DISCLAIMER: Yes, Paramount owns it all - I am just having some fun with their characters.
SERIES: This story is third in the R series, following Resistance and Retribution
FEEDBACK: Yes please, I wouldn't post otherwise.
Thanks as always go to Ralst and Anaglyph for their excellent beta skills - this would be a far poorer story without them.

By Rebelgirl

Part One

It took just six paces for Seven to walk from one wall of the cell to another. She knew this because she had counted them repeatedly. The young ex-drone had been pacing listlessly for almost four hours. When they had first taken B'Elanna away, she had tried to occupy her time with searching the cell. The tall blonde woman had studied each wall carefully, looking for any monitoring device or any weakness in the structure. Finding nothing of any interest, Seven turned her attention to the heavy door that had slammed shut behind B'Elanna and the two guards that escorted her. It was solid, with strong hinges and a mechanical locking system that Seven was certain she could manipulate open, but she had been unable to assess who or what lay behind the door and whether her actions would be detected.

Once she had exhausted her study, Seven began to pace. At first, she was surprised that she was even performing the activity. Whether she remained still or mobile, she was still incarcerated against her will, and separated from the woman she loved. Walking from one side of the cell to the other would not alleviate the situation. Yet somehow it made the endless wait for B'Elanna's return seem more bearable. Each time, she counted out the six paces needed to traverse the room, and with each round trip, she marked a tally on the wall, using a borg-enhanced finger to scratch a series of neat vertical lines that verified her pacing.

Mentally, she calculated the distance she had so far travelled and the calorific expenditure of such a meaningless task. But still she would not stop. The mind-numbing tedium dulled the pain. It meant that she had fractionally less time to speculate on B'Elanna's fate. The Moderator had made it quite clear that he wished to continue torturing the engineer. It had become something of a hobby to him on the first occasion they had been captured and Seven had no reason to think that he wouldn't carry on where he left off.

The Astrometrics officer felt powerless and frustrated. During their first incarceration together, Seven had admitted that she loved B'Elanna. She did not receive an immediate declaration of reciprocated feelings, but neither had B'Elanna rejected the idea completely. On their return to Voyager, the two women had forged a deeper bond with their friendship, and after finally telling Lieutenant Paris that she was no longer in love with him, B'Elanna had revealed that she did have strong feelings for Seven.

The lithe Astrometrics officer spun on her heel as her pacing continued. The last few days had been the most frightening, yet exhilarating, emotional barrage she had experienced. But now it felt like the events had occurred months, or even years ago. Seven found herself feeling strangely detached from her memories; as if they belonged to someone else and she was intruding on their privacy. She fretted constantly for B'Elanna's safety and at the same time plotted her long-awaited revenge on the Moderator. He had been defeated in their last encounter. She was determined that he would be utterly destroyed by this one.

Absently, she scratched another mark on the wall before turning round to cross the cell once more. She recalled the moment the guards opened the door and gestured for B'Elanna to leave with them. Both women had stood, and Seven had clasped the engineer's hand defiantly, wanting to endure any torture with her. Chillingly, the guards simply raised their rifles and aimed at them before telling B'Elanna to exit the cell. Seven remembered B'Elanna squeezing her hand in a gesture of comfort and then pulling free from the younger woman's vice-like grip. Seven stood immobile as she watched her lover being escorted from the cell, a lump forming in her throat as B'Elanna turned and nodded at her reassuringly, clearly trying to convey her love and strength. The ex-drone had continued to stare at the door long after it closed and only now, Seven realised that she had done nothing to return the intimation.

She felt the hard lump of emotion return to choke her and the bitter sting of tears in her eyes. There was every possibility that she would not have an opportunity to reciprocate her feelings to the brunette engineer. Seven had no idea what the Moderator had planned for her, other than gleaning some sort of revenge after they escaped his clutches a short while ago. The tall Astrometrics officer suspected that he had other uses for his captives; he had hinted as much when he told them that he expected Janeway to rescue them. It was what he would do to occupy his time until Voyager arrived that concerned Seven the most. Seven was not na´ve. She knew that the Moderator didn't need both of them as hostages. One would be enough, and if he really wanted to provoke the Captain, murdering one of her crew and detaining the other would certainly do that.

Without even realising it, Seven had marked two more journeys on the wall. As she turned yet again, she was shaken from her reverie by the sound of the door unlocking.

Captain Kathryn Janeway drummed her fingers on her desk impatiently as she stared at the information displayed on her console. She had requested regular updates from the team trying to find a way past the Moderator's planetary shield, but had received no new data for the last hour. She knew that it was unreasonable to expect results so early on into the project, but the lack of information provided a convenient vent for the frustrated anger she felt. Janeway was certain that Torres and Seven were back in the hands of the Moderator, but they still had no irrefutable proof. Determined to cover as many eventualities as possible, Janeway had charged Tuvok and his team to continue analysis of the data provided by the Mahalarian port administrator, Par-Haln. Originally, she had been determined to return to Mahalar and deal with the man under Starfleet regulations, even if they weren't recognised by the planetary legal system.

If she was honest with herself, Janeway's thoughts had centred on revenge and retribution for the harm he had done to her crew. Fortunately, the cool logic of her Chief of Security had tempered her anger, and she realised that diverting her attention away from the rescue of Seven and B'Elanna was both illogical and dangerous. Instead, a cold, deep-seated anger nestled in her gut as she contemplated confronting their captor. There would be no mistake this time. She had failed to protect her people from his evil regime last time but it had been her choice to risk venturing down to the planet in order to replenish supplies. In some small measure, she had to accept part of the ordeal as punishment for getting caught during covert negotiations. But there could never be an excuse for the torture that B'Elanna had been subjected to.

With Tuvok's clinical reasoning, Janeway had managed to shift the desire for revenge on both Par-Haln and the Moderator to focus solely on the rescue of Seven and B'Elanna. Only when they were safe would she consider the ramifications for their abductor and his accomplices. Of one thing she was certain. She would ensure that no- one else fell prey to the evil machinations of the Moderator.

Unable to shake her frustration, the Captain used a forefinger to jab a series of commands into her console and her eyes scanned the information displayed rapidly. She stopped herself from hailing Engineering to ask for yet another status report. The crew were already on edge and working flat out, knowing that Seven and B'Elanna were depending on them. Janeway should be supporting and encouraging her staff, not grilling them for answers continually.

Instead, the auburn-haired woman rose and stretched her legs, stopping briefly at the replicator to collect a cup of coffee, before making her way over to stare out of the large view-port in the Ready Room. She sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose as she wondered, yet again, if they could get to B'Elanna and Seven before the Moderator did permanent damage. Even the scalding heat from her beverage failed to distract her. But at least while she took the time to drink her coffee, she could delay her request for an update. Her only consolation was that they were together and not totally isolated.

Seven's eyes flicked up and focused on the door as soon as she heard the noise, and she waited, unconsciously holding her breath. When the door swung open and B'Elanna was thrown unceremoniously inside, the ex-drone breathed again. From the vociferous protests and comments on the guards' heritage, it was quite clear that the Klingon was alive.

Without even waiting for the cell door to slam shut, Seven hurried over and helped the woman sit up before rapidly running her hands over her, searching for any injuries.

B'Elanna took a moment to savour the attention the young blonde woman was lavishing on her before stilling Seven's hands with her own. "Seven, I'm fine," she reassured her softly.

"You have been gone for four hours and twenty seven minutes," Seven replied, wanting to free her hands and continue the examination, yet at the same time relishing the close contact with B'Elanna.

"He didn't do anything to me," B'Elanna explained.

"What?" Seven was stupefied.

"They took me back to his workshop," the brunette explained, shivering involuntarily as she recalled returning to the area where the Moderator had delighted in torturing her. "I was strapped to the table, and then left there." She sighed. "Every so often the door would open and a guard would look in, but I was pretty much left alone. A few hours later, the guards came in, took me off the table and brought me back here. I didn't even see him," she continued.

Seven looked at the engineer for a moment before wrapping her arms round her and hugging her tightly. "You are safe," she declared in relief.

B'Elanna returned the embrace immediately and breathed in the blonde's scent, grateful for the familiarity and safety Seven offered. She closed her eyes and tried to shake the feelings of fear that had consumed her while she had been isolated and strapped to the table. Every time the doors had opened while she had been waiting, the brunette had expected the Moderator to swagger through and begin his regime of torture again. Her bicep still stung from their first encounter. The wound he had inflicted on her was angry and red, with tiny striations tracking away from the puncture site. The Klingon knew that the Moderator had used a poisoned implement, and worried about exactly what sort of affect it would have on her body.

B'Elanna hugged the taller woman more tightly. "He's playing mind games with us," she murmured into Seven's ear. "The anticipation of what can potentially happen is often a more powerful torture implement than any physical torment."

"He will not break me," Seven vowed, her voice deep with emotion.

"Sweetheart, he's already making inroads. You continuing to check me for injuries despite my assurances demonstrates that. And I don't mind admitting that I was terrified when I was separated from you." The engineer sat back slightly and stroked her lover's alabaster cheek. "I wasn't scared about what he can do to me. I was scared of what he could do to you and whether I'd ever see you again, let alone hold you."

Seven nodded, and placed her hand over the one that was caressing her cheek. "I had the same feelings waiting here. I do not like these feelings of helplessness. I do not want us to be separated again."

"There's little we can do about that at the moment. What we need to do is talk. Is it safe to do so?" B'Elanna glanced furtively round the cell.

"I could detect no monitoring devices of any kind in the cell. There may be a more sophisticated system in place since the last time we were here, but I doubt that. If there are monitors present, they are well-shielded and probably non viable for sabotage," Seven answered, remaining close to the older woman.

"Good. To be honest, I don't really care what gets overheard, but I'd rather he didn't try and use anything against us while we're here." B'Elanna looked steadily at Seven. "This is all new and fun to him. He's probably getting a kick out of us worrying about each other. Once that wears off, he'll up the stakes and start inflicting real pain." She swallowed nervously. "I just worry that he'll exploit our relationship physically as well as psychologically."

Seven returned the gaze. "For me, this is no different to the last time we were here. I felt just as helpless and concerned when we were first captured."

"But this time, I know about your feelings. And I share them. I'll admit that it's different for me," B'Elanna replied. "I don't want you hurt."

Seven sat back slightly. "But it is alright for you to be injured?" she accused indignantly.

"Seven don't be like that. But I've already been through this." The raven-haired woman paused a beat. "More than once," she continued softly. "I love you and want to protect you. Honour dictates.."

"Do not dare to use honour as an excuse," Seven warned dangerously. "Honour has nothing to do with this. Do you think that because I do not come from a long heritage where honour is sacred, that I do not want to protect you? I have no desire to see you hurt again. I would much rather take on that burden." Seven could feel her heart racing, but it was an unpleasant sensation. She did not want to fight with B'Elanna but was affronted that the engineer would not understand her point of view. "Logically, I am the better candidate. My bio-circuitry heals me more efficiently and compensates better than any natural immune system. I have a higher probability of survival." Her voice broke suddenly as she realised what she had said and looked at B'Elanna with panic-stricken eyes.

B'Elanna had flinched from the original protest, knowing that she would have acted exactly the same way had their positions been reversed. Despite the legendary confrontations they had shared in the past, Seven had always remained coldly clinical in her arguments. This time, she was passionately enraged. In a strange way, B'Elanna felt like she was arguing with herself. However, as soon as Seven spoke of survival odds, any thoughts of continuing the altercation evaporated. Seeing the devastated look on her lover's face, B'Elanna immediately closed the gap that had grown between them and enveloped her in a comforting hug.

The massive swing of emotions Seven experienced took their toll on her, and as soon as she felt B'Elanna's strong arms encircle her, she burst into tears. Massive wracking sobs shook her body, and she clutched onto B'Elanna's tunic like it was a life-line. The tall blonde could not understand why her emotions were betraying her. Her only stability was the woman holding her. She drew strength from the older woman, and gradually her tears subsided and she relaxed into B'Elanna's arms.

B'Elanna held the ex-drone tightly and rubbed her hands soothingly up and down her back. She made no attempt to speak to Seven, and instead, simply waited for the younger woman to compose herself in her own time. She felt the tension begin to leave Seven and as the taller woman calmed, the Klingon placed a loving kiss on top of her head. "I love you," she whispered, unable to think of any other words that could comfort Seven.

Seven felt B'Elanna's gentle caress and soft words and her heart clenched again. She swallowed several times as she snuggled into B'Elanna's arms. "I do not wish to survive, if you do not," she muttered miserably, surprising herself at her candour.

"I know," B'Elanna admitted, knowing that she felt the same way. "But we have to be prepared for all eventualities," she continued, kissing the blonde's head again.

Seven moved her head slightly and kissed the engineer's neck, savouring B'Elanna's taste and smell. She felt B'Elanna's pulse quicken at the caress and repeated the action, nibbling the tender flesh adoringly. She felt a familiar lurch go through her stomach as she became aroused, feeding off the Klingon's reaction to her touch.

B'Elanna bit her lip as a small moan escaped her. After an agonising separation, worrying for the safety of the younger woman as well as fearing her own fate, the intimate contact sent her spiralling into sensory overload.

As soon as she heard B'Elanna moan, Seven shifted again and looked up and into the engineer's dark brown eyes. She saw twin images of her own reflection on the chestnut irises and despite their tiny size, could make out the flushed hue of her cheeks. The ex-drone saw B'Elanna look at her with the same fervent desire that consumed her and with slow deliberation, closed the gap between them and kissed the engineer's full, inviting lips. She relished the tingling sensation the contact sparked and deepened the kiss when she felt B'Elanna's hands move up to cup the sides of her face.

Seven gasped when she felt B'Elanna trace the starburst implant on her cheek, and suddenly they were duelling for dominance in a heated kiss, crushing their bodies against one another. Seven knew that last time they had kissed this passionately, B'Elanna had drawn back and stopped. She was determined to listen to her partner this time and, despite the ardour crashing over her senses, the young blonde kept a rein on her emotions so that she would not be overwhelmed by them.

B'Elanna surged into Seven, craving the closeness and love the taller woman was sharing so willingly. She could feel the ex-drone run her hands up and down her back in eager exploration, and the feather- light touches were driving her to distraction. While she had been separated from Seven, B'Elanna's predominant thought had been that they had not yet had the opportunity to consummate their love. Not knowing what plans the Moderator had for either of them made her need all the more urgent. From the way Seven was kissing her, B'Elanna was certain that she felt the same way.

Hungrily, Seven continued her exploration. With gentle pressure, she managed to manoeuvre them so that they were lying on the floor and she braced her arms on either side of the dark Klingon so that she didn't crush her with her body weight. It was only then that she finally pulled away from the older woman and gasped for breath, smiling softly at B'Elanna when she heard her equally desperate respiration. Even with her limited experience of romantic involvement, Seven knew she was not mistaking the look of desire on the engineer's face and she whispered quietly. "I know you wanted to romance me, and this is probably the most unromantic location I could possibly imagine, but I want you B'Elanna. And I need you too."

B'Elanna growled and captured the younger woman's lips in another searing, but brief kiss. "I love you Seven. And, Kahless knows, I need you too."

Their lovemaking was urgent and hurried; both women conscious that they could be interrupted at any moment, but neither would relinquish the opportunity to express their deepest desires or feelings to each other. Legs entwined, and hands and fingers explored thoroughly. B'Elanna delighted in the alabaster skin of her lover, and the unique borg circuitry that patterned her body. Seven marvelled at the dusky hue of B'Elanna's body and paid particular attention to tracing her slightly pronounced spinal ridges, amazed at how B'Elanna responded to her touch.

They muffled their cries of passion with deep kisses, anxious not to draw unnecessary attention from the guards outside and clung desperately to each other as their desire crescendoed.

After laying immobile for a few moments, B'Elanna grabbed her tunic and did her best to cover the pair of them before settling back down on the floor. She wrapped her arms around Seven and smoothed back her blonde tresses with loving care. "Are you okay?" The engineer could feel the taller woman trembling and Seven had not spoken, except for a few barely intelligible words provoked by their passion.

"The Borg were wrong," Seven whispered, her voice slightly shaky.

B'Elanna frowned. "What do you mean?"

"Love is not irrelevant, B'Elanna. I never realised I was capable of such emotion." She smiled faintly. "I think my quest for humanity may have ended."

"Are you sure you've found what you're looking for?" B'Elanna was suddenly overwhelmed with a sense of inadequacy, and despite the incredible love and emotion she had just experienced, still harboured self-doubt about her worthiness for Seven.

"I am quite certain. I have no need to continue my search, unless it involves looking at you more closely."

B'Elanna felt her face flush at Seven's flirtatious comment, but the sudden sobering of her mood had made her acutely aware of their surroundings. "Much as I want you to do that right now, I think we'd better get dressed. I don't want to give our guards a cheap thrill."

The tall willowy woman immediately looked towards the locked door, apprehension creeping through her. "You are right, Benal," she agreed quietly. She sat up slowly and disentangled herself from her lover before reaching for her discarded biosuit. "He will not use our love to conquer us," she vowed softly.

B'Elanna snapped her head round at the statement, realising even as she comprehended the words, that Seven was right and that she felt exactly the same way. "No. But you know how hard he could make it," she prompted as she tugged her shirt back over her head.

Seven nodded miserably and was about to reply when the locking mechanism to the door was operated. Both women turned to stare at the entrance, silently anticipating the worst.

Part 2

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