DISCLAIMER: Star Trek Voyager and all who sail in her belong to Paramount/Viacom and no infringement of copyright/trade marks is intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Stardate: 52668 (Note: events of Dark Frontier have occurred)
KLINGON WORDS: A glossary of Klingon words used can be found HERE
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

I Am Borg
By Kudara

Part 2:

Chapter 7

Janeway walked into her Ready Room and stopped at the sight of Seven and B'Elanna in a loose embrace. Upon hearing he doors the two stepped away from each other at her entrance and glanced over to see who had entered, relaxing noticeably when they saw it was her. She could tell they had been crying from the evidence on their faces before they circumspectly began trying to wipe the tears away.

"Why don't you two use the refresher before we discuss things," said Janeway deciding to be matter of fact about the matter in the hope of not embarrassing them.

B'Elanna motioned Seven to go ahead first and as the doors closed behind the woman met the Captain's eyes for a moment and simply said, "Fathers."

Janeway who knew something of B'Elanna's feelings for her own father nodded, "Thank you B'Elanna, if anyone on this ship could understand Seven's conflicted feelings about her father's death it would be you."

Seven came back out of the refresher and B'Elanna took her turn while the other two women waited silently for her return.

Janeway noted that Seven looked calmer and hoped that the two women would help each other come to some acceptance of their respective pasts. When B'Elanna came back she said, "Well B'Elanna what do you think of the Saga?"

B'Elanna grinned at the Captain, "They liked you quite a lot, oh brave, courageous and bold Captain." A mock stern look from Janeway merely caused B'Elanna to chuckle and then she sobered and continued, "I think it would be a good idea to release it, if Seven is comfortable with the crew knowing what she felt when she joined Voyager. I didn't realize before I read it just how hard it was for her to understand us, and I didn't know how unwilling she originally was to join us."

B'Elanna looked thoughtfully at the Captain, "I thought that once she was freed from the Collective that she wanted to join Voyager. I never knew that Seven made several requests to be returned to the Borg and you denied them Captain."

Janeway frowned slightly, "Would it have made any difference if you had known? I did what I thought was best for Seven then, and I know she appreciates my stubbornness about the matter now." Janeway smiled at Seven who nodded in return.

"That's true, but I, and I think a lot of the crew, thought that Seven was grateful to be rescued. When she continued acting and sounding so Borg… well, we held it against her. If I had known then that she hadn't joined us willingly I wouldn't have expected her to be grateful. I mean its one thing to expect a person to be grateful when you rescue them, but I wouldn't expect the same thing from someone who saw themselves as kidnapped. And… well the Saga makes it quite clear that Seven didn't see us as rescuers for awhile," replied B'Elanna with a regretful look at Seven.

Seven stared back thoughtfully at B'Elanna; she had never understood exactly why the crew had acted like they did toward her in the very beginning of her time on Voyager until now. Seven nodded in understanding to B'Elanna, "Thank you for your explanation Lt. Torres. You believe that releasing the Saga will change many of the crew members' perceptions of my past actions?"

"I hope it will," answered B'Elanna, "But I'm concerned about how you will react to them knowing about your father's death. They will want to speak with you about it, if only to offer their condolences."

Janeway looked at Seven and knew that B'Elanna was correct; Seven would not react well to the innocent comments about how the crew thought she would be feeling about the death of her father. It had been her main concern about releasing the Saga as well. "Perhaps if I put in a notice asking the crew to not bring up the matter for now, that Seven does not wish to discuss her father's possible death at this time?" offered Janeway.

They both looked inquiringly at Seven who thought about the Captain's offer, "If you believe that would suffice to discourage their inquiries then I have no other concerns about releasing the Saga."

Janeway looked into the calm steady eyes of the ex Borg and nodded satisfied, "I'll write up something and then release the restrictions on the story."

The evening of the same day Seven and Janeway met outside of Holodeck One for their scheduled Velocity match.

Seven was wearing an all red Mularan outfit and had caught whispered comments as she walked through the hallways to the Holodeck about how flattering and more appropriate her new clothing was.

"New ground rules, no use of your new fibers while playing the Captain," said Kathryn as they waited for the previous occupants to exit.

Seven raised her ocular exoskeleton, "I had not been planning on doing so Captain that would be… cheating. Though I am uncertain how I will play without the advantage my Borg enhancements gave me before. I hope I will prove to be as able an opponent for you."

"I'm certain you will Seven," Kathryn responded and then nodded in greeting to Naomi and Samantha Wildman as they exited Naomi's Flotter program. It was the first time the young girl had a chance to see Seven since her disappearance and she squealed in excitement and ran over to Seven and hugged her about her legs. Samantha had not told her about the ordeal Seven had went through, only saying that Seven was on a mission with the Mularans for several days.

"Seven!" cried the girl happily, and then she stared in wonder at her friend. "What happened to your implants?"

Seven looked inquiringly at Samatha Wildman who shook her head slightly with an entreaty in her eyes. "They were changed as a gift to me by Mulara." Seven showed her hand to Naomi then she unwrapped the wristband and folded the sleeve up to show her that the exoskeleton extended up her arm.

Naomi exclaimed in wonder as she touched Seven's arm, "It's beautiful, what is the pattern in the lines?"

"I do not know if it has a name, it is a pattern frequently used by Mulara," said Seven.

Naomi looked at her curiously, "Does this mean you aren't Borg anymore?"

Seven raised her ocular exoskeleton as she pondered the question, "Being Borg is more than the composition of my implants Naomi Wildman. I am still Borg…just as I am also still human." Seven was aware of Kathryn and Samantha Wildman looking at her in surprise but Naomi seemed to understand what she meant.

"Are you and the Captain playing Velocity?" Naomi asked.

Seven nodded and Naomi said, "Can we play a game of Kadis-Kot soon?"

"I am exercising with Lt. Torres tomorrow, perhaps the next day?" Seven inquired.

Naomi smiled enthusiastically, "1700 hours, my quarters?" she looked at her mother for permission.

Samantha Wildman smiled and nodded, "That would be fine, we will see you then Seven?"

"I will be prompt," Seven replied and the four of them went their different ways; Kathryn and Seven into the Holodeck, Naomi and Samantha Wildman toward the mess hall.

From the start of the match Seven was aware that she was more attuned to the location of the target than she had been in the past. Her marital arts training emphasized calmness and alertness, and she was finding that those lessons were serving her well now. The first match went to Kathryn but only because Seven had been unable to acquire the target quickly enough after one of Kathryn's amazing saves to prevent it from hitting her.

"Almost, Annika you're staying with the target better than I remember from… before." Kathryn grimaced briefly at the reminder that they hadn't played since before Seven died.

"References to my death do not bother me Kathryn; you need not avoid the subject. I believe my martial arts training is proving beneficial to my game. I am more aware of where the target is located now." Seven waited for Kathryn to acknowledge the second match and then directed the computer to begin.

The second set went to Seven and the third as well. During the fourth set Kathryn asked, "Annika what did you mean by your comment to Naomi that there was more to being Borg than your implants?"

Seven had been expecting the question and was slightly surprised that it took Kathryn until the fourth match to ask it. "Trying to distract me Kathryn?" Seven asked with a lifted brow. Kathryn quirked an eyebrow back and they remained silent for the rest of the match until Kathryn won it.

"2-2," Kathryn said, "Water break? And you can tell me what you meant without being distracted." Kathryn gave Seven a lopsided smile.

"I believe you know that I meant my Borg ways of thinking, seeking perfection, valuing efficiency, my dislike of what I view as irrelevant." Seven paused thoughtfully, "There are many actions I regret being commanded to do during my time with the Borg, yet there are also many things that I value about being Borg. I…"

Kathryn waited but Seven didn't finish her statement, "You what?" she asked gently.

Seven looked at her wistfully, "I wish I could have the things I value about being Borg without things I regret." Seven's face tightened and she said in a colder tone, "An impossible wish and therefore irrelevant. Are you ready to begin the fifth match?"

Kathryn sighed and looked as if she would say something but then shook her head and simply replied "Computer begin fifth match."

At the end of their time the score was 6-8 and they reluctantly surrendered the Holodeck to the next crewmember.

"Good match," commented Kathryn, "I can see it won't be long before you will be winning your share of them. You're certainly going to keep me on my toes."

Seven tilted her head slightly obviously deciphering the comment and then nodded, "That is my intention Captain."

Seven wished Kathryn a good night before heading to her quarters to shower and change. She was supposed to meet B'Elanna over dinner to discuss her ideas for a chemical reactor to supply additional power for non-essential systems like food replicators.

Kathryn walked to her quarters thinking of how Annika seemed to be struggling with several different issues lately, her father, her feelings about being Borg, and her relationship with the rest of the crew. She was concerned that Annika was dealing with too many difficult problems and wondered why they seemed to have all come up at once.

Suddenly she realized that Annika was finally allowing herself to feel instead of ignoring or burying the emotions. All the issues she was struggling with were deeply emotional ones. Issues that she had dismissed undoubtedly as irrelevant before her death, now apparently were not. Kathryn realized suddenly that because Annika was evaluating the aspects of her Borgness she wanted to retain, along with all the other issues she was contemplating from an emotional and subjective point of view, she was becoming more human every day.

B'Elanna was slowly working her way through Nelix's rendition of Black Beans and Rice in honor of one of their Cajun crewmembers birthday and blessing the fact that she had a Klingon instead of a Human stomach when Seven came into the mess hall. Seven nodded to her and went to get her own serving of dinner before joining her.

B'Elanna decided to sit back and wait for Seven to take her first bite of the amazingly hot meal rationalizing that she wouldn't decrease the sensitivity of her taste receptors until afterward.

The look on Seven's face right after she took her first bite did not disappoint B'Elanna who chuckled and grinned at Seven. Seven raised one brow at her in reply and then focused upon decreasing her sensitivity to the hot spices used by 50% before attempting another bite. Finding the food to be acceptable at that sensitivity level she started eating with more assurance.

B'Elanna grumbled, "That's not fair." As she handed Seven a data padd with the research work she had done so far.

Seven's lips quirked and her eyes danced, "You are envious of my ability to control my sensitivity to taste?"

B'Elanna groused back, "Yes I am, my stomach can handle almost anything but I still have to taste it and this stuff is incredibly hot."

"I can always assimilate you B'Elanna, by tomorrow you should have no further concerns about Nelix's meals," Seven offered with a deadpan expression.

B'Elanna just shook her head at Seven and replied lightly, "I've been trying to eat this for ten minutes now, don't tempt me."

Seven smirked and almost imperceptibly chuckled slightly before turning her attention to the data padd missing B'Elanna's surprised look as she caught the slight laugher. B'Elanna noticed that Seven's hair was in yet another braid style tonight; ever since her Nordic adventure Seven had been experimenting with different braids. Tonight's seemed to consist of two rows that started at her temples and extended backwards to meet in one braid that she had left hanging down her back. While on duty Seven often wore her hair in the chignon that she had worn since she joined the ship, but after duty hours she often wore it braided or gathered loosely in various styles.

Seven's willingness to experiment with new hairstyles was just one among many examples of how she had changed since her death on Mulara. B'Elanna frequently felt that in many ways she didn't know the woman in front of her at all or maybe she had just let her hostility blind her to the person under the Borg shell.

B'Elanna watched the minute expressions crossing Seven's face as she quickly considered the remaining issues B'Elanna had with the chemical reactor and reluctantly acknowledged that she was starting to feel more than just physical attraction for the woman across from her. There was something about watching Seven begin to acknowledge her emotions and her attempts to deal with them that made B'Elanna feel extremely protective of her.

B'Elanna remembered watching a young foal one summer morning when she was a child exploring its pasture for the first time. The young horse had looked at everything with wide eyed wonder, jumping and snorting at butterflies and then finding its legs and running around in short dashes that never took it far from its mother. The youngster had stumbled and fallen during one of these dashes and the young B'Elanna had watched anxiously as its mother had come over to nuzzle it as it shakily stood. It had stayed close by its mother after that for awhile looking suspiciously at the ground as if it had attacked it before venturing back out again.

Seven reminded her of that young horse these days, she seemed to have emerged from the emotional cocoon she had been in and was now tentatively exploring a new world. B'Elanna looked pensively out the mess hall window as she considered the fact that her own choices had resulted in Seven taking some of those first steps with Jorunn. B'Elanna remembered Seven's sad demeanor when she spoke of Jorunn and realized that she had stumbled slightly already during her explorations.

Seven broke into her thoughts with a suggestion and she and B'Elanna were swiftly involved in a technical discussion on the relative merits of different chemical fusion reactions and methods to convert the energy formed from them into the existing plasma system. Eventually the two whittled down the options each had presented into a few that they both agreed upon, and after a few more minutes of discussion it appeared that the next logical step was to perform simulations of the proposed options and then choose the most likely one. The final step would be to inform the Captain and get her approval and input on the proposed project.

As it was quite late when they finished the two of them parted ways at Seven's quarters.

"See you tomorrow in engineering?" B'Elanna inquired.

Seven nodded, "Yes, we can run the simulation's and further narrow down the best energy conversion method before presenting our proposal to the Captain."

"Goodnight then Seven," B'Elanna hesitated for a moment and seemed to want to say something else but remained silent.

Seven looked at her inquisitively then seemed to understand that B'Elanna did not know how to bring up what she had said about missing Jorunn tonight. "I am tired enough that I am sure I will be able to sleep B'Elanna."

B'Elanna seemed to suddenly come to a decision, "Wait here Seven." B'Elanna strode off towards her quarters and before she could too closely examining her motives grabbed up Toby and returned to Seven's quarters, thanking Kathless that no one had seen her walking through the corridors with her stuffed Targ. "Toby always helps me sleep when I'm feeling lonely," she said as she thrust the stuffed animal toward Seven.

Seven gave her a surprised look as she accepted the stuffed animal and gave it an experimental hug and lowered her face to smell B'Elanna's familiar scent on the fabric. "It smells like you," she said her voice softening, "I'm certain that Toby will assist my efforts to successfully sleep B'Elanna. Are you certain you will sleep well without his assistance?"

B'Elanna whose heart rate had decidedly increased upon seeing Seven hug Toby to her hoped that the too observant woman missed the signs of her arousal, saying "I'll be fine." She couldn't help but add, "I'll just think of Toby and I'm certain I will have pleasant dreams." Realizing what she had just said she comforted herself with the thought that it would likely go unnoticed by Seven and berated herself silently for the slip. "Pleasant dreams, Seven." B'Elanna wished before quickly leaving before she betrayed herself further.

Seven entered her quarters still holding Toby and considered B'Elanna's actions. Jorunn had certainly made her much more aware of the ways that people showed sexual attraction. Curious because of certain physiological changes she had sensed, Seven ran through the last few minutes of interaction with B'Elanna. She had heard B'Elanna's heart rate increase, and noticed her eyes dilate slightly the moment she had accepted the stuffed animal and hugged it.

Seven wasn't certain how to interpret the statement B'Elanna had made except that she was aware that it could be interpreted to mean that B'Elanna would have pleasant dreams thinking of her holding Toby. Seven decided that her data was inconclusive; she could not determine whether B'Elanna might be attracted to her or not with the data she currently had. More data would have to be obtained.

Seven undressed, preparing for bed, as she slipped into bed she wrapped her arms around Toby and pulled the stuffed animal snugly to her chest. Burying her face into the fabric she took a deep breath of B'Elanna's scent. It was a comforting one and it was not long before Seven feel deeply asleep.

The next morning Seven presented herself and Toby at B'Elanna's quarters. When B'Elanna opened the door to admit her Seven presented her with Toby. "You were correct, the presence of Toby did facilitate my sleeping," Seven observed carefully as B'Elanna reached out and took Toby from her and gave him a hug.

"Toby's good at that," B'Elanna allowed distractedly as she noticed that Toby now wore the scent of Seven. Noticing that Seven was looking at her curiously she said, "He smells of you now."

"Not surprising," Seven stated, "He has spent several hours next to my skin." Seven had observed the signs that indicated arousal earlier and now she noted an increase as B'Elanna realized what she was saying. "I have found that I do not like wearing clothing while I sleep." Seven informed B'Elanna casually and noted the Lieutenants reaction to her words. She was now almost positive that B'Elanna was physically attracted to her like Jorunn had been, though she wasn't sure what to do with the information. B'Elanna was, as far as she knew, still involved with Tom Parris and Seven was not certain what she felt for B'Elanna.

B'Elanna delivered Toby back to her bedroom while Seven waited in her living room, she paused a moment to collect her thoughts after the surprising revelation Seven had so casually shared. 'Lucky Toby' she mouthed to the stuffed targ as she laid it on her bed.

B'Elanna paused after straightening and thought about what had just occurred.

Seven's first comment was understandable but the second comment… surely Seven hadn't made it solely to ensure that B'Elanna realized that Seven slept nude? If Seven had, it meant that Seven had been watching for B'Elanna's reaction to the revelation.

The more B'Elanna thought about it the more certain she was that Seven hadn't made the comment innocently. Seven was certainly growing up quickly, first Jorunn now this. So much for innocent ex-drones not realizing what was going on around them, thought B'Elanna wryly. The question now was what was Seven going to do with the information she had gathered?

B'Elanna was starting to wonder if she had imagined everything earlier, Seven had not treated her any differently during breakfast as the day before, perhaps she had been incorrect B'Elanna thought. They were running through the first simulation when Seven looked over at B'Elanna and asked, "You are still intimately involved with Tom Paris?"

B'Elanna glanced at Seven whose face was in profile to her as she watched the data from the simulation. Then again, she thought, maybe she hadn't been incorrect. "Yes, we are Seven. Why do you ask?" B'Elanna wondered what Seven's reply would be.

"After further research into human relationships, I believe I now understand why my study of your relationship with Lt. Paris angered you. If I am correct then I… owe both of you an apology?" the last was said hesitantly by Seven who wondered if she was correct to mention the matter at this time.

B'Elanna looked at Seven surprised by the answer and question; it was not what she had been expecting. B'Elanna debated the wisdom of asking Seven exactly what she was apologizing for and after a look around to verify they were out of the earshot of the other engineers asked, "What exactly are you apologizing for?"

Seven had noticed B'Elanna looking around before she asked the question and after a quick glance assumed that she had been checking to make sure no one else could hear them. "I found that although I was careful not to break any Starfleet regulations during the research, I did break cultural privacy expectations. I also was in error when I answered your question about how I knew about the timing of your intimate relations with Lt. Paris in a public setting."

Seven glanced at B'Elanna trying to see if she had angered the engineer with her reply. She was relieved to see that the woman was showing no signs of anger when she replied, "Apology accepted Seven."

B'Elanna mulled over Seven's explanation and then asked, "You didn't break any regulations?"

"No," Seven looked at her curiously after the short answer.

B'Elanna frowned slightly at the answer, "Regulations prohibit you from using audio detection devices specifically for the purpose of overhearing sounds from quarters without command authorization don't they?"

"Correct B'Elanna," Seven replied.

B'Elanna turned and stared at Seven, "You don't think your enhanced hearing falls into that definition?"

Seven was puzzled for a moment, "I did not need to use my enhanced hearing, the standard sound proofing is designed to block Human vocal emanations, Klingon's are capable of producing sounds that are lower than the rating of the standard sound proofing." Seven looked somewhat apprehensively at the half Klingon as she explained, concerned that B'Elanna would become angry with her.

B'Elanna froze then looked at Seven and noted her tense features, she guessed that Seven was afraid she would be mad at her and she took in a deep breath before speaking. "Are you saying that… certain sounds were clearly audible to any human crewmember who passed by my quarters?"

"Yes, B'Elanna that is why I said everyone when you asked instead of saying that I could tell when you were…" Seven stopped when B'Elanna raised a finger and indicated she should be silent.

After she had answered the crewmembers question and watched him walk away from Seven and her B'Elanna hissed, "You mean everyone in my section knows and no one has thought to inform me?"

"I would not know that B'Elanna, though I can infer that they did not, since you were unaware of the matter." Seven replied trying to be exact in her answer, she had overheard various crewmembers whispering about this very subject in the past. Indeed it was how she became aware of the matter and had decided to use the information to further her study of human sexual interactions. She was not eager however, to share this with B'Elanna in engineering when the volatile woman was likely to react badly.

B'Elanna narrowed her eyes staring at Seven, sensing that she was tying to hide something. She was doing it poorly too, for she was unable to meet B'Elanna's eyes when she usually had no problems doing so. This meant that Seven was aware of who knew about the lack of soundproofing and hadn't mentioned it to her. "I thought we were friends Seven," questioned B'Elanna oddly disappointed.

Seven's shoulders slumped and she glanced around then looked resignedly at B'Elanna, "Yes, B'Elanna. I do not feel it wise to inform you of what I know here." Seven emphasized the word here and was relieved when B'Elanna finally nodded her acceptance.

They spent the rest of the shift working through the various options they had developed the previous evening. By the end of the shift they were pleased to note that the most efficient chemical reaction they had developed was also the one that appeared most likely to work. If it was successful they could take the common, but normally useless, metallic elements found in the Delta quadrant and combine them into more useful forms such as duranium and tritanium while producing small but useful amounts of energy.

Throughout the day Seven had caught odd looks and snippets of conversation from the engineering crew. None of them approached her, however, and she attributed that to B'Elanna's presence. Yesterday while in engineering, she had heard one of the crewmembers saying to another that Lt. Torres would have their head if they upset Seven. Thus, she was not surprised to see curious looks directed at the two of them during the day while no one actually dared approach to ask her any questions.

The conversations today that she overheard revolved around the releasing of the Saga. The most common topic of conversation was the revelation of her actual relationship with the Captain and her position among the Borg. More than one of the engineering crew considered it ironic that Lt. Torres had been more accurate than they knew when she dubbed Seven our Borg Queen and Ice Princess. Very few of the conversations she overheard concerned any other topics and for that Seven was both relieved and disappointed.

One thing Seven became rather certain of however, few people would dare to approach her to ask any questions about the Saga. It seemed that everyone now feared the wrath of the two most powerful women on the ship if they were to cause her any distress. Seven considered the situation and though it was not ideal, it was better than the previous situation where she had frequently overheard derisive or degrading commentary from the engineering crew and the rest of the ship.

Not that she had heard as many comments about her breasts or buttocks since she had started wearing a Starfleet uniform and the Mularan outfits Seven realized. While the form fitting nature of the biosuits had been necessary to ensure the fabrics contact with her implants Seven had come to realize that it had been the cause of much of the perspective the crew had of her as a sexual object first and then a person. Now although the random comments she over heard still concerned how she looked, most of them were no longer offensive in nature.

"Seven?" Seven glanced at B'Elanna and noticed the quizzical look on the woman's face. B'Elanna grinned at her, "What have you been thinking of so intently? I've had to say your name twice before you noticed."

Seven blushed lightly, "I apologize for my inattention, I was thinking of the difference my wearing a uniform has made in the crew's perspective of me. The number of offensive comments I have overheard has dropped considerably and I have had no requests for copulation since I ceased wearing my biosuits." Seven paused thoughtfully, not noticing the darkening look on B'Elanna's face, "Of course it has been only a few days and that was not a frequent occurrence." she added.

B'Elanna listened to Seven with a building inner anger that wasn't totally outwardly directed. She had once listened with amusement at the tales of some of the men in engineering who had approached Seven in the hopes of her repeating the offer she had made to Harry Kim. B'Elanna herself had been the cause of that gossip making the rounds of the ship, and Harry had not been appreciative of her repeating what he had told her and he had chastened her for repeating it. Unfortunately by then it had been too late to stop the spread of the amusing tale of Seven propositioning Harry in the mess hall and Harry's retreat.

"That's good to hear," B'Elanna offered rather subdued at the further evidence of her mistreatment of Seven.

"It was unfortunate that I did not fully understand human behavior when I choose to comment on Ensign Kim's physical attraction to me. Had I known that the other male members of the crew would take it as an expectation that I would make the same offer to them I would have chosen a different manner in which to discourage him," Seven said wryly.

B'Elanna stared at Seven; her mouth started twitching in an incipient smile, "Are you saying that you propositioned him because you knew he would run?"

Seven briefly smirked, "I believe the correct saying is, 'the look on his face was priceless'. It was as efficient a method of dissuading him from further attempts at engaging me in an intimate relationship as my observation of him had indicated."

B'Elanna shook her head; she had never thought to interpret Seven's actions as anything like this. Finally she started chuckling, the look on Harry's face had probably been priceless and knowing that Seven had intended that her actions would cause Harry to retreat made the entire matter even more amusing. "What's wrong with poor Harry?" B'Elanna inquired after she had stopped laughing. Noticing that the engineering crew was staring at her in surprise she raised an eyebrow at the watchers and noted that they quickly returned to their work.

Seven tilted her head considering the question, "After my experiences with Jorunn I believe the answer would be that I am not attracted to men. I have never experienced any signs of physical arousal when I have been in close contact with any male aboard Voyager. Perhaps it is the limited sample however, so I cannot make that determination with any degree of certainty. At the time I did not know that it was possible to be attracted to a member of the same gender, I was only aware that Ensign Kim's advances made me uncomfortable. I knew that I felt only friendship for him, and the prospect of interacting with him in a more intimate manner was distasteful."

"Oh," said B'Elanna in surprise as she stared at Seven. She hesitated a moment then asked, "That list you made of men, was Harry really not on it?"

Seven glanced at her surprised, "I was not aware you knew of that list… Ensign Kim was indeed on the list, I felt it was inadvisable to make him aware of that fact given that I already knew I was not attracted to him. He had accepted that we were friends and I believe it would be considered unkind of me to give him 'false hope' of anything more."

B'Elanna nodded, "That would be correct." B'Elanna decided to change the subject; she needed to think of what to say to Seven about her part in the gossip about Seven and Harry. "I've scheduled an hour in the Holodeck immediately following your time slot so we will have two hours tonight if you would like?"

Seven nodded, "I had noted your scheduling and had hoped that it meant I was invited to share your Holodeck time. I look forward to having more time to practice this evening. Did you want to bring our research to the attention of the Captain this evening or tomorrow?"

B'Elanna answered, "Tomorrow will be good, let's break as we barely have time to change before our scheduled Holodeck time. I'll meet you there? And Seven, of course I meant to share my Holodeck time with you, after all you're sharing yours with me."

Chapter 8

Seven arrived at the Holodeck before B'Elanna, wanting to avoid discussing the topic they had been talking about earlier she entered and began the program, setting the door controls to allow B'Elanna to enter. She walked around to the pavilion and saw M'ara waiting for her.

As she got closer the Klingon woman shook her head at her, "Luckily for you your new physiology allows you to survive spear thrust wounds to your abdomen. I see we need to work on your skills when dealing with multiple opponents. You're lucky that strike wasn't any higher, if it had hit your heart you would have been disabled and perhaps killed."

"You would have allowed me to die?" questioned Seven curiously.

"I do not coddle my reborn, but you need not fear dying in training. However, during any other time… you are not any more protected than any other member of this crew. Do not let yourself start believing you are invulnerable." M'ara informed Seven sternly.

Seven nodded, "I will keep that in mind," she replied with a lifted brow.

"Best you do," said M'ara with a growl. "I would hate to loose you; I've grown rather fond of your continued presence."

Seven's face softened, "I will comply", she assured M'ara.

"Hey, what's this starting without me?" came the amused voice of B'Elanna.

M'ara grinned at B'Elanna as Seven turned, "I believe she wanted to escape your curiosity for awhile longer."

B'Elanna looked at M'ara startled, "How do you know about that?" B'Elanna glanced at Seven wondering why she had mentioned the subject to M'ara but Seven shook her head slightly, silently informing B'Elanna that she had not spoken to M'ara about the subject.

"I am always aware of Seven," said M'ara to B'Elanna.

B'Elanna groaned inwardly, great not only was there a protective Captain watching over Seven but also a energy being powerful enough to be termed a goddess.

M'ara smirked at B'Elanna, and then turned to Seven. "Let us go over your performance with Hakan's men."

Thus began a different type of training session, M'ara recreated Seven's attackers along with a hologram of Seven and the three of them watched as Seven engaged and fought her ten attackers.

B'Elanna watched most of the fight admiringly; Seven's moves had been a flowing, graceful and ultimately deadly dance. The Klingon in her was awed; the Human part of her was slightly dismayed at the combination.

Seven watched the fight with a critical eye, wincing internally as she saw what she had missed right before the moment when the one man had managed to catch her by surprise and injure her.

When the fight was done M'ara asked, "So what did you see that you did wrong?"

"I failed to focus on the entire environment, thus I did not see him pick up the spear," admitted Seven shamed.

B'Elanna nodded agreeing with the assessment, and honesty had her admitting, "I don't know if I could have done any better though. It's hard to keep from focusing on the enemy right in front of you."

"True," said M'ara, "But it is a dangerous habit to get into and one I want to break now. Not only in physical fights such as this but also in other situations such as battles with ships and even political battles. You cannot focus solely on what is right in front of you, you must be mindful of your total environment."

M'ara stared at Seven intently, "This is a critical skill you need to learn. I want you to start going through the infiltrator simulation as well; it also has things to teach you about keeping your focus wide instead of narrow."

Seven raised a brow at these words and looked intently at M'ara, their eyes met for a moment then Seven nodded.

Most of the rest of the training session comprised of B'Elanna focusing on her kata's under the tutelage of Kayaln while Seven practiced against multiple opponents. Then for the last half hour the two of them practiced fighting together against multiple opponents.

B'Elanna, though she was just learning the formal kata's, excelled in multiple opponent combat since that was how she usually practiced her Bat'leth training on the Holodeck. Now with the formal moves under her belt, B'Elanna found herself using the new moves along with the ones she had taught herself. She found that fighting with Seven was an interesting and invigorating experience.

Where B'Elanna fought with passion and emotion, Seven fought with passion and intellect; between the two of them they made a deadly pair. When they finished fighting it was all B'Elanna could do to not turn to Seven and kiss her. Her blood was running high from the fight and the feeling of how well they fought together.

Seven was aware of B'Elanna's arousal; with her sense of smell she could not miss the clear evidence of it. Part of her wanted to respond to it, but a larger part remembered all the unkind words and actions of the half-Klingon. Seven had forgiven B'Elanna enough to consider her a friend, but letting the woman close enough to become a lover was not something she was willing to do without trusting her more.

Thus Seven spoke to B'Elanna somewhat coolly ignoring the woman's arousal, "I will shower and meet with you later to discuss the topic of our discussion of this afternoon?"

B'Elanna nodded somewhat taken aback as she watched Seven stride away quickly.

"How many times today did she look at you afraid of a return to your previous adversarial relationship?" M'ara asked B'Elanna after Seven had disappeared from sight.

B'Elanna glanced at M'ara guardedly, "A few," she allowed.

M'ara looked back at her steadily, "She has forgiven you enough for you to be a friend, when she no longer fears your anger perhaps she will forgive you enough to think of you as a possible lover."

With those words the hologram of M'ara disappeared leaving B'Elanna alone with her thoughts.

The two of them distractedly discussed the day's simulation results over dinner then proceeded toward B'Elanna's quarters.

"Seven please stop acting like you're going to your own execution," said B'Elanna as the doors to her quarter's closed behind them. "I promise that I won't get angry with you for telling me who knew."

Seven still looked at her uncertainly and B'Elanna explained, "Seven you were not my friend then, I don't blame you for not informing me about it. But you are now, and I'm asking you as my friend to tell me who knew and didn't inform me. Obviously from the way your acting it's someone who you think should have told me."

Seven said in a quiet voice, "I first overheard Lt. Carey informing Lt. Paris of the matter. That is how I knew I could include such data in my research."

B'Elanna was stunned, suddenly understanding why Seven had been so reluctant to tell her the information, just two weeks ago she probably would have erupted angrily at Seven for telling her this. "How long ago did you hear that conversation?"

"Fifty-six days, 8 hours and 45 second ago B'Elanna," said Seven.

B'Elanna smiled weakly at Seven for the exact answer, then turned and walked around her quarters with her hands on her hips considering the information. "Did you happen to hear how Tom reacted to the information?" asked B'Elanna.

"Lt. Paris asked what Lt. Carey meant. Lt. Carey informed him of low toned growls emanating from your quarters. Lt. Paris then informed Lt. Carey that you would be extremely angered to learn of this fact from Lt. Carey and that he would take care of the matter. He then told Lt. Carey that such sounds were evidence that he was doing something right and the two of them laughed," Seven recited the content of the conversation from memory.

"Really," said B'Elanna agitatedly.

"I can recite the conversation verbatim if you would prefer," offered Seven cautiously.

B'Elanna paused, "No, I'm not questioning what you said Seven. I'm just reacting to the thought of Tom implying that he would tell me and his comment that he was doing something right."

"From your reaction, Lt. Paris failed to inform you of the matter," stated Seven.

B'Elanna nodded, "Did you overhear any other similar conversations?"

"I overheard two more conversations similar to the one with Lt. Carey," said Seven.

"And always with Tom?" asked B'Elanna.

Seven nodded, "Yes, they were always with Lt. Paris. The individuals seemed reluctant to approach you with the information B'Elanna."

B'Elanna clenched her fists and thought about rearranging Tom Paris's features. "Thank you, Seven for letting me know. I will discuss this with Mr. Paris later," she said with a definite growl in her voiced.

"B'Elanna please do not injure Lt. Paris, he is not worth being punished for. And I would miss our training sessions together if you were restricted to the brig," Seven stood in B'Elanna's path and caught her eye.

"Don't want to lose your workout partner so soon Seven?" asked B'Elanna lightly, keeping in mind M'ara's words from earlier.

"I do not," Seven answered her with a slight smirk.

"I'll try not to damage Lt. Paris," B'Elanna promised Seven with a smile.

Seven nodded and the two of them parted for the evening. B'Elanna stood in her quarters after Seven had left thinking of the ex-drone. In many ways the evidence of Tom's actions relieved B'Elanna. Now she had an honorable reason for ending the dying relationship.

M'ara's words had made it clear that B'Elanna had an uphill battle to fight for Seven to trust her enough to even consider her as a lover, but B'Elanna was beginning to appreciate that the Borg woman was more than worth the fight.

"Argg," B'Elanna groaned aloud as she realized she had totally forgotten that she needed to apologize to Seven. After a few moments of thought she decided she might as well get it over with and tapped her combadge. "Torres to Seven, can I come over to your quarters for a few minutes?"

Sevens voice responded affirmatively and B'Elanna could pick up the slightly puzzled tone. As she walked the short distance to Seven's quarters B'Elanna acknowledged that she was not looking forward to admitting her part in the gossip about Seven and Harry.

When the door to Seven's quarters opened B'Elanna marched in and without waiting for Seven to greet her she launched into her apology, "Seven I forgot to tell you earlier that I was the one who made the mistake of repeating what Harry told me about the events in the Messhall to other people. I apologized to Harry right after it happened, I should have apologized to you as well at the time…but well, I didn't. I am apologizing now though, I'm sorry it caused so much trouble for you."

Seven waited for a moment to make sure the rush of words was finished, "I estimated a 50% probability that you were the source of the 'gossip' B'Elanna." Seven told her with a raised brow and a slight smirk, "I accept your apology and believe it is my turn to tell you to stop acting like you are going to your own execution."

B'Elanna gaped for a moment at Seven then started chuckling, "Yea, I guess so; I really hope though that this is one of the last apologies I have to make to you. I've never apologized so much during one week as I have this one. It's not something I do well."

"I appreciate that it is not easy for you B'Elanna, I do not believe Klingons are known for apologizing," remarked Seven.

"Klingons do not apologize, so I guess you're lucky I'm only half Klingon," B'Elanna said with a smile.

Seven actually returned the smile briefly, and B'Elanna felt a sudden sharp flash of attraction that she did her best to ignore. Now was not the time to be thinking of her nascent attraction to Seven, she still needed to speak with Paris first.

Seven caught the signs of B'Elanna's arousal and looked at her curiously, uncertain what she had done to cause the reaction. B'Elanna noticed the look and for a few long moments the two of them stared into each others eyes as the feeling of connection between them grew.

Suddenly Seven tore her eyes away and when she looked back at B'Elanna uncertainly B'Elanna was suddenly struck by how very much the look in Seven's eyes reminded her of that young foal. It was the same uncertain and slightly fearful look the young horse had given the spot of ground it had stumbled over and hurt itself on. A sudden sharp pang tore through B'Elanna as she realized what the look meant; emotionally Seven didn't trust her not to hurt her again. M'ara had been very accurate in her assessment of Seven's feelings for her.

Huskily B'Elanna said, "Seven, I can't change what I did in the past. I promise though that I'll try my best not to hurt you that way again. I know I have a temper, but I'll do my best not to direct it at you. Please just give me a chance to show you that you can trust me."

Seven had been looking directly at B'Elanna during her entire speech, and now she dropped her eyes feeling ashamed. "I am sorry B'Elanna, I told you I had forgiven you and I believed it was true. Yet, I find myself unable to forget some of your past actions. My emotions do not seem to want to forgive you; I apologize for lying to you Lt. Torres, I will understand if you do not want to be my friend now."

"No Seven," B'Elanna walked close enough to the woman to place a hand on her arm and get her to look back at her. "You did forgive me, you didn't lie to me. But forgiving me doesn't mean that you trust me, and after the past two years I can't blame you. I have to earn that Seven; I just want you to give me a chance. You're still my friend Seven, unless you don't want to be?"

"I want to be your friend," Seven assured her, "I will give you a chance B'Elanna, I want to trust you. I do not like these emotions."

"That's all I can ask," B'Elanna gave Seven's arm a squeeze and then released it. "Well I'll see you tomorrow morning to make our report to the Captain?"

Seven nodded and B'Elanna wished her a good night.

Seven stared at the closed doors after B'Elanna left, analyzing the events of the last few minutes. She had been deeply disturbed when she realized that at some level she had not forgiven B'Elanna, yet her admission had not made the woman angry. Instead she had been understanding and even supportive of Seven's failure, telling her it that it was not a matter of forgiveness but one of trust.

Seven didn't quite understand the difference, to her forgiving someone meant that you trusted them not to repeat the action that they were being forgiven for. Yet, obviously she had failed to do when it came to B'Elanna. Perhaps Kathryn might be of assistance in figuring out why, thought Seven.

B'Elanna sighed as she walked into her quarters, thinking of the upcoming discussion with Tom Paris. The day had gone well, Janeway had been rather excited when B'Elanna and Seven had presented their idea for a chemical fusion reactor to her, and she had authorized them to do more testing. If those tests worked then they would be building the chemical reactor shortly.

Seven had spent the day in Astrometrics going over her sensor logs, and B'Elanna had spent the day in Engineering answering some not so subtle questions about the ex-Borg and her changed relationship with her. It hadn't taken the crew long to realize that her guilt induced kindness had changed into an actual friendship, and they were all curious as to why.

The only explanation B'Elanna would give them was that she had misinterpreted the ex-drone all along and it was only now that she was getting to know the person behind the Borg shell. And that she liked the person she had met the past few days. She also informed them that she was lucky that Seven had a forgiving nature and was willing to forgive the things she had said and done in the past. She had essentially admitted to anyone courageous enough to ask her that she had been wrong and the entire engineering crew knew how rare an admittance such as that was.

B'Elanna hoped it would help them begin to look for the person she had met, and undo some of the damage she had done to Seven.

When the admittance chime rang she was not surprised to see Tom Paris.

"Hey, B'Elanna," he said bending over to kiss her and looking surprised when she turned her head so that it landed on her cheek. "You ah… wanted to talk to me?"

"Yes, I do Tom. I think we need to discuss our relationship. Or lack of one to be more precise," said B'Elanna.

"Well, that's not my fault," protested Tom, "You're the one whose been spending all your free time with Seven these days."

"And a certain rumor I've heard recently about several people discussing the lack of soundproofing in my quarters with you," B'Elanna informed him slowly getting angry.

Tom froze and looked at her, catching the rising color in her cheeks and the tight look to her face. "Oh, well yea I meant to discuss that with you… soon. But… I mean it's not like it has been an issue lately."

B'Elanna just stared at him, "Really and when did you plan on having this discussion? Another two or three months from now?"

Tom seemed to deflate, "I guess Carey or Seven mentioned it to you didn't they?" Tom stared at B'Elanna but she didn't answer him. "That's ok, it doesn't really matter. Maybe you're right, we do need to discuss the lack of a relationship."

B'Elanna raised an eyebrow trying to figure out where he was going with the suddenly reasonable attitude.

"Seven has definitely shown me one thing, you don't dislike holoprograms. You just dislike the ones that I like," Tom informed B'Elanna.

"If you mean I like training programs instead of holonovels, then yes you're correct," said B'Elanna.

"And I like using the Holodeck for relaxation not training. You've spent more time with Seven this past week in the Holodeck than you ever spent with me. And well, I've been thinking that perhaps I would like to find someone who enjoys my holoprograms as much as you enjoy playing with your Bat'leth in Seven's," said Tom looking at B'Elanna with a frank look on his face.

B'Elanna looked at Tom and noted the hurt puppy dog look in his eyes, she wasn't sure if he was serious or not but she wasn't about to feel guilty because she didn't like playing Constance Goodheart to his Captain Proton. "I can understand that Tom, and I wish you luck in finding her."

Tom looked surprised for a moment then thoughtful, "So you have someone in mind to replace me already?"

B'Elanna rolled her eyes, "Tom the only thing I have in mind is to get this chemical reactor tested and completed and to try to get my honor back by being a friend to Seven."

"You're taking that honor thing rather seriously," Tom said in surprise.

"Yes, I am. But it's not just that anymore, I've found out we have a lot in common. Both of us have a part of ourselves that we rely on for strength and yet dislike at the same time." B'Elanna paused for a moment then continued in a lower voice, "Both of us have complex feelings about our parents."

Tom looked at her searchingly and then nodded, knowing something about her feelings about her father. "Well," he said, "I hope you two become good friends. Maybe we could go back to being friends too? I seem to remember that we used to do more things together. Like shoot a game of pool or just have drinks occasionally."

"I think we could do that," allowed B'Elanna with a small smile.

Tom grinned back then sobered, "I think I know where we went wrong."

B'Elanna raised an inquiring eyebrow at him wondering what he would come up with.

"I think we both expected each other to change, I expected you to become interested in the same things I was, like my Captain Proton holoprogram," Tom said.

"And I expected you to stop wanting to play your holoprograms and spend time with me," finished B'Elanna surprised at his insightfulness. It was something she had forgotten he could show occasionally.

B'Elanna gave him a somewhat sad smile but Tom shook his head, "Well, I'd better be going. I hope to see you in Sardines sometime soon, maybe we can see if I can still beat you at pool with one hand tied behind my back." He gave her a taunting smile.

B'Elanna chuckled at the old teasing tone, "In your dreams flyboy. Maybe I'll drop by tomorrow night." She looked thoughtful for a moment, "If you don't mind I'd like to ask Seven to join us, she should be good at pool and she needs to socialize more."

"Certainly, but don't confuse an analytical mind with playing pool. Tuvok is a good pool player yet no better than you or I, but the more the merrier. Besides, I'd like to meet the new and improved Seven," Tom replied.

B'Elanna shot him a look and he raised his hands in a gesture of surrender, "I'll be nice I promise. No way am I messing with the Captain's daughter, at least not again. Having the Captain mad enough to bite off my head over her once was quite enough for me. Not to mention that having you mad at me is a bad idea as well. I'm not stupid," Tom reassured her.

B'Elanna looked him in the eyes and was reassured by the steadiness with which he met her gaze. She nodded at him, "I'll see if I can't get her to go with me after our workout, I think we are going to try that infiltrator program tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it."

"What's that?" asked Tom intrigued.

"Well depending on the technology setting, you're either dropped into a combat zone with nothing but the clothes on your back or a standard Starfleet scout combat suit. From there you have to successfully sneak up and disarm or kill the enemy to gain supplies and eventually break into their base and reach your objective," explained B'Elanna with a definitely predatory grin.

"Ah," said Tom looking at her predatory smile uncertainly, "Sounds like work instead of relaxation. I think I'll skip that one."

B'Elanna grinned at him; she was looking forward to seeing what Mulara had programmed. Doubtless it would be a challenging and difficult program to complete. "Yea I'm expecting it to be pretty hard, no telling what the program is going to throw at us. From what I saw the higher the technology setting the more technical the traps and security measures will be that you have to break through. And it looks like it increases the difficulty setting if it thinks you are breaking through them too easily."

"Ah, well you and Seven knock yourselves out. I'll look for you two tomorrow evening," Tom said as he rose to leave, a rueful look on his face at the obvious pleasure B'Elanna was showing in participating in what sounded like a cadet training exercise to him.

B'Elanna looked at the door to her quarters for a few moments after Tom had left, reflecting that the ending to their relationship had gone much differently than she had imagined it would. Instead of a fight she got agreement, she just hoped Tom would continue to be as calm if he ever figured out that she did have someone else in mind, she just didn't know if Seven would ever return her interest.

B'Elanna shook her head free of those thoughts and went over to the computer in her quarters. She had been meaning to do some research on the Viking ancestors that M'ara had mentioned Seven being descended from. B'Elanna knew very little about them and M'ara's comment about them being warriors combined with the recreation of Seven's battle had raised her curiosity.

At 1700 hours Seven presented herself at the Wildman quarters for her game of Kadis-kot with Naomi Wildman.

"Seven!" Naomi greeted her enthusiastically as she opened the door to the Wildman quarters to admit Seven.

"Naomi Wildman, you have been doing well?" Seven asked the young girl.

Naomi looked at her, slightly surprised at the question; it wasn't quite like she remembered Seven. It was not long, however, before they were sitting on the floor playing Kadis-kot and Naomi was informing Seven of all the things she had done since the last time they had played.

After the game Samantha invited Seven to stay for dinner, which Naomi eagerly seconded. Seven, with a slight smile for Naomi, agreed and over dinner she told them about her time on Mularan. Leaving out the details of how she had been injured she told them about the beautiful gardens and invited them to use her Holodeck program to visit them. After dinner she replicated some of the Mularan fruit for desert and was gratified when both of them expressed their liking of it.

After she left the Wildman quarters Seven contacted Kathryn to see if she was free.

"Of course Annika, I'll make us some coffee?" came back the reply, to which she replied "That would be acceptable, Kathryn."

Seven made her way to the Captain's quarters and Kathryn meet her at the door. "Good evening, Annika," she greeted her.

"Good evening, Kathryn," Seven returned the greeting as she entered the Captain's quarters and walked over to the couch to sit down in her accustomed place. Kathryn replicated two cups of coffee, one black and one with milk and sat down beside her.

"So how have you been doing Annika?" Kathryn asked.

"I am well…" allowed Seven, "However, I am experiencing some difficulty with B'Elanna." Seven paused trying to find the words to explain what she was experiencing. "I thought I had forgiven her as she asked but I am having some difficulty in doing so. I explained this to B'Elanna and she informed me that I did not trust her and that she would have to regain that. I am confused as to the difference. I tried to explain to B'Elanna that I had inadvertently lied to her but she insisted that forgiveness and trust were not the same."

Kathryn listened to the rush of words patiently and when it looked like Seven was done she smiled at the confused woman, "Annika its difficult to forgive someone so completely. B'Elanna understands that, which is why she told you she would have to regain your trust."

Seven stared at her unsatisfied, "I have forgiven others without this difficulty. I am finding that my emotions are proving to be a source of difficulty when I try to forgive B'Elanna."

Kathryn noted how Seven seemed to hunch slightly after her last statement, "What are you afraid of Annika?" She knew she had guessed correctly when Annika whipped around her head to stare at her.

"Fear is irrev…" Seven paused mid word and then glanced away from Kathryn and sighed, "I am afraid we will return to the previous antagonistic relationship we had before."

"And if you did?" questioned Kathryn softly.

"I would be hurt if we returned to our previous relationship," answered Seven.

"Those other people you forgave, would you have been hurt if they did the same thing again after you forgave them?" asked Kathryn.

Seven stared at her for a moment then answered, "I would have been disappointed in their inability to change. I would not have been hurt by their action to the degree that B'Elanna doing the same would injure me."

"So the difference is that you care more about your relationship with B'Elanna than you did with them, thus she has the power to hurt you more deeply than they did, which is why you're afraid of opening up to her," Kathryn explained. "You need to be more patient Annika, your new relationship with B'Elanna isn't going to be built in a week. Over time you will be able to trust that the friendship between you isn't going to disappear. And your fears will fade."

Seven nodded slowly, "It was simpler before I started feeling these emotions, they do not seem to be easily controlled by logic. Perhaps I should approach Lt. Commander Tuvok for training in Vulcan methods of emotional control."

"I think you are doing just fine, but if you feel overwhelmed perhaps he could help," allowed Kathryn. She hoped though that Annika would give herself a chance to become used to her emotions before she attempted to replace her Borg emotional controls with Vulcan ones.

Seven caught on to Kathryn's tepid response, "You do not wish me to take that course of action, why?"

Kathryn raised an eyebrow at being so quickly caught, "I just think you should give yourself a chance to become used to feeling your emotions before you attempt to control them. You're Human not Vulcan, you don't have to fear your more aggressive instincts taking control of you."

"You believe that what I am feeling is appropriate then, like B'Elanna," Seven stated.

Kathryn nodded, "Just give yourself some time to become used to not having your nanoprobes control your reactions."

Seven raised a brow, "I believe there is a human saying appropriate to my situation." Seven was remembering how she used to wish that she could feel emotions like the people around her, most especially B'Elanna. "Be careful what you wish for, you may get it."

Kathryn looked at her inquiringly and Seven explained how she used to bait B'Elanna just to see the half-Klingon's open emotions because she could not feel such passion herself. She also rushed to assure her that she had already told this to B'Elanna after seeing Kathryn look at her in disbelief.

"And what was her reaction?" asked Kathryn faintly, still trying to come to grips with the fact that Seven hadn't been as innocent a party in the altercations in Engineering as she had once believed.

"She was more amused than angry; she commented that most people tried to avoid angering her," Seven responded. "Now, however, I find that I do not want to anger her, I am enjoying our friendship much more than the antagonistic relationship we had before."

Kathryn looked intently at Annika, a thought beginning to worm its way through her mind. Could Annika possibly be attracted to B'Elanna? And if so, had she been all along?

Kathryn gestured, spreading her hands apart, palms up while she said, "All I can suggest is that you give it time Annika. I really think that's the only thing that will allay your fears."

Seven nodded, accepting Kathryn's voice of experience in these matters.

After Seven had left, Kathryn stared out of her viewport thinking of the surprising revelations of the evening. If she were to suppose that Seven was attracted to B'Elanna then a lot of Seven's actions since she had come back from Mularan made sense. Her willingness to trust B'Elanna even with their past interactions, could be looked at in a new light. The question remained though, was she correct and if she was what did B'Elanna feel about Seven? The engineer had certainly been spending much of her time with Seven lately, but as far as Kathryn knew she was still seeing Tom Paris.

Kathryn shrugged, as she had told Annika earlier, time solved many things. Likely it would be the solution for this puzzle as well.

Part 9

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