"You've got to be fucking kidding me!"
"That's enough Lieutenant! I'm giving you a direct order and I expect you to follow it Understood!"
Chakotay often cut B'Elanna slack in the face of her famous temper, but today he was in no mood for arguments. The captain had made her wishes around personnel for this away mission perfectly clear and Chakotay intended to see that they were followed to the letter. When Captain Janeway had told him she wanted both Seven and B'Elanna to go on this away mission to mine for several volatile substances on the remote planet's surface, Chakotay had voiced his concerns. He was worried that the combination of the Astrometrics officer and the chief engineer was far more volatile than any chemical compound that they would find on the planet's surface. Janeway, however, was adamant. She had put up with the bickering and infighting for long enough. She had flat-out ordered Chakotay to send the two of them, and as much as his disagreed with her decision, it was his duty to carry it out.
B'Elanna knew she had crossed the line when Chakotay barked at her as if she were a first year cadet. She snapped to attention.
"That's more like it. You leave at 0700 tomorrow."
"Aye Sir." B'Elanna remained at attention.
The expression on Chakotay's face softened somewhat as he realized that he would get no more resistance from B'Elanna on this topic.
"And Torres try not to kill each other will you."
B'Elanna's only answer was a slight smirk as she turned to leave to make her preparations for the away mission.
All things considered, Seven took the news of her assignment better than B'Elanna. She argued logically and tireless for several minutes before giving in with less than good grace. She was no happier to be trapped on a small shuttlecraft for several days with the volatile engineer than B'Elanna was to be travelling with her. Still if her collective required it of her, she would comply.
The two women suffered in silence for the 10-hour trip to the tiny planetoid, barely acknowledging that the other existed. When they landed and began gathering the chemicals into the specially constructed carrying cases, they spoke only the bare minimum required to get the job done. At the end of the first day of the two day mission B'Elanna was packing the last of the containers into the stasis chamber they had constructed to hold the unstable chemicals safely on the trip back to Voyager when she was interrupted by the sound of Seven's voice.
"Lieutenant Torres! You are no longer properly grounded. Do not move."
While B'Elanna's first impulse was to argue with Seven after all she had carefully attached the anti-static strap to her wrist when she entered the stasis chamber she recognized that this was not an area to be trifled with and so she froze. Seven saw that the strap hanging just inside the stasis chamber had worked its way loose, and she moved slowly and carefully to reattach it. She carefully picked up the dangling end and gently looped it over the bolt they had used to ground it into the floor. Unfortunately, the simple act of touching the two pieces of metal together caused a small surge of static electricity to be released and the sample container that B'Elanna held in her hands exploded with a blinding flash of light.
Seven was thrown clear across the shuttle, and woke up several minutes later in a haze of pain from the impact of her body against the console. She moved slowly as she regained her feet and surveyed the damage to the small craft. It was extensive, and she felt a momentary sense of panic as she realized that she could not see Lieutenant Torres anywhere in the wreckage. She moved quickly, grabbing the first undamaged tricorder she could find and began to scan for lifesigns. She breathed a sigh of relief when the instrument registered the body of the Lieutenant, very much alive, buried under a section of hull near the back of the shuttle. Fortunately for B'Elanna the force of the smaller explosion had knocked her clear of the other containers which exploded in a chain reaction after the initial detonation. Seven's Borg enhanced strength made quick work of moving the heavy duratanium plating and soon she was kneeling beside the unconscious Lieutenant.
The tricorder showed several broken bones and lacerations, but the worst of the damage was the blow to the head the young Klingon had received when the cargo container had detonated. Seven could see that the impact had caused an injury to the brain. She worked quickly to heal the Lieutenant's other wounds and to mitigate as much of the brain damage as she could. To her surprise the Klingon hybrid began to regain consciousness just as she finished her task.
B'Elanna felt as though her head was going to explode. She blinked her eyes several times before she managed to focus on the concerned face that was hovering inches above her own. She didn't recognize the person, and after a second she realized that she had no idea where she was or who she was for that matter. Her brow furrowed in concentration as she tried to drag up a memory any memory that would give her some clue as to what was happening to her. She licked her lips and attempted to speak.
"Where who what happened?" She finally managed.
"There was an explosion in the stasis chamber Lieutenant. You were damaged, but I believe I have healed all of your wounds."
"Lieutenant?" B'Elanna was puzzled. "Stasis chamber what?"
Seven flipped open her tricorder and began another scan of the lieutenant. She could find nothing wrong, perhaps the Klingon was only confused from the aftereffects of the explosion. Her heart contracted at the next words from the Lieutenant's mouth.
"Why can't I remember my name?" B'Elanna stammered as she struggled to sit upright.
Seven gently pushed the young Lieutenant back down, pausing to brush the hair from her eyes as she did so in an uncharacteristically emotional action that left the ex-drone puzzled by her own behaviour. However, it did the trick as the Klingon hybrid relaxed into her touch and lay back peacefully on the floor of the damaged shuttle.
The engineer looked up at the beautiful face of the woman above her. Although she could not put a name to the face she was certain that she knew and trusted this woman. When the blonde woman stroked her face she was even more certain that she not only knew this woman, but that they were very important to one another. She leaned into the touch and lay back, content to let the other woman take care of her.
"You're name is Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres, and you are chief engineer of the Federation Starship Voyager," Seven finished her scans and finally answered B'Elanna's question. "I am uncertain as to why you cannot remember your name. My scans show nothing."
"You're a doctor?" B'Elanna queried.
"No, but I have some expertise in the area." Seven paused, uncertain of what to do next. "My name is Seven of Nine," she finally finished. She waited for the inevitable questions about the nature of her unusual named, but none were forthcoming.
B'Elanna reached up and touched the ocular implant above Seven's eye. Seven pulled back slowly from her touch.
"I should assess the damage to the shuttle and attempt to contact Voyager." She got up and moved away from B'Elanna's prone form.
B'Elanna felt an acute sense of loss as soon as Seven moved away from her. She watched the figure of the mysterious beauty as she moved about the enclosed space. There was something definitely familiar about her something that had felt intrinsically right about touching and being touched by her. Finally B'Elanna couldn't stand the suspense any longer.
"Seven of Nine, were we I mean are we close." Her heart was hammering in her chest as she posed the question. She was certain that the answer to the question had to be yes, but was terrified that it might be no.
Seven moved back to the Lieutenant's side, kneeling close to her she spoke softly.
"No lieutenant. We are not close."
B'Elanna felt her eyes begin to prickle and she fought back tears that threatened to spill. Seven, seeing her distress, felt badly for the vulnerable young woman. She brushed the tears away and when B'Elanna wrapped her arms about her waist she held her back, cradling her head in her lap, rocking her gently.
"I am sorry," was all she could think to say to the fiery Klingon's unexpected behaviour. She held the crying engineer until she felt her body relax in sleep, and then she gently disengaged herself and returned to her tasks.
It became quickly clear that the shuttle was never going be airworthy again, so Seven concentrated her efforts on contacting Voyager. Once she got the comm system back on line she hailed the ship. She was informed that the crew had been involved in a major battle the day before and that Voyager was adrift until engineering could restore power to the engines. It could be several days before they were able to retrieve Seven and B'Elanna. Hearing this, Seven asked to speak to the doctor. She outlined the accident and B'Elanna's symptoms and he gave her instructions as to how to alter her tricorder to get more specific readings. Once she completed the modifications she did another scan of B'Elanna's head and was horrified to see that the young chief had sustained a great deal of bruising to her brain. More serious however was the tiny rupture in a blood vessel that was slowly leaking blood into her cranium. If the condition went untreated for long the damage to her brain would be irreparable. She informed the doctor and he told her that B'Elanna would require surgery as soon as possible. It was frustrating for both of them to be unable to help the young Klingon. But both were hopeful that when they were back on Voyager she would be all right.
When she logged off the comm system Seven noticed that B'Elanna was stirring. She returned to the Klingon's side and once again lifted her head to rest in her lap, cradling her gently. B'Elanna opened her eyes slowly and smiled up into the brilliant blue eyes of Seven.
"Hey," she murmured sleepily.
"Hey yourself," Seven replied with a gentle smile.
"I'm sorry about before. I didn't mean to get all emotional on you It's just, the way you were holding, and touching me it felt so right. I was certain that we must have been " her voice trailed off and Seven saw the unshed tears shining in her eyes.
"We have never been close. You don't like me very much at all."
"But, why?" The anguish was clear in B'Elanna's voice.
"Because I am Borg, and you can never forget or forgive that failing on my part," Seven answered bluntly but not unkindly.
"Borg?" B'Elanna questioned.
Seven steeled herself and explained to the confused engineer about the Borg and assimilation.
"But, you didn't ask to be assimilated," B'Elanna protested. "How could I possibly hold any of that against you.
"I am uncertain." Seven paused for a moment. "Perhaps ."
"When I first was separated from the collective and came to work in Engineering. The day we were dealing with the Cataati you asked me if I ever felt regret for the things I'd done as a Borg."
"What did you say?" B'Elanna queried.
"I told you that guilt was irrelevant. I believe that you formed your opinion of me that day and that it has not changed since that time."
"I see." B'Elanna seemed lost in thought.
"I want you to know that I no longer believe guilt to be irrelevant. At the time you asked me the question I had not regained enough of my humanity to form an opinion on such things."
"Do you have regrets now?" B'Elanna questioned.
"More than there are stars in the sky," Seven answered with heartfelt passion.
B'Elanna reached up to once again touch the face of the former drone, and Seven, seeing her intent, pulled back quickly. She didn't think she would be able to remain in control of her emotions if she once again felt the engineer's soft touch.
"You should eat something. I will see if the replicators are online." Seven stood up quickly and moved away.
B'Elanna struggled to her feet and moved to sit at the table at the side of the cargobay. She watched Seven moving about and effecting repairs to the equipment. She knew that despite what the beautiful blonde had told her about their previous relationship that she was in love with her. All she needed to do now was to convince Seven that she loved her back.
Seven was having no luck with the replicators and B'Elanna eventually came over to watch her work.
"If you realign the power couplings here and here you should be able to get enough juice to power the unit." She pointed out the power junctions to the former drone. "Its weird, but I know I know how to use all of this stuff, even though I don't remember anything about my life."
"You are an extraordinary engineer Lieutenant. I doubt you could ever forget all you know about starships and their systems."
B'Elanna blushed at the complement and helped Seven get the replicators back on line in time for dinner. They ate in silence. B'Elanna was fascinated with the precise way in which Seven cut and ate her food. In fact, she was fascinated by everything about the beautiful young woman. When they had cleared away the dishes B'Elanna gathered up her courage and acted on a decision she had made during dinner.
"There's something I really need to tell you."
Seven sat down across from B'Elanna.
"I just really wanted you to know, that well, I know you said I didn't like you before, and I can't imagine that personally. But I just want you to know that that I care for you now. That I love you."
Seven felt her heart constrict painfully at the Lieutenant's words. She realized to her surprise that despite everything she did, in fact, return the engineer's feelings, but she was also aware that when the Klingon regained her memories that she would no longer want to be associated with a Borg drone. As much as it hurt her to do so, she denied her feelings.
"I am sorry Lieutenant B'Elanna but I do not return your affections. I do not love you."
B'Elanna moved around the table and knelt in front of Seven. She hooked her fingers under the younger woman's chin and lifted until Seven was forced to look her in the eye.
"Boy are you ever a lousy liar," she chided softly.
Seven couldn't stop the small, shy smile that graced her features at B'Elanna's words. She looked into the soft liquid depths of the engineer's eyes and saw only love and acceptance there. Even though her brain protested with all its might, her heart capitulated instantly, and she let herself be drawn into the loving circle of B'Elanna's arms.
They were content to hold one another like that for a long time before Seven pulled gently back to look B'Elanna once more in the eye. Her eidetic memory memorized the look of complete love on B'Elanna's face, filing it away forever. Her mind would not let her forget that in all likelihood B'Elanna would withdraw her affections when she regained her memory, and she never wanted to forget this moment, and how it felt to be finally accepted and loved in this world.
"B'Elanna, may I would you " her voice trailed off in uncertainty.
"What is it? You can ask me anything."
"Will you kiss me?"
B'Elanna's only answer was to lean forward and gently brush her lips across Seven's. Neither one of them was prepared for the jolt of passion that hit them with only that brief contact. This time it was Seven moving forward to capture B'Elanna's lips in a searing contact that seemed to go on forever. She could feel her heart hammering in her chest, although it seemed to stop altogether when she felt the velvety softness of the engineer's tongue tease its way into her mouth. Seven felt as if she was falling out of control, and it felt wondrous. Never had she experienced such emotion, such pleasure. She had thought it was something to be forever denied her and it suddenly felt quite perfect that she should find it here in the arms of the beautiful Klingon engineer. She knew in that moment that B'Elanna held her heart and her happinessforever. That realization, along with a sensuous moan torn from the chief engineer sent her into a tailspin of panic. She sprang away from B'Elanna, stumbling backwards, protesting loudly.
"This is wrong. We cannot, must not continue with this. You do not love me B'Elanna. I know this to be true."
B'Elanna was on her feet in an instant, but Seven warded off her touch.
"Please, leave me alone. I'm begging you."
As much as B'Elanna wanted to ignore Seven's words and pull her back into her embrace, she could deny the former drone nothing. It took all of her will power to force her hands back to her sides, to force herself to walk away from the obviously distraught woman, and give her the space she needed to get herself back under control.
Seven refused to speak to B'Elanna for the rest of the evening, and the next day she continued to work at salvaging as many of the shuttle's components as she could. The silence was deafening. Finally B'Elanna couldn't stand it any longer.
"Look Seven this is crazy. I know you said I didn't like you before, and maybe you're right maybe I was too stupid to see what was right in front of my eyes. I don't know. I can't remember any of it. All I have is now, here, with you and I know I love you. In all of the confusion and all of the crap we've been through in the last two days only one thing has made any sense. How it felt to be in your arms. How I feel about you right now in this moment. We were meant to be together, I just know it, and I know you feel it too. Please give us a chance." She pleaded softly.
Seven saw the pleading look in B'Elanna's eyes and realized that she just couldn't fight it any longer. She nodded wordlessly, and felt herself breathe a sigh of relief and contentment when she was once more in B'Elanna's arms. This time their kiss was soft, gentle, endlessly loving. It seemed an eternity before they finally moved apart, and even so they maintained physical contact even as they turned back to their work.
Halfway through the afternoon Seven turned and saw B'Elanna staring at a half-dismantled console. The frown on her face was worrisome and Seven quickly asked what the problem was.
"I was halfway through taking this thing apart and now I can't remember what the next step is. I know I knew how to do it when I started, and now I can't even remember what it's called." There were tears of frustration in the young engineer's eyes as she spoke.
"You have been through a trauma B'Elanna. Perhaps you are merely tired. You should take a break and rest. I will finish up here." Despite her calming words Seven was worried that B'Elanna's memory loss seemed to be getting worse. She grabbed her enhanced tricorder and did another scan of the engineer's brain. What she saw troubled her deeply. She waited until B'Elanna was sleeping and then went to hail Voyager.
When she told the doctor that the bloodflow into B'Elanna's brain was increasing he became terribly concerned. B'Elanna required the operation now, but unfortunately Voyager was still 24 hours away from being able to restart her engines. The only option was for Seven to perform the operation while he coached her through it over the comm channel. Seven desperately did not want to have to operate on the woman she loved, but it seemed there was no other option open to them. The doctor gave her detailed instructions regarding several instruments she would need to replicate and then he gave her a few minutes to collect herself and prepare B'Elanna for the operation.
B'Elanna lay down on the table, looking up with absolute trust into the brilliant blue eyes of her lover. She was much calmer than Seven was, and oddly it fell to the patient to comfort and support the doctor.
"I trust you with my life Seven. I love you and there's absolutely no one I'd rather have doing this operation than you," she said encouragingly.
They kissed tenderly before Seven pressed the hypospray into B'Elanna's neck.
The operation was extremely delicate and it took several hours to complete. The doctor recommended that B'Elanna be kept under sedation until the next day when it was finally over. Although they wouldn't know for certain until she regained consciousness, scans showed that the bleeding had stopped. The doctor was optimistic that B'Elanna would make a full recovery.
Seven never moved from her side, keeping watch through the night for any sign of trouble, but B'Elanna slept peacefully for over 12 hours. Finally, late the next day she began to stir. Seven waited, trembling with fear and anticipation until the Klingon's eyes were finally open.
"Seven, hey what happened?" she asked sleepily.
"There was an explosion in the stasis chamber, and you were injured in the blast."
"That would explain the drums of Kahless pounding away in my brain," B'Elanna joked.
"That is probably an aftereffect of the operation."
"Operation?" Seven's heart began to fall as she realized that while B'Elanna appeared to have her long term memory back, she didn't seem to recall any of the events that had occurred since the accident.
"You had a serious injury to your brain which required surgery to correct."
"Let me get this straight, you were the one who performed the surgery?" B'Elanna was incredulous.
"Yes, the doctor talked me through the procedure over the comm system as you needed the surgery immediately and Voyager was unable to get here in time."
"Wow good thing I was here with you and not Paris," B'Elanna joked.
Seven forced herself to smile even though her heart was breaking. B'Elanna had survived and that was enough.
Voyager arrived shortly and transported the two of them back to the ship. Seven stood at B'Elanna's bedside in sickbay where she was being held for observation for a day. She looked down at the beautiful face of the engineer and willed herself not to cry. She had been certain that this would happen, but even so the pain was greater than anything she could ever had imagined. Still, those moments in B'Elanna's arms, hearing the beautiful woman profess her love had been worth it. Despite the pain, she would not trade those memories for anything.
Several days later B'Elanna had come to Astrometrics to correct a fluctuation in the power grid there. Seven had avoided contact with the engineer since she had been released from sickbay and so had not been to engineering. She was very much in love with B'Elanna and it was still too new and too painful for her to spend any time in the young engineer's presence. She had been resolved to leave Astrometrics while B'Elanna made the repairs, but in the end her need to see the Klingon-hybrid overrode her desire to flee the pain and she had stayed.
"Seven, can you hand me that power meter please."
Seven was startled when B'Elanna spoke from the floor; she had been lost in her memories of those glorious moments on the shuttle when B'Elanna had loved her. She hurried to pick up the instrument and hand it to the engineer. As B'Elanna took the tool from her hand their fingers brushed lightly and Seven withdrew her hand as though it had been burned. Her face was burning with colour and when she finally forced herself to look B'Elanna in the eye she saw a look of confusion on the engineer's beautiful face.
Something had sparked in B'Elanna when her hand had touched Seven's. A feeling something powerful. She just couldn't quite place it. She saw the blush spread over Seven's features and saw the sheen of unshed tears in the former drone's eyes.
"Seven?" It was a question a whisper.
"I apologize Lieutenant. I I have to go now," Seven was practically running as she made for the door.
B'Elanna was on her feet in an instant and caught Seven by the arm just before she reached the door. She felt the same jolt of feeling when she touched the younger woman's arm. She turned Seven gently to face her, and saw that the former drone was crying.
She reached out to brush away the tears, and the feeling of touching Seven's cheek felt familiar somehow felt right.
"Seven." Still a whisper, but no longer a question.
"Yes B'Elanna." There were still tears in Seven's eyes, but there was something else now hope.
"I I love you don't I?" B'Elanna couldn't believe that she was asking such a ridiculous question, but she knew only Seven had the answer.
Seven straightened her shoulders, looking deeply into B'Elanna's eyes she answered.
"And you love me back." B'Elanna's voice was stronger now.
"I don't remember anything that happened on the planet Seven, I'm sorry."
Seven smiled sadly at B'Elanna's words.
Suddenly sure of herself, B'Elanna pulled Seven into her arms. When the former drone returned the embrace B'Elanna knew that she was home.
"I love you." This time it was a declaration.
"I know." Seven's smile was one of joy now. "I love you too."
"We could make some new memories," B'Elanna said shyly.
"I would very much like that B'Elanna," Seven replied as their lips finally met.
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