DISCLAIMER: Seven, B'Elanna and all else Voyager in this story belongs to the powers that be, and certainly not to this little dragon.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This and everything else I've written is also available at my own fic site http://ryufic.blogspot.se/
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To rosmari.karlssonfaltin[at]telia.com

Her Champion
By Carola "Ryûchan" Eriksson


It was with a slight eyebrow tick and an oncoming headache that B'Elanna Torres inwardly asked whatever forces out there that habitually enjoyed messing around with a certain ship lost in the Delta quadrant just why these things always happened to her. And most importantly, WHY in the name of Kahless was Tom Paris ever allowed anywhere near a holoprojector when everyone knew it could only lead to disaster?

Point in fact, this latest situation.

After a few weeks of one bad situation after another it appeared that Voyager was being given a break for once, and things had been quiet for a few days. Naturally people could not merely be given the opportunity to relax, do the stuff they'd been putting off during one crisis after another or even catch up on those little work issues that tended to get pushed aside for the more urgent ones, oh no. Not with the combined forces of Tom Paris, Neelix and a bored Captain Janeway.

Not surprisingly Tom Paris had a new holodeck program ready and waiting, and Neelix suggested making it a shipwide party. With B'Elanna's perhaps not entirely well thought-out, and to be honest a bit snarky, comments and a few annoyed eyebrow twitches from the no-emotions section – Seven and Tuvok – Janeway decided to make it a mandatory event. No excuses would be accepted for skipping out on the whole thing short of a red alert, and so here B'Elanna was.

Trapped in yet another one of Tom's holodeck program gone haywire, only this time the setting wasn't some old Irish village or a nineteenth century whatever, or even Captain Monochromoron for that matter. No, this time the setting was a fantasy version of medieval Britain, a kind of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table sort of deal.

B'Elanna had to show up? Fine. Participate? Sure, she could heave a couple of synthenol beers or whatever and then knock Tom on his ass in some medieval games, the rougher the better... except it didn't quite turn out that way. As soon as B'Elanna walked into the holodeck, with the intent of giving herself an outfit more fitting a warrior of course, the moron she at the moment much regretted dating had programmed the computer to supply her with a frilly lady-of-the-court dress.

B'Elanna had seethed and plotted vengeance, but Janeway once more decided to punish her for the lack of Delta quadrant activity lately and made her wear the stupid outfit, arguing that if she, the Captain, could put up with wearing the matronly version of such a dress then B'Elanna could certainly wear the one she had been given.

The men had of course fared far, far better in B'Elanna's freely and somewhat loudly offered opinion, as none of them had been forced into frilly dresses. Well... except for Tuvok perhaps, whom in the guise of a priest had quite frilly robes, but the other guys did ok for themselves, Neelix as a jester, the doctor as a travelling troubadour, Chakotay as a farmer, Harry as a squire and Tom as some sort of courtier.

The real trouble had started after an hour or so of partying on B'Elanna's part, when she, Janeway, Harry, Tom and Chakotay had interacted with the holodeck characters in a certain section of the program. Whatever went wrong was only visible as a brief and not particularly strong flash of light, and as such none of them realized the situation they were in... until the holographic knights began questioning B'Elanna's forehead ridges, that is.

When the insistence of the holographic characters began feeling threatening B'Elanna called out to the computer to delete them, but there was no response. Janeway joined and called for a complete freeze of the program, adding her command code to the request, but still no response. Calls from B'Elanna and the others for the computer to respond were also met with silence, and further hostile looks from the characters that surrounded them.

At that point B'Elanna made an attempt to rewire some circuitry in a hidden access hatch to manually override the holodeck controls, but no sooner had she removed the hatch cover from what appeared to be a plain rock wall than the holodeck characters had rounded on them and taken both B'Elanna and Janeway captive. While Chakotay attempted to grapple with one of the knights holding the Captain, Tom and Harry were told to run for it, to find a way to shut down the holodeck or at the very least get to the rest of the crew and mount a rescue mission.

It didn't take long at all before Tom and Harry were both captured and brought back, but disturbingly enough both men had experienced the same thing though in different directions: for some reason their section of the holodeck was closed off from the rest, they could not get out and they had found no sign of anyone else from Voyager being in there with them.

The angry cries of witchcraft and sorcery got worse, and B'Elanna was the centre of the holographic mob's attention. Her forehead ridges were pointed at and the call rang out that she must be a demon, then faster than really should have been possible she was dragged away, kicking and cursing all the way... to being chained to a stake over a very ominous-looking mountain of firewood. Janeway and the others were chained as well, to seats along one side of what looked like an arena of sorts, and it was as she looked at them that B'Elanna realized that the holodeck safety protocols had been turned off.

There was blood all over Chakotay's face, and Janeway was leaning forward in her chains towards Harry who was slumped over in his chair in an alarming way. Even at her distance B'Elanna could clearly see how the baby blue of Harry's tunic was swiftly dying into what looked awfully black, and a dreadful chill swept through her at the sight. Next to Harry Tom sat with wide, uncomprehending eyes, while knights, soldiers and nobility milled together in the open field between the seats where B'Elanna's friends apparently were meant to witness her burning and B'Elanna herself. The holodeck characters appeared to argue about something for a while, sending B'Elanna apprehensive looks every so often.

Finally the crowd dispersed, leaving the knights on the field while all the others took up positions sitting or standing around Janeway's well-guarded group. The knight that seemed to have been appointed the leader of the medieval lynch-mob stepped forward and raised a hand, everyone else immediately falling absolutely silent.

In a strong voice the knight called out to his audience, declaring that on this day of the Lord so-and-so they had discovered witchcraft and even a demon in their midst. They had all witnessed the sorcery of Lady Kathryn and Lady Belanne – Janeway and B'Elanna – and there could be no doubt now that whatever veil had been cast on their minds had been lifted, that B'Elanna was a demon. Their path was clear, the she-demon must burn for her sins, but as it had been speculated that Janeway was but a pawn caught in the demon's thrall she and her servants – Chakotay, Tom and Harry – might be freed with the death of the demon. They would be made to witness B'Elanna's burning and then, freed from her evil powers, priests and prayer would help them back to the path of the righteous.

Janeway objected of course, but between the threats to her companions and Chakotay's discreet attempts to warn her from saying too much, she was quickly silenced. B'Elanna tried to dissuade her captain as well, but firmly bound and gagged all she could do was shoot the upset older woman a determined look and shake her head. No way in hell would B'Elanna's friends be made to suffer more than they clearly had because of B'Elanna's unfortunately quite visible Klingon heritage, she'd take whatever was coming by herself.

Something the lead knight was saying drew B'Elanna's attention back to him with some surprise.

"...enough!" Some protesting voices were quieted, although B'Elanna hadn't really heard what the argument was about. "We are not barbarians! Although clearly a demon, Lady Belanne stands before us in the guise of a highborn, and as such she has the undeniable right to be championed." He turned towards B'Elanna's shackled friends. "A father, brother or spouse of noble birth may choose to take up the sword and meet the knight of our choice in combat to prove her innocence."

A long moment of silence met his words as the holographic characters seemed to wait for someone to speak up, and B'Elanna's friends tried to grasp what they were being told. B'Elanna on her part strained against her chains, inwardly cursing up a storm as she wanted to take on this challenge herself.

Eyes both holographic and real tracked to Tom, expecting a reaction. There was none as the man in question replied with a wordless 'who, me? You've got to be kidding!' look and nothing else. Chakotay struggled to get to his feet, clearly the hit to his head more serious than it appeared, but Janeway was faster, a determined look on her face.

B'Elanna shouted internally for Janeway to sit back down. As much as she loved and adored the other for this gesture, there was just no way B'Elanna would allow her Captain to get herself killed because of her. She threw an angry glare at her very-soon-to-be ex-boyfriend that promised murder. Tom you petaQ, I will remember this!

"I will be her champion." The voice that rang out interrupting Janeway just as she was about to speak came from the far end of the field, and caused all heads to snap in that direction.

It seemed as if the holographic characters didn't know what to make of what they were seeing, and at least in that respect B'Elanna couldn't blame them, she wasn't quite sure what to make of it herself.

There on the other side of the field a knight came walking towards them at a brisk, determined pace that made her easily recognizable to B'Elanna as none other than Seven of Nine. Gleaming armour covered her torso and knee-high boots, while the dull grey of her sleeves and dark pants made B'Elanna suspect chain mail and leather. As if choreographed with Seven's approach the heavy grey clouds that had covered the sky since B'Elanna got there moved apart just enough for a single ray of sunlight to shine down on the approaching ex-Borg, igniting her armour and hair into a fiery blaze that made her appear like some creature of myth, come to exact divine retribution.

Magnificent! Some part of B'Elanna whispered, while yet another groused with quite a bit of annoyance that of course Seven got to wear armour and not a freaking frilly dress!

"Who... who are you?!" The lead knight called out, overcoming the confusion that Seven's sudden appearance had caused. "Halt! Come no closer before you identify yourself!"

Seven did not slow down but she did answer him, her voice strong and clear. "I am Seven of Nine, and I shall be this woman's champion." A single regal gesture towards B'Elanna before coming to a stop. Some of the knights had horses, and clearly Seven was leaving herself enough space to meet them if they charged.

"By what right would you, a woman, seek to champion..." The lead knight was as bewildered as his peers, but at least his voice was steady. It mattered little as Seven interrupted him with typical Borg bluntness.

"I am her spouse."

No-one heard B'Elanna's muffled outcry of shock at Seven's declaration, and thanks to Captain Janeway and Chakotay's quick thinking – and somewhat rough handling – no-one noticed Tom's reaction either. The lead knight looked torn between simply laughing and saying something rude, but once again Seven forestalled him.

"By your own words a father, brother or spouse may volunteer to be her champion." Seven's rigid Borg posture and air of superiority seemed stronger than ever, making the blonde look oh so sure of herself. Enough so that those looking at her would doubt themselves. "I will be her champion, and as I would be neither her father nor her brother, I am her spouse."

B'Elanna felt strangely disappointed when she realized what had caused Seven's rather unusual declaration, and then she got annoyed with herself for having such a confusing reaction to Seven of all people.

It was this moment of self-berating and general confusion that led B'Elanna Torres to question the universe in general and the gross oversight that allowed one Tom Paris anywhere near a holoprojector in particular. In fact the seething woman made some vaguely formed plan to jam one such holoprojector down Tom Paris' throat while emphasising very, very firmly that he was never to go near any holodeck controls for the rest of his natural life, and just what exactly B'Elanna would do to him if he did.

So engrossed in this little fantasy was she that she missed a verbal part of Seven and the lead knight's further exchange, but she was brought back to proper focus when with a gesture from the lead knight a large two-handed sword was thrown at Seven's feet.

B'Elanna grinned widely under her gag when the murmurs of disbelief spread among the holodeck people as Seven easily picked up the oversized and undoubtedly very heavy blade with her Borg-encased hand and twirled it in the air a few times as if it was made of paper.

B'Elanna's glee was quickly replaced by concern when she saw the expression on the lead knight change at the display, becoming deadly serious before he turned to another knight, a mountain of a man, and gestured for him to mount his horse and charge. For a while there B'Elanna had relaxed without meaning to, forgetting that the situation was quite serious and that people could die here. To her embarrassment she quickly realized why, too.

It was Seven. As soon as she had seen Seven approaching a part of B'Elanna that she was none too proud of had with great relief put it all on the blonde's shoulders to deal with, so sure that they were safe with the other woman there, so sure that Seven would save her, no, save them, that she had allowed herself to be preoccupied with her annoyances.

The huge mounted knight charged, right at Seven who stood still, her only movement a slight cocking of her head as she watched the thundering approach to her position. B'Elanna wanted to scream at her to move, damnit! but there was no need.

The knight had his sword out and as soon as he came into range took a powerful swing at Seven's head. Seven, with a speed and grace that seemed unreal, stepped into the strike avoiding it with the tiniest margin, and delivered her own shocking blow.

In one smooth blow Seven's blade struck upwards from the ground, cleaving right through the charging horse and stopping only as the tip of the blade broke off and stuck into the knight's shoulder, both rider and mount already dead. A geyser of blood sprayed into the sky then, but Seven had already moved, only a small spatter of blood sullying the shiny breastplate.

Absolute silence reigned as Seven walked on, not bothering to look back as the severed bodies fell to the ground in a clatter of metal parts, even B'Elanna's mind was stunned into silence at what she had just witnessed.

Seven did not get far before the reaction came. With a roar the concept of chivalry was altogether abandoned, as the lead knight yelled at his companions to slay the ungodly beast, and so they charged.

The knights first, not bothering to mount their horses in their haste, rather attacking Seven on foot with all the weapons they had on hand. The soldiers roused by the sight of the knights pressed in as well, leaving the nobles to guard the captives as they too rushed the lone woman on the field.

It hit B'Elanna after a few moments that while she had heard praise of Seven's performance at the Tsunkatse tournament, she had never actually seen the other woman in combat herself. When others had spoken of Seven's combat prowess B'Elanna had mentally waved that away as of course Seven would do well, Seven excelled at anything she did, it still did not make the aloof blonde any kind of a real warrior. Sure, if B'Elanna was really honest with herself Seven would be the one person she'd feel most comfortable with having her back, but that had to do with other things. Like how the woman was just so damn capable no matter what the universe threw her way... in secret B'Elanna rather admired that about Seven.

What B'Elanna saw now though was... it was...

It was beautiful and brutal and graceful and terrifying... it was like a Klingon war goddess come to unleash her fury, all the more horrendous and stupefying as each ruthlessly killing blow was delivered without a trace of emotion. B'Elanna shivered, aching and burning inside in equal measure at the sight.

The Klingon inside B'Elanna howled with emotion, heart alight with the beauty that was Seven, the speed and elegance more befitting a predatory animal and the strength that was simply unmatched. The purity and grace of each blow, each position and each strike made the Klingon in B'Elanna want to write epic poetry to Seven in the blood of Seven's defeated enemies. Hell, she'd write her an opera if she could, in honour of her magnificent blood-spattered angel, so that no-one would ever forget these events.

The human in B'Elanna wept as she saw Seven swiftly reach out and crush a man's head in one Borg-enhanced hand without the tiniest trace of hesitation, cried out internally as Seven casually yanked an arm clean off one attacker to smoothly impale another with the weapon still clutched on its end before moving away, almost dancing among the carnage. That part of B'Elanna cried out for the still fragile and gentle soul she knew hid underneath the aloofness, wept as she wanted to spare the other the further agony of even more lives taken, even more blood spilt, when Seven had so much that tormented her conscience already.

It was not until the last opponent had fallen, leaving Seven soaked in blood but still the last one standing on a field of corpses, that it occurred to B'Elanna that they were still on the holodeck. Of course Seven showed neither restraint nor hesitation in cutting down her opponents, although B'Elanna had forgotten for a moment Seven had not: Seven's opponents were not alive and never had been. Though certainly dangerous and potentially deadly they still amassed to little more than bugs in a program, and as such there was no remorse or hesitation needed when removing the obstacles with Seven's typical Borg efficiency.

Her last reservations laid to rest B'Elanna allowed herself to fully enjoy the sight of Seven as the statuesque blonde picked up a blood-soaked battleaxe and with negligent ease hurled it through the air to embed itself firmly into the ground near Janeway and the others, cutting the chains that held them clean through. Shrieking fearfully the holographic characters remaining scattered and ran away, leaving Janeway's small group to untangle themselves from the broken chains unimpeded.

Apparently confident that her Captain and fellow officers would free themselves without further help from her, Seven then turned and marched towards B'Elanna. Although her pace was less brisk than usual, given the many obstacles she had to step over, it was every bit as determined as ever. Seven was coming to free B'Elanna.

In her chains B'Elanna fought to keep herself from swooning at the sight, but as Seven drew near there was no calming nor denying the immense and dizzying waves of desire that washed over her. A sudden and unbidden image of B'Elanna being pressed up against her stake – or any handy nearby wall for that matter – and being claimed by Seven sprang to her mind just as the woman of her little fantasy reached her.

Seven knelt and shredded the chains holding B'Elanna's legs without preamble as soon as she had reached the other woman, but somewhere in the motion of beginning to rise she froze. Wide blue eyes turned to meet B'Elanna's with shock and dawning comprehension clearly shining in them, Seven's hands still hovering painfully close to yet still not touching the area of B'Elanna's knees.

Mortified B'Elanna knew Seven had just pieced it together, there was no way those acute Borg senses had not picked up on the way B'Elanna's heart was hammering in her chest, her laboured breathing, or worse still, considering Seven's position, B'Elanna's...

B'Elanna blushed hotly with embarrassment, yet some wanton part of herself given precious little free reign until then decided not to try to hide anything, not to pretend there was nothing there. Black eyes bored into wide-open blue, the air between them electric as Seven ever so slowly rose to her feet. You can tell, can't you Seven? What you and only you can do to me?

A small but visible shiver ran through B'Elanna as Seven, her eyes still locked on B'Elanna's, searching, put one hand on B'Elanna's waist and used the other to gently remove the leather gag.

Her field of vision narrowing down to a pair of very full, pouty lips parted just so, B'Elanna was only dimly aware of the dull metal crunch that signified that Seven had reached up with one hand and crushed the chains holding B'Elanna's arms in place above her head. Completely free at last B'Elanna wasted no time in wrapping her arms around the neck of her unexpected knight, mindless of blood and gore, knowing only the heat and the breaths of air that passed from Seven's lips directly into her own. Closer... closer... just a little closer...

"Seven, B'Elanna, are you two alright?" The voice of Captain Janeway cut right through the haze of attraction and desire, making both women react in an almost guilty fashion. "Are you hurt?"

Seven spun around to face her Captain – who was far closer to them than either of them had realized – somehow grasping B'Elanna in her arms and carrying her with her in the process. A little startled at suddenly being carried B'Elanna nonetheless found herself rather charmed by the gesture, not that she wanted to admit that to anyone not Seven anytime soon. At least, she rationalized, it was a good excuse to keep her arms around Seven's neck for a while longer.

"Captain, I will shut down the holoprogram momentarily." Seven's determination was back, and she was apparently unfazed at being seen carrying B'Elanna around. "Are you injured, Captain?" At the brief but negative response Seven cast a glance at the men. "Persevere for a moment longer, Ensign Kim... Harry. You shall be in sickbay soon."

"No problem Seven, I'm hanging in there." Harry Kim joked weakly as he with some support from Tom and Chakotay made his way over.

Not releasing B'Elanna Seven marched over to the access hatch which B'Elanna had uncovered earlier, and shifting the woman in her arms a bit Seven then plunged the tubules on one arm into the glowing circuitry.

Both Captain Janeway and B'Elanna yelped words of caution at the act, fearful that whatever had caused the holodeck malfunction would injure Seven somehow, but relaxed as moments passed without any sign of distress on Seven's part. A moment longer still and then the holographic environment gave out, flickering away to reveal the grid pattern that was the true interior of the room, cast into darkness.

The holographic clothing also gave away, revealing that although most of the small group had come to the party wearing their regular uniforms, Seven had in fact worn the sleeveless outfit she usually wore for the holodeck games with Captain Janeway. As the armour disappeared so did almost all of the blood, leaving behind an only slightly sweaty and dishevelled Seven of Nine with a few small nicks here and there.

Although Seven had managed to cut the power to the holodeck, thereby killing the lights, the room was not nearly as dark as it should have been, and it was swiftly revealed why as concerned voices at the room's exit called for them. There stood Tuvok, Neelix, the doctor and a number of security and engineering personnel, some of them holding lights, others weapons while others still – the engineers – were working away at access points in the hallway.

The doctor hurried them over to the hallway where site-to-site transport was used to get them all into sickbay as fast as possible. Once there Tom grabbed his gear and started healing Chakotay, leaving the others to help Harry onto one of the medical beds. Quickly administrating an anaesthetic to Harry the doctor addressed Seven over his shoulder. "Seven, how bad are those injuries?"

"They are merely superficial, doctor." Seven finally let the woman in her arms get down.

"Mine too, doc, just a couple of small cuts and bruises." B'Elanna gave Seven's cuts a critical scrutiny, making sure there was nothing Seven was keeping quiet about.

"Good" was the doctor's terse reply, "then B'Elanna get to do the honours of patching up her gallant hero, as I know she is handy with a dermal regenerator..." He trailed off, working on Harry while quietly asking the newly arrived Tuvok to make sure the Captain had no injuries she had failed to mention.

Grabbing the needed tools from a nearby tray B'Elanna was only happy to comply with the suggestion, but something the doctor had said made her stop and look at Neelix whom had accompanied Tuvok to sickbay.

"We couldn't go in or contact you, but we did manage to get a visual of events." Neelix explained with a little shrug and gave B'Elanna a half-apologetic, half-encouraging smile.

"Seven, when you're done I trust you will help the good lieutenant in return?" The doctor spoke up again, briefly, still not looking away from his patient and therefore missing the nodded reply, but he knew Seven well enough not to need a verbal reply to the request.

A good while later, after various injuries had been healed and then checked and double-checked by the doctor before being allowed to leave sickbay, Tuvok, Janeway, Chakotay, Tom, B'Elanna and Seven were all lingering in the corridor a small distance outside of sickbay itself getting a short and unofficial briefing on what had happened, while the sleeping Harry was being kept in Sickbay overnight.

It had not been alien life-forms attempting to communicate or invade, nor had Voyager been under any kind of attack. In fact, it had not even been the effects of some strange nearby nebula with a grudge against Captain Janeway. No, in the end it had simply been that the very power-needy program run by so many at the same time had overloaded one of those little less-prioritized things that B'Elanna had wanted to deal with earlier, and when it exploded from the strain it caused a cascade effect that damaged several key systems including the holodeck controls.

Everyone else had managed to leave the failing program safely, but the section where Janeway and the others ended up trapped was completely cut off from outside interference for reasons yet unknown, the only thing Tuvok's group had managed to accomplish was the small and very one-way audio-video feed which allowed them to at least know what happened inside.

"So in other words..." B'Elanna was torn between being angry and just being tired. "there was no outside interference besides short-circuiting the safeties and locking us in. The holo-characters were doing what they were programmed to do, just... all in a jumble." She glared at Tom. "The question is, why the hell did you program the characters to flip out and want to attack me for my ridges, huh Tom?"

Seeing angry glares directed at him from several directions Tom waved his hand somewhat nervously and tried his best disarming smile. "No no, you don't understand! I made the characters in that part of the program specifically so that they would pick a fight, I figured B'Elanna in particular would enjoy challenging and beating the crap out of a knight or two. I only made those characters in that section, so that they'd be easy to avoid if you didn't want to give medieval fighting a go."

"There's a difference between a lynch-mob and picking a fight, ensign." Janeway's cool tone and formal address let Tom know he was in trouble. "Not to mention that this was supposed to be a party, not a combat simulation."

B'Elanna rubbed her eyes, in a way she could understand Tom's reasoning and realized that he really thought he had come up with something she might appreciate, but... "One..." She held up a finger, causing Tom to stare at her hand. "how are people supposed to be able to avoid a certain place in your holoprogram if you don't tell them about it first?" A second finger. "Two... why make me wear that stupid dress if you expected me to fight?" The third point was the one that bothered her. "Three... you know just how sensitive an issue my ridges is for me, specifically being stared at, mocked for or being attacked because of them. So why?"

"It's the easiest way to get you all fired up!" The enthusiasm in Tom's voice proved to B'Elanna just how much he didn't get it, despite her having told him so much and on several occasions. She sighed.

"You know what? I don't wanna know and I don't care." It was depressing to think of all the time she had wasted on this moron. "I'll have whatever stuff you have at my place sent over to you sometime tomorrow, and I expect that if there's anything of mine at your place... not that I've left anything there that I know of... you'll make sure I get it back too."

"Outside of work I don't want anything to do with you anymore, Tom. We're through."

Feeling relieved that the Tom Paris chapter of her life was firmly over – ignoring Tom's sputtering and Janeway giving him a quiet but stern talking to – B'Elanna turned to the tall blonde standing quietly by her side. She smiled up at Seven and was charmed to receive a shy little smile in return. "So, my gallant knight, what do you say about stopping by my place to borrow my sonic shower?"

While B'Elanna had tenderly wiped away the blood from Seven's cuts earlier as she healed them, Seven could still use a shower... not that B'Elanna was about to complain.

With a cough and a hurried mumble that was as discreet as a raging rhinoceros Chakotay added for B'Elanna's ears to hear. "Coughshowerandpancakebreakfastinthemorningcough!"

"Oh you're soo subtle, Chocolatay." B'Elanna growled at him with good humour, appreciating his friendly jibe and the fact that he never thought Tom had been worthy of her. She glanced up at Seven, knowing that if B'Elanna could hear Chakotay's little suggestion then Seven most certainly could as well, and frankly feeling just a bit worried what the reaction would be.

Seven had a small but adorable blush on her face and avoided looking in Chakotay's direction, but at the same time there was a smile on her lips. Just seeing that smile brought back that breathless, heart-pounding feeling from earlier, and when Seven's blue eyes met her own with a surprising twinkle in them, B'Elanna could swear she felt her knees buckle.

"If such a thing were to be offered, Commander, I feel I would ask that the bed be burned first."

B'Elanna nearly swallowed her tongue. "Oh that could be arranged... I've got the replicator rations to burn." B'Elanna gestured Seven to precede her towards the turbolift with a whimsical smile on her face, but she meant every word. "And for you? Anything."

Seven's smile widened and her blush deepened, and she looked very pleased with B'Elanna's reply. As she started towards the turbolift she nodded briefly towards her senior officers. "Goodnight Captain... Commander... Lieutenant Commander."

Ignoring Chakotay's enthusiastic thumbs up, Tom's dumbfounded staring and Janeway's open-mouthed shock B'Elanna hurried to catch up to Seven, one hand coming to rest lightly at the small of the taller woman's back as they walked, exchanging a few quiet, soft words out of earshot of the others.

As soon as the turbolift doors closed around them Seven and B'Elanna found themselves standing very, very close together with B'Elanna's arms inching their way up to wrap around Seven's shoulders.

B'Elanna's last thoughts before the sensation of hot breath against her lips drove all thoughts away was that replicating herself a new bed was a very small price to pay indeed for the possibility to have Seven in her life.

Then B'Elanna was quite busy properly showing her champion just how much she was appreciated, repeatedly and with great enthusiasm.

The End

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