DISCLAIMER: Paramount, they're all yours, just borrowed them. No money earned.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Consider this a fairly slow moving turbolift.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Turbolift Torment Six
By alastria7

Seven nodded her acknowledgement of B'Elanna briskly and then looked away.

The smaller woman eyed the ex-Borg with slight annoyance. She'd hoped the turbolift would be empty - always feeling slightly awkward wondering what to say to people for the duration of a journey.

B'Elanna had looked away from Seven instantly, taking her place beside her, both women now looking toward the open doors, but something in her brain told her that the Borg-mask had looked a little strained today, upset even. She didn't know why that bothered her so much and she tried to keep her mouth shut but she was curious. She turned to the woman, in spite of herself. "OK. What's up?"

"I find it interesting that you should show concern now for my wellbeing after all this time," said Seven, her fences going up in a well-rehearsed reflex action.

"Pardon me for bothering," muttered B'Elanna as she turned to face the still-open doors again. "You stick your neck out and you try to help," she grumbled quietly, knowing the ex-Borg could hear her. She tried very hard to stay silent but curiosity was a powerful creature and it wanted out, "You know, I mean…" she stumbled, turning to look again at the woman, "It's just that you looked so – so…"

"Miserable?" completed Seven.

"Yeah. Why?"

Seven studied the Lieutenant, wary about discussing this with her, and yet wanting to. However, she felt quite sure of the ridicule she would no doubt receive, ridicule that would most likely hurt her, as it appeared she craved the fiery Engineer's acceptance above all others. That thought had long since disturbed her quieter moments.

Seven's Borg-mask slipped just a little as she decided to trust. "The Captain wants – no, the Captain has ordered me to attend the Christmas festivities." Seven blinked heavily, looking most uncomfortable. "She considers it will be a `learning curve' for me in social interaction." Seven shifted uneasily. "I am unprepared and therefore most unwilling to comply." She gave a command to the tubolift to start, requesting Deck 2.

"Then don't," suggested the rebel.

"Don't?" mirrored Seven. "But, the Captain?"

B'Elanna looked at the shocked face. "Aw, c'mon, I mean it's hardly an issue of ship's security, is it? Screw the Captain!" Seven's eyebrow raked upwards as her eyes widened, wondering if she could possibly say no to Janeway. "What's she gonna do?" continued B'Elanna, "put you in the Brig for failing to attend a Christmas party?" The Engineer looked forward again. "Say no. I would."

"And you have, if I recall, spent many long hours pondering over the error of your decisions in the Brig."

"Yeah, well." The Engineer grinned. "Hey, if it's worth believing in, it's worth fighting for, isn't it? A person should stand by what they believe in."

"Except that in this instance, Lieutenant, I believe the Captain only has my best interests at heart and, anyway, part of me needs to attend, so the true fight is within myself and not with her at all."

"Uh?" B'Elanna was having a little trouble keeping up with the sudden turn this conversation was taking, wondering if she'd missed anything as she turned back to look at the ex-Borg.

"It is simple. Should we return to the Alpha Quadrant, I will need social interaction skills." Seven looked into a face that clearly needed more explanation than that. "I will, no doubt, cause fear in those who meet me. I do not wish to feel more isolated than my past and the way I look will make me feel anyway. With social skills, I can perhaps lessen their adverse reactions to me by helping to put them at ease. And so I will comply. I will attend the Christmas festivities."

"That was a speech!" smiled the Lieutenant, after a moment of staring at the taller woman's face. She read the fear, she read the need, and she read something else too. What was it? "So, what's the problem?" she asked in a slightly befuddled voice, now wondering why the woman had kicked up such a fuss if she'd decided all along to follow the Captain's orders.

"The problem?" Seven smiled slightly, raising her brows a little, turning more fully to face B'Elanna, "Shall we say a paralysing lack of self-confidence plus a fear of making a complete fool of myself? Yes, that should cover it nicely."

B'Elanna looked deeply into Seven's eyes and then, sighing, she dropped her head backwards, looking up at the roof as she announced, to an audience that wasn't there, "God help me, I'm feeling compassion!" To an amused Seven she then offered, "I'm heading up to the Captain right now, you want me to talk to her for you?"

"No. You will say nothing," replied Seven pointedly. "But I do however require your assistance," she dropped her voice a little, "if you are willing to give it."

Warily the older woman narrowed her eyes, bracing herself. "What kind of assistance?"

"You have the knack of always appearing confident and accomplished in company, Lieutenant. In fact, it's one of the things I admire about you."

B'Elanna's ears ran up to her brain excitedly to gain its attention. `One of the things she admires about you,' it teased excitedly.

`Yes, I heard,' answered the brain.

`Well, aren't you surprised? Doesn't that surprise the hell out of you?'

`Does it surprise you?' the brain countered.

`Uh huh.'

`Happy with it?'

`Shocked'd be more like it!' The surprised half-Klingon could only stare at the blonde as her brain and her ears slowly ran out of things to say.

"B'Elanna Torres, do you suppose you could teach me, before the Christmas celebrations? Teach me a few social skills? Any assistance would be…" but Seven was interrupted.

"Hey, I'm not sure I'm the one you should be asking. Anyway, I'm damned sure you can manage the Eliza Doolittle thing without my help." To Seven's puzzled expression, B'Elanna explained about the fictional Miss Doolittle, the common flower girl who was passed off as a Duchess after receiving the necessary instruction, fooling everyone.

"Please, Lieutenant."

B'Elanna looked at the expression on the blonde's face. How could she refuse her when she looked at her like a little whipped pup, needing rescue? "I must be nuts," she told the turbolift. "If it gets out that I'm even talking to you, let alone helping you… well it'll just about ruin my street cred."

"Street cred?"

"Don't ask."

The doors opened at the Mess Hall and Seven took a few steps forward to leave. She stopped and turned back slowly, conveying perhaps more than the need to be trained in social interactions.

"Yeah, yeah. OK, Eliza. Tonight. 19.00 hours. My place. OK?"

Seven stepped fully out of the turbolift, still looking at the Engineer. "Acceptable," she agreed, with the slightest of smiles, before the doors closed leaving a vaguely confused Engineer shaking her head inside.

The End

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