Perfection isn't Everything
'Lieutenant Torres.' Seven of Nine, until recently a Borg drone, stood ramrod straight in front of the chief engineer.
'Oh no. No, no, no, no. No way. You have not been assigned to engineering!' B'Elanna moaned. It was the start of her shift and already something was going wrong!
'I have, Lieutenant Torres. I was told to report to you for my first assignment.'
'Well, you can tell who ever told you that they can stick their orders up their Starfleet ass!'
'Very well,' Seven said, performing a quick about turn.
B'Elanna's mouth fell open and she quickly ran in front of the ex-drone. 'Where are you going?' She asked.
'I am going to tell the Captain that you said to stick her orders up her Starfleet ass,' Seven calmly replied.
'Kah'less!' B'Elanna spat, refusing to move from Seven's path. 'You'd really do that, wouldn't you? Do you hate me that much?!'
Just for a moment, bewilderment flashed across Seven's perfect features, but it was gone too quickly for anyone to notice. 'I do not hate you, Lieutenant.'
'Oh, right, that's why you were going to go run to Janeway then?' B'Elanna snarled.
'I did not know you did not mean it, Lieutenant Torres,' Seven said stiffly.
B'Elanna opened her mouth to retort, and then made the mistake of looking at Seven's face. The blonde was staring fixedly at a bulkhead behind the engineer, her face perfectly even and blank, but even so, B'Elanna felt that Seven was embarrassed?
'Fine,' She said eventually. 'But I suggest you start being able to distinguish between when people mean it and when they don't, right?'
'I shall endeavor to do that in the future, Lieutenant.'
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'Seven! What the hell are you doing!' B'Elanna cried an hour later. Her console on the upper section of engineering had started to give her odd readings, and when she'd looked down to see what was going on, she'd seen Seven of Nine working feverishly at a console.
'I am trying to isolate the isodine relays in the area surrounding jefferies tube forty,' Seven said, still working as she spoke.
'What? Why?' B'Elanna said, trying to hold on to her anger. 'That's disrupting the power flow to the whole damn ship!'
'Yes, I know.'
'You know? You /know/?!' B'Elanna couldn't help herself; she leapt forward and smacked the ex-drones hands away from the console. 'You mean you knew what would happen before you started? What kind of engineer are you?! Do you know what you could have done? I want you out of my engineering! I don't care where you go but I don't want to see you in here again unless you know how to follow procedure! You need to know it backwards and forwards before you even /think/ of touching one piece of equipment! Now get /out/!'
Seven held her gaze for just a second, and then nodded. 'I understand.'
Without another word, she turned and strode out of engineering, leaving B'Elanna breathing hard and feeling less satisfied than she thought she should.
Three hours later, B'Elanna looked up idly as the doors to engineering swooshed open. Her eyes widened and she unconsciously bared her teeth as the ex-drone approached her, stopping short of invading B'Elanna's personal space and clasping her hands behind her back.
'What are you doing here?' B'Elanna hissed.
'You said you didn't want to see me here until I knew procedure.'
'Yeah,' B'Elanna conceded.
'Very well: Starfleet regulations state that before attempting anything that could-' B'Elanna held up a hand.
'Seven, what are you doing?'
'Did you or did you not state that I had to know procedure backwards and forwards before I was allowed back in your engineering?'
'I assumed that meant you wanted proof. Now, shall I start again? This might take some time, and I suspect you have things you would like to do.'
B'Elanna couldn't answer, her mind shutting down for an instant. /She can't possibly have learnt all of the procedure in three hours!/
She tuned back in to what Seven was saying in time to hear:
'Neht, ouy tsum mrofin a roines reciffo fo-'
'Seven,' she ground out. 'What the hell are you doing?' /Oh god, if she says what I think she's going to say /
'You said I had to know procedure backwards and forwards. I have complied.'
'So, hang on ' B'Elanna pinched the bridge of her nose, trying to stop an oncoming headache. 'You're telling me you learnt /all/ of the procedures in three hours forwards and backwards?'
Seven clasped her hands behind her back and smirked. 'Yes.'
The question took the ex-drone completely by surprise. She had expected dismissal or, dare she even think it, praise. Not a forthright and piercing inquiry.
'I mean, you must have already worked out in that logical brain of yours that learning it backwards was a complete and utter waste of time, right?'
'What use would it be? Surely your time would have been better spent learning to be polite, or perfecting your smirk, or whatever the hell it is you do in your spare time?'
'You are right,' Seven said softly.
B'Elanna had been halfway to digging into the drone some more, but the words froze on her lips. 'Sorry, what? Did I just hear you say I was right?'
'Yes,' Seven said more sharply than she had intended. 'Now, if you will excuse me.' It wasn't a question, and her exit from engineering was so abrupt that B'Elanna didn't even register it until thirty seconds too late.
'Damn,' she muttered, 'what the hell is up with her?'
Seven stalked the corridors, heading back to the comftable solitude of the cargo bay. Why /had/ she done that? It had seemed perfectly reasonable at the time, despite the small voice of logic clamoring away in the back of her head. B'E Lieutenant Torres had wanted it done, so she had complied. Why?
B'Elanna shifted her weight from foot to foot, completely unsure as to why she was outside the doors to the cargo bay. The computer had cited this as Seven's location when asked, and B'Elanna had been halfway there before she'd even thought about it. Of course, she was going to ask why Seven had left before the end of her duty shift. Well, she'd left before, but that had been different; she had been told to.
She pressed the chime before she lost her nerve completely, and her eyebrows knitted when an answer was not forthcoming. She pressed it again, and again, and still no one answered. She finally lost her patience and opened the door manually.
It was dark inside, and she considered ordering the lights to go higher, but then she realised that would be like Seven walking into her quarters and messing with her settings. She had to remember that this was Seven's space.
'Seven, you here?' She called. No answer.
'Seven?' She tried again.
'Computer, locate Seven of Nine,' she called finally.
'#Seven of Nine is in Cargo Bay Two#,' the computer replied.
B'Elanna growled in annoyance and stalked forward, determined to find the ex-drone. Finally, she came across the blonde sitting on a cargo container, surrounded by Padds.
'Hello?' she said when Seven didn't acknowledge her presence, simply continuing to work on the Padds.
'Lieutenant Torres,' Seven said, not looking up. 'Why are you here?'
'Why did you leave before your duty shift was over?'
'I assumed that you would not mind, seeing as you resented my presence in 'your' engineering.'
'Resented your presence?' B'Elanna rubbed a hand across her ridges and sighed in frustration.
'Yes.' Seven put the Padd down and picked up another, devouring the contents with an efficiency that made B'Elanna hock an eyebrow upward.
'What are you doing?' She asked after an awkward moment of silence.
'I am learning.' Seven replied.
Curios, B'Elanna picked up the nearest Padd. Its title was 'Starfleet rules and regulations during first contact.' The next was called 'Starfleet engineering protocols,' and the one after that concerned Hydroponics procedures.
'Don't you already know all of this stuff?' B'Elanna asked. 'I mean, you have all of that Borg knowledge, don't you?'
'It is not enough.'
'Not enough?' B'Elanna let her mouth drop open. 'What the hell are you talking about? Half the officers on board would kill for your knowledge!'
'I have all of this knowledge, and yet people expect more. I am re-learning. I must be perfect.'
After a pause, B'Elanna crossed her arms and asked. 'Why?'
Seven's eyes unfocused until she was no longer reading the words on the Padd. Why be perfect? What an illogical question. Why /not/ be perfect! Who didn't desire perfection? What else was there?
She realised B'Elanna was still speaking, and she focused on what the half-Klingon was saying in time to here:
'No-one on this ship is perfect, so why? Do you really want to be that much better than us? Do you really think that is the way to do things?'
'What other way is there, Lieutenant!' Seven exploded. It was so sudden that B'Elanna took an involuntary half step backwards.
'Look,' B'Elanna said slowly. 'People will dislike you more if you become perfect.'
'I do not understand,' Seven said stiffly. 'People 'liking' me is not the reason for my learning endeavor.'
'You sure?' B'Elanna asked carefully.
'I do not understand,' Seven repeated.
'The way I see it, perfection's the only thing the Borg want, right?' Seven nodded slowly. 'So it makes sense that you'd think human's would want the same thing, right?' She nodded again, and slowly bought her eyes up to meet B'Elanna's for the first time. B'Elanna was thoroughly shaken to see tears forming in the corners of Seven's eyes.
'Human's don't work like that,' she finished softly.
'What do humans want, Lieutenant?' Seven asked. 'What do you want?'
B'Elanna retreated mentally from what seemed a ridiculously personal question, instead saying, 'Well, you could try working on your sense of humour? And maybe take up a few hobbies. People like to be able to relate, or something. I was never too good at it myself. And as for me I could use a new isolinear spanner, I guess.' She shrugged and managed a weak grin. Suddenly she felt in over her head. Shouldn't the captain be handling this sort of thing? Or maybe even the doctor?
'Well, I'd better get back to engineering,' she said overly cheerfully, suddenly desperate to leave. The way Seven was looking at her -lost and slightly desperate - made her nervous and unsure of herself, two things she wasn't really used to.
'Didn't you duty shift end half an hour ago, Lieutenant?' Seven asked, and B'Elanna could see the hope in her eyes.
'Well, yeah, but you know how it is; there's always something to be doing!' B'Elanna said, already back-peddling toward the exit. 'See ya, Seven!' She called as she practically fell through the doors.
She was halfway to her quarters before she allowed the guilt to swamp her, making her close her eyes and lean back against the cool wall of the turbo-lift. Someone had looked toward her for help and what had she done? Run away because it was Seven! She had hated the ex-drone ever since she'd come aboard, only she could no longer remember why. What she had just seen had not been an arrogant, annoying Borg drone, but a lost and lonely woman. Why were her hearts beating so fast? Why did she feel light-headed and weak?
She swore under her breath all the way back to her quarters, punching in her door code with unnecessary force and ignoring the little voice in the back of her mind that told her to go back and make sure the other woman was ok.
A few hours later, a frown still sitting heavily on her features, she fell into bed.
The next morning, her alarm woke her as per usual and she stretched, feeling good about the world in general. A quick sonic shower helped to fire up her brain, and it was only during her replicated breakfast that she remembered what had happened the night before.
She put it out of her mind, determined to go through her day as if nothing had happened, and irritably finished her food while trying to think ahead to the days engineering problems but that invariably bought her mind back to the blonde ex-drone, who she knew she would be seeing in engineering.
She was lost in thought as she opened her door and it was only the plainly wrapped box lying on the doorstep that stopped her walking to engineering on auto-pilot.
Bending down, she looked both ways before picking up the surprisingly heavy package. She backed into her quarters and let the door close, heading for a seat. She poked the parcel first, noting the plain gray box and the black ribbon, before finding the small card stuck onto the bottom. Pulling it off, she set it aside, untying the ribbon as her curiosity got the better of her.
Inside, nestled amongst some soft tissue paper, lay the nicest isolinear spanner B'Elanna had ever seen. She picked it up slowly, whistling through her teeth as she noticed a few additions that had been added to the basic design. She didn't need to read the card to know who it was from, but she carefully unfolded the crisp white cardboard anyway.
B'Elanna couldn't stop a smile gracing her lips as she headed toward engineering, new spanner in hand. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad seeing Seven everyday.
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