DISCLAIMER: All things Star Trek Voyager belongs to... err... actually I don't know anymore, just that they don't belong to me, but that I can dream.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: My "Patching Her Up" series is just a series of short stories unrelated to one another, from different fandoms, that have a certain theme in common. Each part is a stand-alone. This and everything else I've written is also available at my own fic site http://ryufic.blogspot.se/
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To rosmari.karlssonfaltin[at]telia.com
Patching Her Up
By Carola "Ryûchan" Eriksson
Sometimes, B'Elanna mused, you had to wonder at the brilliance of Voyager's commanding officers, when they sent the ship's Doc and number one nurse off on an away-mission together. Certainly, Sam Wildman was more than capable of performing any nursing duties Tom would have in B'Elanna's opinion far better, too but as the woman in question had not been cleared of her duties in the bio-sciences to instead keep station at Sickbay, the beleaguered Ensign had her hands full trying to juggle the two. And as such she hadn't been there when B'Elanna came in, of course.
Not a problem, B'Elanna was handy with a dermal regenerator and was fairly certain she wouldn't kill herself from injecting too much or the wrong thing with a hypospray, she was pretty sturdy after all, and didn't want to harass the woman. Heaven knew Sam might even want to take a moment to see her kid while the girl was still awake, or something.
She had not, however, counted on Seven coming in while B'Elanna was juggling medical equipment on her own. One disapproving tilt of a gleaming Borg brow, and B'Elanna soon found herself sitting there obediently while Seven proved to be quite apt at the technical aspects of nursing.
B'Elanna was not surprised at Seven's skill, in fact there was precious few jobs onboard that she would think Seven could not perform if she had to, and the ones she couldn't... were the kind you couldn't learn about from a database.
"Seven?" B'Elanna asked after a while, studying the face before her and feeling concerned at what she saw. "Hey, Seven?"
Slender hands stilled their movements and a pair of intense eyes met B'Elanna's own. B'Elanna's own eyes widened a little and she tried not to squirm.
"What's wrong?" Simple and to the point, but she could see the question forming even before Seven began to speak, so she continued. "I can see that something is wrong, Seven. You're frowning."
She cursed a sudden lack of impulse control as she found herself reaching out to poke gently at the furrow in question. By her expression Seven was as surprised as B'Elanna felt embarrassed by herself, but she covered it up quickly and smiled encouragingly at the blonde.
"I might not be your first choice to talk to about it, or, you know, even on the list of people you would consider talking to about it, but humour me? What is wrong, and can I do something to help?"
The frown deepened a bit before the blonde eventually nodded slightly. The eyes turned even more intense, and as they met her own B'Elanna felt slightly dizzy. "You have injured yourself."
"Um, yes?" B'Elanna felt confused. "Not deliberately though, if that's what you're thinking."
Strangely enough Seven seemed to look at B'Elanna as if she was trying to gauge whether to believe her or not. B'Elanna wasn't sure if she should feel insulted, or... something else. While she wondered, the 'something else' won out.
"Are you certain it was not due to Ensign Paris' claim that he has..." Uncharacteristically, Seven faltered. B'Elanna marvelled at this, perhaps Janeway was slowly managing to teach her a thing or two about tact after all.
Personally she thought it would be a pity, though she hadn't always appreciated Seven's straightforwardness in the past. "Tom said he left me, huh?"
A split second of hesitation, followed by a deepening frown. "Yes. Is this inaccurate?"
"Well, yes and no. Technically I was trying to be mature about breaking it off with him when he turned around and decided he would rather be the one breaking up than the one broken up with. It was about as asinine and childish as one could have expected." B'Elanna smiled a bit sheepishly, she wasn't upset at the parting nor was she surprised that Tom would have told people that he broke up with her. People thought what they wanted anyway. But still, she had tried to keep things civil, had wanted them both to act like grownups.
"I see." Seven nodded, her eyes turning thoughtful. "I suspected that his statements were... inaccurate."
Although she wondered idly just what Tom might have said about her in that case, B'Elanna mostly just found herself amused by Seven's reaction. It seemed so... adorable. "Oh? Why is that?"
"His claims were absurd, and not like you. Also it would be both illogical and unlikely that he would willingly let you go. You are by far the superior mate, and Ensign Paris must surely have been aware that he could never have... deserved you."
B'Elanna blinked, and felt her cheeks burn. Talk about surreal. "Um, wow, thanks Seven. That was so many compliments in one go that I don't know what to say."
Seven's version of a shrug faced her. "I was merely stating the facts."
She could not have stopped the smile that stretched across her face if she tried, but she didn't really want to. B'Elanna looked away for a moment, feeling a bit more bashful than she had in a very long time. The warmth that bloomed in her chest was unbelievable. Wow indeed.
As she looked back up she wondered if Seven could see the affection in her eyes, or know what it meant. "And you were worried about me? That I might be upset enough to try to hurt myself?"
"Yes." A small but more tentative nod. "But these injuries are not..."
"Self-inflicted?" B'Elanna finished for Seven, still smiling warmly. "No, or at least not really. I've been... distracted lately, and ended up a bit too clumsy at the wrong moment because of it, that's all."
"Distracted?" The frown, which had eased away after B'Elanna's explanations, returned along with a renewed intensity of gaze. "What would distract you to the point of causing you injury?"
Oh gee, a pair of beautiful blue eyes, maybe? They had certainly been showing up in her thoughts a lot lately, and at very awkward times, too.
"It's nothing bad, honest." B'Elanna assured, trying to ignore her embarrassment. "I've been working out how I feel about someone, and it has kept me a bit preoccupied."
"Not Ensign Paris?" Apparently relieved enough of her concerns Seven returned to B'Elanna's injuries, but she still looked at her attentively, reassuring B'Elanna that Seven was still interested and listening.
"No, not Tom. That is over and done with, and has been for quite some time." She admitted, and admired those long, Borg-adorned fingers when Seven carefully nudged B'Elanna's arm a bit to the side. "It is someone else."
She knew that the little tilt of the head was all the reply she was going to get from Seven to that comment, Seven would not have the urge to gossip and ask just who it was B'Elanna had on her mind. She thought it was cute, but then again it seemed almost anything about the woman was just adorable to B'Elanna these days. It was remarkable, really, that it took so long for her to figure it out.
"What about you, Seven?" She began carefully, trying for a friendly but casual air. "Have you considered dating again?"
Surprisingly enough Seven straightened up and looked at B'Elanna with darkening eyes that had gone quite narrow. "If this is about Ensign Paris, my previous reply stands. I am not interested."
Ah, of course. Tom had wasted no time in trying to woo the most beautiful, and perhaps the most unattainable, woman on the ship. That made sense.
But Seven had turned him down, and with the expression the tall woman wore at the moment, in no uncertain terms too. B'Elanna fought the urge to giggle. "No, I'm not talking about Tom, but good for you if you turned him down. You're smarter than I was."
She could see the urge to protest as the expression in Seven's eyes turned a bit confused and awkward, and found it charming. "I meant in general, Seven. Have you thought about whether you would like to try dating again if you met the right person, or if there is anyone onboard that you might like to try it with?"
"I..." Seven hesitated, clearly uncomfortable with the subject. For a moment B'Elanna regretted bringing it up. "I have not. Ensign Paris' recent availability changes nothing. The parameters based on the Doctor's criteria are quite..."
"Wait, what?" B'Elanna interrupted, frowning. "The Doctor's criteria? Shouldn't that be your criteria, Seven?"
"As I am... still largely unfamiliar with the process, the Doctor has been kind enough to lend me his aid in the selection process. While we have very briefly touched on the characteristics of courtship in various species, this information has been too light and too broad to be of any aid, and so the Doctor devised a basic general form suitable for the average human female, which I have customized somewhat. A list of parameters based solely on criteria devised by myself would be..." A slight grimace crossed Seven's features. "very brief, and not very illuminating."
B'Elanna blinked. "Oh... wow." She scratched her cheek a little, trying to think of a good way to say this. "I, uh, may not be anyone's idea of an expert on dating, Seven, though I can at least assure you I have more experience than the Doc has. And I see several things wrong with what you just said already."
"How so?" Briefly checking so that no further injuries required attending, Seven lay the instruments aside to stand in perfect attention before B'Elanna, head tilted in what was a sure sign of interest on her part.
"Well, uh, for one thing there's no such thing as 'basic' criteria, we all have our own preferences and our own wants, and these can change a lot over time as it is. Plus, you know, it isn't at all uncommon to fall for someone who doesn't meet those preferences or wants in the slightest." How did she end up giving life advice to strangely innocent but frightfully intelligent former Borg women, again? Oh yeah, an impulse decision to gauge just how unrequited her feelings for the woman really were, that's right. Good job there.
"For another, Seven, even if there were such a thing as a basic list for average human females... you're not exactly average, nor entirely human. Being a half-breed myself I assure you I'm not saying that to be hurtful, it is just the truth."
Seven nodded. "Yes, of course. Captain Janeway and the Doctor's assurances to the contrary, I do not see myself as a human, at least not entirely. I am still and always shall be in many ways Borg, although I am no drone."
B'Elanna smiled a little and nodded, relieved that Seven had such a clear sense of self. From personal experience it was when one tried to embrace one side of one's heritage and completely ignore the other that the problems began, and she'd rather Seven didn't have to go through years of struggles before coming to that conclusion the way B'Elanna had.
"Look, Seven, let's just ignore the Doctor's list and teachings for now, because I don't think he is the right person to listen to in this instance. Maybe you could talk to the Captain? If she can get over the embarrassment she'll undoubtedly feel and take the time to sit down with you to talk about it, you'll probably learn a lot more than the Doc can teach you."
"Mostly though, when you finally feel like you are ready to try dating someone, it should be all about your own preferences, no-one else's. Like... do you like this person, do you want to spend time with him, do you find yourself thinking of him when he's not around... does being around him make you feel happy, or, no let's go with happy for now, things like that." B'Elanna grimaced. "There's the physical things as well, like do you want to kiss this someone, and so on, but I think I'll leave that for Janeway."
"The bottom line is that you should feel like you want to date a certain someone, not find someone to date because you should try dating itself." She paused briefly. "Does that make any kind of sense, or did I just confuse you further?"
Seven nodded, clearly deep in thought. "I see. Your suggestions are quite different from the Doctor's, and I shall have to consider this to see how I could apply them. Perhaps I will attempt to bring the subject up with the Captain as well." She refocused her attention on B'Elanna. "However, as I find myself reluctant to repeat the failure of my dating and indeed have neither the skill nor the interest for it, my inquiries are merely for the sake of understanding, and not for practice."
"You don't want to date, got it. But why 'failure' and 'skill'? Those shouldn't be factors in dating, well, not really anyway." At least not in any way that Seven might currently interpret it, B'Elanna told herself.
"As I am sure you are aware, my one attempt at dating did not go well." Seven sighed, and while B'Elanna had to silently agree, in a way she had been impressed that Seven had managed to land her date in Sickbay on the first try. "I cannot dance, have no interest in telling a male that he is beautiful when I do not think so, and I do not enjoy attempting to ingest strange food which does not suit my constitution in a setting with a multitude of onlookers and high noise levels." Blue eyes made B'Elanna gulp with their intensity. "I also find nothing pleasurable about replicated dead flora."
So, no flowers and no fancy restaurant dinners or public dancing, check. Actually, that sounded rather nice, like maybe Seven would appreciate a quiet dinner for two at home instead.
"So you do something else for a date, something you could both enjoy. Dates aren't limited to public dinners and dancing, Seven. And not every woman likes flowers." She winked at Seven even though she didn't mind flowers on occasion herself. She did rather prefer chocolate, anyway. "If you don't find a guy attractive in some way I don't think you should be dating him, but if you for some reason do anyway, you're in no way required to tell him that he is... erm... beautiful. Is there no-one onboard Voyager that you think qualify as beautiful or just attractive in some way though, male or female?"
Stunned and wide blue eyes looked back at B'Elanna.
"Females..." Seven's voice was quiet, hesitant. "...are an option?"
"Oh." And so it was B'Elanna's turn to be stunned. "Um, yes? Of course? We're not living in the dark ages, you can be interested in whomever you want, gender, species and whatnot aside. I think basically only children or close blood relations are considered taboo in the Federation, though a lot of people would say getting involved with someone who is married is too." She frowned. "What exactly has the Doc been teaching you?"
Seven did not answer, and looking a bit closer B'Elanna could practically see the thoughts and emotions churn behind blue eyes. Alarmed she wondered if she hadn't just done Seven a huge disservice... perhaps B'Elanna should just have kept her big mouth shut.
"Erm, Seven?" She began gently, reaching out to touch a blue arm. "A-are you okay?"
For a long moment there was silence, then... B'Elanna could practically see the very moment when Seven's thoughts crystallized and snapped into place, a conclusion reached.
"What?" B'Elanna felt she had missed a step somewhere, or some part of the conversation. "Me? What about me?"
"If indeed it is permissible to consider an individual of the same gender, then the one person onboard Voyager that I find beautiful and attractive in many ways is... you, Lieutenant."
B'Elanna realized that she was gaping, and it felt like her eyes were about to fall out of their sockets, but she could do little about it. Her head was spinning far too much as it was. "Me? Really?"
"I believe I have said so before, Lieutenant. You are superior in every conceivable way. So yes, I do find you beautiful and attractive."
"Kahless!" B'Elanna gasped and blinked at the blonde. Was this really happening? Reflexively she blurted out the first thing she could think of. "I think you're the most beautiful creature I've ever seen, and I'm so attracted to you I haven't been able to think straight for days."
She had never seen Seven blush before, and she found the sight, oh yes indeed, beyond adorable.
"Is... that so?" The hesitantly hopeful question was asked with what passed as shyness for Seven, complete with briefly downcast eyes.
"Yes, it sure is." B'Elanna assured warmly, gently taking Seven's hand in hers. "It's the truth, but I wouldn't blame you if you don't believe me right away. Maybe, if you feel like giving me the chance to, I can prove it to you in time."
Seven eyed their joined hands and, after a moment's awkwardness, turned hers to grasp B'Elanna back. "Your injuries, they were because of me?"
"Mm, from being distracted by thinking about you, yeah." She grinned, feeling a bit foolish to admit it. She was rewarded however by a small smile on Seven's lips.
That warm and dizzy feeling was back, and with a vengeance.
"So, uh, Seven? If you were to feel someday that you would like to try to date again, would you tell me? I promise I would not make you do things you don't want to or feel comfortable with, or make you eat things you don't want to try." B'Elanna smiled self-consciously. "I even promise not to give you any dead flowers."
Seven looked at her, considering. "Would there be crowds, real or holographic?"
"No, not unless you decided you wanted there to be. I'd rather be alone with you anyway."
Seven nodded, the tiny smile widening.
"Tomorrow?" She finally asked. "Would tomorrow be acceptable?"
"To-tomorrow?" B'Elanna nodded a bit too enthusiastically. "Yes! I mean, yes, tomorrow would be great."
"Good." Seven squeezed B'Elanna's hand slightly before letting go and taking a step back. "Tonight I shall have to have a conversation with Captain Janeway. I need her advice."
With that Seven walked out of Sickbay at her usual brisk pace, although she slowed briefly by the exit and looked at B'Elanna over her shoulder. Then she was gone.
B'Elanna exhaled explosively, running a slightly unsteady hand through her hair. "Wow. Just... wow." She muttered to herself under her breath.
"I'll contact you with the details later then, gorgeous," She told the air in the direction of the door fondly. "so we can agree on when and where to meet." Seven might still hear her, but even if she didn't that was fine too.
She grinned at the ceiling, feeling lighter and more energized than she had in a very long time. In fact B'Elanna was downright happy.
"Someday..." She told Voyager's bulkheads in a low, conspiratorial voice. "I'll get that woman to call me by my name."
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