ship environment.

Seven once more brought up the subject of earlier, making B'Elanna groan.

The Vulcan woman spoke up. "I agree with her desire to understand the complexities of her newfound human emotions. To understand them is to find the path to controlling them."

B'Elanna curbed her desire to delete the interfering matrix.

Then the Trill spoke up. "Attractiveness is different for each person, Seven. I would say many of the human males find your friend appealing and can't but help at least glance her way. Although I am curious as to why you were watching them, watching her."

Seven didn't answer right away.

"Ahh, I see. You found her attractive as well and were curious if others did too. Well, curiosity isn't harmful, but don't let others influence your own judgement. You like what you like and pretending otherwise is silly."

Both women stared at the Trill then each other and were equally red faced.

"Oh, I am sorry. I was thoughtless. Perhaps you didn't want your friend to know you were drawn to her. B'Elanna, I hope you don't reject Seven's friendship over this. This isn't something either of you must act on."

Seven stood up. "I am sorry, B'Elanna. I will go now." She took a few steps but B'Elanna called out.

"Stop, please, let's talk this over, Seven."

The Trill woman suggested to her Vulcan companion that it was a good time to partake in the massage option of the baths. Both women left.

Part 5

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