DISCLAIMER: Star Trek Voyager and its characters are the property of Paramount. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Part one of the Voq Je Bang 2012 Monthly Challenge. 1) Write a one-part fic each month, on any theme. 2) Each fic must be linked to the preceding one although it cannot be a continuation of the previous month's story. 3) At the end of the year, the work should be twelve separate one-shots linked together by a narrative with a beginning, middle and end.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To dehickey[at]hotmail.com

The Trials of Herculanna and Sevcules
Part 2: The Nine Heads of Hate

By Gemini1179


'That damn stupid Borg. Stupid Borg bitch. Ice Princess. Arrogant, goddam beautiful and cocky and, and...'

B'Elanna kicked the panel in the Jefferies tube holding the burnt out bio-neural gel-pack, one of seven, of course, that blew that day during a new warp core mixture test because Seven had re-routed power from Decks Seven-through-Nine for her own 'impromptu' Astrometric sensor upgrades. She did not run her upgrades by the Chief of Engineering as she had already gotten the go ahead from the Captain. However, the Captain had advised her to notify Engineering about the project. The fact that she hadn't specifically told her when to notify Engineering encouraged the blonde ex-Borg to finish her upgrades as quickly as possible because, as the Doctor's Social Lesson 31 stated, "It is sometimes better to beg forgiveness than ask permission".

Having been delayed by Bridge requests and technical mishaps, Seven's upgrades came online at the exact time that B'Elanna's warp core mixture test was under its highest stress. Seven bio-neural gel-packs, fifteen EPS relays and several plasma grid connectors all blew, limiting power on Decks Five-through-Fifteen, basically bringing Voyager to a stand still. B'Elanna's initial assessment to the Captain was three days of repairs, two if she pushed it and the Captain told her to get started but to not overwork herself or her crew. These days it always seemed more a platitude or a bit of self-placating for the Captain to say these things as the Captain knew very well that B'Elanna would work herself to the bone to get it fixed.

Seven had sighed quietly to herself several times, debated with herself and was generally contrite about the whole situation and had prepared herself mentally to go and apologize to Voyager's Chief Engineer when the short brunette stormed into Astrometrics, something akin to soot marking her distinctive features, and tore a verbal strip off Seven the likes that hadn't been seen in the Delta Quadrant. Despite her animation, and the flailing limbs, B'Elanna never actually raised a hand to the ex-Borg no matter how much she desperately wanted to wrap her hands around the pale slender neck of her nemesis and squeeze. However, her words, each and every cutting remark, slur and derogatory comment did more damage to the emotionally inexperienced woman than physical violence ever could. At each insult Seven flinched and retreated into her Borg armour just a little more until there was nothing standing in front of Lieutenant Torres but a cold, blue-eyed statue of indifference.

It just made the half-Klingon more angry. But, before she could lose herself completely to her anger, she was able to make a decision- she'd simply cut the woman's existence out of her consciousness all together. Seven became nothing to her, and if she was nothing, then B'Elanna was just wasting her breath. So she left. Not once during her tirade did she look into Seven's eyes as she yelled, insulted and practically spat every hurtful thing she could have imagined. Had she done that, even in her rage, she might have seen the heartbreak deepening within the expressive blue eyes of the tall woman. But she didn't, and she hadn't.

B'Elanna didn't know that Seven had come to respect her. Not only respect, but admire. Not only admire, but... something more. And it was all shattered in a matter of moments. Seven had never felt so small. There were no other voices that she could allow herself to retreat into; to release herself to. There was only her and what had been said. The statuesque blonde began to quiver. The quivering turned into shaking; a whimper; a sob; a tortured inhalation. Finally, the normally composed form of Seven of Nine broke down into laboured breathing and pained tears, crumbling to the floor of Astrometrics, her body convulsing as each sob seemed to tear at her soul.

Forgetting about Seven had proven more difficult than B'Elanna thought. "Goddammit! All she had to do was say something, but noooo, the rest of us don't matter to miss-high-and-mighty Ice Queen. Shit, the only things she cares about are her Borg-dammed Astrometrics sensors and the Captain's approval... FUCK!" The panel was being stubborn and six hours into the repairs, B'Elanna already had no patience for it. She'd already fixed three EPS relays and two gel-packs and was making good time before she got to this one between Decks 14 and 15. She was deep in the bowels of Voyager now and had not eaten since morning.

"Tsk, tsk. There is only one species in this galaxy that has ships that respond favourably to such actions and profanities and I don't think you'd like to meet them."

B'Elanna's head whipped around so hard she nearly fell over. There, seated comfortably, was the annoyingly familiar form of Q. Dressed in his Command reds, of course.

"What the hell do you want?" She knew angering an omnipotent being was not a smart thing to do... somewhere deep down she did. She was sure of it. Maybe. Her ankle hurt from all the stomping on panels she'd been doing so B'Elanna decided to distract herself from her impending doom or Q-induced migraine she could feel coming on.

"Want? Moi? Such a loaded question. I want the answers I can't obtain. I want Jean-Luc to get over himself already and bend the good Doctor Crusher over his desk. Oh wait! My face on the one-dollar bill!" Q would never admit it, but the fact that humans, or in this case half-humans never seemed perturbed by the idea that he could literally turn them into a frog on a whim, always garnered a small measure of respect with the all-powerful being. A small, small measure, but a measure none the less. Besides, sticks-and-stones and all that, he was a freaking GOD for crying out loud- and in the case of a certain number of civilizations he dallied with, quite literally so.

"Yeah, yeah, you're a regular Cyrano de Bergerac. I don't have time for your fun and games Q, go bother the Captain." B'Elanna finally got the panel off and began to get to work opening her kit and preparing the replacement gel-pack she brought with her.

"Oh, Kathy does get so put-off by my generosity at times, I felt like bestowing my gift wisdom upon some of the more needy of Voyager's crew. And FYI, Gerard Depardieu was a Q- and completely magnificent in the role, if I might add." Q looked down at his nails lazily.

"Well good for the Q. Is there something specific you want or can I get back to work?" She decided that maybe the best way to get rid of the Q was to simply indulge his curiosity and be done with it.

"Right to the point. I like that, although usually Kathy indulges me in at least a few more moments of verbal sparring- which of course she knows she has no chance of winning- although, short of grunting and profanities, I suspect I would not receive the same eloquence from Voyager's Chief mongrel." His last words were pointed and had the desired affect.

B'Elanna fought back the futile urge to strangle the Q. Although, he might just let her which might have been a bit cathartic if she didn't think he'd simply laugh at her maniacally the whole time. Gritting her teeth and attempting to let the hurtful words melt away, she spoke. "Your point?"

Now the Q's behaviour took on his usual sarcastic melodramatic turn, purposely mocking, "Oh dear, did I strike a nerve? Did my WORDS hurt the big, strong Klingon?" At B'Elanna's restrained glare he continued. "While I do so hate interfering in the lives of you minor bipeds, I just can't stand all the heartbreak and angst. So, you will not be able to exit from this maze of Jefferies tubes until you make things right." And with a snap of his fingers and a flash of light, Q was gone.

"What the hell?" B'Elanna tapped her communicator, "Torres to the Bridge".


"Torres to the Captain, respond."


"Torres to anyone, respond."


"Computer initiate site to site transport, my location to Engineering."

The strong female tones of the computer responded. ~Unable to comply.~

"Why?" B'Elanna huffed in frustration and looked up. It was something of an unconscious habit to look up when speaking to a disembodied voice she supposed.

While it was the computer's voice that responded, it was Q's words. ~Because you need to make things right.~

"Dammit!" She didn't even know what it meant. "Make things right? Heartbreak and angst? What the heck is he talking about? I'm not experiencing any heartbreak- especially over Tom if that's what he is thinking. The Helmrat and his holographic skanks can have each other."

Deciding she had more important things to do anyway, B'Elanna got back to work.

Half an hour later she was done her work and ready to leave so she packed up her tools and crawled to the exit, opening the hatch. Stepping into the junction, B'Elanna nearly lost her grip on her toolkit. The hatch to the tube closed behind her and unless her eyes were deceiving her, there were now nine total hatches connected to the junction she was standing in. Only it wasn't a regular Jefferies tube junction, it was now some kind of polygon-shaped room with Jefferies tube hatches above her, below her and around her.

"...shit." Gathering what was left of her indignation, B'Elanna decided not to play Q's game and simply pick a hatch and go. Once inside the chosen hatch, she was once again shocked for the second time in as many minutes.

"Seven? What the hell are you doing here Borg? I thought I told you to stay as far away from anything even remotely connected to Engineering as possible!" B'Elanna felt her hackles raise at the sight of her most hated enemy and she couldn't help the seemingly instinctual outburst.

Seven didn't even acknowledge her as she continued her... what was she doing? More modifications? Repairs?

"...Seven?" It was more tentative this time. Something was not right. Seven was... shaking? She was shaking as she worked. B'Elanna felt something stir inside her and quickly squashed it down before crawling over to Seven to get into her face more directly. 'See if she can ignore me then.'

As she got close to Seven and was about to grab her by the shoulder to spin her around and give her a piece of her mind, her hand froze only mere inches from its target.

Seven was crying. Silently, but crying. Tear streaks tracked down each cheek from glistening and pained blue eyes. Again, B'Elanna felt a pang of something she did not want to acknowledge in her chest. Seven was doing repairs, that much was certain and it looked like she was actually diverting power back from Astrometrics to the power grid.

B'Elanna remembered her earlier promise to herself and schooled her face into one of scorn yet again. "It's not enough, Borg." She crawled past Seven and exited the Jefferies tube at the opposite end from which she came.

This time the junction had just two connections. Rolling her eyes in frustration, she picked the one on her right and climbed in.

"No one wants to be your friend, freak. You're like deformed or something!" Little Johnny Morris began to laugh at her. B'Elanna felt so small once again. The memory cut through her like a knife. It didn't make sense, she'd come through a Jefferies tube, and there before her was a scene from her childhood. One of the most painful memories from when she had just wanted to play with some of the local kids. She was standing in the spot her seven-year-old self had been standing at the time and again she felt just as small and hurt as she did back then. She wanted to grab the smarmy punk by his throat and choke the life out of him but the pain was too much all of a sudden. She ran back the only way she knew and climbed back through the hatch.

Back at the junction B'Elanna seemed to regain a part of herself again as she shook herself out of the painful memory. She tried the other tube.

Everything looked different, like there was an over-lay to her vision. One layer was normal and the other was... enhanced. It was confusing. Not nearly as vile as the horrible, horrible... drink she was ingesting.

"...do dirty things to her if I could thaw that cold Borg frame..."

"...take her apart when we get back to the Alpha Quadrant, she doesn't even see it coming..."

"...touch more Nemean Lion extract and this Leola root lasagna will be my most spicy creation yet..."

Sounds from around the Mess hall were reaching her ears, but she remained still and impassive. B'Elanna wanted to throw up.

"...telling you Starfleet, outside she may have been shaped to be attractive, but it's only skin deep- after that, it is just twisted machine."

"You can't mean that Maquis, try giving her a chance already, you might find you have things in common."

*snort* "Right. Not going to happen. I won't tolerate any Borg circus' in my Engine room. I've got things to do, later Starfleet."

B'Elanna still couldn't move or feel anything but cold emptiness except for... shaking. Again. Imperceptible. She wanted to yell and she wanted to scream but it was no use. She did manage to finally escape again.

Back in the junction, B'Elanna began to hyperventilate. Waves of emotional pain crashed down upon her and she felt tears biting at the corners of her eyes aching for release. There was only one way out and that was back through the tube where Seven was. Steeling herself, she climbed back into the tube only to find it empty. Crawling past where Seven had been working she couldn't help but do a quick inspection. Seven had done a good job- not good, great.

Back in the junction with the nine Jefferies tube hatches, B'Elanna once again selected another at random.

Once again she closed the hatch behind her only to turn and find Seven once again working, this time replacing one of the gel-packs. B'Elanna sighed. "I've already replaced the one on this Deck, Seven. We don't have enough resources to produce these if they aren't needed." There was a weariness mixed in with her frustration. Once again, she was ignored- it seemed.

"I am NOT an unfeeling machine." Suddenly her enhanced hand snapped forward, punching a dent into a duranium Jefferies tube reinforcement. B'Elanna went wide-eyed. She'd never seen or heard Seven do or say things so emotionally. She'd also never witnessed the extent of the ex-Borg's strength. Had Seven snapped on her, B'Elanna had the sneaking suspicion that she would not be around to tell anyone about it. At best, she'd likely be the Doctor's roommate in Sick Bay for an extended duration. She wasn't sure what was worse: death by having her heart ripped out by a Borg-enhanced hand or being subject to the Doctor's latest rendition of the H.M.S Pinafore while confined to Sick Bay. Maybe there was something to be said about Seven and emotions after all. Either way, B'Elanna concluded that it would be safer to retreat for the moment.

It was not the same junction she had come from. This one again had two exits. B'Elanna was starting to get frustrated and she rubbed her temples absently for a moment before resigning herself to whatever lay beyond 'Door Number One'.

"I will not be responsible for my actions."

"You are a Starfleet officer, now act like one!"


She remembered that conversation with Chakotay, she didn't need to see it again in the Q-Christmas-Carol farce. Seven had appropriated with some equipment from Engineering without asking shortly after coming aboard Voyager and it had set her off. So many of the things Seven did had set her off in that first year. Her indifference to the plight of the Caati, a species decimated by the Borg, her constant use of 'irrelevant' and that damn outfit showing off her fantastic form all the while her face telling anyone who approached to 'fuck off' in that roundabout Borg way of hers. She was always convinced that it was some goddam Borg bit of fashion ingenuity no doubt to make the rest of Voyager's women inadequate. As if on 'que', the scene she was watching shifted.

"The design should help your biology adjust and mitigate the pain of the re-assertion of your newly regenerated organic systems. It is also by design, aesthetically pleasing. I also took the liberty of stimulating your hair follicles. A vicarious experience for me, as you might imagine."

There in a still mostly assimilated Cargo Bay 2 were the Captain, Chakotay and the Doctor looking smugly at Seven of Nine in her silver bio-suit. She looked positively uncomfortable as they spoke, taking in her surroundings which would become her new home.

This couldn't be right. The Doctor put her in those things? Aesthetically pleasing? Did she not know how he really didn't get it? She looked so... scared? Unsure? B'Elanna had never seen the Bory-Seven look so uncomfortable. The Doctor, it seemed, had successfully indulged in some kind of warped Barbie dress-up and neither the Captain nor Chakotay had called him on it? Shit, the Captain just looked like a proud momma at a child's elementary school graduation and Chakotay just looked... distant.

B'Elanna was really starting to feel uncomfortable. Uncomfortable and upset. Uncomfortable, upset and sick. She backed out of the Jefferies tube she was in and continued her Q-enforced... quest? Six more times she crawled through a Jefferies tube with Seven in it, doing repairs while exhibiting all signs of being an emotional wreck. Not once did Seven acknowledge B'Elanna's presence as she passed her and B'Elanna felt oddly ashamed of even disturbing Seven by the time she got to the last of the two-junction Jefferies tubes.

The trip had so far not been pretty. B'Elanna had seen the worst moments in both her and Seven's lives. She'd seen- no, felt- little Annika's fear as her incredibly neglectful parents took their four year-old daughter into the Delta Quadrant, against orders, for two years before they were finally caught and assimilated. Only in the end did they even seem to care for the girl. She 'experienced' Seven's assimilation, heard the Borg Queen's haunting and seductive words of twisted encouragement to the woman-girl over the years during her time with the Borg. Felt the helplessness of being drowned out in a billion other voices; felt the inability to do anything but what you were designated to; felt the confusion of a little girl in a woman's body who had not known any other life.

Until Voyager. Then she felt the primal fear all over again. Felt Seven's panic at losing the only thing she understood- being one of many. One of the 'visions' had shown her Seven's smile, as small as it was, at the... limited praise from B'Elanna on occasion. She actually felt Seven's need for approval, not from the Captain, but from her. Seven, shit, Seven seemed to... respect her.

B'Elanna finally threw up in the junction to the last two tubes. She no longer felt she even had the right to look at Seven. She couldn't cut Seven out of her life, she should cut herself out of Seven's. She was nothing more than a constant source of incredible pain for the young woman. Everything that had come before seemed to twist itself in her consciousness like daggers of guilt.

Finally she managed to crawl into the second last tube. This one was the worst of all. She was once again experiencing Seven's side of a conversation- not a conversation, the tirade B'Elanna had directed to her most recently in Astrometrics. Each cut, tear and rip on her heart was felt. Each retreat into her armour to try and stem the flow of pain. It was like bleeding from a thousand cuts and she only had bandages for two of them. She saw how she had not even looked into Seven's eyes. She saw herself leave. She saw and felt the following collapse.

B'Elanna had wished Seven had of lashed out at her. She deserved it. She deserved it and more. B'Elanna was a monster. She hated herself. Hate. It was a sickness that she'd been suffering from for so long, she didn't know if she could ever leave it behind. Hate for how she was treated growing up; hate for her Klingon heritage; hate for the Federation's lack of will regarding Bajor; hate for the Captain getting them stuck so far from home; hate for having to conform to Starfleet ideals; hate for allowing herself to justify a relationship with Tom; hate for the things the Borg had done; hate for Seven representing those things; hate for her own inadequacies compared to Seven... B'Elanna was so weary of the hate. She'd been able to let go of some of it over the years, she no longer hated the Captain, or Tom, but she had somehow held on to that hate for Seven- and in doing so had done the worst thing she had ever done. She'd broken the woman's heart. A heart she wouldn't even have acknowledged was there before.

Only a primal fear of a death alone prevented B'Elanna for screaming out loud and wishing to simply die in that tube. No, that wasn't the only thing. The lowest moment of her existence had passed surprisingly quickly. Something stirred within B'Elanna. She could never make it up, but she could start making it right. So much damage had been done to Seven by her hand and B'Elanna found that thought to be simply inexcusable. She could no longer allow herself to act with such dishonour. She could no longer allow the sickness of hate to control her. She was not a 'primitive mongrel' as Q had said- well, she had been, but she would no longer be. She could no longer be.

Jaw set, determination etched into her features, B'Elanna crawled into the last Jefferies tube. It was different this time- Seven was there. Working her ass off. More repairs. She looked like she hadn't regenerated, her plum-coloured bio-suit was dirty and several strands of her platinum blonde hair had left her usual severe bun and were dangling lightly across her strong features. B'Elanna's breath hitched, her hearts seemed to stop a moment as she finally SAW Seven of Nine. She saw all the times Seven had endured her abuse and still did her job. She saw Seven sacrifice time and time again for a crew who more or less simply tolerated her existence. She saw Seven go back to her alcove every night and step into a dreamless sleep in a public place as if she were a hammer placed on hooks in the wall of a shed.

Knowing Seven couldn't hear her, as she had suspected for a while that these encounters with Seven were simply another part of Q's lesson to her, B'Elanna nevertheless crawled to a position behind, but near Seven. She dropped her eyes to the flooring as she felt she no longer had the right to look at the woman.

"I know you can't really hear this. I know this is all a part of Q's weird idea of an intervention. But... none of that matters. I cannot continue until I say this. I will find you later and tell you for real but I don't think I could survive until then if I didn't say it now. I am a coward. I allowed this cowardice into me as a child after it spawned from fear. However, I couldn't stand the idea of being a coward, so I turned to the only thing that kept me from feeling it- hate. I allowed hate to dictate so much of my life not realizing how much I not only hurt myself, but others. Because hate was easy, and I am a coward. I won't... I can't allow hate to have this hold over me any more, it is a sickness I want to be free of. I've- I've been such a monster to you Seven. I've allowed my jealousy, fear and pride fuel my hate and direct it at the one person who never should have been subject to it, ever. I should have been the first to stand up and guide you through the transition from victim and slave to a person. But I didn't. Instead, I just made it that much harder for you because it dulled my own pain over my past problems with finding acceptance. That makes me the worst of all. Others can just be unkind because they simply don't know better- or rather that they don't know the other side and choose to be unkind because they can.

"I was unkind knowing the pain it causes. Knowing the hurt. That makes me the worst. And I said it all to your face while you took it all and defended yourself to the best of your ability not having had any experience with this kind of thing before. I might as well have been putting Naomi Wildman down for kicks while I was at it. I am low. So low. So far beneath you- and here I thought I was going to, in my anger and hate, cut you out of my life... when I'm the one who should be removed from your sight. You're beautiful, brilliant and you intimidate the hell out of me with your confidence. I'm so sorry I couldn't have just said these things to your face a long time ago and worked with you, helped you, let you know that you were never alone, that you would never be alone.

"I understand why you wouldn't be eager to tell me about the upgrades to Astrometrics knowing how I'd react on principle. Knowing how I constantly reject your ideas out of spite knowing that they are brilliant... well, for the most part- I'm still not going to cut you any slack. But... if after I've told you all this for real and you still want to ever have me in the same room, I promise not to hold your past against you. I promise to encourage you, to inspire you, to tell you when you're being a dumb-ass, when you're being brilliant and I promise most of all to not be a coward. I promise to not to turn to hate in fear of my feelings, the feelings that I'm now realizing have always been there- that I feel... well, you certainly don't deserve to be punished by having me tell you how I'm- I... shit."

A tear finally escaped the wide pools of brown that were B'Elanna's eyes. It dropped to the flooring of the Jefferies tube she was staring at, followed by another, a hitched breath, and another until she could not hold it back any longer. B'Elanna finally understood all of her ignorance regarding her own feelings. She had feelings for Seven. Feelings that would no longer ever be returned because of her own small-minded hate. Seven had been right. She was small. This was the darkest place she had ever been and ever could be in.

But there was the smallest hint of a glow. A tiny light in the darkness. Focusing on it, B'Elanna noticed that it got brighter. And brighter. Finally, the shine was cutting through the bottom-of-a-lake nature of her tears. A reflection- a reflection of light of a metal surface. A silver-metallic surface. A silver-metallic surface that was suddenly touching her chin, gently urging her to raise her head. She closed her eyes. She didn't want to see. If she saw anger, she would understand, but if she saw hate, she would crumble again.

"I forgive you."

Three words. Three simple words that could have such an effect, she didn't think it was possible. Her eyes snapped open only to be lost in the bluest pools of expressed emotion she had ever seen. Forgiveness. Love. Caring.

Seven had her enhanced fingers touching B'Elanna's chin in the softest manner she could in urging the brunette to lift her head as she gazed back into B'Elanna's own brown eyes trying to convey everything she felt for the woman. There had been pain, yes, but there was a stronger emotion. This was something that B'Elanna had unknowingly taught her- there was a stronger emotion than hate, it was love. So, even after she had broken down in Astrometrics, she'd grabbed hold of that surviving spark of love within her like a lifeline and simply let in envelop her.

She couldn't sit and do nothing while the damage she was responsible for was being fixed by others so Seven had gone to Engineering, talked to Joe Carey and gotten B'Elanna's repair schedule. She'd spent the next 14 hours doing repairs in sections she didn't think B'Elanna would be in lest she spark her ire once more. She just wanted to help and if doing so out of B'Elanna's sight was the best she could do, the best way to hold on to the love she had inside for her, then that's what she was going to do. She'd broken down a couple times doing the repairs, damaged a part of one of the Jefferies tubes she had been in and was still shaken and crying when she decided to transfer some power back into the power grid from Astrometrics, but she continued to work. To work for B'Elanna; so B'Elanna wouldn't have to continue to suffer due to her.

So it had come as a shock to her when B'Elanna had entered the Jefferies tube on Deck 6. Her last position report on B'Elanna from the main computer had said she was between Decks 14 and 15 not ten minutes earlier. She'd frozen momentarily not knowing what to do and then decided that if she continued to work, perhaps she'd have been left alone. Then B'Elanna had begun to speak and Seven felt paralyzed. B'Elanna seemed to think she was some kind of illusion created by a Q. She almost said something before B'Elanna mentioned that she was going to say it to her for real. Quietly and carefully she'd turned to watch B'Elanna give her confession. When B'Elanna finally broke down, it was too much for Seven and she had to reach out to her.

"Wh-why?" It was the only thing B'Elanna could think of to say. Somehow she now knew that this wasn't an illusion, but the real Seven yet still she didn't feel like she deserved forgiveness.

"You said it yourself, hate is a sickness, anger and pain are symptoms and side effects. You have also taught me the cure: love. I could not hold on to the pain while there was still love, just like I do not think you will hold on to the anger if you know there is love both within you and for you. So I forgive you because it is the only thing I can do because I love you B'Elanna Torres." Seven meant every word and B'Elanna could feel each word touch her soul, healing it and filling its previously empty other half- a half now completed by Seven of Nine, former tertiary adjunct to Unimatrix Zero-One of the Borg Collective.

"What if I can't forgive myself?" It was the last vestige of a life of telling herself she wasn't good enough, smart enough or pretty enough. However, the battle had already been won when Seven had entered the field. Cowardice, fear, doubt and hate stood no chance against the stubbornness of a Borg in love.

"You can because you are no coward. I do not believe you ever truly were, but even if you think you were, you know you are now not. These are the last gasps of doubt within you B'Elanna Torres. I- I cannot ask you to love me simply because I confess a love for you, but if you do have positive feelings for me, use them to give you strength if what I feel for you is not enough." Seven could actually see the physical and psychological victory within B'Elanna as she finally accepted, truly accepted her words and forgave herself. Then, just as quickly, within B'Elanna's brown eyes she saw something she had hoped for but not expected- love.

B'Elanna let out a final breath as her soul found its purchase within her and just pulled Seven into her arms and held her as close as she could, her face resting in the crook of Seven's beautiful neck. She smiled. "Of course I love you. I can't not, not any more." Seven had responded almost immediately and she was now breathing quickly, her heart still beating above normal parameters, within B'Elanna's embrace, a gentle, peaceful smile upon her face.

"Well, it looks like my work here is done." Q was back, reclined in the Jefferies tube a few feet from the entangled women. B'Elanna didn't care. Seven didn't care; they both had more important things to do, like hold each other and sit together with silly grins, wiping the tears from each others faces and whispering sweet nothings to each other. "It is so rare when true soul mates actually even exist at the same time, let alone encounter each other. I couldn't just sit by and let this foolishness continue- of course, I just provide the medium, but you two did the work- Seven I knew would pull her own weight, but I must say Chief Torres, I am impressed."

B'Elanna wanted to say "get lost Q", but what ended up coming out was, "Thank you Q." Even Seven pulled back a bit to look B'Elanna over with a questioning gaze. This was not some other B'Elanna Torres, was it? B'Elanna saw Seven's look and just chuckled before moving back into her new favourite spot snuggled into Seven's neck.

Q seemed just as surprised as Seven, if it were so possible for an omnipotent being to be as such. "Could I have been so wrong in my comparison of you to Kathy? Such incredible manners! For that, I'll leave you two lovebirds a gift." A snap of fingers and a flash of light later and Q was gone. In his place in the Jefferies tube sat a golden fur blanket, folded neatly.

The End

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