The crew is not comfortable touching me. Almost no one ever does, at least not voluntarily; the captain sometimes pats my shoulder, and the doctor touches me when he performs my medical checkupsthis is not sufficient. My peers shrink from contact with me as if the very borgness of my nature might infect them if they were to so much as brush up against me. In every moment of every day I am made aware of my difference, of my separateness, of how alone I am and will always be. It is inefficient of me to care, and yet I cannot seem to stop myself from suffering from this lack of human contact. I see the other crewmembers; they regularly touch one another as they go about their duties. They draw comfort from one another in times of fear and sorrow through the sole expedience of touch. This comfort is denied me, and I am finding it increasingly difficult to function in the vacuum, devoid of human kindness, in which I am forced to exist. If the others will not change this, I will be forced to expedite matters of my own accord. They will learn to accept me. End personal log.
Seven began her campaign for interpersonal acceptance the next morning. When Neelix offered her a plate of Jerbalian scrambled eggs she accepted and thanked him by placing her hand on his shoulder and giving it a squeeze. Unfortunately for her, she miscalculated the strength of her Borg-enhanced hand and she saw a grimace of pain flash over his face.
"I am sorry Neelix," she stammered.
"Quite all right my dear," he reassured her as he backpedaled quickly out of her reach. "Enjoy the eggs."
She was embarrassed by the failure of her initial attempt to master the art of human touch, and she had been certain Neelix, with his accepting nature would be the perfect subject. Still, she filed the results of this experience away in order to remind herself to compensate for her grip strength the next time she attempted to initiate contact with another crewmember. She proceeded to consume her breakfast quickly before she reported for her duty shift.
When Harry Kim reported to Astrometrics for routine maintenance of the lateral sensor array, she braced herself mentally, and remembering to be gentle, placed her hand on his shoulder as she leaned over to check his calculations. His discomfort was immediately apparent; he was no longer able to speak in complete sentences, and he began to squirm uncomfortably beneath her touch. This was completely unacceptable, and counterproductive. Removing her hand, she stepped out of his personal space, and after a few moments he seemed to calm down. When she again made the attempt to come closer to him, his manner began to deteriorate rapidly and he made a transparent excuse to leave the room.
My experiments in personal contact were a complete failure. I physically injured Mr. Neelix, and I frightened Harry Kim so badly that he was forced to flee my presence. Apparently I repulse him much more severely than I had originally anticipated. But I cannot give up. I need to succeed in this endeavour, or I am uncertain of how long I will be able to function. Perhaps further research will give the answers I seek. End personal log.
Seven researched diligently, even delaying her regeneration cycle for a few hours in order to read all Starfleet psychological articles pertaining to body language and human interactions. She was shocked to learn that young children who were denied simple human touch for an extended period of time were later unable to form lasting relationships or sometimes, in the worst cases, even distinguish right from wrong. She had no idea that the simple act of touch could be so important. If this was the case why did no one ever see to that aspect of her development? Surely the doctor or the Captain must have noticed how isolated she was onboard Voyager. And yet, they clearly hadn't, and she was suffering. Still, she was Borg resistance was futile. She would solve her own problem.
That morning when she entered the conference room for the staff briefing she took the chair beside Harry Kim, and turning, greeted him with the welcoming smile she had practiced in her small mirror for over an hour that morning.
"Are you okay Seven?" he asked with a concerned look on his face.
She saw Lieutenant Torres give a snort of derision at her awkward attempt at joviality.
"I am fine," she answered, the smile fading from her bright red face.
Later that afternoon she was called to report to main engineering to assist with diagnostics on the EPS grid. She had spent the day trying and failing to initiate some form of physical contact with another member of the crew. Either they fled from her in fear, or they inquired if she required the assistance of the doctor. It was both humiliating and depressing. She was almost ready to give up and resign herself to a life lived in isolation. She was angered at the unfairness of a universe that would tear her from her family, leave her to the tender mercies of the Borg, then upon ripping her from their cybernetic cradle, would leave her heretrapped in the Delta quadrant with a crew who could not accept her for who and what she was.
Entering engineering she saw Lieutenant Torres working at the main console. She braced herself for the coming interaction but something prevented her from bringing her Borg demeanor online, as she would normally do. She would make one last attempt to utilize her newfound understanding of human interactions. She fixed a smile on her face and reached out her hand to touch the Lieutenant's shoulder in greeting.
"Lieutenant Torres," she began.
"What the hell do you think you're doing," B'Elanna shouted as she batted Seven's hand away before it could make contact with her shoulder.
Seven felt her face suffuse with heat and colour. She was angry at the engineer's treatment of her, and embarrassed that she was apparently unable to master this, most basic of human interactions.
"I apologize Lieutenant, I was merely attempting to.."
"Forget it Seven, lets just get on with this shall we," B'Elanna interrupted.
Seven fought back her anger; it would serve no purpose. She could understand the Klingon's reluctance to be touched. She had noticed that B'Elanna was another one of the crewmembers who was seldom touched by others. Seven supposed that the Klingon's infamous temper was the reason for her separateness; she didn't understand why the Klingon wouldn't welcome touch from another, but now was hardly the time for such considerations. She turned her attention to the diagnostics. She could feel the heat radiating from B'Elanna's body as they stood side by side at the console. She inched her body closer. Perhaps if she moved slowly the engineer would come to accept her proximity.
"Seven do want to tell me what's going on with you?" B'Elanna demanded as she moved away from the former drone.
"I do not know what you are talking about."
"You have to admit that you're acting a bit strangely lately. Is there something wrong with one of your systems?"
"What do you mean?"
"What's wrong with your face?" B'Elanna didn't mean the comment unkindly, but Seven was definitely looking odd lately.
"I was attempting to smile." Seven's answer was blunt in an attempt to cover her embarrassment. "You may ridicule me now if you wish."
It had been on the tip of B'Elanna's tongue to do just that, but something in the former drone's face stopped her words before they left her mouth.
"I'm not going to ridicule you Seven. I just didn't look can we just finish up here?"
"Acceptable," Seven replied in her best Borg monotone.
They returned to work without further talk. B'Elanna didn't care for Seven as a rule, but she was curious as to what was going on with the younger woman to cause such bizarre behaviour in the normally controlled drone. After her shift was over and she had returned to her quarters, her mind kept coming back to the events of the last few days. What in the world was going on with Seven? After an hour of trying to distract herself with work, B'Elanna gave in to her curiosity and left her quarters, heading for Cargo Bay 2.
When she arrived at the Cargo Bay, she hesitated before entering. This was really none of her business; she and Seven had enough problems without her snooping around in the Borg's private life. She turned to leave, but then abruptly turned again and marched into the Bay before she had a chance to change her mind again.
Seven was working at her personal console; she looked up on hearing the doors open. Her heart fell upon seeing B'Elanna enter the room. She had hoped that the Klingon would simply forget about the incident in engineering, but it appeared that was not to be.
"What can I do for you Lieutenant?"
"I, uh, I'm sorry to bust in here like this, but I can't get this afternoon and this morning out of my mind. Is there something wrong?"
"It is of no consequence Lieutenant, but thank you for your concern."
Seven's sarcasm irked B'Elanna, but she forced herself to remain civil.
"I actually am concerned Seven. There's obviously something going on with you, maybe I can help." B'Elanna's assumption was that whatever was wrong with Seven was mechanical in nature. It never occurred to her that the drone was having problems of a more personal nature.
Seven didn't trust B'Elanna, or her motives, but she had been craving more intimate interaction with the crewmembers so it hardly seemed logical to reject the first person that offered it. Her personal observations about B'Elanna's own lack of contact also led her to believe that perhaps she might understand how Seven was affected by her situation.
"Have you ever noticed how others among the crew touch one another to indicate emphasis, or concern, or to comfort one another?"
B'Elanna was puzzled by Seven's apparent non sequitur. "Um, sure I guess."
"I I am sorry Lieutenant. I do not believe that I can talk about this." Seven found that now that she had started down this path she was too embarrassed to put her feelings into words. She didn't want B'Elanna to know how vulnerable she could be.
"Seven, obviously there's a problem now tell me what's going on." Having come this far, she wasn't about to take 'no' for an answer.
"I believe that the rest of the crew is afraid of me that they are afraid of touching me for fear of being infected with my Borg nature. I find that I feel a sense of separateness from the crew that is beginning to hamper my ability to function. I need to feel."
Seven let her voice trail off with her last comment. She waited for B'Elanna to laugh at her for her vulnerability. The silence between them stretched out as the engineer absorbed the information she had just been given.
"I guess I know what you mean."
"I attempted to use body language to indicate to others that I pose no threat to them, and to indicate that I would welcome contact between us, but I was unsuccessful in mastering the required techniques. I believe my attempts only served to further frighten people. I do not know what to do."
"I don't really know what to say Seven. This isn't exactly an area where I have a lot of experience."
"I know. I have observed the fact that many crewmembers give you a wider than normal berth, and refrain from coming into physical contact with you as well."
Seven's comments stung, but only because B'Elanna recognized them as the truth.
"I wanted the same things Seven. That's why I got involved with Tom."
"Then why did you end your relationship with him?"
"Because sometimes touch devoid of real feeling can be even lonelier than no touch at all. I've made my peace with it."
"Then you no longer desire physical contact with other people."
"I wouldn't say that exactly, but I've learned that I can live without it."
"Is this what you are recommending that I do. Learn to live without it."
"I'm not recommending anything. I'm just telling you how I manage."
"Are you lonely Lieutenant?" Seven knew she was risking B'Elanna's ire by asking such a personal question, but she wanted to know.
B'Elanna was taken aback by Seven's blunt question. She very badly wanted to end this conversation now and flee the presence of the drone. With every question, with every look into the sad eyes of the beautiful young woman she felt another piece of the wall she had erected around her heart begin to flake away. If she wasn't careful the walls would come down, and she would once again be vulnerable to the world that had hurt her so much already. She was terrified.
"I have my work and that keeps me pretty busy, but I suppose I have to admit that I am lonely most of the time."
"Did your parents touch you often when you were a child?"
B'Elanna felt her heart constrict with the mention of such a painful subject. Another piece of her wall fell away as she prepared to answer Seven honestly.
"My father did for a while when I was young, but he left us when I was only 6. My mother was a Klingon, and they don't go in for a lot of touchy feely stuff, so after my dad left there wasn't a lot of physical contact in my life. Other kids were usually afraid of me, so they weren't too apt to touch me."
"I am sorry."
"Its okay Seven. Like I said, I've learned to live with it after all of these years."
They were both lost in thought for several long minutes. B'Elanna was thinking back to all of the lonely years she spent as a child alone with her mother, and all of the lonely months she had spent trying to convince herself that she was in love with Tom Paris. Seven was trying to get up the courage to ask the next question that had come into her mind.
"Will you touch me Lieutenant?"
"I asked if you would touch me. I will understand if you do not wish to do so. You have made your dislike of me evident on numerous occasions."
"I I just give me a minute okay." B'Elanna knew that if she took this step she might live to regret it. She also wanted to feel, but was afraid of what might happen to her if she did.
Seven stood quietly while B'Elanna thought over everything that had just passed between them. Finally she came to a decision. Taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly she moved toward the former drone, and reached out slowly to take Seven's Borg enhanced hand in her own. They stood there for a moment, Seven with her eyes closed to further concentrate on the feeling of her hand resting in the warmth of B'Elanna's. She was afraid to move lest the Lieutenant withdraw the contact between them.
B'Elanna was surprised to find that Seven's hand was warm. She had expected the cold of metal when she reached out to touch the Borg. Unconsciously her thumb began to trace over the metal ridges of the implants. Seven caught her breath at the gentle exploration. She moved ever so slightly closer to B'Elanna, and finally reached out to take B'Elanna's other hand in hers. It was her turn to let her thumb explore the calluses on B'Elanna's palm. She committed every detail of texture and temperature to her eidetic memory. She was unsure if she would ever have this kind of contact again, and she wanted to remember it in all of its detail. She wanted more. She forced her eyes up to meet B'Elanna's, startled by the look of longing she saw in the engineer's eyes. It emboldened her.
"Will you hold me B'Elanna?" Her voice was so low that only B'Elanna's Klingon hearing could pick it up.
B'Elanna took a small step forward and Seven mirrored the movement. They were mere inches apart, still lost in one another's eyes. B'Elanna squeezed her hands once firmly, and then let go of them. Seven's heart stopped until she felt those hands come to rest lightly on her hips. She felt a gentle pressure as B'Elanna urged her closer still; she slid her hands slowly over B'Elanna's shoulders and around her neck. Careful not to be too hasty she squeezed the lieutenant closer still. B'Elanna let her body settle comfortably against Seven's; after a moment she began to gently rub small circles on the younger woman's back. Seven let her fingers tangle in B'Elanna's hair, and after a moment she let her head sink forward until her cheek was resting against the engineer's forehead ridges. She sighed in contentment; it was everything she had imagined it would be.
B'Elanna was lost in the feeling of being held again; it had been so long. The feeling of Seven's fingers combing through her hair took her back to the few fond memories she had of her father stroking her head as she fell asleep. She nuzzled her head into Seven's shoulders and let herself feel the comfort of human touch as the last bricks of her carefully constructed wall fell away unheeded. They stood that way, unaware of the passage of time, for long unmeasured moments. When they finally moved apart B'Elanna was mortified to feel the sting of tears behind her eyes.
"I really should get going Seven. It's getting late; I have an early morning tomorrow, and so do you."
Seven felt a flash of pain as B'Elanna prepared to flee her presence, but she was aware enough to realize that the Klingon hybrid was probably feeling very vulnerable and awkward in this moment. She reached out and took B'Elanna's hand in her own for a minute, staying the engineer's headlong flight from the Cargo Bay.
"Thank you B'Elanna. You have been most kind."
B'Elanna kept her head down in an effort to hide her emotional display from Seven.
"No problem, really Seven, I think I've been needing that for a very long time, but I really should be going. I'll, uh, see you tomorrow okay?"
"Good night B'Elanna," said Seven as she felt the engineer's hand slip from her own.
She stood in her alcove for several minutes, replaying the sensations she had experienced this evening before she finally stepped back and allowed her regeneration cycle to begin.
The next morning B'Elanna was seized with a feeling of dread from the moment she woke up to the moment she reported for the morning staff briefing. She had held Seven of Nine in her arms, and had let the former drone see her at her most vulnerable. How was she ever going to be able to face her again? The worst part was, she didn't even really regret it. The feeling of being held, of taking comfort in the arms of someone else was too powerful. But the embarrassment she felt was acute and she was frozen with fear at the thought of seeing her this morning at the meeting. Her mother would be mortified at the thought of her Klingon daughter being so needy. She checked the time and realized that she was going to be late for the meeting if she didn't get going, so she pushed all thoughts of last night out of her head, grabbed her jacket and headed out to the meeting.
She was one of the last to arrive and there were only two empty seats in the room. One of them was beside Seven of Nine. She briefly contemplated taking the one on the other side of the table beside Harry, but at seeing the hopeful look that crossed Seven's features briefly she chose the one next to the blonde.
"Morning Seven," said, giving her a shy sideways smile.
"Good morning B'Elanna," Seven began.
Whatever else she was going to say was cut off as Janeway stood and called the meeting to order. B'Elanna was acutely aware of Seven sitting next to her, and she was having a hard time concentrating on the meeting. Finally she couldn't take the tension any longer and she slowly slid her foot along the floor until her shoe made contact with Seven's.
Seven looked over as she felt B'Elanna touch her, but the engineer was looking at the Captain, and for all intents and purposes appeared to be paying attention only to the meeting. But she didn't move her foot away, so Seven could only believe that her touch was deliberate. She moved in her chair slightly as if she was trying to get a clearer view of the front of the table, and slowly let her leg relax until it was resting against B'Elanna's. She waited with bated breath for several seconds until she was certain that the engineer wasn't going to react negatively, and then she turned her attention back to the meeting. She had thought she might find it distracting, but, in fact, it seemed to help her concentrate. She was saddened when the meeting was over and they rose to their feet; she felt a chill where B'Elanna's heat had warmed her leg. She missed that warmth already. As they walked to the door of the room, she felt B'Elanna's hand graze over the small of her back as they talked about the day ahead. Seven felt an unfamiliar sensation as they walked, and it took her a moment or two to ascertain what it washappiness.
They got into the turbolift together, still chatting amiably. When they reached the floor for engineering, they stood for a moment, uncertain of what to say to one another. Finally B'Elanna broke the awkward silence.
"Would you like to have dinner with me tonight?"
"I would very much like that, thank you," Seven replied, feeling the corners of her lips twitch upwards slightly.
"Now that's a smile Seven," B'Elanna joked with an answering grin as she stepped out of the lift and watched the doors slide shut, blocking out the still smiling figure of Seven of Nine.
B'Elanna was in a good mood all day until a half an hour before the end of her shift when the magnetic constrictors malfunctioned and she only narrowly avoided a warp core breach with ten minutes of frantic work that saved Voyager, but left her with hours of work that had to be completed before the ship would be able to go to warp. She was surprised at how upset she was at having to call Seven and cancel their dinner. She had been almost dreading it ever since she issued the invitation, and now here she was with a real excuse to cancel and she didn't want to. Nevertheless duty called so she tapped her comm badge and made the call. She could hear the disappointment in Seven's voice even through the comm system when she told her what had happened, but Seven knew that duty to the ship came first and so she gracefully accepted B'Elanna's apologies.
B'Elanna returned to work feeling strangely deflated as if the day had suddenly gone flat. A few moments later however her comm badge chimed and her mood picked up when she heard Seven's voice hailing her over the system.
<Seven of Nine to Lieutenant Torres>
"Go ahead Seven."
<My plans for this evening seem to have fallen through, so I was wondering if you would like my assistance with the repairs in engineering>
B'Elanna smiled to herself; a few days ago she would have found any excuse possible to keep Seven out of engineering, but now she found herself looking forward to having the former drone come down and argue protocol with her for the next four hours.
"Sure Seven, that'd be great I'll see you when you get down here."
<I am on my way>
They worked steadily for three hours, with only a few minor disagreements. B'Elanna knew that she would have been here for twice as long without Seven's help, and she had to admit that, despite their arguments, she was glad that Seven was so free with her assistance. Now that they appeared to be forming a friendship even their arguments didn't seem so bad; they were more like intellectual exercises that sharpened the mind rather than mean spirited fights that hurt feelings.
"If you aren't too tired Seven, we could have dinner now." They had finally finished the repairs and were leaving engineering for the evening. "It'd just be something out of the replicator, but if you want to "
"I want to, B'Elanna, I want to."
"Let's go," B'Elanna said with a grin, "I'm starving."
After a simple dinner B'Elanna ordered a glass of wine for herself and a glass of juice for Seven and they sat on the couch, still discussing the possible causes for the failure of the magnetic constrictors this evening. Seven was happy to be here in the company of B'Elanna, but her mind kept going back to last evening, and how it had felt to be held in the arms of another. She shifted closer on the sofa; B'Elanna's hand, which was resting on the back of the couch, was now directly behind her head, and almost unconsciously she began to massage the back of Seven's neck. Seven moved closer still; her heart leapt when she felt B'Elanna's hand guide her head down onto her shoulder. She curled her feet up on the sofa and wrapped her arms around B'Elanna's waist. After a while they stopped talking and just drew simple comfort from being in one another's arms.
B'Elanna awoke with a start. She didn't know where she was for a moment, and then the events of the evening came flooding back to her. She looked down to where Seven was just waking up, having felt B'Elanna's movement. The former drone looked confused for a moment as well, but eventually she looked up and catch B'Elanna's eye.
"I fell asleep," she murmured in a drowsy voice that B'Elanna found quite endearing.
"Mmm, me too," B'Elanna finally replied.
"What time is it?"
"I should return to my alcove and allow you to sleep," Seven said as she began to move away from B'Elanna.
"I'll walk you." B'Elanna got up and began to move to the door with Seven.
"That is not necessary. I can return to the cargo bay on my own." Secretly Seven was touched that B'Elanna wanted to spend more time with her, but she was worried that the engineer was not going get enough sleep tonight.
"It's okay Seven, I want to."
"Well, if you insist," Seven said with a shy smile.
They walked together in silence; Seven wanted to reach out and take B'Elanna's hand, but she chided herself for her all too human needs. She was, after all, still Borg, and she was completely capable of walking with someone and not needing touch. Still, she really did wish B'Elanna would take her hand.
When they reached the cargo bay, B'Elanna waited until Seven was in her alcove; she stood in front of the statuesque blonde and reached up her hand to touch her perfect cheek.
"Goodnight Seven," she said, before stepping back and initiating the regeneration cycle.
She watched for a minute as Seven's features settled into perfect repose. She couldn't understand how rapidly their relationship had changed, but the sea change that had occurred after their first physical contact was irrefutable. B'Elanna didn't know how, but they were definitely friends now; as much as she hated to admit it she was rapidly becoming very fond of the former drone. She only hoped that, having let Seven in, she wouldn't regret it. She took another long look at the beautiful blonde before heading back to her quarters.
They didn't see one another the entire next day, but neither one of them could get the other out of their minds. B'Elanna fought off the urge to call Seven over the comm just to hear her voice at least 10 times an hour. She didn't understand why she was feeling like this. She and Seven were friends, like her and Harryshe didn't feel like calling him a million times a day. She couldn't get the feeling of Seven in her arms out of her head, but that didn't make any sense either they were only friends. Friends hold one another all the time, right? It didn't mean anything except that they were good friends, and that they were both lonely and needed some simple human contact. It isn't like there was anything wrong with that was there?
Seven, for her part, found herself distracted by thoughts of the chief engineer, and how she felt when B'Elanna's muscular arms wrapped around hershe felt safe, accepted, human, and home. She wanted to see B'Elanna, but she could think of no logical excuse to do so, so she forced her mind back to her work. Now that she was more familiar with human contact rituals, she found herself able to initiate several such events with other crewmembers, but it never felt the same as when B'Elanna touched her. She could find no logical reason why not, but nevertheless, only with the Klingon hybrid did she find a sense of complete acceptance and comfort through touch.
They just missed one another in the mess hall, and B'Elanna was getting angry with herself for caring so much. She decided to simply go back to her quarters and get some work done before bed. She managed to get a solid hour's worth done before she gave in to her need to see Seven. She went to the cargo bay without bothering to call first this way she could change her mind at the last minute and no one would be the wiser. But when she arrived at the bay she walked right in without a moment's hesitation. Seven had just decided that she was going to go to B'Elanna's quarters to see her and was walking toward the cargo bay doors when they opened and the engineer herself walked into the room. As she caught sight of B'Elanna, Seven felt her stomach tighten, there was a strange sensation between her legs. It all caught her by surprise; she let out a little yelp and clutched at her stomach.
"What's wrong Seven?" The concern was evident in B'Elanna's voice.
"I am uncertain. Just as I saw you my stomach seemed to malfunction, and I " her voice trailed off as she was unsure if she wanted to describe the rest of her symptoms to B'Elanna. Perhaps it would be better if she just went to the doctor and found out what was wrong.
B'Elanna came close to Seven, and reached out to touch her arm. As soon as she made contact Seven's stomach felt as if it was malfunctioning, and the sensation between her legs became more intense; she was becoming concerned. B'Elanna knew what was happening, but she didn't know what to do about it. The look of fear on Seven's face told her that she needed to explain the situation, but she was uncertain of how to go about it.
"I believe I am ill I must go to sick bay."
"Seven, hang on. You aren't ill. You're just "
"What, what am I, just?"
B'Elanna wished she were anywhere but here. How do you explain something like this to someone without totally humiliating them?
"You're aroused is all Seven. It's nothing to worry about I promise."
Seven heard the words, but it took several moments before the meaning of them completely sank in. When it finally did she felt her face begin to burn. B'Elanna was going to be furious with her how could this have happened. What was B'Elanna thinking? She must be angry.
"I apologize it was not my intention. I should go " Seven started for the doors.
"Seven please," B'Elanna caught her by the arm. "There's no reason for you to apologize. It happens, it's no big deal," she hesitated not wanting to pick at a sore spot, "haven't you ever felt like that before?" B'Elanna couldn't believe that Seven had never experienced arousal before.
"No, seeing you now when you entered the cargo bay is the first time I have ever experienced this sensation. I did not mean to offend you, I apologize."
"Offend me?" B'Elanna was puzzled. "Why would I be offended?"
"I, do not know. I would understand if you felt violated by my actions."
"Seven, I'm not offended, and I don't feel violated. It's okay, really."
Seven could tell that B'Elanna was sincere and she was relieved to know that she hadn't ruined their friendship with this episode. She was curious however as to why the normally volatile chief engineer was so calm in the face of this revelation.
"It does not bother you that the mere sight of you arouses me?"
"No I, of course not, I'm um flattered really."
"Do you experience this sensation when you are near me?" Seven took a step closer as she asked the question that had been in her mind ever since B'Elanna explained the unfamiliar sensation to her. Seven was still Borg enough not to want to waste any more time. She would take the direct approach and consequences be damned.
"Well," in truth B'Elanna was starting to feel that way right now.
"I understand. You do not need to answer the question." Seven felt bitter disappointment in her throat as she realized that B'Elanna did not feel the same way about her.
"I guess I've just never thought of women in that way, that's all."
"Is it wrong to do so?"
"What? No of course not. I just never gave it any thought."
Seven's disappointment showed on her face, and B'Elanna reached out to comfort her. She drew the beautiful woman into her arms and held her close, whispering words of comfort in her ear. Seven pressed hard into the contact, memorizing the feeling in case it was to be denied her after this incident. As they stood there silently Seven realized that B'Elanna's pulse rate was elevated, and that her body temperature had risen slightly since she pulled her into her arms. She felt hope begin to stir in her heart. After all B'Elanna hadn't said she couldn't feel that way, only that she hadn't thought of it before. Her rapid pulse and temperature increase were similar to the symptoms of arousal that Seven herself was experiencing. Perhaps B'Elanna was beginning to feel the same things.
"Do you think," Seven paused uncertain if asking the question on her mind was the right thing to do or not. "Could you ever feel this way about me?"
B'Elanna didn't know what to do. She was becoming increasingly certain that she could feel this way about Seven, but she was worried that if they kept going down this road they might damage the friendship that she was only now beginning to value so highly. Still, her honour wouldn't let her lie to a friend.
"I think I could Seven, but I have to be honest. The prospect of it scares the hell out of me. I really value what we have and I don't want to lose it by acting on impulse now." What she didn't add was how frightened she was of allowing herself to be vulnerable, to care for someone again, and take the chance of having her heart broken.
Seven was happy at B'Elanna's admission, but she also felt a sense of frustration.
"I thought that Klingon's thrived on impulse."
"Well that's true. My mother was always telling me I should be more of a Klingon." B'Elanna said, with a nervous laugh.
"We would not want to disappoint your mother, would we?" Seven whispered. Tangling her hands in B'Elanna's hair, she looked intently into her eyes. "Perhaps a kiss " Seven's voice was wistful.
"Hmm, impulsive, but not overly rash," B'Elanna could feel her heart pounding, "I could do that."
"Your mother would be so proud," Seven leaned closer until their lips were a breath away from touching.
Finally, B'Elanna moved the millimeter necessary to bring them into contact. Their lips touched ever so gently, and for a moment neither of them moved. Then, slowly, they began to respond to the sensuality of the situation, molding their bodies together, tongues beginning a tortuously sweet exploration. The kiss was a sharing of desire and longing as well as an exorcism of loneliness and solitude. Seven felt her knees begin to weaken as her mind and body were both overwhelmed with sensation and passion. She felt herself begin to sag toward the floor, pulling B'Elanna down with her. As they sank to their knees B'Elanna broke the kiss. She held the trembling beauty close.
"Are you okay?" she finally managed.
"Yes, I am just overwhelmed. I have never experienced anything like that before. I believe I now understand the expression 'you take my breath away' please, just hold me." Seven hated that she couldn't keep the note of longing out of her voice. She didn't want B'Elanna to think she was too needy, but she needed her.
"Of course sweetie, of course, I've got you I've got you."
"That is fast becoming my fondest wish," Seven said with a shy smile.
"I think maybe mine too Seven," B'Elanna murmured into her platinum blonde hair.
"So then, you have begun to think of women in that way," Seven teased.
"I think it's certainly safe to say that I have begun to think of you in that way."
They remained kneeling on the floor of the cargo bay for some time, communicating volumes through their silence. Finally B'Elanna got to her feet, helping Seven up as she rose.
"It's getting late." B'Elanna didn't really want to go, but they both had work in the morning, and she was worried about taking things too fast if she were to remain much longer.
Seven furrowed her brow at B'Elanna's words; she didn't want to limit her contact with the beautiful engineer. For a brief moment she considered asking B'Elanna if she could return to her quarters with her, but she realized that they were moving quickly, and that they could both use the time to think over what had passed between them. Tomorrow would be soon enough. She kissed B'Elanna's beautiful lips one last time before she stepped back out of her loving embrace. She felt immediately bereft, but was mollified somewhat when B'Elanna took her hand and led her to her alcove. This time it was B'Elanna who bestowed the kiss, and wished her sweet dreams. Seven once again felt the warmth of love and home wash over her at B'Elanna's tender caring. She was happy that the last sight she saw before her regeneration cycle dimmed her eyes was the engineer's beautiful smile.
B'Elanna paced in her quarters. What the hell had she been thinking? She was afraid of what she had started, of what she had allowed to begin. She needed to think about what she was doing. She didn't want to rush into something that she would later regret. She didn't want another Tom Paris incident, although she was certain it would be different with Seven. Still, she wanted neither to be ruled by fear, nor by passion in this if she was going to take this step she wanted it to be for the right reasons, and she didn't want to walk off a cliff in the process. She tossed and turned for hours before finally falling into a fitful sleep.
The next day was like torture for B'Elanna. She had resolved very little with her late night agonizing. One thing was for certain now that she had the idea of making love with Seven in her head, it was not going to be easy to forget it. She wasn't even certain she wanted to forget it. She was tired of being afraid the energy it required of her to guard her heart and her feelings so closely was draining her life's energy faster than she could hope to replace it. She had to keep reminding herself that she was a young woman, sometimes she just felt so old. The weight of her responsibilities on this ship, combined with her need to always hold herself back just a little with people had made her old before her time. She was tired of it! Why shouldn't she allow herself a little happiness? Seven was obviously attracted to her; she obviously wanted to take the next step. So why not? Because she didn't what to lose her friend that's why. But who said they would lose the friendship. She knew she had nascent feelings for Seven, and she believed that Seven felt the same way about her. As long as they were honest with one another, where was the harm in that?
The entire day went like that for B'Elanna. She alternately decided to simply call Seven and go for it, and call her and tell her that they could only ever be friends that further intimacy between them was impossible. She was exhausted by the end of her shift, and she still hadn't reached a decision. She returned to her quarters alone, resigned to another night of fruitless pacing. Her heart stopped when the chime to her quarters rang after she had been home for an hour. She knew who it was on the other side of the door. The next few minutes could conceivably alter her life radically if she chose to risk her heart. Even as she called for the door to open she still didn't have a clue what she was going to say.
Seven stepped into the room looking slightly nervous. She was worried that after last night B'Elanna would be reluctant to be alone with her again. She was afraid that B'Elanna would no longer wish to touch her, and of one thing she was entirely certainshe required that touch. Only with B'Elanna could she find the solace she required. She hadn't been sure that coming here tonight was the right thing to do, but she couldn't stay away. She stood nervously just inside the door, watching B'Elanna for any clue as to what the engineer was thinking.
"I need you." The words were out before Seven could stop them.
"Seven, I. It just isn't that simple."
"Well, we have to think about the consequences of our actions. This would completely change our relationship."
"For the better." Seven was adamant.
"Maybe, but you never know. What if it didn't work out what would happen to us then?"
"What if it did work out?"
"I " B'Elanna didn't really know what else to say. "I'm afraid," she finally admitted.
"As am I, but I am more afraid of never again feeling as I did in your arms last night. I am more afraid of never again finding the peace that I feel when I am with you. I know that you feel it too B'Elanna." Seven was moving closer with every word. "Trust me."
"Then we will face our fears together."
The simple joining of hands had never before held such promise. It signified a joining that was beyond words, beyond touch. The sharing of their feelings of difference and separation had drawn them closer, and in this moment, on the threshold of this most complicated of life's journeys, they were filled with a sense of joy, as if they were only now come home from exile in a desert of loneliness into a promised land of love and connection. The simple joining of hands had become a magical act.
When their lips touched again for the first time it was as if they ceased to exist separately. All else fell away and it was only the two of them flowing endlessly together. Mind and body became distinctions that no longer existed, but were become a continuum of feeling and feelings that lifted them above fear and hesitationonly together did they have wings. Their feet didn't touch the ground as they moved into the bedroom. Gentle hands eased clothes from bodies until the heat of B'Elanna's skin touched the cool of Seven's, polar opposites meeting and melding together, fire tempering ice. Sweet sensual warmth.
Seven moved out of B'Elanna's loving embrace, walking to the bed, looking over her shoulder archly to ensure that the Klingon was watching. Stripping away the covers she lay back on the bed and waited, but not for long. She felt the bed dip as B'Elanna crawled over the footboard and eased her body next to Seven's. Her touch was feather light as her hands traced over the blonde's body, her fingers leaving contrails of heat on Seven's porcelain cool skin. She closed her eyes to concentrate on the feelings that she was experiencing for the first time. The look of intense concentration on B'Elanna's face as she explored her body made Seven feel beautiful, and loved. The flicker of passion in her stomach was being fanned into a flame that threatened to engulf her she gave herself over to it willingly, feeling the Klingon's fire wash over her body.
B'Elanna hadn't expected to feel so much; she never had before. She wanted to go slowly; she wanted this feeling to last forever. She looked at the woman who lay beneath her hands in all of her agonizing over whether or not to pursue this relationship, she had never really let herself think about the physical realities of it, of what Seven would look like when at last she could see all of her; B'Elanna knew she could completely lose herself in the exploration of this woman. The Borg depravity that had been visited on Seven's body had been mitigated by surgery, but it was still evident everywhere B'Elanna looked. She was surprised to find it beautiful she hadn't expected that. She reached out, letting her fingers trail along the abdominal implant. She was touching the Borg, and it didn't cool her ardour in the least. She let her hand drift up until it rested just beneath Seven's chest. There she stopped, hovering mere millimeters from the gentle swell that demarcated the boundary between ribs and breast, but she hesitated; if she crossed that divide everything would change. She wondered how such an insignificant distance could have such import, and yet it did; if she chose to take this leap she would be leaving life, as she knew it, behind forever. She smiled to herself at her own ability to rationalize; she was able to convince herself that if she stopped now, she would still be 'normal,' but if she moved her hand even slightly northward, she would have crossed the line and there would be no turning back. She would have become a lover of women. She moved imperceptibly upwards, and when at last her hand brushed Seven's erect nipple, her own sigh of relief was echoed by Seven's. It was done; she would never look back. At last she allowed her mouth to join her hands, falling upon Seven's breast like a lost child; Seven's moan when she felt the warmth of her mouth envelop her nipple pushed B'Elanna's pulse rate ever higher the flutter between her legs was becoming a throb. When Seven pressed herself upward she answered in kind, nuzzling harder into Seven's nipple.
Seven fought back her natural tendency to take charge. She knew that B'Elanna craved control; it was the reason they so often fought when Seven made her presence felt in engineering. She lay back and gave it all over to the engineer. She was unprepared for how vulnerable it would make her feel, but she mastered her fears and accepted B'Elanna's domination. She wanted to spread her legs to invite the Klingon into further intimacy, but she waited, wanting B'Elanna to spread them for her, wanting B'Elanna to have the control she desired. Whatever happened would be B'Elanna's decision entirely. She felt the warm touch of B'Elanna strong hands tracing along her thigh, and her breath caught in her throat when she felt the Klingon ease her legs apart, her breath hot on the sensitive skin of her inner thighs. Seven felt the smoothness of her lover's warm caramel skin nuzzling into her leg; she gasped, twitching uncontrollably when she felt B'Elanna place a kiss on the melting heat between her legs. She could feel something building up inside of her, growing from the point of contact between B'Elanna's mouth and her own overheated flesh, spreading out over her body, all encompassing heat.
B'Elanna's blood was singing in her veins, her heart was pounding with unrestrained desire, as she tasted the slick, sweet product of Seven's passion. Her senses were reeling with the scents and tastes of this marvelous woman. She pressed harder, thrusting her tongue inside of Seven to search out the source of the addictive taste. She could feel Seven thrashing on the bed, and she had to hold on tightly to not be displaced from her spot. She gently slid her fingers inside of Seven's body, marveling at the feeling of being inside another human being; she could feel Seven's pulse pounding, and the contractions of her womb signaling her imminent release. Moving in time to the rhythm of Seven's heart she kissed her way back up Seven's body, wanting to watch Seven's beautiful face as she came for the first time their lips touched, and Seven moaned B'Elanna's name again and again into the Klingon's mouth.
Seven was grateful for B'Elanna's strength as the Klingon held her through the aftershocks of her first orgasm. She could feel the heat of the engineer's fingers still inside of her, still moving ever so slightly in time with the pounding of her pulse. She pulled B'Elanna closer, needing the contact, the feeling of safety she found only in her arms. The emotional groundswell that accompanied her physical release was overwhelming, and she buried her face in B'Elanna's neck as the tears began to fall.
B'Elanna felt Seven begin to shake and pulled her close, holding her, and comforting her with nonsense words in gentle tones. As the tears began to subside, and Seven regained control of herself, B'Elanna felt her begin to kiss the skin of her neck, her hands beginning to explore, the touch driving coherent thought and words from her mind; she was pure sensation. Seven's touch was firm and sure as she mapped the contours of B'Elanna's body with mouth and hands. She enjoyed the sway she held over the Klingon, who was panting beneath her touch, begging her not to stop. The feeling of being inside of her, the strength she could feel even here, was incredible. She never wanted to stop.
They made love for hours, at times with great urgency, and again at times with slow gentle sweetness. Every time was different, and with each touch, each kiss, each tender caress they grew closer. The time for words was not yet come; the future would take care of itself in good time. Their hearts had already said everything that needed to be said, they understood what they were to one another, what they would always be to one another. They held one another tightly as they began to drift away into sleep, even in a half waking state Seven could feel the power in B'Elanna's embrace, and as ever it made her feel safe, B'Elanna would always be her haven, and she B'Elanna's. No matter what happened, despite the ever-present danger of the Delta Quadrant, as long as they were together they had safe haven from the storm. As long as they were together they would have warmth and love to last through this lifetime and beyond.
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