DISCLAIMER: These lovely creatures belong to someone else. I just take them out, dust them off, and show them a good time. If you should be so inclined to sue, please share your ideas for getting blood from a stone, and then get in line.
RATING: Lots of bad language (Hey, the ARE in the military after all). A few f/f tickly bits, but overall not really graphic. Call it a PG. Oh yeah! A bit of lightside too. Dont worry, all will be remedied.
GRATITUDE TIME: Thanks to Wendy for keeping me writing (ya know luv, that whip begins to sting after a bit) and to Amy for reminding me that there is still beauty in the world, even if we have to make it ourselves. BT, RalSt and the other members of VJB and their warped (no pun intended) sense of humor, thanks. You may recognize some things in here, just my own little attempt at homage.

Strange Days
By Cheryl

Part 1

Well, I knew the day was going to be a different one (and on Voyager that was REALLY saying something) when 7 of Nine came to me and in her usual superior tone said "B'Elanna Torres, I require your assistance with a personal matter."

"Shoot 7" I mean, how could I pass up something with such potential for juiciness?

"I cannot discuss it here. Perhaps this evening at Sandrine's?"

"Ummmmm Okay, 1930?"

"Acceptable" She replied and walked out the door.

I felt as if I had been blindsided by a quantum filament. Couldn't wait to see what this was all about

I managed to get a small table in a relatively unoccupied corner of the bar (it was still a bit early for the big evening crowd); I wanted to make sure there were no distractions from the matter at hand. Whatever it may be.

7 sat in the chair opposite me and said without preamble "The Captain is NOT proving herself a worthy mate for me and I need to know how to `bust her up'"

Needless to say, my beer did a graceful exit out of my nose, and as I was wiping the tears from my eyes (I KNOW I am half-Klingon, but that REALLY STINGS!!)

Oooookay I thought; First, The Captain is getting some from 7. HOLY SHIT!! Second of all, 7 is getting some from the Captain, OMFG!! Third, Seven wants to break up with her, uh-oh, or kill her, better get that clarified.

"7, do you mean you no longer wish to be in a relationship with The Captain"? She looked at me and for the first time, I really saw her face. She looked so sad and empty. She just looked tired, sick and tired of it all. It is not that I am unaccustomed to seeing that look (even if it is in the mirror) but on her usually impassive face, it seemed twice as....tragic, I guess.

"Whassamatter honey", I asked in my best non-threatening tone.

"She refuses to acknowledge our relationship outside the bedroom!" Seven whispered. "She does not remember significant incidents in our time together. Did you know that tomorrow is the 4-year anniversary of my severance from the collective? I know she will not remember. How could she forget?" Seven just had her head down staring at the table.

My heart absolutely broke for her. As much of a royal pain in the ass as she is, I still hate to see anyone hurting like that. I asked her "Have you discussed these feelings with her?"

7 raised her face, and I can swear that there were tears in her eyes. She said, "I have told her. I have asked her. I have cried to her. I have done everything that she has asked of me, and still she will not love me. She says she loves me, until we make lo--have sex, and then she is out of the bed, and off on "ships business". I feel so sad and lonely at these times."

Boy! Did that hit home! It was almost as if she had taken a peek inside my own marriage. The occasional conjugal visit, maybe a shared meal here and there and that was about it. Those encounters left me feeling even worse. At first I thought it was a great arrangement, we would be married, have a life together, and everything would appear totally textbook. Well, we grew apart, pure and simple. We were just too different, but hey, we were THE COUPLE on Voyager, we had to maintain the front. My Father used to say, "You never know what goes on inside someone's house, and you never know what they go home to. All you know is what they want you to see" I had no idea in how many circumstances that was so true.

I told 7 the best thing I could think of, even if it was colored by my own experiences. I just spoke from the heart. "Ya know Borg, if you have to work that hard, maybe you should ask yourself if SHE is worth it! I mean, in my experience, I have discovered that I can love somebody with all I have; it won't make them be what I need. That I can be all the sad I can imagine, and it won't make them care. That I can be the best partner I can be, and it won't make them love me. So I am finally starting to learn, it aint always about how good or sweet I am, it is about whether or not they deserve what I can give them, not about what they can take from me. Does that make any sense?"

7 finally raised her eyes from the ground, looked at me and said, "I finally think we have found something we agree upon"! And with typical abruptness, she stood up and proclaimed, "I will not abide this treatment any longer!" And she strode quickly for the door. I just put my face in my hands, knowing this was going to be trouble. Just then I felt a tickle on my neck, and 7 whispered in my ear "Thank you B'Elanna, I know what I need to do now" then she turned quietly and made tracks for the door. All I could think to do was to slap myself in the forehead, and try to imagine what the next 30 years in traction would feel like. Because once the Captain got through with me.............and anyway! Where does she get off with that sweet breath, and that soft whisper, and that tickly little way got right up on my neck, and the wonderful way she...HEY DIPSHIT!!!!! That is the Captains girlfriend there!!!!! Oh, I knew I was in trouble. Big, tall, cool trouble.

Part 2

Well, it took a whole 9 hours for the other shoe to drop. It seemed innocuous enough, a simple little chime at my office door. Who knew? When I asked her to enter, it hit the proverbial fan.

"Shedidntcareshedidntlistenshesaidsomeoneputideasinmyhead" she practically wailed at me. Whoah! Borg! Wail! Drama!

Slow down and try it again, and for Kahless' sake, have a seat!" I bellowed at her (to get her attention, of course). Did I mention I haaaaate drama?

7 took a deep breath, sat down, and started again. "I approached Kathryn in her quarters last night, and told her we needed to talk."

"Oooookay, good start" I told her.

"Then she merely rolled her eyes at me and said `Is this going to take long, I only came here for a few minutes'? I knew what she meant by that. That she only wanted to copulate."

"Ouch" was the best I could think of, as 7 began to breathe faster.

"Then she told me to `spit it out' because she didn't have time for `all your issues'. So I told her that I was not satisfied with the status of our relationship, that I required more intimacy and less copulating."

"And?? What did she have to say for herself?" I asked, not real inspired by the look on 7's face.

"She looked at me with a very condescending look on her face and asked `who have you been talking to 7?' As if I was incapable of concluding my own unhappiness!!!' I am so angry that she cares so little for my feelings!"

"So, what did you do?"

"I did not have the opportunity to do anything, she began to grope at my breasts and asked if I wanted to play "turbolift trouble" or "shore leave gone bad" or if we could stage a little "shuttlecraft accident" all euphemisms for another meaningless sexual encounter. I told her that I no longer wished to copulate with her."

That is when my stomach sank-all the way-

"I informed her that these encounters were not enough to keep me with her, that I needed the type of relationship you and Tom had. That you had helped me discover what a "real" partnership was about, and that I felt closer to you than I ever did to her"

"Listen 7" I began (ohboyohboyohboy somebody stop me!!!!) "You don't know everything about Tom and I" I tried to think of a way to tell this, without revealing too much, but for some reason, I just couldn't stop myself. "We haven't been happy for...well, ever really. We got married because it seemed like the right thing to do. We put on a good show, but there is no love there. If this taught me one thing, it is that you should NEVER settle for less than perfection (shit, did I really say that!?)"

7 sat back and looked as if I had told her that I was a Q or something. I could practically see the wheels turning in her head. She opened her mouth a few times, like she wanted to say something, but just couldn't figure out what to say. Finally she just gave up and sat there and looked at me expectantly.

I had to hustle to find a way out of this one. I mean, could Janeway really be that cold and uncaring? Could she really be that single- minded?
I was jolted out of my reverie by a strange sound. I looked around, thinking it was a problem with my engines, when I heard it again, I looked over at 7, and it seemed to be coming from over there. She had her head down, and I wasn't really sure where it was coming from. Then, as I looked at her, I heard it again-a hiccuppy kind of thing, and it definitely came from her. I got up, walked over to her and lifted her chin. That is when I finally figured out what was going on (okay, so I'm an engineer, not a ship's counselor) she was sobbing. So, I did the only thing I could think of, and just knelt down and wrapped my arms around her. (I know, a sucker for little kids, stray targs, and crying Borg) I remembered back to my Mother just rubbing my back and making shhhhhh noises, so I figured I would try it on her. Then the neck thing happened again. She had her face pressed right against my neck, just under my ear. She had pretty much stopped sobbing now, and was just breathing really warm and close to my ear. uh oh, cant run away from this one. Hafta stay.

"You gonna be okay?" I asked

"I will adapt, I will find it difficult to function at peak capacity for some time, but I will eventually adapt"

"So, none of your usual hijinx eh 7?" I asked in an attempt to lighten the mood (I hate all the dramatic shit).

"No, I will not be deploying the `whoopee cushion' anytime soon" she replied.

Well, you could have knocked me over on my ass! 7 Finally developed a sense of humor? Say it isn't so? Then I heard the most wonderful sound in the world, She laughed, right in my ear. And instead of letting go of me, she just hugged me tight against her and I could feel her wipe her eyes over my shoulder as she chuckled. Okay now, this was all a bit too much, I made my escape and practically jumped back to my desk.

"Er, ummmm, well 7, I am glad I could make you feel better." Was the best I could stammer out. I guess that is why I am an engineer on a starship and not a writer.

She stood up, walked over to me and said. "Thank you, I have shared more `intimacy' with you in the last 2.3 minutes than I have shared with Kathryn in our entire relationship" Then she really did me in, she leaned over and kissed me gently on the cheek. I don't know how long it took for me to remember to breathe again, but by then she was gone. I seemed to be stuck in a feedback loop where I just felt that kiss over and over again. I couldn't seem to get my mind off of every single sensation I was bombarded with at that moment. I wanted it to last forever. Then I was lucky enough to be saved by the Comm Badge.

"Paris to Torres"

Oh crap! "Torres here" Don't know why my heart was pounding now. Oh yeah, breathing would be helpful too.

"Harry and I have a new holodeck program to try out tonight, so don't worry when I don't come home, okay?"

"Allright then" I said, and closed the channel. That is when I REALLY started to think. Wait a minute here. I am a married woman after all. What am I doing having romantic feelings for someone else. Someone else who happens to be the Captains Girlfriend. Or Ex-or whatever. DAMMIT!!!!

And what to do about Tom? I mean, neither of us are really happy. Haven't been for a long time. I guess we were staying together in a strange sense of honor. To our commitment, to our ship, to our sense of duty. It just doesn't seem like enough these days. Am I just hiding behind my marriage to keep from being too happy? Am I calling laziness and cowardice honor? How fair is this to Tom, to Me? Do I have too many deep thoughts running through my head right now? Yep, definitely do. Maybe a little grease under my fingernails will help. So, I grabbed my toolkit and headed out looking for something broken for me to fix.

A few hours later I was in my quarters cleaning up, minding my own business, when there was a chime at the door. I called for whomever it was to enter, and in walked 7. Amazing how just seeing her can make me forget the simplest things, like respiration, like my dripping wet hands, like to speak......

She just launched into: "B'Elanna, I am sorry that I placed you in a difficult position. I know it must have been uncomfortable for you to hear such intimate details about your Captains personal life. I am sorry if the close contact made you uncomfortable." She looked as if she was going to cry again. Then she paused as if to say something else, but then quickly turned and left.

I knew I shouldn't follow, but there is something about her I just cant leave alone. I dried off and head out the door after her at a full run. I just couldn't leave her like that.

To Be Continued

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