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
The ship was abuzz with excitement once Voyager reached Planet Questa. The crew was reporting early for their duty assignments in hopes that the repairs could be completed sooner so that there would be more time to spend on the planet.
B'Elanna was eager to get repairs under way and cherished the time to make corrections and repairs that weren't mere patch jobs. She hoped if she could get the ship to 95 to 98% efficiency, it would mean less work were the ship to hit real trouble on their journey back to the Alpha quadrant.
Seven was in contact with the planet's library and she was able to upload the most up to date star charts of the Delta quadrant as well as background information on species she was not familiar with in her time with the Borg. Because Astrometrics had more time to run consistent diagnostics, Seven had the easiest time with her repairs. She offered her help in Engineering which B'Elanna accepted. Although she was encouraged by just about everyone to start her shore leave, she didn't want to go to the planet without B'Elanna so she was motivated to help B'Elanna complete the repairs.
Although B'Elanna was one of the crew who encouraged Seven to begin her shore leave, she was secretly grateful that she chose to spend time with her in engineering and wanted to wait until she could join her on the planet.
B'Elanna was surprised when the Captain entered engineering halfway through her scheduled shift. The Captain was surprised when she spotted Seven and her chief engineering working at a console chatting away like old school chums instead of mortal enemies as had been their relationship in the past.
Both women turned in surprise when they noticed the Captain's presence.
"Captain is there something I can help you with?" B'Elanna asked hoping to hide her surprise and curiosity regarding the Captain's visit to engineering.
"No. I just wanted to check on how repairs are going. It seems you have extra help," as she looked in the direction of the blond Astrometrics' officer.
"Yes Captain. I believe we will be way ahead of schedule if this keeps up," the chief stated with pride. "Everyone seems willing to pitch in to help so we can all spend more time on the planet. How is everyone enjoying the planet so far?"
"Mr. Neelix was correct about all it has to offer. During my meeting with the planet government, they gave me a tour. The crew who have been to the surface have nothing but glowing comments about their off time. I can't wait to begin my shore leave. Well I don't want to keep you from your work. Carry on."
Before Kathryn exited engineering she turned and called to B'Elanna, "I'm glad to see that you and Seven are working so well together." She had a big smile on her face as she walked through the door thinking to herself 'maybe this will be a good shore leave for everyone after all.'
"Lieutenant, why would the Captain be surprised with our working cooperatively together?" Seven inquired.
"Seven we do have a reputation for being at each other's throats especially with you being in my Engineering department," she responded with a chuckle.
"Yes I guess our current relationship is uncharacteristic of our past behavior toward each other. I prefer our current relationship."
"Me too. But we did have some colossal fights didn't we?" B'Elanna chuckled softly.
"It was never my intention to fight with you Lieutenant, I was only attempting to provide information that you appeared to be lacking," Seven stated trying to earnestly explain her past behavior.
Seven was unaware of the collective holding of breath by everyone in engineering waiting for the fiery half Klingon to explode at the ex-Borg. B'Elanna felt the mass intake of air by her team and inwardly laughed at their reactions. Funny, she didn't feel like getting mad at Seven but she knew she had to do something to break the tension in the room.
"Ahh Seven, you had to go and say something like that after we have been playing so nice together," B'Elanna laughed and patted Seven on the shoulder as she turned to continue work at the console. She could feel the tension in the room instantly decrease and some of the crew even smiled. "Come on Seven let's finish these last set of diagnostics and then get something to eat."
Although Seven was still adjusting to her need for nutritional supplements, she enjoyed the time with B'Elanna sharing a meal and talking. Their conversations had evolved from the daily routine of the ship's functions to the sharing of more intimate details about their lives. From her lessons with the Doctor she was actually beginning to see that she and B'Elanna were friends.
The noise level in the mess hall was even more boisterous then it was during one of Neelix's parties. Crewmen that had been down to the planet were excitedly recounting their day to other crewmen waiting their turn to go to the planet.
When Seven and B'Elanna entered the mess hall they were waved over to a table by Naomi Wildman and her mother. Naomi wanted to tell Seven everything about her day on the planet and all the things she and her mother did together. Both women just listened patiently as Naomi told them about the shopping, the different foods and the beach. Her mother was forced to listen quietly as well because it seemed that Naomi didn't stop talking long enough in order to take a breath. When it appeared that the child was finally winding down, her mother used that opportunity to interject, "Well we better get off to bed if we are going to have another big day on the planet." Her mother gently but firmly guided her daughter to the door. As she left the table she silently mouthed, "I'm so sorry."
As the mother and daughter exited the mess hall, B'Elanna laughed, "Well I guess Naomi had a good time today."
"It would appear that she had a pleasant experience with her mother," Seven added.
Both women got up to get their food and as they were returning to their table, Seven asked B'Elanna, "What do you plan to do on the planet?"
As they both sat down, B'Elanna contemplated the question for a moment. "I would like to take a nice quiet walk among the trees. Then I definitely want to hit the beach. What about you?"
"I believe I will access their historical data base regarding other species in this area of space and then I ."
"Wait! You are going to do research on your time off. What have I been showing you this past week? Nothing. Ok. I guess you will have to hang with me and let me show you again how to have fun," B'Elanna barked with sarcastic exasperation at Seven.
"B'Elanna, I do not wish to intrude on your planned activities, "Seven said quietly missing the sarcastic humor.
"My planned activities are best when shared with a friend with you," B'Elanna replied sheepishly with a genuine smile towards her friend. "Will you share them with me Seven?"
"I will comply," Seven stated quietly lifting her head to meet the eyes of her friend.
Seven and B'Elanna had another full day of repairs to complete before they would have an opportunity to go down to the planet. Having been so focused on the ship's repairs, shore leave and thoughts of her family, B'Elanna hadn't really put much thought to her growing friendship with Seven and how it truly came about. She knew that Seven wasn't the same emotionless Borg that she once thought her to be. She had given her the space to talk about her feelings regarding her childhood without judgment and seemed to truly listen to truly care.
While working on a series of replicator couplings in a rather secluded area of engineering, the conversation once again focused on childhood experiences of Seven and B'Elanna. This time it was B'Elanna who broached the subject of childhood. Seven never complained when she initiated any type of conversation especially of a personal nature.
"Seven, you ever wondered what your life would be like if your parents had made different decisions about researching the Borg? Not coming to the Delta quadrant." B'Elanna asked Seven not looking at her as she replaced a bad coupling.
Seven stopped working and looked at B'Elanna. She was unsure how to answer the question because she felt she did not have the ability to imagine. "I have never contemplated a different outcome for my life. I do not have an adequate frame of reference or life experiences before the Borg to know what my options could have been."
"That's sad Seven," B'Elanna said softly with a heavy sign. "I sometimes think about that a lot. Like what would my life be like if I was a full human or full Klingon? How would things be different for me if I was raised by my human grandmother? You know what kind of person I would be today."
"Are you displeased with your life today, B'Elanna?"
"There are a few parts of my life am I happy with but I can't help regret all the mistakes that I made along the way. There is still so much I wish I could have done differently growing up."
"Explain." Seven said simply.
At this simple request, B'Elanna put down what she was working on and turned to face Seven for the first time since beginning this topic of conversation. She at first wanted to avoid direct eye contact for fear that she may see disapproval from her newly established friend. She always felt that she saw disapproval in the eyes of those she cared about and respected. She saw that disapproval in her mother and father's eyes because she was either too human or too Klingon. She saw it in Chakotay's eye's every time she failed at following an order. The Captain had that same look of disapproval when she struggled to contain her Klingon temper. She couldn't bear to see that look in Seven's eyes.
When she realized that she had not said anything for a few minutes, B'Elanna found the courage to look at Seven. What she saw made her hearts skip because her eyes showed the caring and compassion that she discovered that Seven was so capable of but rarely showed. Looking into her soft blue eyes she felt like she was looking into the warm eyes of her abuela and she could tell her anything.
Closing her eyes and taking a deep breath to steady her emotions, B'Elanna quietly began to answer Seven. "I felt no that's wrong, I know it was my fault that my father left us me as a child. I always seemed to make mistakes when I couldn't control my temper when the other human children teased me. If I only could have been more human he would have stayed with me." B'Elanna closed her eyes again as she said this last part and bit her lip in order to try to keep her emotions in check.
Seven noticed this deviation in her body language and the struggle B'Elanna was having trying to maintain an emotional balance. She struggle with the thought of what to say or should she say anything. Everything that was in her said that her friend needed reassurance at that moment. "B'Elanna, how can a child be responsible for the actions of an adult? I feel you have committed no error. You were being who you were created to be. Just as I was after I was assimilated by the Borg, I was created to be a drone."
"What are you saying Seven? I was meant to be a half-breed." B'Elanna retorted.
"I am saying that you had no control in your creation but you can be in control how you embrace that creation."
"Is that what you did? Embrace being a Borg drone?" B'Elanna felt that old anger begin to rise as Seven talked about her time with the Borg. She was troubled at the ease she appeared to talk about her time as a Borg as if it was as normal as breathing.
"I had no control over being Borg just as I had no choice in being severed from the collective by Captain Janeway. Now I have to learn to embrace my humanity and still being Borg." Seven calmly explained. She sensed the agitation from the half Klingon and feared that their friendship had been short lived.
Hearing her talk about having no choice to leave the Borg, her mood softened. She knew what it was like to be forced into a decision without choice. Although she knew that Seven was happy aboard Voyager, she also knew how hard it was for her in the beginning and felt a pang of shame because she added to her difficulty.
"I guess we are both half-breeds. We both have to learn to get along in two worlds."
"I have been able to draw strengths from my Borg existence as well as my human existence. You are Klingon and human, both have strong qualities that you should be proud of and not wish to change."
At this, the half Klingon gave a weak smile, "Seven I think you need to lay off the philosophy data base." Becoming serious, she stated "That sounds like something my grandmother would say. I just wish I could believe it."
Feeling an increased self confidence, Seven continued on. "You have achieved many great accomplishments since becoming a member of this crew. You have assisted this crew in keeping them safe multiple times. You have also assisted in saving my life as well. Your grandmother and your parents would be pleased with your performance."
"Seven, I don't know what's wrong with me lately. I feel that I can't keep control over my emotions regarding the past."
"Do you need to see the Doctor?"
"No. I think I'm just in need of some R&R. Let's just get this done. Forget about my emotional ramblings."
"You do not wish to continue this line of conversation as we complete the work task?
"Let's just change the subject to something more pleasant like having fun on the planet. OK?"
"That is satisfactory with me."
They continued working in silence for a while longer until Seven asked," What activity is having fun?"
B'Elanna let out a heartfelt laugh and said,"Oh Seven, what am I going to do with you?" For the first time that statement carried more than one meaning for B'Elanna.
That evening in the mess hall, the same excitement as the previous days was present. Neelix was roaming from table to table of various crewmen as they told and retold of their adventures on the planet. He was pleased that he was doing so well as Morale Officer for Voyager.
A rather boisterous conversation was occurring between Tom Paris, Harry Kim and several other members of the crew. Chakotay hearing the enthusiastic laughter coming from the table joined in on the fray.
"It was the most amazing thing I ever experienced," Harry stated.
"It was better than a Holodeck program," Tom added.
"Well what was it? What made it so amazing?" Ensign Trak asked with excited curiosity.
"Well "both Tom and Harry responded in unison. They both looked at each other and laughed. Harry conceded to Tom to tell the story with a wave of his hand.
At this time B'Elanna and Seven entered the mess hall. Seeing Chakotay and Harry along with other crewmates, B'Elanna pulled Seven's arm to join the group. Seven went along not allowing her anxiety to show regarding being around so many of the crew in a social situation. It wasn't until she got to the table that B'Elanna noticed that Tom was the center of attention of the group. It was fortunate that they ended their relationship with the ability to remain friends. After several heated arguments, icy cold stares and a long silence they were able to be friends.
"So what is everybody talking about?" B'Elanna asked with curious grin.
The group looked back at who had spoken. Not surprised to see the Chief Engineer standing there but there were more than a few inquisitive stares as to why Seven was standing next to her. Fortunately no one had the poor sense to make any comments as to her presence there especially considering that the Commander was standing there and the temper of the half Klingon. It was rumored the two adversaries had buried the hatchet and not in each other's skulls. It appears the rumors were true.
"Tom was just about to tell us of this amazing activity he and Harry experienced on the planet," Ensign Trak stated.
"Well if there are no other interruptions." Tom added trying to add to the suspense of his tale with a sarcastic air. "They have this device that runs on the same principle as the Holodeck but sets up the programs based on your own memories. It's amazing."
"So does it read your mind?" Chakotay queried.
"In a way." Harry interrupted wanting to get in on the tale, "You can tell the computer what memory you want to re-experience. Because our minds tend to remember certain aspects of a memory this device has the ability to re-create all the small nuances of the memory and have you re-experience it as it was when it originally happened."
"But how can it recall everything the way it originally occurred?" inquired Ensign Trak skeptically. "As a child or even as an adult, you have a tendency to distort information especially if it is experienced in a heightened emotional state. Can the device correct for distortions of your memories?"
"That's the fascinating part of this technology; it recalls the memories that are recorded in our brain synapses not from our memory recall. So instead of remembering just how good the taste of ice cream was from your childhood birthday party it will recall the color of the bowl you ate it in as well as the texture of the table you sat at. You actually relive the memory," Harry stated impressed with his own understanding of the technology.
"You have to go through a scanner after you have selected a memory you want to experience. You can then pick the exact memory if there is more than one with similar parameters," Tom added.
"So it does read your mind for the exact memory," Chakotay reiterated again.
"If you think in terms of an image recorder like a holo-imager, it reads the memories that are recorded in the four lobes of the brain," Harry stated.
"What if you are not human or only half human?" B'Elanna spoke up for the first time. This process had been intriguing to her especially with the thought of reliving a pleasant memory.
"Because they get so many different species that visit their planet they have a data base of various physiologies of different species. They also have the technology to record new species in order to store in their data for future reference."
"Harry it seems like you spent more time researching the technology then enjoying the activity?" B'Elanna said teasingly to the junior officer.
"Well I wanted to make sure it was safe to use." Then with a twinkle in his eyes he added, "I also wanted to see if we could acquire the technology to add to our Holodeck matrix program."
At that point Harry and Tom were bombarded with questions about the technology, the device and the memories they chose to re-experience.
After the conversation died down, Seven and B'Elanna went to go get some food. Seven seemed wary after hearing Neelix read off the available selection for dinner. B'Elanna seeing her reaction chuckled quietly. She decided to help her chose the mildest of the selection he was offering. "Try the vegetable stew, I think you will like it Seven. It's not as spicy as the chili."
Seven nodded her head in agreement. Neelix handed her the bowl of the vegetable stew and a bowl of Bolian chili to B'Elanna. The mess hall had begun to clear out so it was easy to find a table. They sat in a comfortable silence. B'Elanna had been thinking about the holo-experience that Tom and Harry had taken part of on the planet. The thought of sitting in her grandmother's kitchen eating banana pancakes again brought a smile to her face. She wondered if the experience was as simple as Harry explained.
Noticing the smile on the Lieutenant's face, Seven inquired, "B'Elanna is there something humorous about your meal?"
"No. I was just thinking about the holo-experience on the planet. I wonder if it can recreate memories as realistic as the guys described. I know Tom has a tendency to exaggerate when he's excited about something. Harry too, especially if he's caught up in a Tom scheme. But you have to wonder."
"Are you thinking of trying the experience? I can conduct an intensive diagnostic of the process to ensure its safety if you would like."
"That's ok Seven. Even though they were excited I'm sure they checked out the experience adequately. Would you try it with me? It could be fun." B'Elanna was curious but somewhat troubled by the experience. What if the memory it generated was different then what she re-called. How would she feel about that? Maybe she could find out the truth about what happened the last time she was with her father. At that thought, an increased level of anxiety and fear crept into her mind. 'Am I brave enough to face those memories? What if it confirms that I was the reason he left me?'
Seven spoke bringing B'Elanna out of her thoughts. "Would you want me to experience your memories or would you want me to accompany you as you participated in the experience?" She wondered why she would want her to join in such a personal activity with her. 'Has our friendship grown more than I had originally realized?'
"Maybe you can recreate your own memory."
"I don't think I have a need to re-experience any of my time with the Borg as I have a perfect memory of everything I did as a member of the collective." Seven's face took on a subtle pained expression. "I do not wish to relieve my experiences with the Borg as it would mean reliving causing countless species harm."
B'Elanna silently cursed herself for asking such an insensitive question without specifying that she didn't mean when she was a drone but before when she was with her family. She was happy that Seven confirmed that she had negative feelings about her time with the Borg and she did feel some remorse for what she did. It made B'Elanna glad that she allowed herself to be friends with this caring woman and ashamed that she used to think of her as an emotionless drone.
"Seven, I'm sorry. I wouldn't want you to re-experience those painful memories either. I was thinking about a time before, when you were a child with your parents before you knew there were Borg," B'Elanna tried to apologize and explain what she meant hoping she would see that she was not trying to be cruel and insensitive.
"I do not see the point of such an endeavor. It will not change my memories of my time with my parents."
B'Elanna felt that she had made Seven angry even though her tone didn't change but there again was that subtle pained expression on her face. She seemed to be constantly needing to apologize to this woman and causing what she feared the most, the look of disappointment in her eyes.
"I'm sorry. I was only thinking that you could experience the love and happiness of those times as a child like me with my grandmother," she said quietly staring at her empty bowl afraid to make contact with those deep blue eyes.
The women fell into an uncomfortable silence with each lost in their own thoughts.
Seven had never thought about what it would be like to experience that time with her parents. She was experiencing a heighten level of trepidation about such an activity. She should not be feeling this way since she remembered those events with perfect clarity thanks to her time with the Borg. 'Is experiencing them different then remembering them? Would it teach me more about discovering my humanity? Maybe B'Elanna would be able to help me answer these questions. '
B'Elanna thoughts turned darker the longer they sat in silence. 'I have disappointed her just as I did my father and my mother. It isn't fair to pull her into her past just because I have been obsessed with mine the last couple of weeks. Maybe I am scared to relive those memories. I don't want her to feel she has to do this to be my friend. I wish she would say something because I know I will probably say the wrong thing again.'
"Why is this so important to you, B'Elanna?" Seven said in almost a whisper.
'Oh man more questions. I guess I did ask for her to say something.' "I'm not that sure. I guess I want to feel the warmth again of my grandmother's love."
"But your father is an integral part of your memories of your grandmother as well as your feelings about your mother. How will you handle if there parts of your experience that is unpleasant?"
"Um maybe it's maybe I need to know the truth to be at peace with my past. Maybe it will help me be at peace with who I am now." She said with a fake show of confidence. She hoped that would be true but her doubts were growing.
"Then the memory of your grandmother's love is not enough for you to be at peace with yourself?
"I'm not sure anymore, especially knowing there may be something more that can make it real again. I really understand if you don't want to do this Seven. Your past is very different from mine. I just need to know that I can talk to you about what it's like for me if I chose to do it."
With that last comment, Seven raised her ocular implant and asked, "You are uncertain if you wish to engage in this activity?"
"I don't want to take away the fun of our shore leave by pursuing a selfish activity. To tell the truth, I think I'm a little afraid of what it could mean. What would you like to do on the planet? And please don't say research." She rushed this last part in a weak attempt to change the subject.
"I will follow your suggestions as to recreational activities since my experience is limited." She stopped for a moment lowering her eyes to the table. She then looked up to meet the wounded half Klingon, "B'Elanna, I will also participate in the holo-experience with you in what ever capacity you are comfortable and will be agreeable to discuss the experience with you."
With that B'Elanna smiled brightly not only because Seven will participate with her in the holo-experience but more importantly Seven didn't appear to be disappointed with her weakness. She was still her friend. She also realized how much Seven was beginning to mean to her and cherished this friendship more then she could express.
The two women's conversation turned to lighter subjects when they began to talk about the leisure activities they planned to do on the planet. As they parted company for the evening, they both knew that their friendship had grown more today.
Just before B'Elanna reached her quarters she received a call on the COMM.
"Captain Janeway to Lt. Torres."
"Torres here Captain"
"B'Elanna please report to my ready room."
"On my way Captain"
'God what does she want this late. I really just want to go to sleep,' B'Elanna thought with annoyance.
B'Elanna sounded the chime for entrance to the Captain's ready room.
B'Elanna entered and found the Captain not sitting behind her desk but lounging on her couch going over various PADDs sipping what she knew to be a cup of coffee.
"Is there a problem Captain?" the chief engineer asked cautiously hoping that she had not found any problems that would interfere with her shore leave with Seven.
"No. No not at all. Please sit down. Can I get you something to drink? Janeway said throwing the PADDs to the side.
"No thanks. I just finished dinner with Seven."
Kathryn formed a sly grin on her face at B'Elanna mentioning Seven's name as if she were talking about any other crewmember, maybe except for Tom. It was only last month that she had called the two women in her office to settle yet another argument between them. What had changed between them? Whatever it was, she was glad that her half Klingon charge had taken a fondest for her ex-Borg charge. Had the lion finally lain down with the lamb?
"B'Elanna I wanted to congratulate you on the wonderful job you and your team have done with the repairs throughout the ship. We definitely will be in a better position to deal with any trouble we might encounter in our journey back to the Alpha quadrant.
'She called me to her ready room to tell me this. She could have just sent me a video COMM message.' B'Elanna realized she was more tired than she thought. She always relished receiving a compliment from her Captain and knowing that she had pleased her. Kathryn was the closes thing she had to a mother and wanted to make her proud.
"Thank you Captain but it was definitely a team effort. Knowing that spending more time on shore leave was all the motivation that most of the crew needed to get the job done." She paused realizing that the Captain had another agenda then complimenting her on her work. "I know you didn't call me to your ready room to praise me for the repairs to the ship. What's going on?"
Dropping her commander mask and donning her maternal mask, she launched into her real purpose for bringing her Chief to her office. "B'Elanna, I understand you and Seven have been spending quite of bit of time together. Oh don't get me wrong, I approve whole heartedly. It's about time you two realized that working together is a better way to go "
"But not nearly as fun." B'Elanna cut her off with a mischievous smirk.
"Maybe so, but better on my nerves not to mention the poor crewman who is unfortunate enough to find himself in the middle of one of your er disagreements with Seven." Both women share a good natured chuckle before Kathryn continued. "I hear you both are going to the planet together. I don't have to remind you of Starfleet protocol about relations with other worlds, do I?"
"No Captain. I just want to enjoy all the pleasures the planet has to offer. Seven has never really had an experience of recreational activities, except in her Velocity games with you or singing lessons with the Doctor. I thought I would show her how to have fun."
The Captain's face turned serious as she asked, "Lieutenant, why the change of heart towards Seven all of a sudden? I hope you don't plan on leaving her stranded if someone more "fun" comes along."
A month ago, the reality of the Captain's statement would have been closer to the truth then she could bare to think about now. "I understand your fears, but I have grown to realize how wrong I was about her. We have shared many heartfelt conversations about our past and family. Well mostly my family, she's just a good listener. I know it's hard to believe but I am looking forward to spending time planet side with Seven." Looking compassionately in her Captain's eyes she stated softly,"We have formed a real friendship. I would do nothing to harm that."
Recognizing the sincerity in her eyes and voice, Kathryn smiled knowing that both her adopted daughters had found a friend in each other. "B'Elanna I know it has been difficult for you especially lately. I know that your relationship with your family has been I know it been hard for you being so far from home. I'm glad you can talk to Seven." Kathryn thought better of bringing up her grandmother's birthday but gave her an understanding smile. "Thank you for the chat. You two have a well deserved break on the planet."
The Captain stood and B'Elanna took her cue that their conversation was concluded. She was glad that the Captain didn't press any further about her family. She didn't know if she could handle another person knowing her insecurities. Before walking to exit the Captain's ready room, she turned and impulsively gave her Captain a brief but heartfelt hug. "Thank you Kathryn." She turned and rushed out the door before she could respond.
Captain Janeway stood there in shocked silence for a moment with a ridiculous grin on her face. She quietly mused to herself, 'What am I going to do with my misfit group of children.'
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