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 mapsnika1@yahoo.com.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
CHALLENGE: Written for Epic Proportions 2009.

Living in the Past
By mapsnika


Chapter Seven

The Holo-center was a simple building not what one would imagine given the buildup about the experience. It was a long rectangular grey structure that only had windows at the entrance. There was a simple sign that detailed what occurred in the building.

HOLOCENTER: Where dreams and memories come true.

The entry way was decorated with large statues and bright colorful paintings. There was an elaborate desk with two receptionists helping the patrons who were native to the planet. They were humanoid in appearance with pink stripes on their dark tan skin called Quia. Even though the Quia are native to planet Questa, other species came to the planet to find work.

There were many different species waiting in the reception area to take part in the experience. There was a separate area for children and families who wanted to take part in more recreational programs such Flotter. B'Elanna and Seven were directed to the waiting area for adults where they were asked to sign waivers and were given the appropriate paperwork to complete about the experience they wanted to take part in.

B'Elanna and Seven sat in the oversized chairs that were provided as they completed the questionnaire regarding their physiology and the memories they wanted to re-experience. Next they had to go through a physical scan to record their brain images to add to the holo-memory database. They then had to pinpoint the actual memory they wanted to re-experience as they were scanned again to create the program for the actual experience.

Seven found the procedure fascinating and appreciated the efficiency to create such an accurate program. She observed each technician as they performed their task asking questions as they proceeded. She thought the information she acquired would be helpful if Voyager decided to adapt the programming. For B'Elanna, she was struggling to contain her Klingon temper as she was being poked and prodded. She felt like she was in sickbay with the doctor and his infamous bedside manner. She thought to herself, 'It's not as bad as being in sickbay but I just want to get on with the actual experience.' Even though she was interested in the technology her nerves were taking precedence over her curiosity. The whole process took about 45 minutes to complete.

Once they were done with the setup they were escorted to a small private waiting room. They were provided material to read about other activities on the planet, such as historical and recreational attractions while they waited. B'Elanna picked up one of the portable vid screen and scanned it without actually reading. She kept looking toward the door waiting for their turn. Seven looked at B'Elanna with curiosity wondering why she was not talking about what was to happen.

"B'Elanna, are you nervous about taking part in the experience?"

"Huh? Oh no I'm fine. What did you say?" B'Elanna stammered all at once not really hearing what Seven said.

"I was inquiring if you were nervous."

With a loud sigh she placed the portable vid screen back on the table, "Yeah I guess I am. Are you nervous?"

"No, I am not experiencing any apprehension just curiosity as to what the experience will be like. We have not discussed if you wish for me to partake in your experience or would you rather have privacy."

B'Elanna had not really decided what she wanted to do. She did at one time want Seven there with her for moral support but did she want her to witness what could possibly be turn into her worst day of her life… again. She had chosen three separate events to experience; the time she was allowed to go visit her grandmother for the first time, the last camping trip with her father and the day her father left. It was decided that she would relive the memories over a period of two days. 'Maybe it would be better to have someone there. I wonder if I picked the wrong things to experience. Why did I pick those memories? Maybe I should do them all today. Maybe I shouldn't do this at all. Kah'less, Seven will think I'm such a coward if I back out now.'

Seven had decided not to proceed with her own holo-experience but instead would be there for support for B'Elanna. They had become friends and she knew it was a friend's responsibility to support their friend. That is what she had learned in her time as a member of the Voyager collective. During their time together, B'Elanna was becoming the most important member of her collective even more then the Captain.

The attendant came in and profusely apologized for the delay explaining that they didn't expect for the maintenance of the holo-emitters to take so long. She assured them that they should be able to begin their experience soon.

B'Elanna was so lost in the world wind of her thoughts that she did not hear Seven call her name or notice that the attendant had entered the room to inform them that the room would take a few minutes more to prepare.

The maintenance crew had been working through the night. The supervisor of the crew was frustrated because not only did he have to get the holo-suites up and running before the doors opened but he had to train 3 new additions to his crew. He was getting rushed by the manager because they were behind schedule and there were customers waiting. He rushed his follow-up checks of the work of his crew so he could tell the manager that everything was ready to go and he could go home for some much needed rest.

The attendant came in the room and informed them that their holo-suites were ready. Seven looked at B'Elanna who sat frozen in her seat blindly staring at the door. Seven's concern for her friend grew.

"B'Elanna, are you alright?" Seven inquired with a worried lift of her ocular implant.

"Yeah, I'm fine. Seven…um…could you…I mean…um…would you join me in my holo-experience?" B'Elanna didn't move her eyesight from the door as she asked the question in a small, weak voice.

Seven stared at B'Elanna for a long moment before responding in a compassionate voice, "B'Elanna I would be honored to join you in your holo-experience."

Seven informed the attendant that she would need to postpone her holo-experience as she would be joining her companion in hers. The woman nodded and punched several buttons on the device she wore on her wrist.

The attendant led the two women to the door of the holo-suite. As they walked toward the suite Seven was surprised when B'Elanna grabbed her hand in what appeared to be fright and anxiety. Seven turned to her friend and gave her a soft smile in hopes that it would reassure the half Klingon. B'Elanna returned the gesture with a weak smile of her own.

As they reached the door the attendant listed off a set of instructions that B'Elanna didn't hear but fortunately Seven was able to listen to the instructions even though she was growing increasingly concerned about B'Elanna. Having done her job, the attendant quickly left the women alone and dashed off to get the other patrons situated with their experiences.

"Are you sure you want to continue with this activity? Your anxiety level appears to be increasing."

"Just give me a minute. I can do this," said more for her benefit then Seven's.

As they stood there, B'Elanna began to gain control over her nerves and found the strength to go through the door even though she had not released Seven's hand.

The doors opened on a quaint little garden with a plain white cottage trimmed in ocean blue. In the garden there was corn, squash and various other vegetation ready to be harvested. Off to the left of the garden was a beautiful array of flowers in bloom displaying the various colors of the rainbow. In the center of the garden was a worn rocking chair facing away from them. In the chair sat a grey haired woman humming a soft melodic tune as she snapped peas into a large wooden bowl.

As Seven looked upon this scene her mind took her back to a memory of sitting in her aunt Irene's kitchen as she prepared her favorite strawberry confection. She felt the pressure in her hand increase and was brought back to the present realizing that B'Elanna still had grasp of her hand.

B'Elanna didn't realize that she was now squeezing Seven's hand until seven brought her other hand up to cover B'Elanna's hand with both of hers. She looked at Seven with tears threatening to fall and a plead for courage to approach the woman seated in the old rocker. Her wish was granted by the simple reply of her companion as her hand was released, "Proceed B'Elanna."

B'Elanna took several small tentative steps forward as she approached the small woman. The older woman slowly turned to face the approaching shadow. When she realized who it was she quickly put the bowl on the ground and got up quicker than you would expect a woman of her age capable of doing.

"Mija!" exclaimed the woman. With that simple term of endearment B'Elanna was transported back to being a little girl as she enveloped herself in her grandmother's embrace.

"Where is your papa? Did you come by yourself?"

"Grandmother! I missed you so much," B'Elanna said through her tears as she hugged her grandmother tighter.

The old woman pulled herself away from the girl to get a better look at her. "Mija, have the children been teasing you again?" She gave her a loving smile and pulled her to her chest. "Remember you are as strong as that tree that grows in my yard." She then kissed her granddaughter on the top of her head. B'Elanna could not restrain the flood of tears any longer and began to sob uncontrollably. Her grandmother wrapped her tighter in her arms and began to rock her and hum a soothing tune until her tears began to subside.

Seven stood at the edge of the garden watching the entire scene play out. Her understanding of the concept of love had once been seen as an irrelevant display of emotions but after witnessing the exchange between B'Elanna and her grandmother, she saw that there was much more to it then she had originally thought. She wondered if she had felt the same level of emotion for her own parents before being taken by the Borg. She now realized she could not recall the same intensity of emotion or attachment for her parents and knew she was missing something significant. She also wondered if she could feel this level of emotion with another…possibly B'Elanna.

Seven was brought out of her reverie hearing the kindly old woman bring notice to her presence.

"Lanna, who is your friend?"

Releasing herself from her grandmother's embrace, she walked over to Seven taking her hand and leading her over to her grandmother. "Nana, this is my friend Seven."

Seven reached out her hand to greet the woman as she had seen others do when first greeting others. "It is nice to meet you. B'Elanna has told…"

Before she could finish her speaking, Seven found herself enveloped in the strong embrace of the kind woman.

"I'm so happy my Lanna has such nice friends." The old women gave B'Elanna a little wink and a smile telling her silently that she knew she get make friends. "Come, come inside and I will get you both something cool to drink and I should have some sweet cakes to eat."

Before Seven could think to protest, she was being led inside the little cottage with B'Elanna following closely behind with a smile as big and as bright as a sun about ready to go super nova.

Seven realized that B'Elanna's grandmother did not perceive her as grown woman but as the little girl who was coming to visit her grandmother and her grandmother saw Seven as one of her friends. Because Seven was not a part of the original memory, the computer must have altered the programming to include her in the scenario.

"Lanna, your papa let you come to my house by yourself?" she questioned her as she settled the two girls at the table in her kitchen. While waiting for an answer, she went about getting them both something to drink and the sweet cakes she had promised them.

Out of all the situations she had been in where quick thinking was the thing that prevented life or death, B'Elanna was at a loss for words not having yet caught on that her grandmother saw her as a little girl. Realizing this, Seven spoke up to rescue her friend. "John said if I accompanied B'Elanna she could come visit with you."

B'Elanna looked at her friend and smiled, recognition of the situation quickly making its way into her mind.

"I'm glad you are becoming such a big girl." She came over and gave her granddaughter a gentle pat on the cheek. "Seven, are you and Lanna friends from school?"

This time Seven was caught off guard. Returning the favor, B'Elanna answered for her. "Seven is a new student at my school. Her family just moved to the planet. She didn't have any friends, so we started to play together."

"See Lanna, I knew you could make friends. Seven you are welcomed to come here anytime with Lanna."

Even though Seven knew this was a holographic projection, the emotional connection with this woman was undeniable. She was feeling a similar reaction as she felt toward Captain Janeway. It was made that more special because it was a member of B'Elanna's family who made the gesture. Seven had to swallow the lump that formed in her throat before she could respond with a simple, "Thank you."

The two women sat at the table with the old woman sharing stories and funny tales. B'Elanna and her grandmother talked about their last visit and the fun the she had staying at the cottage with her father. Seven sat and observed the exchange between the two women and felt a pang of lost for never having shared a similar experience.

As the attendant informed Seven prior to entering the Holosuite, a chime would sound when they had 15 minutes left in their simulation. It was disguised to sound like a bird to not interfere with the ambience of the environment but different enough so it could be distinguished as the alert timer.

"B'Elanna we need to leave soon. Your father will be expecting us." Seven stated.

"But we just got here!" B'Elanna protested. She looked at the elder Torres with sad eyes hating for this time to end.

"Lanna you be a good girl now. You want your father to allow you to come back by yourself don't you?" her grandmother chastised. "I will give you sweet cakes to take with you so that you and Seven can eat them on the way home. Okay Mija?"

"Okay Nana," she said sadly. "Can I come back and visit you again? And you will teach me to make banana pancakes?" B'Elanna felt herself back in that moment right before her father came to retrieve her from transporter station after being allowed to walk to the transporter station without her father escorting her. Her father had agreed to meet her at the transporter station and not come get her from her grandmother's house because she wanted to prove that she was a big girl and could do it on her own.

"Of course Mija! Both you and your friend can come back anytime. Now run along so your papa won't worry about you." She hugged B'Elanna and gave her a kiss on the cheek. "Seven you come back and visit too," she stated cheerily as she also gave Seven a hug.

B'Elanna backed out of the yard waving at her holographic grandmother with tears misting her eyes clutching the package of sweet cakes. Caught up in the moment Seven also found herself waving goodbye to the elderly woman. As they exited the holosuite doors B'Elanna found herself overcome with emotion but she didn't want to break down in a public place as the Holocenter.

"Seven can we go to our room before we do anything else?" B'Elanna said softly. The two of them began the trek back to their rented rooms.

"That would be acceptable." Once they exited the center Seven grew worried about B'Elanna's quiet demeanor. "Are you feeling alright, B'Elanna?" Seven sounded concerned as she looked at her friend.

"I didn't realize how difficult it was going to be to see her and then leave her again. "

"Was the experience what you desired? Did it provide the satisfactory results for you?"

"It was wonderful to feel her love again. I'm glad I did it," B'Elanna expressed with a smile. She continued to walk in silence. Seven appeared satisfied with her response and walked in silence with her to the room they agreed to share.


Chapter Eight

Coming out of the bathroom after freshening up, B'Elanna felt like she had control over her emotions. She changed into another one of the new outfits that she had bought the day before. She had talked Seven into wearing her new clothes. Finally Seven decided to wear the floral patterned sundress she had agreed to get after looking at least half dozen different outfits. The colors in the dress highlighted her blonde hair and blue eyes. B'Elanna found herself staring at the tall woman even though she was trying unsuccessfully not to show that she was staring.

Seven secretly relished in the attention she was getting from the half Klingon. She was told many times how attractive she looked in her new dress and was glad that she acquired it.

The two women sat on the couch in the main living area that faced the window in the direction of the main square and watched the people going from shop to shop. Both women sat in companionable silence. Reflecting on the experience from earlier in the day, B'Elanna had a very content smile on her face. There were several times that she instinctively touched the cheek that her grandmother kissed right before leaving the garden.

"Is there a problem with your cheek B'Elanna? You keep touching it." Seven broke the quiet with her question. B'Elanna had not noticed that Seven had been watching her for the last few minutes.

"Oh… no. I was just thinking about the experience with my grandmother. It was better than I had every imagined it to be," B'Elanna stated almost gleefully. "What did you think of my Nana? Wasn't she great?"

Seven wasn't sure how to answer. She did find that she enjoyed the woman's company and her nurturing quality but she realized what she enjoyed more was how it made B'Elanna feel. She was more at ease with her and more open with her emotions. Again thoughts of her Aunt Irene came to her mind and how kind she was to her as a child especially when her parents were away researching the Borg. She wondered if she would have the same positive experience as B'Elanna if she chose re-experience those times before she became Borg.

"I found your Grandmother to be quite pleasant. Was the memory we experienced true to the actual memory?" Seven wondered.

B'Elanna thought for a moment trying to reflect back to the actual experience of going to her grandmother's house. "It was as close to how I remembered it happening, except I didn't have an a friend with me." She chuckled at what her Grandmother would have said if she was with her as a child. "I remember the sweet cakes that she made for me. Too bad the replicator didn't have her recipe, you would have loved them, Seven. They were so rich and buttery that they would almost melt in your mouth." The thought of the taste of her Grandmother's confections caused B'Elanna to lip her lips.

Seven found herself staring at the dark woman's deep red lips as her tongue gently swept over them and she almost mimicked the gesture as well. She was brought out of her gaze by the light touch on her forearm.

"Seven are you going to have your own memory experience of the time before you were taken by the Borg. You know when …" Her words dropped off not wanting to say the wrong thing.

"When what?" Seven inquired with the lift of her ocular implant.

"Mmm…when you were a kid and happy? Hey but you don't have do it if you don't want to just 'cuz I did it. I will still go with you to do the research. I don't want pressure you or anything. I mean…"

She was interrupted by a returned touch on her hand and the gentle smile expressed by her companion. "B'Elanna, it is fine. I do not feel any pressure by you to participate in the experience. I will give it some thought and give you my answer before it is time to leave the planet. I am glad that I can be here for you while you go through the experience."

B'Elanna lowered her head and displayed a meek smile. She felt the warmth of her words spread through her body. The fact that she was glad to be there with her made her feel like she was back in her Nana's garden. She lifted her head and brown eyes met blue eyes.

After a long moment Seven asked, "Do you plan to go through with the memory of your father and the day he left?" Her eyes showed compassion for her friend.

B'Elanna lowered her head again but this time there was sadness displayed on her face. After the wonderful time she had today, she was uncertain if she wanted to relive that day again that her father left her. To go through the anger and grief that she experienced she didn't know if she had the courage to endure it once again. With that thought, she became angry and cursed herself for her lack of honor. She rapidly stood and went to the replicator and ordered an alcoholic drink.

Seven watched her actions and was confused by what she saw. What had she said to distress her friend? She was only inquiring about one of the events that she stated she wanted to experience again.

She stood and crossed the room to stand behind the shorter woman. She gently placed her hand on B'Elanna's shoulder and quietly asked, "Have I said something that has hurt you?"

B'Elanna turned slowly and looked at Seven, trying to hide her anger from her. In truth, she was using her anger to hide her fear and hurt. She knew the ex-drone would understand her anger but was not sure if she was ready to explain her fear and hurt to Seven.

"Seven, I don't know if I want to see him again!" Her words came out more forcefully then she intended. She lowered her head and sighed deeply. "I'm sorry. I know I said I wanted to know the truth." She took a long drink from her glass before continuing. "I shouldn't run from the truth…what has already happened. Maybe if I do this, I can finally tell him how I feel. What his leaving…." She drained the remainder of the contents of her glass and then went back to the replicator and ordered another drink. B'Elanna drained that drink as well and put the glass in the recycler.

The blonde asked tentatively not wanting to upset her any further, "So you have decided to participate in…"

Seven was interrupted by B'Elanna quickly moving toward the window and shouting waving her arms, "Let's do something fun. Let's go dancing! What you say?"

"I do not understand. I do not…I do not want to hurt you. My last experience with dancing was not successful," Seven was unsure if she told her the truth she would change her mind about wanting to go dancing with her.

B'Elanna walked to Seven and placed her hands on her arms. "Aw come on. I'll show you. It will be fun. Please?"

Seven was very confused by the sudden change in her friend's mood. She was unsure if this was another attempt to hide from what was really bothering her or the effects of the two alcoholic beverages she had just consumed. She was accustomed to her rapid mood changes but usually they had been directed at her. This, she was unsure how to handle so she chose to go with the course of the conversation hoping to figure out the truth in doing so.

"Where would we perform such an activity?"

B'Elanna was getting excited that Seven was curious about going dancing. She hoped the diversion would get both their minds off the prospect of the other holo experience with her father. "There were brightly colored signs in the main square that talked about different clubs that has dancing. We could get some dinner then go dancing." She turned and then faced the confused woman again and said with a mischievous grin, "But first we have to get some clothes to go out on the town."

"But we have already purchased clothing. Are these clothes not satisfactory?"

The dark woman laughed. "We're on vacation and having the right clothes for every activity is very important. For dancing you will need a something very specific." She was becoming excited about the prospect of seeing Seven in an outfit that would show off the curves of her body. She thought, 'Is this going to be like a date? Oh Kahless what am I doing? Oh well we are on vacation, right?'

"Will you assist me in choosing the appropriate attire for dancing?" Seven felt herself being swept up in B'Elanna's enthusiasm. She felt it best to not revisit the topic of the holo experience for the time being.

"Of course I'll help you. I think I know the right color that will look good on you." B'Elanna took Seven's hand and headed for the door with the blonde in tow. She turned to look at her before they left their room with a level of intensity in her eyes, "I promise you'll have a good time."

The two women strolled through the dress shops looking for the perfect dancing attire.

Seven was starting to react to B'Elanna enthusiasm about shopping and going dancing later this being an experience that secretly intrigued her. She had seen others dance at some of the parties thrown by Neelix but she had always declined when asked to dance by members of the crew. She would always say that it was a frivolous activity and could never understand the point. Secretly she was intrigued how the activity was used in the mating process. She would spend her time at these staff functions watching B'Elanna and Tom as they would dance together. After they had danced and often kissed, they would leave for what she assumed was recreational copulation.

"Seven, I think this red dress would look beautiful on you. What do you think?" B'Elanna was holding the dress next to her. "It really highlights your eyes," B'Elanna said softly as she felt her desire to see her in the dress increase.

Seven didn't care about the dress, but did care that B'Elanna thought it would look beautiful on her. "I believe the dress will meet the requirement for dancing." B'Elanna chuckled at her response. "B'Elanna what are you going to wear?"

"I saw a pair of black leather pants and a red blouse." She hoped that Seven would notice that that she had chose the blouse to match her dress she picked for her. "So… we should go pay for the clothes and go back to the room to change before we go to dinner.

After paying for their clothes and accessories, they began their trek back to their room. Seven shocked the half Klingon by asking, "B'Elanna are the activities we will be engaging in tonight like those of a date?"

B'Elanna nearly tripped over her own feet. "Well…I…um… guess you can say that the activities are the same," B'Elanna stammered out.

"Are we going on a date?" the blonde asked shyly.

This time not only did she trip again but began choking on air trying to form a response. Seven looked at the woman with curiosity and confusion. B'Elanna wanted to try to play it off as two friends going dancing but she knew that she would not be able to contain her jealously if another person asked Seven to dance. She didn't think that their relationship had progressed that far that she could…would consider dating the woman or did she. The idea of taking the tall blonde out on a date wasn't a far fetched idea. Remembering how she looked in her swim suit and the looks that she received made her that much more enticed to see the reactions she would get in that stunning red dress and the looks of jealously from those that realized that the gorgeous woman was with her.

"Well…umm…it's not really…do you think it's a date?" she finally was able to splutter out.

"I have only gone on one date before. It was arranged by the doctor. It was not very satisfactory. I injured Crewman Chapman as we attempted to dance. I feel I am not very skilled at this activity." Seven looked down at her hands feeling somewhat inadequate because she was not proficient at the activity. Then another thought entered her mind about the date. "Is a date not an activity that is shared by people who care for each other in an intimate way?" Seven asked with quiet curiosity.

"Well, yes I guess that's true."

"Do you care for me B'Elanna?" Seven asked as they walked side by side.

B'Elanna found that the pattern in the walkway very interesting and was glad that they were walking side by side. "Yeah, I wouldn't have wanted to spend my shore leave with you if I didn't," B'Elanna replied trying to be flippant to hide her growing discomfort.

"I too care about you as well and am happy that you offered to share your shore leave with me." B'Elanna was got catching flies as she stood with her mouth gaping open as her hearts fluttered from expression of companionship. "I think I would like to go on a date with you B'Elanna Torres," Seven stated matter of factly.

This time the half-Klingon just stopped walking as Seven kept walking toward the room. After a few steps she noticed that she was alone and then turned to face her friend. She walked back and stood in front of her. "Have I said something wrong? Do you not wish to go on a date with me?" Seven became unsure about her previous declaration to B'Elanna.

"No. I mean yes. You just surprised me that's all. I would like to go on a date with you." B'Elanna felt heat starting to rise from her neck to her ridged forehead. "Seven, we don't have to go dancing. We could just have dinner and talk. No pressure or anything." B'Elanna was trying to give the woman an escape but in truth she was trying to give herself an escape.

Seven looked at her with that typical raised eyebrow. "I would like to go dancing with you if you are still willing to teach me to dance. I have after all bought a dress for that particular activity, have I not?" Seven gave the shorter woman a wry smile. B'Elanna returned the smile like a child receiving their first pet Targ.

The two women finally made it back to the room without any more mishaps. Changing into their evening attire should have been an easy task if it was not for the distractions occurring in the bathroom and the bedroom.

Seven was changing into her dress in the bedroom but found herself thinking about the chief engineer changing in the bathroom and wondering if this date was going to have a more positive result then her last experience. She hoped it would since her feelings for the half Klingon were growing into an intimate personal nature. She found that she truly cared about the woman and wanted to spend all of her time with her, next just while on duty but during moments like they had shared these past few weeks. She was beginning to feel what could be described as excitement about their impending date even though she was unsure about the other myriad of emotions she was experiencing about the person in the next room.

B'Elanna was feeling apprehensive about her imminent date with Seven as she fidgeted with her clothes. 'Kah'less what have I got myself into. Does this mean that I could see myself in a relationship with that woman, to be dating that gorgeous woman? Do I want to date her? Don't be such a petaQ Torres, who wouldn't want to date her? But did I push her into this because I didn't want to talk or think about the holo-experience with my father? Of course there is no pressure to show her a better time then the last date she had, he was like dating a school boy.' The dark woman looked into the mirror for what felt like the tenth time as she adjusted her clothes. "She is a very sexy woman and I can't wait to see her in that red dress. Don't be such a horndog like Paris," she said to herself looking at her image reflected in the mirror.

Knowing that Seven would be dressed by now, she knew she couldn't continue to hide in the bathroom any longer. She slowly opened the door not wanting to surprise the blonde if she wasn't finished dressing. She cleared her throat to announce her presence. "Seven are you ready to go to dinner yet?"

As B'Elanna rounded the corner to the bedroom she was struck with the most beautiful vision she had ever seen. Seven stood before her in her new red dress that draped slightly off her shoulders with spaghetti straps that lightly hugged her arms. Seven ran her human hand over her implants in a futile attempt to try to hide them. B'Elanna noticing her actions walked over to the young woman and took her Borg enhanced hand and held up her arm outstretched to get a better look at the woman. The v-cut went far enough down her chest to accentuate the abundant mounds that were underneath but still left much to the imagination. The half Klingon found her gaze drawn to the hem of the dress which lay just below her curvaceous thighs and then down to her long legs to the black pumps on her feet. Having caught herself oogling at the tall blonde's body she forced her eyes back up to the beautiful face of the vision that stood before her and smiled. Seven wore her hair down which gently caressed her shoulders and framed her face so it looked like a masterpiece portrait. It was a stark contrast to the intense bun she usually wore. With the lighter hairstyle, her true youth and beauty shone with unbridled brightness.

The shorter woman sucked in a deep gulp of air in order to steady her nerves and start her brain working again. "Seven you look…you are beautiful," she stated almost as a whisper. "Your implants are just a part of you. I see that now. They are…you are beautiful," B'Elanna felt truly compelled by her beauty to repeat her declaration.

Feeling somewhat self conscious in the short dress, the blonde was relieved that B'Elanna found her aesthetically pleasing. "Thank you B'Elanna. You look beautiful as well." Seven did find her beautiful as well but not until this moment did she truly appreciate how her Klingon features emphasized the dark woman's attractive appearance.

"Well…er… we should go. I mean are you ready to go?" the shorter woman stammered as she walked toward the door.

"Yes, I believe I am ready," seven replied softly. B'Elanna's reaction toward her physical appearance gave her the confidence to go out in public without much thought regarding her Borg implants.

As the two women walked out of the building to begin their date, B'Elanna quietly took Seven's hand as they made their way to the restaurant.

At the restaurant, the two women found that the conversation was very comfortable due to the many meals they shared together before coming down to the planet. They discussed ship's activities, individual projects that they wished to start once back onboard the ship and even projects they would like to conduct together.

Seven was hesitant to bring up the topic of tomorrow's holo-experience especially because they were having an enjoyable time at present. She thought bringing up the subject of their date would be sufficient dinner conversation.

"B'Elanna, may I ask you a question?"

"You just did," B'Elanna responded teasingly. "I'm sorry. I couldn't resist. Go ahead."

"Why have you agreed to go on a date with me? What are your intentions for our date?"

B'Elanna was caught off guard by her questions. She was grateful that she was not eating or drinking at the time. "I only want to have a good time with you. Show you how to dance. Nothing else, really." She began to feel tiny beads of sweat starting to form on her brow.

"But why did you agree to go on a date with me? Do you have feelings of an intimate nature for me? Is that not the reason individuals engage in a dating ritual?" Her voice was soft and did not have the superior tone that the half Klingon expected her to have.

"Wow when you ask questions you don't play around do you?" She raked her hand through her dark hair as she tried to find the right words to answer her question. She wondered if she could answer this question without getting into the question earlier that prompted the whole date thing to begin with. But if she was to be truly honest with herself, a date with Seven was not the worst thing she could think of. In fact the prospect of dating Seven was something that she had been entertaining in that part of her mind that she kept secret from others.

Seven looked curiously at the dark woman wondering if she had miscalculated the true nature of their relationship.

The half-Klingon stared deeply into those pools of azure eyes. "You are very beuti…I mean… I have enjoyed your company these past few weeks," B'Elanna stumbled over her words hoping that she had not caught her slip. "I have appreciated all that you have done in helping me go through with the holo-experience with my grandmother. I wanted to show you my appreciation as well as blow off some steam having fun with you." She gave the blond a sheepish grin.

"I have welcomed your company these past few weeks. I am glad that our relationship has evolved but you have not answered my question concerning your feelings toward me." Seven diverted her gaze from the other woman for a mere moment.

"Seven, I…uh…definitely feel something for you." B'Elanna didn't want her next words to come out wrong. She took a deep breath before continuing. "I don't want the experiences of our time on the planet to influence our decisions about each other." She noticed the frown on Seven's face and quickly tried to explain. "I don't mean that there is anything wrong about us but I have ruined too many relationships, so if there is anything between us I don't want to blow it. I would like to go slow, continue to get to know each other better. So I guess that is a long winded explanation as to why I wanted to date you." She hoped this explanation was good enough for the woman.

The young blonde thought about what was said to her trying to decipher if she understood the meaning. Thinking thoughtfully she responded, "I possess feelings for you as well. I will comply with taking our time."

B'Elanna seemed relieved by the fact that Seven had feelings for her and that she was willing to take things slow. They sat for several long moments in silence, neither wanting to be the first to speak.

Finally becoming uncomfortable, B'Elanna had to speak, "So are you ready to go dancing?"

"Yes. You will teach me how to perform this activity?"

The half-Klingon smiled brightly, "I am looking forward to it."

The couple found a dancing establishment that appeared to be very popular. The music was thumping and very rhythmic causing those standing in line to move to the beat. There was a large multi-colored marquee advertising the dance club. As they stood in line, B'Elanna was becoming excited having not had the opportunity to dance in quite a while. She could never get Tom to take her dancing while they were dating.

Once they entered the club, they sought out a table away from the dance floor and ordered some drinks. Seven just ordered a drink to look like everyone else and B'Elanna felt she needed the liquid courage so as to not make a fool of herself in front of the woman who was growing to mean the world to her.

The club was brightly lit in multiple colors dancing off the walls and patrons scattered throughout the large room. The music appeared to radiate up from the floor causing the beat to course through ones entire body. All the people swayed and gyrated to the beat moving limbs and various body parts in all sorts of directions.

Seven took in the scene with a great deal of curiosity, turning her head rapidly to take in the various people and activities that were taking place around her. She opened her mouth several times to inquire about various activities that she was witnessing but as soon as she formed the question another event took place. B'Elanna watched the young woman with delight as she took in all of the events around her. She tried her best to hide her laughter not wanting her to think that she was making fun of her.

"Seven, how are you doing? Having a good time?" B'Elanna asked with a chuckle over the noise of the club.

"I am curious about some of the activities of the people here." She paused and looked around before continuing. "That male over there by the bar has approached several females and has made the same promise and proposition to each of them. What is his desired goal?" She lifted her ocular implant trying to figure out the man's behavior.

The Klingon giggled quietly before she answered. "He's trying to get a woman to dance with him."

"Why does he not just state his intention to the woman?"

"That's a good question. I guess he's trying to be charming." B'Elanna smiled remembering the weak attempts by Tom trying to be charming to various women aboard Voyager including herself and Seven and failing miserably.

"That seems an inefficient tactic for his desired outcome," the blonde said with an evident frown. "You did not engage in that method when you wanted me to go dancing with you." Seven just let her statement hang in the air not expecting a reply.

B'Elanna did not know whether to take that as a compliment or a hint. She decided to take it as a hint and ask the woman to dance. She figured it was a safe song to teach her to dance. She picked up her drink and drained it before she stood. Reaching out her hand and bending down close so she could hear her, she awkwardly asked her to dance. "Seven…um…would you like to dance…um…with me?"

Seven looked at the dark hand and then slowly into the owner's face. She took the hand gingerly as she stood still looking into the brown eyes of her companion. "That will be acceptable," she mouthed.

They slowly walked out to the dance floor holding hands. They found an adequate space on the dance floor and turned to face each other. B'Elanna didn't have to see Seven's face to feel her nervousness. "Just relax okay. Do you feel the rhythm? Just let your body move to the rhythm. Just do what I do."

The ex-Borg looked steadily at the shorter woman and at the others dancing beside them. She began to robotically mimic the moves of B'Elanna which caused her to openly smile at the young woman. She took both her hands trying to help her loosen up her movements. They moved together like that until the end of the song. She realized that the Borg was not feeling the music, but that she was just following the movements as she observed in others. When the next song began the beat was much slower than the last song which gave B'Elanna an idea to help her feel the rhythm. She took Seven in her arms and moved them both in unison to the beat.

Speaking softly into her cheek, "Can you feel the beat? Feel it in your chest, in your limbs, all throughout your body. Can you feel it?" She felt the woman begin to relax into her embrace and move more naturally to the tempo of the music. B'Elanna smiled into the woman's neck, "That's it; you feel the music through your body don't you?" She thought she had never felt this close to another person before. It was such an innocent expression of intimacy but she was beginning to feel that she could grow to love this woman.

Seven felt comfortable and safe in B'Elanna's arms. She was unsure if it was due to the change in their relationship or the increasing closeness that had been growing between them. She found herself placing her head on the shorter woman's shoulder as they swayed to the beat of the song as a small smile formed on her lips. She wondered if this was how it felt to be truly human.

They stayed like that into the next few songs lost in their own individual thoughts. When they finally parted, they looked at each other and smiled. "Let's go sit down and get something to drink. Okay?" B'Elanna led Seven back to the table by the hand. Once seated B'Elanna ordered drinks from the waiter, water for Seven and Talaxian ale for herself.

They each slyly stole glances at each other as they sat sipping their drinks and looking at the other dancers. Seven softly placed her glass on the table and captured B'Elanna gaze with her blue eyes. "Is that how it is supposed to feel when one dances?"

The half Klingon opened her mouth to speak but closed her mouth without speaking. She began to feel herself fidget in her chair under the gaze of the young woman across from her. "Yes." She was finally able to reply. Taking a deep breath she asked, "Did you enjoy it?"

"Yes. I enjoyed it very much."

"So did I."

"I …think I enjoyed it because of you, B'Elanna," Seven responded innocently.

The dark woman felt her cheeks flush as heat began to radiate through her body. She picked her drink and took several deep gulps in an attempt to settle her nervousness. 'Kah'less this woman is beautiful. She felt so good to hold while we danced.'

B'Elanna was brought out of her reverie by the hand that was thrust in her face, "Will you dance with me again?"

The Klingon stood to take the taller woman's hand and followed as she led them back to the dance floor this time. Both women relaxed in each other's embrace as they danced to both slow and fast tunes. B'Elanna convinced the blonde quite easily that many of the songs could be categorized as slow tunes giving them the excuse to dance holding each other longer. They danced with each other for the next several hours before they both grew tired and were ready to return to their room. They walked back to their room in companionable silence. As they walked their hands indivertibly brushed each other as their arms swung and finally they held hands lightly by their finger tips with a gentle smile on each of their faces.

Once in the room the pair changed out of the evening clothes and into their sleepwear. Seven started to head to the couch to read and attempt to try to sleep. After spending the evening so close to the Borg, B'Elanna wanted to continue the close contact with the woman.

"Seven, you don't have to sleep on the couch. The bed is big enough for us both to share, and more comfortable," B'Elanna stated trying to seem matter of fact about the issue.

Seven turned from preparing the couch for bed and looked at the other woman. "I would not want to interfere with your regeneration period," she answered with surprise in her tone that her friend would make such a gesture.

B'Elanna walked over to where Seven was standing and placed her hand on her arm. "You would not bother me. In fact I would enjoy the company and maybe we can talk about tomorrow." She led her toward the bed. Having noticed the look on Seven's face she quickly added, "I just want your company to sleep nothing else. Besides if I fall asleep while we are talking I won't have far to go." She tried a forced chuckle attempting to lighten the mood.

Seven looked at her friend and softly said, "That will be acceptable."

The two women crawled into opposite sides of the bed lying on their backs staring at the ceiling. B'Elanna nervously turned to look at the woman lying next to her with a warring conversation going through her mind. 'Now what? You asked her to share the bed to talk and you lay here like a Vulcan meditating. Say something!' 'Kahless what do I say.' 'Ask her if she enjoyed herself tonight. You could grow some courage and actually talk about what you are scared about; going through with the holo-experience with your father.' 'Shut up! I will talk to her.' She rolled over on her side facing the blonde and was about to speak when Seven broke the silence.

"B'Elanna do you plan to participate tomorrow in the holo-experience about your father leaving?" the Borg asked as she rolled over to face the Klingon.

"Subtle is just not in your vocabulary is it Seven?" as she smiled at her. "I've been thinking about it. I want to remember the truth but in a way I don't want to know." She sighed deeply pulling her hands under her head on the pillow. "I've had the belief that my father left me because of me being Klingon, what if I'm right. I don't know if I could handle that much truth."

"Would it not be better to know the truth then continue through life uncertain?"

"Yeah, I guess you're right." B'Elanna couldn't believe how easy it was to talk to this woman about her past. She couldn't believe she was about the say this to her, "I'm afraid of the truth I guess. If it was my fault he left…"

Seven felt the urge to comfort her friend, so she began to softly stroke her arm with her hand. "B'Elanna you were a child. I do not believe it was your fault. You are the bravest person I know."

"Thank you Seven. If I go through with the experience, you will be there with me won't you?"

"Of course I will. I would be honored to be there with you in whatever capacity you see fit."

Closing her eyes in thought for several moments, she opened them to peer at Seven, "What about you Seven? It's not fair to you that I have been taking up all your time with my memories. I would love to be there for you as you experienced your own memories."

"Thank you for your consideration, but I do not have the same need as you to experience my past. I have gained much knowledge from being with you about my humanity." She moved her hand from her arm to gently touch her cheek. "I have enjoyed getting to know you better. Thank you for taking me on a date and teaching me to dance."

Deeply moved by Seven's words, B'Elanna leaned upward and placed a soft kiss on her forehead and gently stroked her cheek. "I enjoyed our date and teaching you to dance. Maybe we can do it again sometime."

They lay staring at each other in silence until B'Elanna released a yawn. Seven smiled at her attempt to stay awake. "You must sleep now B'Elanna. We can talk more after you have regenerated," she softly whispered to the very tired Klingon.

Seven spent the next two hours staring at the sleeping woman studying her features. She saw how relaxed she was when she slept and how at peace she looked. She secretly wanted that level of peace for herself. Watching B'Elanna sleep, Seven felt herself become drowsy and she slipped into her own peaceful sleep.

Part 9

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