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.
Seven stepped through the doors to Main Engineering and scanned the area. Not immediately seeing the woman she sought, the tall blonde walked over to the Chief Engineer's office. She stood in the doorway for a few minutes to watch B'Elanna as she concentrated on whatever problem it was that was occupying her attention. Finally the Astrometrics Officer stepped through the doors.
"You have not taken a break from your duties today," Seven commented with a small smile.
Startled, B'Elanna looked up from the data padd she was holding. "Hey," she greeted, returning a smile. "Come in," she invited, gesturing for Seven to take a seat opposite her.
"I was hoping that we could perhaps go to the mess hall together," Seven continued but she sat down as directed.
The Klingon's smile widened. "I'd love to. But I just need to finish up here first."
Seven arched an eyebrow in enquiry. "What are you working on?"
"I'm taking a look at the Mahalarian technology. Janeway was right, this is amazing." She gestured at the padd as she enthused over her latest favourite topic.
Seven extended her hand so that she could take a look at the data padd. B'Elanna relinquished it readily and sat back to wait for Seven's opinion.
"Their method of harnessing energy is indeed unusual. And also highly efficient when it is working correctly."
"That's exactly what I thought. I want to see if there's anything that could be used to improve efficiency on Voyager." B'Elanna rubbed the back of her neck absently. "Unfortunately, they've not sent any data on the systems that have failed, so I can't work out what to do before we get there."
Seven stiffened. "Does this mean that you have decided to go on the Away mission?"
"Yes." The Klingon hybrid sighed for a moment as she gathered her thoughts. "I don't want to go," she admitted. "But if I don't face my demons then I'm never going to be able to leave Voyager again."
"Then I shall accompany you," Seven decided. "We can work out the Mahalar problem together."
B'Elanna looked steadily at the blonde woman. "Seven, it's not that I don't want you to go."
"I refuse to let you go by yourself B'Elanna, not after last time," the ex-drone objected automatically.
"I'm not going by myself Seven."
"You're taking someone else instead of me?" Seven's voice rose to reflect the hurt she felt.
"Whoa, whoa. Wait a minute. I am not having an argument over a stupid misunderstanding," B'Elanna said hurriedly, holding up a hand to quell Seven's protest. "Just let me speak and then decide how you want to react. Okay?" She waited for Seven to nod before continuing. "I asked Harry to go with me. He's a great technician and I always work quickly with him. In ordinary circumstances, it would have been you, but because of what happened I know that I would be too concerned over your safety to work efficiently. To be honest Seven, I'm scared enough for my own safety. I know that I'm going to be jumpy and nervous as hell while I'm down there. If you were there too, I don't think I could do anything constructive at all."
Seven knew that she had agreed to allow B'Elanna to explain her actions but she couldn't help but interrupt. "Then you are not yet ready to undertake an away mission. You should nominate someone else to deputise for you."
The Klingon sighed. "Yeah, I know I should. But the captain discussed it with me and she made a couple of valid points. I'm not going until Chakotay and Neelix have sussed it out, and even when I do go, I'll have a transporter lock on me continually. If I need to get out in a hurry, there won't be a problem. And if the mission runs smoothly, then it will help me get over some of the irrational fears I'm trying to deal with."
By the time B'Elanna had finished, Seven could see the merit to her case. "Your argument is logical, but I still want to go with you."
"I said that I *want* to go with you, not that I will. I shall remain on board and operate the transporter myself," the tall woman continued, smiling slightly as B'Elanna grinned at her.
"Thank you." The brunette glanced at her data padd and realised that she had completely lost the thread of what she had been doing. It was time for a break. "Come on, let's eat now. I can pick this up again any time."
The two women rose and walked together through Engineering towards the exit. "So, are you actually going to eat something for lunch?" B'Elanna asked teasingly.
"Yes. After breakfast this morning, I realised that mealtimes can be quite an enjoyable experience."
"But I was only there for a few minutes," B'Elanna protested, despite grinning widely at the compliment.
"Why do you assume that it was your presence that made the experience enjoyable? I have merely discovered that I enjoy croissants," Seven replied mischievously.
B'Elanna stopped walking suddenly and stared at the younger woman, narrowing her eyes in mock irritation. "Well, if all you need is a food guide, then perhaps Neelix should be your dining companion."
"Are you willing to allow Mr Neelix to inflict his idea of `subtle flavours' on my delicate stomach?" Seven found herself enjoying the gentle banter.
"God, no." B'Elanna shuddered at the thought. "Okay, I'll be your food guide," she continued.
"The meal will be insignificant compared to the company," Seven supplied smoothly.
"I'm not going to argue with that," rejoined the Klingon. She turned slightly. "Hey Joe, I'm just grabbing a bite to eat." The curly- haired man acknowledged that he had heard her and they continued on their way.
As they headed for the turbolift B'Elanna segued easily to another topic of conversation. "So what did Janeway say after you nearly throttled Tom this morning?"
"It was most confusing. She removed two weeks worth of replicator rations, stating that I had to be punished for my behaviour."
"Yeah, I pretty much guessed that she'd do something like that. It didn't matter that you were provoked into doing it. Thank you by the way."
"There is no need to thank me, but you are welcome anyway. Mr Paris' words were both unprovoked and unwelcome. I cannot recall another occasion when I have reacted so vehemently to someone's words."
B'Elanna exhaled heavily. "I know it's not much consolation, but he got me pretty riled too. I'm just glad you didn't get into too much trouble."
Seven frowned. "If my punishment represents the severity of my crime, then I could not have been in trouble at all."
"What do you mean?" B'Elanna looked up at her companion in confusion.
"Well the Captain is fully aware that I have over 14 months of replicator rations stockpiled. To remove two weeks worth is hardly a penalty."
The brunette laughed as she stepped into the turbolift. "Seven, that means that she had to be seen to be punishing you, but I think she secretly approved of what you did."
The Astrometrics Officer frowned again for a moment as she tried to understand what B'Elanna had told her. A small smile lit up her features. "Mr Paris was less enthused over his reprimand," she commented.
"Did she give him the same punishment?"
"Yes. I suspect that Mr Paris has no rations in reserve. Hence his displeasure."
"Great. Well it serves him right for shooting his mouth off. I was hoping that he might have calmed down a bit since last night." B'Elanna led Seven into the dining hall and directly over to the replicators.
"Are you not attempting something of Neelix's?"
"Not on your life. I've got a lot of work to get through this afternoon."
Seven shook her head in amusement and waited for B'Elanna to make her requests. "Are you ordering for me?" she asked hesitantly.
"If you want me to. I didn't want to presume." At Seven's nod, B'Elanna continued her request and handed Seven a plate of food.
"What is it?" the Borg asked as they weaved their way between the tables toward an empty corner.
"Chicken club sandwich. It's just something light for lunch. We'll have something more substantial for dinner," B'Elanna replied easily as she sat down. The engineer looked up suddenly as she realised what she had said. "That is, if you want to have dinner with me," she hedged. Inwardly, B'Elanna sighed. All of a sudden, things had changed. Before she had admitted her feelings to Seven, they had often shared meals together, taking the routine for granted, as they grew closer. Now that they were a couple, even if only in private, B'Elanna was unsure whether the boundaries to their interactions had changed.
"I would like to have dinner with you," Seven replied, unable to keep the relief from her voice.
B'Elanna looked sharply at her and realised that the blonde had also considered the potential change in dynamic. She looked round quickly and realised that there was no danger of being overheard, but she leant towards the younger woman instinctively. "Seven, this is new to both of us. And I want us to go on dates, and do romantic things together. But I don't want to disrupt what we already have. I'd like to continue sharing meals with you, and talking with you, and doing all the stuff we were doing before last night. However, I'm not going to take your time for granted either. Why don't we just do what we did before, but if you want to do something special, or different, then tell me. And I'll do the same with you." She narrowed her eyes in thought for a few moments. "Did that make any sense to you?"
Seven nodded solemnly. "It made perfect sense." The ex-drone wanted to say more, but stopped as B'Elanna sat back suddenly. The reason for the Klingon's change in position became apparent seconds later.
"Hey Maquis," Harry Kim greeted affably. "I hear you've conscripted me again." The tall Asian grabbed a vacant chair and sat down without invitation.
B'Elanna couldn't help but smile at the young man's enthusiasm. "Well, I thought I could inflict your irritating charm on the Mahalar so that they retract their offer of shore leave," she teased.
Harry didn't take the bait. "You're kidding me. Once they see me, we'll be given an indefinite invitation."
B'Elanna laughed. "Just as long as I get away from there in one piece, you can stay as long as you want."
Harry sobered as the Klingon's words registered. "Don't worry Maquis, I won't let my guard down," he assured her earnestly.
"I am glad to hear that Ensign," Seven interjected smoothly. "But I shall have a transporter lock trained on both of you for the duration of the mission."
"Sounds good to me," the young man concurred, smiling at Seven. He didn't notice the long glance the two women shared. "So, are you going to let me in your engine room so I can take a look at this technology?"
"Has Janeway released you from the Bridge?" B'Elanna questioned dutifully.
"Yep. I'm yours for the afternoon."
"Now there's an offer," the brunette retorted humorously. Seven raised her enhanced eyebrow at the comment but didn't say anything, noticing the sudden flush to Harry's face.
"So what do you want me to do?" Harry, unable to contain his enthusiasm was practically bouncing up and down on his chair.
"Have you eaten yet?" B'Elanna asked, looking surreptitiously at Seven and her, as yet untouched, lunch.
"Nope. I came straight over to offer my services." Harry might blush at innuendoes, but he was game enough to try them himself.
"In that case, the first thing I want you to do is get yourself some lunch and let me eat mine. How often do you see me in here for a break during the day?"
Harry nodded, conceding her point. "Practically never." For the first time, Harry was aware of potentially intruding on a private conversation. "May I join you or are you busy?"
Seven interceded quickly. "You are welcome, Harry. I am just as piqued by the Mahalarian technology as B'Elanna, and although I am not going on the away mission, I would like to contribute what I can."
"As long as you don't mind." Harry wanted reassurance that he hadn't upset either of his friends.
"No, we don't," B'Elanna confirmed, slightly exasperated. "But the longer you stand there and talk, the less time we'll all have in the mess hall."
Harry took the hint and hurried away, eager to rejoin the two women and get to work.
"Are you sure you do not mind?" Seven asked once the ensign was out of earshot.
"As long as you don't. Besides, now I've secured a dinner date out of you, I can remind myself that we'll have some private time later." The Klingon smirked wickedly as she spoke and was delighted to provoke a blush as a response.
"I do not believe that you have set a place or time yet," Seven replied archly.
"Oh that's easy, my place at 2000Hrs."
"Your place?" Seven probed, reminding the engineer that there was still much to resolve in her life.
"Crap. You're right." B'Elanna sat back and ran a hand through her hair. "I need to see Tom and Chakotay. I'll catch Tom after my shift and speak to Chakotay afterwards." She grimaced slightly. "Dinner might be late," she amended.
"Do not worry. I have made no other plans this evening," Seven replied. She glanced up. "I see your appetite is as big as your thirst for knowledge Mr Kim," she commented.
Harry looked down at the huge stockpile of food on his tray. "I'm starving. Didn't have time for breakfast this morning. Too busy trying to get Tom." The Ops officer stopped suddenly and looked at B'Elanna in panic.
"Don't worry Harry. I know that you're in a difficult situation. Tom's your friend too. I have no intention of asking you to choose sides in all of this. All I ask is that you try and treat me like you always have. And I'll try my best not to put you in the middle or ask you to do something you're uncomfortable with."
Harry sighed and smiled in genuine relief for a brief moment before his thoughts clouded his visage. "Thanks for that, but I take it from the warning that the rift between you two is permanent."
The engineer nodded grimly. "It is. Don't take this the wrong way Harry, but I really need to speak with Tom before I can discuss things with other people. I'm not sure he knows how serious I am."
"He's pretty cut up about the baby B'Elanna," Harry told her.
The half-Klingon swallowed. She hadn't expected Harry to know about her miscarriage. "I know. But things were bad long before that." She fidgeted uncomfortably, unhappy at the scrutiny.
"Perhaps we should examine the data the Mahalar have provided for us," Seven interjected, obviously trying to divert everyone's attention away from B'Elanna's current predicament.
Harry immediately took the cue and produced a padd from his pocket. "I took the liberty of getting a copy of the information you have."
"Good thinking," B'Elanna commended, and as the three ate, they pored over the data together, discovering the finer details of Mahalarian technology in order to minimise the length of the away mission.
B'Elanna rolled her shoulders as she opened the doors to her quarters. She had been hunched over a console all afternoon with Harry, but was satisfied with the progress they had made. Having got to grips with the alien technology quickly, B'Elanna knew that she now had more time to try and sort out her personal problems. And that meant talking with Tom. A sonic shower and a change of clothes would help ease her nerves and give her time to mentally steel herself for the confrontation that was sure to happen, so seeing Tom waiting for her on the couch took her completely by surprise.
"Late off duty again, I see," Tom greeted her coolly.
"I've been working with Harry. You know how enthusiastic he gets," the Klingon replied, wondering why she still had to justify herself to Tom. "What are you doing here?"
"I live here, remember?" Tom shot back. "Or does one argument write off our marriage?"
B'Elanna's blood boiled. "Have you no recollection of what you said last night? Or how you behaved today for that matter?"
Tom stood up instantly and held his hands out, trying to placate her. "I spoke out of anger yesterday B'Elanna. And I was still angry this morning. I'm sorry for my behaviour, but you have to admit that you've been shutting me out. How was I supposed to react?"
B'Elanna was bewildered. In every conversation she had imagined taking place with Tom, she had never thought that he would behave this way. "Tom. I can understand that you were angry. But this is not just about what happened last night. Or this morning."
Tom frowned. "What do you mean? Okay, I admit that I haven't been able to help you much since you returned from that away mission, but it wasn't through want of trying. Now that it's all out in the open, we can talk about this and work our way through it."
"Tom, it's not all out in the open," B'Elanna contradicted. She took a step back to counter the helmsman's attempt to get closer to her. "Tom, I love you. But I'm not *in* love with you. I don't think I ever have been."
Tom sat back down heavily. "What?" he asked softly.
"I'm sorry Tom. There was never going to be an easy time to tell you. Things happened on that prison planet that made me look at how I was living my life. And how I was treating you. I've never intended to hurt you in all this, but I have. Even just by shutting you out and not talking about things, I've managed to hurt you. And I haven't been honest with you by telling you my feelings."
"This is all to do with that drone, isn't it?" Suddenly, Tom was on the offensive again.
B'Elanna blinked. "No, this has to do with the fact that I am not in love with you. I've been unfair to you by avoiding the issue. And I've treated you badly by not being honest. It's time to rectify that. Tom, I want a divorce."
"You want a divorce? One argument and you want to give it all up?" The tall man was incredulous.
"We're pretty much in the middle of our second big bust up in two days, and that's after weeks of scarcely speaking to each other," B'Elanna reminded him, her voice tight with barely constrained anger.
"She's put you up to this hasn't she? I bet she saved your ass on that planet and now you feel like you owe her something." Tom was standing again, towering over the Klingon hybrid as his ire began to overwhelm him.
B'Elanna was unimpressed by the pilot's display, knowing that she was inherently stronger than him. "If you want to have someone to blame Tom, then you're already looking at her. The only thing you can blame Seven for is giving me the courage to face my feelings and deal with them." The engineer began to pace as she continued. "I'm sorry Tom. But this was inevitable. Next month, next year, this would still have happened."
The brunette stopped and looked at Tom steadily. "Look at us. We can't go on living like this. Pretending that there's nothing wrong. And that means that I have to ask for a divorce."
Tom sat back down, looking defeated. "So that's it? No trying to work things out, looking at resolving our problems? You're going to throw away our marriage without a fight?"
B'Elanna rolled her eyes in an attempt to stop the tears that pricked them from falling. "I don't want to fight for something I don't want," she whispered. "What we had, what we shared.It wasn't enough. I don't think it ever was."
The sandy-haired man closed his eyes for a few seconds before looking at B'Elanna again. "I don't agree B'Elanna," he refuted, his voice hoarse with emotion. "I'll fight you over this. Maybe not directly, but I am not prepared to give this up. You mean too much to me."
"You're not prepared to give it up because you don't want to be seen to fail. Fighting your corner for a one-sided relationship won't achieve anything," B'Elanna replied.
Tom looked at her sharply. "I'll accede to the divorce B'Elanna. But I won't ever give up on you. We're meant to be together." He rose from the couch once again. "I'll go and see Chakotay to get new quarters." As he headed for the exit, he turned back to face the brunette. "We'll share this place again," he vowed before stepping through the doors.
B'Elanna slumped onto the vacated sofa and sighed heavily. She felt strangely defeated but comforted at the same time. Tom had released her from the bonds of her marriage and she was now free to legitimately court Seven, but the dark engineer was cautious as to how Tom would behave from now on. More importantly, she had not missed his inferences to the relationship she shared with the Astrometrics officer. She suspected that there was more conflict and hurt to come, and there was very little she could do about it.
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