Heaven and Hell
"I'm sorry B'Elanna, but you have to let her go," the Doctor's voice was gentle, concern etched on his face as he tried to take the tiny bundle from B'Elanna's arms.
"Why?" B'Elanna's voice was anguished, her face tear-stained and ravaged by the effects of her recent ordeal.
The Doctor knew what the grief-stricken Klingon was really asking.
"She just couldn't survive. There are some things that even 24th century medicine can't heal, and Miral's Dandy-Walker syndrome is one of them. Her brain just didn't form correctly, and there was nothing I could do about it. I'm so sorry."
He had explained this to B'Elanna several times over the course of the last month. He could have ended the pregnancy much sooner and spared her this agony, but just as she had decided to take his advice Tom Paris had foolishly stepped in and begged her to reconsider. He had been certain that by some miracle, all medical knowledge and advice to the contrary, things would just 'work out.' B'Elanna had listened and had agonized over the past few months, hoping against hope, until her child was stillborn just a few hours ago. Since that time both the doctor and the captain had tried to get B'Elanna to relinquish her hold on her daughter, but she steadfastly refused. She couldn't bring herself to let her go.
Paris stood at the end of the biobed, watching B'Elanna decend into her own personal hell. He could think of nothing to say. He had thought parenthood would be fun, and that it might also serve to revive their flagging marriage. A child would take the focus off of their lack of common interests, their inability to have even a basic conversation without a disagreement of some sort. But this was anything but fun-B'Elanna was going to be unbearable for the next few weeks. He decided to volunteer for a few extra shifts in sickbay; she'd probably appreciate the solitude he reasoned.
There was one other person in sickbay, silently watching the proceedings from behind a console as she worked. Seven of Nine knew that B'Elanna Torres was not aware of her presence as she struggled through a protracted labour, and now sat holding her lifeless child. The relationship between the two women had always been conflicted; for some reason they couldn't seem to spend any time at all together without irritating one another. A grudging respect had grown between them over the past few years, but actual friendship between them might never be possible. Still, watching the once proud hybrid struggle with her emotions now, Seven felt something resonate within herself. Now, more than ever, Seven knew they had something in common. She was torn, she knew the wise course of action would be to leave the room and pretend that she wasn't privy to such personal information about the engineer. But she also knew that the right thing to do would be to help the broken woman who sat before her sobbing on the biobed. She continued with her scans...waiting for Tom Paris to make his inevitable hasty exit from the situation. It was the greatest mystery Seven had encountered since being severed from the collective.what had brought two such disparate individuals together in such an ill-conceived union. It was also the only real fault she could find with Lieutenant Torres. She was tempestuous, sometimes erratic, but her only serious flaw in logic was this marriage to Tom Paris. Well, Seven knew she couldn't help the Lieutenant with that problem.but she felt obligated somehow to help with B'Elanna's grief.
Tom stood, shifting from foot to foot, at the end of the biobed. He was itching to get out of this room, and away from the grief that permeated the air in sickbay. He was about to make his excuses and leave when the doctor spoke.
"Would you like to hold her Mr. Paris?"
"Who, me..uh..no Doc that's okay.I'm good," Tom stammered, wishing he were anywhere but here.
"Have you thought of a name?" the EMH asked.
"A name, what for Doc.she's." Tom replied.
"Miral Rose," B'Elanna answered in a monotone.
"Right, of course." Tom answered as if they had discussed names for the child at length.
The doctor turned and made an entry into the ship's log, and then left the room to give the grieving parents some peace. He had told B'Elanna that he wanted to keep her in sickbay overnight for observation, and it was an indication of her state of mind that she made no argument whatsoever. As soon as the doctor had left the room Tom spoke.
"Well, I'll let you get some sleep. See you later okay." He backed away from his wife; his last glimpse was of her sitting alone, still cradling their child.
Tears continued to fall unheeded from B'Elanna's face onto the blanket, which was by now soaked in grief. Seven hesitated, she did not deal well with change or uncertainty in her life.since being severed from the collective she had taken solace in several immutable facts of her new life: Captain Janeway, and thus Voyager would always prevail, Tuvok would always be logical, and B'Elanna Torres, while emotionally volatile, did not cry. She watched silently until her heart could stand no more. She logged off her console and approached the Lieutenant silently. She knelt at the end of the biobed so B'Elanna could see her without having to take her eyes off her child.
"I am sorry for your loss Lieutenant. If there is anything."
"What the hell do you know about loss Borg."
B'Elanna began to rage at the convenient target that had just been presented to her, but she stopped when she looked into the blue depths of Seven's eyes her for the first time. There was a sorrow there that she recognized oh so very well now. For the first time she saw beyond the mask of the Borg and into the eyes of the woman she had never really gotten to know.
"One," B'Elanna whispered.
"One," the former drone replied.
"I never knew. I'm.sorry...I should have."
"Shhh, B'Elanna it's okay; it doesn't matter now." Seven spoke in soothing tones as she reached up to place her hands on B'Elanna's. She looked up into the pain-filled eyes of the engineer. "It is time B'Elanna, let me take her now."
B'Elanna did now for Seven what she hadn't been able to do for the Doctor or the Captain, she relinquished her hold on her daughter and let someone else help carry the burden of her sorrows. Seven held the precious bundle in her arms.
"She is beautiful B'Elanna," the former drone whispered.
"Yeah, she is," B'Elanna spoke through her tears.
"Shall I call the doctor?"
B'Elanna could only nod silently. Seven activated her comm badge and told the doctor that B'Elanna was ready to have Miral's body prepared for the funeral. The EMH came quickly and waited while B'Elanna took a final look at her daughter. She couldn't bear to hold her again; she knew if she did she would never be able to let her go, so instead she touched the tiny ridges on her forehead and kissed her quickly before nodding to the doctor who lifted the child from Seven's arms and took her into the other room for preparation. B'Elanna sat staring at her empty hands; there were no words and no more tears, she was completely drained. Seven remained kneeling at the her feet, she had nothing to say, but instead reached out in the only way she could think of.she simply held onto B'Elanna's ankles and shared in the sorrowful silence. It's impossible to know how long they would have remained that way had the doctor not returned to tell B'Elanna that she needed to get some sleep. Seven finally relinquished her hold on the engineer and stood up, stretching out her back and legs, which were cramped from remaining still for so long. She was about to leave when B'Elanna spoke.
"Will you stay with me, just until I'm sleeping?" B'Elanna hated that she couldn't keep the pleading note out of her voice, but since the bottom had fallen out of her world the only comfort she had found was with Seven.
"Of course," Seven replied, pulling over a stool and settled in to watch over the young Klingon.
B'Elanna was exhausted from her ordeal, and it wasn't long before she fell asleep. Seven remained where she was, watching long into the night. B'Elanna woke up once with a start, and Seven was at her side in an instant, taking her hand and speaking nonsense words of comfort until the engineer drifted back into a fitful sleep. Seven decided to forgo regeneration and instead watched over her adversary until morning came and it was time for B'Elanna to face what remained of her future.
The Klingon hybrid was more relieved than she cared to admit that the first sight she saw upon opening her eyes was Seven of Nine, watching her intently. She hadn't intended for the former drone to remain beside her through the night, but she was grateful that, for once, she didn't have to face her problems alone. She knew instinctively that the former drone wouldn't abandon her now.
The Doctor and the Captain arrived shortly after B'Elanna awoke and began asking her questions about the funeral. The young engineer was barely articulate, but she managed to say that she didn't want the entire ship attending the service for Miral. She only wanted her closest friends.she simply wasn't up to dealing with the well-meaning sympathy of colleagues and others with whom she had barely a nodding acquaintance. When the Captain tried to talk her into allowing the crew to mourn as a whole, it was Seven who stepped in and argued B'Elanna's case for her. Eventually the Captain gave up and B'Elanna was allowed to plan a simple ceremony to mark the passing of her daughter. When the planning was over Seven rose to take her leave.
"You'll be there right Seven?" B'Elanna asked.
Seven was surprised to here the engineer ask her to join her closest friends in mourning her child, but she immediately offered her support.
"As you wish B'Elanna. I will see you there."
"Seven," the former drone stopped and looked at the engineer, "thanks.for everything." Seven nodded briefly and left the room.
The memorial service was the worst thing anyone in the cargo bay had ever had to endure. The ceremony was short, only the captain spoke briefly. When they released the torpedo casing into the freezing cold of space it was for B'Elanna as if Miral had died all over again. B'Elanna tried to thank everyone for coming but she broke down and was unable to continue. Tom Paris stood beside her, but never uttered a word, and when she dropped to her knees in tears he allowed the Captain to be the one to comfort her. He wandered over to speak to Harry and Chakotay while the Doctor scanned B'Elanna and the Captain rubbed her back. Seven stood alone and silently observed. Her instinct had been to go to B'Elanna when she saw the Klingon begin to lose her composure, but the Lieutenant was surrounded by her friends and Seven was reluctant to intrude. It wasn't until the engineer looked up with tear-washed eyes that beseeched her silently for help, that Seven stepped up and offered her hand to the older woman. B'Elanna grabbed it like it was a lifeline and held on, pulling Seven down to the deck plating with her.
"Get me out of here," she pleaded.
Seven wrapped her arm around B'Elanna's shoulders and helped the engineer to her feet. She was practically carrying the Klingon out of the room and B'Elanna was hanging on for dear life. Seven was taking her to her quarters when suddenly B'Elanna stopped, her hand over her mouth.
"I'm gonna be sick," she gritted out through clenched teeth.
Seven looked around but there was nowhere to go, so she simply held on while B'Elanna lost her breakfast in the hallway. When the retching subsided, Seven called for maintenance to come and deal with the mess while she escorted the Lieutenant back to her quarters. Once there, B'Elanna sank down on the sofa and Seven fetched her a glass of water. She then got a cloth and soaked it in cool water; she knelt beside the sofa and dabbed the cloth on her forehead, wiping away the sweat and soothing her with words and touch. The overwhelming need to take care of another individual was something that Seven hadn't felt since One's short life. She gave in to it now and comforted B'Elanna as best she could with her limited experience.
"Sleep now B'Elanna. I'm right here."
B'Elanna closed her eyes, and feeling safe in Seven's presence, allowed herself to drift into unconsciousness. It was well after midnight when Tom Paris finally arrived back at the quarters he shared with B'Elanna. He was a little surprised to see Seven of Nine of all people sitting beside his sleeping wife, but he was relieved that B'Elanna wasn't alone.
"Thanks for being here Seven. You can go now, I'll take it from here he slurred."
Seven didn't want to leave B'Elanna's side, but Paris was her husband and she couldn't very well argue with him. She took a last look at the engineer's sleeping form, and, giving a quick nod to Paris, she left the room. Tom got himself a glass of water from the replicator, and after seeing that B'Elanna was still sleeping he went into the bedroom and fell into bed.
When B'Elanna awoke in the morning she was a little surprised that Seven was no longer in the room. She lay on her back, staring sightlessly at the ceiling, trying to block out the pain of the past several days. She finally got up and made her way through the bedroom into the shower. Tom was sprawled fully clothed across the bed, snoring loudly. Suddenly Seven's absence made a little more sense. B'Elanna looked at her husband sleeping so soundly and wondered, not for the first time, how they were ever going to make their marriage work. It worried her that she felt absolutely nothing as she stood watching him sleep. He had done nothing to comfort or support her through this ordeal, and it had never occurred to her to reach out to him; she had simply retreated within herself, knowing that he would find solace with friends and holodecks. She felt no bond with him, and although she wasn't angry with him, she simply felt nothing for him. She couldn't deal with this on top of everything else, so she put it out of her mind and went into the shower.
Tom was up when she got out of the shower; they both had a week off work to mourn their loss, and Tom had already managed to book the holodeck to cover most of that time. He knew the polite thing to do would be to invite B'Elanna to spend that time with him, but really he wanted to be alone so that he could enjoy himself with his friends, holographic and otherwise. Still, she was his wife, and since she would probably decline anyway he made the effort to ask. As he had hoped she turned him down flat, looking at him with an angry expression as she did so.
"What?" he demanded
"You're just going to go off and play and forget about what just happened aren't you?"
"Better than sitting around here and wallowing in grief," he retorted.
"Don't you feel anything Paris?" she demanded.
"Look B'Elanna, I thought being a father might be fun. I even thought it might bring us closer together, but this isn't fun. I'm sorry she died, and I'm sorry you're upset, but I can't change what happened so I just want to forget about it and go on with my life. You should do the same," he finished.
"Everything is about fun for you isn't it?"
"Not everything," he said with a pointed look at her.
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
Tom knew this wasn't really the time, but she just couldn't let it go.
"This marriage, us, this isn't fun anymore. You never want to do anything but work; you're always in a bad mood or mad at me for something. I just can't win with you B'Elanna and I'm tired of it. I just want to enjoy my life, and yes, I want to have fun. I don't see anything wrong with that."
B'Elanna felt a surge of anger at Tom's callous words, but strangely it subsided almost as quickly as it flared. She had known who and what Tom was when she'd agreed to marry him, how could she blame him for being exactly who he was.
"You're right Tom.there isn't anything wrong with that. If that's what you really want you should go for it. I won't get in your way any more. Let's just end this now."
Tom had the good grace to feel like a cad for leaving his wife the day after the funeral of their child, but B'Elanna seemed so calm he found the courage to speak.
"Are you sure.I mean, I could stick around for a few more days if you'd like. You really shouldn't be alone right now."
She laughed bitterly. "I'm always alone when I'm with you Tom.but thanks for offering."
Her words stung, but were quickly overshadowed by the feeling of relief he had of finally being free of his marriage.
"If you need anything." he let his voice trail off, knowing full well that she would never come to him for help.
"Thanks Tom, really."
"I'll just get my stuff together; I'm sure I can stay with Harry for a few days until I get reassigned some quarters."
"Take your time," she said, sinking down onto the sofa.
She heard him moving around in the bedroom. Other than his television and toaster he really had only a few clothes and mementos to pack up, and within a half an hour he was gone with a promise to take care of the paperwork that would dissolve their union officially. To her great surprise she felt only relief when the doors finally closed behind him.
When the door chimed a few minutes later she assumed that it was Tom returning to get something he'd forgotten. She called for the door to open and to her surprise it was Seven of Nine who stepped through.
"Good morning Lieutenant. I just thought I would stop on my way to work and ensure that you consumed a proper breakfast."
Not so very long ago B'Elanna would have been irritated by the Borg-speak, as she had called it, but today she heard it for what it was-just Seven showing her concern in the only way she knew how.
"Thanks Seven, but I'm really not hungry."
"Hunger is irrelevant. Your body has been through a great deal of physical and mental punishment in the last few days, you need to take care of it."
B'Elanna started to argue, but she just didn't have the strength. She just watched as Seven went to the replicator and punched in a few commands. She returned holding a glass of brownish liquid, which she proffered to the young Klingon.
"This will supply your body with 100% of its vitamin and mineral needs for the day. Drink it.please."
It was the please that did it. B'Elanna took the glass and sniffed at it suspiciously.
"Let me guess, taste is irrelevant too."
Seven only raised her ocular implant at B'Elanna's comment, but the corner of her mouth lifted slightly in what could only be described as a smile. B'Elanna raised the glass and then downed it in one long pull. She handed the empty glass back to Seven, who took it directly to the recycler.
"Thanks Seven.for everything."
"You are welcome. Do you require anything else?" Seven asked sincerely.
"No, I'm alright, thanks."
"In that case I will be going."
"Thanks again Seven," B'Elanna said softly. Seven nodded quickly and then was gone.
At the morning staff meeting the Captain informed the senior officers that B'Elanna and Tom would be off duty for a week, she then informed them that Tom had come to her ready room this morning and put in for a divorce. There was a murmur of shock around the table, but the Captain assured them that it was a mutual decision and that it was what both of them wanted. Seven felt a surge of anger that Paris would show such disregard for B'Elanna, but she told herself it was none of her business. She knew that in the long run B'Elanna would be better off without the helmsman. She was a little shocked when the Captain informed her that she was to be placed in charge of engineering until B'Elanna returned to duty. She knew the fiery young Klingon would be climbing the walls without her work to distract her, and she also knew that B'Elanna would be less than pleased to know that the Borg had been placed in charge of her domain. She mentally shrugged, she had a duty to her collective and she would fulfill it.
Seven couldn't get B'Elanna and her situation out of her mind as she worked in engineering over the next few days. She was worried about the young Klingon, and knew that she would be suffering even more from lack of work. She decided to do something about it. She had been working on several enhancements to the power grid and she also had just completed the monthly warp core diagnostic. She prepared the reports and then gathered up the PADDS and left engineering. When she reached B'Elanna's quarters she hesitated before ringing the bell, she hoped she was doing the right thing. She steeled herself for a possible scene and then pressed the chime.
The doors opened and she saw that B'Elanna was still sitting on the sofa in the same place she had left her two days ago. There were several glasses on the coffee table, so at least she was sure that B'Elanna had eaten something. She smiled to herself when she saw the unmistakable evidence that B'Elanna was consuming the same nutritional supplements that she usually ate.
"Seven, what can I do for you?" B'Elanna asked in a weary voice.
"I do not require your assistance at this time Lieutenant. However, I thought that perhaps you might like to take a look at these." She handed the PADDS to B'Elanna who activated them and perused the contents.
"Thanks Seven. I don't know how much I can concentrate, but I really appreciate the thought."
"Have you eaten?" Seven asked abruptly. She was still uncomfortable with her role as caretaker, but determined to see that B'Elanna was cared for properly.
"Not today, but don't worry, I'm not starving or anything," B'Elanna said as she indicated the empty glasses on the coffee table.
"You should have something more substantial. You do not have the necessary Borg enhancements to allow you to subsist on nutritional supplements alone."
As Seven spoke she began to clear the coffee table of the glasses. B'Elanna was about to protest, but she realized that she simply didn't have the strength to argue. When Seven returned with a plate of rice and vegetables she simply began to chew mechanically. The food was bland but nourishing and she felt a wave of gratefulness that someone cared enough to look after her. She finished the meal and Seven took the plates to the recycler.
"Do you require anything else Lieutenant?"
"There is one thing you could do for me Seven."
"What is that?"
"Could you maybe call me B'Elanna."
"As you wish, B'Elanna."
"Thanks," B'Elanna yawned widely.
"I will leave you to get some rest."
"Thanks again Seven. You've been a real life saver."
Seven nodded and left abruptly. As B'Elanna settled down to sleep she thought over the past few days and how well Seven had taken care of her. She was impressed with Seven's insight in knowing that she would welcome the reports and diagnostics to take her mind off of her situation. She was more impressed with the way she had simply offered her support continually. She thought briefly about the drone One. It was clear to her now that Seven had regarded One as a son, and that nobody had acknowledged that she had lost a child when One had died. Seven had never had a funeral at which to mourn the loss of her child. B'Elanna decided that she needed to rectify this oversight. She determined to have a long talk with Seven the next time the former drone came to visit. Knowing Seven as she was beginning to now, she knew it wouldn't be long before the younger woman returned to see her. For some reason that thought was comforting. She drifted off to sleep with thoughts of Seven in her mind.
The next day B'Elanna awoke and the first thing she saw were the PADDS Seven had dropped off the day before. She activated one of them and read through the warp core diagnostic, happy to see that everything was operating at above optimal conditions. The next PADD contained Seven's ideas for enhancements to the power grid--B'Elanna began reading. An hour later, the engineer looked up from the PADD. She was shocked.it was the first time since the death of her daughter that her mind had been taken off her grief. She felt a flash of guilt that she had dared to think of anything but Miral; the grief was gone soon as she thought about the fact that she might just be able to move on with her life eventually. For the first time she felt a sense of hope.
She had some questions for Seven about her plans, and to her surprise it mattered to her that was looking less than perfect. She shook her head and then went to take a shower before she called Seven and asked her to come by for lunch and to discuss the plans to enhance the power grid.
Seven agreed to come for lunch, and when she arrived she was gratified to see that B'Elanna was up and about, and that she had showered and changed her clothes. She hoped that the worst had passed for the grieving woman. They ate their lunch while they chatted about ships' business and Seven imparted as much gossip as she could to B'Elanna's curious ears. When the meal was finished, B'Elanna brought up Seven's plans for the power grid and they spent a very productive hour arguing over the best way in which to proceed with the enhancements. That done, B'Elanna brought up the subject she had been wanting to discuss with Seven, but had been afraid to bring up until now.
"Seven.I.I wanted to talk to you about One."
"There is nothing to discuss; he is gone and I have moved on."
"No one knows better than me what a crock of shit that is Seven," B'Elanna said forcefully. Her own pain was too near the surface to allow for Seven to simply disregard the life of her child, even in self-defense.
"I, I am sorry B'Elanna," Seven said quietly, "it is difficult for me to speak of this."
"I know, and I'm sorry, but I wanted you to know how sorry I am that we, that I never saw what you were going through back then. I never understood until a few days ago that you saw One as your son. You never had a chance to mourn him publicly, and you never got the support you should have from the rest of the crew. You were alone, and that is.unacceptable," B'Elanna finished quietly.
"I mourned him in my own way," Seven replied.
"I'm sure you did Seven, I just wanted you to know that I would be here for you if you ever wanted, or needed to talk about it. You've been so kind to me, and I'd like to help if I can."
"Do you feel up to a walk to Cargo Bay 2?" Seven asked suddenly, breaking the silence that had fallen between them.
"Sure.I could use the exercise," B'Elanna replied, curious as to what Seven had in mind.
They didn't speak as they walked, and Seven was conscious of having to slow down to accommodate the Klingon's weakened state on more than one occasion. She resisted the urge several times to put her arm around B'Elanna to give her support. She knew the engineer would not welcome her touch. When they reached the cargo bay, Seven hesitated. She was uncertain whether or not her idea was a good one, and she almost regretted the instinct that had urged her to open up to the young Lieutenant. Seeing the look of concern on B'Elanna's face she decided to proceed with her plan.
She walked over to the console that had been installed in the cargo bay so that she could work when she was here alone. She pushed a small recessed panel under the console and a drawer slid open noiselessly. She stepped aside so B'Elanna could see. B'Elanna was uncertain what she was looking at as she perused the contents of the drawer. A small piece of metal about 2 inches wide and 6 inches long was nestled in the drawer on a bed of soft white material.
"What is it?" she queried.
"It is a piece of One's brachial assembly. I was ordered to turn the body over to security so they could completely dispose of it in a manner that would leave nothing for the collective to find. I could not bring myself to let him go completely, so I removed this piece of his body cladding and kept it with me."
B'Elanna didn't know what shocked her more, that Seven had disobeyed a direct order from the Captain, or that she had exhibited so much emotion and no one had taken the time to notice.
"I won't tell anyone Seven. I.I don't blame you for this. I probably would have done the same thing. I can't tell you how sorry I am for your loss. If there's ever anything I can do." she let her voice trail off.
"Thank you B'Elanna. I believe showing you this has brought me some measure of relief." Seven's voice was stilted, but the emotions she was experiencing were plain to see on her lovely face.
The two grieving mothers gazed down at the small piece of metal for some time before Seven touched it once gently and then closed the drawer. She really did feel better for having shared her grief with B'Elanna, and the Klingon's understanding of her actions helped alleviate the guilt she had been harbouring for disobeying Janeway's orders. She saw that B'Elanna was looking tired and so she offered to see her back to her quarters before she returned to engineering. B'Elanna accepted gratefully.
Over the course of the next month the two of them grew much closer. B'Elanna was able to open up to Seven about her loss, and Seven found that she was able to talk to the fiery engineer about her son and take some measure of comfort in the older woman's understanding of her feelings. They often took meals together and they even found a way to work together in engineering with a minimum of fighting, although their legendary disagreements didn't completely disappear.
The captain had announced the annual Valentine's party at the morning staff meeting, and B'Elanna was already looking for any excuse to give it a miss this year. She had no desire to be around the crew in their various states of love, puppy and otherwise. She wanted nothing to do with the sentimentality of paper hearts and replicated flowers. She did however want to give something special to Seven of Nine. It really had nothing to do with Valentine's Day, but she had had an idea for a gift for Seven and had only completed her work on it the day before. She decided to wait until Valentine's to give it to the former drone. She put the box back into the drawer of her desk, hoping that Seven would appreciate the token for what it was.a gift of thanks and friendship for everything that Seven had done for her in her time of grief.
The entire crew was jammed into Holodeck one for the Valentine's Day dinner and dance. B'Elanna and Seven had made a very brief appearance and then excused themselves quickly. They had talked about the evening and decided that they would celebrate by themselves in Holodeck two. B'Elanna wanted to have a few drinks and just let loose and she wasn't comfortable doing that around the rest of the crew. She was afraid she would burst into tears or get into a fight if she had to deal with all the emotions of the evening with the others. Seven had agreed to join her in a few drinks. The doctor had prepared an inoculation for her that would allow her to consume alcohol without her usual impairment. She was actually looking forward to unbending with B'Elanna. She was curious, however, as to why B'Elanna had wanted to go back to the cargo bay before they began their private party.
Whey they reached Cargo Bay 2 B'Elanna motioned Seven through the door ahead of her. Once they were inside she shifted nervously from foot to foot. Now that she was faced with the prospect of giving Seven her gift she was worried that it wasn't suitable, or that Seven would not like what she had done. Finally she just reached behind herself and pulled the box from the waistband of her pants where she had tucked it earlier. She handed the plainly wrapped package to the former drone.
Seven unwrapped it and then looked puzzled as she turned the gift over in her hands. It was a small crystal box with two buttons on the bottom. She had no idea what it was for. B'Elanna was feeling really silly now, and she was a little choked up about what she had done, so she opened the drawer containing the fragment of One's body armour.
"I thought you could put that in here.you know.to keep it safe. The buttons activate a damping field that will shield the piece from sensors. You know.in case the Borg scan the vessel." She stopped talking, feeling like a complete fool.
"Thank you." Seven's voice was so soft that B'Elanna almost didn't hear her. When she looked up she saw unshed tears shining in Seven's eye. "This is a most thoughtful and beautiful gift." She opened the box and placed the small fragment inside, activating the damping field before she placed it back into the drawer. For the first time in her life as an individual Seven didn't feel completely alone; for the first time she felt as if someone else understood her and her feelings. She had mourned her loss with B'Elanna and it was helping them both to move on from their grief. Seven scrubbed roughly at her eyes for a second before she touched her gift one more time and closed the drawer.
"I am sorry.I have nothing to give you."
"You have given me so much Seven, and I can never thank you enough." They were both feeling a bit self-conscious after all this emotional talk and so they quickly straightened up and left for the Holodeck.
At first they both felt a little awkward at drinking together in Sandrine's, but after a few glasses of wine they began to relax and talk freely. At first they only discussed engineering problems or the follies of other crewmembers, but after a while they turned to more personal topics. Seven found the experience of intoxication exhilarating. She found herself opening up to the young Lieutenant, and the experience of laughing out loud was thrilling for her. She found herself wracking her brains for things to say that would make B'Elanna laugh. She loved the way the engineer threw back her head and shook with laughter when she said something particularly witty. When they started on the second bottle of wine the talk took a turn for the personal.
"Do you regret not having a 'date' for the Valentine's dance," Seven inquired as she sat her glass on the table with elaborate concentration.
B'Elanna let her head fall back against the head of the couch.
"Not really. But it would have been nice to have someone to kiss on a day like today. I miss kissing."
"I have never kissed anyone," Seven replied.
"You're kidding.never?" B'Elanna was incredulous. She had just assumed that Seven had at least been out on dates with other crewmembers.
They both sat in silent thought for a while before Seven spoke.
"I would kiss you if you'd like B'Elanna."
B'Elanna started to laugh at Seven's joke, but when she looked up she realized that the former drone was serious. She was about to decline, but as she looked at the open and trusting look in Seven's eyes she thought to herself that perhaps it wasn't the worst idea she'd ever heard. They had both had enough to drink that they could just put it down to alcohol the next day. She leaned forward slowly.
"Are you sure?"
Seven's only answer was to lean closer and brush her lips softly against B'Elanna's. B'Elanna felt a jolt of desire that caught her completely unprepared. She looked at Seven, whose fingers where pressed to lips, her eyes shut. When she opened them B'Elanna saw curiosity and desire mixed in their cerulean depths. She felt a smile begin to form on her lips, one that was answered on Seven's only a second before the beautiful blonde leaned forward and kissed her again. This time the kiss was a lingering one, and B'Elanna took the lead, flicking out her tongue, easing Seven's mouth open and gently exploring the sweet warmth she found inside. She heard the younger woman whimper softly and she drew back, easing Seven away from her gently.
"Are you alright?"
"Yes," Seven answered shyly. "I do not wish to discontinue this activity.I.I want more."
B'Elanna smiled and drew Seven back into the circle of her arms. She kissed her again, softly at first, but when she felt the young Borg pressing her back into the sofa she began to let her natural passions have free reign. When at last they broke apart again, panting for breath, B'Elanna threw caution to the wind.
"Would you like to come back to my quarters Seven? We.we might be more comfortable there." Seven's only answer was to get to her feet and pull B'Elanna up off the couch.
When they got to the door of the holodeck and shut down the program, Seven made as if to let go of B'Elanna's hand. She was surprised and pleased when B'Elanna squeezed her tightly and refused to let go. They passed several crewmembers in the hallway and Seven looked at B'Elanna to see if her reaction to being observed interacting so intimately with a former Borg was going to be a negative one. She was relieved that B'Elanna only smiled and nodded at their crewmates and made no attempt to let go of her hand. Seven felt her heart begin to hammer in her chest as she thought of what might be about to happen between the two of them.
B'Elanna let them into her quarters and quickly pulled Seven into her arms for a thorough kiss. She felt Seven press tightly into the contact and felt the hands of the beautiful blonde begin to explore the contours of her back; the passion that had been flickering within her was now a white-hot flame. She tried once more to give Seven time and room to change her mind.
"Are you absolutely sure?"
"I want you.now," Seven breathed while raining a trail of kisses down B'Elanna's neck.
B'Elanna led the amorous blonde into her bedroom and they stretched out fully clothed on the bed. B'Elanna lay on her back and let Seven explore at will. She sighed with contentment as Seven's fingers traced the ridges of her forehead, and the outline of her lips. She smiled up at the tiny frown of concentration on Seven's face as she committed every detail to her eidetic memory. Upon seeing that she was being closely observed, Seven smiled sweetly.
"You are very beautiful B'Elanna."
With a jolt B'Elanna realized that she had never, in fact, felt beautiful until this very moment. She felt a tear slide down her cheek and her breath caught in her throat when Seven kissed it away gently.
"May I?" Seven asked as she played with the zipper of B'Elanna's uniform tunic.
"Please," was all B'Elanna trusted herself to say.
Seven removed the garment and allowed herself to drink in the sight of the Klingon's muscular arms. Suddenly she wanted this evening, this moment to last forever. What had started out as a bit of fun between friends had quickly become much more. Suddenly the closeness that had grown between them recently took on an entirely different meaning for Seven. She was starting to understand that she loved this beautiful woman very much. She felt a frisson of fear at the thought that B'Elanna might not return her affections. Her feelings showed clearly on her face and instantly B'Elanna reached up to comfort and reassure her lover.
"I know.me too," was all she said. It was all that needed to be said.
Suddenly Seven felt a feeling of joy and overwhelming well-being flood through her body. Looking down she was thrilled to see it echoed on the face of her beloved. She couldn't stop herself from laughing out loud. B'Elanna was quickly caught up in her happiness and the two of them laughed until tears ran down their faces. When they at last caught their breath they could only stare for long unmeasured moments into one another's eyes. Finally Seven moved to once again capture B'Elanna's lips in a searing kiss and they allowed their passion to take over, sweeping them along on a tide of desire.
They made love for hours that night, exploring one another's bodies, laughing and talking and growing closer with every passing moment. When they were both sated at last they were content to lie in one another's arms. Seven loved listening to the distinctive sound of B'Elanna's powerful eight-chambered heart as it beat in her chest. She loved the feeling of B'Elanna's fingers stoking up and down her back in a soothing caress. She thought she would be content to lay here forever. She smiled to herself when she thought of the appropriateness of them finding one another on today of all days.
"Will you be my Valentine?"
She felt B'Elanna tighten her hold and press a kiss on the top of her head. It was all the answer she would ever need.
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