DISCLAIMER: Paramount owns Voyager and all her characters. I'm not making any money from this; it is purely for fun, not profit. This story contains a loving/sexual relationship between women.
WARNING: Angst and character death
NOTES: This is my first straight-up angst fic, and much thanks goes to Blue for testing it out for me and making some suggestions, and for helping me come up with a title when I was stuck.
Nothing Else Matters
Voyager tumbled through the plasma storm, venting plasma and unable to right herself. The ship took a heavy blow from the subspace turbulence, then another, and another, deck plating disintegrating from the battered ships' hull and decks becoming exposed to the chilling vastness of space.
An explosion from somewhere on one side pushed the ship sideways, accidentally putting it side on to the storm, which took the opportunity to attack the little vessel with all its might, ripping into the ship with brutal force.
Slowly, Voyager began to fall apart.
Two days later
B'Elanna stumbled through the smoke filled corridor, her newly repaired ankle still sore and slightly swollen. It gave a twinge as she jumped sideways to miss the shower of sparks that leapt out from a damaged console, landing heavily against the far wall and hissing with pain as her body complained.
Ignoring her injuries, she continued on her way, arriving at sickbay soon after. The doors were stuck half open, and she had to go through sideways. She made a mental note to see to them after she had finished today's tasks.
She put her tool-kit on the nearest flat surface and kept her eyes away from the bodies lying on or around the bio-beds, some of them covered with a sheet as they no longer needed medical attention.
Chakotay…Nelix…Jennifer Delaney…so many she'd lost count.
'Computer, activate EMH,' she croaked, her voice rough from hours of breathing smoke-filled air.
The Emergency Medical Hologram flickered into life, his body half there in the poor light in the sickbay. He was speaking, but she couldn't hear the words, and as she watched, his program gave up and froze. A few seconds later, it disappeared.
She sighed. To fix the EMH she needed a working console, a thing that was a very sought after prize on Voyager at the moment, which meant she'd have to fix one first. She knelt down next the sickbay's main console and got to work.
She knew she could have - /should/ have - been anywhere else right then. She could have been working on the warp drive, or the sensors, or the hull…but the captain had over-ruled her, stating that they were in no immediate danger as the storm had disappeared and that they needed their doctor right away, before anyone else…
She tried to block out that thought and continue her work, but names and faces appeared in her minds eye, taunting her, repeating themselves over and over.
As the tears started to flow, lieutenant Torres threw herself into the work, repairing the console as fast as she could, refusing to let herself show emotion. She swiped at the salty droplets angrily, smearing the grime on her face and hands as she worked.
Soon, much sooner than she'd anticipated, she was done, and she stood, full of feverish energy as she tapped in commands to the newly repaired console faster than she could read them. Behind her, the bodies felt like they were taking up more space than they should, growing larger in her mind as a sob escaped her lips. She felt panic, hot and tight, rise in her chest and gritted her teeth as the dead crewmembers rose, calling out to her, accusing her of not keeping Voyager together as well as she could have, letting her emotions get in her way, letting them /die/.
'I didn't,' she murmured, keeping her eyes on her work.
'You did,' they replied. 'We know what you were thinking when the storm hit…we saw you watching her…'
'I didn't!' She screeched, whirling around. Where she expected to see corpses risen, hands outstretched, she saw only still, unmoving bodies, lying as they had been. 'I didn't,' she repeated, clenching her fists so tightly that her fingernails drew blood.
She sank to her knees, watching the bodies fearfully, afraid that at any moment they would come for her to extract their revenge. The heaviest losses had been in engineering…her domain.
'I couldn't…' she finally whispered.
The next time she dared enter sickbay, the bodies had been removed. Only the people in desperate need of medical care had remained, and B'Elanna kept her eyes averted from them as she worked.
She called up the EMH's file and looked it over, noting the corruption in the damaged files and the damage to the holo-buffers. She sighed and pulled out her tool-kit once more; before she could repair his file and call him up, she'd have to repair the holo-emitters in sickbay.
She looked around and noticed an empty bio-bed, the only one in the place. Her body complained as she heaved herself onto it and stood, reaching up to find the nearest emitter.
She was nearly done when she glanced down and noticed who was in the bio-bed next to hers. For a moment, conflicted emotions skittered across her face; sadness, followed by pain and then anger.
'It's your fault,' she whispered to the still form. 'It's your fault.'
Seven did not reply. She had been in engineering when the storm had hit, trying to help prepare the ship for the onslaught, and she had been struck by a large energy discharge that had de-stabilized her implants and left the ex-drone in a coma.
'If you hadn't of been there…hadn't of done that…I would've have paid more attention to what was going on.' Her work forgotten, B'Elanna knelt down and addressed the blonde properly. 'Why did you have to do that?'
Seven had been working at a console a little way away from B'Elanna with an ensign. When the console had exploded, Seven had pushed the ensign out of the energies path and had taken the full brunt of it herself, slumping down to the deck moments later. B'Elanna had been the first one to her side, and had refused to leave it for many minutes while all around her the engine room had continued to fall apart.
The chief engineer had been aware of her fascination for Seven of Nine for some time, and guiltily took every opportunity she could to observe the ex-drone. Never, /never/ did she think her fascination would have run so deep that when she had seen Seven fall, her own hearts had stopped for a second, and she had run to the blonde without a second thought.
She stood once more, finishing the work and moving to the next emitter, which was on the other side of Seven's bed.
'I don't understand you,' she said softly. 'I don't think I ever will…but that's what makes you so…fascinating. You're one big walking contradiction and-'
'#Janeway to Torres#'
'Torres here,' the engineer replied. She let her eyes wander, noting the burns marring Seven's perfect skin and the pale slackness of her features. She wanted those eyes to open…'Pardon?'
'#I said, how is your work with the EMH coming?#' Janeway repeated.
'Slow but sure, captain.' B'Elanna ripped her eyes away from the figure of Seven and focused them on a blank part of the wall as she spoke. 'I'm finding problems that I need to fix before I can fix him, but it shouldn't be too long now. Three or four hours?'
'#That's good, B'Elanna,#' Janeway said, and B'Elanna could hear the relief in her tone. '#By the way…how is Seven?#'
'The same, captain.'
'#I want you to have a look at her implants, Lieutenant,#' Janeway ordered. '#Until the doctor is back online, you're the only one who can evenly remotely try to help her.#'
There was a slight pause, and then B'Elanna nodded. 'Okay.'
She ignored Seven for a long while after that, concentrating on fixing the doctor. Every now and again, Tom came in, filling in his duties as medic while the doctor was offline. The problem was, everyone in sickbay needed medical care on a level he couldn't provide. He was trying so hard, his nose stuck in data-padd after data-padd about coma patients and head injuries, but he soon found that reading and putting into practice were two very different things. His cheerful disposition had disappeared, replaced by a quiet determination and slight sense of desperation as he checked the unconscious patients.
He tried to talk to her once or twice, but she was too wrapped up in her work to manage more than a faint grunt in answer to whatever questions he would ask. Then he would leave, heading back to the mess-hall where most of the wounded were.
She was left in silence once more, left with people she couldn't talk to and couldn't help as her only companions.
She worked so hard that her mind started to shut down, the intense concentration she'd used taking its toll. She rubbed her hand over her eyes once more, trying to get the algorithms to swim into focus, but it was no use. The work became frustratingly hard and slow. Finally, after what seemed like endless hours of staring at the screen, the doctor appeared.
'Please state the nature of t-the medic-cal emergency,' he said, his vocal sub-processor tripping over some of the words.
B'Elanna sighed, the satisfaction at finally finishing her work easing her mind somewhat. 'You've got patients, doc,' she said.
The doctor eyed the bio-beds and nodded, professionalism taking over in an instant. He scanned the first two, a frown marring his brow.
'Why w-wasn't I act-tivated earlier?' He asked.
'Your program was damaged,' B'Elanna replied. 'I've been trying to fix you for hours.'
'Shouldn't Mr. Kim have helped you? He's the hologram expert.'
B'Elanna didn't answer, she simply pointed to the end bed where Harry Kim lay. The doctor's eyes widened and he nodded.
He worked quickly, trying to help each patient as effeciently as possible. B'Elanna watched him for a moment and then fished her most delicate tools out of her kit, moving to Seven's side.
'W-what are you doing?' The doctor asked as he scanned her too.
'I'm attempting to repair Seven's implants,' B'Elanna said, picking through her tools.
'I think…t-that you'd better hurry, lieutenant,' he said, running the medical tricorder over the tall blonde once more.
B'Elanna felt a flash of fear burn her exhaustion away, and she looked up. 'What? What is it?'
'He nano-probes are no longer supporting her and her internal implants are shutting d-down one by one. If you can't get her exterior implants working soon to feed her some power and kick start the n-nano-probes…it'll be too late.'
'What do you mean, 'too late'!' B'Elanna snarled, suddenly wishing she hadn't bought him back on-line.
'I mean…' his voice dropped to an unusually compassionate level, as if sensing B'Elanna's turmoil. 'She n-needs to regenerate. When she does, her nano-probes will reactivate…hopefully,' he added. 'If her external implants are not f-functional if she tries to give them power…they could cause a feedback loop or an energy surge t-that, in her weakened state…would b-be fatal.'
B'Elanna's mouth formed a small o, and then she shut it with a snap, a fierce light appearing in her eyes as she chose the right tool for her first job.
The doctor looked on for a moment, as if making sure she wouldn't do something wrong. She looked up. 'If there's nothing you can do here, get your mobile emitter on and get to the mess-hall,' she said. 'We have more injured than we can treat, and we need you doc.'
His eyes became full of pride until it drained away as he realized now was not the time. He packed a med-kit quickly and slapped on the emitter. striding to the door, he turned around, opening his mouth.
'If something happens, I'll call you,' she said, pre-empting him. Soon he was on his way, and she was alone once more.
'Why did you do it, Seven?' She asked again after a moment working in silence.
She waited for a moment, as if she was expecting an answer, and then spoke again. 'I don't think I can forgive you. Not for saving that ensign, or distracting me…' she paused as she had to concentrate or her work for a moment. 'If you die, Seven…I will never forgive you that.'
She worked in silence for a long time after that, aware of the pressure hanging over her, aware of Seven's condition slowly degenerating. Then, the silence began to grate, her mind filling in noises and words as she worked, voices of people she would never hear again.
She started to talk once more. In the beginning, it was more to distract herself than comfort Seven. She talked about anything and everything - the warp core, astrometrics, her failed marriage to Tom, the way she and the pilot had remained friends even after they had separated - and she found that she was no longer talking for herself, but for the other woman. She wanted Seven to open her eyes and reply; for her to say something, /anything./
But her eyes remained shut and her breathing shallow as B'Elanna worked. She started to talk once more, and before she knew it she was talking about private things…secret things, things she didn't know if she could say to Seven if the ex-drone was awake.
'Do you remember that time you 'observed' Tom and I? You followed us around with your data padd and made notes…for a long time after that, I imagined that you had done that just for an excuse to follow /me/…to observe me….and whenever I thought that, I found myself observing you more and more.'
She moved to another implant, carefully readjusting the sheet to preserve Seven's modesty. 'You were little miss perfect, Seven. I couldn't figure out why you'd want to observe us, until I realized there are some things that you don't know about at all. Love. Family. Friends.'
She paused, watching Seven's face for a response as she said, 'I can't remember when it started…but I love you, Seven.'
There wasn't even a flicker, no sign at all the blonde had heard her. At once both disappointed and relieved, B'Elanna kept going. 'Tom noticed it first, while we were still together. He said I always talked about you when I got home, always bought you up in conversations, always. I didn't even realize I was doing it till Harry came to ask me about it one day. Apparently he and Tom had talked about it, and Harry had noticed it too. It was news to me, though. I had no clue what they were talking about it, and I fought with them every time they bought it up.
'Then, Tom and I broke up. It was…strange, for a little while. I missed him, although I'll never admit that to him,' she smiled slightly, 'but I found myself watching you more and more, trying to catch you at an unguarded moment. I wanted you to smile, to frown, to laugh…anything so that people could see the you underneath…I wanted you to be the real you.' She stopped, moving to the last implant as she thought about what to say next.
'That's when I realized…you don't have a real you…you don't know who you are. Most of us have a lifetime of experience that shapes us, you know? Makes us who we are. You don't have that, you're still trying to make up for that. I wanted to help you, but I didn't know how to. I didn't know how to approach you or speak to you. All I knew was that before, I'd attacked you for being 'infuriating'…but I don't think that was why, Seven.
'I…' She paused. She hadn't known this was going to be so hard, and the Klingon half of her raged as she contemplated how to admit her weaknesses. 'I think it was your innocence.' She said finally. 'You still have the opportunity to become what ever you want to be, not let a lifetime of errors shape you into someone you don't want to be. You're not responsible for what the Borg did to you, and what they made you do, don't you know that by now? I wish I could help you let that go.'
She packed away her tools and then slowly raised her gaze, letting it rest on the peaceful face as she raised a hand and brushed a strand of hair away from Seven's face.
It was then she realized that something was wrong.
Seven's breathing was getting shallower by the minute and it wheezed painfully between the blondes pale lips. B'Elanna began to panic, and she immediately called, 'Computer! Transfer EMH program back to sickbay immediately!'
He appeared seconds later, looking bewildered. 'W-what's going on?' He asked.
'Doctor!' B'Elanna snapped.
He took one look at her face and ran to Seven's side, picking up a tricorder along the way. 'All of her internal implants have gone critical!' He cried.
'What can we do?!' B'Elanna said, panic overwhelming her swiftly as she watched Seven's breathing become so light that her chest barely rose.
'She n-needs power,' he said. 'Her nano-probes are the only things that can reverse this much damage…I'd never be able to correct the implants in time-' she opened her mouth -'and n-neither would you.'
Without hesitating, B'Elanna swept the surprisingly heavy woman into her arms and barked, 'Computer, site to site transport, Cargo Bay Two!'
They materialized in the dark cargo bay, and B'Elanna saw with dismay that the place was a mess; crates and materials lay strewn about the place, and only one alcove had lights flickering along its green-black surface.
Running forward, B'Elanna tried to hold the taller woman upright as she keyed in the commands to start the regeneration cycle, but Seven kept slumping forward, her head ending up halfway down the engineers back.
'Dammit Seven!' She said as she desperately tried to make the woman stay upright. 'Just stand up!'
Finally, as the regeneration cycle started, B'Elanna used all of her remaining strength to keep Seven standing, her arms and legs beginning to shake with the effort. She gritted her teeth as sweat began to break out over her body and her muscles started to spasm…she had been working too long without a break, and now her body was starting to fail her when she needed it.
Suddenly, the ex-drone threw back her head and screamed, her body fitting in the engineers grasp. With a violent jolt, Seven threw herself out of the alcove and onto B'Elanna. They hit the floor hard.
'Seven?' B'Elanna gasped getting out from under the ex-drone.
She turned the blonde woman over and felt pain like she'd never known grip her as she stared at Seven's face. Twin ribbons of blood trickled from her nose, and the skin around her implants was burnt.
'No…I fixed them…it should have worked…' she whispered.
She pulled Seven's head up onto to her knees and unconsciously noted the blood seeping from her ears as she stroked the long, thick hair.
'B'Elanna?' Seven groaned, and B'Elanna started in surprise.
'I'm here, I'm here…' She said, pulling Seven up into her lap even more and wrapping her arms around the ex-drone. Tapping her com-badge, she cried, 'Doctor! Where are you? Hurry!'
'#I'm nearly there, B'Elanna!#' He replied.
'B'Elanna…' Seven repeated, her breathing becoming labored. 'I…'
'Shush,' B'Elanna said, trying to hold back her tears. 'The doctor will be here soon, everything will be okay…'
'No…I need to,' she coughed, a thin line of spittle and blood mixing on her chin. 'I heard you…' She whispered. 'I heard you…'
At that, B'Elanna did break down, long sobs wracking her body and tears tumbling down her strong face. She couldn't stop them, and she felt Seven's body shake slightly as the weak woman tried to cry, but she didn't have the strength.
'I heard and…I…love you,' Seven said, in a voice so quiet it was almost a sigh. 'Thank…you.'
With that, her body shook one last time and she closed her eyes. B'Elanna pulled her tighter.
'Please, hold on!' She begged. 'Please!'
Seven could no longer hear her, and she felt the last spark of warmth leaving the ex-drones body. She pulled her as close to her as she could, trying to warm her up, rubbing her back and arms and whispering to her as she hugged her close.
She knew there were things to do if a person was dying, but she couldn't remember them. Her mind was a mess of meaningless pictures and emotions. She couldn't clearly remember anything except one thing…the whispered words.
She refused to leave Seven's side when the doctor came, or when they went back to sickbay. She refused all attempts at conversation, and she refused to turn her back on the woman for even one second. Now that she had discovered Seven's feelings, there was no way she would leave her. Never.
When she awoke, she found herself in sickbay. She hadn't remembered falling asleep, and she certainly wouldn't have taken her eyes off Seven for one minute knowingly. She sat up, desperate to see what was going on.
She looked at all the bio-beds and saw that they were empty. She leapt off her own bed and whirled round, trying to look at every part of sickbay at the same time. Desperation welled up, swamping her common sense, and she checked everywhere; the beds, the office, even under one bio-bed, just to make sure.
She ran out into the corridor, flying down to the turbo-lift and screeching as it seemed to take forever for it to go where she wanted it to go.
She stumbled out of it, righted herself and flew headlong toward the double doors. Her breath came in harsh, quick pants as she slammed in the access code, and she was through them before they'd opened more than eight inches.
The cargo-bay was dark and still cluttered, although there was a clear path to the alcoves. She followed it, suddenly slow and cautious, because she don't know what she would do if she didn't see…
Seven. The ex-drone was standing tall in one of the alcoves, black bags under her eyes and her skin mottled where it had been treated. B'Elanna sighed in relief, a small sob escaping her as the intense emotions drained away, leaving her feeling small and tired.
She took one last look at Seven and then lay down on the cold metal decking. She made sure she could see the woman from where she lay, and stared at her for a long moment before her eyes drifted shut, and she fell into a peaceful sleep.
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