DISCLAIMER: Characters, some of the dialog and trekkie technology belong to Paramount and the Star Trek Dynasty. I'm just using them to string together a little tale from the depths of my mind as a cheap form therapy. No profit or copyright infringement is intended or expected.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I would like to extend heartfelt thanks to my Beta Lenara who kept me on track and from wandering all over the Delta quadrant. This is my first attempt at writing fanfiction so any feedback and words of encouragement would be very much appreciated. Comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
CHALLENGE: Written for Epic Proportions 2009.
Living in the Past
B'Elanna has always struggled with a war of wills; either with herself, her place in Starfleet, members of the crew or her family heritage. Today the war was more intense than usual. She was besieged with her internal struggle of belonging especially since she was so far from home and any remnants of what she could call family. She had been thinking about her abuela being that this was the anniversary of the last time she saw her. She surprised herself that she referred to her using the Spanish word for grandmother which she hadn't done since she was a child. She rarely if at all thought about her Klingon grandmother, L'Naan. It saddened her that she was never close to her Klingon grandmother as she was to her Nana Torres. The rift between her and her mother never did much to make her want to get to know her. She attempted to her L'Naan by singing the ritual funeral dirge at her mother's request but it was always her Nana Torres that she felt close to.
She really didn't have the time for such musings. The captain had ordered a full diagnostic of the warp core as well as the Bio Neural gel paks in anticipation of traveling through a little known part of space in the Delta Quadrant. Neelix had some knowledge of the area of space but only as far as trade and decent space ports to get repairs and some comfortable planetside resting location. He was able to recall that this was a fairly peaceful region of space from his past experiences. Seven of Nine's past experience with the Collective was able to supply even more information about potential hostile encounters but this particular region proved to be of no significant technological importance to the Borg so her knowledge was limited. B'Elanna had a hard time wanting to listen to any of Seven's warnings at first but eventually grew to trust her instincts although she would never mention it aloud to anyone especially to the ex-borg.
"Carey. How are the tests coming on the warp core? The Captain is expecting a report at 1500 hours."
"Chief, we have run into a snag. We "
"A SNAG!? Why wasn't I notified," the fiery chief yelled before Carey had an opportunity to finish.
"Chief, the problem was just discovered. When Seven came into engineering she looked at the preliminary test results and noticed the anomaly in the deflector array. We have been trying " He was cut off again by the annoyed Chief engineer.
'Why is she always snooping in my business?' "Where is Seven now?" Carey just pointed toward to the direction of the deflector array command station afraid that he would be cut off again in mid-sentence. She followed his finger in the direction he pointed. There stood the tall blond running her fingers quickly over the console not evening seeming to have one strand of hair out of place in that perfect bun of hers.
"Seven do you mind!" said mostly as a statement then a question even though B'Elanna knew she would take it as a question.
"No Lieutenant. I am willing to provide assistance when needed," Seven tried to respond with the best air of cooperation. She had been trying to work on her social etiquette with the help of the Doctor.
"Seven what are you doing here in engineering? Don't you have to do research on the area of space we are about to enter?" B'Elanna replied trying to keep her frustration at a minimum. She was secretly happy that for the first time she didn't have all the answers.
"I have finished my assigned task and provided my report to the Captain." The half Klingon prior smugness regarding her lack of knowledge deflated a little. "I thought I would provide assistance with the diagnostic since Captain Janeway is expecting it at 1500 hours. I detected an anomaly in the deflector dish which would have an adverse effect on the optimal productivity of the warp core. I believe I can help."
B'Elanna didn't have the energy to protest that she didn't need Seven's help as much as she wanted to. It was 1345 and time was quickly running out. She knew that the Captain would understand if she informed her about the anomaly but didn't want to have to tell her that Seven discovered it because she was day dreaming about her grandmother's kitchen and banana pancakes.
"OK Seven so what have you discovered about the anomaly and what do I have to do to correct it," she said emphasizing the use of the pronoun I.
"I believe the problem is easily rectified. It appears to be originating from a conduit located in Jeffries tube 8, section 23. It would require the assistance of two people to be handled efficiently. I can take Lieutenant Carey and "
"No! I will take care of the problem. After all, this is my engineering department."
Seven thought it illogical that B'Elanna need to claim ownership of the engineering department especially since was the Chief Engineer but thinking it was better to not comment at present, she remained silent. She wanted to help out wherever she could especially in engineering. She liked her post in Astrometrics but found that her task were somewhat mundane when the crew did not immediately need her services or when they were traveling through a peaceful area of space as Mr. Neelix claimed this region to be. She was always dismayed when she realized that Lieutenant Torres believed that she didn't trust her ability as an engineer. She found the Chief Engineer more than capable. She also liked spending time around her to observe how she interacted with various members of the crew and the passion she exhibited in her daily activities. And it was this reason that Seven asked "Lieutenant may I be of assistance in providing the necessary repairs? I believe I have some theories on how to rectify the problem."
B'Elanna being too tired to argue and knowing that with Seven they should be able to correct the problem in no time, "Sure. What have we got to lose? Carey monitor the anomaly and notify me the instant there is any change, Seven and I are going to repair the problem." She was finding her relationship and attitude toward the former Borg mellowing the longer she was aboard Voyager and she was forced to interact with her. She started to notice that all her interactions were not meant to be arrogant and self righteous as she earlier thought. She began to believe that there were things that she even liked about the ex-Borg.
Fortunately Jeffries tube 8 was one of the larger of the crawl spaces so B'Elanna didn't have to be in such close contact with Seven. Once in the Jeffries tube, work proceeded uneventfully. During a lull in the work conversation, Seven asked a question that caused B'Elanna to almost drop the spanner tool she was holding.
"Lieutenant, what do you recall about your early development? The time you spent with your parents and family. I have very limited access to those memories and am curious to how that affects the development of an adult person."
For some reason B'Elanna didn't have a venomous reply to the question and didn't view it as an invasion of her privacy. Her mind went back to her thoughts from earlier in the day of her abuela and the times she spent with her father. Seven looked at B'Elanna with curiosity when a smile broke out on the woman's face.
"Lieutenant is there something amusing about my request?"
"Oh, no Seven, you just made me remember the times I would spend with my grandmother and father."
"Those were pleasant times? Please elaborate."
And without much coaxing B'Elanna began to share times with her grandmother when she would tell her stories about her ancestors and teach her songs in Spanish. She wished she could still remember to still speak in her grandmother's tongue but all those years on Qo'noS and various other places in between, the language was lost except for a few words. "She used to make the most delicious food, especially my favorite banana pancakes. She tried to teach me but I was too small to reach the stove. My father and I would make up the most wonderful games. We would spend hours talking about the stars and taking apart and putting things back together again."
B'Elanna stopped talking and just sat there with this bittersweet smile on her face as more memories flooded back about that time in her life where she felt truly loved and at peace with herself. She was curious as to why she felt so comfortable telling Seven all this but there was something safe in their interaction.
Seven was unsure of how to respond or if she should. She sat there and watched her and soon went into her own thoughts of her parents. 'Is this why I asked her about her parentage?' She remembered the stuffed animal that her father gave her when he told her that they were going on a trip in on USS Raven in search of the Borg. She floated back to the times she stayed with her Aunt Irene when her parents were off working. She liked playing number games with her father and solving puzzles with her mother but after their trip into the Delta Quadrant all her individual memories ceased.
Both women were brought out of their thoughts by the sound of Carey's voice. "Chief, I don't know what you two did but the warp core, impulse drive and deflector dish are all reading at 100% efficiency."
"Thanks Carey. I will prepare my report for the Captain. I guess we are done here Seven. Thanks for your assistance," B'Elanna said with a genuine smile directed toward the former Borg.
"You are welcome Lieutenant. Thank you for sharing your memories of your childhood. I believe after you have prepared your report for the captain your duty shift will be complete."
"That's correct. What did you need?" B'Elanna hoped that she didn't need any repairs in Astrometrics. She was too tired to take on any unnecessary projects.
"I was hoping that you could join me in the mess hall while you fulfill your nutritional supplement for the evening and continue to tell me more of your memories from your childhood. The Doctor states that I should try other food stuffs beside the nutritional supplements that he has designed. You may assist me."
B'Elanna smiled at this request and mused 'Seven really seems to be trying to not be annoying. You know I did enjoy sharing my memories with her. I bet she doesn't have any pleasant memories of her childhood.' At that moment the ex-Borg transformed to a human with a limited past in the eyes of the Lieutenant instead of a rival and ex-Borg. She found herself looking at the girl in a woman's body standing in front of her. She was thankful that she had memories of her Nana and sad to think that Seven had no such memories of her own. She released a quiet sigh. "Sure Seven, I'll meet you there at 1530. Thanks."
After exiting the Jeffries tube, B'Elanna went to her office and Seven went back to Astrometrics. She thought of going to seek counsel with the Doctor but thought she had adequate information to proceed in her meeting with B'Elanna. She wondered why she had a desire to refer the chief as B'Elanna. For now she could only refer to her occasionally by name in her thoughts but when she personally addressed her, she experienced an increased level apprehension. After all, she had been a part of the Voyager crew for several years and grew to think of them as her collective and had been able to refer to some by their familiar designation. She had come to think of B'Elanna as the closest representation of a friend outside of the Captain, the Doctor and Naomi Wildman although that designation had not been officially discussed with Lieutenant Torres. She found the Chief Engineer fascinating and discovered feelings that she was not accustomed to when she was around her. She found herself feeling an increased amount of anxiety regarding her impeding meeting and could not come up with a rational reason why.
B'Elanna finished her report for the Captain sooner then she expected. After she transmitted it to the Captain she just sat there thinking about what had transpired in the Jeffries tube with Seven. When Seven wasn't being arrogant, she reminded her of her grandmother in the way she always listened when she wanted to tell her a story or when the other human children would make fun of her forehead. Seven may not have been comforting like her grandmother but she always appeared willing to listen more now than before. B'Elanna was glad about that because she had few close friends. After her dating attempt with Tom failed miserably and her friends from the Maquis formed relationships with the Starfleet crew, she felt more alone the usual. There was something else about Seven bubbling just under the surface that B'Elanna couldn't quite put her finger on.
Seven arrived at the mess hall at exactly 1530. She had a moment's disappointment when she arrived and B'Elanna wasn't there. She thought 'perhaps she changed her mind and felt that our discussion was futile and irrelevant.' Before her negative thoughts could go any further she was approached by Neelix who always seemed to be happy to see her.
"Seven! I'm so happy that you could join us this evening for dinner. Unfortunately most of the crew has eaten so you may end up eating by yourself. But not to fear I will be honored to provide you with company while you eat."
"Thank you Mr. Neelix but that will not be necessary. Lieutenant Torres will be joining me for dinner shortly."
Neelix grinned from ear to ear. "That's wonderful! I will set up a table by the window."
Seven sat facing the door waiting for B'Elanna. She appeared fifteen minutes after the appointed time. Seven noticed that she had changed out of her uniform and into black pants and a beige shirt. She barely made it to the table and greeted Seven before Neelix appeared.
"Well ladies what I can I get for you two tonight? How about some Talaxian stew?"
B'Elanna sat down across from Seven a little annoyed at his pushiness but didn't let it spoil her mood. "Neelix what I'm in the mood for is some Tamale pie. Do you have any of that?"
"Come to think of it, I do have some. Ensign Salinas asked me to make it for her for lunch. What about you Seven? Talaxian Stew or Tamale Pie?"
"I am not familiar with those dishes."
"Oh Seven my grandmother use to make Tamale pie all the time when I was a small child when my father brought me to visit her. You'll love it!" B'Elanna exclaimed excitedly. Memories came flooding back to her once again of those happy times with her grandmother and father. She was even more surprised at how eager she was to have Seven share her grandmother's dish.
Reacting off the chief's excitement seven replied "I believe the Tamale pie will be acceptable." B'Elanna smiled brightly at her choice.
"I'll be right back with your food and a glass of prune juice for you Lieutenant and a glass of water for Seven." Neelix hurried away to get the dishes for the pair.
"Lt. Torres you were delayed in your arrival this evening. Was there a problem? Anything I can assist you with?" Seven inquired.
"Sorry I was late. I wanted to change out of my uniform into something more comfortable. Hopefully you weren't waiting too long."
"No, only 14 minutes and 25 seconds." B'Elanna smiled at Seven's flair for precision. Seven felt relieved that B'Elanna did not take it as a comment on her punctuality but hoped that she would see it as genuine concern.
"Lieutenant may I ask you a question?" Seven asked hesitantly.
"Of course Seven" 'Hadn't you been asking me questions all day?' B'Elanna mused.
"You speak very fondly of your experiences with your grandmother and your father but you make no reference to your mother. Is there something deficient about your relationship with your mother?"
B'Elanna didn't really want to talk about her mother. Their relationship wasn't very good toward the last time they saw each other. The last time they spoke they fought about B'Elanna's lack of honor and turning her back against her Klingon blood. That was before she joined Starfleet Academy and the Maquis. Even though she felt she was the reason her father left when she was a child, she also secretly blamed her mother for not trying harder to stop him. Their relationship became so complicated and she felt that she couldn't live up to her mother's expectations as she had already failed her father's expectation.
Seven noticed the frown appearing on her face and the sadness in her eyes. "Have I engaged in a sequence of questions that are distressing to you Lt. Torres?"
B'Elanna had not realized how deep she had gone into her thoughts. "Sorry. I just was thinking about the last time I spoke to my mother." Without any prompting B'Elanna begin talking about her last visit her mother. "After I left Qo'noS, I didn't speak to her again. I guess I haven't had much contact with any family since that time. Joining the Maquis became the closest thing to family except after joining Voyager. But there is nothing that can replace your own family I think that is why I enjoyed sharing my happy memories with you earlier today."
"Here you go ladies. Enjoy! Is there anything else I get for you?" Neelix stated with his usual enthusiasm. Seven felt annoyed that they were interrupted just as she began to share her experience with her mother.
"This looks wonderful. Thank you. We better eat before it gets cold Seven," B'Elanna stated becoming very interested in her food and grateful for the distraction.
When they were nearly finished with their meal, Seven urged B'Elanna to continue with her account of her childhood.
B'Elanna slowly put her utensils aside realizing that she couldn't fake still being hungry much longer. She sighed heavily and launched into her story. "You know Seven, the times I spent with my grandmother and father before he left were very happy times for me. I didn't have to think about being different because I was half Klingon. With my mother she was always trying to make me into a better Klingon and we had some of our worst fights about it. I really did try to adapt to the Klingon ways but Before my father left, he was my shield from her and all things Klingon."
Seven frowned and asked "You are not proud of your Klingon Heritage?"
"I have learned to accept it over time. I have even completed many of the rituals trying to maintain my honor."
Both women sat quietly for a moment. There were many questions Seven wanted to ask but felt that she did not want to seem too intrusive and have B'Elanna cease talking.
B'Elanna broke the silence, "I know you don't have many memories of your childhood but I'm sure you can remember some happy times with your family." She desperately wanted to get the focus off her at that moment and felt it only fair to have Seven talk about herself plus she was truly interested in who Seven was before the Borg.
"I do remember times spent with my aunt. She would prepare a confection named strawberry tarts that I recall being fond of." B'Elanna smiled at Seven's pleasant memory.
'I wonder if that is all she remembers of the people from her childhood' "That's nice Seven. My grandmother used to make sweet cakes that I use to love everytime I would go to visit her. They always made me feel better especially when the human kids would tease me about being Klingon. With my grandmother I didn't feel Klingon and for a time I didn't feel Klingon with my father until he left because I was Klingon." This last part she said as almost a whisper.
Seven realized that she felt something more for B'Elanna then concern compassion.
"Lieutenant, it appears that we share some similarities with being caught in two worlds with our respective childhood experiences," Seven said with a genuine smile which received a like smile in return.
"Seven did you enjoy the Tamale pie? B'Elanna asked trying to change the subject to happier topics or at least neutral ones.
"Yes. Thank you for sharing something from your childhood."
"Seven do you mind if we change the subject?"
"Of course. What would you like to discuss?" From there the topic of conversation went from the newest discoveries in Astrometrics to theories on how to get more power to warp drive. They parted company after realizing that they had been talking for over two and half hours. They were unaware of the stares they were receiving from crew because they were so involved in their conversation with each other. B'Elanna wondered silently why it had been so easy to talk to her especially without fighting. She knew she enjoyed the change.
As they walked to the turbolift a satisfied smile fell over B'Elanna face. Seven was feeling the same but experienced in inwardly.
"Thank you for a pleasant dinner Seven. I enjoyed your company and the conversation," B'Elanna softly expressed with a gentle smile.
Seven cocked her head sideways with a curious frown and a slight lift of her ocular implant. "Lieutenant are you attempting to be sardonic with me?" Seven asked distrusting her comments based on their past experiences together.
"Seven, I'm not mocking you. I really did have a good time with you this evening. I know in the past you would expect me to say things like that to ridicule you but I truly enjoyed our time together tonight. I'm sorry that I have treated you so badly in the past but I did enjoy your company tonight," B'Elanna stated with sadness in her eyes and remorse in her tone.
Satisfied with her response, Seven replied, "I enjoyed our time as well."
As B'Elanna exited the turbolift, she smiled warmly at Seven and wished her a good evening before the doors closed to transport seven to Cargo Bay 2. Seven said in almost a whisper to the closed door, "Goodnight B'Elanna."
Before Seven stepped into her Alcove, she replayed the day's event regarding her interactions with B'Elanna and realized that she enjoyed their time together and that she wanted to spend more time with her engaging in various activities. She was puzzled over her desire to spend more time with the fiery half-Klingon engineering chief. Before she entered into regeneration cycle for the evening she recalled the last word spoken to her by the half Klingon, 'I'm sorry that I have treated you so badly in the past but I did enjoy your company tonight.' A slight smile was etched on Seven's face before the computers put her in her regeneration cycle.
B'Elanna could still smell the essence of Tamale pie or thought she did. Maybe she was just recalling the memory of those days in her grandmother's kitchen as she prepared to go to bed. As she began to drift off to sleep, her grandmother's and father's faces appeared in her thoughts. She also saw Seven's smile and her words thanking her for sharing her childhood with her. A flicker of confusion came across her mind as to why she was picturing Seven's face but the confusion was quickly replaced by the gentle blue eyes of the ex-Borg as she drifted off to sleep. She experienced the most peaceful sleep she has had in a long time.
Everyone in Engineering noticed how much more pleasant the Chief was this morning. For those that were in the mess hall last night and saw her and Seven dining wondered if that had something to do with her mood.
B'Elanna checked in with her staff and handed out the days duty assignments. She checked on the status of the deflector dish and the other diagnostics they had run the day before to ensure that there were no other issues of concern that would need to be reported in the senior officer's meeting. As she punched keys on the appropriate consoles a slight smile began to show on her face. She began to recall her time she spent with Seven and the walk down memory lane she took her on.
As B'Elanna entered the conference room she noticed that there were only two available seats remaining, one next to Ensign Kim and one next to Seven. She chose the seat next to Seven even though the seat next to Harry was closer. This deviation in behavior did not go unnoticed by the Captain or Seven.
The meeting was fairly routine until Neelix brought up the issue of relaxation for the crew.
"Captain, the crew has had several stressful weeks with the attacks while going through Zaan space, and I believe some R&R is in order."
"We can increase Holodeck rations for the crew if you think that will help Mr. Neelix?" Paris chimed in.
"Well that would be great if everyone was as fascinated with the Holodecks as you are Tom," Harry playfully teased his friend.
Neelix smiled at the two men, "I was thinking of something that more of the crew could enjoy at one time and for a longer period of time. There is a planet that I heard of in this system when I would travel through to one of the space ports that is known for its hospitality, beaches and entertainment. I believe t is still on the same route toward the Alpha Quadrant so it would only be a short interruption in our journey."
"What's the name of this oasis in the stars? Chakotay asked with a smile secretly hoping the Captain would go for the idea.
"Planet Questa. Our presence wouldn't be a surprise. They are use to getting travelers from different parts of the quadrant. I believe you should be able to access information over subspace."
"I like the idea Captain." Harry said with excitement. "Its better then more Holodeck time," he teased his friend. Tom gave Harry a slight smirk but grinned very broadly at the idea as well. The others in the room with the exception of Tuvok and Seven smiled and nodded in agreement.
"Captain, it would be nice to have some down time to run complete diagnostics on all the ships systems and make repairs while we are not on the run from attacks or other crises that could up," B'Elanna stated.
"Captain it would be logical to allow the crew to relax in mass to alleviate the time that would need to be spent on the planet. It would also be easier to schedule work teams to execute the repairs Lt. Torres spoke of. Of course we would have to run security checks to ensure there is no danger on the planet," Tuvok added to the discussion with his serious demeanor.
"Well it seems everyone is in agreement. Seven please run an analysis of this sector and the Planet Questa and coordinate with Tuvok and give me a report by 1200. B'Elanna come up with a list of necessary repairs and coordinate appropriate work crews with Chakotay. If this works out I could do with a few hours by the beach myself," Janeway smiled at the potential prospect.
With that the meeting was adjourned.
Seven stayed behind after the others left the conference room. B'Elanna looked back with concern and wondered why Seven wasn't moving. She was usually the first one out door especially if given an assignment by the Captain.
"Seven, what's up I mean what's the problem?" quickly changing her statement with something she thought the ex-Borg wouldn't misinterpret. She didn't want Seven to feel like she was teasing her or making fun of her literal interpretation of things. 'What's up is a funny phrase I guess.'
"Lieutenant, what is R&R? How do I know if this Planet Questa will be sufficient for such an activity for the crew?" Seven asked with sincere confusion written over her face.
B'Blanna couldn't restrain the chuckle that escaped her. She did not mean to laugh at the former-Borg's lack of knowledge regarding leisure activities or terminology. "Seven R&R means Rest and Relaxation." Seeing the confusion on the woman's face, B'Elanna tried to figure out the least complex way to explain the concept. "Its an Earth term to define off time from work or structured activities. It's the same thing when the crew uses the Holodeck to do activities that are fun. What do you do for fun?" She realized she never asked what Seven did when she wasn't working.
Seven thought for a moment then responded, "I do not require leisure activities. I regenerate after completing necessary task to ensure the proficiency of Voyager."
"Seven, everyone requires some type of leisure activity, even the Doctor."
"The Doctor engages in singing and learning Operas. He has attempted to teach me to sing as part of my socialization lessons. I do not understand the correlation between singing and social interactions. The Doctor does seem to elicit many curious looks from the crew when he does sing opera."
B'Elanna smiled at the thought of the Doctor singing opera. "I think he is teaching you to sing because he doesn't want to do it alone. Most people like to engage in leisure activities with other people. Do you like to sing with the Doctor?"
"The activity is satisfactory."
"Maybe you can sing for me sometime," B'Elanna stated quietly. Seven just stared at her in shocked silence.
"Uh you know since you helped me out yesterday, maybe I can give you a hand researching this Planet Questa to see if its sufficient for some R&R," she quickly tried to recover from her sudden display of interest in one of Seven's leisure activity.
Once Seven recovered enough to speak, "That would be acceptable. Your assistance would be appreciated considering your knowledge of leisure activities." B'Elanna was happy that she accepted her offer to help. She looked forward to spending more time with her especially if it made her feel as good as the other day.
B'Elanna called down to Engineering to check on things. After hearing that things were running smoothly, she informed Lieutenant Carey that she would be assisting Seven in Astrometrics if she was needed. She ordered him to compile a list of repairs that the ship needed to be running at 100% and have it ready for her by 1100. She couldn't see the shocked faces of her crew who overheard her conversation with Carey but she could imagine their faces.
Seven did not have any specific knowledge of this planet from her time with the Borg. They were able to access some information from Neelix's data base from his time visiting the various space ports. Using long range scanners of the planet, they were able to discover they were a space traveling planet that specialized in recreation for travelers. B'Elanna thought it sounded similar to the Planet Risa in the Alpha Quadrant and they were even able to pick up some information from subspace as Neelix had suggested.
As the two women conducted their research on the planet and that region of space, they found themselves slipping into an easy conversation about leisure activities. B'Elanna did most of the talking while Seven asked questions about the ones she described. B'Elanna thought about the last camping trip she went on with her father and a wave of sadness came over her.
Seven noticed the change of affect on her face and quietly asked "Lieutenant are you distressed about something?"
The half-Klingon closed her eyes tightly to fight back the wave of tears that threatened to fall and took a few deep breaths before she felt confident to speak. "Sorry, I was thinking about the last camping trip I went on with my father before he left. That's a memory I have tried to keep locked tightly away. I have not wanted to go camping since then. I use to love to camp before that last time. I guess all the talk about childhood and finding a planet to relax on has brought all this up to the surface. Let's keep this between us OK Seven? B'Elanna let out a heavy sigh in an attempt to release the weight of the memory.
Seven just nodded quietly and looked at the woman with a new level of compassion.
The information was transmitted to Tuvok. Before Seven could ask any more questions B'Elanna excused herself stating that she should get back to her duties in engineering. Before she walked out the door she turned and asked, "Seven how 'bout joining me for dinner again tonight? I could use some company. We can talk about the leisure activity you can do on the planet."
"That would be acceptable."
"Great! Meet you at 1700 in the Mess Hall," she said with a wink and was out the door.
Seven stared at the closed door almost expecting her to return to tell her she was joking. Seven tried to analyze the feelings she was experiencing and her thoughts about the Chief Engineer. She turned back toward her console and began reviewing all the leisure activities that the planet had to offer.
Back in Engineering, B'Elanna reviewed the list of repairs with Carey in her office that he had complied. He sat there half expecting her to come up with a half dozen things that he had missed or she felt were unnecessary.
"Carey, excellent work. We should probably prioritize the repairs that will be best done while orbiting the planet since I'm not sure how long the Captain will authorize shore leave for and I want our crew to enjoy their time off as well."
Carey sat there with his jaw in his lap not believing what the Chief had just said.
"Lieutenant are you OK? Did you hear what I said?" B'Elanna asked with concern.
"Sorry Chief yes I think that's a good idea. I have some ideas as to what we can start on first," quickly recovering from his shock at being complimented by his task master Chief. He quietly wondered what had gotten into her and hoped that whatever it was would not change anytime soon.
The two engineers put together a list to present to Commander Chakotay.
B'Elanna brought the information to his office where they would compile work crews to complete the repairs. As they sat working on the crew list, Chakotay couldn't help but notice that there was something different about his friend.
"What's going on with you B'Elanna? Why are you in such a good mood lately?" he asked with an inquisitive grin.
"Why shouldn't I be in a good mood? With the prospect of actually having some actual time off and not just Holodeck time and being able to have genuine time to do repairs instead of on the fly like I usually have to, why wouldn't I be in a good mood?" she retorted with a smile.
"I was just wondering if it had something to do with how pleasant you and Seven have been lately with each other. The crew is talking about the fact that you worked together in engineering and having dinner together for several hours without one fight. It has people wondering that's all."
"You or the crew? Let people wonder as long as they stay out of my personal business," B'Elanna stated getting annoyed at Chakotay questioning. But why were his questions bothering her so much, they were friends after all. She shook it off. "Are we done with the crew assignments?" She was ready to be out of his office and back in engineering where she felt safe. She was starting to feel like she did when her mother would question her or the kids would make fun of her because she was half human.
"Yeah, I guess that's it. I will give our report to the Captain and get back to you as how to proceed." As B'Elanna got up to leave, Chakotay gently grasped her hand and waited until she was looking him in the eyes, "B'Elanna I hope you know I meant no disrespect to you but I'm happy that you are in good spirits lately. It seems like it's been so long that you have been happy. I care about you."
She squeezed his hand and smiled," I know and thank you. I'm not use to the feelings I'm having and am trying not to blow it. Let me know what the Captain wants to do." She quickly exited his office to return to engineering.
In the Captain's ready, Kathryn went over the PADDs from her senior officers. She sipped on her coffee and wondered if the planet was able to make anything close to the coffee that she longed for from Earth. She was pleased about the information she was reading. She had no doubt that it would be thorough given the caliber of the people that served in her command. She secretly was hoping the information regarding the planet would be positive because she knew her crew deserved some real time off. Not to mention she would enjoy some time to let her command mask down for a while as she soaked up some sun on the beach.
When meeting with Chakotay, he informed her about the change in B'Elanna of late. At first she didn't see any need for concern but after he left something kept nagging at her. She reviewed her file and there it was, yesterday would have been her grandmother's eightieth birthday. Knowing the history of her family background, Kathryn knew that this must be a bittersweet time for the Chief Engineer. Her first instinct was to go to her and offer her words of encouragement but knowing how private she was thought better of it. B'Elanna always sought her out when she needed her advice.
She chuckled quietly to herself, 'When I took over as Captain of Voyager I thought I would be commanding a crew of Starfleet Officers. Who knew I would become ambassador for new alien races in a foreign quadrant of space, peace maker between the Maquis and Starfleet, counselor for an emerging sentient EMH, shepherd for a crew lost so far away from home and surrogate mother to two women both discovering their humanity in their own special ways. I really need shore leave! This mother needs a break.'
Looking over the data PADDs one more time and finalizing her decision, she hit her comm Badge, "Janeway to Ensign Paris."
"Paris here, Captain," Paris responded.
"Paris, set a course to Planet Questa."
"Aye Captain, course laid in to Planet Questa," Paris responded not able to hide the excitement in his voice.
The Captain sat back in her chair and wondered what kind of trouble her band of misfit children would get themselves into during two weeks of shore leave. Then she mischievously wondered what kind of trouble she could get into during two weeks of shore leave.
The crew was buzzing with the prospect of shore leave planet side. The general mood of the crew had increased tenfold the closer they got to the planet. The Holodeck was used nonstop it seemed as the crew practiced their skill at various water sports especially since a holovid was made available with all the activities that were available on the planet.
Seven was growing more apprehensive the closer they got to the planet. Even though she and B'Elanna discussed many of the leisure activities she could partake in over several meals together it did nothing to ease her fear. B'Elanna even created a Holodeck simulation to help her prepare for participating in various activities. Seven did not share her fear with B'Elanna because she enjoyed the time she was spending with and finding out more about her life. And she didn't want her to know her weakness and fear.
B'Elanna was becoming excited about having shore leave on the planet and being able to share the leisure activities with Seven. She realized that she enjoyed teaching Seven about different ways to have fun but what was more shocking was that she was enjoying being with Seven and having someone to talk to about her life. She was always willing to listen and the questions she asked made her feel special not like she was being tolerated. No one was more shocked then B'Elanna when she realized that she truly cared for Seven.
They had set a time to meet in the Holodeck 2 to go snorkeling and B'Elanna had not arrived, in fact she was thirty minutes late. Seven began to wonder if she had grown tired of her and that showing her various leisure activities was a waste of her time. She thought that they had grown into friends but she knew that she may still be holding the fact that she was Borg against her still. Seven was unsure why she was harboring so much doubt and anxiety about what Lt. Torres thought. She had to find out.
"Computer. Location of Lt. Torres." She held her breath waiting for the computer to respond fearing what the reply may be.
"Lt Torres is in her quarters," the computer stated flatly.
"Seven to Lt. Torres"
No response. Seven grew worried and decided to go to her quarters to ascertain the situation in person. Because if B'Elanna had grown tired of her company she was willing to volunteer for extra duty shifts so she would not have to see her on the planet. Seven knew that she cared for B'Elanna and could not bear the emotions she may experience if she no longer valued her company.
When she arrived at her door, Seven had to take a few deep breaths before she pushed the door chime. There was no response. Seven pushed it again.
B'Elanna looked at the door annoyed by the intrusion. Wanting to make the annoying sound stop she asked, "Computer who is at the door?"
"Seven of Nine," came the response.
B'Elanna sighed loudly remembering that she had not shown to meet Seven at the Holodeck. She knew that Seven wouldn't give up easily but she didn't want her to see her like this. She also didn't want to damage the fragile friendship that they were forming and to B'Elanna's surprise she didn't want to hurt her either. The half Klingon slowly walked to open the door.
Finally B'Elanna appeared at her door. Seven noticed that her eyes were bloodshot and she appeared to have been crying. Concerned, Seven asked, "Are you injured Lieutenant?"
B'Elanna just stepped back inside her quarters and walked back to her couch where she had been looking at pictures. "What do you want Seven?"
"Lieutenant you did not meet at the pre-arranged time at Holodeck 2, I became concerned. Is there something wrong?" Seven wondered never taking her eyes off of B'Elanna.
"I'm just having a bad day!" B'Elanna snapped. "Can't I have a bad day?" The words came out harsher then she intended them to be. She couldn't let her know that she had been crying over something as overly sentimental as a holo-image. She feared that she had shown too much already to this woman. She didn't want Seven to see her as weak. There was a part of her that got pleasure from feeling open with another person.
Seven stood in her usual stance and stared at the emotional woman sitting on the couch. Her fears again surfacing that the time she had spent with B'Elanna was just a convenient diversion. But why was she crying? And why did she allow me into her quarters if she wanted to be left alone? Seven tried to decipher what might truly be occurring with the engineer.
Seven did not know what to say. She was unsure if she should say anything but felt she could not leave without saying something. "Lieutenant would you like me to leave you alone? I seem to have disturbed you."
"Why does everyone seem to want to leave me alone?" 'Tom, my father, my mother and now you.' B'Elanna was becoming angry with herself for becoming so irrational.
"I do not wish to leave you alone lieutenant. I was only inquiring about your condition." Seven was becoming distressed because she did not know what to do in this situation. It was not covered in any of the Doctor's socialization programs. So not knowing what to do, she continued to stand and wait.
B'Elanna looked up at the tall blond and realized that she did not run away like everyone else did in her life. 'Why is she still here?'
Seven not receiving any response from the half Klingon, turned to leave. B'Elanna jumped up from the couch and grabbed Seven's arm to stop her from leaving. "Wait! Don't go please."
Seven stopped and turned around and faced B'Elanna. She looked at the hand that was touching her arm and felt warmth she could not remember ever experiencing before.
The Klingon could not look at the tall woman now that she was facing her and had her attention. "This isn't easy for me Seven.
"What is not easy? I do not understand your distress."
In way of response B'Elanna released Seven's arm and went back to the couch, showed her one of the holo-images she had been looking at before she came to her quarters. "This is my abuela in her kitchen. I use to love spending time in her kitchen and her garden."
Seven followed B'Elanna to the couch. She did not know what to say. She was unsure if she should say anything. She knew from their many conversations that this woman was much cherished to her. Not being able to stand the silence Seven stated, "I am not sure Is this picture causing you distress?"
B'Elanna swallowed hard before speaking. "Seven, I'm sorry that I stood you up but I ran into Naomi and her mother and they were talking about the fun they are going to have on the planet. When I came to my quarters to change, what they said starting me thinking about my childhood and I started looking at these images from my childhood." She said with an air of sadness in her tone. 'I'm so afraid that I can never be that happy again.'
"Lieutenant, I am unaccustomed to those feelings you are describing but from my time spent with Naomi Wildman and her mother and your account of your childhood, I know that those feelings are not irrelevant. I wish I wish I could be of better assistance to you."
B'Elanna really looked at Seven for the first time since she entered her quarters. This time she was really looking at her and saw into those deep blue eyes a sadness that she had not noticed before. She took the ex-Borg's hand maintaining the gaze in her eyes and pulled her to sit next to her on the couch, "I didn't mean to cause you any grief Seven. Sorry if I worried you. I have enjoyed talking to you about my past but these are thoughts I have hidden away for such a long." Taking a deep breath she continued, "Some Klingon huh? I hope you don't hold this against me or spread it on the gossip comm." She tried to manage a weak grin. She still noticed the sadness in Seven's eyes and her heart constricted in pain for her new friend. Not releasing Seven's hand, B'Elanna took her free hand and without thinking softly stroked her cheek. She relished the feel of the soft skin against her hand and felt a charge run through her with the intimacy of the contact.
Seven was speechless. She did not know how to respond or react. She was moved by her words but thrilled by the compassionate contact. Not wanting the contact to end, she just sat there and enjoyed the moment.
Finally Seven spoke, "Lieutenant, I do not know " She was cut off before she could finish.
"Seven please call me B'Elanna. After all that we have shared this last week, I think we can consider ourselves friends. And all my friends call me B'Elanna."
"Thank you Lieute B'Elanna." She paused before continuing to speak not wanting to say what she originally was going to say, "You are an honorable Klingon and I think your grandmother would agree." Seven stated softly.
B'Elanna removed her hand from Seven's and leaned back on the couch, tucking her legs under her body. Seven looked at her hand and missed the warmth of the hand that was just there. She followed the missing hand as it went to lie in B'Elanna lap.
"Thanks Seven. I would like to think that's true." She picked up the holoimage again and looked at it again. I miss her alot you know; she was the only positive connection to my childhood and my father. I miss not having people that love me and make me feel protected like she did. And he did for awhile."
"This crew cares for you. I know that Captain Janeway has maternal feelings for you as well."
B'Elanna smiled weakly at Seven knowing that she was trying to be as understanding as she knew how to be and was grateful for her efforts. She felt this woman genuinely cared for her. "Yeah I know Seven. Thanks for listening. I'm glad that we are able to bury the hatchet and become friends."
Seven felt her heart flutter at the mention of being referred to as B'Elanna's friend. Over the last few weeks their friendship had become increasing more important to her and she was willing to do what she could to maintain that level of affection from her.
"B'Elanna we still have 45 minutes remaining of our allotted Holodeck time, would you still like to engage in the leisure activity?" she stated hoping to get her mind on more pleasant thoughts.
"No. We will be at the planet tomorrow, let's just do the real leisure activities when we get our chance to go down to the surface. This walk down memory lane has made me hungry. What do you say we go to the mess hall and see what surprises Neelix has cooked up today. OK?"
Seven nodded in agreement and rose to move to exit B'Elanna's quarters. She looked back over her shoulder when B'Elanna wasn't following her to the door. She saw her placing the holo-image of her grandmother in the center of her table after tenderly placing a light kiss on the image and gently rubbing her fingers across the old woman's face.
Seven wanted to ask her why she performed that gesture with the image. But looking at her face she saw that there was a tear in the corner of her eye threatening to fall. Seven felt an overwhelming urge to walk back to her friend and envelop her in her arms and tell her that she would be alright. But before she had time to act on that thought, B'Elanna stood straight up and walked briskly in Seven's direction.
"OK. You ready to go? I'm starving."
She walked past Seven and out the door, this time leaving Seven lagging behind.
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