DISCLAIMER: Startrek and all it's characters still belong to
Paramount. Just having a little fun no profit is made from this what
NOTE: Okay, this is what having no computer access for nearly two weeks leads to. Don't expect too much of this, I wrote it to cure myself of writer laziness and because of the time restriction this is unbetaed. It's Valentines Day today already:) (I will blink at the amount of typo's here the next time I view this.)
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
As the meeting drew to an end Janeway noticed, not for the first time that morning, that Neelix was unusually quiet. She was not alone in this as Tuvok asked the normally buoyant man. "Mr. Neelix are you all right?"
At this the Talaxian seemed to realise where he was. "I'm sorry Tuvok but did you say anything?" He laughed a bit apologetic, "I'm afraid my mind wandered a bit."
"I was merely enquiring if you were alright." Tuvok restated.
Tom Paris chimed in. "You seemed to be lost in thought Neelix. Is something bothering you?"
Neelix chuckled a bit forced. "It is nothing, just forget about it."
At these last words everybody kept quiet. After five years of being acquainted with the man they knew he would start talking any moment now. They didn't have to wait long.
"I just realised that in four days it would have been the festival of Telexana back on Talax. I. well it has always been a special day for me. I saddens me a bit that again I won't be able to spend it with my family."
Feeling sorry for the gentle man and interested in his story in spite of himself Tuvok asked. "What is the festival of Telexana?"
Having all his friends listening to him and clearly interest in his story perked the yellow-eyed man up. "Telexana is a festival we celebrate once every five years. It is a time when we show our friends and relatives how much they mean to us." The Talaxian male chuckled again as his story brought some happy memories to the surface. He remembered the excitement he felt as his family and all their friends gathered together for the drawing of the Telexana partner.
Recalling his whereabouts he continued but kept half his attention on his warm memories. Thus his normal enthusiasm was absent from the rest of his explanation. Though it was evident to all why.
"The festival goes on for three days and starts at noon. The families and friends all come together for the largest festive diner you can imagine, and everybody helps to prepare it. Unless of course if you were unlucky enough to be appointed dishwashing duties." There really were few parties with less then thirty people present. We Talaxians are rather gregarious. Anyway when the meal is over one of the most exciting events is going to happen."
Slowly Neelix's enthusiasm reasserted itself in the telling of his tale.
"The name of everyone taking part are written down and gathered in a bowl. The oldest member of the party has the privilege of drawing the names of half the people present. The people he picks from the bowl have to draw a name in turn, and noone is allowed to tell who they've gotten."
"This is when the real reason of the festival becomes apparent, which is to show the person you've picked how special he or she is. One objective of the first day is to keep the person you drew from finding out just who is surprising them. You can tell that the next day."
Neelix fell silent for a few moments and the Doctor took the opportunity to get a few words in. "So one person has to do all the work while the other reaps all the benefits."
Startled Neelix continued, "Oh no Doctor, on the evening before the third day there is a feast where usually the entire village or neighbourhood, depending on where you live came together." Smiling in memory again he went on, "There would be live music, dancing, and plenty of food and drink. We would talk about the day, it was always fabulous. Then on the third day the roles are reversed."
Neelix smiled as he waited for the reactions of his fellow crewmembers.
"It sounds wonderful Neelix." Janeway was the first to respond.
"Captain," Ensign Kim spoke up thoughtfully, "I have an idea."
Now everyone shifted their attention to Harry who was smiling broadly. "Well Neelix's festival seems to coincide with Earth's Valentines Day. Since Tom and I are trying to figure out an original way to celebrate it why not plan the Telexana instead?"
Janeway clearly hesitated. "I don't know Harry. Three days, we still have a ship to run."
"I am sure that with Neelix's help we can work something out Captain," Tom came to the aid of his best friend.
Janeway capitulated without needing too much persuasion. Leaning slightly forward on the table smiling vaguely she said. "Very well gentlemen, as long as it doesn't interfere with ship's operations you have my permission to organise this Telexana festival. Dismissed everyone. Oh B'Elanna, Seven, participation will be mandatory for everyone. No exceptions, understood?"
Participation will be mandatory. Seven had been waiting for those words, or at least words of the same meaning, and filed them away of as unimportant. Like with so many social gatherings she would somehow make it through this one as well and then continue with business as usual.
B'Elanna's reaction wasn't as reluctant as the Captain suspected. Only recently recovering from her depression, to B'Elanna the festival sounded good. She was actually looking forward to connecting with someone else in such a manner. No fighting, no work, simply trying to make someone feel special. Neelix was right it did sound good.
The start of the festival was five days later. Voyager's crew had been divided in three roughly equal sized groups to ensure the smooth running of the ship that carried her crew home. The entire senior staff was part of group Alpha, simply because they usually worked the Alpha shift. The same was true for Beta and Gamma, though those groups were slightly smaller then group Alpha.
The meal had been enjoyed by everyone and Seven had amazed everyone by helping Noami Wildman and Tom Paris with making dessert. A great bowl of chocolate ice cream which they made themselves in stead of replicating it had been a grand closure of the diner. However now the moment Neelix had been waiting for all day had finally arrived. As the oldest person present Tuvok was giving the honour of drawing the names from the big glass bowl that was place in the centre of the mess hall. With Vulcan stoicism he pulled the names from it, and called them out. When he called out Janeway's name, anticipation rose another notch, as everyone wanted to know who would be the Captain's partner for the next few days. Just like some people felt a bit sorry for the person who would be Seven's partner. Undoubtedly, they thought, she would probably try to teach that poor sole lessons in efficiency.
When Seven's turn came she walked to a corner of the mess hall to discover whose name she had pulled. She still didn't care about the current affair but when she saw Naomi's name on her piece of paper she deemed it an acceptable situation. She had already spent a lot of time with her young friend and knew what she liked to do for fun. As she was thinking of ways to amuse her young friend and make her feel special, she noticed Janeway approaching her.
"So who is your lucky partner for the next few days?" the Captain enquired, at same time frowning at her own note.
Seeing no reason to keep this information from her superior Seven told her. As she noticed the calculating look entering the Captain's eyes, Seven had a feeling what was coming next.
"I regret entering in this festivity, no matter which crewmember I pulled from the bowl, it is going to be awkward for that person since I am the Captain. Some lines shouldn't be crossed. Now if I were to look after Naomi for a few days it would be something else entirely. Even the Captain is allowed to spoil a child for a few days. Would you mind swapping names with me?"
Seven was by now familiar enough with the Captain that this probably wasn't her only reason. She also knew more information would not be forthcoming.
"Captain, I do not believe that it is customary to swap names."
"Come on Seven," Janeway nearly wheedled, "nobody has to know," while thinking. `Come on Seven take the bait.' "You know I wouldn't ask for this if I didn't think this was important."
Which honestly Seven knew to be true. Reluctant to spend the day with an unknown crewmember who could harbour animosity towards her now she had picked Naomi Seven wanted to refuse. On the other hand she wanted to do the Captain this favour. Together with the Doctor, Naomi the Captain was the one person who continued to spend a lot of time with her. In the end the blonde agreed to the Captain's request because she knew Naomi wanted to become Captain's assistant, and spending a few days together with Janeway could help her youngest friend to attain this goal.
"Very well Captain." She finally said.
"Thank you Seven. I owe you one." A relieved and slightly ecstatic Janeway said. Before the other woman had a chance to respond she switched the pieces of paper, and left. She didn't want to give Seven a chance to change her mind after she discovered who she had now.
`Well Ladies, best hope this will do the trick in bringing you two closer together.'
`Lieutenant Torres! The Captain knowingly gave her lt. Torres! The one person on board who did not even bother to hide her dislike of her. This must have been the reason the Captain hadn't wanted to tell her. This was unacceptable, if she were to partake in this ritual it would not be with the volatile engineer. If they had to spent more then two days together there was a sizeable chance she and or the lt. would end up in the brig.
However as these thoughts passed through her mind Seven also refused to acknowledge there could be something she could not manage. Perhaps it was time to show B'Elanna just how wrong she was in her estimation of one former drone. Determined she decided that B'Elanna Torres would be in for a surprise. Seven's face literally transformed when a small smirk appeared.
Whatever the outcome of the next few days, this was going to be an unresistable challenge. She already had a few ideas.
After the luxurious diner with her friends B'Elanna had retired back to Engineering. She had looked forward to the diner and the feast that was scheduled for tomorrow evening. She did however have her doubts about the part of the Telexana festivities were you had to spend three days trying to make someone feel `special'. This might work if say Harry, Tom or even Chakotay drew her name. Grinning she fondly thought about Voyager's Talaxian crewmember. No doubt he would make the day one not to forget, but neither Harry or Neelix had been among those whose name had been called. If Tom was the one who had drawn her he might see it as an opportunity to get back together with her. However the slightly panicked look he had directed at Tuvok had filled her with relief. Poor Tom having to try and please Tuvok. The thought made her smile. She also knew her old friend and mentor hadn't picked her. Chakotay's face gave little away but after years of serving under him she could read him pretty well. She was willing to bet the Doctor was in for a few surprises.
Now wouldn't it be funny if Seven had picked her? What would be Sevens' idea of making her days special? Pondering the question for a few seconds B'Elanna laughed, whatever it was it would be interesting. She was beginning to see there was more to Seven than met the eye, and she had recently started to do some revising regarding her opinion about Seven.
By now she couldn't even remember why she hated the former drone so much and the unrelenting feeling of anger towards her had all but vanished.
Unfortunately she hadn't been able to rectify her earlier behaviour, and even more unfortunate for Seven had been her problems with her now ex. The last time they argued she had used Seven's presence as a way to release some of her built up anger. Why had the woman been observing her and Tom anyway? For that matter why did the former drone occupy her thoughts so often these days?
B'Elanna figured that on some level she probably felt guilty for her behaviour towards Seven. She determined she would have to apologise to the woman at the first opportunity she got. Having made this decision her spirits rose a notch or two,
Suddenly her thoughts were interrupted as she noticed the blue sparkle of a transport in progress from the corners of her eyes.
When the transport was complete four Pad's were lying in front of her. Curiously she picked them up, and activated the one lying on top. Someone had sent her four Klingon Romance novels.
Grinning she reached the conclusion that whoever had picked her name was taking the Talaxian festival seriously.
Phase one of her plan complete Seven contemplated her next idea. During the past few months she had studied the engineer intensely and had acquired a great deal of data on the half Klingon. Still the task she faced was challenging. How to impress the woman without her direct knowledge.
Torres entered the mess hall for breakfast the next day. Wanting to save as many of her replicator rations as she could. She would probably need them the next day when it would be her turn to make her Telexana partner feel special.
It hadn't been anything big but the person providing her with all sort of little things obviously knew her and had taken the trouble of thinking up little ways to surprise her at any given moment. Several roses had appeared at the most unusual places. She had gotten a few more PADD's, some with poetry, and one with musical suggestions. She hadn't known any of the songs but the few she had tried she loved. This and more had her up wondering half the night who was the generous giver. So with quite a bit of anticipation she had woken up, and gone to the mess hall.
Despite it being, primarily his festival, Neelix had been up bright and early cooking everyone his version of a perfect breakfast. Eyeing the displayed foods with some doubts, but knowing they were probably edible, she started to pile food on her plate. However she was quickly interrupted and turned to stand face to face with Seven. Immediately recalling her resolve to apologise to the blonde, she didn't get the chance. "Lieutenant Torres, if you would please follow me."
Before a surprised B'Elanna realised it she was following Seven to a table near one of the windows. As she sat down she salivated a bit at the nice scents that reached her nostrils.
"I took the liberty of cooking your favourite foods for you. I hope you will enjoy the meal." Seven waited a bit nervously for the engineer's reply.
Looking Seven in the eye for a few moments, B'Elanna smiled at her, "thank you Seven I am certain I will. Won't you join me?"
"Very well Lt." Seven replied though feeling pleased at the request.
"And please call me B'Elanna."
As Seven nodded her agreement B'Elanna tried to figure out how she could both apologise and say a proper thank you to the former drone. One thing was certain; she would do her utmost to return the favour to Seven.
The party was in full swing, but it was getting late and B'Elanna was no closer in figuring out an answer to her question. What could she get Seven in return for all that she had received? As she tried to figure this out Seven was dealing with another question. Observing B'Elanna at the party, she readily admired the officer. Being scrupulously honest under every circumstance she was no less honest with herself. So acknowledging the fact she found the lt. attractive was no problem. The feeling though honest made little sense. Why would she be attracted to a woman who up and till very recently did her best to either ignore her or seemed angry with her. It was not logical, as Commander Tuvok would say. Looking around her she decided her current surrounding was too distracting. She need to do some thinking and these weren't suitable surrounding. Without thinking she walked towards cargo bay two.
The next morning neither woman was nearer to finding an answer to their question. B'Elanna had been up half the night trying to find something suitable for Seven. She had also determined that no matter what, today she would apologise for her behaviour and hopefully Seven would forgive her.
Suddenly she got a little idea, she hoped Seven would appreciate it. Hurriedly she grabbed a PADD and inquired the computer for Seven's location.
Voyager's Astrometric's officer wasn't any closer to figuring out her question's either. Accepting there probably wasn't a ready-made answer for this particular question she had finally started her regeneration cycle. As the cycle ended Seven `woke up'to the sight of a Klingon-Human hybrid pacing nervously in front of her.
Raising her star burst implant in enquiry Seven said. "Good morning. B'Elanna."
Smiling slightly at the familiar gesture B'Elanna answered, "hi Seven." Not really knowing how to proceed she held out the PADD to the former drone.
Curiously, and with a little anticipation she looked at the PADD, and activated it. Looking uncomprehendingly at Torres when the PADD proved to have no contents.
"I. eh, really couldn't think of anything to give you Seven. I'm sorry but I wanted to give you something special but I don't know you well enough yet."
Looking dubiously at the PADD Seven waited for B'Elanna to continue.
"So I thought to give you this. When there is something you would really like, put it down on the PADD and I will do my best to give it to you."
"Thank you B'Elanna, I find that a most thoughtful gift." Seven said. "I am certain I can find a purpose for this. Maybe when I want more power diverted to Astrometric's."
Instead of smiling at the joke as Seven had expected B'Elanna's features seemed to darken some. Wondering what she had said to upset the other woman Seven started to explain she was just trying to make a joke.
B'Elanna however spoke first while looking at the floor. "Seven, i.." By Kahless, why was it so much easier to express anger and irritation then to apologise?
Noting the Engineer's discomfort Seven kept quiet, patiently awaiting what the half Klingon would say next.
"I don't know how to say this, so I guess I should just say it." Now she looked Seven in the eye. "Seven I owe you a huge apology. I made things very difficult for you when I better than anyone should have understood how difficult things were, and are for you." Sighing deeply she continued. "There are a lot of things I owe you an apology for, I hope you can forgive me."
Seven felt a twinge of guilt herself. Granted the shorter woman had done everything in her power to aggravate her but Seven knew that at times she had cause for her angry behaviour.
"I will accept your apology if you will accept mine," she finally said.
"You hardly owe me an apology Seven but, yeah I accept."
Remembering something from a novel she once read, for research purposes Seven suggest. "Perhaps we can start with a clean slate."
Unfamiliar with that expression B'Elanna nonetheless understood its meaning.
Enthusiastically she accepted Seven's offer. "That would be great."
Curiously she watched as Seven started entering something on the PADD she had given her earlier.
The former Borg handed her the PADD a few moments later. As she read what Seven would like for a gift B'Elanna answered seriously but pleased. "I think I can manage that."
Seven still didn't understand why she was attracted to the half Klingon woman. She just accepted it, as she accepted that B'Elanna did not return those feelings. However if there was one thing the past few days had taught her it was how things could change in the space of a couple of days. Four days ago the engineer and herself would have been at odds with each other. Now the dark haired woman had granted her her wish by accepting her friendship. She had said she shouldn't waste her gift on that, she would gladly become Seven's friend. Disagreeing Seven had answered that she didn't consider the wish wasted, and that she had gotten one of the best things imaginable. Because of the past few days she was confident that more could happen.
It was always possible that this attraction was temporary and maybe they would never be anything more then friends. There were so many possibilities. She would just have to take things one step at a time and see where it would lead. One thing was certain though. B'Elanna was in for a few surprises, because it didn't hurt to help fate along a bit along the road.