DISCLAIMER: Yes, Paramount owns it all - I am just having some fun with their characters.
SERIES: This story is a sequel to Resistance
PAIRING: B'Elanna/Seven (eventually!)
FEEDBACK: Yes please, I wouldn't post otherwise.

By Rebelgirl

Part Three

B'Elanna sat on the floor in the middle of her quarters, hugging her knees in tightly to her body. The angry words Tom had thrown at her echoed through her mind repeatedly. She knew she had been wrong not to tell him about her miscarriage. But her own insecurities had paralysed her into saying nothing. Now, her reticence had backfired spectacularly and Tom had reacted in just the way she hoped he wouldn't. The accusations he'd spat at her cut deeply. And the more she dwelt upon them, the more she wondered about her relationship with the sandy-haired helmsman. Withholding the truth was one thing. Casting totally unfounded aspersions on her character was another. She had treated him badly by not confiding in him but that could not excuse his total lack of understanding or support.

She was reminded of the conversation that she'd had with Seven after the ex-drone had revealed her feelings. B'Elanna had told the blonde woman that she loved Tom but wasn't *in* love with him. She wasn't even totally sure of that statement at the moment and tried to determine when it was that her relationship with her husband had changed.

The more she thought about it, the more she convinced herself that their relationship hadn't changed. She had just come to see it in its true light. B'Elanna had married Tom in the hope that she could have the deep, fulfilling relationship her parents never had. She wanted the security of being needed and cherished. She wanted the familiarity of routine and the reliability of friendship. Somehow, she had convinced herself that she would find all that with Tom. The reality of the situation had now become blatantly obvious to her.

Tom's reaction on hearing Janeway's inadvertent revelation had served to highlight the frailties of their relationship. B'Elanna also had to admit that her reluctance to tell Tom of her miscarriage was also a reflection of the instability of the marriage. The Klingon hybrid wondered how much easier it might have been to share her experiences if she could have trusted her husband's response.

Now she was alone. She was certain that Tom would not return. She was equally certain that she did not want him to. It was a painful realisation but it paled into insignificance compared to the agony she endured over the loss of her child. A small, logical part of her brain told her that perhaps it was for the best. Having a child with Tom would have veneered over the cracks in their relationship and the engineer would have gone through the motions of her marriage in a desperate attempt to give her child the security she was denied.

However, that logical part was swamped by the guilt she harboured. She had not been strong enough to keep the baby. She didn't have the honour to seek revenge on the Moderator. She had given up as soon as her captor revealed the devastating news. And thinking those logical thoughts about the loss of her baby magnified her guilt.

Consumed in her own musings, it was several seconds before the Klingon registered the door chime. Her reaction was instantaneous. "Go away," she practically snarled, hugging her knees in even more tightly.

The bell rang again and B'Elanna rolled her eyes. "Computer, mute door chime," she ordered. Immediately, the Klingon's quarters fell silent.

A rapid tapping on the door broke the silence. The engineer ignored the sound and continued to rock slightly on the floor, hoping that the persistent enquirer would take the hint and leave her alone.

So focused was she on blocking out the intrusion to her self-imposed isolation that she failed to hear the door hiss open. It was only when a warm hand touched her gently on the shoulder that the half- Klingon realised that she was no longer alone.

Instantly furious, she whipped her head round, eyes burning with ire. "I told you to." She broke off suddenly as she registered the owner of the hand. "Seven." As quickly as her rage had boiled, it cooled as she looked at the tall blonde woman, noting the concern etched on her usually composed visage.

"B'Elanna, what has happened?" Seven hated deceiving the raven- haired engineer but she knew that if B'Elanna suspected that she had been sent to check up on her, the ex-drone would have to combat her near impregnable defensive barriers.

The older woman hesitated for a fraction. Illogically, she felt that if she didn't talk about the incident, she could pretend that it hadn't actually happened. To voice the situation would give it an irrefutable reality. And that would mean having to deal with it.

She looked intently at the deep blue eyes staring at her, looking for any hint of insincerity. She found only earnest concern and a hint of something else the engineer knew she could name, but was still uncertain whether she could deal with.

She sighed a cathartic breath and composed herself. "Janeway told Tom about the baby," she stated, amazing herself at how steady her voice sounded.

Despite already being aware of the situation, Seven found herself reacting as if it was news to her. She sat down heavily on the carpet next to the brunette and took a hand in hers. She resisted passing immediate comment on the situation and decided to get B'Elanna to talk some more. "Go on," she prompted gently.

B'Elanna wasn't sure if she could. Seven had been her most important confidant since their incarceration. And here she was again. Arriving at her quarters just when she needed the blonde Astrometrics officer the most. But B'Elanna didn't want to over-burden the young woman. Seven had already given her so much time and understanding. B'Elanna was beginning to wonder if she would rely on her too much and end up driving her away as she continued to battle with her demons.

She felt a gentle pressure on her hand and realised that Seven was squeezing it encouragingly. It was the push she needed and B'Elanna found herself describing Janeway's poorly timed apology in great detail, gazing steadily at their clasped hands, unwilling to look Seven in the eye.

Inwardly, Seven seethed. The captain truly had glossed over the details. In a way, it was a good thing she had. If Seven had been fully conversant with the facts of the situation when she encountered Lieutenant Paris on her way to see B'Elanna, she had no doubt that she would have ended up in the brig with a serious charge hanging over her. However, she understood that B'Elanna needed to talk about the conflict so that she could begin to deal with it.

The willowy blonde remained silent all the time B'Elanna was talking. There was no need to prompt the engineer further. While she was listening, Seven found herself revelling in the closeness of the older woman much to her chagrin. Now was not the time to take advantage of the Klingon's distressed state. Yet Seven could not help but enjoy their intimacy.

When B'Elanna finally finished speaking, Seven looked steadily at the older woman. "What are your intentions now?" she asked softly.

"I don't know," the engineer admitted in an equally quiet voice. For the first time since she began speaking, B'Elanna looked away from their clasped hands and looked directly at the blonde ex-drone. "I'm just not sure I can carry on living like this. I don't *want* to keep on living like this." She threw her hands up in the air. "The way he reacted is just the icing on the cake."

Seven wasn't entirely sure why B'Elanna would refer to a confectionary decoration so ignored the analogy. "But surely you just had an argument that can be resolved?" The ex-Borg couldn't believe that she was attempting to reconcile Tom and B'Elanna. She mentally berated herself and decided that she must have a hidden masochistic streak.

The raven-haired woman seemed equally surprised by Seven's words. "Haven't you listened to what I said?" She didn't pause to wait for an answer. "Tom totally over-reacted. And I know I was wrong not to tell him about the baby but that gives him no right to speak to me like that."

"Perhaps he said those things in anger. Do you really believe that he meant what he said?" Once again, Seven wondered why she leapt to defend the sandy-haired pilot and then realised exactly what it was she was doing. If she could force B'Elanna to really examine her feelings and how she felt over Tom's treatment of her, perhaps she could make B'Elanna understand that leaving the man was not dishonourable at all.

Her query certainly sparked a reaction from the half-Klingon. "It doesn't matter whether he meant what he said," she exploded, leaping up from the floor. "What matters was that he said them at all. It didn't even enter his head to ask how I felt about it all, how I *must* have felt about it. All he could do was think about how it affected *him*." The engineer started to pace the room, partly as a vent for her anger and frustration at the situation and partly to return the circulation back into her legs.

Seven remained where she was, and watched B'Elanna pace furiously, waiting for her to draw her own conclusions.

"What I do know is that I can no longer live the lie that is my marriage. It might be dishonourable to divorce someone but to face the truth and accept the consequences is more important to me."

Seven paused to allow B'Elanna to digest her own statement. "So what are you going to do?" she asked again, conscious that she was pushing the issue but certain that B'Elanna needed to have a definitive focus so that she could actually start to deal with her feelings.

The engineer stopped pacing suddenly, startled by Seven's persistence and by the realisation that she had to act on her words. Now that she had voiced her thoughts, they suddenly seemed real and permanent. B'Elanna was unsure if she was ready to take such a drastic step, so she found herself compromising.

"I can't stay here. Too many memories," she muttered, her voice dropping to barely a murmur as she finished the sentence. "I'll ask the Captain to assign me new quarters in the morning."

"Will you stay here in the meantime?"

B'Elanna shrugged. "Haven't got much choice, have I?" she replied. "Tom's already staying with Harry. Short of me knocking on Chakotay's door, there isn't anyone else I can impose on. Unless, of course, I can crash out in Cargo Bay Two."

Seven smiled wanly at the engineer, knowing that she had a point. "Would you like me to stay with you?" The blonde woman offered, her heart hammering once again despite trying to remain objective in the situation.

B'Elanna returned a weak smile. "I can't ask you to do that, Seven. I can't keep you from regenerating," she protested.

"I do not need to regenerate for twenty seven hours. Staying here would not be detrimental to my normal functioning," the Astrometrics officer replied candidly.

The Klingon sighed. "I could do with the company," she admitted softly, running a hand through her hair as she finally finished her pacing.

"Then I will stay," Seven reiterated. "Have you eaten this evening?"

B'Elanna responded automatically. "I'm not hungry."

"That is not what I asked," the blonde woman responded with a small grin. She raised the implant above her eye, waiting for an answer to her original question.

B'Elanna stared back for a moment before replying. "No. My last meal was breakfast," she revealed.

"Then I will replicate a meal," Seven decided, rising from the floor and moving over to the Replicator.

"Seven, I'm really not hungry," B'Elanna protested again. A grumble from her stomach belied her statement and the Klingon had the grace to look somewhat discomforted.

"If we compromise and I dine with you, will you eat a meal?" Seven had learnt some time ago that it often paid dividends to at least appear to give a little when dealing with the fiery engineer.

"Only if you don't eat that nutritional supplement rubbish," B'Elanna retorted, feeling slightly like her old self as the two women fell into an easy routine of gentle banter.

"The sustenance I consume is balanced and provides me with all the nutritional requirements my body needs," Seven responded, equally enjoying the repartee.

"It's just a shame it tastes like shit," B'Elanna continued, sitting down at the table as Seven carried over two plates of hot food. She was delighted to see Seven smirk at the comment as she sat down. Much to her amazement, the brunette found herself salivating at the aroma of the dishes Seven had brought to the table and without preamble, dug into the food.

"I have never eaten excrement, so I cannot comment on the comparison," the blonde countered as she sat down. B'Elanna grinned but did not stop eating, deciding that it would not be wise to retort with a mouthful of food.

Seven smiled as she watched the Klingon demolish the pile of food set before her but decided not to tease the woman on her alleged lack of appetite. She ate at a more sedate pace, enjoying the company more than the food, despite the fact that the meal was eaten in silence.

B'Elanna sat back when her plate was empty and watched her friend eat. "Okay, I admit it. I was hungry," she conceded finally. "Thanks."

"You are welcome B'Elanna." Seven was glad of the conversation as she daintily picked at the meal in front of her. Consuming food was far less efficient than ingesting nutritional supplements but the Borg found that the time passed by amicably and she was enjoying the engineer's company now that the immediate drama of the last few hours had settled.

"Seven," the engineer began hesitantly, her eyes downcast. She sighed and then looked at the Astrometrics officer's face. "Thank you. I have no idea how I'd be dealing with all this if you weren't around," she admitted softly.

"B'Elanna, you are one of the strongest people I know. And I am not talking about physical strength," Seven returned candidly. "You would have adapted." She grinned slightly as she used one of her standard phrases.

B'Elanna shook her head in disagreement. "I don't think so. I hardly coped when I found out that the Maquis had all but been obliterated." She paused again. "I've always found it difficult to face up to my feelings," she continued quietly. "It's always been easy for me to be angry. My Klingon temperament has given me an acceptable defence mechanism." She ran a hand through her hair nervously before continuing. "Tom saw past that and got to know the real me. I guess I fell in love with the fact that he could see past all my posturing. But it's not enough. It was never enough." Her voice had dropped to barely a whisper and she was studying the back of her hands intently.

"B'Elanna," Seven began, not wanting the Klingon hybrid to endure more emotional torment so soon.

"Don't worry Seven." The brunette sensed Seven's protectiveness and looked up, managing a weak smile. "It hurts, but it doesn't hurt so much now that I can talk about it." She sighed again. "I know none of this has been fair on you. Every day I think about what you told me on that planet."

Seven inhaled sharply. They had talked at length about what had happened on the planet, and yet somehow avoided dealing with Seven's declaration of love for the older woman. This was the first time that B'Elanna had spoken about it. The blonde waited for B'Elanna to continue, not wanting to distract her from what Seven believed to be a breakthrough in their relationship.

The engineer sensed Seven's anticipation and looked at the younger woman intently. "Seven, you're my best friend. I don't think I've ever had someone I could rely on so much. You've been here for me every time I needed you." Her look became introspective. "I don't want to ruin our friendship. And I'm scared that's exactly what would happen if we got closer." Once again, her voice dropped.

Seven felt like she had been stabbed in the heart. It was the last thing that she wanted to hear, though she could understand B'Elanna's reasoning. She didn't want to do anything to jeopardise what they had. But they could have so much more. She opened her mouth to speak but the brunette beat her to it. What she said took Seven's breath away.

"I'm tired of being scared Seven." B'Elanna once again looked at the ex-drone intently. "I have to face up to my feelings." She swallowed, suddenly uncertain. "Is it too soon to tell you I've fallen in love with you?"

Part 4

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