Seven looked up from her data padd and sighed. "Yes, Commander, how may I help you?"
Chakotay stood, rigid and proud, his chest puffed out to its fullest extent and a smile etched into his handsome face. "I would like to take you to dinner this evening," he paused a moment to give his words an added sense of drama, "in public."
"I see." Seven thought about pointing out that the only reason she'd continued to see him romantically was that no-one else knew, thus saving her from their ridicule or, worse still, pity, but she knew the concept would be beyond him. "Unfortunately I am washing my hair this evening."
His chest deflated. "How about tomorrow night?"
"I already have plans."
His smile splintered. "Can't you change them?"
"No." Seven made a mental note to plan some kind of event for the following night. "If that is all, Commander, I have work to do."
He did not move.
Seven waved the data padd in his face. "Commander?" There was no response. "Commander, can you hear me?" Nothing.
Seven discarded the data padd and hit her comm. badge. "Seven to engineering."
"What is it Seven?" Came B'Elanna's tired voice.
"I am sorry to disturb you, Lieutenant, but I believe I may have broken Commander Chakotay."
"Not again," B'Elanna mumbled. "Why are you calling me? I'm an engineer not a doctor, talk to the EMH."
Seven flicked her finger against Chakotay's nose and listened as a hollow ring floated through the air. "The EMH is busy tutoring Mr Paris for his upcoming medical assistant's examination. I would hate to disturb them."
"Fine." B'Elanna knew how much passing the test meant to Tom and she didn't want to hamper his chances just because she was loathed to deal with one of Chakotay's meltdowns. "I'll be right there."
Seven's lips turned up in a smile, and she flicked the end of Chakotay's nose for the sheer pleasure of it.
"What was that noise?" B'Elanna asked as she rounded the corner.
"A vacuum, I believe, although the hypothesis has yet to be proved."
B'Elanna peered at Chakotay before switching her gaze to the blonde. "You know the captain doesn't like it when people play games with him when he's in this state. She says it sets a bad example to the alien entities." She flicked the end of his nose. "Hollow as a chocolate Santa."
"Can you fix him?"
"Permanently, no, but given time I should be able to get him walking and talking," B'Elanna smirked, "not at the same time, of course, but then you can't have everything."
B'Elanna took out her isometric spanner and pointed it towards the man's neck. "So, Seven, what set him off this time?"
Seven's eyes, which until that point had been glued to the sight of the other woman's body and the way B'Elanna's pregnancy had made her even more beautiful, dropped to the floor. "We were having a conversation."
"He asked me to dinner and I said no," Seven whispered.
B'Elanna snorted. "What the hell made him think you'd go out with him?"
"I..." Seven contemplated ejecting herself out the nearest airlock. "I have been seeing him, romantically, for the last two weeks."
"What?" B'Elanna dropped the spanner and whirled around to glare at the blonde. "How could you!"
Shame ate away at Seven's heart. "I needed dating experience," she mumbled, "and all the better candidates were already taken."
B'Elanna could think of only four people within Seven's immediate circle of friends who were married; Tuvok, Sam Wildman, Tom and herself. "Married as in 'my spouse is on the other side of the universe but I'm loyal to them anyways' or 'I mistakenly married my best friend and we're just waiting for Janeway to finish the paperwork so we can get back to being platonic mates and co-parents.'" She sucked in a lung-full of air and prayed that her face hadn't turned blue.
"You plan on terminating your marriage to Tom?"
"Oh." Seven was lost for words, she had thought her chances with the other woman were less than zero, but if what B'Elanna was saying were true... "Will you have dinner with me this evening?"
B'Elanna looked back at Chakotay, then to Seven, before once again concentrating on the commander. "That depends." She turned to look directly at Seven. "Did you sleep with him?"
"Did you kiss him?"
B'Elanna felt as if she'd been punched in the gut. "Tongues?"
"No!" Seven's face turned green. "I would never..."
"Sorry," B'Elanna cut in, before the other woman could hyperventilate, "I didn't mean to suggest..."
"Your apology is not accepted." Seven looked stern. "For all I know you could still be thinking that I'd allow that...that man to put his...his tongue..." Seven couldn't finish the sentence.
"I'm sorry, Seven, I promise you..."
"Promises are cheap, Lieutenant, actions on the other hand?" Seven smiled, her raised ocular implant conveying a host of meanings.
"Actions?" B'Elanna's smile matched Seven's. "I think I can manage that." Slipping off her jacket, B'Elanna draped the fabric over Chakotay's head, impeding his view of the coming event.
Stepping closer, B'Elanna took Seven in her arms, their kiss lasting for hours until the body beneath B'Elanna's jacket began to twitch. "My place?" B'Elanna asked.
"Your place," Seven agreed.
As the two women made their exit Chakotay began to stir. His first thought upon encountering total darkness was that he was still asleep. His second was that Seven's rejection had been nothing more than a nightmare, and his plans to make her his wife were still very much intact. Two hours later, when a passing crewman released him from the jacket, he headed for cargo bay two and what he hoped would be a romantic dinner.
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