By Rebelgirl


Sickbay was bustling with activity and the tension was palpable. All the occupants were aware that this was a dangerous procedure, despite the work that had transpired to make it as safe as possible. However, there was always the risk of unknown variables giving rise to complications.

Tom was there, making final preparations for the monitoring the Doctor wanted done while he was off-line. He fussed over Seven as she tried to settle on a bio-bed, masking his concern for her with an over-compensation of affection. Seven, unsure of how to react to his overtures, became nervous and agitated, unwilling to even lie on the bio-bed and allow the EMH to sedate her.

B'Elanna stepped in and placed a reassuring hand on her upper arm and applied pressure gently. "Trust me," she asked of her simply, looking deeply into Seven's azure eyes. The younger woman returned the gaze steadily for a moment before lying down dutifully. B'Elanna made herself comfortable at a workstation near the bio-bed and checked her control console carefully, unaware of the looks she received from both Tom and the Captain, who felt that it would be expedient if she were present during the procedure. The young Chief Engineer sensed the raw reaction to the nerves she felt churn in her stomach and wanted nothing more than to tell everyone to disappear. Desperately clinging onto one of Tuvok's meditation techniques, she managed to focus purely on the task, succeeding in stilling her shaking hands as she made her final preparations.

The Doctor, sensing the tension in the room, approached Seven carefully and explained all his actions softly before sedating her. He placed all the neural and critical monitoring electrodes carefully and then watched as the blonde ex-drone's eyelids flittered momentarily, battling against the anaesthetic, before she finally succumbed to oblivious unconsciousness. He ran a few diagnostics over her still form then, satisfied that Seven was in a deep enough state, turned his attention to the Chief Engineer.

"B'Elanna", he began in the same style he had used with Seven, "I need you to be monitored too. I've instructed Tom on all the danger signs and he will break the connection between you and the circuitry if you're put in danger." B'Elanna nodded mutely as he placed electrodes on her, concentrating on every movement the Doctor made. He then placed the neural link on her left temple and made a few minor adjustments to the tiny controls on its side. The shell-like silver pad lit up briefly with a multiple flash of red and green before one tiny indicator began to blink regularly, indicating its readiness.

The EMH moved to another console and keyed in a series of commands. He looked up when he finished, satisfied that everything had been prepared. "My matrix is ready, B'Elanna. I've got the neural link ready for you. The instant you see me go off-line, the neural link will activate. After that, it's down to you", he told her carefully.

As he spoke, Tom took his position at the monitoring station. He smiled at his ex-girlfriend to reassure her before gazing at the prone form of Seven lying on the bio-bed, her chest rising evenly, under the influence of the sedative.

B'Elanna exhaled a deep breath through puffed out cheeks before indicating that she was ready. "OK Doc. Let's begin", she stated.

The EMH reacted by beginning his part of the procedure. Carefully, he performed the biological part of the operation, delicately removing the tissues surrounding the cortical inhibitor. Sickbay was eerily silent except for the regular signals beeping from the monitoring circuitry, their monotones indicating to the other occupants of the room that things were progressing correctly. B'Elanna scrutinised the procedure at her workstation as it displayed the Doctor's work. It took the Doctor some time getting the area surrounding Seven's inhibitor ready to introduce the bio-neural circuitry but eventually he straightened and stretched his back, despite not having a physical musculature to ache.

He looked at B'Elanna almost wearily and the tension mounted. "I've primed the linkages on the circuitry. Now it's your turn." He smiled affectionately at one of the few people he counted as a true friend. "Good luck B'Elanna", he offered.

B'Elanna returned his smile. "I'll see you in a bit, Doc", she said softly. The EMH nodded and then shimmered out of existence.

Almost before the Doctor's image dissipated, B'Elanna felt a buzzing surge through her head, as if her brain was suffering with pins and needles. The Chief Engineer was taken aback as the sensation had not occurred during any of the simulations but as her brain adjusted to the extra input, she recognised the control she now had over all the circuitry.

Her vision had been slightly affected too, tainting her sight with a red and yellow haze, softening the edges of the images she saw, yet perversely sharpening the content they enveloped at the same time. She adjusted quickly to the concept, scanning her workstation that was displaying the inhibitor for her to work on.

Immediately, she put into practice the rehearsed sequence of attachment and was gratified to see how instantaneously everything reacted to her thought. On another level, she realised that she was sweating profusely and that her heart rate had increased as her parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems reacted to the new stimuli.

Tom monitored both women carefully, noting how Seven's vital signs were remaining encouragingly stable. B'Elanna's monitoring was far more eclectic and Tom hovered nervously near the safety cut-off in case the half-klingon started exhibiting signs of life-threatening stress.

Janeway, with nothing to do except be a witness to the process, stayed close to Seven's bed, her right hand placed gently on the beautiful borg's shoulder, reasoning that she could perhaps project reassurance to her through the touch. Despite his work, Tom noticed the action and narrowed his eyes slightly but said nothing. He took a medical tricorder and scanned both B'Elanna and Seven, duly recording the results in the medical log.

B'Elanna now had no concept of the outside world. Her entire brain was focused on the bio-neural circuitry and the inhibitor as she worked rapidly. She knew that any time now, the nanoprobes would recognise her intrusion and react in a similar way to white blood cells detecting a foreign body in the bloodstream. She was totally oblivious to the sweat secreted from her every pore, moisture running over her brow ridges and down her face to fall in heavy droplets onto her tunic and the console as well as soak her back as she concentrated on the task at hand.

Suddenly she was aware of the first onslaught of nanoprobes, reacting as predicted by attacking the physical circuitry. She had studied this in great detail and controlled the bio-neural circuitry quickly and effectively, surrounding and cutting off each nanoprobe attack as she integrated more circuits. This cat-and-mouse continued and the attacks became more consolidated. She recognised vaguely that she had only been working for a short while yet her body felt totally exhausted through the sheer mental exertion. She was starting to really feel under pressure now but forced herself to stay calm and combat the nanoprobes methodically. She knew she was getting close when the nanoprobes started swamping the area and so she decided to concentrate on the integration, believing that once the circuitry was in place, the nanoprobes would cease their rejection.

She progressed to the final part of the procedure – the cortical inhibitor removal. Each cortical link had to be severed and then replaced with the components from the bio-neural installation. Steeling herself, she started on the last phase. Her exhaustion was beginning to get oppressive but she refused to succumb to it. She had to backtrack many times, repairing work undone by the nanoprobes but every successfully completed integration was left alone, unrecognised by the nanoprobes as alien technology.

Eventually, the drained engineer ran a number of diagnostics to confirm that she really had isolated the inhibitor. She could now safely remove the borg technology without affecting Seven's other systems.

Satisfied that she had accomplished her task, she allowed herself a moment of triumph as she physically removed the inhibitor, but it was short-lived as her mind recognised that the nanoprobes had switched attack and had flooded the holographic matrix in an effort to combat the source of Seven's "infection". Now she had a real battle on her hands.

Her mind worked furiously, mentally fighting her way out of the corner she had been backed into. Her primeval klingon survival instincts were dredged up to work alongside her engineering brilliance as she slowly overcame onslaught after onslaught. She refused to recognise how fatigued her mind and body were as she slowly purged the holographic matrix of the nanoprobes, hoping that the Doctor would be able to assist her as soon as the matrix was available for him to use.

The moment the inhibitor was removed, Tom sprang into action, running multiple diagnostics on Seven to see how her other systems were reacting to its absence. After an initial anomaly in her readings, he realised that all systems were functioning within desired parameters. Her body had even stopped generating nanoprobes. Tom found that to be the most reassuring sign; her body had accepted and adapted to the bio-neural circuitry. He didn't consider that the nanoprobes were still waging a war elsewhere. Gently he pressed a hypospray into Seven's slender neck, the implement hissing slightly as it yielded its contents into her.

Seven sensed her surroundings before her body could physically react. It seemed to take a great effort to get her eyelids open and her mouth would not project the words she wanted to say. Her auditory nerves registered the unintelligible mumblings she heard as her own voice as she tried to speak and reassure everyone that she was still alive. She focused on that thought for a long moment. She had accomplished the first part of the project. As soon as she could get her body to react physically to her instructions, she would be able to analyse whether the procedure had been a success.

Captain Janeway squeezed her young protégé's shoulder and spoke quietly to her. "You're going to be fine, Seven", she told her softly. "Don't fight the sedation, just let it wear off", she coaxed, hoping that the slowly recovering ex-drone could hear her.

Slowly, Seven's cerulean blue eyes were revealed as her lids finally opened. She saw the faces of Captain Janeway and Tom Paris gaze at her, both smiling sweetly. Now that she was fully conscious she tried to sit up but was prevented by hands gently pushing her back.

"Stay still a while yet, please honey," Tom said softly. "We need to run a few more diagnostics to make sure everything is fine, and you need to rest. You've been through a traumatic operation." He stroked her other shoulder, unwilling to leave her side.

"How do you feel?" Janeway asked, wondering what the removal of the inhibitor would reveal.

Seven lay still and considered her answer, her eyes flicking nervously around the room as she tried to analyse her feelings.

"I do not know Captain. At this time, other than feeling the after-effects of the process, I do not feel any different", she replied eventually, unable to keep the disappointment from her voice.

"It will probably take a while to adjust. It may also take a trigger for you to realise that your emotions are no longer inhibited", Janeway reasoned. "We'll get the Doctor back on line to examine you and take it from there."

Seven nodded at the Captain's logic. Her throat felt tight and her eyes stung as her disappointment continued to wash over her. She rolled her eyes to prevent the tears shedding before swallowing and asking her audience, "Shouldn't the Doctor be back on-line by now?"

Tom frowned at the question and then approached the nearest console. He looked up, confusion splayed across his face. "Captain, I can't get the EMH running. The computer keeps denying him access to the matrix", he explained.

The Captain rushed to his side and ran another series of diagnostics. With mounting concern, their hands flew over the workstations, trying to track down the source of the problem.

"The matrix won't operate because it still has nanoprobes in it," exclaimed Janeway suddenly, as the results of her work were displayed. Her frown furrowed deeply as she tried to purge the buffer repeatedly.

"Disengage the neural link", ordered Janeway quickly as she spun around and saw her Chief Engineer for the first time since she had started the procedure. B'Elanna's complexion had turned to a deathly white, her sweat- soaked hair plastered to her head. Janeway stared in horror as she watched B'Elanna's whole body trembling, her mouth open in a silent scream, and could only wonder at what sort of torment the half-klingon must be suffering.

As Tom sprang into action, B'Elanna arched her back, her face a rictus of agony for an instant, before she slumped to the floor in a lifeless heap.

A heart-rending scream emanated from the bio-bed as Seven launched herself from it. "B'Elanna!"

Pt V

When the all- consuming blackness altered, she heard voices. They were muffled though, with only the deeper vocal resonances audible, as if they were being listened to underwater. Whoever they were, there was a frantic sense of urgency to them. Unable to identify the voices, she tried to open her eyes and see her companions but the blackness stayed. The feeling was bizarre; she felt her eyes were open, yet could only see an unending blackness. She realised that the tenuous perception she had on reality was slipping, the slightest stimuli fading away as oblivion washed over her.

When she heard the voices a second time, despite still only being able to hear the lower register, she detected a less panicked tone. There was less shouting and she realised that she could now differentiate the voices into separate distinct people. There were two deeper masculine voices and one slightly more feminine one. Once again, her eyes would not comply and open for her and she felt a wave of frustration flood through her as the isolation continued. All too soon, the inky black well of darkness robbed her of a chance to attract the voices' attention.

The voices came again. This time there was clarity to them and she could identify their owners. With a concerted effort, she forced her eyes open. They battled against her but somehow she prised them open, feeling her pupils contract quickly to regulate the amount of light shining onto her retinas. She wondered if she would have the same trouble getting her voice to work as her vision sharpened and focused on the concerned faces of the Captain, Doctor and Tom Paris staring down at her. Her peripheral vision gave her enough information to recognise where she was and she assumed by her position that she was lying on a bio-bed in Sickbay.

Belatedly, she realised that they were speaking to her. Rolling her tongue around inside her mouth and swallowing repeatedly in order to lubricate her throat, she tried to answer but was alarmed at how weak her voice sounded, as all she managed was a parched croak.

"Just lie still and rest. You've been through one hell of an ordeal", the Captain spoke softly, laying a hand on her shoulder and squeezing it reassuringly.

She did not want to lie still though. There was a burning desire for information that she wanted to quench. She coughed, hoping that the action would strengthen her pathetic voice. "Captain, how's B'Elanna?"

The three faces looking down at her locked eyes instantaneously. The action alarmed Seven and she raised herself onto her elbows, as much as the restraining hands would allow, ignoring the protests from her colleagues as she scanned the room for the young Klingon.

On an adjacent bio-bed, Seven saw the hybrid engineer, seemingly asleep on her back, arms lying down her sides. The advanced medical monitoring equipment arched over her torso, the panel at one side sporadically lighting up as new input was received.

The statuesque blonde attempted to sit up further and swing her legs round to get off her bed but the Doctor interjected before she completed the manoeuvre. "Please Seven, stay where you are for the moment. Do you have any memory of what happened at all?" he asked as he moved the tiny cylindrical portion of the medical tricorder around her head to take readings.

At first, Seven felt a mystified confusion at the Doctor's words but his question acted as a catalyst and her confusion dissipated. The floodgate to her memories opened. With a burning intensity, her last conscious moments deluged her….

She remembered lunging forward, B'Elanna's name being ripped from her throat as an anguish she had never experienced before tore through her, almost paralysing her with fear.

She was at the engineer's side instantly; frenziedly feeling for a pulse at the half klingon's neck as her eyes scanned the woman thoroughly, looking for any indication that B'Elanna was still alive. Torment turned to relief as she saw B'Elanna's chest rise but the movement was abnormal, her respirations rapid and irregular. Her pulse too was barely palpable and Seven's relief vanished as quickly as it had appeared. The rapid swing of emotions was taking its toll on the recovering drone and a small part of her distantly realised that she was starting to panic. This revelation ironically served to agitate her alarm and Seven spiralled rapidly down the path to hysteria.

Feeling helpless, she swung round and lashed out at Tom. "Do something!" She demanded, grabbing the collar of his jacket and propelling him closer to the unconscious woman with a vicious twist of the material.

Tom, who had run a series of diagnostics on B'Elanna from behind Seven, adjusted his neck, moving the material of his tunic sufficiently to restore circulation and become more comfortable in the hold of the panicked ex-borg. "I don't understand this, Seven. All her readings are displaying normal parameters. According to my tricorder, there's nothing wrong with her".

Seven tightened her grip furiously. "Does she look normal, Lieutenant Paris?" she hissed, venom lacing her words.

Tom had to admit the blonde woman had a point but he was baffled. He called back to Janeway desperately, unable to turn to her due to the vice- like grip the ex-drone had on his tunic. "Any success getting the Doc back on-line?"

The Captain barely registered the exchange between the helmsman and Astrometrics officer as she battled to eradicate the nanoprobes from the holo-matrix buffer, her face set determinedly. She'd beaten the Borg Queen; a few of their nanoprobes weren't going to defeat her. Her hands attacked the console, running a complicated sequence of procedures that Janeway hoped would purge the buffer.

With a snarl of satisfaction, she turned to watch as the Doctor materialised next to her.

"Please state the.." the EMH began automatically.

"B'Elanna's hurt", interjected Seven desperately, her voice tight with concern.

The Doctor took in the scene instantly and grabbed the tricorder from Paris' left hand.

"I suggest you let go of Mr Paris before we have another casualty", he replied laconically.

He frowned into the tricorder before making adjustments on the instrument "These readings don't make sense", he mused, almost to himself.

"That's what I said", agreed Tom, shooting Seven a look of aggrieved justification.

"Will you stop prevaricating and help her", insisted Seven, her voice rising as her hysteria continued to mount.

"Calm down, Seven", the Doctor advised as he bent forward and took the unconscious engineer into his arms.

He stood up effortlessly and placed the dark woman onto a nearby bio-bed. Seven relinquished her hold on Tom to follow the Doctor and, no longer having a death grip to pull against, the pilot fell back with an undignified grunt before picking himself up and joining the others at B'Elanna's side.

The Doctor looked at all the monitoring data accumulated during the procedure and made a series of adjustments on the panel. "You need to treat the patient not the instruments, Mr Paris. One of the first rules of medicine", he reminded his assistant.

Paris looked suitably chagrined and observed the EMH closely, hoping to redeem himself in some way.

Suddenly the prone engineer's body began to spasm, her back flexing and extending as her limbs thrashed convulsively. Seven's hysteria returned as the Doctor and Paris flew into action.

"20mg cintromazapine", barked the EMH as he rapidly digested the data. "Damn, her acetycholine levels are off the scale", he murmured.

"What's happening?" demanded the young Borg. Janeway put her arm round the willowy blonde in an effort to comfort her, but Seven shrugged it off angrily, not wanting succour. "Doctor?" she prompted, her eyes fixed on the convulsing engineer.

The EMH ignored her and continued to process the information from the console as Tom administered the hypospray.

"No effect", stated Paris, as he grabbed further hyposprays.

"I can see that", replied the Doctor curtly. "Increase dose to 40mg".

Suddenly, an alarm wailed on the monitoring panel as B'Elanna's body stopped moving.

"She's arrested!" exclaimed Janeway from her place next to Seven.

"Everyone's a doctor", remarked the EMH sarcastically as he began the resuscitation protocol.

It was too much for Seven. She had approached B'Elanna to help her overcome the cortical inhibitor problem and now B'Elanna was dying, if not dead, she thought histrionically. Her emotions now free to run rampant, Seven had no experience in controlling them. The escalating hysteria running through her was overwhelming. …..

From her semi-recumbent position on the bio-bed, Seven stared accusingly at the Captain. "You sedated me", she asserted angrily.

"I had to, Seven", the Captain replied in a soft tone. "Your", she hesitated slightly, "concern for B'Elanna interfered with the Doctor's work", she explained, fervently hoping that Seven would not over-react again.

Surprisingly, Seven looked thoughtful for a moment. "Then why was it so difficult for me to regain consciousness?" she asked, recalling her recent battle.

The Captain looked uncomfortable and adjusted her position slightly, unwilling to answer.

"She over-cooked the quantity. You had enough tranquilliser to knock out an elephant", the Doctor interjected on Janeway's behalf.

It took a moment for Seven to recall what an elephant was but decided not to pursue the issue.

"B'Elanna?" she prompted again.

"She's alive", reassured the Doctor. "But we're unsure how badly affected her mind is. I've kept her sedated to give her an opportunity to recover from the stress she's been through. I'll wake her in the morning."

"What happened to her?" Seven asked, hungry for more information.

"The nanoprobes launched an attack on B'Elanna through the holo-matrix buffer. They tried to overload her synapses and break down her own neural control. Fortunately she managed to put up a defensive barrier. However the sustained onslaught caused some areas of her brain to suffer chemical breakdown."

Seven's eyes widened in alarm so the Doctor continued hurriedly. "My medical expertise allowed me to repair a lot of the damage, but until she is awake, I can't know for sure if there are any permanent after-effects from her prolonged contact with the bio-neural link." He sighed apologetically, wanting to be able to give total reassurance but morally unable to do so. "Try not to worry too much. We'll just have to take each stage as it comes".

Seven closed her eyes briefly, allowing her emotions to course through her. The conflict of relief that B'Elanna was still alive and anguish that she was still in danger was confusing to deal with. She felt a hand take hers and she looked at Tom.

"The good news is that you're fine Seven. The bio-neural circuitry has been integrated perfectly. Looks like you've got your emotions." He told her quietly, surprised to see a single tear roll down her alabaster cheek. He wiped it away with his thumb as the Doctor ran his tricorder over her. "I cannot seek comfort in that until I know B'Elanna is functioning normally", she replied miserably.

"I can release you from sickbay, Seven. However I think it would be wise not to be on your own for the next twenty four hours", the Doctor told her.

Janeway opened her mouth to speak but was prohibited by Tom as he smiled at Seven. "Don't worry Doc, I'll look after her." Accepting that Tom was the more logical choice to be with Seven, the Captain shut her mouth and decided to say nothing. Her time would come, she decided darkly.

"Will you let me know if there's any change in B'Elanna's condition?" Seven asked as stood up from the bio-bed. The Doctor nodded his agreement and the tall Astrometrics officer allowed Tom to lead her out of Sickbay. She stole a final glance at the unconscious form of B'Elanna Torres before the doors hissed shut, feeling her heart somersault with worry for the half klingon.

She turned to Tom who was waiting patiently next to her. "I want to see the children," she told him flatly.

"Um, I'm not sure that's such a good idea, Seven", Tom hedged, concerned that Seven might not be able to cope with another emotionally charged encounter.

Seven looked at him and raised her enhanced eyebrow in defiance. "I am going to see the children Tom. It will make no difference to me whether you accompany me or not."

Tom flinched inwardly, uncomfortable that the ex-drone did not care about his attendance. He nodded his agreement, and the two officers made their way to Cargo Bay Two.

Once there, Seven hurried over to the children with a mixture of dread and excitement, wondering how she would react to her "family". As she pulled Mizoti into a warm embrace, she smiled widely, her worry evaporating as the joy of their closeness enveloped her. They asked her questions about the procedure, probing deeply into the technical aspects as well as how the results might propagate. Seven found she was not embarrassed by their questioning and was happy to share the experience with them.

"Does this mean that we have to go through the same procedure?" asked Rebi, nervously tugging at his shirt hem.

Seven shook her head as she answered, resting her hand on his arm to still his fidgeting. "No. None of you have an inhibitor. It may be that they are only given to particular drones or that they get introduced at a later stage of development. I do not know why, but only I was affected by this." She saw unmasked relief flit across the children's faces as she told them. She too was gladdened by this quirk, as she couldn't ask B'Elanna to go through the procedure again and doubted that the Captain would give permission.

With their desire for information sated, Seven ensured that the children were properly entertained for the evening, asking Neelix to visit and relate another ghost story for them. She organised their nutritional requirements for the evening and generally fussed around them until Icheb approached her.

"Go and rest Seven. We're fine now we know that you're functioning normally. You must need to regenerate by now", he reasoned.

Tom pursued the matter further. "Come on Seven, Neelix will call if there's a problem. You've trusted him before. Come back to my quarters. I'll stay nearby while you sleep just in case there are any problems." He tugged at her sleeve as she continued to hesitate. Icheb nodded at her encouragingly as the other children busied themselves with games of kadis-kot.

Seven sighed. "Tom, I would prefer to regenerate. It would be more beneficial for me than normal sleep", she explained.

"Would you at least have dinner with me then?" he asked hopefully.

Seven nodded her acquiescence, realising that she needed to talk to Tom privately. At least she could take the opportunity to do that in the seclusion of his quarters.

They shared an uncomplicated meal that Seven ate mechanically, wondering over her feelings for both Tom and B'Elanna. The young ex-drone now realised that she didn't love Tom and was equally certain that she could not grow to love him while the fiery Chief Engineer consumed all her thoughts. The more she analysed her feelings, the more convinced she became that she was in love with B'Elanna. These last few weeks had served to bring out her emotions. Her anxiety for B'Elanna whilst she remained in sickbay highlighted those emotions. Seven almost laughed at the irony. Her newly unleashed emotions had almost cost her the one person she wanted to share them with. What she found most difficult to do was articulate her feelings to Tom however, without hurting him.

Tom, uncomfortable in the silence, stole frequent glances at Seven, trying to read her usually impassive face. He was surprised to see a whole gamut of emotions splayed across her visage as she contemplated something of great significance.

He jumped as she sighed suddenly and peered at her closely. "Are you all right Seven?" he asked, worried that the procedure was taking its toll on the young Borg.

"Tom, I have to say something to you," Seven began and then hesitated as the words she wanted to speak failed to form into intelligible sentences.

Tom sat back, knowing what was about to happen. He had gone through too many break-ups not to recognise the signs. They never got any easier though, he decided as his stomach lurched at the expectation of the following words.

"Tom, I cannot continue this relationship. I do not love you…"

"But you've just had the inhibitor removed. At least give yourself a chance with me to see what happens", Tom interrupted quickly.

"My relationship with you, or lack of it, has nothing to do with the inhibitor", Seven continued carefully.

Tom looked at her shrewdly. "Are you in love with someone else then?" he probed.

Seven fidgeted, uncomfortable at the sudden scrutiny and surprised by the helmsman's insight. "I do not know," she replied hesitantly but continued on before Paris could interject again. "I need to investigate my feelings further on this. It would be unfair of me to do this whilst still involved with you". She hoped that her words had not been too harsh but realised that there would be no easy way of telling him.

Paris slumped in his chair dejectedly and sighed dramatically. "Well I've been dumped in worse ways", he told her with a watery smile.

Seven returned the smile just as weakly, recognising that he had accepted his fate graciously.

"I think it would be prudent if I returned to my alcove to regenerate Tom", She told him, not wishing to prolong his agony. She stood up but swayed as her legs straightened. Instantly, Tom was on his feet and by her side.

"Hey, what's up?" he asked, steadying her with strong hands on her shoulders.

"I am fatigued. I must regenerate", she explained, her face a pasty white as the colour drained from it, as if to highlight her condition.

"Look, I can escort you back, but you can just as easily crash in my bed", Tom offered. "I'll sleep on the couch out here. That way, I'm close by if you need anything", he reasoned. Seven was surprised by his generosity after her rejection. She felt her body sway again as exhaustion took hold of her. Not wanting the long trip back to Cargo Bay Two, Seven nodded and stumbled into Tom's room, falling heavily onto the bed and barely registering Tom covering her as sleep overcame her. A tiny smile tugged at her lips as her last waking thought was how easy she found it to fall asleep.

Tom looked at the slumbering woman for a moment before leaving the room, extinguishing the lighting as he exited. He grabbed a spare blanket from a storage compartment and threw it at the couch in preparation for later. He sat down and stretched his legs out onto the nearby coffee table. He was too emotionally wrung out to sleep yet. Tom took his time winding down, allowing his mind to digest all the interaction that had taken place, wondering who it was that had stolen Seven from him.

The Doctor re-checked the instrumentation panel before preparing the hypospray that would revive Lieutenant Torres. He might only be a hologram but he realised that he was nervous about waking the half-klingon, concerned over what he might find once he could examine her fully.

Steeling himself to expect the worst, yet fervently hoping that she was recovered, he pressed the cylindrical instrument to her neck.

B'Elanna's eyes snapped open and a hand batted away the hypospray as she bolted upright, a look of bewildered alarm on her face.

"At ease, Lieutenant." The gravelly voice of the Captain broke through the defensive barrier B'Elanna had automatically erected and she scanned the room to see both Janeway and the EMH standing next to her bed. She pulled her knees up and hugged them, trying to relax her tense body and she looked at the Doctor, her face clouded with confusion.

"What happened?" she asked simply, absently wondering when she had consumed all the blood wine that must surely be responsible for the pounding headache she was now suffering.

"The procedure was a success for Seven, but at your expense", the EMH replied cryptically, prompting B'Elanna to narrow her eyes at him, tacitly asking him to explain further.

"The nanoprobes mounted an attack on you, trying to force your brain into chemical breakdown. Fortunately, you fended off the attack, but the prolonged exposure with the bio-neural link took its toll on you and you nearly died. Providentially, my medical proficiency kept you alive once again. However, up until you regained consciousness, I wasn't sure if there was any permanent damage". The Doctor tried to keep the explanation as short and as simple as possible, certain that the dark engineer would be unreceptive to a more voluminous description of the events.

His explanation brought back the memories of the process. B'Elanna squeezed her eyes shut briefly at the recollection of the pain and fear she had felt whilst trying to save herself from the nanoprobes. Interlaced with the anxiety induced by the link was a feeling of awe that she had effectively controlled the bio-neural circuitry. It had been an incredible achievement to actually command materials mentally. Her analytical mind wondered briefly if that control could be utilised again if the situation so demanded it and the engineer vowed to look into the topic.

One of the strangest sensations was that she felt like she had been a witness to the events, watching from a corner of the room as her body at first stayed stock-still, in a rigid pose of pain, before slumping to the floor, the physical body giving way before the cerebral body was finished. She even had a vague image of Seven and Tom standing over her before the memories receded to nothingness. The exhaustion and pain her mind and body had experienced was emulated again as she sat there but she doggedly shrugged the sensations off, convinced that they were psychosomatic side effects of the torment she suffered.

B'Elanna rested her head in her hands, massaging her temples gently. "So Seven's okay then?" she asked, disregarding the agony pounding behind her eyes and ignoring the dialogue that centred on her own fate.

"She will be. The circuitry has been integrated perfectly. She just needs some time to recover", the Captain answered. "Congratulations, B'Elanna. You did a fine job. I'm just glad you're here in one piece to realise it." B'Elanna nodded at the Captain's praise but felt disappointed that Seven wasn't here too. She was probably regenerating still, she reasoned logically but the thought didn't really appease the klingon.

The Doctor selected another hypospray and placed it at the dark woman's neck. Immediately, the intensity of her headache diminished and B'Elanna smiled at him gratefully.

"So when can I get out of here?" she asked.

The Doctor grinned at her. "I still find it surprising how much you dislike being in sickbay considering you're in here more than any other member of this crew."

"It must be the Chief Medical Officer's winning personality", she retorted glibly.

"I'll bear that in mind for next time", the Doctor shot back as he ran his tricorder over her head. " I'm relieved to say that your readings are normal. I'll release you from sickbay on the condition that you rest. I need to keep a close eye on you though, so you must report back here in eight hours for a check-up. You've been relieved from duty till I pass you fit so it's probably wise to take my advice." He continued as the shorter woman swung her legs over the bio-bed to alight from it. "However, if you feel anything abnormal or have any concerns whatsoever, come back immediately. Neurological problems can be notoriously difficult to detect." As he spoke, he placed a small, silver, shell-like object just behind her ear. "This is a cortical monitor. It will reassure me that you really are all right and alert me if your brain activity becomes aberrant and you're unable to contact me yourself."

B'Elanna recognised the concern the EMH was displaying and appreciated his attempt to minimise her stay in sickbay. However, she couldn't shake a sensation of general irritation at all the attention she was receiving. "Doc, I'd just like to get out of here", B'Elanna reminded him, trying to cut short his diatribe.

Janeway smiled at her and squeezed the younger woman's arm, offering her support, as always, with a tactile gesture. "Take all the time you need, B'Elanna. It will only be on the Doctor's behest that I allow you to come back on duty".

The Klingon nodded mutely and pushed herself off the bio-bed. As the small, dark-haired woman disappeared behind the closing sickbay doors, the Captain turned to the EMH. "Will she make a full recovery then, Doctor?"

The Doctor paused momentarily. "It's difficult to say, Captain. Physically, the prognosis is good, as long as I can keep a close monitor on her condition in case of any anomalies", he qualified carefully.

"I sense a but to this conversation", remarked Janeway dryly.

"There's a massive 'but', Captain", the Doctor cautioned, his tone deadly serious. "I have no idea how this is going to affect her psychologically. The neurological stress she underwent has never been analysed before. More to the point, my deficiencies as a psychologist are well documented." He displayed a delicate moue of disgust at the memory of his abortive attempts to help Seven cope with an alleged assault many months ago.

"Doctor, all I can ask is that you do your best." Janeway replied. "I'll make sure its duly noted amongst the senior staff so that they can report any worries to you, if they so wish." Janeway stared at the sickbay doors, her eyes slightly unfocused as she imagined her Chief Engineer returning to her quarters. "Let's just hope that we're worrying over nothing".

Loping easily through the corridor towards her quarters, B'Elanna mused on what had happened. She wanted nothing more than to discuss the procedure with Seven but was disinclined to disturb her from her regeneration cycle. Suddenly the diminutive klingon skidded to a halt, a dread feeling surging through her. What if Seven had decided to explore her new feelings with Paris? B'Elanna closed her eyes in a futile attempt to block that image but her curiosity remained unchecked and she found herself asking the computer for Seven's location.

"Seven of Nine is in Lieutenant Paris' quarters", the computer stated crisply. B'Elanna convulsively clenched her fists for an instant before resuming her journey to her own quarters, wondering if it was now too late to ever tell Seven of the feelings she had for her.

Once inside, B'Elanna decided to treat herself to a shower with real water, splurging some of her stockpiled replicator rations. Setting the water temperature as high as she could tolerate, the engineer stood underneath the jets of water for some time, relishing the tingling as the water practically scalded her caramel skin. Thoroughly soaked, she concentrated on washing her hair first, working up a lather as she massaged her scalp before rinsing the bubbles away, feeling them creep slowly down her back before waves of water hurtled them down more rapidly. As her fingers brushed past the cortical monitor, she belatedly questioned the device's water resistance and contemplated removing it until she finished. There was something reassuring about its presence though, so she decided to leave it in place in the hope that Starfleet had considered the possibility of the thing getting wet.

She selected some soapstone to attend her skin with, its abrasive quality scraping away the top layer as she worked it over her body with her hands, rubbing the soap in with small circular motions. She speculated whether her actions could be analysed for some hidden psychological meaning of ritual cleansing but pushed the thoughts away, not wanting an answer. As she finished rinsing, she heard the chime of her door. She considered ignoring the entry request but curiosity got the better of her. Grabbing the thick, black bathrobe that hung on the bathroom door, she shrugged it on; wrapping the material around her wet skin and hurriedly tying the belt tightly round her as she approached the door, choosing to open it in person.

"Seven", she exclaimed, as the doors revealed the identity of her visitor. "Come in", she stammered, standing to one side to allow the tall blonde woman admission.

Seven looked at B'Elanna briefly before entering, feeling her heart hammer in her chest as she took in the beauty of the woman, admiring the strong legs and the brief glimpse of her chest as the engineer's robe shifted slightly in her move to allow Seven entrance to her quarters.

On her way to the Chief Engineer's quarters, Seven had decided determinedly to tell B'Elanna of her feelings. Now she stood in the middle of her living area, watching as B'Elanna wedged herself into the corner of a sofa, hugging her knees and her resolution seemed to disintegrate, leaving her with a dread feeling of self-doubt and anxiety.

"You can sit if you want to", invited B'Elanna, breaking into the sudden turmoil of thoughts that raced through the Seven's mind. Automatically, she sat down, her back rigidly straight as she looked at the dark engineer.

"I came to see that you were recovered from your ordeal", Seven began, licking her lips nervously before continuing. "And to apologise for not attending sickbay. I was still asleep".

B'Elanna flinched inwardly, knowing where Seven had been asleep, but she recognised the ex-drone's concern. "Seven, there's no need to apologise. You've been through a massive ordeal yourself." She ran a hand absently through her wet hair, trying to keep the thick tresses under some sort of control as it dried naturally and was surprised to see Seven lean forward and scrutinise her closely.

"You're wearing a cortical monitor", the borg stated, alarm coursing through her body.

"It's so the Doc could release me from sickbay. He knows how much I hate it in there." B'Elanna tried to play down its significance but felt a small thrill at Seven's concern.

"I am sorry B'Elanna", the young blonde woman said again, her body slouching back into the chair. "I should never have asked you to do this for me."

"Don't start down the road of guilt", B'Elanna warned quickly. "I wanted to do this. I wanted to do it for a friend." Seven's head snapped up to look at B'Elanna again. The klingon swallowed briefly before continuing. "You haven't told me yet if it was a success."

Seven looked at her in confusion. "The bio-neural circuitry has been integrated effectively."

"That's not what I meant". The dark engineer sighed, not wanting to hear the next answer but paradoxically needing to know if her efforts had been worth the trouble. "Have your emotions become un-restricted?"

Seven sat and stared at her companion for a long moment as she tried to formulate her answer.

"I do not know", she eventually answered.

"Oh, come on Seven. You were in Tom's quarters all night", blurted B'Elanna unthinkingly.

Seven's eyes narrowed slightly and she felt a secret thrill that B'Elanna had bothered to find out her whereabouts.

"I was in Tom's quarters all night asleep", Seven amended quietly. "I was exhausted after the procedure and fell asleep on his bed." She looked for any reaction on the klingon's face as she finished. "He slept on the couch outside", and felt certain that she saw a glimmer of relief drift across the expressive engineer's visage.

B'Elanna hugged her knees in tight, her desires warring with her honour. It wasn't fair to tell Seven of her feelings when her own emotions had just been unleashed, particularly when she was involved with someone else but she longed to share those new emotions with her and experience them together.

Seven noticed the shift in mood and decided that now was the time to own up to B'Elanna about her feelings. She couldn't shake the dread feeling that she might be rejected but she wanted to share her newly unleashed emotions with B'Elanna. She wanted B'Elanna to be the one to free her innermost desires and to experience complete depth of emotion with the passionate klingon.

"Seven, I have to tell you something", B'Elanna began determinedly but found herself hesitating. She cursed herself inwardly for the frightened Tikka cat that she was.

Seven stood up abruptly and used the hesitation to her advantage. "B'Elanna, I need to talk to you to, but it is difficult for me to find the right words."

B'Elanna's mind reeled at the endless roads that Seven could be going down.

"Let me go first, it's important", she pleaded, staring beseechingly at the pacing ex-drone.

Seven was suddenly alarmed at B'Elanna's speach. She feared that the raven-haired klingon had guessed her intentions and was going to thwart her admission. "No, this is something that I must tell you", she retorted, clasping her hands behind her back and turning away from B'Elanna, irrationally frightened by what she was about to say.

B'Elanna stood up in frustration. It was difficult enough to broach the subject without having to play verbal ping-pong beforehand.

"Seven", she began again, taking a pace toward the blonde Astrometrics officer.

Seven spun round, determined to voice her thoughts first, so they both saw shock mirrored in their faces as they simultaneously told each other;

"I love you."


The words appeared to echo around the room as the silence extended. Both women continued to stare at each other, trying to read the emotions splayed openly across their faces. Almost involuntarily, B'Elanna took a small step forward. Seven, her senses heightened by the situation, knew that B'Elanna was going to move and stepped forward to meet her. The two women now stood well within their intimate space boundaries but neither cared as their heads tilted slightly to look into each other's eyes, conscious that they were breathing the same shared air.

In slow motion, B'Elanna raised a hand and drew her fingertips across the ex-drone's right cheek, brushing the splayed star implant gently before tracing the outline of Seven's finely chiselled cheekbone. Seven closed her eyes at the touch and her breathing became ragged as B'Elanna's fingers continued their exploration of her face.

Sensing her reaction, B'Elanna allowed her right hand to rise and trace the left side of Seven's face, skimming her fingertips over the optical implant above Seven's closed eye, noting how pleasantly warm it felt, almost as if the metal were alive. Her hands mirrored each other as she brought them across Seven's porcelain cheeks before drawing both hands lower to trace the full cherry lips. Seven's mouth parted slightly but B'Elanna resisted the urge to be drawn in, completing her investigation of Seven's features, touching every millimetre of the trembling lips and continuing down to the strong jaw-line, eventually letting her fingers rest at the Borg's dimpled chin. Softly, she brushed her thumbs across Seven's lips again and then extended her neck to allow their lips to meet. She ran her darker lips lightly over Seven's with just the hint of pressure as she kissed first the top and then the lower lip.

Seven's mouth opened, and again B'Elanna resisted, drawing her lips across her lover's lower lip twice more, slightly increasing the pressure each time before she felt Seven's hand grip the back of her head and steady her. It was only then that they finally crushed their lips into each other and pulled themselves closer, arms snaking round one another, squeezing out the air that separated them, moulding themselves into each other.

Seven drank the very essence of B'Elanna, her tongue tasting the honeyed lips as it requested entrance. B'Elanna opened to her and she plundered the Klingon's mouth, exploring every crevice and folding her tongue round B'Elanna's, noticing absently how much rougher it felt than her own, revelling in the sensations her lover was giving her. She sucked gently at the engineer's tongue before withdrawing slightly and nipping and sucking B'Elanna's lips, pulling her ever closer with one hand firmly behind the shorter woman's head, her other wrapped around her waist. She could feel the heat radiating off B'Elanna's body and knew that her own was just as hot and together, their heat was rising exponentially.

Eventually, the instinct for oxygen became too strong for the lovers and they pulled apart, gasping. Seven combed her fingers gently through B'Elanna's still damp hair as she gazed deeply into eyes hooded with desire. "I love you B'Elanna Torres", she repeated softly, watching in delight as a smile lit up her face.

"I love you too, Seven of Nine, Tertiary adjunct of Unimatrix Zero One", the Klingon replied flirtatiously, earning a look of enchanted surprise from the blonde ex-drone. She grinned mischievously. "What? Didn't you think I'd pay attention to your full title?" she asked in mock surprise.

"I am honoured that you remember my designation", replied Seven with genuine reverence. She brought her head down and recaptured the smaller woman's lips in a kiss of searing passion. B'Elanna was consumed by the intensity of Seven's ardour. She returned the kiss with abandon, feeling her legs give way as it continued and realising vaguely that she had been spun round and pushed against a wall, one of Seven's legs wrapped round hers tightly to keep her upright. She hung onto her anchor and drank in every sensation, returning the passion vigorously as her arousal escalated.

Seven could no longer hold back, desperate to touch B'Elanna's soft caramel skin and she ran her fully human hand gently down the silky neck, exploring all the hollows and contours fully before easing her fingers under the fabric of B'Elanna's robe. She heard B'Elanna gasp and felt her increase the pressure of their kiss. Sensing this as silent permission, she allowed her fingers to continue the exploration, lightly dancing across the top of the engineer's chest, noting the start of the swell of her breasts and the valley between them. She could feel B'Elanna's skin, slick with ardour, react to her touch and her hand continued, parting the robe further before she cupped the full weight of B'Elanna's left breast in her hand, running her thumb lightly round the dark areola but careful not to touch the already hardened nub just yet. This touch elicited a deep groan from B'Elanna and she arched into the contact, breaking her lips away from Seven. She ached to be explored by this remarkable woman, her desire pounding furiously at a lower junction.

Heady with the power she was exerting over B'Elanna, Seven teased a bit more, tracing circles round the erect nipple before gently lowering her mouth, running her tongue lazily over the pebble and then rolling it gently between her teeth. She withdrew and continued her exploration with her mouth, sucking the full breast and nipping at the soft tissue, her ministrations giving the golden skin a rosy hue. At the same time, she used her Borg-enhanced left hand to tease B'Elanna's neglected right breast, squeezing the nipple slightly before kneading the whole swell.

She heard a deepening growl from the Klingon and smiled into her task, feeling her own excitement intensify, saturating the crotch of her bio-suit. Suddenly, she felt B'Elanna move and she was spun around and pinned up against the wall by a very breathless engineer. She grabbed Seven's face and kissed her fiercely, taking control of their interaction in one easy move as the ex-drone found herself entranced by the display of power B'Elanna had just given. She could think of no other person who could flaunt such power as gracefully and deceptively as B'Elanna and her arousal responded to it instantly, her hands running up and down B'Elanna's back, pulling her into the embrace as the kiss continued.

Breathlessly, B'Elanna pulled away from the ravaged lips, using her fingertips once more to trace their outline. "Seven…my…love… are you sure?" Unable to articulate the question any more clearly without introducing a sense of doubt to the Borg, B'Elanna left the question deliberately vague.

Seven understood perfectly though and smiled as she traced the smaller woman's brow ridges, fascinated by their beauty. "I have never been so sure of anything", she whispered softly, piercing B'Elanna with the intensity of her stare.

The Klingon nodded slightly and then stepped away slightly from the statuesque blonde, running her hands down Seven's arms until she reached her hands. She took them into her own, squeezed them reassuringly and then pulled Seven towards her as she moved backwards towards her bedroom, unwilling to break eye contact for even a second.

Seven followed, her breathing shallow, understanding the escalation of their contact.

Instinctively, B'Elanna felt her way to the bed, turning her lover round so that the back of Seven's legs brushed up against it. She moved in closer but tugged Seven close to keep her upright for a bit longer and brushed her lips past Seven's left ear, raking her tongue across the lower lobe before sucking it into her mouth gently and nibbling for a moment. Her hot breath on Seven's neck made the Borg's hair stand on end as B'Elanna whispered into her ear.

"…you're over-dressed."

Reflexively, Seven shot her hand up to the back of her neck to release the hidden clasp. B'Elanna grabbed the hand and led it back down to the drone's side before continuing to undress the Borg herself.

She worked her fingers under the fabric and pulled at the bio-suit gently, parting the material slowly, pulling it inch by inch over the contours of the ex-drone, and exposing alabaster shoulders to her vision for the first time. Desperately holding onto her Klingon lust she continued to slowly peel back the suit, releasing Seven's voluptuous breasts before removing the sleeves from her arms. The Chief Engineer paused briefly, drinking in the sight of Seven's perfect globes, brushing the back of her hands across them daintily before sweeping her fingertips across the flat midriff, returning her hands to the fabric. She had to lower herself down to strip the bio-suit fully from Seven and she heard a gasp as she bent her knees to continue, keeping her face as close to Seven as possible, inhaling her intoxicating odour. She marvelled as Seven's flesh responded to her hot breath.

Kneeling, she was now even with Seven's hips and she steadied herself. Slowly she revealed the creamy hips and golden triangle of curly hair, matted slightly with Seven's moisture. As the clothing passed her mound, B'Elanna's nostrils were assaulted by unleashed arousal and she paused once again, breathing deeply. Closing her eyes, she savoured the sweet aroma that had been released. Provocatively, B'Elanna continued her task, sometimes brushing her fingers over the skin she uncovered, wondering at the silky smoothness of the curvaceous legs that hid a powerful musculature.

She reached Seven's boots and for the first time in what seemed an eternity, she focused on her own hands, fumbling slightly as she removed the boots, massaging Seven's feet and ankles before moving her head back slightly, allowing her eyes to examine the body she had exposed. She absorbed every feature, every curve and every trace of Borg circuitry as her eyes steadily rose, eventually making and holding contact with deep azure eyes that stared intimately back at her.

Slowly B'Elanna stood up, extending her legs as she continued to fix Seven's gaze, delicately running her fingers over the milky white skin as she straightened. Once upright, she slid her arms around Seven's waist, raising her hands behind her to caress her shoulder blades gently. Seven instinctively wrapped her arms around the engineer as she bent down to join lips again. Their contact was tender and slow, both women wanting their desire to now build slowly together.

Imperceptibly, B'Elanna nudged Seven, easing her into a seated position on the bed before pulling her up towards the head of the bed. Seven raised one leg and dug a heel in to lever herself towards the centre of mattress, never once breaking contact with B'Elanna's lips and tongue, her head swimming with want.

B'Elanna slowly straddled her lover, her black robe opening, as she placed a leg either side of Seven's hips. She broke off the kiss and sat back slightly, running her hands over the curves of Seven's breasts before kneading them with more pressure, raking her fingernails across the painfully erect nipples. Seven arched into the caress, her belly touching B'Elanna's wetness and the ex-drone groaned, appreciating how aroused they both were.

At this contact of her intimate flesh, B'Elanna growled deep in her throat, convulsively clenching Seven's ample breasts before making a conscious effort to lighten her ministrations. She was not going to let her primeval Klingon instincts take over. She smiled lovingly at Seven and adjusted her position slightly, sliding down the beautiful Borg's body, before lowering her lips once again onto one of Seven's breasts.

Soft, sensuous lips kissed and nibbled at the alabaster skin, turning it a dusky rose as the area became aroused by the attention. Seven was truly in the most exquisite torment, torn between the desire for her lover to continue her ministrations and the paradox that somewhere far more intimate was pounding with tension, demanding release.

B'Elanna was in no hurry to leave this paradise of flesh and she divided her attention evenly between Seven's firm globes, massaging one with a strong hand as she lavished attention on the other with her lips, tongue and teeth, grazing and nipping the flesh. She ran her tongue down the valley between Seven's breasts, lapping away the sweat that had pooled there as the Borg became fevered.

Eventually, she trailed her mouth down, kissing and exploring every inch of Seven's tight abdomen, flicking her tongue into the hollow of the navel, relishing the reaction as she continued her journey. The Klingon's fingers remained occupied too. Her right hand paid thorough interest in Seven's lateral implant, whilst her left drew lazy circles just underneath her breasts. Both hands were eventually dragged lower as B'Elanna moved down, running her lips over Seven's curly blonde triangle, so close now to actually tasting her. Seven curved up into B'Elanna's lips at the touch and she ran her fingers through the thick raven locks of her lover's hair, desperate for release but not wanting to rush her.

As her head paused over Seven's sex, B'Elanna looked up with lidded eyes, smouldering with desire. Her hands feeling the adjustment in posture, Seven bent her head down to lock eyes with B'Elanna, her gaze totally trusting.

B'Elanna ran her hands down Seven's body slowly before taking the ex-drone's and interlacing their fingers. She gave a reassuring squeeze as she rested their locked hands on Seven's abdomen and then used her elbows to spread her legs further apart. She rested her forearms on the soft thighs as she gently lowered her face into Seven, breathing the scent in deeply once more before placing her lips onto the swollen folds of Seven's mons. Delicately kissing them before opening her mouth and running her tongue through the saturated tissues, she felt her own moisture start to run down her thighs as she tasted Seven's sweet honey. Her tongue continued to lap the moisture as she cleaned the area around Seven's sex thoroughly, delving deep into the folds, and lower onto the baby-soft inner thighs that glistened with evidence of Seven's arousal.

Softly, she licked the lily-white skin, working back to Seven's crevice, feeling her blonde lover squeeze her hands in passionate encouragement. Slowly, she ran her tongue from the back of Seven's opening, right through the folds using the flat of her tongue before the tip of it lightly caressed Seven's exposed clitoris, swollen with desire.

Seven bucked at the contact and B'Elanna squeezed their hands reassuringly as she repeated the process over and over, delighting in the woman's unrestrained reactions. As she dragged the tip of her tongue over Seven's bud, she swirled round it and gave it more attention, taking it gently into her mouth and suckling at it daintily, rolling it between her teeth before licking it again. Feeling yet more moisture lubricate Seven's folds, she refocused her attention there before rolling her tongue to probe Seven's entrance. She pushed in more firmly and could feel the muscular walls clamp down on her tongue as she explored Seven's most secret place.

By now, Seven had clenched B'Elanna's hands in a vice-like grip of passion. B'Elanna knew that she could not easily release herself without breaking the spell so she continued with just her tongue, exploring hungrily, applying firm pressure with her arms to keep Seven's hips under control as the Borg bucked under her ministrations. She returned her tongue to Seven's pearl, massaging it with steadily increasing pressure while sensing that she was close to release.

Seven could no longer control any of her thoughts and knew only on the sensations B'Elanna was plying her with. There was a pressure building up inside her that only the Klingon could liberate and every minute movement B'Elanna made was assisting her. Her breathing came in ragged, forced gasps, almost as an afterthought. The only thing she could focus on was the woman who was tearing these sensations from her body and in celebration of her lover; she screamed B'Elanna's name in joyous rapture as her orgasm washed over her.

B'Elanna reacted by continuing her work. Drawing a second orgasm quickly out of the trembling Borg and then a more protracted third, she let her down slowly, wondering in the reaction she was extracting from Seven.

The lithe blonde shuddered slightly, trying desperately to get a hold on her thoughts, as B'Elanna moved up to lie next to her, their hands still clasped tightly together. She opened her eyes and turned her face to look at B'Elanna tenderly before bringing their hands up and kissing them softly. B'Elanna smiled at the gesture before putting her mouth to Seven's and placing a chaste kiss onto luscious red lips. Seven, tasting her own essence on B'Elanna's lips, responded quickly. She turned the innocent caress into a far more sensual encounter, at last releasing the engineer's hands in order to wrap her arms round the coffee-skinned woman and roll on top of her, entwining their legs as her hands fought to pull off the robe that still hung round B'Elanna's shoulders.

B'Elanna helped by rising up slightly and Seven yanked the garment off, at last exposing the caramel body for her to delight in. She hesitated slightly, scanning B'Elanna's body, committing every curve and dip to her eidetic memory before lowering her head to kiss the engineer voraciously once again, wanting to return all the sensations she had just experienced to the dynamic Klingon.

Despite the unspent passion in her compact body, B'Elanna used her hands to gently ease the ex-drone back and look at her wondrously. "Take your time," she whispered. "We've got as long as you want."

Seven grinned as she realised that she had been rushing and instead turned her thoughts to examining the dark woman's face, running her fingers all over her visage; mirroring B'Elanna's initial actions. Gently, she hooked raven tresses back behind the Klingon's ears, pausing when she brushed over the cortical monitor. She lowered her head closer to the silver shell-like instrument and then placed her lips next to B'Elanna's ear. "We've almost got matching accessories," she whispered seductively, earning a loud peal of delighted laughter from the engineer. It was infectious and Seven found herself laughing with B'Elanna, burying her face into the Klingon's neck to smother her giggles. This made B'Elanna laugh all the more.

Eventually, the moment expired, and the blonde woman raised herself up onto her elbows. "B'Elanna, I…" she began but stopped as she realised that she didn't know how to continue. The lithe engineer placed a gentle hand over the Borg's lips. "Shhhh. I know," she responded softly. Delicately, Seven kissed the hand before reducing the distance between them and kissing the dusky rose lips. This time, she let the passion build slowly, reacting as B'Elanna reacted, deepening the kiss as B'Elanna sought more. She could feel the strong engineer wriggle ecstatically underneath her and without breaking off, she rolled to the diminutive woman's left, running her borg-enhanced hand over the now exposed breasts.

B'Elanna gasped and broke off the kiss as an almost electric sensation surged through her. Seven grinned as she explained. "My enhancement can be used to deliver some form of sensation as well as absorb it."

"Lucky you," B'Elanna grinned back at her lover easily. ""What sort of sensation are you feeding me?"

Seven once again lowered her head to whisper into B'Elanna's ear. "My arousal."

B'Elanna groaned in delight and turned her face to capture the blonde woman's lips in a searing kiss. Slowly, inexorably, Seven's hand travelled over the small round breasts, running the back of her hand over the taut nipples again and again, revelling in B'Elanna's reaction and getting a heady sensation from the feedback she was receiving through the borg-enhanced monitoring. Reluctantly, her hand left the caramel globes and drifted across B'Elanna's midriff, marvelling at the rippling abdominal muscles she could feel under the coffee skin.

Her hand journeyed further down, making small circles in B'Elanna's belly button before touching lower, brushing over the dark damp curls that covered B'Elanna's dripping sex.

Looking at B'Elanna lovingly, she trailed her fingers into the nether-lips, relishing the moisture she found there and gently rubbing her fingers up and down the Klingon's valley until Seven found her entrance. She waited, cocking an enhanced eyebrow for permission. B'Elanna bucked in response so she slowly pressed two fingers in, pushing as far as she could in one fluid movement.

B'Elanna threw her head back and whipped her body up as she drove herself into the touch. Encouraged, Seven gently began rhythmically pushing and retracting her fingers. She could feel the pent up ardour through her sensors and fed her own desires back into the sensitive area. B'Elanna arched even more and Seven began to twist her fingers as well, adding a thumb to brush against the hard swollen clitoris that had pushed out of its protective hood.

Relishing the sensation, Seven moved her head slightly and returned to B'Elanna's breasts, sucking and nipping ever harder as she felt the engineer come closer to the edge. She somehow added a third finger and varied her motions, twisting and pressing deep into B'Elanna's core. She felt B'Elanna arch again and was about to up the tempo once more, to take her to release, when she realised something was wrong.

She was no longer getting feedback from her enhanced hand.

Raising her head quickly, she watched in horror as the engineer continued to arch back, her face contorted in spasm, eyes open and unseeing before her whole body wracked with paroxysm. Seven sat back in alarm and watched petrified, as B'Elanna continued the seizure. Somehow, she managed to regain her senses and leapt off the bed, scrabbling for her bio-suit.

Her hands wouldn't work quickly enough as she searched the clothing for the hard metal communicator pin. After an eternity, she located it and leapt to the side of the convulsing woman.

"Medical emergency. Two to transport to Sick Bay immediately."

Part 7

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