DISCLAIMER: See Part 1
B'Elanna watched as Seven was drugged and led towards the shuttle bay. She momentarily puzzled over Veslek's words but paid them little heed. He was probably trying to pull some low trick on Seven.
Seven was accompanied through the corridors by Villamer, Veslek and three guards; two males and one female. The woman and one of the men walked in front of Seven while the others followed behind the former Borg.
For a second B'Elanna contemplated shooting them from her current position inside Talarum's quarters, but she could not risk it. Should she take out the first one or maybe two the others could very well believe that Seven was responsible and hurt her before the half Klingon had a chance to shoot them all. The exographic sensor was a very handy tool but it did take a certain amount of time and concentration when aiming.
No, far better to transport herself into the scene, use the advantage of surprise and take the guards attention off Seven by presenting herself as a possible target.
She would use Talarum's phaser to stun them. With a little bit of luck she would take them out within a few seconds, reach the shuttle and get the hell out of here.
By now Seven had reached the shuttle and B'Elanna, deciding it was high time to get the fun underway, transported herself to the shuttle deck.
As the party arrived at the shuttle deck they walked directly to the shuttle that was closest to the decks exterior exit. The entry ramp in the rear of the shuttle opened as soon as Villamer entered the access commands.
A couple of chairs were lined against the sides of the shuttle's back compartment and Veslek directed Seven to one of them. Villamer and one of the guards walked further into the shuttle through a partition that divided the fore and the aft of the shuttle. Villamer ordered Veslek to join him there at once and, with a last glance at Seven, Veslek followed him to the front.
The ramp was still open, awaiting the arrival of Talarum, whom Seven knew would not come. Slowly moving her head she saw that there were only two guards near her now. It would be the perfect opportunity to escape. And, because she had no doubts whatsoever that B'Elanna would arrive at any moment now, she decided to give her friend a bit of help.
Before she had a chance to make any move Seven saw phaser fire out of the corner of her eye. The guard nearest to the entrance ramp fell to the floor at nearly the same moment, never knowing what had hit him.
Seven had just enough time to jump to her feet when B'Elanna rushed inside and aimed her phaser at the second guard. The female security officer was only able to register her surprise at the intrusion before Seven knocked her out with one graceful and very effective kick of her right leg.
Letting Seven deal with the female guard B'Elanna switched her aim to guard number three who came rushing out of the forward compartment. His weapon drawn in front of him, he did not notice the half Klingon warrior, believing Seven to be the cause of the mayhem. Intending to shoot the Borg he was hit by a powerful phaser blast from B'Elanna's weapon first. Villamer did not rush back into the rear of the shuttle but instead took a position behind the partition. As he watched his last guard go down he reaised his phaser and took aim at the Borg bitch responsible for ruining all his well-laid plans.
Several thoughts flashed through Villamer's mind. Subconsciously he realised Talarum would not join them. And he would have to harvest the nanoprobes from a dead body. So much for trying to keep her alive. Gods, how he hated her. Nanoprobes or not he would enjoy killing her.
Just as he fired Veslek rushed him, causing him to miss his intended target. However the surprise attack did not manage to disarm or disable him. With anger powered strength he wrestled Veslek for his phaser.
"You goddamned traitor. How long have you been working against us?"
Veslek had all his attention on the phaser and did not even hear his opponent's angry question. However he did feel the knee Villamer unexpectedly and forcefully placed in his stomach. Forced to let go of the weapon he instinctively put his hands to his stomach, turning away from Villamer.
Immediately realising his mistake he tensed, waiting for his life to be ended. When nothing happened he turned around again, just in time to see the crime lord crumble to the floor with a grim looking Seven of Nine towering over him.
Seven did not know why Veslek had helped them. Undoubtedly he was following his own agenda. She was not going to take a chance with the man; if he had betrayed his own employers he could very well betray them.
So, while holding his attention, she told him: "Thank you for your assistance." And then applied the Vulcan neck pinch on him.
With Veslek now safely unconscious she turned around and rushed towards B'Elanna. The Klingon was lying on the floor, bleeding profusely from her left side again. Trying to stop the bleeding with her hands as well as she could B'Elanna idly wondered if her left side had some kind of phaser magnet in it all of a sudden. How the hell had she managed to get shot in the some place twice in one hour?
Seven knelt beside the woman she held in such high regard. It was impossible not to see the blood streaming through the half Klingon's hands. For a second the usually level-headed Borg did not know what to do other than state the obvious.
"You are injured."
Noticing Seven's behaviour and to have her friend focus on something other than her B'Elanna hissed through clenched teeth: "No kidding. Seven will you get us the hell out of here."
Seven heard B'Elanna's words but her eyes had fallen on the supine female guard and she quickly stood up and forcefully removed the woman's upper garments.
Ordering B'Elanna to press the clothing to her wounds Seven reluctantly left her side and closed the entry ramp. As she passed the engineer, who was fighting to stay conscious, on her way to the cockpit she was unable to resist gazing at her for a brief moment as she thought.
'I love you.'
And she knew for a fact she always would.
After this Seven powered up the shuttle, left the Resolution and was met by the USS Sydney ten minutes later.
"Lt. Torres, Personal log, stardate 51186. Working with Seven of Nine is starting to get a little. awkward. Tom's right, anything more than friendship is a bad idea. But I feel a bit guilty about how badly I have treated her so far. Maybe after we get some work done tonight I can invite her to a holodeck programme."
It's dark in Voyager's mess hall, B'Elanna is sitting at a table close to the exit. Soft music is playing in the background and the half-Klingon is staring at a PADD, but not really focussing on its contents.
As the door whooshes open she looks up and sees Seven of Nine enter the mess hall. Despite her honest intentions not to let her feelings for the Borg get out of hand her heart skips a beat as the attractive woman comes to a halt before her.
"You wished to see me, Lieutenant?"
"Eh, yes, I." Why was speaking to this woman always so awkward for her? At first all they did was argue and now she became flustered every time the woman came near. ".I had this midnight inspiration about reconfiguring the astrometric projectors. I hope you weren't. regenerating."
Seven states she wasn't and B'Elanna continues, offering her PADD for perusal. She is careful not to look Seven in the eye was certain the intelligent woman will sense something is amiss.
"This is tricky stuff. It could use your touch. Will you please take a look at it?"
Looking askance at the chief-engineer Seven says:
"You do not normally require my 'touch'. In fact you have stated on seventeen separate occasions you do not wish my presence in Engineering."
B'Elanna realises the Borg isn't accusing her of anything and is merely stating facts but she can't help feeling guilty again.
"I know and I was wrong. Since working with you on the Astrometric lab I've come to realise I was wrong about you. I, eh, was hoping we could start over again."
Quickly agreeing Seven accepts the PADD from B'Elanna. As the former drone starts to look at the data B'Elanna asks in an attempt to make idle conversation.
"Don't you want to sit down?"
As she more or less expected Seven declines the offer. The engineer doesn't mind as her eyes are drawn to the former Borg's body and she is mesmerised by the sight before her.
Seven does not appear to notice this as she frowns slightly: "The light is insufficient." Her eyes narrow at the half Klingon.
"It's relaxing, don't you think? Voyager isn't all Jeffries tubes and cargo bays, you know. Tell you what, when we are done here I'll take you to the holodeck. We'll run the Ktarian moonrise simulation. It's beautifull."
"Beauty is irrelevant," Seven answered.
Something occurs to Seven "Unless you wish to change the nature of our affiliation."
B'Elanna pretends not to know what Seven is talking about but feels her nervousness increase.
"What do you mean?"
"I may be new to individuality but I'm not ignorant of human behaviour. I've noticed your attempts to engage me in idle conversation. And I see the way your pupils dilate when you look at my body."
"Obviously," she continues bluntly, "you've suggested a visit to the Holodeck in order to create a romantic mood. Are you in love with me, Lieutenant?"
By now becoming very nervous and flushed in the bargain, the engineer denies everything. "Well. no." she insists.
"Then you wish to copulate?"
B'Elanna practically shouts: "NO!" Then laughs awkwardly. "I mean, I. I don't know what I mean."
Seven shakes her head. "All these elaborate rituals of deception. I did not realize becoming human again would be such a challenge. Sexuality is particularly complex. As Borg, we had no need for seduction. We saw a species we wanted and we assimilated it. Nevertheless, I wish to explore my humanity."
She advances on the Klingon-Human hybrid. "Take off your clothes."
The Lieutenant jumps up and tries to run away. She seems glued to the floor though, unable to move. "Uh., Seven."
"Do not be alarmed," Seven insists, "I will not hurt you." As the Borg starts to remove her bio-suit B'Elanna's blood begins to boil and as Seven steps even closer.
B'Elanna woke with a strangled cry, barely preventing herself from falling out of bed. As she realised just what she had been dreaming, she felt the blood rush to her cheeks. Now she knew how Harry had felt onboard Voyager when he'd had his crush on Seven. Tom had told her the story, making her promise not to tell anyone. At the time, even through her hatred for the drone, she had wished she could have been a fly on the wall of the mess hall. In a way, her wish had been granted.
The Klingon could not remember much about the past few days. She remembered escaping from the Resolution. She also had a few vague recollections of being in a star-ship sickbay, but that is not where she was now. Slowly sitting up, she realised she was no longer on board a space-going vessel.
Daylight shone in through two large windows. She appeared to be in a medical facility somewhere, probably on Risa, and it was apparent that she was occupying a private room.
She scanned the room and, seeing Seven asleep in a chair next to her bed, B'Elanna couldn't prevent a small smile from lighting up her face. 'The woman truly does look angelic,' she thought. The half Klingon took the opportunity to really examine the blonde, noticing the dark circles around Seven's eyes. Even asleep the woman looked bone weary. The engineer didn't know how much time had passed since she'd been shot but she realised there was a good chance Seven had never left her side.
Coming to this conclusion B'Elanna chuckled to herself. Seven had probably made the officers in charge of their rescue come down to sickbay to interview her. She could readily imagine the former drone bluntly stating that if they wished to speak to her they would have to come to her to do so.
All this speculation led to one question that had been burning in the back of B'Elanna's mind. Was Seven really in love with her? It almost seemed preposterous, yet Seven had not denied it even once. If anything her actions supported it and the Klingon had to admit it felt kind of nice.
B'Elanna adjusted herself to get a better view of Seven, the slight movement waking the subject of her musings. As she became aware of being watched by the half Human engineer a huge smile broke out on Seven's face.
B'Elanna was unable to prevent an answering grin from covering her own face, softly saying, "Hey there, sleepy head."
"Hey yourself, and I do believe you are the sleepy head," returned the Borg, asking with a small smirk, "Did you have pleasant dreams?"
As her thoughts were pulled back to her earlier dream B'Elanna felt her cheeks redden again and she quickly attempted to change the subject.
"Er, yeah. How long have I been asleep?"
As Seven recalled the reason B'Elanna was lying in this room at the medical facility her smile faltered. Because of their rendezvous with the USS New Sydney help for the Klingon had arrived in time, but she couldn't prevent herself from wondering what if it hadn't?
As soon as Seven had moved the shuttle clear of the Resolution and ascertained there would be no pursuit she had programmed a direct course for the approaching Starfleet vessels. Leaving the controls she had gone to B'Elanna's side, immediately putting her hands on top of the engineer's to help stop the bleeding. and simply to touch her. It had been at this point that the half Klingon had finally lost consciousness.
When the shuttle was hailed by the USS New Sydney Seven did not let go of B'Elanna and simply ordered the shuttle's computer to open a comm channel.
After briefly introducing herself Seven stated that she required immediate medical assistance for her friend.
The USS New Sydney's commanding officer replied they had scanned several unconscious bodies and demanded to know what was going on. Seven had sighed in frustration at the waste of time, and had tersely answered,
"They are members of the Orion Syndicate and have merely been stunned. Please my friend is bleeding heavily and requires urgent medical attention."
Obviously making up his mind the commanding officer answered: "Stand by for immediate transportation."
Seven replied with a clipped, "Acknowledged." And waited for the familiar transportation procedure to commence. Even then it seemed to take for ever till they were transported out of the shuttle.
When they materialized in the New Sydney's sickbay they were met by the ship's medical staff and a large security team. Seven was not interested in the latter or in the fact that the other occupants of the shuttle had been transported with them. She trusted that the Starfleet security officers were more than capable of handling the heavily stunned Orion Syndicate members.
No, her one and only concern at that moment was her injured Klingon. Before any of the medical personnel had a chance to respond, she scooped B'Elanna up and put her on the nearest bio bed, demanding that the doctors take care of her.
The doctor and one of her assistants went to work immediately while the other medical personnel checked out the remaining five people. Much of this went unnoticed by Seven as she concentrated solely on B'Elanna, not willing to let her out of her sight for a single moment.
The doctor found the PADD under B'Elanna's outfit and handed it to the Bajoran in charge of the security detail. The man, who had tried in vain to get Seven's attention, took the PADD and, because Seven continued to ignore him and did not appear hostile, started to read the contents.
From then on things happened fairly quickly. The stunned humans were transported to the ship's brig after Seven finally revealed some of what had happened, all the while refusing to leave the half-Human's side.
When the ship's captain, a female Vulcan named T'pin, heard what Seven had reported and read the contents of the PADD she immediately took control of the Resolution, and placed it's crew under house arrest. She was determined to launch a full investigation.
Because T'pin was a creature of logic and Seven refused to leave sickbay as long as the half-Klingon was residing there, the captain finally made her way to the medical facility to get the complete story.
Talarum was eventually removed from his awkward position and transported to the Saturn's sickbay, T'pin wisely deciding it was unhealthy for the Human male to share the same room as the Klingon and her friend.
Finally all ships made their way back to Risa where the recovering B'Elanna was transported to a ground based hospital. They kept her sedated so she could get some much-needed rest and to keep her body relaxed so it could heal without any outside stress.
Seven finally had to leave B'Elanna's side for an hour or so to get cleaned up and have something to eat. Then she entered the sedated engineer's room and sat in the only chair the room offered. It had been a couple of extremely long and tension filled days and by now Seven was feeling bone tired. However she was determined to be there when B'Elanna woke up. Despite all the doctor's assurances she needed to know, for herself, that the woman was all right. She had no idea how the Klingon would feel about being under such scrutiny but she couldn't drag herself away.
After managing to stay awake for several more hours, content to simply watch B'Elanna sleeping she finally succumbed to her own exhaustion and fell asleep. Which was how B'Elanna found her when she woke up.
"Two days heh? What did I miss?"
As Seven gave her a concise report of the intervening days B'Elanna listened intently. However she only asked a few questions as she was not really interested in this subject at the moment. She felt unsure as to how to bring up the one she did want to discuss.
She was, however, curious about Veslek's role in the entire caper. Try as she might she could not figure him out. Her best guess was that he was an undercover agent from Starfleet but she was certain Seven would have told her that by now. So she asked Seven about him.
"I am unsure as of yet," replied the former Borg. "He is currently in prison but is refusing to answer any questions. He has asked to speak to me but I did not wish to leave you."
All thoughts of Veslek left B'Elanna's mind at Seven's words.
"Why did you not wish to leave me Seven?"
She could avoid the subject for all eternity and knew Seven would respect her unspoken wishes but that was one lesson in life the Klingon had learned well and good. If you did not deal with a situation honestly, eventually the situation would deal with you.
As a thought occurred to her a soft chuckle escaped her throat.
Seven, who had been wondering how to answer the engineer's question, quirked her eyebrow questioningly at the sound.
Shaking her head B'Elanna answered: "I just realized something. I will explain it later."
What had occurred to B'Elanna at that moment was how often she had grown to love the things she used to hate. Whether it was organisations like Star Fleet or people like her mother, Captain Janeway or Tom. she had hated them all once and somewhere along the way those feelings had changed. And now there was Seven.
Softly B'Elanna requested, "Please answer my question."
Suddenly becoming nervous and apprehensive to a degree she hadn't felt since her disconnection from the collective Seven could only prevaricate.
"You know why."
"I want to hear it from you, Seven. Not from the mouth of some Ferengi." B'Elanna's tone was gentle yet determined.
Nervous as she was Seven answered without any hesitation. "What the Ferengi stated was correct. I am in love with you."
Hearing the words from Seven the hybrid became even more bewildered than she already had been. All she managed to breathe out was, "But why?"
"You are perfection."
That earned her another chuckle from the engineer. "Hardly Seven, hardly."
"You are to me." Seven's voice allowed for no argument.
Even though she had asked the question, B'Elanna did not know what to say or do about the answer.
As the Klingon remained silent it was Seven's turn to ask a question. She had carried her feelings for the woman sitting opposite her for years. But now that circumstances had brought her secret out in the open she needed some kind of answer from B'Elanna. Any answer was better than none at all.
"Is there a chance you could reciprocate my feelings?"
At this B'Elanna looked Seven in the eyes again. The hope and fear she saw there made her stomach do somersaults. However honesty compelled her to tell the truth.
"I don't know Seven, Tom only died two months ago. I've missed coming home from work to my partner. I've missed simply cuddling on the couch. I've missed all those little things about a relationship more then I believed possible. It would be so easy for me to say that I want you Seven. And it would not even be a lie, I've come to realize just what a wonderful person you are. But would I say I want you for you or simply because I miss being in a relationship. It is just too soon for me."
Seven nodded, under the circumstances this was the best answer she could have hoped for. B'Elanna had not said there was no hope for her, just that she needed time. Time that Seven was more than willing to give her as she realised she actually did have a chance with the feisty Klingon.
For some reason she was convinced B'Elanna would return her feelings eventually and she boldly stated, "I think I will endeavour to woo you and sweep you off your feet. I do not intend to fail at his.
Her remark startled a grin out of the brunette. "I'm in big trouble aren't I?"
Seven agreed quite seriously, "You are."
An exhausted B'Elanna fell asleep again two hours later and Seven left her for a moment to find something to eat. Even though she was still very tired herself she was much too restless to attempt to sleep.
The medical facility boasted a large, comfortable cafeteria, and after collecting a plate of banana pancakes, a dish she knew was among B'Elanna's favourite foods, she sat down in a quiet corner.
As she worked her way through the pancakes she suddenly became aware of someone approaching her. She had no difficulty in recognising the Vulcan Starfleet Captain, T'pin.
As the Vulcan stopped in front of her she acknowledged Seven with a nod of her head while stating, "Ms. Seven."
"Captain T'pin," and, not wasting any time, as she intended to go straight back to B'Elanna, asked, "How may I help you?"
"We require your assistance."
Since Seven had a pretty good idea just what they needed her assistance with she stifled a sigh and said.
"Perhaps you would care to sit down while I finish my diner."
Seven had guessed correctly when she'd figured the Captain wanted her to talk to Veslek. Not in the least interested, the logical Captain persuaded her to speak with him by pointing out that the sooner they had his cooperation the sooner they could close the case against the Orion Syndicate leaders Talarum and Villamer.
Sighing, Seven agreed but only if it could be done immediately as she wanted to return to B'Elanna's side as soon as possible.
The Vulcan readily agreed to this and they rose to walk to the brig to talk to the recalcitrant Syndicate member.
It turned out that the only reason Veslek had refused to talk with anyone else was because he feared he would never have the opportunity to see Seven again. He had been involved in Seven's kidnapping from the beginning and somewhere along the line had developed a fascination with the former Borg. When the, in his eyes, impossible had happened and the Ferengi had managed to capture her he had decided to help her, no matter what the risk.
He had grown jaded with his life in the Syndicate anyway, but no one left the Syndicate and lived to tell about it. He cursed the day he had saved Talarum's life. Not that he had been an upstanding Federation citizen or anything but before joining up with the Syndicate he had never done anything worse than petty theft. Now he had a lot more on his conscience and he was ready to confess. He was aware of so many hideous plans by the Syndicate and his scruples would no longer let him live that life. With a little bit of luck he would live long enough to testify against the Syndicate. He had no doubt assassins were already on the way to silence him.
He answered every one of the Borg's questions and when she wanted to leave two hours later he happily agreed to work with Starfleet personnel. He knew he would never see the blonde beauty again.
THREE YEARS LATER.
Seven entered the quarters she shared with her wife. Today was their first wedding anniversary. She had indeed managed to sweep her Klingon off her feet. And had been swept off her own in return by the Klingon. It had taken longer than Seven had originally anticipated but her persistence had more than paid of. In the end resistance had been futile and B'Elanna was now well and truly hers.
As she entered their living area she saw B'Elanna standing in front of the little table that bore a few holopictures. It held one of Tom, one of Miral, now a lively 7 year old, and one of their wedding pictures.
Seven thought her spouse was probably looking at Tom's picture as she did from time to time. She still missed him at times and Seven understood this.
It had taken Seven a while to stop feeling guilty over Tom's death. Feeling she was responsible for killing Tom and causing B'Elanna and Miral so much pain had hindered her 'wooing' of the Klingon a little. She had felt even guiltier for the fact that it had granted her a chance at such happiness. But as B'Elanna had pointed out to her on more than one occasion, it was the Ferengi and Orion syndicate who were behind his murder, not Seven. And B'Elanna knew Tom would wish for her and their daughter to be happy. She had finally managed to convince Seven of this and the blonde had at long last let her own ghosts to rest.
As she silently approached her wife and embraced her from behind she saw to her surprise that B'Elanna was holding their wedding picture in her hand.
B'Elanna smiled when she felt her wife's arms encircle her. She had been thinking about her spouse all day, and for some reason her thoughts kept going back to their wedding day and how happy they both were, together.
She had been so afraid that she would again lose a person she loved that, after her initial conversation with Seven on Risa, she had become resistant to the whole concept of falling in love again. But luckily for them both, Seven had not given up. And a year ago they had married.
A beautiful day with all their loved ones surrounding and supporting them. Even Chakotay had been there to wish them well.
The Doctor, by now an accomplished holo photographer, and the couple's friend, had taken the wedding pictures.
When he had offered to do this for the intended couple, B'Elanna had been hesitant to take him up on his proposal.
He had been a wonderful friend to both her and Seven during their developing relationship but she had been present when the doctor professed his love for Seven. She did not wish to be responsible for the grief that taking pictures of Seven's marriage to someone else might cause him.
The doctor had smiled a bit melancholically at this. "I think part of me will always be a little in love with Seven. She is a very special person, as I am sure you will agree. However I have known for very long time now that she was in love with someone else. That gave me a a chance to come to terms with it. Now I am simply happy that my friends are in love with each other. To witness such an occurrence is special in and of it self. I plan to witness you two being happy for a very long time, my dear friend."
B'Elanna had swallowed rather heavily at this and for the first time in their mutual relationship she gave the doctor a fierce hug.
He was right when he said her relationship with Seven was special. There was no doubt that she had loved Tom, but in Seven she had found her soul- mate.
And as she felt Seven's arms embrace her and Seven asked what she was thinking of, B'Elanna said, "Just thinking how incredibly lucky I am to have you in my life."
As B'Elanna turned in Seven's arms to return the embrace, a single happy tear flowed from Seven's eye. B'Elanna was indeed perfection.