DISCLAIMER: Nothing Star Trek could be considered mine, and so on and so forth in the usual manner. I am but a poor dragon enslaved to the wicked, wicked need to write fanfics. ^-^
This is partially inspired by somewhat vague memories of one of the old Star Trek movies, although it is about B'Elanna and Seven of course, and also partially inspired by chocolate. It is the food of gods, muses and crazy dragons, after all.
Beware that I have, once again, made up some things of my own regarding an established Star Trek species, this time the Vulcans. Just... squint and ignore it, if you will. Also, it starts out rather dark, but stay with it, please.
By Carola "Ryûchan" Eriksson
Captain Kathryn Janeway finally had to face the day that she had prayed to God she would never see. It was the day she was going to bury her daughters.
The entire ship had been involved in the ceremony in one way or another, to honour the two fallen heroes that in life had given their all for the ship and those that travelled within it, and in the end had given their very lives to save those things. The ceremony was long, as befitting these two, but Kathryn would remember precious little from it, not even the parts in which she had managed to make herself stand up and speak to honour the two young women that had been the daughters of her heart.
Unlike as was the practice when another crewmember passed away, the coffins of Lieutenant, in death given the rank of Lieutenant Commander for her sacrifice, B'Elanna Torres, Voyager's Chief of Engineering, and the still unranked Astrometrics officer Seven of Nine, would not be delivered to space where someone might come upon them. Instead a planetoid had been chosen, barren of all life and with a basic composition that would make it difficult for anyone that would be scanning for the coffins to actually find them. It was a final favour from their surrogate mother, to ensure that their remains would not be abused by their enemies.
The ceremony had already ended, though it was long, and most of those that had been present on the planetoid to take a last farewell had already beamed back onboard Voyager. Kathryn Janeway and her oldest friend, Tuvok, were finally the only ones there, after even the doctor and Chakotay had returned to the ship.
Janeway walked with her back straight though her head was bowed, up to where the women's heads would be. For a moment she thought about how it seemed fitting somehow, that though they had not been close in life, these two women that had been in truth very much alike would rest forever side-by-side. Then with slow and dignified movements, Janeway kissed first one coffin, then the other, and placed a single, blood-red rose on each. She whispered a final farewell, then tried to turn and walk away.
That was when Kathryn Janeway, the woman, the mother, collapsed. Only the strong arms of her old friend got the sobbing woman away from her children's last resting place, and got them both back onboard the ship.
By the time Kathryn had recovered from the sedative the quiet doctor had given her, the planetoid was far behind them.
What Captain Janeway and the crew onboard Voyager did not know was that the Borg were experimenting with their own version of the Genesis Device, and that the barren planetoid was the first of a series of locations where the Device was supposed to be tested. Long after Voyager had left the vicinity, a transwarp conduit opened near the planet, and a black, triangular shaped Borg vessel exited. It moved into place above the planetoid, then it's center opened and energy began building along it's length.
Finally a long, single burst of brilliantly white energy fired into the heart of the planetoid. The vessel remained in orbit for about an hour after the burst, then another conduit opened, and the vessel left.
And down on the planet, life began anew.
It wasn't gentle or slow, but wild, savage and ruthless, storms and earthquakes raging through the planet as it quivered and stretched to fit this spurt of growth it was never meant to have. As the torrential rainstorms pounded into earth that was no longer mere dry dirt, but mud that had somehow begun to sustain growth, the coffins were thrown aside.
One cracked open. As lightning tore wounds into the blackened sky, a hand appeared, trembling and spasming, in the opening.
Another violent shake threw the coffins once more against the side of a rocky outcropping. The opened coffin tumbled over, hurling it's convulsing inhabitant onto the soaked soil. The features of B'Elanna Torres were locked in silent, animal agony, as her body continued to shake in time to the heaving of the world.
Life began anew.
She was one. She was one, alone. She roared against the thundering sky in her fury.
Then she felt the Other.
The Other was near. She could feel the Other's fear, her agony, her anger, and She howled again. She would find the Other.
The black shape that held her Other was hard and did not let her wedge her fingers into it's shell, but it was also damaged. The Other felt her near, and responded... one adorned fist struck through the shell from the inside, and together they tore an opening for the Other.
Then the Other was free, and they were two, together. But the agony was so great, they howled and doubled over in the mud. The Other convulsed, and She remembered doing the same. Grabbing hold of the Other, She dragged her away, to a dark opening that would offer protection from the wet that struck across their skin over and over.
The world rumbled again as they reached the cave, and together they fell to the floor, heaving in time to to the rapidly growing planet.
Finally the planet stopped convulsing, and the rain stopped. The dark clouds cracked open, and light poured down on the newborn world.
It was covered in high, thick grass and shrubs, forests of small trees growing here and there, and crystal lakes where the water had gathered. Over the place where the coffins lay, now hidden from sight, grew a forest of large rosebushes that were on the way to become trees, blooming joyfully in the new day.
It was into this world two small figures entered, stumbling slightly on their way out of their cave. Once as dark as the other was fair, they carefully looked around at their surroundings and themselves. Then the dark little one took the other girl by the hand, and they ran through the high grasses, laughing as only the very young do.
They found a body of water, and after testing it's edges and ending up splashing it over one another, they drank away their newfound thirst. At the edge of that water, the two children looked upon their reflections and saw how different they appeared.
Settling down on the grass near the water's edge, pale fingers traced bronzed brow ridges and black curls, while dark hands moved across metal implants and into long strands of near-white. Even the hands were different, they saw, one rounded brown and one pale encased with metal. It filled them with wonder, and they smiled at one another.
The new day approached it's end, the sky darkening overhead, and the two children was overcome by drowsiness. Together they curled up in the grass, holding the other close as everything was allright, everything was safe and good, as long as the other was there.
When the second day dawned and woke them with it's gentle light, the trees had grown taller and borne fruit. Their entangled bodies had also grown, making it easier to move through the high grasses, but otherwise went unnoticed by both.
Round, red things growing on bushes fed them, after the dark child's boldness had made her try one, then the cool water once again satisfied their thirst. Hand in hand they moved in the grass-covered world, tracing their steps back towards their cave eventually, and the roses that hid their coffins.
The roses were no longer bushes, but trees, large and strong, and the children climbed them in delight. While playing among the blood-red roses, they came upon the center of the growth, where the coffins lay. It was there that the two little ones first discovered life outside themselves that were not plants and vegetation.
With fascinated eyes too innocent to know fear, they looked down from their vantage point in the trees at a teeming, crawling mass of flesh, incessantly moving and changing. As they watched, one or two took on a solid shape and slithered away into the undergrowth, or crawled off into the lower branches. Bright eyes would have continued to watch this strange instant evolution, but a crack of thunder broke the silence, and the sky opened up to deliver a harsh downpour.
Squealing, the little girls ran to the safety of their cave, and sat down to watch their world darkened by rain. Eventually they curled up together on torn clothing they no longer recognised, and went to sleep.
Kathryn Janeway was not allowed to mourn the loss of her daughters for very long. In fact, it seemed to her that she had barely told them goodbye, and now the Delta Quadrant was asking her to put her pain aside once more.
It began when Harry reported signs of Borg activity in the area, which was soon followed by Ensign Celes hesitant report of strange readings from where they had been before.
Keenly feeling the loss of her brilliant Astrometrics officer, Janeway had ordered Celes to reroute the readings to the Bridge, then attempted to go over them herself as she ordered everyone to stay alert and the ship on a course away from the Borg.
That was when a conduit opened nearby, and a triangular vessel Janeway had never seen before exited, apparently crossing their path by coincidence on it's way to a nebula. Coincidence or not, no Borg vessel ever crossed Voyager's path without reaction from both sides.
The triangular vessel was not designed for combat, leaving Voyager with a clear advantage, but it was still armed and a threat.
The dawning of the third day brought more changes to the world.
The children, who until now had been of the same size, had changed more than before. The fair one had grown taller than her dark friend, and begun growing in ways the other had not. Their hair had changed, the taller one's grown a shade darker than before, and the smaller one's had grown lighter, no longer black like it had been.
They ran laughing outside, their longer legs carrying them faster across the grass as they chased each other around in play, and their longer reach let them pick fruit from the trees to feed upon.
When they reached their lake to drink and play in the water, they discovered that there were little creatures swimming in it. Small and silvery and fast, the girls spent a long time playfully trying to catch one before tiring of the game. Hand in hand they then walked back across the grass.
When they approached the cave, the smaller one stopped and touched the grass. In a sudden movement she scooped up armfuls of the long, thick grass, and carried it inside. Soon she had gotten her fair-haired companion to help her, and they created a large pile of grass inside the cave just in time before the rain started once again.
Curling up on the grass, the smaller one played with the metal encased fingers on a pale hand while pale fingers sifted through long dark curls until the tiny tremors in the planet beneath them rocked them both to sleep.
The fourth dawn was grey and dark with rain, and the girls sat inside the cave, waiting for the rain to stop. They had both grown during their sleep, the tall one becoming even more taller than her friend, and grown some more in those strange other places, but now that the smaller girl was growing too, it ceased to be a cause for concern. Eventually the rain halted, and the girls raced down to the lake in search of food before the rain would start again.
They found small, chirping things living in the trees, and there was something shuffling that moved past them in the grass. It looked as if though the silvery things in the lake had gotten larger as well, but the girls did not stay to play that day. The rain was heavy in the air, and thunder rumbled in the distance, so they ate and drank their fill, then raced back to their shelter before the rain would start pouring down again.
As they fell asleep at the end of that day, the smaller one had tucked her head into the taller girl's shoulder, the two of them embracing each other in sleep.
Voyager defeated the Borg vessel, but took damages in the process. It was never quite as clear as at that moment that the loss of their resident former Borg and Chief of Engineering would be costly for them all in the long run.
After assigning the tasks to repair the ship and take them out of harm's way, Janeway finally had the chance to go over the anomalous readings Ensign Celes had picked up in Astrometrics.
What she found had Janeway gasp in horror.
She barked out an order to turn the ship around, to aim it back towards the planetoid where she had buried her daughters. Chakotay protested but she overruled him, forcing Tom Paris to set in the course before showing Chakotay the readings and explaining what she was doing.
Kathryn Janeway would be damned before she let the Borg defile the deceased forms of her lost ones.
The fifth day on the world had the girls leaving childhood behind to enter adolescence. No longer did they play in the grass or the water as they had before, but instead they lay in the grass watching the sky and feeling the sun on their skin.
The tall one played with the dark one's hair, while the dark one made sounds by blowing air through blades of grass as she looked at the sky. It was the day they would discover that they had words inside.
It came from the smaller one, followed by a feeling more than an image of the clouds above them, and it resounded inside the taller one's mind. The taller girl looked at the clouds and nodded.
This came from the taller one, and was accompanied by the image she saw at that moment, of the smaller girl lying on her back, smiling, with pale fingers still playing in her hair.
The smaller girl smiled shyly, then looked at the face that was leaning over her.
Was her thought, the word accompanied by a strong gust of affection for the other girl. The taller one felt it, and smiled happily before gently placing a kiss on bronzed forehead ridges.
The sixth morning brought with it agony.
The fair-haired young woman woke to find herself alone, something she did not like. She could feel the other close by through their bond, but she could also feel that her other was in pain.
Outside there was another storm gaining strength, rain and wind tearing through the landscape with a promise of brutal forces to come. Outside was also where the other young woman was located.
The young woman outside in the rain felt her other one awaken from where she was crouching, huddled into herself against the pain and confusion that raged through her. She could no longer hold it in, and howled desperately into the wind.
The other one heard her desperate cries, and hurried to her side, experiencing fear for the first time as she saw her other hunched over, wild-eyed and trembling violently. She tried to take the other woman into her arms, but she flinched away at the touch, making sounds like a wounded animal. She hesitated, but when the other clasped both hands to her head and screamed in torment, she leaned down and scooped the smaller form up, carrying her back into the cave.
The dark one trashed on their bed of grass, growling and moaning as she held her head and struggled with her inner suffering. The taller woman tried to hold her, to ease her pain, but the other would not let her. They struggled for some time, until they were both weeping, before suddenly they both froze.
Over their bond came the cause of dark one's anguish, washing over the other. Hunger, immense and overwhelming, maddening need. The smaller woman was fighting the overpowering call to procreate, to mate, and it was killing her.
The fair-haired one understood.
She told the other, looking at her tenderly and touching her face. As the smaller woman did not draw back, she carefully wiped the tears away, then lay down to lean her forhead against the other's ridges. The smaller woman whimpered slightly at the touch.
This time, the blast of emotion was stronger, different... grown, and the dark woman felt the difference, and responded to it past her own fear and confusion.
Dark arms possessively drew the other woman in until they could be no closer, then, following her instincts, she hungrily sought out the other one's lips with her own.
When the thunder finally began to roll across the skies, it drowned out the cries of them as urges were met and answered to bond them even further, far into the darkness of night.
As Voyager came into visual range of the planet, Janeway and the others couldn't believe their eyes. Up on the Bridge's viewscreen was the image of a blossoming world, teeming with life although still an infant on the scale of it's own evolution, green and vibrant. Gone was the rocky planetoid they had entrusted with the guardianship of two of their number.
The planet was moving far to quickly on it's axis, spinning at a rate that would have days and nights moving across the world at a pace that was almost visible to the naked eye, and weather patterns swirled and shaped at the increased speed as well. Huge storms raced across the planet, and the crew aboard Voyager could witness how of enormous steps in the planet's evolution occured in not much more than moments.
Janeway gasped, but it was Tuvok that spoke up to inform those that did not realize what they were witnessing.
The Borg had created a Genesis Device.
Remembering the stories of what had happened when a similar device had been used in the Alpha Quadrant, Captain Janeway abandoned the Bridge without a word, racing over to Astrometrics to pour over the readings from the planet. With the help of Harry Kim and Tuvok, at their respective stations, she scoured the planet for lifesigns.
The planet was teeming with life, that much the sensors could show them, but it was unable to discern if there were any humanoid lifesigns present, much less pinpoint those signs.
Janeway summoned her senior officers to a meeting. If sensors could not tell her what she needed to know, then she would go down to the planet herself to find the answers. And she wasn't coming back withouth her girls... one way or the other.
The seventh morning found the two women intimately entwined in what little remained of their grass bed after the activites of the day and night before. They had both aged during their short night, and were nearing the age they had been previously, before their death and rebirth on the planet.
Tender morning greetings became lovemaking, and the sun had climbed quite high before the two managed to exit their cave to walk hand in hand down to the lake for much needed food and water.
Neither woman seemed able to stop touching the other. Whether they were walking, leaning down to get water, or picking fruits from the trees, some part of one was constantly touching the other. They fed each other from the ripe fruits the trees provided, and discovered the peaceful bliss of holding each other as they stood together, their arms around one another, and watched in silence how a group of small four-legged things came down to the lake to drink before disappearing back into the grass.
Finally the darker woman pulled the other down in the grass with her, to share in the primal but tender celebration of the bond they shared. So focused on each other and the sensations they wrought were they, that neither paid attention when a foreign thing crossed the skies above them.
The away team had been inoculated and prepared so that they would not risk that the forces that brought the unnatural evolution to the planet would speed up their own aging process as well, and because transporting down to the planet was deemed unsafe, they travelled to the area where the coffins had been left by way of the Delta Flyer.
Captain Janeway herself led the away team, despite the protests of her second in command as well as her chief security officer, indeed she would have it no other way. Tuvok was with her, as was the doctor, Tom Paris and two other security officers that Tuvok chose for the mission. They landed near the site where the coffins where located, but found to their chagrin that a thick forest of rosebushes and trees had grown there, hiding the coffins in their midst.
Scanners indicated that lifeforms were present at the heart of the thicket, which made it imperative that although they were forced to use phasers to cut their way through, they had to do so very carefully. Eventually Tuvok's skill with a phaser got them close enough to see the coffins where they lay, open and broken... and also the still heaving mass of organisms that writhed on the forest floor surrounding the caskets.
Tom Paris caught sight of the the squirming things and promptly turned away, fighting the need to retch. "Good god! That's not B'Elanna and Seven, is it?"
The doctor scanned the disturbing sight with his tricorder, but it was Tuvok that answered Tom's question. "No, it would be more likely that what we are witnessing is the result of this Genesis process on the bacterium and genetic residue left on the coffins."
The doctor snorted as he continued his scans. "Not a bad analysis... for a security officer." He snapped the tricorder shut and turned to the grim-faced Janeway. "However it would appear to be a correct one. Readings indicate that..."
Janeway cut off the long-winded explanation that was sure to follow. "It's not them, correct?"
The doctor shuffled slightly and made a slight face. "No, it's not them. They don't appear to be present here at all."
"Thank you." Janeway said, giving the doctor a sharp look. She had no time to indulge his ego right now, and he would just have to deal with that. "Let's move back outside this thicket, then try and pick up some trace of where they might have gone."
They turned around with some difficulty and began climbing back out the same way they came in. Tom Paris hesitated and looked at his Captain. "Captain? Do you really think..."
Face set resolutely, it was not the Captain Kathryn Janeway that answered him with such absolute conviction in her voice, but the mother. "I know they are. And I'm going to find them."
The search outside the rose forest at first seemed as if it would not give them any clues, as whatever physical traces the two missing women might have left had effectively been erased by the speedy evolution of the planet. Then as they scanned the area around them, a trace from the ornamental but inoperative combadges that was traditionally pinned to the uniform of the deceased was located, coming from cliff formations not far away. There they found the cave, with it's dishevelled grass bed and the torn clothing on the floor.
Janeway had tears in her eyes as she picked up some of the rags and held them to her chest. The others respectfully concentrated on finding some tracks or other signs indicating what direction the cave's inhabitants might have gone in, leaving Janeway a few moments to collect herself.
They managed to trace the women's path down a grassy slope in the direction of a large lake, and it was while crossing the high grass that the away team encountered the women they were looking for.
The group practically stumbled over them where they were, naked and absorbed in a very heated embrace. With the strain of the last handful of days, coupled with the sight of her surrogate daughters not only apparently alive and well but also rather blatantly caught in the act, Janeway's Starfleet conditioning failed her. She shrieked in momentary shock.
The two naked women tore apart from one another at the unexpected sound, and was struggling to get to their feet when the blast from a phaser caught them both and knocked them unconscious.
Tom Paris stared in uncomprehending horror first at the women, then his trembling hand still holding his phaser.
The first thing she noticed when she woke was the bright, glaring light cutting into her sensitive eyes. She growled at it and shielded her face, blinking to clear her vision. Second came the smells and the noises, all foreign to her. Where was her other, her mate?
"Look! B'Elanna's waking up!"
She shoved one of the strangers out of her way, and saw her mate lying on something similar to what she herself had been resting on. She lumbered over before they could stop her and growled warningly, telling them to stay away from her mate.
"B'Elanna? B'Elanna, can you hear us? Can you understand me?"
Behind her the other was waking up, making the tiny noise she always did before opening her eyes. She growled at the dark one as he tried to approach them, then her mate sat up, and in a moment stood, leaning against her.
This was not their world. The grass, the trees, the sky, it was all gone... instead there was bright light and strange things, and stranger creatures. But no matter where she were, she would not let them touch her mate.
Her mate put her arms around her, frightened and agitated. She responded by pulling her own arms around the taller form, but when one of the strangers approached them she turned in the other's grasp, baring her teeth and growling at him.
"Easy now, easy... I don't mean any harm... I just want to examine you and make sure you're allright."
The man ignored her warning, and kept coming closer. She tensed, prepared to pounce.
"I'm not dangeroOOOFF!"
Her mate moved quicker than even she could, the adorned hand shooting out to push at the man very hard. With her mate's shove he was thrown far from them, and she grinned wolfishly in delighted pride over her mate's strength.
Then there was pain, and she was once again tumbling into darkness.
Tuvok and Harry assisted the doctor in picking the once again unconscious women off the floor and onto the biobeds. This time the doctor took the precaution to sedate them as well, seeing as how they had both awoken from the phaser blast so shortly after being brought to Sickbay, and with their responses to the situation, unconscious was considerably safer for all involved for now.
"What is happening, doctor?" Janeway's voice bore ample evidence of her strain, and the EMH could certainly sympathize.
"Well, my initial exams are hardly complete, much less anything more thorough, but I would hazard to say that so far their readings indicate that they were indeed resurrected with some sort of Genesis Device, or something to that effect. I have inoculated them to counter the increased rate of aging they appear to have gone through, although I feel I should point out that it is only a momentary retardant and not a cure. I feel confident that I shall find a better solution to that dilemma with a little more... time on my hands."
He waited a moment, but as usual his meagre attempt at humour was ignored, so he rolled his eyes slightly and continued to speak. "There are some minor anomalies in Seven's bioreadings, but more disconcerting is the anomalous readings I get from some of her Borg implants. I have as of yet no way of knowing exactly for what reason or what effect this has on her, although evidence seem to point to the fact that she does not have access to her enhanced Borg memory banks."
"In the case of B'Elanna, it is a bit more complicated."
"How so, doctor?" Janeway asked, unconsciously edging closer to the unconscious woman in question.
"Well, her readings show the same minor anomalies as Seven does, but beyond that her readings..." He grew quiet for a moment, looking thoughtful. "One moment, Captain." He walked over to his console and accessed his data, an act that in fact was somewhat redundant since he was the sum of his database and it took him the same amount of time to 'remember' the details as it took for the computer to display them. He compared them to the ones on his tricorder "Ah yes, I did think it looked familiar."
"_What_ doctor?" Janeway was getting impatient.
"The anomalies that she has in common with Seven aside, B'Elanna's readings are nearly identical to her readings at one other point in time aboard this vessel." He met the others' expectant gazes after a brief dramatic pause. "Her readings are nearly identical to when she had just suffered through the Pon Far."
There was a moment when those present considered this in silence while the doctor continued his work. Then the face of Tom Paris lit up as if with understanding. "Pon Far? B'Elanna was under the influence of Pon Far? Then... her and Seven... that was all just an accident, just to survive, right?" He sounded hopeful. "It was just a, a, a quick fix because there weren't anyone else around, right? She'll be back to normal after the doc fix her, right?"
The doctor looked at him steadily, with a stern expression. Then he spoke rather precisely, aimed at the Captain although he didn't look away from Tom. "Captain, I do believe that Seven and B'Elanna will not suffer any ill effects if removed further from the planet, and I would advice that someone be sent to Commander Chakotay to inform him of this."
"Right you are..." Janeway was also looking at Tom with a steady though narrow-eyed look. "Tom, go to Chakotay and inform him that I want us away from here as soon as possible, in case the Borg comes back. In fact, I think we need the ship's first pilot at the helm, Ensign, so relieve the pilot on duty and plot a course away from Borg signatures and towards home."
"But Captain, the doc needs me here! B'Elanna..." Tom began to protest but Janeway cut him off with a gesture and an even more stern gaze.
"No Tom, the priority is clearly to keep the ship away from another encounter with the Borg for now, that has to take precedence. The doctor has things well in hand here."
"I'll go with you, Tom." Harry hurried to interject over Tom's continued protests, and grabbed his arm to pull Tom out of Sickbay with him. "I'm needed at my station too, and I'm sure we'll be informed of Seven and B'Elanna's status as soon as there's anything to tell, right doc? Now we have to go, the Borg might be back at any moment." With that Harry dragged his friend along with him towards the Bridge.
As soon as the doors closed behind them, the doctor tapped his combadge and summoned Ensign Wildman to assist him in Sickbay.
"So." Janeway said after a moment, looking at the unconscious women somewhat tiredly. "Pon Far?"
"Yes Captain. We knew there was a possibility that Vorik's... failed attempt at bonding with Lieutenant Commander Torres might cause her to experience recurring symptoms in seven year intervals, but as seven years have not yet passed since the event, we did not know for certain." Tuvok explained instead of the doctor.
Janeway rubbed her forehead, trying to ignore the strange feeling it gave her to hear Tuvok use the rank that had been given to B'Elanna posthumously. "And Seven?"
The doctor hesitated. "Unless B'Elanna had developed any telepathic or empathic skills, the Pon Far should not have been transferred to Seven, even if they... um..."
"While we at this point may not know what has occurred, it is very likely that Seven of Nine and B'Elanna Torres has bonded in Pon Far. It could be a transient bond, but it could also very likely be a permanent bond even without telepatic merging, given their natures and longstanding mutual attraction." Tuvok spoke up. "Has any kind of telepatic bonding occurred, through whatever means, then they would be mated for life."
Janeway looked a bit shocked, then turned to the doctor for confirmation. He shrugged a bit uncomfortably, unwilling to be the one to break the confidence of a friend, even if that friend did not herself know that he had finally realized where her heart lay.
"Anyway..." He continued in the hopes of not being asked point blank. "their brain patterns are irregular, not at all like the ones I have on record. In Seven's case the deviation from her norm is larger and clearly partially caused by the fact that most of her cranial implants are not online, specifically all those pertaining to data storage. In other words, she's suffering from Borg amnesia. In B'Elanna's case the irregularity is smaller, and conforms to the deviations recorded in cases of amnesia, and should be easily cured. Seven will take some more work, curing both her human and her Borg amnesia as well as getting those implants back online."
"With your permission, Captain, I would like to have Commander Tuvok to work with me on the process to restore them, as he is somewhat of the ship's expert on the workings of minds in general, and these two in particular, having mind melded with both in the past."
"Permission granted, doctor, but what about Seven's implants?" Janeway worriedly smoothed back the long blonde hair that framed Seven's pale features in a way not even remotely resembling the usual strict bun. "What do you propose for restoring that? Shall I have some engineers report to you?"
"No Captain, I believe that with a little... tweaking, provided by myself, some regeneration will restore Seven's Borg implants to their normal parameters. And I daresay that I know more about Borg implants, in particular Seven's Borg implants, than any other member onboard the ship save Seven herself." The last was tacked on with a slight air of reproach, as if he had been insulted by the suggestion he would need the help of engineers.
Janeway nodded slightly, acknowledging the truth of his words. "Is there anything I can do to help?"
The doctor looked at her kindly, knowing only too well the torment of having loved ones in danger and not being able to do anything for them. "Why yes Captain, why don't you assist me with..."
"Doctor? Did I just hear that you are waking them up?" Janeway had barely moved inside the room before asking, her slightly breathless voice a testimony to the fact that she had raced from the turbolift to get there in time.
The doctor, assisted by Ensign Wildman and supervised by Tuvok who had his phaser drawn, paused in the process of leaning over Seven with a hypospray in his hands. "Captain. Yes, as a matter of fact we are about to try and wake them in a few moments."
"Are you sure about that, doctor? It's only been a few days since the last of your procedures on them, won't they need to rest and regenerate for a while longer?" Janeway was eager to see the women up and about again, but she was also anxious about waking them to soon and cause them further injury.
"I'm quite sure, Captain. We need to awake them to see if the procedures so far are working, then they can go back to resting again. Provided, of course, nothing is wrong." The last was spoken under his breath, to not needlessly worry his commanding officer. "Tuvok is here in case we have a repeat scenario of what happened the last time one of them woke up."
It had been quite by accident. After a few procedures the doctor had arranged for Seven to be connected to the portable emergency regeneration unit, hoping to start up the still lagging implants enough to tide her over until Seven would be able to use her alcove. What no-one had thought about was that even Seven's emergency unit had it's own timer, automatically waking her up at the end of the preset regeneration cycle.
When she woke up, Tom Paris had been in Sickbay to visit B'Elanna, and was in the middle of leaning over the still unconscious B'Elanna to kiss her when Seven had sat up and looked around.
Before anyone had the chance to react, she had thrown herself from her biobed and hit Tom in the jaw so hard it broke in three places and threw him into the wall with enough impact to give him a severe concussion.
It had been fortunate for Tom that Seven had still been rather weak from the procedures, otherwise a hit like that would have killed him before anyone would have been able to stop her. As it was, Seven was quickly sedated and Tom put on another biobed and treated, then given strict orders not to enter Sickbay unless called upon. Seven and B'Elanna were both put in restraints from that incident on, and the emergency regeneration unit carefully set for continuous regeneration.
"We need to wake them up to take a few readings, and if those readings are within acceptable parameters, we'll let them go back to sleep shortly. If something turns out to be wrong they'll still be put back to sleep, but hopefully we'll know what we need to keep working on." The doctor injected Seven with the hypospray, then B'Elanna.
They watched in silence as first Seven's, then B'Elanna's eyes fluttered and opened.
The doctor leaned in to take Seven's readings, speaking quietly to her as he did so. "Seven? Can you understand me? Don't be alarmed if you can't remember who I am, but if you understand what I'm saying please give me a sign."
Seven grimaced a little and squinted against the light shining in her eyes. When she tried to cover her eyes with her hand, she discovered that she had been tied down to the biobed.
"Don't be afraid Seven, we're here to help you." The doctor tried to soothe her. "Do you understand?"
"Y-yes, I..." She squinted at him. "Doctor?" Her still somewhat sluggish voice inquired hesitantly, causing the hologram to beam with delight at being remembered.
"Yes Seven... that's me." He moved the tricorder over her head and smiled reassuringly. "Please remain calm, there's nothing to be afraid of."
"I..." She began, but was interrupted by the sound of B'Elanna fighting her restraints in the other bed. Samantha Wildman was trying to calm her down, but B'Elanna growled and grunted and tore at the restraints, injuring herself trying to get loose.
The doctor was about to turn around and assist Sam when Seven looked at him. "Doctor, please let me go to her." She requested softly, her eyes tracking to B'Elanna's struggling form with obvious concern.
The doctor hesitated, looking at Seven for a moment. Then he turned towards the Captain, shrugged a little, and removed the restraints from Seven. Tuvok immediately trained his phaser on her, but Seven didn't seem to notice. Instead she staggered to her feet and moved to B'Elanna's side.
In one smooth, negligent motion, Seven severed the restraints holding B'Elanna down, then scooped the smaller woman up to rest against her. B'Elanna stopped struggling as soon as she saw Seven, and when the other woman pulled her in, she tucked herself into Seven's embrace with obvious relief.
"M-my... head hurts." B'Elanna groaned indistinctly into Seven's hospital tunic, her voice rasping.
"Mine as well." Seven responded, cuddling B'Elanna close and burying her face in her hair.
After a moment, they drew back a little, looking at each other intently. Blue eyes searched brown, and a Borg-enhanced hand came up to trace features with a butterfly touch.
"...B'Elanna?" Seven's voice was as soft as the light touch moving across brow ridges and trailing down one cheek, and her eyes were warm and loving.
"Seven?" B'Elanna spoke the name hesitantly, then lit up in an adoring smile. "Seven." She breathed, tangling her hands into long blonde tresses before closing the small distance between them. They kissed as if completely unaware of their surroundings, or of the people gaping at them.
After a moment, Tuvok spoke up. "I do believe the purpose for awakening them was to examine them, doctor."
"Right." The doctor snapped out of his trance. "Seven? B'Elanna?"
The women, still kissing deeply, showed no signs of having heard him. He cleared his throat. "Seven, B'Elanna!"
The two women did not separate, though they did stop kissing and turn their heads in his direction. B'Elanna scowled darkly, baring her teeth at him, while Seven merely cocked her implant. "Yes doctor?"
'He means us no harm.' She soothed B'Elanna, feeling the rising agitation in the smaller woman. B'Elanna nodded reluctantly and settled down in Seven's arms. Then they noticed the rest of their surroundings.
"The sky... it's gone." B'Elanna struggled with the elusive mist of her memories. "No clouds." She sounded somewhat despondent at that, and sighed.
"No, no clouds." Seven agreed, kissing the top of B'Elanna's head. Then she directed her attention towards the other people standing in the room. She met the eyes of Kathryn Janeway.
Janeway was crying silently, just a few happy tears to see them, hear them, alive again and sounding ever so slightly closer to their usual selves. She saw the dawning spark of recognition in Seven's eyes, and smiled tremulously at them both.
Seven hesitated, then spoke. "Captain?"
A tiny noise escaped Janeway before she could control herself enough to answer. "Yes Seven, it's me... Kathryn, your Captain and your friend." She moved a little closer to them. "Do you remember me?"
Seven frowned slightly. "I believe so... but my memory is... difficult to access at the moment. Are you..." Seven's voice faltered as if she was unsure of how to word what she wanted to ask.
"...our mother?" B'Elanna finished Seven's sentence with a curious look at the crying woman.
Another strangled sob escaped Janeway before she answered. "In my heart, Lanna, always in my heart. But not by blood, to either of you." She inched closer until she could lightly touch B'Elanna's leg. "Do you remember me as well, B'Elanna?"
"I think so. It's hard to say... my memory feels like a fog, if I try to catch something that floats by it just dissolves." B'Elanna's voice lacked it's usual fire and like Seven she seemed troubled by the difficulty to remember, still she seemed peaceful in Seven's embrace.
"Don't worry, you're just at the beginning of your recuperation, I have every confidence you'll both have full recovery of your memories in time." The doctor interjected smoothly, stepping closer to them. "We just have to be patient. But for now we need to examine you both, and take a look at those cuts on your arms B'Elanna. Will you let us do this?"
At both women's hesitant nods, the doctor and Samantha moved in to run their tests. Samantha was told to begin by healing the small cuts along B'Elanna's arms and legs from where she had injured herself on her restraints, while the doctor ran his tricorder over Seven's implants. The women sat, side by side, on the biobed, not willing to part further than that, so the doctor had to adjust the examination to allow this.
Seven looked strangely at Samantha for a while. "You have a... subunit. Na-o-mi." She pulled out the name into it's syllables awkwardly, tilting her head at Samantha.
Sam smiled widely. "Yes! Yes, my Naomi. I'm Samantha Wildman, and you both know me."
"Naomi." Seven repeated thoughtfully. "How is Naomi, SamanthaWildman?"
"She's better now that she knows that you're... well, Seven. She's very happy to have you back, it was difficult for her when you... were gone. She loves you very much." Sam's voice was gentle, trying not to let her own sorrow and the sorrow of her little girl shine through, and she also tried not to mention the fact that both women had been dead. They didn't know yet if Seven and B'Elanna knew this, and what their reactions would be when it occurred to them.
Seven smiled slightly, her affection for Naomi coming through despite the difficulties to remember past the time on the planet. "I am sorry that Naomi has suffered. I care greatly for her as well."
Sam beamed at that, although she had heard Seven express her love for Sam's little girl in similar ways many times before. She knew that a certain little girl would be overjoyed to hear that her friend and hero remembered this much about her right away.
B'Elanna glared at Sam and pouted. "Naomi? Who is this Naomi?" She growled jealously, crossing her arms across her chest in an unconscious effort to look bigger and more imposing.
Biting her lip not to laugh at the endearing, if slightly ridiculous sight, Sam hastened to reassure the pouty engineer. "Naomi is my daughter, B'Elanna... my little girl. She is about so high..." She held her hand out at the approximate height of her only child. "...and she absolutely adores Seven."
"Oh." B'Elanna was pacified, and relaxed her posturing. Then she looked thoughtful. "Naomi... has spikes?" She asked, touching her forehead ridges lightly with three fingers, indicating the tiny spikes on Naomi's forehead.
"Yes." Sam was surprised, after all, B'Elanna might still be her friend although they were no longer as close, but she didn't think B'Elanna felt any particular closeness to little Naomi. "Yes, Naomi has spikes on her forehead. She's half-Katarian, just like you're half-Klingon."
Both the doctor and Janeway were making not-so-subtle gestures for Sam to shut up, but it was a bit too late.
"Klingon?" B'Elanna asked, her hand coming to rest slowly against her ridges.
Sam looked apologetically at her superior officers, briefly. "Yes B'Elanna. See?" She touched her own forehead. "I'm completely human, and Naomi is half-Katarian. You are half-Klingon." Indicating B'Elanna's ridges. "Don't worry, you'll remember about that in time."
"I am half-Klingon." B'Elanna said slowly, then turned and touched Seven's ocular implant. "And Seven is... what?"
Sam smiled somewhat wanly, internally giving herself a good kick in the shin and wondering if she dared to look at her superior officers at all. "Well, you see... Seven is kind of... umm, half-Borg?"
"Borg?" Seven breathed, her eyes looking haunted suddenly. "I am Borg." Her voice grew completely unemotional and distant. She shrank back from them, including from B'Elanna's light touch on her facial implants.
B'Elanna gasped slightly and her eyes grew wide as the backlash of Seven's emotions washed over her through their bond. Then with a low growl she spun around and straddled Seven, grasping Seven's face firmly in her hands. "No!" She snapped, looking into Seven's eyes. "No, mine!"
The veil of hurt and despair seemed to draw away from Seven's eyes, and B'Elanna's voice and grip gentled. "You are mine, bangwI'."
They clung to one another.
'You are mine'
Days passed after the completion of the doctor's exam, during which B'Elanna and Seven were kept mostly unconscious. Finally the doctor reasoned that they had done all that could be done for the two women in that state, and the sedatives were cut. To begin with neither Seven nor B'Elanna stayed awake for very long periods of time, and it was clear that although they were slowly regaining their memories, that process was difficult for them. Seven appeared to have much better access to her memories, most likely due to her now functioning implants, than B'Elanna, but she appeared to struggle greatly emotionally with their implications, which B'Elanna so far had less trouble with.
They stayed in Sickbay where the doctor could keep an eye on them, although Sickbay itself was sectioned off to give them some privacy from those that still needed to see the doctor for medical reasons. A few people were allowed inside the partition for very brief visits with the convalescing women, such as Harry Kim, Neelix, Chakotay, and little Naomi. Janeway came and went as she pleased, or as her duty permitted, which made her the person besides the doctor and Samantha Wildman that Seven and B'Elanna saw most often. Tuvok had agreed to keep his security detail standing guard outside of Sickbay itself rather than inside the room, but he still insisted it be kept as a precaution for now.
Tom Paris was prohibited from doing his usual duty shifts in Sickbay, and furthermore, he was forbidden from coming to see B'Elanna. Security had to forcibly stop him from entering Sickbay and escorted him away at least twice before he finally grasped that he was not going to be allowed to see his former girlfriend while she was still there.
One day Sam Wildman had enough of Seven and B'Elanna's wild appearance, replicated a few sets of loose-fitting clothing, brought a big bucket of water, shampoo, brushes and scissors, and paid them a particular visit.
After some persuasion, the doctor decided to not only allow Sam to try to convince Seven and B'Elanna to get their hair in order, but to help out as well. The women in question were at first rather sceptic to the idea, although they were very grateful for the new clothing.
"And why should we let you do this... hydro-washing thing, again?" B'Elanna said while sniffing the shampoo bottle. She found she liked the scent, grinned, and promptly stuck it under Seven's nose. "Here, smell this."
"Well, _that_, for one thing." Sam chuckled. "It'll make your hair smell nice, apart from also making it clean and making it easier for me to brush out the tangles for you."
"B'Elanna always smells exceptionally nice." Seven told Sam, but still sniffed the offered bottle. B'Elanna beamed happily at the compliment. "And we have been sanitized."
"Yeah, you were cleaned up, but it's not the same thing. Wouldn't you like to have your lovely hair properly clean and knot-free? And we need to even it out a bit for you, too."
"I would like to try this." B'Elanna stated, taking back the shampoo. "What do I do?"
"Just lie down here..." Sam showed B'Elanna to lie down on a biobed while she washed the long curly tresses for her. It took some time before Sam was satisfied, then she repeated the process with Seven. The doctor joined them as Sam was carefully brushing out the tangles from Seven's hair, and he picked up a brush to do the same for B'Elanna.
"Well now..." The doctor piped up with surprising cheerfulness. "how do you want your hair?" He picked up a scissor and held up B'Elanna's large, knot-free but still unruly mane of hair and aimed the scissors to cut at about shoulder length. "Your old hairstyle, I presume? Of course, I could offer you some lovely variations that..."
"No!" Seven shot up from where she had been sitting, patiently allowing Sam to brush her hair through a few more times, and crossed over to B'Elanna's side in an instant. She pushed the doctor away and scooped up B'Elanna and her hair in her arms protectively.
B'Elanna blinked a little in surprise but didn't object, and when Seven ran her fingers adoringly through her hair, B'Elanna purred contently and rested her head on Seven's shoulder. Seven glared at the doctor and pouted, causing him to sigh and shake his head.
"I wasn't going to hurt her!" He exclaimed indignantly. "For goodness sake, Seven, I was going to cut it at whatever length and in whatever style she wanted, I wasn't going to just chop it all off!"
"Seven." Sam admonished gently. "A 'no' would have been enough, you can't go around just shoving people across the room when you don't agree with them."
Seven looked a bit embarrassed, and after a moment she looked at the doctor apologetically. "I am... sorry. I did not mean to hurt you, doctor. I simply..." She watched her fingers slip through the dark curls, unable to look at the doctor. "...reacted. Please do not cut B'Elanna's beautiful hair."
"It's allright Seven, I wasn't hurt." The doctor told her gently. "But if it had been anyone else, they could have been, do you understand? You're so much stronger than everyone else, you have to restrain yourself from lashing out when it's not really necessary."
Seven nodded, clearly ashamed.
"And as for B'Elanna's hair, well, that's up to her, although we do need to cut off at least a little, if not for aesthetical reasons then for the sake of safety. If B'Elanna is to return to active duty sometime, she will have to cut some of it off, because wearing her hair this long could be dangerous in her line of work." The doctor tried to explain as reasonably as he could. "It's not something either of you need to consider right now, though, because you're not going back to your duties for some time yet."
B'Elanna looked up at Seven, who was still pouting slightly and running her fingers through B'Elanna's hair. Then she touched her hair tentatively, indicating a length somewhere just above mid-back. "Would this be allright? I could tie it back with a piece of leather if it got in the way during work." It wasn't entirely clear who she was asking.
"And does Seven have to have hers cut as well?" B'Elanna asked, frowning slightly as she ran her hands through Seven's hair.
"Well, yes, I would recommend it. Though, again, it's up to you." The doctor assured them. He watched with some surprise how Seven and B'Elanna looked at one another for some time, neither of them speaking, although Seven nodded briefly once. Then Seven released B'Elanna and they both turned to him, giving him the eerie feeling that he had missed out a part of the conversation somehow.
The doctor then cut B'Elanna's hair to the indicated length, somewhat amused when Sam insisted she'd be allowed to braid the part that was to be cut off before he put the scissors to work in B'Elanna's mane. Seven looked on mournfully, but Sam surprised them all by finishing the braid and securing it, then handing it to Seven to keep. Seven smiled happily and brought the braid to her face, closing her eyes and inhaling deeply.
The newly coiffed B'Elanna then insisted she'd be given a braid of Seven's hair to keep when it was Seven's turn to have a haircut, and then tucked the blonde braid safely into the chest pocket on the burgundy shirt that Sam had provided. Seven's hair was left somewhat longer than B'Elanna's, for the simple reason that the doctor thought it was easier for Seven to fasten her hair into a bun and thus out of the way while she worked, than it was for B'Elanna to do the same with her unruly curls.
"Would you look at that... you're finally presentable." Sam joked and straightened Seven's deep blue shirt while the younger woman was busy playing with the buttons.
"Whom are we to be presented to?" Seven asked distractedly, inspecting the enamel buttons a bit more closely. B'Elanna smirked and playfully reached over to undo the buttons as Seven closed them, causing a small game of finger-wrestling over the possession of said buttons.
Sam shook her head. "No-one Seven, it's just an expression. I just wanted to say that you look nice."
"Yes, very nice." B'Elanna agreed, eyeing Seven with a tiny leer on her lips. "Very nice indeed. That looks very very nice on you. Of course..." B'Elanna yanked Seven closer and peered unashamedly down the opening of her shirt, then sighed wistfully. "...you look even nicer without it."
Seven giggled softly as Sam blushed and the doctor looked decidedly uncomfortable. B'Elanna did not look up from her inspection of Seven's chest underneath the shirt.
"Hey, when are we going to be allowed to move to my quarters? Soon? Please, say it's soon." B'Elanna didn't seem to notice that her other hand had snaked down to cup Seven's behind. "Very soon."
"Erm, well, I'm sure it won't be too much longer now, but you need to stay here for a while longer..." The doctor began awkwardly, only to be interrupted by B'Elanna's deep and hearfelt sigh. She let go of Seven's shirt and instead leaned her head against Seven's shoulder.
"But doctor..." She complained against the fabric of Seven's shirt. "...you don't let us, you know, be intimate in here. It's been forever!"
The huge sigh of frustration that B'Elanna let out, and that was responded to by Seven pulling her arms a bit closer around her, would have been comical if it weren't for the fact that Sam and the doctor had walked in on the pair in semi-intimate situations several times already. It had led to a conversation about things that it was not proper to engage in while in Sickbay, and meant that Seven and B'Elanna did try not to embarrass the doctor and his assistant further, but it also meant that they were both beyond eager to leave. B'Elanna had remembered that she had her own quarters somewhere, and had begun insisting she and Seven be allowed to stay there instead.
Sam Wildman blushed some more. The doctor fidgeted. Finally he sighed. "It won't be much longer, B'Elanna, I'm sure of that. Try to, umm... restrain yourselves a bit longer, please." He rolled his eyes a bit and wondered if he shouldn't let Janeway have this little talk with her girls after all. "And it isn't a good idea for you to be, umm, intimate in that sense at the moment, heaven only knows how you'll react later on and..."
B'Elanna spun around and pierced the doctor with an angry glare, perceiving a threat to the precious bond to her mate. Sam, realizing that the doctor was about to say some things better left unspoken until the women were more stabile, cleared her throat loudly and stepped in to distract the suddenly very tense women. "I was told to ask you if it was allright if Naomi stopped by a little later? She wants to come visit and tell you all about her latest holodeck adventure, I suspect. Would that be OK with you?"
"Of course it is." Seven said warmly. "I always look forward to her visits, Samantha."
"Spike?" B'Elanna perked up. "Oo, have her bring some of those games she had with her last time, will you? I'd love to play."
That had been unexpected. That Seven and Naomi were close were no surprise to anyone, but that B'Elanna took to the girl as well had been quite an unforeseen development. B'Elanna particularly liked to play games with the little girl, and Naomi was quite ecstatic to have gained yet another playmate.
"I will." Sam promised. "She'll stop by after Neelix has brought you dinner later on, then." She noticed that Seven made a face. "What is it Seven?"
"Mr Neelix." Seven grumbled. "He brings me unpalatable nutritional supplements while B'Elanna is given banana pancakes. I would like to have pancakes as well."
B'Elanna hugged her and kissed her cheek. "We can share my pancakes, Seven... we always do." Then she made a face. "But those drinks he sends you are disgusting! Why does he do that, anyway?"
"I'm sure Neelix just doesn't know that you can digest food more easily now, Seven." Sam soothed. "I'll let him know that you don't want those supplements anymore, and I'm sure he'll be happy to get you the same food he's bringing for B'Elanna."
"Why wouldn't Seven be able to eat food?" B'Elanna wanted to know, going back to absently playing with Seven's buttons.
"Seven's implants were... more sensitive before, and one of the side-effects of that was that she had a very restricted diet." The doctor told them, glad to focus the conversation back on areas where he had expertise. "Seven still has some restrictions we must observe, but you are right that we should inform Neelix that she no longer needs to digest her nutritional supplements."
"Another change from how your implants used to work is the amount of time you need to regenerate, Seven." The doctor warmed up to his subject and spoke far more animatedly. "Before, you needed to spend several hours a day regenerating in your alcove to function at peak efficiency, and you never slept. Now, with the changes in the workings of your implants, you can chose instead to spend two or three hours in your alcove each week, or five hours with your emergency unit, as long as you eat and sleep properly and don't suffer any damages." He gestured at Seven while pacing back and forth. "If you were to be hurt, or had a problem with your implants, regeneration in your alcoves would still be the best thing to speed up your recovery. Why, if I could prescribe all my patients to..."
They tuned him out, quietly talking amongst themselves instead.
Another handful of days passed, and became quite obvious to all involved that they were not going to be able to keep B'Elanna and Seven confined to Sickbay for much longer. There was little reason to, as the doctor had done all he could for them physically, and both women were in excellent health, although there was still a ways to go with their other problems. Those things would not be aided by keeping them in Sickbay however, so after some careful consideration it was decided to prepare B'Elanna's quarters for her.
The fact that B'Elanna, with ever shortening temper, had treatened to just walk out of Sickbay and look around the ship on her own if they weren't allowed out of there soon had perhaps brought the dilemma to light, but it was when she darkly told them that if she and Seven were to be held prisoners like that indefinitely, she would have prefered it if they had been allowed to live out their short but happy lives on the planet instead, that really drove the point home.
Seven was another kind of dilemma. She had never had quarters of her own, and putting the recovering woman in Cargo Bay 2 among the storage containers and Borg technology seemed very much like a bad idea. Especially since she no longer needed to rely on her alcove as much, but instead slept and ate like anyone else onboard. Janeway decided they would put the women together in B'Elanna's quarters for now, considering they would probably need one another's support in the changes the recovery of their memories would bring, and also quite simply because any attempt at separating them would most likely be met with a great deal of violence from both of them.
It was with that in mind that Kathryn Janeway brought with her a small group of people that could be considered friends to one if not both of the women in question, and headed to the sealed off quarters that had used to belong to B'Elanna Torres.
Janeway had been there herself, alone, packing B'Elanna's things together for storage or, eventually, recycling, a short while after the woman's death. Once that was done she had shut off environmental controls and sealed the door off with a high-clearance command, in preparation for the day when someone else would be reassigned those rooms as their living area. Seven's things were left as they were, as the young ex-Borg had very little personal belongings and they were all already stored in compartments in her alcoves, making her living space all the more clearly just another object stored away in the Cargo Bay. It had shattered Janeway more to turn off the power to the alcoves than it did to pack B'Elanna's belongings away, as it pointed out the cruel mistakes she had made in allowing Seven to live that way.
B'Elanna's quarters had not yet been reassigned to someone else, and as such Janeway had not expected the sight that met her as she used her clearance to enter the rooms flanked by Neelix, Chakotay and Harry.
The place was a pigsty.
Someone had, clearly with the use of a high clearance code themselves, entered and turned the environmental controls back on, then unpacked a few things, like B'Elanna's bed, and used them. The bed was dirty and unmade, and had what looked like a large stain of wine soaked into the mattress, the floors were covered with dirty articles of clothing, padds, unrecycled food plates and glasses, and synthenol bottles. One wall was covered in a large, gooey stain, with pieces of glass and broken cutlery littering the floor in front of it, clearly having been the target for a destructive fit and then left that way.
Janeway was grinding her teeth so hard she was giving herself a pounding headache. She didn't need to take a closer look at the ruined uniforms on the floor to know just who had used their clearance to defile the former quarters of B'Elanna Torres that way... and if she could have gotten her hands on the helmsman right at that moment, he might just have joined the bottles he must have thrown into the wall, but fortunately for him, Tom was still on duty.
While Janeway reigned in her temper, Chakotay discreetly directed the others to begin cleaning up, the took his superior aside. After some argumentation on Chakotay's part, he managed to convince Janeway that she should go get those of Seven's meagre belongings she thought the young woman might like, after that maybe check in with the doctor if there was anything in particular they needed to get, and leave the cleaning up to them. After a moment Janeway agreed, gracing her second-in-command with a small grin to tell him he was as transparent as ever, and left for Cargo Bay 2.
She considered stopping by the Bridge first, to have a word or three with her helmsman, but even though she was angry Janeway knew it was grief that had driven Tom, and while he had to be reprimanded at least she should do so when she herself was seeing things with a clearer head. She snorted to herself that Tuvok was having a bad influence on her as she entered the turbolift.
A handful of hours later Janeway, the doctor, Tuvok and at a distance behind them, a small group from security, escorted Seven and B'Elanna to B'Elanna's old quarters. Both women seemed very eager to leave Sickbay although B'Elanna groused about having to be escorted by security as if they were criminals, but strangely enough hearing the half-Klingon complain about things just made Janeway smile with the familiarity of it all. She found herself deeply moved, although also very concerned, by the fact that without appearing to notice it themselves, Seven and B'Elanna walked down the corridors hand in hand.
"...so how long are we going to have security hanging around outside our door, anyway?" B'Elanna grumbled on. "OK so I get that we're not allowed to go wherever we please on the ship unless we have company yet, but we will be allowed to eventually, right? And they're not allowed to come busting into our place whenever they want, either, just so we're on the clear on that."
Janeway grinned, oh yes, this felt familiar indeed. The fact that she was the ship's Captain rarely cut her any slack with either of these young women. "The guards are there mostly for your sake, to keep visitors away when you're not up to seeing them, to escort you to the messhall when you feel like going there for your dinner, and also to keep an eye out in case something happens and you're not able to call for help yourselves..." They entered the living area in question. "...that sort of thing, not so much to keep you confined to your quarters."
She shook her head ruefully as she realized that B'Elanna had stopped listening, and instead walked around her old home with a big smile on her face. Seven also walked around inspecting things, and B'Elanna turned around, grabbed Seven's arm, and dragged her around the room with her, pointing at things.
"Careful, that bat'leth is sharp!" Janeway exclaimed, wondering who was responsible for putting B'Elanna's razor sharp weapon on display in the same room as her defenceless girls.
She received an answering chorus of 'Yes Captain', but neither Seven nor B'Elanna moved away until they had inspected the weapon to their content. Janeway waited until they moved away to the other room before sending Tuvok and the doctor a glare and an urgent nod in the direction of the weapon. The doctor rolled his eyes a little, but he and Tuvok still walked over to secure the weapon safely and cover it's sharp edges with a transparent sheath.
"TOBY!" B'Elanna's delighted cry startled Janeway so much she was already in the doorway to the bedroom before realizing that it was not a cry of distress. As that realization hit her, she sagged slightly on the doorframe.
"Look Seven, it's Toby! My Toby!" B'Elanna hugged the worn stuffed toy with a huge grin, kissing the rumpled head, before holding it up for Seven to admire. She laughed when Seven leaned in to scent the toy, then rubbed the fingers of her human hand over the worn material.
"Toby smells like you, B'Elanna." Seven stated with approval.
"Of course he does, I've had him forever." B'Elanna grinned. "He's my favourite thing." Then she stopped and gave Seven a sultry look. "Well, he _used_ to be my favourite thing..."
Seven smiled and moved in to wrap her arms around B'Elanna, causing the smaller woman to lean back in the embrace and purr.
Janeway cleared her throat delicately and looked around the bedroom, not quite sure how she was supposed to react to the idea of her girls, together, yet. Her eyes fell on the bed that Chakotay had replicated to replace the one that Tom Paris had ruined. Her eyes grew wide, then she looked around the room again. "Umm, Tuvok, doctor... where is the other bed?"
Tuvok and the doctor appeared in the doorway, and B'Elanna and Seven turned to pay more attention as well.
"What other bed would that be, Captain?" Tuvok asked reasonably.
"What?" B'Elanna straightened in alarm. "You're not putting someone else in here with us, are you?"
"Ahh, I meant the bed for Seven..." Janeway said somewhat hesitantly to Tuvok. "It seems they forgot to put a bed in here for Seven."
"Captain?" The doctor cut in as delicately as he could. "That bed is made for two, and in all honesty they have been sleeping together on the same biobed since they were taken off their sedatives. There wouldn't be any use to put a second bed in here."
"W-who authorized this?" Janeway asked stiffly, making plans to make dinner for whoever was responsible, which was her own personal form of vengeance. It wasn't that she disapproved, not really, although she still needed to adjust to the idea, it was the knowledge that when the young women had regained enough of their memories to be back to something along the lines of their old selves, that might just tear them apart.
"It was Commander Chakotay, Captain." Tuvok replied camly, silently giving as much approval as a Vulcan could. "The bed was especially designed by Commander Chakotay as well."
B'Elanna grinned briefly. "Give Chocolatay my thanks, will ya Tuvok?"
"Please express my gratitude for his thoughtfulness as well, Commander." Seven requested.
"Now, Captain..." B'Elanna grew serious again, in fact she got a bit agitated as she turned her attention back to Janeway. "You didn't answer my question. You're not putting someone else in here with us, are you?"
"I hope not, for their sake..." The doctor muttered under his breath, looking at the ceiling.
"I..." Janeway floundered slightly. "I just thought... it would be better... safer, for you, if..."
"To seek to interfere with a mated bond is illogical, Captain... and it can be very dangerous. I would advice against it." Tuvok inclined his head slightly towards Seven, in acceptance of the passing look of respect and gratitude that flitted subtly across her features. Her Borg nature made her nearly Vulcan in his eyes, a fact that made him all the more inclined to treat her and B'Elanna's Pon Far-induced mating bond with the respect that his people always treated marital bonds.
"I wasn't trying to _interfere_, Tuvok..." Janeway sighed and admonished her old friend. "...but they'll have troubles enough when..."
"Worrying about what may or may not happen when we've got quite enough on our plate with the present is also illogical, right Commander?" The doctor dared to supply to the conversation, gently trying to nudge Janeway out of the bedroom.
"Indeed." Tuvok said, raising an eyebrow at the holographic doctor but not contradicting him.
B'Elanna had enough. "Yeah, well, your concern is appreciated, but it's not necessary, we'll be just fine on our own." She pushed Janeway slightly until she stepped out of the bedroom, then made small shooing motions at them. "We appreciate all you've done for us and we'll probably see you tomorrow, but for right now Seven and I want to be _alone_. See yourselves out, will ya?"
With that B'Elanna simply turned and pulled Seven in close. The two women were already kissing passionately when the doctor grabbed Janeway's elbow and urged her towards the exit.
A deep-throated growl and a moaning "Oh _Seven_!" followed them out through the doors.
Little over a week later, Janeway was sitting in her Ready Room contemplating recent events. Moving Seven and B'Elanna to B'Elanna's quarters had worked quite well, and eventually both women had been returned to partial duty. It was not meant to be anywhere near normal shifts for either of them, much less the gruelling level of work both women had been known to put in before, but the usual series of crises and disastrous events had tested both women's mettle, and it was as true as ever. Still Janeway and the doctor agreed partial duty would have to do for now.
She had spoken to Tom Paris at length, certainly reprimanding the young man about his behaviour, but for most part offering him a sympathetic ear in his pain and confusion. Then she had taken some time to explain to him how B'Elanna had yet to even mention him, or show any sign of remembering his existence at all. It was not a conversation she had enjoyed having, the helmsman had been completely distraught, so much so that Janeway was unsure if her subtle way of informing him of B'Elanna and Seven reached through to him at all, but made her reluctant to press the issue at that time. In the end Tom Paris had proven himself a man of better calibre than most gave him credit for and agreed, however reluctantly, to avoid crossing B'Elanna's path for the time being out of concern for her welfare. Janeway had felt a sense of pride for him because of it, but still asked Tuvok to keep a discreet eye on the helmsman and report anything out of the ordinary to her.
Janeway had also received reports from several different sources that Seven and B'Elanna seemed to communicate spectacularly well without words. It was something she had shrugged off at first, but when the reports had increased in number she asked the doctor and Tuvok to examine the two yet again.
The doctor later explained that the reason he had missed it was that neither Seven nor B'Elanna possessed any kind of telepathic ability, so whatever it was that made them able to communicate with each other by thought alone, it must originate from something else that the planet had changed in them. Tuvok had entered a mindmeld with B'Elanna to ascertain if this two-way telepathy was a temporary thing or not. His answer had been decisive it was permanent.
While she wasn't sure what that would mean for Seven and B'Elanna in the long run, Janeway nonetheless were happy for them. They seemed the most at peace and genuinely happy together, and as she had been beleaguered by requests for increased sound isolation from those living in the quarters nearest B'Elanna and Seven, she was getting more used to the idea of her little girls all grown up and in a relationship... with each other. Not that it was something anyone that spent time around the two could avoid to realize. In fact, that was the reason she was sitting there waiting for B'Elanna to join her.
Seven and B'Elanna... touched, constantly. They held hands, held one another, leaned against one another, shared small caresses and kisses from time to time. And as much as she and most of the other senior staff, minus the absent Tom Paris, found it all quite endearing and were willing to overlook most of it, even they found it distracting when B'Elanna reported something at a staff meeting while sitting in Seven's lap. God only knew how the junior officers and crewmen were reacting to their behaviour.
Janeway sighed again.
She didn't want to have to tell either of them that they needed to restrain themselves in certain situations, but she felt she had no choice but to do so. Preferably before the entire senior staff was treated to a make-out session on the conference table while Seven used one-handed sign language to give her Astrometrics report.
So with that in mind, Janeway had summoned B'Elanna first, to have the conversation with her in private before asking Seven to join them and explain things to her as well.
It proved to be not the best decision she could have made.
"...so I hope you understand why you and Seven will need to restrain yourselves, be a little more, more uh, apart, during..." Janeway had noticed how B'Elanna paled slightly at the beginning of her somewhat long-winded speech, and also how the engineer's unblinking gaze locked on the tabletop and never wavered from that spot, but if she had been more observant she would have also noticed that B'Elanna was clenching her fists so hard in her lap that the knuckles were white, or that she was trembling.
Janeway could have noticed these things, and not pressed the issue further. She could have. She didn't.
She did however notice when she was cut off mid-sentence by an angry roar, and also when the one that emitted that roar grabbed her Captain and maternal figure and slammed her into the wall, hard.
"You..." B'Elanna's eyes were wild and her entire appearance tormented. "..._can't_ part us." She trembled violently as she leaned in to stare into Janeway's eyes at close range. "You... won't. We can't exist without one another... you can't take her away from me... I won't let you." She raised a whiteknuckled fist. "Never."
Her painful words became a scream of anguish and both fists rained down blow upon blow until they were both dark red with blood.
Seven of Nine nearly bowled Harry Kim over as she barrelled out of the turbolift heading for the Ready Room. She had heard the painful cry begin as she stepped off the lift, but she had felt her lover's pain and anguish for much longer, and it was what pulled her to B'Elanna's side now as surely as had she been pulled by invisible cords.
The door didn't open fast enough for Seven, so she gave it an added push with her enhanced hand, causing the door to be pushed into the wall too far and causing a small pyrotechnic display as the machinery operating the door was crushed. She never noticed.
Seven's entire focus was on the figure that while bowed over was holding Captain Janeway against the wall just by keeping her hands resting against the wall on either side of the older woman's head. B'Elanna was making sounds like a distressed animal, and Seven wasted no time in reaching her.
The table and a few chair were in her way, and in a sweeping motion they were thrown aside despite the fact that the table was welded and bolted to the floor. The noise was deafening, and if the door's fiery end had not alerted those on the Bridge that something was amiss, the loud boom of the table being thrown over would have done so several times over.
B'Elanna threw herself into Seven's arms, weeping uncontrollably.
Seven wrapped her arms tightly around her lover, instinctively trying to soothe her pain, while her eyes went to Janeway for answers. What she saw made those eyes grow wide in horror.
Janeway was pale as a ghost, staring at B'Elanna in mute shock, and on either side of her head were large, dark stains of blood. B'Elanna's blood.
Seven pushed B'Elanna back slightly, so that she could reach down and catch both of the smaller woman's hands and hold them up for inspection. The mangled and bloody mass that met her made her flinch in sympathetic pain, and she cradled the hands gently, placing a soft kiss on the palm of each hand, before giving B'Elanna a look of infinite love and devotion.
"Won't... let her." B'Elanna sobbed but managed to speak somewhat distortedly anyway. "Won't let... take you... away... from me."
"Never!" Seven swore breathlessly and pulled B'Elanna back into her chest. "Nothing will take me away from you!" The stark look that Seven directed her way cut Janeway deeply. "I swear."
She kissed the top of B'Elanna's head as the smaller woman's sobs began to fade. "Anyone that tries, will fail. And if we are not allowed to be together on Voyager, then they will have to beam us down on the nearest M-class planet they can find that would support us." Seven's voice carried absolute conviction.
"But..." B'Elanna sniffled a little, and Seven gently wiped her tears away. "You need to regenerate, how will we..."
"The Borg technology that came aboard this ship with me is mine, my personal belongings, and while I would not ask to take it all with me, I could create a portable unit that is fueled by alternate sources out of the material in the alcoves and bring with us. It would not be as good, but it would allow me to... live." B'Elanna looked at Seven for a long moment, then nodded slightly and leaned her head against Seven's shoulder.
"Come, let us go see the doctor about your hands, bangwI'." Seven told B'Elanna softly, urging the smaller woman to walk with her.
As they started to move, the paralysis that had temporarily overtaken Janeway shattered.
"Hold it!" She barked, causing both young women to stop and turn slightly to look at her apprehensively. "Good lord... unstable doesn't even begin to describe it." She muttered to herself, then signed to security officers that were now standing in the doorway with their phasers drawn to back out and leave them. She walked up to Seven and B'Elanna.
"First of all, I am NOT trying to separate you two! Am I making myself clear on this? I, and the officers under my command in any official capacity, are none of us trying to part you!" She stepped closer and snapped at them angrily. "There will be no more talk about leaving this ship and... and, and eloping! Is that understood?"
She took a few deep, calming breaths before continuing, glaring at the wide-eyed women that seemed ready to shrink back from her at any moment. "For your information, I was trying to address a few concerns I have and at the same time impress upon you both what is proper conduct for a senior officer aboard this vessel, but I can clearly see that I was worried about the wrong thing... catching you both in a compromising situation during a staff meeting isn't nearly as serious as the fact that you have no emotional control at all. I can't have you working even partial duty shifts if I have to worry that someone uttering the wrong word will result in a bloodbath, so you can consider yourselves off duty until further notice."
"I didn't hurt you." B'Elanna said quietly, looking ashamed.
"You didn't hurt me? You're wrong." Janeway said gently, stepping close enough to the couple to grasp one of B'Elanna's ruined hands. "This hurt me." She touched a tear-stained cheeck lightly. "That hurt me. Hearing that neither of you have any faith at all in me, hurt me."
She sighed again. "But that's not even the point. The point is that what just happened here was very dangerous." She levelled her most serious look at them both. "B'Elanna, you and Seven are quite possibly the two strongest people aboard this ship, not to mention well-versed in combat techniques. If you fly off the handle like that you can kill someone before you come back to your senses."
"I didn't mean to!" B'Elanna sobbed, hiding her face in Seven's shoulder. "But I can't... just the thought of anyone trying to take Seven away... I can't..."
"I know, Lanna. Believe me, you have made that abundantly clear. As much as I love you both, for as long as there is a risk that you or Seven will lose control like this, be it for imaginary reasons like today, or for any actual opposition, I can't let you have free reign of the ship. Do you understand?"
Seven nodded. "We pose a threat to the rest of the crew. Will we be incarcerated?" Her eyes were sad. "Imprisonment is... difficult for B'Elanna."
"But not for you, Seven?" Janeway asked quietly before she thought better of it. "And no, I'm not throwing you in the Brig."
"No. I am used to it." Seven's answer was as simple as it was honest. "What will you do with us then, Captain?"
Janeway sighed. "I'm not about to punish you for being... ill, if that's what you mean. But I will minimize your contact with others until we find a solution to this problem, and you will no longer go anywhere without a security detail with you." She rubbed her temples slightly. "I can't have you back on your respective duties, but perhaps we can, eventually, let you two work together in a science lab for a few hours each day, or take a partial shift together in Astrometrics. Something to keep you from going stir-crazy while we figure this out, yet keeps you away from the rest of the crew for safety reasons. Because the bottom line is that this ship needs you both."
"Regardless, I want you both in Sickbay right now, to have the doctor heal B'Elanna's hands as well as doing whatever further exams he can think of. And mark my words, ladies, if he suggests it would be better for you both to remain in Sickbay, then that is where you'll be staying, is that clear?"
At Seven and B'Elanna's reluctant nods, Janeway cast a glance around the room. "God, what a mess... Seven, can you pull the table back to where it's supposed to be? We'll see about fastening it to the floor later... and I'll have Harry come in here and clean up that wall, he won't tell anyone about it if I ask him not to."
"Well then, what are you waiting for? We're getting you both to Sickbay."
In Sickbay it didn't take long before the doctor summoned Tuvok to join them. A multitude of tests, many that had already been taken before, were taken on both women before they were asked to sit and wait while the doctor and Sam prepared a series of more complex tests. Seven and B'Elanna sat very quietly on a biobed together, both appearing to be lost in thought. Seven had her arm around B'Elanna's shoulder and was cradling the now healed hands in her own.
Tuvok indicated that he wanted to speak with his Captain privately, and so Janeway followed him to the other end of the room.
"What is it, Tuvok?" Janeway asked in a low tone of voice, not realizing as Tuvok had that Seven and B'Elanna both would be quite able to hear her regardless, as long as she was still in the room. Tuvok had suggested they take their conversation to that side of the room to allow his commanding officer and old friend to relax slightly compared to if he had brought the subject up in front of the others, and also to avoid the doctor's not always appreciated remarks and attempts at witticism.
"I have been informed of the altercation in your Ready Room, Captain. Is it your intention to press charges?" Tuvok was the consummate professional, and as such he asked the question even though he felt certain of the answer he would receive. "Do you wish a formal report of..."
"No!" Janeway said sharply, then lowered her voice again. "No, Tuvok, no charges and no report. What happened was not B'Elanna's fault, and I was not injured. I won't have her records tarnished by this... whatever it is that they are going through."
Tuvok refrained from pointing out that because B'Elanna was Maquis, any perceived tarnish caused by recent events would be negligent at most. The Maquis were still, by definition, criminals, and another misdemeanour in her conduct as an officer would not mean much once they reached the Alpha Quadrant. Logically, his Captain should be aware of this as he was.
"I see." He said instead. "I would however need to hear the details of what transpired from your point of view, Captain, and also any light you can shed on what prompted this behaviour."
Janeway told him, with as much detail as she could remember, and Tuvok listened without comment, although his eyebrow occasionally rose at her account of the conversation. When she had told him all she could think of, Tuvok tilted his head slightly and appeared to gather his thoughts before speaking.
"Captain, I believe I must once again stress that you should not seek to interfere with a mated bond. Especially one that appears to have yet to be completed." He wondered briefly why this fact had not been more apparent to him before then. "Interfering with such a bond is not only illogical and unwise, it is also dangerous. It can cause the individuals caught in the uncompleted bond to act destructively, and in the few occasions it has occurred, death is a likely result."
"Death?" Janeway breathed. "What do you mean, death? Do you think they will kill someone?"
"On the contrary, Captain. I believe that both Seven of Nine and Commander Torres display an emotional control during the circumstances that would indicate that it would require an act of premeditated provocation to lead to them taking a life, although that risk exists. In the cases of an interrupted and incompleted bond, it is more likely the ones to die are the ones bonded." As usual Tuvok found it very distasteful to have to speak of Vulcan mating practices, but he recognized the need for the conversation.
"Allright." Janeway absorbed the information. "Then tell me, if Seven and B'Elanna's... bond, is incompleted as you suspect, what does that mean and what can be done about it?"
"You can do nothing, Captain. To attempt to do anything is to interfere, and interference..." Tuvok was wondering if his Captain would begin to understand soon, or if he would be forced to continue to repeat himself.
"...is dangerous, got it." Janeway said ruefully. "So trying to help them is as bad an idea as trying to keep them apart."
"Indeed. They will either achieve awareness soon and complete the bond on their own, or not. If they do not, they are unlikely to survive the ordeal." Tuvok considered. "Although they are not Vulcan, and with the aid of the doctor's competence, that fact may be enough to save them."
Janeway hesitated before asking somewhat delicately. "I was under the impression that their bond was... very much completed."
"The Pon Far has been fulfilled, but that is not all that is involved in the Vulcan practice of taking a lifemate." He looked at the women in question. "They must find the ritual to complete them on their own, or it will fail regardless."
Both Tuvok and Janeway fell silent at that. After a moment the doctor approached them while Sam was assisting B'Elanna with something under Seven's supervision. He was frowning.
Janeway felt vaguely defeated. "Allright, doctor... just try to give me the facts for now, with as little embellishments as possible. You'll have to give me the full report on padd later, right now my head is full to bursting."
The weariness in the Captain's voice took any sting out of the request, and the doctor tried to keep things brief. "As you wish." He took a deep breath, a curious habit he never quite seemed to break himself of, despite the fact that he didn't actually breathe. "This is the short, preliminary conclusion, you'll have it more in detail in the report later Captain, but... it would appear that they have formed some kind of symbiotic bond."
Janeway blinked. "Symbiosis? What do you mean, doctor?"
"I mean that what we assumed was a peculiar and unimportant curiosity, their mental bond, is actually something far deeper. Seven and B'Elanna will need to stay in close contact both physically and mentally regularly, or their conditions will deteriorate in time. How long they can stay apart, or how far, or even just how serious a threat to their physical and emotional health being apart poses for them, well, that is all just speculation for now."
"Being apart makes them ill..." Janeway scratched her head. "Emotionally as well?"
"Well, it would seem that being apart will have a negative effect on their mental state, make them increasingly irrational and... easily provoked." The doctor looked apologetic. "Which is something I should have seen earlier."
"The irrational and easily provoked behaviour is common to individuals in their position, as are certain physical effects as well." Tuvok spoke up. "Once the ritual is completed, all these symptoms would have disappeared had they been Vulcans, which would suggest that the symptoms should at least lessen considerably for Seven of Nine and Commander Torres as well."
"Oh?" The doctor looked at Tuvok. "And what condition would that be, exactly?"
Tuvok remained silent for a moment. "That is... private, doctor, and not something you should concern yourself with."
"Not concern myself?" The doctor raised his voice indignantly. "I'm their doctor!"
"Precisely." Tuvok agreed.
Janeway stepped in as the doctor was about to snap at the silent security officer. "That's enough, gentlemen!" She looked at them both sternly. "I want reports from both of you, as soon as at all possible. Doctor, I take it that your exams are completed?"
"Yes..." The doctor still glared at Tuvok. "...for the moment. I would recommend they get something to eat and then rest, though I'm sure I don't need to stress the need for constant surveillance?"
"Certainly not, doctor. I'll let you get back to your work now, and I'll meet up with you in my Ready Room as soon as I've had a few words with Seven and B'Elanna, Tuvok." With that Janeway walked up to the women she saw as her daughters to speak to them about the recent discoveries.
A few hours later, the somewhat tired and quiet Seven and B'Elanna entered the messhall together with their small security escort. They sat down at a table a bit out of the way, alone as their company settled for a nearby table, and within moments were joined by Neelix
The friendly little Talaxian picked up on their sombre mood, and fixed them both a helping of B'Elanna's favorite food, which seemed to have rubbed off on Seven although she did still have rather limited experience with the various kinds of food. As he brought them their dinner, he also sat down and chatted with them for a while before more customers arrived and stole him away.
Although his cheerful mood had relieved some of their own gloominess, Seven and B'Elanna were still rather relieved to see him go. They had wanted some privacy while they were both plagued by thoughts that at this point were difficult even to share with one another. And they had not really had the chance to talk about what had happened, or the implications of the doctor's discoveries.
They were sitting there, unconsciously mirroring the other as they pushed their food around on their plates distractedly, neither speaking nor looking up from their plate.
That was how Tom Paris found them when he entered the mess hall on his scheduled break.
Tom had adhered to the instructions Janeway had given him, worked the hours he had been told to in order not to be on duty while B'Elanna was, taken his lunch breaks when she was not expected to be there, and most importantly not gone looking for her. It had been hard on him, but he had resolved to do whatever was best for her, and if not seeing him was what was best right now, he would not be seen.
But who was to say not seeing him was best for B'Elanna? From what he could tell, no-one really knew much about how things worked with Seven and B'Elanna's current conditions, and worse, they didn't seem to be making the kind of progress he thought they should. Maybe meeting him would spark something, some memory in B'Elanna? Surely that would be a good thing? Tom Paris had struggled with this for some time, growing more and more inclined to break his promise to the Captain, but so far it hadn't gone further than just thinking about it.
But now he had entered the messhall and found her just sitting right there. All thought of what he should or should not do flew right out the window, as did the realization that the woman sitting in front of B'Elanna was the same one that broke his jaw for coming to close to the half-Klingon once before.
"B'ELANNA!" He cried, and before anyone had the chance to intervene he had crossed the floor, pulled the startled B'Elanna out of her seat, and was hugging her to him hard, sobbing slightly into her hair.
B'Elanna Torres was too shocked to move, otherwise sheer reflex would have Tom Paris in need of medical care by now. Wide-eyed and openmouthed she just remained very still as the teary man squeezed her far to intimately and babbled incoherently into her ear.
The other reason B'Elanna did not move or try to injure Tom was that he was familiar. Then the sense of familiar became memories seeping to the forefront of her mind, and she was no longer paying attention to anything other than understanding those memories.
Seven had risen, sharply, as B'Elanna had been yanked out of her chair, but she had stopped herself from reaching across and tearing the intruder away from her mate by sheer force of will. Then she recognised him. And with that recognition, Seven accessed her own memories regarding Tom Paris.
And she froze, a look of horror and agony dawning in wide blue eyes.
"...baby, and I was so worried you... but we'll be allright, it'll all be allright now, we'll be together, and we..." Tom rambled on, reassuring B'Elanna that all would be well, and telling her how much he loved her and had missed her. B'Elanna didn't listen.
B'Elanna did feel the wave of emotion crashing in on her from Seven, and the hurt, the loss and the despair made her gasp out loud. She pushed Tom back and turned just in time to see Seven begin to move away.
"STOP!" B'Elanna cried out, her hand reaching out in Seven's direction. "Don't go!"
Seven stopped but did not turn around to face B'Elanna, her shoulders hunched together, fists clenched hard and her entire body trembling noticeably. Their security escort was belatedly getting to their feet, confused and unsure if they should interfere or not.
"Lanna, hon, we..." Tom grabbed B'Elanna again, smiling as he continued to assure her of his affection. He didn't realize his mistake until she growled and glared at him as she pushed him away.
"Let GO of me!" She snapped at him, baring her teeth viciously, internally still focusing on Seven's pain.
"But Lanna... don't you know who I am? I'm Tom, your..." He pleaded, the pain in his voice apparent, and laid a hand on her arm.
"I said let GO! And don't call me that!" B'Elanna yelled, then struggled to get herself under control. "I know who you are, Tom Paris. And I know that once, in my former life, we were lovers."
Tom's face lit up with hope and happiness, just as Seven's shoulders tensed further and the trembling increased.
"I also know that we broke up some time before my... death. I owe you nothing."
"But B'Elanna..." Tom pleaded, but she ignored him. Instead her focus was on the trembling woman that looked as if she was a heartbeat away from either breaking down in tears or destroying something.
"Seven?" B'Elanna walked around the edge of the table to lay a hand on the trembling arm. "Seven? Look at me."
Slowly, Seven did, her pale blue eyes ravaged with pain and brimming with unshed tears.
"Don't ever turn away from me, bangwI'." B'Elanna was tearing up as well, their emotions shared as they always were since their rebirth. "Don't you know you are my heart?"
She reached out and gently grasped Seven's enhanced hand, holding it against her own chest, over her heart.
"Any distance is too much, I can't bear it." A single tear traced a silent path down Seven's pale cheek as B'Elanna spoke. "I think my thoughts inside your mind, and you feel your emotions inside my chest. We are _one_."
"Nothing and no-one can ever change that, ever challenge that." Bronzed fingers caressed the tear away. "We are one, always. And I am yours."
Blue eyes widened and filled with a strange light as Seven gasped at B'Elanna's words, and more, the emotions that accompanied them. The words echoed in her mind, until there was nothing else to do.
Silently, Seven slipped to her knees in front of B'Elanna.
Long, slender hands that belied the strength they possessed, trembled as they gently grasped smaller bronzed ones and brought them close. Seven looked up at B'Elanna with wide, honest eyes.
"B'Elanna, I..." The messhall around them that had already gone silent when Tom grabbed B'Elanna now went even more so, as all the silent spectators held their breaths. But Seven's voice trailed off, Seven instead opting to speak with her heart.
B'Elanna made a strange sound somewhere between a loud gasp and a sob, and tears began flowing down her cheeks. Seven brought both of B'Elanna's hands to her face, and with greatest reverence placed a gentle kiss in each palm.
"Will you..." Seven's unfinished sentence was followed by another little sound from B'Elanna.
"Yes!" B'Elanna sobbed. "Oh yes, Seven, I will! I love you." She hurled herself into Seven's arms, hugging the taller woman fiercely as she sobbed quietly into her neck. "I love you." Finally the overcome half-Klingon got her tears under control and pulled Seven down for a long, searing kiss before parting just long enough to speak softly into their own private world. "I will marry you, love."
Less than half a day later, a still reeling Captain Janeway stood on the holodeck trying to make some sense out of the whirlwind events on a personal level, but ended up deciding it all defied such things, and that she should take the cue from her daughters and just be happy.
For a moment Janeway felt a pang of sympathy for Tom Paris, whom had sent word through Harry Kim earlier that day that he requested to be moved entirely from the Alpha shift for a while. In confidence Harry had told her that Tom reasoned that his B'Elanna had truly died, and that the woman now carrying her name and her face was someone new entirely, and as such he wouldn't interfere further with her. Instead Tom retreated to grieve the loss of someone that he, in his own way, had genuinely loved.
Harry told Janeway that he had seen no reason to tell Tom that he had thought B'Elanna had her eye on Seven for long before the events that took both their lives, or that it had surprised Harry that B'Elanna had held onto her relationship with Tom for as long as she had, when it was so obvious that her passions lay elsewhere. Janeway thanked Harry for keeping an eye on Tom, and mentally made a note not to underestimate the young man's insight as he apparently had seen what she had not.
Janeway had been too pulled off her usual stride by the day so far when she had received the reports from security regarding the scene in the messhall. She had barely batted an eyelash when, mere moments later, a joint request came from Seven and B'Elanna that she perform a marriage ceremony for them. She had simply been far to stunned to think.
So now, less than twelve hours later, Janeway found herself on the holodeck together with Tuvok, the doctor, Sam and Naomi Wildman, and Neelix, preparing to hold a small ceremony.
The setting the two women had chosen was a holograpic representation of the planet that had been their birthplace in this second life, the lake to one side, a forest to another, and on the far side of the grassy slope where they all stood was the cave and the outer edges of a rose forest. It filled Janeway with conflicting emotions to see that place, as for her it would always be connected to the pain of saying farewell to her children, but B'Elanna and Seven had mere moments ago walked around with joyous wonder in their eyes, taking in the familiar sights.
Tuvok had not said, but Janeway had caught what to her surprise looked as the faintest trace of a smile on his lips at the news, so she assumed that the wedding ceremony would complete the bond between Seven and B'Elanna. The fact that Tuvok attended the ceremony as if he was about to witness a Vulcan joining further confirmed her suspicions, but all the same Janeway would ask him in private, later.
The ceremony in itself was brief and simple, as Seven and B'Elanna had requested. The exchange of vows and her proclaiming them married had taken almost a mockingly short amount of time, but it was how they wanted it. Then those gathered expressed their well-wishes, and left the two newlyweds to their three day long honeymoon on the holodeck. That too would be brief, and the three days only possible because Neelix had immediately taken charge of bartering holodeck time for them from various other members of the crew, but Janeway had no doubt that the honeymoon in question would continue for long after the holodeck time had expired. Neither woman would be on duty for some time, and even after that it remained to be seen how much they would be able to handle.
Still, Janeway finally felt hope that things would, after a fashion, return to normal. Certainly, having her girls wed to one another was something new, as was the fact that Seven would now be permanently living with B'Elanna in her quarters, but it was a good change. It even had Janeway wonder with some amusement if she would come to see the day that she would be a grandmother... and that thought in turn made her make internal bets with herself on which of her girls would be the one that ended up carrying that child, if it came to that. A smile stole across Janeway's lips.
"Captain?" The even tones of Seven's well-modulated voice intruded into Janeway's thoughts. "B'Elanna and I wish to thank you."
Janeway smiled even more and shook her head. "No, don't thank me." She reached out to envelop Seven in a hug, and then moments after pulled B'Elanna in to join them. "There's nothing I wouldn't do for you two, and this... this was a privilege."
Janeway kissed them lightly on their cheeks, then stepped out of the embrace. "See you both at Neelix little celebration in a few days... and don't you dare not to go!" She joked affectionately as she headed out through the doors, leaving the newlyweds on their own, engaging the lock on the doors behind her as agreed upon.
Seven and B'Elanna did not speak a word, simply took off their clothes, then walked hand in hand down the familiar slope with it's high grass brushing against their legs as they walked.
Sitting on the grass near the water's edge, metal-adorned fingers traced bronzed brow ridges and black curls, while dark hands moved across Borg implants and into long blonde tresses. The strong, complete and immeasurable love they shared filled them with wonder, and they smiled lovingly at one another.
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