Of Rocks and Hard Places
By Cirroco DeSade
She walked the corridor alone, mechanically. Knowing that around the next bend she would pass the door to Astrometrics, she slowed down. This was her second pass and she felt herself speeding up once more. She would pass it yet again and probably inwardly curse herself another time also. As she passed she inhaled deeply and imagined that she smelled... her. It was only her imagination, this coupled with all her memories, but she could believe she could smell the other woman's unique scent. It made her ache all the more.
This time when she reached the end of the corridor she proceeded into the waiting turbolift. "Deck nine, section twelve," she ordered. As the lift moved she leaned against a wall. Resting her ridged forehead on the cool wall of the lift she wondered if she would ever be able to cross that threshold. Not necessarily the one to Astrometrics, although the blonde was almost always there these days. Would she ever be able to approach the object of her affection?
The lift stopped and she unthinkingly navigated her way home. She didn't call for lights or even stay in one room for long. Moving through her quarters blindly, unerringly she reached her bathroom. She disrobed, then showered quickly with a sonic setting. Recycling her uniform and setting it aside for the morning were her last tasks before she crawled into bed. It was too early for this she knew, but she couldn't bring herself to care. Her mind was all wrapped up in knots, confusion reigning supreme.
Closing her eyes she tried to will her mind to stop, or at least slow down. If nothing else, she just wanted to get through one night without thinking of nothing else but Seven of Nine.
With a gasp she launched into a sitting position. Her heart was beating so hard she could swear she could feel it striking against her breastbone. Sweat rolled down her chest and over her back, soaking her as if she had run a marathon.
"Kahless help me," she exhaled in frustration.
She ached in the most pleasant and most awful places. Every night it got worse. Or was it better? What the correct terminology was depended on your perspective. Was it worse because it left her feeling so hollow and alone, reminding her of what she held herself separate from? Or was it better, because each dream became more intense, more erotic and thrilling, fitting into her psyche a place for the most fantastic of fantasy lovers.
Rubbing her face she tried to breathe deeply and ignore the ache in her groin, the hypersensitivity of her nipples. She asked the computer for the time and sighed. Only four hours sleep. She knew there would be no more tonight. After weeks of this pattern she definitely knew better.
"Lights, one eighth."
As the room glowed more warmly she let herself fall back onto the already sweat-soaked sheets. Her thoughts returned to the subject of her dream, the self-imposed forbidden fruit, and her unknowing tormentor: Seven. It was always Seven.
She had begun having these dreams long before Tom died. The first time it had scared her so much that she had lashed out at her unwitting husband first, rejecting his comforting questions and touch, then turning around and taking the poor helmsman. She had not been gentle with him, but in the end it was enough to clear the image of the tall blonde with blue eyes and a body that made her want to growl out of her head. He had giggled afterwards as he dug a dermal regenerator out of a drawer and clear his arms and neck of bites and bruises. The pilot had asked her all sorts of silly questions making light of the situation but she had only drawn inward confused about her own actions.
As the dreams began to come more frequently she stopped trying to exorcise her demons on her all too willing husband, instead leaving him alone in bed. Time progressed and she took to going to the gym most of those nights.
Months later Tom confronted her one morning. She had slipped the night before. She probably had many times, but this time he had just happened to be awake and returning from the bathroom.
"B'Elanna, what does qawIv mean?" he asked her over breakfast the next morning.
Her head had popped up in surprise. She never knew when Tom might take an interest in her Klingon heritage. After her experience with the Barge of the Dead she had gotten to know about her Klingon heritage more, but mostly he was disinclined to join her in her explorations.
"It means, roughly, I choose you. It is usually a, um, well more than a come on. More like a permanent thing. An engagement and sexual advance all rolled into one," she explained to him. She watched his facial expressions to see if she could understand where this was coming from, but for some reason his eyes locked her out. She almost asked him why, but decided against it, choosing instead to take her now empty dishes to the recycler. As she passed him on her way out, she kissed his forehead and wished him a good day. He just grunted at her and mumbled "you too."
It wasn't until three months after that before he finally began to confront her. In the meantime he had asked her about a couple of other words and phrases and she had decided that maybe he was making it a hobby.
"You're not in love with me."
She had barely walked into their shared quarters one evening after a long hard shift. She was already grumpy and exhausted from not sleeping well the night before and now this.
Well, she had always gone for the blunt and honest lovers. But that had hit her like a phaser blast in the chest. She spun around to face him and what she saw shocked her. He had been crying. That much was obvious, but now he was almost as bland and unemotional as Seven.
From that point it had descended into an argument. At first she railed and shouted at him and he wouldn't be baited. He was lifeless and emotionless. But eventually he got angry enough to join her in the operatic and voluminous almost Klingon style of fighting. It ended that night with him stomping out, telling her not to wait up.
It was another two months before he finally told her why.
"You love Seven."
This time she had barely woken up and he made his announcement. He was sitting in a chair near the foot of the bed in the dark.
Her first thought had been of guilt and dishonor, shame for her secret desires. Then she shoved it all away and told him how ridiculous he was. It didn't take long for the next fight to begin. But that morning she couldn't stomach it. Literally.
Running to the bathroom she divested herself of her stomach's contents for several minutes. He came in behind her and tried to comfort her. Despite his anger he loved her with all his heart and all of his peter-pan-like-soul. Argument forgotten he helped her clean up and even got her a light breakfast that might sooth her stomach.
A week later they were planning for a baby.
A month later they were fighting again.
Two weeks after that the Captain sent them alone on an away-mission. She had noticed the couple's strained looks. Thinking it to do with a lack of time to acclimate to the idea of being parents, she gave them a way to get away from the ship and be together. She had no idea what would happen.
Of course they argued even more. Stuck together in such a small space it was only a day into the trip and they were not speaking any more. B'Elanna felt horrible. She had just told the father of her child that he was right. She loved somebody else more than him. Somebody she would never go after. Someone she was sure did not love her. She loved him as a friend, but she wasn't in love anymore, if she ever was. She knew from the look on his face he was heartbroken. Even as he lashed out at her, she knew it was bluster to cover up his pain. She may not have loved him the way he wanted anymore, but she knew him. Sure that she couldn't feel any worse for hurting him she had lapsed into the uncomfortable silence with her back to him.
She didn't get to apologize before the accident. It all happened so quickly. One moment silence, the next alarms, then before she can even read the computer her console exploded and she was out. A pocket of subspace instability claimed the shuttle, her husband and her baby. She woke much later in Voyager's sickbay sore and alone with her guilt and grief.
Afterwards she pushed everyone away. She was ashamed, guilty, angry and most of all lonely. Shutting herself out of the family called Voyager; she kept all of her friends at arm's length. Nobody broke through.
Not until Seven of Nine decided to apply Borg persistence.
That day B'Elanna slipped and let the blonde see past her barriers. Without really meaning to the engineer told it to Seven. Her feelings, her marriage's end and her sorrow bled out in a heart wrenching confession to her forbidden love.
And as the blonde sat stupefied in the dark, before she could say a word, B'Elanna escaped.
Klingon honor and guilt has rules. Love and relationships are governed by honor. Even loveless relationships are governed by honor.
B'Elanna's honor kept her distant from her heart and separate from Seven. She rejected all of Seven's approaches, all of her arguments and even turned her back one night on a pleading, weeping former Borg.
But as her door closed each night she wept for what she lost and what she would never have.
Finally, the blonde beauty moved on, began to date. Her first serious relationship was with the first officer and B'Elanna found herself hating her old friend.
How dare he take what she wouldn't! She would go to Sandrine's sometimes and throw back as much synthehol as she could afford to try and dull her pain. Her crew saw her change in demeanor and tried to help while also trying to avoid her temper.
As time moved on and the blonde's relationship with the Commander persisted B'Elanna's temper was beat down by heartache. In order to avoid any self-pity she drew herself together and vowed to forget her heart. She would be the best engineer the Delta Quadrant had ever seen. She had successfully shut most of the world out, being social only to the point of necessity.
Most days she worked ten hour shifts, and sometimes longer. Most meals she took alone with a Padd in front of her. Most people left her alone.
Seven was of course not most people. She approached out of concern regularly. Never pushing, she would ask if she could help. She always left her when B'Elanna basically brushed her off. B'Elanna did everything she could to keep her out and not let her see.
Then she would return home, alone and suffer in private.
Only in her sleep did her heart have power. She had no control then and couldn't stop the almost nightly visits by he blonde love, her joy, her passionate dream lover.
Dreams became a wonderful torture.
Almost two years passed like this. Seven's relationship with Chakotay lasted much longer than anyone expected and ended more abruptly than the Commander would have liked.
Eighteen months into their dating Chakotay asked Seven to marry her, at a party no less, with all of the Command staff present. B'Elanna had been near the door and when she saw Chakotay smiling and kneeling on one knee in front of a previously smiling blonde she bolted.
Her heart felt ripped into shreds. When she finally arrived at her quarters she allowed herself the emotions she had held back for so long. Her walls crumbled and all she could feel was the ache for a woman she knew she would never be allowed to love.
As she cried herself into a stupor, she was completely unaware that Seven had seen her departure, had seen the look on her face before she fled. She could not know that Seven had turned down her former Maquis captain. That she would discover much later.
The former drone was horrified at the situation that her boyfriend had put her in. He asked for an answer in front of all present, happily blundering down the road to his own embarrassment. When she refused him, she was quiet and gentle, but there was no mistaking her denial. People tried to politely turn away and converse like nothing had happened, but as the moment extended, him still on his knee with a look of dumb shock on his face it became one of the most uncomfortable moments for all around them.
The first officer of Voyager was a distant and angry man for quite some time after that. He was only just beginning to enjoy the presence of old friends again, but remained cold to the blonde Astrometrics officer.
B'Elanna was heading to her third Christmas celebration without Tom when her status quo was solidly upset. Actually Seven had become much braver than her. She was more Klingon than the Klingon it seemed. She saw a chance to seize something and she did.
B'Elanna had delayed her arrival as long as she could. She hadn't really wanted to go, but knew there would be too many questions if she didn't attend at least for a little while. At the same time Seven had been at the party longer than she wanted and was leaving.
The blonde came to an abrupt halt in the doorway when she nearly ran over the woman who constantly occupied her thoughts. In an uncharacteristic maneuver, the blonde looked up, studying the mistletoe hanging from the doorframe. Neelix had hung it there as he had every year for the Christmas party since he had read of the tradition in one of Naomi's books, "The Night Before Christmas."
Before B'Elanna had even considered the consequences of the blonde's study of the mistletoe, Seven leaned down and kissed her. B'Elanna felt herself give in to the full lips, felt Seven extend the kiss. She felt her hearts accelerating, her fingers tingling, the world clearly faded away. She was leaning into the blonde and the taller woman continued to caress her lips. She felt her hands on Seven's chest, felt Seven's heartbeat throbbing under her fingertips.
The sound of her own growling whimper woke her from the trance and she gently pushed and Seven stepped back, immediately acquiescing to her wishes.
"Merry Christmas, B'Elanna. I love you. Always." Seven spoke and then she walked away as if it never happened, never turning back.
It was late into the gamma shift and B'Elanna was alone in the gym. She couldn't sleep any longer tonight, so she came to workout, maybe at least use some of the energy plaguing her.
Barely two weeks had passed since Seven had kissed her, but it felt like a lifetime. They were orbiting around each other, neither knowing what to say to the other.
Seven, for her part, spent more time in the mess hall, Sandrine's and other public venues hoping that B'Elanna would come to her. However as the days passed she started losing hope and eventually fell into a more solitary routine again.
One too many battles with the hostile and constantly changing species of the Delta Quadrant had left Voyager in need of supplies. Seven had found an O-class planet that's only real land mass had a high concentration of precious metals and minerals. The Captain assigned B'Elanna to lead an away team, taking Seven and Harry with her plus a few of her engineers and finally two men from the geosciences department. Voyager was sorely in need of dilithium, duranium and tritanium. The ship basically could use any of the heavy metals at the moment to restock the materials replicators.
Of course one of the reasons they were able to find the minerals and heavy metals needed was because of the presence of several active volcanoes on the continent which they would travel to. The geological instability of the area was the main reason for the presence of Harry and the two Geosciences ensigns. Harry would stay with the shuttle, while the ensigns would accompany the teams and keep up a continuous seismic survey.
Because of the presence of certain radiological and refractive minerals in the region the scanners couldn't get a lock on any location near the area with the most resources, so it was decided that the team would take the Delta Flyer down to the surface. As B'Elanna piloted the Flyer, Seven scanned for the best location as they got closer and quickly routed the coordinates to the Chief Engineer.
Once they arrived Seven and B'Elanna each paired off with a junior engineer and a geoscientist to explore and begin extraction. They would meet back for a break and further planning at the Flyer in three hours. However, as all of Voyager's best laid plans are wont to do, things didn't remain as planned.
A little over two hours into the mission, B'Elanna's combadge crackled then went silent again. She wasn't even sure if she had heard it, but something told her to check on the other team.
She tapped her badge and called for Seven. There was no answer. She called for her engineer Jurot who was on Seven's team and again no answer.
<chirp> 'B'Elanna, I'm unable to bring up Seven's team, and I'm registering some small tremors here. Should I fly over there?'
Tapping her combadge hard to respond she answered breathlessly because she was already running. "No! Come get my team and we'll go together. Hurry, B'Elanna out." She closed the channel and yelled at her team to exit the cave they were in on the double, to drop what they had they would be back.
The most horrible of intuitions told B'Elanna that she had to get to Seven's team quickly. She tried to remain calm but lost a lot of her cool as she tried to hail Seven again, only to be rewarded with more silence. Finally the hybrid saw the Delta Flyer descending. Harry was being daring, lowering the door at the same time as the landing. It would be a mess in the Flyer from all the dust but she loved him for it anyway.
As soon as they were all over the threshold Harry was already lifting off again and B'Elanna had to hang on tight while closing the door behind them.
"Where are they? How long until we arrive?" She asked Harry rapidly.
"They were in what was apparently a lava tube from a dormant Volcano. It checked out before they went in. We'll be there in around 90 more seconds, but I better land more slowly this time. We don't know what is going on down there."
"Just get us there Harry." She shot out trying not to take her anxiety out on him.
When Harry had finally brought the Flyer down B'Elanna was out the door before anyone could catch her. The ensign from geosciences was just about faint as he hadn't even concluded if the area was stable or not. Harry waited on the threshold watching the ensign for conformation that he could exit. Finally the man nodded and the rest of the men followed the Chief Engineer out onto the rocky landscape.
The mixture of dark black rock and plush green vegetation seemed so beautiful, yet foreboding. B'Elanna yelled back at the men that she had found Jurot. She was squatting next to the man who was sitting on the ground looking a little worse for the wear.
"Where's Seven and Bristow?" B'Elanna demanded of the man
"Somewhere... behind me. Seven heard something and told us to get out" he had to stop and inhale deeply, "to run. I was closest to the exit" coughing, "but I still got knocked down by something."
Harry had told Ensign Farley to take care of Jurot's injuries. Meanwhile he and Ensign Mannus began to scan at the apparent entrance of the tube for life signs. B'Elanna left Jurot to Farley and walked right past the others and began removing rocks. She was following her gut and her engineer's eyes for directions.
The five of them made quick work of the rocks between them and the first body, which happened to be Bristow as he wasn't very far in. It looked as if it was simply a matter of the tube's roof collapsing. B'Elanna didn't even stop; she knew someone would take care of Bristow.
By now, over twenty minutes had passed since she had gotten the first incomplete hail, the first indication of something amiss. Accordingly her anxiety level was rocketing through the roof. She couldn't stop thinking that she would have nobody left if Seven left her. She would have let Seven die without finally getting the courage to embrace her love. She would have let another person die without her doing what was honorable.
She dug through tossing rocks and boulders as if they weighed nothing, a few tears beginning to make it past her defenses. As she removed a particularly large rock, she saw a patch of blue that was out of place and she froze with her heart in her throat. The blue fabric was barely showing under a larger section of unbroken ceiling. She couldn't tell how much space there was, but it couldn't have been much.
Yelling for the team's help she started to see if she could budge the stone. When it wouldn't move at all she faced Jurot and Farley.
"Can I cut this? Will it hurt her if I use a Phaser?" She asked.
"No, we'll have to get the anti-grav units under it. If you cut it," Jurot began.
"Then get the damn Anti-gravs!" she roared at the betazoid woman who immediately ran with her coworker to the Flyer.
"B'Elanna," Harry said carefully.
"Don't Harry. Just help me." She interrupted him. She started digging around the side of the rock trying to figure out the best places to insert the anti-grav units.
Minutes later the Ensigns ran back carrying four units each and handed several off to the other officers.
An interminable time later they finally had the rock high enough to remove it from the still form of the former Borg. As B'Elanna took in the crushed appearance of the woman, she knew that nobody could possible survive those circumstances. Her fair hair was matted red and black from blood and dirt, and blood covered the majority of her face. Her fully human arm was obviously broken and laying upon her chest as if she had been reaching for her combadge before she was hit. One of her legs sat at an unatural angle and there were bloody gashes scattered all over her body.
B'Elanna was numb. She didn't see anything around her, or here Harry's shouts. Yet when Seven's form began to sparkle out of existence she noticed that the engineers had set up transporter field integrity boosters around the blonde. Bounding to her feet she ran towards the shuttle, running over the rocky terrain as if she ran over shifting structures on a daily basis.
By the time she had made it to the shuttle Harry had already gotten Seven to sickbay using the Flyers transporter.
"Get me up there," she demanded breathlessly.
"B'Elanna," Harry looked at her worried, wondering if he should tell her it didn't look very good for the blonde.
"Please Harry," B'Elanna begged.
He just nodded and informed the transporter operator that he had another on the way.
As soon as B'Elanna arrived on Voyager she ran out of the transporter room heading for sickbay nearly knocking down people along the way. The turbolift seemed to take an eternity before reaching the right floor and by the time she reached sickbay she had a stitch in her side.
As the doors slid open she heard the worst sound she could imagine: the sound of a flat-lining heart monitor. She saw the Doctor and Sam Wildman racing around the broken form of Seven and she broke.
"No!" She wailed then sobbed out, "oh Kahless no, please not her" and collapsed. Burying her face in her hands for a moment she howled.
The Captain had been standing back watching the Doctor worriedly and saw the hybrid run in. The engineer's hands were dripping blood everywhere and she saw that B'Elanna was hysterical. She grabbed a hypospray with a sedative, knowing it might be her only chance. The Klingon was getting up and heading to the operating theater with an unfathomable expression.
"B'Elanna," the Captain called after the engineer. "Lieutenant!" She cracked out like a whip in a deep command voice, but to no avail. B'Elanna continued forward. Janeway lunged forward and pressed the hypo to her neck, catching her as she fell.
"Good job Captain," the Doctor complimented.
"Tell me that after you check my dosage Doctor. She didn't exactly give me time to calculate well." Janeway muttered as she signaled an entering medic to come help her move the densely muscled woman to a biobed.
The first thing B'Elanna noticed as she opened her eyes was the extreme brightness of the lights. She had to think hard to get through the foggy morass that was her brain. She realized it was sickbay a moment later and had to think hard about why she was there. Then she remembered.
Her head snapped towards the operating theater, only to find it empty. She looked around on the other biobeds, finding the rest of the sickbay empty except for the Doctor's office where the EMH was sitting with his back to her, obviously entering something on the computer.
'She's gone' she thought. Tears welled up in her eyes and she curled up on her side and began to sob. 'I didn't even get to howl for her. I never told her, I still love her.'
She heard the doors to sickbay open and she kept her back turned to whoever was coming in. She didn't even care if it was the Captain. None of it mattered now; not without Seven.
She flinched when she felt a soft touch on her shoulder. It probably was Janeway. She was always there when B'Elanna awoke from tragedy. She knew the older woman loved her like a daughter, but right now, she didn't want to see anyone. Well, she did want one person: the one person she would never have.
Hiccoughing, she sniffed and mumbled. "If it's all the same to you, I'd like to be alone for a while."
Silence reigned for a few moments, but she felt the hand leave her shoulder.
"I'm sorry B'Elanna. I just can never stand to see you hurting. I shall leave."
On the first words she thought her mind was playing tricks on her. She thought that this was the voice of her head whipped around so fast it made her dizzy. There in front of her was the most beautiful sight: Seven, standing in front of her, alive. But the former drone had her eyes turned down sadly and went to turn away.
"Wait," B'Elanna exclaimed and reached out for the blonde's hand. Grabbing the left hand in her own she pulled hard, dragging the blonde back and herself up at the same time.
As their bodies collided she threw her arms around Seven's neck and drew her into a tight hug, burying her face in the soft skin of her throat. Looking up into wide blue eyes she laughed even as she began to cry again. She grasped the taller woman's face in her hands and pulled her in for a long deep kiss. When she finally pulled away she noticed that Seven's eyes had taken on a slightly glazed appearance for a moment, and she was sure hers probably had too.
"I thought you wanted to be alone," Seven said hesitantly.
B'Elanna shook her head and smiled at the beautiful blonde.
"No. Never again. I only want to be with you. Always."
She pulled Seven in for another deep, bone melting kiss.
"Very well, B'Elanna," Seven answered with a smile. "Always."
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