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ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Nutcracker Q
By Texbkwrm


The EMH was dragging Seven to another lesson in social interaction. At least it was not going to be opera this time she had refused to participate in that particular torture any more. No this was to be a holographic ballet. Still she found this distraction an inefficient use of her time.

She had dressed for the occasion as per the Doctor's orders. As they approached she saw LT. Torres and Ensign Kim. "Seven, Doctor, why don't you sit by us?" Harry invited graciously still having quite a crush on the blonde. B'Elanna added her own invitation. "Come on Seven at least if you sit with us I won't have to sit by Tom and the Delaney sisters."

Soon they were settled in and the room darkened as the first act started. Seven watched the proceedings unemotionally. At the end of the first act the Doctor turned to her and asked. "Isn't it beautiful?" "It is irrelevant and inefficient." Seven responded in a bored monotone.

"Irrelevant?" came from a voice on the stage. Suddenly in the spotlight Q appeared. "You call music and art irrelevant." Gesturing to the frozen stage. Q had stopped time and the only ones moving were Seven and himself. At her look of indifference, he grinned wickedly. "Maybe you just need a closer look."

Seven found herself in the middle of a large party with music and dancing suddenly she felt her hand grasped by Ensign Kim dressed in old fashioned clothes. "Clara, you must come and play with us."

Act One

Seven looked down at her own attire and she was in a long white gown and strange slippers. Her hair was loose and she felt strangely disconnected from her own self as she quickly followed Harry. Suddenly she was caught up in a game of musical chairs with several of her crew mates and laughed as she raced to get to a chair before Neelix. The logical part of Seven's brain was trying to analyze her new surroundings but from somewhere deep inside the child Annika Hansen had been freed to play. As the end of the game approached it was between her and Lt. Paris. When the music stopped she gleefully jumped into the chair. Tom sulked when she was announced the winner and shoved her petulantly. "It's just a girlie game." With that he drug Neelix and Harry over to play with his toy soldiers and would not allow her to join them.

Tears came unbidden to her eyes at the rejection. Suddenly Captain Janeway came up and embraced her comfortingly. "Is Fritz picking on you again?"

She just nodded. At that Captain Janeway motioned Tuvok over. "Father you are going to have to speak to Fritz again." Smiling and hugging both women, he said. "Don't worry I will take care of Fritz." Seeing her normally stoic friend smiling was startling. Watching as he went over to where the others were playing, she saw him as he pulled Tom up by the ear and delivered a severe scolding to the protesting figure. Finally Tuvok motioned her over and Tom was forced to give a somewhat sullen apology and allow her to play with the group. He whispered as Tuvok got out of ear shot. "They always take your side your the FAVORITE." he rolled his eyes as he said the last word. She stuck out her tongue and gave him a raspberry. They all broke out laughing and began to play again.

After several minutes they was a commotion at the door and Captain Janeway called out. "Clara, Fritz come greet your godfather."

They scrambled to their feet and Tom raced to beat her to the door. Seven hung back suddenly as she saw the figure dressed all in black remove his hat and his cloak and hand them to Tuvok. Turning towards her was Q. One of his eyes was covered with a patch and he wore a beard. Tom rushed right up to him gave him a short bow and then began to badger him for his presents.

Q laughed and said "Soon but where is Clara."

Seven walked forward shyly. "Good evening Herr Drosselmeyer." All the while in her head she was berating him with questions she could not seem to utter.

"Merry Christmas Clara." Several of the other guest surged forward to offer their holiday greetings to the late arrival. Soon he was settled into a large chair in front of the fire. Those that Seven thought of as the subordinates took their seats on the ground circling his chair with the others in chairs and couches further back. Q told several stories and then with a motion of his hand he made two large boxes appear beside the large Christmas tree. He stood and made his way over and opened the boxes. Out of the boxes he brought out two dancers and proceeded to pretend to wind them up and they began to dance. Everyone exclaimed over the beautiful gifts. After they had finished Tom got up and pretended to dance with the girl dancer but was soon brought back again by Tuvok and sternly told to Behave.

Soon Q was handing out presents to all of the guests with Tom and Seven being the last.To Tom he gave a beautiful toy sword and Tom rushed off to play. Finally he handed Seven the last package. As she carefully unwrapped it and then opened it she felt a great deal of anticipation as to what it would be. Slowly she pulled it out of the box and it was a beautiful wooden nutcracker. She felt strangely drawn to the wooden toy and cradled it carefully. Soon Tom came back to see what she had gotten. Snatching it from her he took off. She quickly gave chase. In the tussle over possession one of the little toys arms came off. She knelt and picked up the broken toy and she not knowing why began to weep softly. Captain Janeway knelt down beside her. Patting her on the back, she said. "Don't cry Clara. I am sure Herr Drosselmeyer can fix it." Tuvok picked up a protesting Tom and took him from the room.

Q walked over and smiled. Taking the toy he reattached the arm and said "All better now."

After it was fixed and Seven was allowed to examine it, Captain Janeway placed it under the tree. "Now Clara it is time for bed." Ignoring Seven objections she directed her to bed.

Lying down on a large canopy bed Seven who had never successfully been able to regenerate that way grew restless. Soon she climbed back down the stairs drawn to the glittering Christmas tree and the Toy beneath it.

Act Two

As she descended the stairs, she could see small creatures scurrying away from the light she carried into the room. Suddenly as she approached the Christmas tree it was enveloped in a wondrous glow and it became larger and larger as she watched it grew to gigantic proportions. Looking around she no longer recognized her surroundings. Until suddenly she came upon the small nutcracker that had been given to her earlier. It was no longer small only slightly shorter than herself but fallen over on its side. She walked over to it and it stuck out its arm. "Well are you going to help me up or not." The irritable question startled Seven and she hesitated a few moments before she walked over and aided the fallen being to it's feet.. "About Time." the Nutcracker muttered as it brushed off its trousers. "Toys are not designed to talk." Seven glared at the wooden face.

Hearing the approach of footsteps, the wooden warrior pushed Seven behind and pulled its sword. Before Seven could take offense she saw creatures come from around the oversized presents. Seven was startled to realize they were Hirojens but they were dressed as Earth rodents and carried swords. A shrill whistle issued from her companion and soon red soldiers rushed to aid them. As the soldiers got closer she realized that it was Harry, Tom, Neelix, and The Doctor dressed as the toys that she had played with earlier. They quickly gained the advantage over their opponents who scurried away. Just as she was about to ask several pointed questions of the men around her, They all heard the sound of several boots approaching. Suddenly the enemy was back but more numerous. Coming from the middle of the opposing forces, strode Commander Chakotay dressed with ears and a tail. He was also wearing a crown and proceeded to viscously attack the Nutcracker.

Q's voice echoed over the din "I always thought Chuckles would make a great Rat."

Soon the battle drew to a close, when it looked like the Mouse King was about to skewer the wooden hero. Seven threw a pine cone at his head and distracted him enough so his opponent could prevail. Upon the death of their leader, the Hirojen disappeared. The soldiers cheered and the Nutcracker walked over and gently put a hand on Seven's face. Feeling an overpowering pull Seven bent forward and kissed the wooden face. She felt the lips turn from wood to warm flesh and arms went around her neck pulling her deeper into a maelstrom of emotions. Finally pulling back , she exclaimed. "B'Elanna."

Act Three

The setting changes again from the bottom of the Christmas tree, to a beautiful wooded setting the only consistency is the woman holding her. As Seven try to process her racing heart and the smiling face before, music fills the air. Suddenly B'Elanna leads her into a dance, now Seven has the knowledge of thousands of assimilated races but she knows that the knowledge alone would never allow her to dance like this. In her mind she hears the voice of Q "Just feel the music." Slowly she stops questioning this strange and wondrous feeling and lets the music carry her. As Tchaikovsky's magical masterpiece seeps into the fibers of her soul, she is caught up in the movement. Finally the music ends and it's absence is even painful for Seven to bear. "Come" B'Elanna says brushing the tears away from her cheek. She guides her over to a magnificent white sleigh and snowflakes begin to swirl around them. They glide magically to a marvelous land (The Kingdom of Sweets) and are welcomed as victorious heroes. Soon they are ushered into a place of honor and the entertainment begins. The music swells again and they are treated to dances from many of the cultures of earth and finally a small ballerina steps into the spotlight. She is informed that this is the Sugar Plum. Small and frail still she dances with such art and grace that she almost seems from a higher plane. Somewhere in the middle of the dance she is joined by another. Without his customary smirk, Seven almost did not recognize Q. As they danced he only had eyes for his partner. Afterward the dancers approach, "I understand you know my Cavalier here." when the ballerina speaks it is with a soft Russian accent.

"We've met." Seven replies dryly.

As the Ballerina turns to accept her congratualations from B'Elanna and the court, Seven finds she can ask Q, "Who is she?"

"Anna Pavlova the greatest dancer that ever lived." Q answered his eyes never leaving his small companion. "I offered her immortality once but she loved the dance more than life." Turning to focus his attention on Seven he said. "Do you still feel that music and art are irrelevant?"

Having felt the power and the magic of the music she was ashamed of her arrogance and shook her head. "No I was in error."

"Enjoy the party." Q said as he brought Anna back onto the floor and urged her to dance again.

Seven watched many more dances and even dance with B'Elanna again. Tired she leaned against the smaller woman as they watched the snowflakes dance.

Suddenly she awoke to the announcement. "Regeneration cycle complete."

Shaken she moved toward her console to check for a malfunction. There on the top of her work station was the beautiful wooden nutcracker. She heard Q's disembodied voice. "Ho, ho, ho, ho Merry Christmas."

The End

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