DISCLAIMER: Star Trek is the property of Paramount, no money is being earned from this piece of fan fiction.
NOTES: This idea came into my head just before I went to bed last night, so I thought I'd have a go at writing it this morning. Now, don't die of shock, but it is another short fluffy piece from me! I don't know what's come over me, two 'shorts' in two months lol. The original kernal of the idea was inspired from TJ's latest story Close Quarters and B'Elanna doing an inventory of the Cargo Bay so I am dedicating this to her.
As the doors to Cargo Bay 2 hissed open, Seven of Nine looked up from her workstation and watched B'Elanna Torres, Chief Engineer, propel herself through the gap with her usual intense vigour. "Can I be of assistance?" The tall blonde had learnt that the crew valued polite enquiry and offers of help, despite the inefficiency of the action. Lieutenant Torres had been honest enough to tell the ex-drone that she was `rude' and it helped sustain a barrier against integration with the crew. At first, the Astrometrics officer had dismissed the comment, but as she continued to explore her humanity and interact with others, she came to value the half-Klingon's honesty and tried to reduce her brusqueness with others.
"Sorry to disturb you Seven, but I need to do an inventory of equipment before we get to the space station for repairs," B'Elanna replied rapidly, eager to get on with the task as quickly as possible.
"There is no need. I can tell you the exact contents of the cargo bay," Seven replied confidently.
B'Elanna stopped in her tracks and looked at the taller woman wide- eyed. "I know you have an eidetic memory, but I would have thought cluttering it up with lists to be pretty futile," she commented with the barest hint of a grin on her lips.
"You are correct. However, there are times when I have nothing to do. In order to break the monotony, I catalogue the items in the cargo bay."
B'Elanna narrowed her eyes slightly. "Are you telling me that you can find nothing better to do than count components?"
"After I have completed my duties, spent time with Naomi Wildman and played Velocity with the Captain, there is still a substantial part of non-duty time that can be difficult to fill."
B'Elanna was genuinely shocked. She knew that Seven worked just as hard as she did, and the small amount of free time B'Elanna managed to get between working and sleeping was something to be valued and utilised to the full. Seven clearly did not need as much rest as her, and that freed up more time, but still Seven should be looking forward to personal time, not dismissive of it as she clearly was.
"What about spending time with other members of the crew, or reading, or using the holodeck? Surely there must be lots of stuff you want to do," the raven-haired Klingon reasoned.
"Other members of the crew feel uncomfortable around me and I do not want to mar their free time. Reading is escapism that is an irrelevant use of my time as is the holodeck. I have no wish to utilise them." Seven stood stiffly as she spoke.
B'Elanna saw through the formal speech instantly. The young woman was lonely and even using the holodeck could potentially highlight the problem as opposed to solving it. She was also shocked to see how insecure Seven still felt round the rest of the crew. She had assumed that Seven had integrated fairly well by now. The engineer had often invited her to sit at her table in the mess hall and just supposed that others did the same. However, she wasn't sure what to do about it.
"I see. Well, if you give me your inventory, it'll free up my evening and I can get back to reading my latest escapist novel," she teased lightly.
Seven punched in a few commands on her console and downloaded the information onto B'Elanna's data padd. "You will find the information to be accurate," the tall Borg stated.
"I don't doubt that for a second Seven," B'Elanna smiled back. "Sorry to disturb you. I'll see you later."
Seven cocked her head to one side. "Have we made arrangements to meet?"
The smaller woman shook her head slightly. "It's just an expression, Seven. Good night."
Seven hid the disappointment she felt. For a moment, she thought that B'Elanna was going to offer to spend some time with her. She was one of the few people on Voyager who did not hide their feelings. She had been honest enough to tell Seven that she did not trust her or even like her when she first boarded. She also told her when she revised that statement and began to respect her opinion and trust her abilities. Seven found the chief engineer to be explosive, full of energy, dynamic and inventive. She was happy to display her emotions and show everyone how she felt. Seven envied that trait but had hidden behind a veil of control and suppressed emotions for so long that she did not know how the crew, or even she would react to displaying her own feelings more openly. Perhaps if she spent more time with the Klingon hybrid, she might feel more confident, but Seven knew secretly that she was as proud as B'Elanna in that respect, and she could not bring herself to ask the older woman for her assistance. She sighed inwardly as she watched the fiery engineer turn for the exit. "Good night, Lieutenant."
B'Elanna hurried back to her quarters and grabbed a data padd. The unexpected let off from work had given her a free evening, and after what she had just witnessed in the cargo bay, she intended to put every second to good use.
The next day, Seven sat in Cargo Bay 2 and filed her reports, archiving them by date, type, length and any other group she could think of in order to pass the time. She was surprised to hear the cargo bay doors open again. It was not often that she received visitors in the evening, particularly once Naomi Wildman retired to bed. She arched an eyebrow when she saw Lieutenant Torres hover near the entrance. "Another inventory?" she asked curiously.
"Er, no. Not exactly. Can I come in?" For some reason, B'Elanna suddenly felt acutely aware that technically, the cargo bay served as Seven's quarters. She did not want to intrude without permission.
Seven's optical implant rose higher. "You have never asked to enter before. However, you may come in."
"Yeah, I'm sorry about that. I guess I just saw the cargo bay as a storage area and not your personal space. I'll get the rest of my team to ask in future too."
Seven acknowledged the gesture with a nod. "Thank you. Do you require my assistance this evening?"
"No." B'Elanna watched the subtle change in Seven's face and registered that once again she was slightly disappointed. "I would like your company this evening. That is, if you haven't planned anything else."
Seven frowned. "My company? What do you intend to do?"
"Come with me and you'll find out," B'Elanna invited, smiling.
"I will comply," Seven responded automatically, shutting off her console quickly.
The two women left the cargo bay and headed for the turbolift. Seven looked furtively at her companion. B'Elanna appeared to be excited about something, but was trying unsuccessfully to contain her enthusiasm. "Where are we going?" Seven asked curiously.
"The holodeck," the Klingon replied.
Seven halted mid-stride. "I told you that I thought that holodecks were an irrelevant use of time."
"Yes I know. But I would like your company while I use it. Is that acceptable?" B'Elanna expected resistance but still couldn't help but be slightly irritated by Seven's statement.
The tall blonde nodded and continued. Once they were outside the entrance to the holodeck, B'Elanna punched in a few commands at the control panel and the doors swished open.
The two women stepped inside and immediately they were engulfed in a cacophony of sounds, a myriad of smells and a dazzling array of lights. Different types of music blared around them, coming from areas of interest judging from the number of people swarming around wooden platforms, stalls, circular paddocks and gated entrances. Holographic characters milled around, shouting and laughing. Children ran past them excitedly pointing at the next attraction that had caught their attention. Vendors were extolling the wonders of their products, selling things like `hot dogs', `candy floss' and `do- nuts'. Seven was mesmerised in a vaguely horrified way. "Where are we?"
B'Elanna grinned as she saw the younger woman being overwhelmed by the environment. "An amusement park," she answered. "I once said that the Borg wouldn't know fun if they assimilated an amusement park," she admitted. "I'm hoping that you'll prove me wrong."
"I was unaware that you ever wanted to be `wrong' about anything," Seven replied archly. Her eyes widened when the only response she got was B'Elanna poking her tongue out at her. "How am I supposed to assimilate all of this?" she asked reasonably.
"You do what everyone else does Seven. Walk around till something really catches your eye and then participate. You ready?"
"No. But I will follow your lead," Seven stated. She stayed close to B'Elanna as the shorter woman picked her way through the crowds slowly, and politely looked at whatever B'Elanna pointed out to her. She had to admit that the environment was certainly stimulating, but it was still just escapism.
Suddenly, B'Elanna yanked the taller woman's arm. "Come on. I want to go on this."
"What is it?" Seven stared at the massive wooden structure that undulated up and down and appeared to circle round on itself.
"It's a roller coaster," B'Elanna told her as they joined the queue to embark on the ride.
At that point, Seven noticed a number of carriages speeding along the top of the structure, flowing with the ups and downs of the architecture. As it rushed past them, she heard a number of screams emanating from the carriages. "Are they torturing people? What sort of device is this?" Suddenly, she was extremely nervous.
B'Elanna laughed. "No, people are having fun on there. They're just screaming because they're scared."
"How does being scared equate to having fun?" Seven asked incredulously, not appeased at all.
"Try it and see. Now don't be a baby and get on."
"I have not been a baby for many years Lieutenant Torres," Seven supplied stiffly, not moving from where she stood.
"It's B'Elanna. We're off duty. And I'm just teasing. Now come on. I'll be there with you." She yanked the blonde's hand and tugged her to where a set of carriages was waiting to be loaded. "We'll go to the back, you get the best effect there."
"Effect?" Seven queried
"Yeah, you feel the bumps and turns better at the back." B'Elanna smiled brightly as she gestured for the younger woman to get in.
Seven looked at the small black-cushioned seat suspiciously but stepped down into the foot well and sat down. B'Elanna immediately followed and then pulled a bar over their laps.
"What is the purpose of this device?"
"It's a safety bar. But don't worry, you won't fall out," B'Elanna supplied. Before the ex-drone could retort, the cars pulled out of the station and the roller coaster journey began. There was a loud rhythmic clattering as the train climbed slowly up the track. "I fail to understand how this device elicits screams from its passengers," Seven commented.
"Wait and see," B'Elanna replied mysteriously. "And once we get to the top, no holding on. Just keep your arms in the air."
"What purpose will that serve?" Seven was genuinely perplexed.
"Trust me," the raven-haired woman replied, raising her hands up even as she did. Seven copied and sat and wondered about the action for a moment as the train peaked out and then suddenly, the track dropped into a massive dip and the train gained speed at an alarming rate as it descended. Seven resisted the sudden urge to hold the safety bar only because B'Elanna's hands were still firmly in the air and she couldn't help but wonder at the sheer joy on the Klingon's face. She was laughing at the experience. As the car whipped round a bend, Seven heard a shrill scream. What alarmed her more was that she was the originator of the sound. She looked back at B'Elanna and found the engineer looking at her with a huge grin plastered on her face.
"Told you you'd love it," B'Elanna shouted, laughing again as the cars dipped and turned.
Seven screamed out again, but realised that her mouth was contorted into a huge smile even as she cried out. Her heart rate had accelerated and she was practically hyperventilating. But she didn't care. The sensation was wonderful. And what made it even more special was that she was sharing the feelings with B'Elanna.
Both women stepped off the ride with slightly shaky legs. Seven looked back at it wistfully. "I want to go on it again," she stated almost petulantly.
"There's loads more to do yet. But I promise we'll come back to this later, okay?" B'Elanna was delighted. Seven's reaction far exceeded her expectations. The ex-drone was clearly enjoying her time. She was glad that she spent her free time devising the program. "What do you want to do now?" she asked, hoping that Seven would now be curious to discover the other attractions for herself.
"Can we look around? I would like to investigate what else is available." There was a child-like quality to Seven's excitement.
"Course we can," B'Elanna concurred. "Lead the way."
Seven grabbed the engineer's hand without thinking and began to pull her through the crowd. Initially, B'Elanna was surprised by the gesture, but she made no effort to free her hand and trotted along behind the eager Borg, holding her hand tightly as they forced their way through the sway of people.
"What is that?" Seven pointed at a number of small round vehicles with tall rods connecting them to the ceiling all circling on a flat arena and careening off each other periodically. The music around this area was extremely loud and bright lights flashed in time to the beat.
"They're dodgems or bumper cars," B'Elanna supplied.
"What is their function?"
"Well, you're supposed to drive around in a big circle but everyone just builds up speed and crashes into each other. It's fun."
"I would like to try this," Seven decided. B'Elanna nodded and followed the willowy blonde up to the edge of the arena and waited for the cars to stop so they could embark.
B'Elanna cursed again. Seven drove like a woman possessed. Every time she tried to swing round and try and gain enough momentum to crash into the ex-drone, Seven somehow dodged out the way and bumped into her instead. It was not so much the continuous battering she was getting from the younger woman, it was the maniacal laughter that followed each collision and the taunting that B'Elanna would never be able to reciprocate. The engineer found that she really didn't mind. She had never seen so much joy on Seven's face before. She looked younger and more relaxed and altogether totally human, despite the facial implants that were clearly visible. B'Elanna also realised how attractive Seven was, and more to the point, how much she enjoyed looking at the Astrometrics officer. She had to admit that this was the most fun she'd had since.since.B'Elanna hurriedly requalified the statement. It was the most fun she'd ever had. Her reverie was broken as her dodgem car was rocked again by Seven ploughing into her.
"Your biggest crime is your inattention," Seven yelled as she spun her car round the track, weaving expertly between other car drivers. She felt exhilarated again. And it was all due to B'Elanna. She guessed that the Klingon must have worked on this program last night, and she was touched by the gesture. The engineer had clearly put a lot of work into it and Seven planned on making the most of it. As she sped round, she let her thoughts concentrate on the compact Klingon. B'Elanna was volatile and quick to anger, but her emotions ran deep and her sense of honour and loyalty were obvious. As was her beauty. If her last attempt at romance hadn't ended so disastrously, Seven might have been tempted to see if she could strike up something more intimate with B'Elanna, but their friendship was fragile enough without burdening it with extra emotions. Suddenly she found her car rocked viciously.
"Looks like I'm not the only one not paying attention," B'Elanna crowed victoriously. She circled round in the hope of getting another shot in, but the cars slowed and came to a halt. She looked up and sensed that the disappointment she saw on Seven's face was mirrored on her own. "Don't worry, we can come back to this too," she assured the younger woman. She was rewarded with a beatific smile and B'Elanna felt her heart rate surge.
B'Elanna and Seven continued their exploration round the various stalls and rides. The engineer steered Seven away from the shooting stalls, telling her that they were rigged and even her Borg 20-20 vision would not win them a prize. Seven acquiesced but put it on her list of things to do next time. When she realised what she was thinking, she turned to face the smaller woman. "B'Elanna, thank you for inviting me out this evening. You have indeed demonstrated that escapism is not irrelevant."
"Why do I sense a `but' coming up?" B'Elanna was confused. Their evening was nowhere near over, or so she thought.
Seven suddenly realised how she sounded. "There is no but. I merely wanted to ask if I could use this program in the future."
"Er, sure you can. Anytime." B'Elanna still felt like she'd been kicked in the gut. A small voice in the back of her head told her why. She had expected to be invited to share the experience with Seven. Apparently that wasn't part of the ex-drone's plan.
Seven frowned. It was not the reaction she was expecting. "Did you not want to partake in this program again?"
The heaviness pressing down on B'Elanna's shoulders lifted instantly and she grinned widely. "Definitely. Whenever you want to."
Seven smiled back, glad to have eventually got the response she wanted.
"Do you want some candy floss?" B'Elanna asked.
"I do not require nutritional supplements at this time," the ex-drone replied automatically and was surprised when B'Elanna burst into laughter.
"Candy floss is just about as far away as you can get from nutritional. You eat it for fun. And because it tastes nice. Want to try some?"
Seven nodded cautiously. They went over to the vendor and watched as the stout, balding man expertly whipped a huge amount of pink material onto a long white stick. Seven was fascinated by the procedure and watched as the vendor served a number of other customers before reluctantly walking away. "What is it?" she asked curiously.
"It's just coloured sugar, heated and spun. It's very sweet. Try some," B'Elanna invited. When Seven made no effort to take a piece, she broke off a tuft and held it out between her finger and thumb. Rather than take the sweet from her hand, Seven bent down slightly and ate it from B'Elanna's fingers. The half-Klingon shuddered slightly as she felt the taller woman's lips close round her fingers as she ate the candy. When Seven straightened, B'Elanna coughed to try and find her voice. "What do you think?"
"It is a strange sensation. It feels very fluffy until it melts and then it is very sweet." Seven didn't miss B'Elanna's reaction to the touch. She just hoped that the engineer hadn't sensed her own reaction. It had taken all her willpower not to lick the older woman's fingers clean.
"Yeah, but do you like it?"
"Yes. It may have no nutritional value, but I enjoy eating it. May I have some more?"
B'Elanna was tempted to instruct the Borg to get her own, not trusting herself with the thought that Seven would be eating from her fingers again, but she steeled herself and offered a slightly larger piece, expecting and subsequently enjoying the sensation of Seven's lips on her fingertips this time.
"Come on," she requested. "I want to go on the Big Wheel."
"I think I can guess which contraption you are talking about this time," Seven replied with an amused grin and looked at the tall, imposing structure of the large wheel in the centre of the park. She snagged another piece of candyfloss with her fingers and ate it as they walked over to the ride.
Once safely in, the women sat back and waited for the wheel to turn round so that others could be seated. As they rose in height, Seven looked round eagerly, trying to spot where they had been and look for anything of interest that they had so far failed to notice. When she turned back to B'Elanna, she noticed the gentle smile on the older woman's face. "Have I done something to amuse you B'Elanna?"
"You're really enjoying this aren't you? I've never known anyone get so excited by all this."
"Yes. I am enjoying this. Far more than I ever imagined. I do not think I can ever repay you for your kindness."
"The look on your face is enough. I'm just glad I got to see all this first hand."
"I would not have enjoyed this nearly so much without your presence," Seven admitted. She looked round suddenly. They were at the very top of the wheel. "We have stopped," she stated.
"Probably letting someone off, or there may be a problem with the mechanism. These things are renowned for breaking down."
B'Elanna seemed unfazed by the cessation of the ride, so Seven took her cue from the engineer and sat back to enjoy the view. After a few seconds, she glanced back at the brunette who had her arms splayed out over the back of the seat. "You have candy floss on your face," the younger woman pointed out softly.
"Where?" B'Elanna made no effort to move her arms; she was too comfortable and relaxed to worry about what was on her face for the moment. She knew she could attribute much of that feeling to Seven's presence, but she didn't know how or even if she could admit that to the blonde without frightening her off. So when Seven leant forward to point out where her face was blighted with pink candyfloss, she stayed still.
"Here," Seven pointed out softly, wiping a trace from the Klingon's cheek. "And here," she continued, manoeuvring herself slightly closer and removing another wisp of candy from B'Elanna's other cheek. "And here." With that, she placed her lips gently on top of B'Elanna's, kissing them tenderly before drawing out her tongue to lick the sugary substance from her lips.
B'Elanna groaned into the caress and when she felt Seven's tongue flicker across her lips she opened her mouth to deepen the kiss. Suddenly her arms were wrapped around the taller woman's and even as she moved her hands up and down Seven's back, she could feel the ex- drone crushing her into a tight embrace.
They kissed ravenously, responding to each other's touch and allowing gentle exploration, wallowing in sensation and passion. It was only the deep sound of an attention-seeking cough that parted them. They looked round and were startled to find themselves back at ground level and staring at the Big Wheel proprietor. "The ride's over," he told them somewhat unnecessarily.
Seven looked at B'Elanna for an instant and grinned as she saw how unhinged and dishevelled the woman looked after their scorching embrace. She suspected that she had the very same appearance. "I noticed an attraction towards the west of the park called `The Tunnel of Love'. Shall we investigate it?"
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