DISCLAIMER: I do not own these characters. They are the property of Paramount.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Toby Conquers the Borg
By Tina LaMarch



In the two years since Seven had come to Voyager, B'Elanna came to the realization that she had met her match. Though her methodology was almost diametrically opposed to B'Elanna's, Seven was easily as brilliant, insightful, and stubborn as she was. They matched one another in strength and strength of character. It was infuriating, humbling, exhilarating.

She was pretty sure that Seven thought she'd lost her mind. One minute she was chest to chest with the former drone, balling her fist and getting ready to express herself more thoroughly, then the next B'Elanna was struck by how much of what she was feeling toward the woman was not rage over some chips in a Jefferies tube or the corresponding flow calibrations. She did what most would do under the weight of an epiphany. She ran. She clammed up, spun on her heel and told Vorik to watch the engines, she had a meeting.

B'Elanna didn't bother telling anyone the meeting was with Toby who offered no useful advice. In his defense, plushies know boogeymen in closets and under beds, but they usually have little or nothing to say when you totally reverse course in affections toward tall blondes. B'Elanna rubbed her face on his worn coat and took comfort in the fact that, though he had no useful advice on the subject, at least he was there.

B'Elanna laughed. She pulled out a PADD and started sketching out an idea. The engineer was fairly certain the former Borg would be at least as hesitant about the change of pace as she was, if not more so. Maybe the place to start was a gift, one guaranteed to start some conversation. Conversation is good. Get enough of them, maybe tack on a meal and a peck on the cheek at the end, starts to look a little like the building blocks of a date.

"Toby, old friend, you are as always a brilliant and insightful confidante," she whispered before planting a kiss on the plushie's head.

It took several days. B'Elanna called in every replicator ration owed her from every pool she had ever won by being the undisputed Queen of Gossip. She left Engineering on time every day for a week. It was making the engineering staff nervous. Had she finally found a satisfactorily bloody way to solve personnel issues? Was she going to finally show up fully practiced and swinging a bat'leth? The Queen of Gossip was missing out on some of the juiciest speculation of all. What was B'Elanna Torres, workaholic engineer extraordinaire doing instead of doubles?

B'Elanna pushed her chair back from her desk. "Computer locate Seven of Nine."

"Seven of Nine is in Cargo Bay 2."

"Computer, is she regenerating?"


B'Elanna grabbed a bag. She put her special project in it and headed down to the Cargo Bay. She hoped she wasn't about to freak the Borg out beyond measure, but Toby seemed to think it was a good idea. Who was she to question the ideas of a plush purple targ?



"Regeneration cycle complete."

Seven stepped down out her alcove. She made her way to the console. On top of the console was a box approximately two feet on a side. It was wrapped in purple paper with a silver ribbon on top. Seven took the envelope from the top. She found a card inside. Sliding it out, she read, `Talk to me.' Her ocular implant rose.

She took the box down and began carefully removing the wrappings. When she opened the box the blonde found a soft pink representation of some form of animal bearing silver ornamentation not unlike her own implants. The former drone placed the animal atop her console and examined it.

"So are you gonna?" It asked looking at her.

"'Gonna?'" Seven tipped her head.

"Gonna talk to me? `Cause if not maybe I can schedule a mani-pedi while I wait for you to get on board." Seven's implant rose. "I'm T2. I'm your friend. Only thing is, works better if you talk to me."


"Clarify what? Why am I your friend or why does it work better that way?"


"I am your friend because my designer decided you needed a friend. Figured you would respond better to a friend as straight-forward and without agendas as you are. Thus me. Talking thing? Just does. I can't respond to non-verbal cues unless they are wildly blatant like you crying or throwing out your arms for a hug or taking a sharp implement to me. Even the last one, I am kind of limited on. `Don't kill me, don't kill me.' That sort of thing."

"Who is your designer?"

"Can't say. Supposed to tell you not to investigate too. Designer's kinda lacking in self esteem I guess. Ready to be a friend to you, but not ready at the same time. Guess you make Designer nervous or something.."

"I make people nervous."

"How do you feel about that?"

"I do not know how to answer that."

"Fair enough."

"Why pink and why the silver ornaments?"

The little stuffie did a remarkable imitation of a shrug. "Designer thought it'd be pretty."

"Pretty is irrelevant."

"Designer seemed to think it was pretty relevant."

Seven looked thoughtful for a moment. "I must leave for the Senior Staff meeting soon. What will you do?"

"I can't walk and you don't have a bed for me to sit on so I suppose I will sit up here and hum."

"I have a blanket. I keep it in a crate beside the alcove. Would sitting on that be more comfortable?"

"It would be the nice thing to do for a friend." T2 smiled. "Thank you."

"You are welcome," Seven replied, remembering her social lessons, as she went to get the blanket. She gently carried the pink stuffie to it and was surprised by her simple enjoyment of her tactile response to the fur. "Good day, T2."

"See you later, Seven."

B'Elanna saw Seven carefully examining faces in the meeting. She smiled inwardly. She had hoped that the same innocence and simple acceptance that made Seven's relationship with the Doctor possible would allow her to form a sort of friendship with T2. She would wait a few days, then see what happened when she did like something unexpected, like be nice to the blonde.



Seven left Astrometrics for the Mess Hall. She stood in the doorway for a moment looking at the people in the room, talking, laughing. Neelix came up beside her. "Care for a little Leola root stew Seven?"

"I wish to take away a glass of nutritional supplement number 27, Mr. Neelix." Seven replied tilting her head at him.

"Coming right up Seven." He hurried off to get a glass of the nasty pasty shake that was the heart of Seven's diet. Handing it to her, he noticed her preoccupation. "You ok, Seven?"

Seven turned to the kind little Talaxian. "I am fine. I am going to have lunch with a friend."

"How wonderful. Well, if you and your friend get time later maybe you two can come up here and keep me company."

"Perhaps. Thank you, Mr. Neelix."

"Anytime Seven." Seven left and took the turbo lift down to the Cargo Bay. She entered to find T2 sitting on the blanket next to her alcove as it had been since she left.

"Hi Seven. Little early for you to be done for the day."

"You are correct. I am ingesting a nutritional supplement and thought perhaps it would be appropriate to use the time to learn about my new friend."

"Lucky friend. Well, I got a nice blanket here. I could share if you want to sit with me."

Seven walked up to the platform and sat awkwardly down next to the pink stuffie. "Are you male or female?"

"Just jump right in. I am named after a male, but I think tradition is that the stuffed animal's gender is decided by their flesh friend."

Seven nodded. "What is the purpose of a stuffed animal?"

"We are there. That's our purpose. When you need to talk, we listen. You need to cry, we are absorbent. You need comfort, we are huggable." T2 shrugged. "Most stuffies aren't like me. They don't talk back in a traditional sense, but sometimes our friends hear our



"My namesake couldn't tell the Designer to make me but Designer credited him anyway. It's like my namesake allowed Designer's subconscious to get in a vote. It`s a human need sometimes, have someone around who can`t and won`t pass judgment to act as a home for the little voice inside, someone who is just there."

"You seem particularly intelligent for a stuffed animal."

"Never said Designer didn't incorporate a few subroutines from a holocharacter or three."

"Your Designer thought I needed a friend such as yourself."

"You don't exactly seem the type for small talk. Must make flesh friends a little uncomfortable at times."


"Most folks need to warm up. You don't just go from cold core to Warp 9.. Small talk is the warm up. Maybe Designer thought that while I served my primary purpose I could help you with that stuff."

"And your primary purpose?"

The little stuffie's eyes rotated. "Going back to point A. I am your friend."

Seven thoughtfully sipped at her supplement as she looked at the little animal sitting on the platform. "May I touch you?"

"Pet me, kiss me, hug me. I am very flexible that way. Seven, I am a stuffie. I exist for that shit."

Seven slowly picked up T2 and ran her fingers over the pink fur and silver ornamentation. She relived the pleasant tactile sensations from earlier. She held the animal to her cheek for several long moments. Her arms went around T2 almost without thought. She opened

her eyes and placed her new friend back on the blanket.

"That was comforting."

"You sound surprised."

"I am." Seven stood. "I must return to my duty shift. Perhaps we can talk more at a later time."

"I'm here."


Seven got most of the way to the door. She turned and picked up T2 and the blanket. "Seven? What are you doing?"

"I am running long range scans. There are long periods with little activity. It would be more efficient if I were to continue our discussion during a period of reduced activity."

"Sounds good."




Crewman pulled to the sides of the corridor to allow passage of the former Borg. Seven could be intimidating. She was unbelievably sexy stalking through halls in a skintight cat suit and the fact that she was an unapologetic and fantastically strong former member of the Borg Collective made her more so. Somehow, the image of her carrying a pink stuffie and a blanket like a child on her way to a slumber party shot her right on past intimidating straight to frightening.

Crewman Tal Celes was finishing her calculations as Seven entered. Deciding, as ever, that discretion was the better part of valor, she simply transferred her calculations to Seven's favorite console and requested the afternoon off for personal reasons. Seven inclined her head and after inputting her clock out, Tal Celes fled Astrometrics. Seven folded the blanket into a thick pad and placed it on the dais. She then gently placed T2 on the pad and began checking Tal Celes's work as well as starting her own scans.

Seven looked up. "You are not speaking."

"You said you were working and you wanted to talk during the slow bits."

Seven nodded. "Acceptable."

As Seven continued to work, Lt. Torres walked in. Upon seeing T2 her eyes grew large and round.. She made shushing gestures at the little stuffie until Seven acknowledged her presence and began to turn. Her fingers quickly found themselves running through her hair.

"Hey Seven. Long time no see." Seven's ocular implant rose. "Right. Um, just wanted to see if you got the power increase I sent you."

"I had just been made aware of it Lieutenant. I was unaware that I had made any recent request for such an increase."

"We had it. Thought you could use it."

"Indeed. Lieutenant, may I ask you a question?"

"Yeah sure Seven," responded B'Elanna as she leaned against a console.

"Do you like small talk?"

B'Elanna looked questioningly at Seven. "As much as the next girl I suppose why?"

"I have been made more fully aware of my deficiencies in the subject and the use of small talk as a warm up process." She paused. "I will endeavor to correct that deficiency." Seven turned to her console. B'Elanna's eyebrows shot up as she looked at T2 who merely shrugged.

"Um, ok. I was going to Sandrine's to play some pool tomorrow if you want to practice."

Seven turned to face B'Elanna. "You do not usually involve yourself in my personal projects, Lieutenant."

"Maybe that should change. Besides, I need someone to beat at pool."

"I am unfamiliar with pool, however I find it unlikely that I will lose once I learn."

B'Elanna grinned. "I do like a challenge. See you there at 2000 hours tomorrow night." B'Elanna patted Seven's shoulder and left.

Seven looked at the door for several long moments. "Seven, you ok?" asked T2.

"I have an eidetic memory and yet I am still uncertain what just happened."

"I think you got a date." Seven spun to look at the little stuffie.



Several hours and conversations later, Seven's duty shift ended. Generally, she continued long after the shift was over as she had few other pursuits. It was Kadis Kot day however. Seven had just signed off when Naomi walked into the lab. She came to stand beside the

blonde in a mimic of Seven's familiar at ease pose. "Hello Seven. Are you functioning within normal parameters today?"

Seven looked down at the young girl with undisguised fondness. "I am operating optimally today NaomiWildman. And your functional status?"

Naomi grinned. "My functioning is unimpeded. Are you ready for a game Seven?"

"Indeed. I have just signed off. Allow me to collect T2 and we will proceed to your quarters."

"T2?" Naomi's eyes grew large as she saw the little pink stuffie for the first time.

"Yes. T2 is my friend. T2, this is NaomiWildman. She is also my friend."

"Hello NaomiWildman."

Naomi smiled at T2 and moved closer to Seven. She tugged at Seven's hand and whispered, "Seven, T2 talked. I don't think stuffed animals are supposed to do that."

"T2 is most unusual, NaomiWildman. She is an excellent conversationalist and a good friend.."

Naomi looked up at her friend and hero and back down at the pink stuffie on the dais. "Ok. Hi T2. Nice to meet you."

"Nice meeting you too. So this game you two play fun to watch?"

"I like it." Naomi answered hesitantly, still unsure of the propriety of talking stuffies.

"Good. Then I bet I will like it too." Seven swept up T2, holding her closely in one arm. She bent for the blanket.

"I'll get the blanket Seven," offered Naomi. Seven nodded and Naomi followed her out of the lab and in the general direction of her quarters.

The little girl smiled and caught up to take Seven's unoccupied hand. Seven stopped and looked down. She looked at the smiling Naomi. She looked at T2, who she had been unconsciously hugging. Looking at Naomi again, she nodded. They walked hand in hand to the turbo lift.



Seven returned to the Cargo Bay. She placed the pad and the pink stuffie on the platform as she opened a file at her work station. She swiveled to look at T2. "What is the appropriate evening behavior with regards to stuffed animals?" T2 looked at her and


"It differs. Traditionally, stuffies occupy a place in the beds and arms of children until they get older. After that they usually find themselves on shelves, in closets or under beds."

"Why would the interaction change?"

"Children grow up. They find the kind of interaction they need grows more complex than a bit of fur and stuffing can provide. Stuffies are like small talk. Warm up for the big event, human interaction. Stuffies still come down from the shelf from time to time, when people are too complex for simple comfort, but we have a time and a place. When our job is done, we retire to shadows until we are needed again or we are passed to another who needs us."

Seven looked thoughtfully at the fuzzy. "Do you have an opinion on your fate?"

"I am here as your friend. I will be your friend until you don't need me anymore, and then, I will still be your friend. I am in all likelihood simply programmed with the perception rather than the reality of emotions but I feel that I care about you and your happiness. If my presence in the present helps you prepare for your future interactions then I will have done all that I could hope to do and will be gratified in the realization of that. My fate is yours to decide however you asked my opinion. My opinion is that you should keep me after you have moved on, in case you should ever need me, until you find someone who needs me more."

Seven nodded. She sat beside the stuffie and hugged her. "I will do that. Until then, I hope you will continue to talk with me and help me."

"Sure Seven. It's what friends do. Speaking of what friends do are you going to wear that tomorrow night?" Seven looked down and raised her implant. T2 shrugged. "What? I have been active for less than 3 days and I already know that you don't exactly fit in when it comes to your clothes."

"It seems inefficient to change for a pool game."

"It's a social occasion. Let your hair down, wear something less sore thumby. You will probably feel more comfortable, others who interact with you will be more comfortable. Looking approachable can be almost effective as approaching yourself and I know that's

difficult for you."

"Perhaps more stuffed animals should be given vocal processors. You are an effective advisor."

"Most children like stuffies because they don't tell them anything. Simple interaction, remember? You'll have to go a long way to find a child that I am fit for."


"So what are you going to wear?"

"Do you have a suggestion?"

"Three days old, remember? Maybe we should find you a friend who knows a little more than a stuffed head like me."

Seven sat quietly a minute before standing, T2 still tucked against her chest. "You are correct."

A few minutes later, Captain Janeway of Voyager opened the door of her quarters to the sight of six foot tall former Borg in a plum biosuit cuddling a pink stuffed animal.



Janeway motioned Seven and her companion in. After the door closed she rubbed her forehead and went to the replicator. "Can I get you anything?"

"I do not require liquid refreshment at this time." Seven looked down at the pink stuffie. "No thank you. Is that better?"

"Yes. Been working on those social interaction lessons with the Doctor again?" asked the Captain motioning to the couch. She took a sip of her coffee as she sat.

"No. T2 has been aiding me in becoming more personable."


"My stuffed animal friend." The captain's eyes were drawn again to the pink stuffie in Seven's arm. "My apologies. T2, Captain Janeway. Captain Janeway, T2."

"Hello T2." To say that Janeway felt patently odd was an understatement.

"Hello Captain Janeway." Kathryn Janeway just managed a graceful bounce that saved her from a lapful of hot coffee. She gaped at the stuffie for a moment before grabbing a towel to soak up the coffee.

"What did I miss? Why are we talking to a pink whatever? Why is a pink whatever talking to us?"

"That raises another question T2, what species do you represent?"

"You're just now asking?"


"Later, we discuss it later. For now, I believe Captain Janeway is a little confounded."

Two sets of eyes, one blue and one black turned to her. "Captain Janeway, T2 was a gift. She was given to me to serve as a friend and companion."


"My Designer wished to remain anonymous. Now that we have gone through this fun discussion yet again, can we just cut to the why we're here?"

"We had a similar discussion with NaomiWildman earlier and I imagine that T2 finds the idea of a third repetition of the discussion fairly pointless."

"Are you sure this isn't some form of alien invasion?" Janeway saw T2's eyes roll. "You know what? Never mind. I'll trust your judgment."

"Thank you Captain."

"Why are you and T2 here?" Janeway went back to the replicator and got an another cup which she ensured was on a stable surface before turning back to Seven.

"I have a social engagement tomorrow evening and T2 informs me I am sore thumby. I asked if she could help me locate a more appropriate outfit. She informed me that she has only been alive for 3 days and I should therefore seek other advice."

"Sore thumby?"

"Her term, not mine." Seven looked on curiously as Captain Janeway burst into laughter.

"Sorry, sorry," said Janeway as she calmed her laughter to occasional giggles. She took a sip of her coffee and faced her guests prepared to do her best by them. "Tell me about this engagement. We'll find you something."



Stepping onto the turbo lift the next morning, B'Elanna was surprised to find herself riding with Seven and her little pink friend. "Good morning B'Elanna."

"Morning Seven. How are you doing today?"

"I am well. I am looking forward to small talk and pool this evening."

B'Elanna looked over at the blonde and smiled. "Me too."

"Computer halt turbo lift."

B'Elanna turned to face her former adversary. "What's up Seven?"

Seven looked thoughtful. "Why?"

"Why what?"

"Why are you looking forward to our evening? You do not usually engage with me except at loud volumes. You indicated that you felt that you should become more involved in my projects. Why?"

"Saving the small talk for tonight?" B'Elanna grinned. "Because I think we're capable of better. I think we don't know how to communicate and work with one another sometimes and it snowballs. We are both really smart. I think we can find a way to make things


"T2 thinks so too."


"Yes, she is my friend and is of the opinion much of my difficulty with crewmembers stem from my ignorance of nuances of interaction and the crew's apparent inability to recognize that."

"T2 doesn't sound dumb."

"Indeed. T2, Lt. Torres, Lt. Torres, T2."

"Hello Lt. Torres."

"Hi T2."

Seven's head tilted. "You do not react to T2 as others have."

B'Elanna turned back to face front and deliberately tried to look casual leaning against the wall. "I've seen weirder. Although usually not in a turbo lift when I'm running late."

Seven's implant rose. "I believe, T2, that Lt. Torres has demonstrated what is known as a big hint." B'Elanna snorted as Seven requested the turbo lift to resume. Seven turned to the engineer at her stop. "Thank you Lieutenant. I will see you this evening."

"Have a nice day," B'Elanna shouted through the closing doors. "Will wonders never cease?" she muttered as she came to her floor.



B'Elanna got off shift much later than she had planned. She had less than an hour to get ready. Her nerves were already shot. The more she thought about spending quality time with Seven, the more she wished she had thought through her new attraction. What if Seven didn`t like her back? "Toby, tell me I haven't lost my mind."

Toby just looked on from his spot on the bed. "Big help you are. Although, I think I owe you for the T2 thing. She really liked her." B'Elanna swept Toby up in her arms and sat on the edge of the bed. She took three deep cleansing breaths. "What are you Lanna? A

Klingon or a tika cat? You like the woman. Now quit being a cotton ball and do something about it."

B'Elanna put Toby on her pillow and took a shower. It took another twenty minutes to figure out what to wear for an evening of pool and small talk with a former Borg who probably wouldn't know a date if it hit her in the head with a two by four. Slipping on her `why yes, this is casual' black v-neck t-shirt with her `I am just hot' faded blue jeans, she started to the Holodeck. She reversed course briefly to go put something on her feet.

Seven hated to admit it to herself, but she was nervous. She and T2 had spent another day working and occasionally chatting in the Astrometrics lab. The captain stopped by briefly to check on Seven and her scans. A raised eyebrow at the little pink fluffy later she left, shaking her head and trying very hard not to laugh at the image of a six foot tall former Borg deferring to a two foot tall pink whatsit..

Seven finished her calculations and punched out. Stopping at Cargo Bay 2 to pick up the items she replicated with the help of the Captain, she went to Sick Bay to change and make herself presentable. Stepping out of the shower, she began to put her hair up. Having second thoughts, she left it down. It took her several minutes to get the hang of her new clothing. It was a bit looser than her usual biosuit and had buttons. After some little time however she felt she had sufficiently mastered the art.

When she stepped out of the bathroom after changing, T2 whistled. The Doctor did not know where to boggle first, the former Borg wearing a silk shirt and slacks or the pink animal wolf whistling from one of his biobeds.. Seven lifted her eyebrow and walking past

the Doctor swept up her little friend and took her down to Cargo Bay 2 where she could sit on her pad on the platform. Seven set the computer to play a musical selection while she was gone.

B'Elanna arrived first. She staked out the pool table for the evening and got a mug of ale and a glass of juice. She set up the balls as she waited. She nervously twirled the stick in her hands until 1959. Knowing the former Borg's love of being on time to the second, she put the stick to the side and watched the door.



When Seven stepped through, B'Elanna thought she had a stroke. The woman, already beautiful by the standards of all but four species in the quadrant, was ethereal. Her blonde hair was loose around her shoulders, her light blue button down was a few buttons down,

highlighting soft pale skin. The shy way that Seven looked up at B'Elanna in the pool area just blew the engineer out her socks. Small talk would be a problem. The engineer's brain completely shut off.

B'Elanna stepped down to meet the former Borg halfway. "Hi Seven. You look you look great."

"As do you Lt. Torres."

"B'Elanna. Off duty, it's B'Elanna."

"As do you B'Elanna."

B`Elanna tore her brown eyes from Seven`s blue ones with physical effort and jerked a thumb toward the pool area. "I hope you don't mind, I set up the table and got us some drinks right away. Juice for you."

"Thank you. That was considerate."

B'Elanna smiled. "The conversation thing, that's going well. Shall we see how we do with pool?" She motioned at the table and followed Seven back.

B'Elanna could not smiling. After a few awkward minutes conversation flowed. While it occasionally diverted to work to pick up speed, the majority was pleasant chatter on a variety of subjects. Seven had little to add to any conversations on getting to know her that was not public record, but she had a deep thirst for anecdotes from B'Elanna's life before Voyager. B'Elanna found herself surprised and delighted by the depths of Seven's dry wit.

As Seven had predicted, with a bit of tutoring from B'Elanna, she was on her way to becoming a pool god. When B'Elanna first postioned her body over the table, Seven stiffened but soon came to enjoy the brunette's gentle touch moving her arms and body. Seven found herself asking B'Elanna to help her make more and more complex shots

to experience her touch again. Time with T2 helped Seven accept that touch could be comforting, time with B'Elanna made it something beyond any word that the blonde had definition for.

Finally, B'Elanna laughed. "Seven, even Kahless couldn't make that shot with a laser cue and an extra bumper." Seven pouted. B'Elanna laughed harder. "Oh that is just too cute, Borg pouting. Bottle that. Bet the Ferengi would pay a mint." B'Elanna picked up their

sticks and put them up. "I hate to say it, but it is getting really late Seven, or really really early. Can I walk you to your Bay?"

Seven nodded and after half a moment's hesitation, B'Elanna took Seven's hand. She got a look at something she never thought she'd see, Seven's smile. B'Elanna's attraction became full fledged love in that moment. She stepped close and kissed Seven's cheek. "Thank you," she whispered as she began to lead the thunderstruck blonde to

her Bay..

When they reached the door of the Cargo Bay, B'Elanna unwove her fingers from Seven's and placed her hand on the former drone's waist. She looked into Seven's eyes and stepped close. "Is this ok?"

Seeing Seven's nod, she wrapped her arms around Seven and held her for several long moments, smiling to feel her breathe against her, smiling more to realize that Seven's arms had made their way around her. B'Elanna pulled back to look at the Borg who was looking as happy as she felt. "Would it be ok if we had lunch together tomorrow?" Seven nodded and B'Elanna pulled her close again, one arm at her waist and the other stroking soft hair. Pulling back, she kissed Seven gently and stepped back.

"I better get going." She walked backwards toward the lift. "Night Seven."

"Good night B'Elanna," replied Seven touching her lips where B'Elanna's had been moments before.

B'Elanna smiled as she got to the end of the corridor. "Oh Seven? I really really like your hair like that," she tossed off before she disappeared from view.

Seven walked into the Bay in a daze. She went to the work station to check the gravity on the ship. "Date went that good?" teased T2 from the platform as she drifted to sit nearby.



Seven described her evening with the lieutenant in detail to her little pink friend. She found herself stopping mid-sentence from time to time as she relived B'Elanna's laughter or touch. By the time, she got to the kiss, she was smiling again. "Won't need me much longer will you Seven?" T2 smiled.

Seven looked at her friend disturbed. "Oh now don't get upset. We talked about the transitional thing. I am happy for you Seven."

"I am not ready yet."

"I am still here."

"Good. B'Elanna asked me to lunch tomorrow. I want you to come."

"You sure?"

"Yes. You are my friend. I want you there."

"Third wheel, not at all awkward."

"Third wheel?"

"Never mind. You are the legs, I am just the cuddly bit you carry. Maybe if you get wrapped up in conversation you can find me a bit of fluff of my own."

"You are joking."

"Something very like."

"If you get uncomfortable, Neelix expressed an interest in spending time with you."

"Sounds like fun. He can tell me about gravy recipes and I can tell him how well I absorb them."

Seven couldn't stop a hiccup-like giggle from escaping. She covered her mouth and swept the little fuzzy up to her chest for a crushing hug. She sat her on the console and went back to work. She wanted to ensure that when B'Elanna came to collect her for lunch, she

wouldn't be thinking about work in the slightest.

B'Elanna swept into her quarters and grabbed up Toby. She danced him around and around her bed. "I think she likes me too Toby." She grinned and fell back on the bed. "I think she really really likes me," she whispered as she rubbed her cheek against her threadbare friend, kissing him on the head. She kicked off her boots and cuddled into her old friend and fell asleep.



Seven finished her own work and began to re-check the figures Tal Celes left before she left for lunch. Seven couldn't focus. She kept thinking about her evening with B'Elanna. "You got it bad," she heard from the dais.

"I thought you indicated that you would remain silent while I worked T2."

"Yeah, you're working and I am an eight foot tall goldfish named Bob. You got it bad."

Seven blushed. "Perhaps you are right T2."

"What's T2 right about now?" asked B'Elanna as she came in. Seven blushed even more. B'Elanna grinned. "You're blushing."

"Apparently. I hope you do not mind, I invited T2 to join us."

"Ok, maybe I'll find it easier to interrogate her." B'Elanna bared her teeth at the little stuffie.

"Ooo I'm scared. I'm so scared of the big bad Klingon. Save me, save me," recited T2 as if reading a grocery list.

"Smart ass stuffed animals, I swear." B'Elanna chuckled and held out her hand to Seven. Seven stooped to pick up T2 and wove her fingers with B'Elanna's. They left and headed up to the Mess Hall.

When they got there, the room was fairly crowded. B`Elanna pointed to a table. "I tell you what Seven. You grab us that table in the corner by the window and I get us a couple of trays." B'Elanna smiled at Seven's doubtful look. "Don't give me that look, Seven. I'm not going to get you something you'll hate."

"I trust you," replied Seven. B'Elanna's smile got bigger.

"Good. I'll be right there." The engineer released Seven's hand and she went to grab the trays.

Seven smiled shyly and went to the indicated corner. Sitting down she placed T2 on the table beside her. She began to look concerned. B'Elanna put down the trays. "What's wrong Seven?"

"Was it inappropriate to bring T2?"

B'Elanna sat down across from the blonde. "What brought that on?"

"The others in the Mess Hall. Some are making comments about T2 and me. They are also making comments about our appearing together for our lunch, holding hands."

"You haven't given a crap what they think so far."

"I do not wish to be `sore thumby' as T2 suggests."

"Sore thumby? Ok, Seven, it's nice to fit in, but not at the cost of your happiness. As long you aren't hurting anyone and as long as being here with T2 makes you happy, do it. If you want I will take special pride in educating each and every one of the crew that made a

comment." B'Elanna put her hand on Seven's and stood up.

"That will not be necessary, B'Elanna, but thank you. Please sit. I only wanted clarification."

"They're just jealous, `cause we get to eat lunch with the prettiest woman in the room." B'Elanna looked up from re-spreading her napkin just in time to see Seven's blush.



"Now that we've established my bona fides to be here, what say we call Neelix over so I can start that gravy research thing we talked over earlier and you two crazy kids can have some quality time." T2 looked first to Seven, then at B'Elanna whose eyebrows were shooting up.

"Gravy research thing?" To her surprise Seven was doing a remarkable simulation of a giggle. Her eyes shot to T2 who was smiling. She raised her arm. "Hey Neelix, wanna come over here?"

"What can I do for you both?"

"Neelix, this is my friend T2, T2 Neelix. T2 has expressed an interest in your cooking techniques."

"Hi Neelix," T2 offered.

"Well hello there little one, Naomi has said such wonderful things about you. What do you say you come with me back to the kitchen and we`ll chat."

"No burners."

"No burners." Neelix smiled and carried the little pink stuffie back toward the food prep area.

B'Elanna watched Seven's eyes track her little friend and turn to her. She smiled at the Astrometrics officer. Picking up her fork, she motioned for her companion to dig in. "Alfredo. Hope its ok. It's mild and as far as I'm concerned, any dish with a side of garlic

bread can't be bad." B'Elanna chuckled and watched Seven's first bite.

Seven hummed at her first taste of the dish. "Thank you, B'Elanna. I do like it."

"Good." B'Elanna dug into her own food. "So, tell me again why you thought coming on to Harry Kim was a good idea?" B'Elanna chuckled and listened to Seven's rather detailed account of her early days aboard Voyager.

The food was long gone and the conversation was still flowing when Tom Paris came in for his late lunch. He was in a bad mood, having lost both Harry and the Delaney sisters' able help for various Captain Proton chapters that evening. Seeing that the rumors about

his ex and the Ice Princess were possibly true just made it worse. Seeing the stuffie on the counter, he decided it was time to get his back.

He grabbed T2 up by the scruff and held her up. "Hey B'Elanna," he said his voice raised to carry. "What'd you do? Dump your stupid stuffed targ in a bleach batch?"

"Put me down you big doofus," ordered T2. Tom promptly dropped her. B'Elanna blushed darkly and couldn't look at Seven.

"I have to go." She dumped her tray and walked quickly out of the Mess Hall as Seven looked on concerned.



Seven tapped her comm badge. "Seven to Torres."

"Not now. Torres out."

Seven walked up to the counter and picked up T2. "She was your Designer."

"You know I'm not allowed to say."

Seven put T2 on the counter. "Neelix please watch her."

"Of course, of course."

Seven stepped up to Tom Paris. Tom's sense of self-preservation was apparently impaired. He remained standing right where he was. "You caused her distress."

"It was a joke."

Seven stepped into his comfort zone. "Perhaps you will find my assimilation of you to be equally funny. If you have caused her permanent distress you can be assured that we will find out." Tom's eyes grew to saucer size as Seven walked out of the Mess Hall.

"Computer, locate Lt. Torres."

"Lt. Torres is in her quarters."

Seven found herself outside the engineer's quarters in short order. She touched the door chime. There was no response. She touched the chime a second time. When it went unanswered, she leaned her forehead against the door. Looking one more time, hoping B'Elanna would open the door herself, Seven raised her wrist. Interfacing with the door controls she let herself in.

"What the hell are you doing Borg?" yelled the Lieutenant.

Seven walked quickly to sit beside B'Elanna on the bed. "I am ignoring door protocols in favor of making sure you are not permanently damaged B'Elanna." She reached her fingers toward the tears on B'Elanna's face.. Seeing her flinch, Seven reached down to stroke the stuffed animal she held instead. "This is T2's namesake."

"Toby," whispered B'Elanna. "His name's Toby." Her eyes looked down at the purple targ. It was easier than looking up at Seven right now.

"He doesn't talk. Why does T2?"

B'Elanna chuckled. "In case you hadn't noticed, you are just a little bit more sophisticated than a child. T2 was supposed to be the kind of friend to you that Toby is to me but I figured you'd think the whole thing was irrelevant if I didn't do something special with her. That's why I gave her a personality from the Holodeck and all." B'Elanna sighed and rubbed her face on Toby's fur.

She was suddenly surprised to find Seven's arms around her. She leaned into Seven's shoulder, wrapping an arm around the former drone's waist.



Seven was surprised herself as she held B'Elanna. A week ago, this woman could not be in the same room with her. "You gave me a friend and then you were my friend."

"Part of me is kinda hoping for more than friends," whispered B'Elanna.

"Me too." Seven leaned back slightly to look at the engineer. When B'Elanna looked up at her she smiled and kissed B'Elanna's forehead. B'Elanna's eyes closed.

"Please tell me you'll come to my quarters tonight. I want to spend time with you Seven."

"If the captain does not put me in the brig for threatening Lt. Paris, I will comply."

B'Elanna's head shot up. "In the brig for what?"

"I informed Lt. Paris that if he had permanently distressed you, I would assimilate him."

B'Elanna barked out a laugh. "That would have been so worth the embarrassment. I wish you'd recorded it." She pulled in Seven for a long hug. She pulled the blonde down for a long gentle kiss. "If we might not have a tonight, maybe we should have a this afternoon.

How `bout we play hooky?"


"Call in some personal time. Stay here."

"You will hold me?"

"Of course."

Seven smiled.. "I will comply."

B'Elanna kissed her again. She looked down at her little friend Toby. "Let me put Toby up. We'll call in the personal time and then I am going to introduce you the wonderful world of playing hooky."

"I look forward to it."

B'Elanna kissed the former drone and got up to make the calls. Seven smiled at the engineer. She knew today would be the first of many, many afternoons together thanks to the intervention of their two fuzzy friends.


Mezoti was being particularly difficult. Seven looked at her new charge who was fighting the clay like it was Hirogen hunter and despaired of ever coming to an understanding. She felt an arm slide around her waist and leaned back into her wife with a sigh. "Maybe,"

whispered B'Elanna Torres as she kissed Seven's neck, "Maybe she just needs a friend." Seven looked down at the other arm sliding around her waist with T2 in hand.

Seven smiled and lovingly stroked the pink fur. Turning in B'Elanna's arms she kissed the half-Klingon engineer. "I fell in love with you for your mind you know." She kissed B'Elanna's elegant ridges.

"Here I thought it was my buns of steel."

Seven squeezed her wife. "Those too." She took T2 and placed her beside Mezoti. "Mezoti, this is T2. Talk to her." Seven stood and walked over to sit beside her wife and offer helpful hints as she attempted to work the clay herself. She smiled to see a replay of

one of her first conversations with the chatty little targ. She felt like maybe things were going to be ok.

The End

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