DISCLAIMER: Paramount owns everything Star Trek
related. Only having fun with their characters. No
SPOILER WARNING: This story contains several spoilers of 7th season episodes Imperfection and Inside man. And probably other episodes I cannot think of right now.
FEEDBACK: To Ohyjo
Thanks to Meagan and Bethany for their Beta-work. Between the two of them they have helped to improve this story a great deal. Thanks again girls.
It had been seven weeks since Tom's funeral. Seven difficult weeks but life did go on. B'Elanna reflected once again on all the good times she and Tom had shared. Somehow all the fights, the bad times, did not seem to matter anymore. Together they'd survived the Delta Quadrant, dodging Hirogen, Borg, mad Holograms and other threats. Even the challenge of meeting the in-laws was faced together and they had come out on top. They'd had a little girl together who was now almost four years old. A daughter who would have to grow up without a father.
The last few years had been happy ones. Arriving back from the Delta Quadrant they had become instant celebrities. After the Dominion war the Alpha Quadrant needed something good to talk about. And Voyager's epic journey definitely qualified for that. Not only had there been celebrations and pardons for almost everyone of Voyager's crew, but old friends and family had finally been reunited after seven years of separation.
Within one year of their return some entertainers had made a holomovie based on their journey. She had not wanted to go to the premiere but Tom had persuaded her, and to their mutual surprise they had discovered that their relationship was one of the main topics of the movie. She snorted again at the memory. Apparently the two of them had made an interesting story. The half human/half Klingon hybrid, Maquis rebel turned Starfleet chief engineer and the Starfleet dropout, Admiral's son, hotrod helmjockey. First enemies, then friends, then lovers and finally married. For a while they had been big news, till about a year ago when things finally settled down. At last they could start to live their own lives again.
After returning, neither of them had stayed in Starfleet. There had been rumours that Starfleet had not wanted people with pasts like theirs in their ranks. But in reality the opposite was true. Especially for Voyager's former chief engineer. With all the gathered Delta Quadrant technology with which only a few people were really familiar they had almost begged her to stay. Unwilling to let her precious engines fall into amateur hands, she had compromised by taking a job at Utopia Planitia as a civilian expert. Not wanting to be too far from his wife and newborn baby, Tom had lucked out by finding a job as a test pilot for a spacecraft designer. A job that had finally resulted in his death when something went drastically wrong during a routine test run. Some circuitry had blown up in his face and by the time help arrived it had been too late. Tom was dead.
She noticed she had arrived at her destination. She took a deep breath to compose herself, and remembered that the last time she'd been here was eight weeks ago. Together with Miral and Tom. Today Miral was with her grandmother and Tom. Tom, always her thoughts went back to him. Would things really grow easier with time? Right now she had a hard time believing it. Sighing she finally pressed the door chime.
Immediately the door slid open and without further hesitation B'Elanna went in. Inside she was greeted by an old friend. Voyager's former EMH was always glad to see his friend.
`B'Elanna,' he greeted her warmly, `it is good to see you. Come in, come in.'
`Hi Doc,' the half Klingon greeted back.
Not in the mood for small talk she decided to come straight to the point.
`I hope I'm not bothering you but I need to discuss something.'
A bit taken aback by her businesslike attitude the doctor preceded her into his living room.
`And what would that be?' he queried while indicating she should sit on the large couch that dominated his living room.
`Its about Miral.' the half Klingon stated.
Before she could continue the doctor interrupted. `There is nothing wrong with my goddaughter is there?' A worried frown appearing on his holographic face. `Where is the little one anyhow?'
`She is with her grandmother. I did not want any interruptions, and no, there is nothing wrong with her other than. you know.'
The doctor was relieved to hear this. His goddaughter was very special to him. After their recent loss he could not bear the thought of anything else happening to somebody he cared about. The Doctor nodded for B'Elanna to continue. She had his full attention.
`Tom dying made me question a few things. What if something happened to me as well? The thing is. I want you to take care of Miral should anything happen to me. Will you do this?'
The doctor was stunned. He had not seen this coming at all.
`Why me?' was all he could ask.
`Because I trust you and so did her father.' B'Elanna said simply.
`But surely her grandparents are a more suitable choice?'
`My mother lives on Qo'noS and despite us getting along now I want Miral raised on Earth. My father has done his best to re-establish contact between us but he walked out on me once already. I just cannot take that chance with Miral. Tom's parents and sisters are wonderful and all and they would do all right I suppose, but I would really prefer it if you.'
`Still. I don't know.
`You are her godfather, Doc. Remember that time when you created a holographic family?'
How could he forget? His little girl dying. It still hurt him to think about it.
`You stuck by them till the end. And they were only holograms. No disrespect meant Doctor. I need to know that should anything happen to me my daughter will not be neglected. And I cannot completely get beyond my doubts about both my own and Tom's parents. Too much has happened in the past.'
`I cannot decide this right away B'Elanna. I am
honoured that you even considered me. Regardless, I am
not certain that I would be the right choice.'
The half-Klingon nodded understandingly. `I expected as much. How long do you think you need to think about it?'
`I will try to give you an answer in one week,' he promised.
Exactly one week later B'Elanna pressed the doctors door chime again. The door whooshed open but it was not the doctor who met her. Even though completely unexpected she immediately knew the person who answered the door. They had served together on board Voyager for almost four years. Arguing and fighting over everything and nothing, for most of that time. Before her stood Seven of Nine, former Borg and Astrometrics officer of Voyager.
They had not seen each other since returning to the Alpha Quadrant. However the doctor had kept in contact with Seven and he sometimes told his other friends about her.
A bit surprised the Klingon blurted out, `Seven! What are you doing here?'
`B'Elanna Torres won't you come in?' was Seven's response.
Before the half Human realised it she was sitting on the doctor's couch again. Looking up at the former Borg.
`The doctor has been called away to a patient. He has asked me to tell you that he was not certain when he would be back. If you could please wait for him? And in answer to your question I've been asked to teach at Starfleet Academy for a trimester. They wish to have a better understanding about the Borg. The doctor has kindly offered to let me to stay with him. I accepted.' Having said this she seemed to wait for a reply.
Still looking up at the woman all B'Elanna could say, `I see you still prefer to stand, eh Seven?'
A few minutes later, Seven having procured drinks for them from the room's replicator, an awkward silence descended on the room as the Borg sat down on the oversized couch. Neither could think of anything appropriate to say. Both were well aware of their history together. Bemusedly, B'Elanna realised that she felt none of the old antipathy towards the former drone. 'I must have mellowed quite a bit indeed,' she thought. But she could not help being curious as to what had been going on in Seven's life over the past four years.
Just as she was about to speak, Seven beat her into breaking the silence.
`May I offer my condolences on the death of your husband?'
The question startled B'Elanna. Since she'd seen Seven in the doctor's doorway she had not thought of Tom once. `Thank you Seven.'
Seven hesitated before continuing, `Mr. Paris was one of the first people onboard Voyager who offered me his friendship. I was saddened to hear of his passing.'
B'Elanna was touched by the words. The one thing she had always admired about Seven was the Borg's complete honesty. She knew that she was hearing no false sentiments like she had heard from others. If Seven said she was saddened, she was saddened.
So she thanked her shipmate once more but she did not want to have this conversation yet again. People asking her how she was doing, did she miss Tom, etc. So she quickly asked: `What's been happening in your little corner of the Alpha Quadrant, Seven? Besides teaching Borg 101 at the academy.'
`What would you like to know?'
`Uhm, what kind of work are you doing?'
`I am a consultant on various projects related to both the Borg and the Delta Quadrant.'
`Sounds interesting. Have you done much teaching prior to this term at the academy?'
The former Astrometrics officer had been busy indeed. When she wasn't advising Starfleet, she worked for prestigious organisations like the Daystrom institute. Actually she would go back there right after this trimester at the academy, thus staying near Earth just a little bit longer. Torres knew from conversations with Chakotay that he and Seven had called off their relationship immediately after arriving back in the Alpha Quadrant. She did not know why and even though she was very curious she didn't broach the subject. The evening passed more quickly than either woman realised. The doctor did not return.
B'Elanna was telling Seven a bit about her own work when she suddenly jumped up.
`I'm sorry Seven but I promised Anne Paris that I would pick up Miral half an hour ago. They are having guests tonight. I lost track of the time. I've got to go.'
`You have not spoken to the doctor yet.' Seven pointed out.
`Will you please tell him I will contact him tomorrow. It is really important I speak to him.'
The former lieutenant had only just left when the doctor materialised in his living room.
`How did it go?' he asked.
`It went well,' answered his friend. `You were correct in stating that she no longer harbours any animosity towards me. However it will be a while before I will be able to tell her about my real intentions.'
`I have no doubt the engineer doesn't stand a chance,' grinned the doctor. `I would also like to thank you for covering for me this evening. I still do not know what to say to her.'
`Then it was to our mutual benefit. But why do you not simply inform her of your opinion?' queried Seven.
`Because B'Elanna knows how to push my buttons a bit too well. I do not want to be rushed into something I am not entirely certain of.' Explained the doctor. `Now what have you two been talking about all evening?'
`You mean you have not been listening to our conversation this entire time?' If the doctor had been programmed with the ability to blush he would have turned red without a doubt.
When B'Elanna contacted him the next day the doctor had finally come to a decision of sorts. And while she was not entirely happy with the proposition B'Elanna had to agree it made sense. The doctor wanted to spend a couple of weekends alone with Miral to see if they hit it off. And if he had the patience to be a parent to a very active four year old.
They arranged a weekend three weeks from then and already B'Elanna missed her little girl. Her life pretty much revolved around Miral. She did not mind Anne Paris babysitting the occasional evening. But not since she'd been born had her daughter been away from her for an entire weekend. Although she had to admit the doctor's request was reasonable.
B'Elanna was lying underneath her engineering station at Utopia Planitia. The damn thing had decided to malfunction a few hours earlier. Naturally right in the middle of a rather important experiment. And she just could not figure out what was wrong with it.
She was so involved with her current task she only slowly became aware of the fact that someone was hovering near her station.
`Do you require assistance?' enquired a familiar voice.
At it's unexpected sound B'Elanna bolted upright, barely avoiding hitting her head on the bottom of the console.
`Seven! What are you doing here?' asked the Klingon once again surprised by the unexpected presence of the woman.
`One of the Academy's professors works here. He offered me a tour of the facilities. I was also curious to see what you are working on.'
B'Elanna was still sitting on the floor and she realised that once again she was looking up at the former Borg.
Not wanting to crane her neck any longer she stood up, wincing slightly from being in the same position for too long.
The reaction was not lost on Seven.
`How long have you been working B'Elanna Torres?' she enquired.
`Too long if my muscles are any indication. And I thought we decided last time you would just call me B'Elanna, Seven of Nine Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix Zero-One.'
`Is it not time for you to take you nutritional supplements? It is important that you eat a midday meal.'
B'Elanna stared at the woman. Was Seven concerned about her missing a meal?
Yeah right, just because they had not argued the last time they met did not mean that. did not mean what?
That all of a sudden they had become the best of friends or something?
The Klingon-Human hybrid suddenly realised she would not mind it one bit if she and Seven became friends. She could do far worse in that department.
She already felt ashamed about all the things she had said about Seven in the past.
And she also realised that she wanted a chance to make some of it up to the former Borg. It would be the honourable thing to do.
`You are right of course. Perhaps you would care to join me for lunch before assisting me with this problem like you offered? My treat.'
Seven was enjoying herself during lunch. They ate in one of Utopia's many cafeterias.
It had a good view of Earth but Seven did not notice it. Her entire attention was focused on the woman sitting across from her.
Seven could not take her eyes of the beautiful face and had, like before, trouble keeping her attention on the conversation they were having.
That happened only rarely. She wasn't entirely certain it was a good thing.
Seven had fallen in love with the then lieutenant when she had come face to face with her own mortality, five years earlier.
They'd had a conversation that had helped her enormously and slowly but surely, their relationship had improved from there.
Right to the point where Seven realised she must be falling in love with the feisty Klingon. However by the time she recognised just what her feelings were, B'Elanna had married Tom Paris and appeared really happy. At least their relationship had been getting les adversarial by the day and Seven could spend a lot of time with B'Elanna in Engineering.
It had not been enough though.
For a while she had tried to get over her feelings for B'Elanna by dating Chakotay. Not the smartest thing she had ever done.
Chakotay was boring to say the least. Even the fights between the Borg and the Klingon had been more satisfying than the five or so dates she'd had with the First Officer.
Once back in the Alpha Quadrant she had quickly broken off their so-called relationship. Ending all contact between them.
Actually the only people Seven had kept in touch with on a regular basis were Icheb, Naomi and the Doctor.
Even with Captain Janeway, who had played such a pivotal role in her life, communication was only minimal. The captain had accepted a new ship and Seven did not even know where Janeway was.
For a while, Seven had hoped that putting distance between herself and B'Elanna would lessen the feelings she had for the Klingon. It had not worked very well.
The doctor had found out about her feelings when once too often she had asked him questions about B'Elanna. Not about Tom or Tom and B'Elanna. B'Elanna.
The man had offered his sympathies and said he understood about having unrequited feelings for someone. Though he was by then over his crush on her.
Even though the EMH could not offer any real help it had been a relief to finally be able to talk about her feelings.
Which she then frequently did.
The doctor had never said a word about it to his other friend. And things just went on like that, till a few weeks ago when the doctor contacted Seven with the message that Tom had been killed in an accident.
Although, she had truly felt sorry that the man was dead, she could not help but feel that maybe now she too had a chance. She knew she had to play her cards just right. Even then the outcome was far from certain.
However, if she did not try she would never know if there was a chance for her and the Klingon. Luckily she was a very patient person.
B'Elanna was surprised -once again- at the direction the conversation was going.
She had expected Seven to ask questions about her work or at least that they would discuss scientific topics. But the woman seemed more interested in her personal life.
Asking what her life was like. She found it was easy to talk to Seven and discovered that she would not mind if they were to meet again sometime soon.
`B'Elanna, I would like to ask you a favour.' The engineer looked curious at that remark.
`I am having some trouble explaining certain Borg technology to the students at the academy.'
`I was hoping you could help me divine answers that they will comprehend. You always were quick to understand the technology.'
B'Elanna was more than happy to comply. This offered her a chance to make up for her past attitude. Not much but it could be a start.
`All right. Make you a deal? With your help I'm sure I can get that damn console of mine fixed in no time. Why don't you just stay till my shift is over and than we can go to my home? We will have to pick up Miral on the way, but it is high time you met her anyway. What do you say?'
Seven smiled, `Acceptable.'
The afternoon passed quickly, and after B'Elanna's shift ended both women walked to the nearest transporterplatform still talking amiably.
The on-duty transporter officer smiled at them, thinking they must be very good friends indeed.
B'Elanna greeted the familiar transporter operator and signalled that he should initiate transport, expecting to find herself in San Francisco a few seconds later.
Only, something went wrong.
Seven woke up with a headache and feeling not at all comfortable.
Which was unusual. Not the waking up.
She had exchanged the regeneration unit for a normal bed over two years ago.
It did make travelling much easier. It had taken some getting used to but overall she'd adapted to a normal sleeping pattern quickly.
She had never woken with a headache before and generally speaking the beds she'd slept in were a lot more comfortable than the surface on which she was now lying.
Not only did she have a headache, her mind felt all muddled up. She could not think clearly at all. What was wrong with her? Maybe it was a good idea to open her eyes and see what was going on.
As she opened her eyes her mind cleared up a bit. From her current position all she could see was a grey metal wall and similar floor.
She lifted herself up on her arms to get a better view of the room she was in.
The room was unlit but thanks to her Borg implanted left eye Seven was still able to look around. Although dark and drab, the room appeared quite spacious. At least ten metres in both length and width.
How had she ended up here? The last thing she remembered was transporting down to San Francisco with B'Elan.
B'Elanna! What had happened to her?!
Her worries about her Klingon cleared Seven's head up immediately.
Frantically she looked around; there on the other side of the room. someone was lying, unmoving. Hurriedly she crawled towards the still form, which she believed, had to be B'Elanna.
She was right. The half Klingon engineer was indeed lying there. Whether she was unconscious or just asleep Seven could not tell.
She did not want to wake B'Elanna to expose her to their current situation but she had to find out if the Klingon was all right.
Besides the sooner B'Elanna was awake the sooner they could make plans to get themselves out of this predicament.
First things first. She gently grabbed the half Human's shoulder and tried to shake her awake, but to no avail.
Getting more and more worried Seven started shaking the woman in earnest. After several seconds of this treatment B'Elanna finally began to stir.
Seven stopped shaking B'Elanna as she heard the woman murmur something.
`Not now Miral, mammie is trying to sleep.'
Seven was relieved beyond compare to hear B'Elanna's voice.
She resumed her shaking and this time also called out to wake her friend up.
`Mmm, Seven? What are you doing here? What are we doing here?' dazedly the Klingon looked around her. Not really seeing anything. Focusing instead on Seven's presence.
Like Seven before her, the Klingon had trouble waking up. Seven absently thought that it probably meant that they had been drugged.
Time enough later to think about that.
The blond woman gave her companion a few moments to clear her head.
`Where are we Seven? What is going on?' queried the Klingon at last.
`I do not know. I only woke up a little while ago myself.'
`Do you have any idea where we are? I can't see a flipping thing, can you?'
Seven told her the few things she could. `Damn, what happened?' B'Elanna stood up and started pacing the room. Seven kept a close eye on her to prevent the Klingon from walking into a wall.
`What the hell are we doing here? Better yet how do we get out of here?'
She started touching the wall, feeling for any irregularities. They were put into this room, there must be a way out as well.
Seven quickly understood what the dark haired woman was doing and got to her feet as well.
Even though she could make out no irregularities with her sight it couldn't hurt to double-check. Plus she understood B'Elanna's need for action. It helped calm the nerves when in a tight situation.
About 15 minutes later they had completed their task. B'Elanna kicked the wall in frustration.
They had not found anything. They concluded that they had probably been transported directly to this room. The question was why.
`Dammit I want some answers. Why are we here?'
`Injuring yourself will not benefit our situation.'
`Yeah, yeah I know the drill. Take it easy till an appropriate opportunity for escape presents itself. I really believed that was one lesson I would not have to remember again after getting home.'
With a snarl she seated herself on the floor next to Seven, doing her best to remember the relaxation exercises Tuvok had once taught her.
The exercises helped her, though only marginally.
`The only thing we can do is wait.'
Relaxation flew out the proverbial window.
B'Elanna reclined against one of the walls. She was afraid to move lest she should disturb Seven. It was a bit awkward to suddenly find her lap full of sleeping Borg.
After what must have been several hours with nothing happening, the woman had decided sleep would do nicely to pass the time. There was nothing else she could do.
If the situation weren't so serious it would have been comical.
`If somebody would had told me a week ago I would have a sleeping Seven in my lap, I would have sent them to a counsellor.'
The former Drone had fallen asleep still sitting next to B'Elanna. Somehow she had shifted till she was half lying in the Klingon's lap. B'Elanna herself was wide-awake.
Left with nothing else to do, her thoughts went to Miral. She wondered who was looking after her precious girl. Would the Doctor? No, probably the Paris's were looking after her. She had not talked about her earlier plans with anyone besides Doc.
B'Elanna desperately wanted to start pacing again. It would not help their predicament any, but it would certainly help her release some tension. She envied Seven her sleep. Since when did Seven sleep instead of regenerate anyhow?
`Think Tuvok, B'E, think Vulcan. There is no need to get upset. No need at all.'
Was help on its way? She suspected both Admiral Paris and her father would pull out all the stops to find them. That is if anyone even knew they were missing.
They must know they were missing. But would they know where to look? If their kidnappers were smart enough to interrupt a transportation in progress, from Utopia Planitia no less, to transport them God or Kahless knew where, then chances were they were going to be very hard to find.
Irrationally she knew she would have felt better if Captain Janeway was looking for her. But the Captain could not even know what had happened to them, let alone be involved in any rescue attempt that might be underway.
All of a sudden, the room was illuminated by a very bright light, so bright it hurt the Klingon's eyes. B'Elanna's startled attempts to shield her eyes woke her companion up, making Seven blink rapidly as well.
When B'Elanna's eyes finally adjusted to the bright lights, she noted that they had been moved from their original room to a different place all together.
`Who are you? State your intentions.' Seven's voice sounded angry.
The engineer had not noticed any life forms present, due to the taller woman obscuring her vision of the room.
Stepping from behind Seven she came face to face with a couple of. Ferengi!!
She had not known what to expect but. Ferengi? They would do nearly anything for a profit. That was known throughout the Quadrant. But what possible benefit could they hope to reap from this abduction.
`Simple my dear, we wish to make profit. For that we need to harvest your nanoprobes. You will make us the richest Ferengi in the Alpha Quadrant,' laughed the Ferengi in the front.
While Seven talked with the annoying aliens, B'Elanna decided now was as good a time as any to try and make their escape. Unobtrusively, she tried to edge her way towards the Ferengi. It looked as though they were unarmed.
She should have guessed it would not be as easy as that. She walked straight into a force field.
`B'Elanna!' panicked Seven `Are you all right?'
`Don't fret Sev, I'm fine,' replied an irritated Klingon.
`Uh cousin, what is she doing here?' asked the smaller of the two Ferengi, pointing at B'Elanna. 'We set the scanner to transport only life forms with nanoprobes here. But they brought us two females.'
`How would I know? Something must have been wrong with the transporter. We have the Borg. That is all that matters.'
After the initial shock of hearing that they'd been kidnapped because of her nanoprobes, Seven got her voice back.
Knowing her attempt would be futile she had to try it anyhow.
`If it is me you want, you can let her go.'
`Do you think we are stupid? No we will keep her. After all the trouble we had of getting you here! The last time, you nearly bankrupted us. The Ferengi Commerce Authority annulled our trading licences. Do you really think we are going to jeopardize all we could have by letting her go free? No, you may enjoy her company till we are done with you.'
`Last time?' frowned B'Elanna. Turning to Seven she asked, `These goons have tried to grab you before?'
`Yes, do you recall the incident with the Barclay hologram? After that, Starfleet informed us that a couple of Ferengi had stolen the first Barclay hologram.'
`And a real good job I did too. Ri-ight Nunk? If it wasn't for that Dabo girl we would have gotten away with it. Just goes to show you can't trust females.'
`Oh yes but this time we have you,' Nunk said, smiling at Seven, `and we are not going to fail. Now ladies if you will excuse us, we are going to lay in a course for our customers. Please keep yourself ready for the extraction of our fortune, my dear.'
When they were alone again, still stuck in a room with no obvious way out, B'Elanna turned to Seven. `Care to fill me in?'
The Borg, feeling very stressed that B'Elanna was in this mess because of her, nodded.
`You remember that the Barclay hologram attacked me in Astrometrics. He was reprogrammed to do so by three Ferengi Traders.'
The last few words were said in a tone that left no doubt as to exactly how she felt about Ferengi Traders.
`The real Reg Barclay managed to foil their plot and saved all our lives in the process. Unfortunately, the perpetrators got away just before a Starfleet vessel could apprehend them.'
B'Elanna had listened to Seven's explanation intently. Because of her own calculations, that she'd run at the time, she knew just how close Voyager's crew had come to being killed. But why hadn't Captain Janeway shared this information with her crew? Especially the senior staff.
`Starfleet informed Captain Janeway about all of this in the first transmission we received from the Alpha Quadrant after the attack.' Forestalling the Klingon's next question with a gesture of her hand, she added, `I asked the captain and Tuvok not to forward this information to the crew.'
`Why?' asked B'Elanna uncomprehendingly.
Seven became more uncomfortable by the minute. Here they were, captives of mad Ferengi and instead of trying to escape they were having a conversation she did not want to have.
At the same time she wanted to talk to B'Elanna. To have her understand what her life had been like. She wanted to be comforted by the Klingon like she'd been once before.
She looked at B'Elanna. The other woman appeared both curious and concerned but was waiting patiently for Seven to continue her story.
`You are aware that, as a drone, I helped assimilate millions?'
B'Elanna nodded again. This was getting more confusing by the minute. What had Seven's assimilations to do with the fact that someone tried to kill her and the rest of Voyager's crew for a bunch of nanoprobes?
`When I was first freed from the Collective, I tried very hard to return. As well as this, we encountered several species that tried to destroy Voyager because I was on board. And then there were other occasions where the crew was placed in danger because of my actions.
By the time these Ferengi tried to lure Voyager towards the Alpha Quadrant the crew was finally starting to accept me. I did not want yet another reason for them to revert to disliking me.'
Having said all this, the blond looked B'Elanna straight in the eyes.
`She means me,' B'Elanna thought. `It wasn't the crew that Seven had been worried about. It was me.'
No way! Where had those thoughts come from? This was Seven she was thinking about. Why would Seven possibly care what she thought.
The Klingon abandoned this train of thought as preposterous.
However Seven did seem to be waiting for a reaction from her.
`I can see why such a reaction would have worried you.' She allowed some of the shame she felt to creep into her voice. `We, that is, most of us did not give you much of a chance, did we?'
`No, you didn't,' although Seven's expression was back under control she was unable to hide the old hurt completely.
`I'm truly sorry for that Seven. I do not understand why I, of all people, was not more open minded about you. You are a remarkable person, and I still feel like an idiot for taking so long to see that. I know this must sound pretty lame to you, especially after all this time but.'
Taking a deep breath B'Elanna continued. `I hope you can forgive me for my behaviour.'
During her speech B'Elanna had kept looking at Seven not quite meeting her eyes.
The emotion B'Elanna had identified in Seven as hurt, had not been pain from their adversarial past. Certainly on occasion the condescending behaviour of others had cut deeply. And sometimes it still troubled her.
But she had long since forgiven the Klingon for this. Honesty compelled her to admit that often she had enjoyed the arguments with Voyager's chief engineer. B'Elanna could be rude but the fights had been invigorating, nothing condescending about them. Two brilliant minds having heated discussions. She had even, on occasion, deliberately provoked the engineer to get a reaction out of her.
The hurt that Seven had just felt had been the old pain brought about by years of believing she could not be with the person she loved. Years in which she could not even be near the Klingon, afraid of B'Elanna's opinion of her.
She still was not certain that she even had a shot with the beautiful B'Elanna Torres.
As far as she was aware the engineer had never expressed interest in females, but still she had to try.
So B'Elanna's words came as a huge relief. Not only was the Klingon's old animosity gone, but she thought highly of her too.
So she smiled at B'Elanna and answered, `If you can forgive me my rude behaviour as well.'
`What a touching scene.' One of the Ferengi had returned. In his hands he carried two small trays of food.
Both women turned around. Where B'Elanna almost whirled in her haste to face their captor, Seven's reaction was more sedate. With her superior hearing she'd been aware of the approaching male moments before he addressed them. Reluctant to tear her gaze away from the Klingon she turned to face him slowly.
`It's been a while since you've eaten. Got to keep your strength up. We would not want our little nanoprobes to go to waste,' said Yeggie his mind on the fortune this venture was going to win him.
I do not require nutrition at this time,' stated Seven turning away from their jailer.
`Yes you do!' responded B'Elanna, unexpectedly vehement.
Yeggie watched their interaction with interest, a stupid grin on his wide eared face. `See, your girlfriend agrees with me.'
B'Elanna did not seem phased by the remark, but Seven stiffened. Relieved that the male did not continue this line of speech, the half Borg decided to ignore him.
Instead, she turned to watch the Klingon's face again.
It was almost as if she could hear the Klingon say: `You do need to keep your strength up. We need to be ready to kick some Ferengi ass.' So she nodded stiffly in acquiescence.
Yeggie entered some commands on the console in front of the cell. A small opening appeared in the force field on ground level that was just large enough for the Ferengi male to push the two trays through.
Bending to pick up the trays, B'Elanna decided it was time to do some information collecting.
`Where are we going anyway?'
Yeggie replied, `I cannot tell you.'
`Why not? We aren't going anywhere, are we?' B'Elanna said gesturing towards the force field.
`I cannot tell you because Nunk did not tell me.' The guy seemed almost apologetic.
B'Elanna was disappointed he could not give them more information. They would need whatever knowledge they could acquire to plan their escape. For escape they would. Miral was not going to grow up without either of her parents. Not if she could help it.
At least the male seemed willing to answer her questions. If she could not get information about where they were going, maybe he could tell them how they'd been kidnapped.
`Did uhm, Nunk, tell you how he got us here?' B'Elanna tried to ask nonchalantly. She made sure to sound as unthreatening as she could manage and a bit flirtatious, relying on some advice one of her old professors had once given her.
`Ferengi males might despise intelligent females but they are very easily manipulated by a beautiful woman. If sweet words do not help just rub their ears a bit and they will be like putty in your hands.'
B'Elanna was not planning on touching the Ferengi's ears except for use as a convenient handle when she would shove him through the ship's bulkhead.
The Klingon, not really thinking herself beautiful or desirable, had never practised any flirting or seduction games. Therefore she did not know what was the best way to approach this particular male.
The Ferengi did not appear overly bright to her. So she decided, with relief, that it was not necessary to actually try and seduce the fellow. Just the thought made her feel queasy.
Glancing sideways at Seven she noticed that the woman was looking at her nutrition dubiously.
To B'Elanna, Seven was the epitome of a beautiful woman. But, for some reason, the thought of the blond seducing this p'taQ made the Klingon Human hybrid feel sick to her stomach.
`Nunk can tell you himself how he arranged for you to be our lovely guests,' came Nunk's reply. B'Elanna had not even heard him enter the room.
`And since we do not have anything else planned for the next few days why don't I tell you two pretties just how you became our exalted guests. We did a pretty impressive job if I do say so myself.'
"It took us a while to collect the needed funds for our venture. After our last failure, I am sure you understand, our credit was not good. Luckily we managed to, eh, persuade a few potential investors. I costed us half our potential profit but there will be more than enough left."
He stopped talking for a moment, thinking long fully about the earlobe enlargement he was going to have. Maybe the smaller female in front of him would find him attractive then. That way he would not have to get rid of her afterwards. He took a good look at the half Klingon and suddenly swallowed nervously. The contempt, that was now visible on her face, hastily made him reconsider. Regretfully he would have to find another way to get rid of her.
He continued, "Than we had to find reliable people to watch your movements. The timing had to be just right of course. Unfortunately for us you only seemed to work in very secured places. Rarely, if ever, venturing out of the secured areas. And whenever we finally managed to think of a plan you would move to another place again. Very frustrating."
Thus far Seven pretended not to care about what the Ferengi was saying. She did note that B'Elanna was listening intently. It was obvious to her that the male was gloating over his achievements. She was of no mind to respond just to boast his ego. However she had a strong feeling about what he was going to say next. And this prospect frightened her more than their entire predicament.
Nunk went on again, a little disappointed that so far he had not gotten a single reaction from the gorgeous blonde.
"We decided to change tactics and just observe you for a while. That way, sooner or later, we would be able to create our own opportunity. We figured we might even learn something of those secret projects you were working on. You never know what chances will surface. Unfortunately we weren't able to find out anything about your work. Like I said, security in those places was to tight. Your private calls, however, were relatively simple to monitor. I will say it proved to be quite entertaining. Especially you conversations with that doctor. A hologram, is he?"
Ah, now he had the blonde's attention. He had to admire her self-control. The only outward sign of nervousness she showed were her balled fists.
As far as he could see, the smaller female had not noticed this. She was still hanging on his lips. It was pure luck that they had transported her along the Borg woman. This was going to be entertaining. He could not wait to see her reaction to what he was going to say next.
"Yes, of course he is a hologram," he answered his own question, "Not that it matters. What matters is the conversations that the two of you had.
Tell me," and now he looked Seven direct in the eye, "why is it tat such a direct and repulsively honest person, such as yourself, has never told the person of your affections about your feelings?"
By now Seven's nerves were really frayed and it was all she could do not to fling herself at this offensive male. Force field or not.
Oh, didn't he love building up the tension like this. This was as much fun as conning a Vulcan in a business deal. Was it his imagination or was the Klingon also starting to show signs of tension? She kept glancing at her companion. Maybe she was starting to suspect something.
"Will you bloody well stop toying with her." came B'Elanna's angry comment.
She could not help but be curious about what the Ferengi was saying but not at her friend's expense. She had seen how tense Seven had become and wished she could comfort her.
"You can just stop gloating moron, we're not interested."
"Now why don't I believe that?" came his amused reply. "Actually the best is yet to come."
"Please, no." Seven hated to practically beg but B'Elanna mustn't find out. Not like this.
The Ferengi pretended not to hear and started talking again at the same moment B'Elanna put her arm around Seven's shoulder.
"Its okay Sev. Its okay to love someone. When we get out of here I won't tell a sole. Promise."
Seven nodded slightly while staring at the ground. This just could not be happening.
"When we found out the object of her desire lived on Earth we had to come up with a plan. Her love interest was married and as long as that person was we knew you would not come to Earth. So when we worked out the rest of our plan, we had to create an accident for."
And now he looked at B'Elanna with something like regret, ".your husband."
"No!" Seven's hold on herself broke. Tears were streaming down her face. On top of everything else, now she believed she was responsible for the death of Tom Paris. B'Elanna would never forgive her. She could not even forgive herself. Her knees buckled and slowly she slid to the floor, her only support the wall at her back.
B'Elanna went rigid with shock. This bastard had murdered Tom! Killed Miral's father, her mate! Blood rage clouded her vision and it was only with the utmost control that she did not fling herself at the Ferengi.
Nunk actually took a step back when he saw the look on the Klingon's face. For a moment he believed that she would actually storm through the force field to kill him. Shaking his large head he berated himself. But his amusement was gone.
"After that it was simply a matter of waiting for the right time. We had a transport ship in orbit and all we had to do was wait for you to surface on Earth. We waited until you transported to San Francisco's central portationstation. We rigged the transporter so that when an organism with nanoprobes would materialise there it would be automatically transported to a destination of our choice. Which was a large cargo pod that was equipped with technology to mask any life signs to Earth's scanners might look for. When we were far enough away from Earth we transported you too this room where we met."
Funny he did not feel at all amused at finishing his tale. And suddenly he had a big desire to be someplace else.