DISCLAIMER: Star Trek is the property of Paramount, this story depicts a loving/sexual relationship between women...okay, disclaimer done.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Feedback: T.J.

We'll Always Have Paris
By T.J.

Chapter 5

Working with Seven was awkward at first. B'Elanna was both embarrassed at her outburst and still harbouring some residual traces of anger toward the young drone. Seven, for her part, was overeager to make up for her mistakes, and in her attempts to anticipate B'Elanna's every need often got in the way of the engineer's efforts. Neither one of them seemed to be able to speak up and clear the air, so as day progressed into night they drifted further apart both physically and mentally until they were no longer speaking.

Finally after 10 straight hours B'Elanna had had enough.

"Seven, I think we should call it a day. I need to pick up Kate and get something to eat, and I suspect you need to regenerate." B'Elanna was packing up her tools as she spoke. "Let's meet back here in 8 hours and finish this off then."

"Acceptable," Seven answered in her most Borg-like drone.

B'Elanna didn't like leaving things like this, but she really needed to get her daughter. So she wished Seven a good night and headed off to the bridge.

She pressed the chime to the captain's ready room and was surprised to hear several voices within. Upon being invited she entered to find the captain, the doctor and Harry Kim all outdoing themselves trying to entertain Kate. The infant was obviously enjoying all of the attention, and the ready room looked only slightly the worse for wear. B'Elanna was relieved when the captain informed her that Kate had enough babysitting volunteers to last until they reached the Alpha quadrant, and so it was with a light heart that she returned to her quarters.

Since Kate had already been fed and bathed B'Elanna had nothing to do but play with her child once she returned to her quarters. They were in a state of complete disorder as a result of the shaking the ship took during the battle. Several of the glass objects had been broken and the young engineer hurried to clean it up before allowing her daughter to play on the floor. She was enjoying this time alone with her daughter, but the feeling was marred by a sense of something missing. B'Elanna had to admit that her quarters seemed much homier and happier when Seven was around.

Finally having had enough of feeling unsettled about the situation between her and her friend, she picked up Kate and said, "Do you want to go for a little walk and see if we can find Seven."

Kate's only answer was to burble happily and drool so B'Elanna took that as a yes and went off in search of her friend.

She stopped by Astrometrics first thinking that it would be like Seven to have stayed working even after everyone else left, but only the Gamma shift was in evidence there so she headed to Cargo Bay 2. Upon entering she was surprised to find Seven lying on the floor in front of the regeneration chambers with a blanket pulled over her.

"Seven, what's going on, what are you doing on the floor?"

"There was a power surge in the regeneration chambers during the attack. They will require repair and more power than is available before I can attempt a regeneration cycle again," the young drone explained.

"So you decided to sleep on the floor?"

"I have no where else to go."

"Why didn't you just come to my quarters?" B'Elanna inquired, almost afraid that she wasn't going to like the answer to the question.

"I was afraid after today that I would not be welcome. I fear I have irreparably damaged our friendship." Once again the young drone appeared to be close to tears.

"Seven, I'm sorry. I know I was angry, and I still think I had a right to be, but that doesn't mean that our friendship is over. Friends sometimes fight, its all a part of becoming an emotional being. To be honest I came up here looking for you because it just seemed kind of lonely in my quarters without you around. Why don't you come home with me and stay until we get your alcove running again. We should be done with the sensors tomorrow and then we can have a look at it."

Seven got to her feet, and shyly accepted B'Elanna's offer. She was shocked at the state of B'Elanna's quarters when they finally reached them. B'Elanna had only taken the time to pick up the sharp bits and the rest of room was still in complete disarray. Noticing Seven staring at her she began to feel self-conscious.

"Seven, what is it? Why are you staring at me?"

"I am sorry. I did not intend to be rude. I was unaware of how angry you must have been with me to destroy your quarters in this fashion."

"Destroy my…honestly Seven, you think I did this to my own quarters? For crying out loud this happened during the battle. Remember, the whole no inertial dampers, big explosions thing that happened recently. I just haven't been back here since it happened to clean up."

"I apologize Lieutenant, I seem to be unable to say the right thing around you today. Perhaps it would be best if I left."

B'Elanna felt a surge of frustration at Seven's insecurities. Why did things always have to be so difficult. Seeing how sad the young drone looked and realizing how inexperienced she was with emotions and friendships however caused her to calm down and attempt to discuss the situation with the younger woman.

"Seven, I don't want you to go, but I do want you to call me B'Elanna. This is kind of hard for me to explain since I don't have tons of practice in the friendship area either, but I do know that friends, lovers, husbands, wives, they all occasionally fight, and then they make up and go on. You know me Seven, I have a terrible temper at the best of times. I'm going to lose it from time to time and so are you. I just really would like for you to trust our friendship and not retreat every time something a little difficult comes up. The one thing I know for sure is that when things get tough emotionally we should run to the people we love, not run from them."

"I will attempt to comply Lieu, B'Elanna." Seven was feeling terribly shy, but was also relieved that B'Elanna seemed willing to work out their difficulties. She had never seen this side of the Lieutenant before and while it confused her it also comforted her.

"Let me try to clean some of this up so you can relax out here," said B'Elanna as she began to tidy up the living room.

"Allow me to assist you B'Elanna," said Seven as she picked up Kate and began to get her ready for bed.

Once Kate was asleep and her quarters were back in some semblance of order B'Elanna helped Seven make up the couch for sleeping. She brought out the clothes she had previously lent Seven for sleeping purposes and left the room while Seven changed her clothes. She got ready for bed, tidying up the mess in her bedroom while she changed, and then went back into the living room to say goodnight to Seven.

The young drone was already lying down under the covers. She looked so young and helpless and B'Elanna felt the now-familiar ache of protectiveness in her hearts. She crossed the room and sat on the edge of the sofa, gazing down into Seven's face. She brushed a stray lock of flaxen hair out of Seven's eyes and asked,

"Is there anything you need Seven?"

Seven found herself unable to answer the question because her mind was immediately flooded with a multitude of answers. There was so much that she needed, and she was beginning to see that B'Elanna was the only one who could fulfill those needs. In the end she settled for merely shaking her head.

"Well, goodnight then," whispered B'Elanna. She gave Seven's shoulder a reassuring squeeze before she stood up and went to bed.

The next day they finished fixing the sensor array and Seven began to run sweeps of the upcoming systems to augment any information that the away team might pick up on their mission. Once the sweeps were running B'Elanna suggested that they turn their attention to the alcoves; she was surprised when Seven declined her offer and instead suggested that work on other malfunctioning systems. The young drone argued that her need for the regeneration alcoves was much less than it used to be and that their time could be better spent elsewhere. The truth was that she was reluctant to return to the Cargo Bay; she was enjoying the sense of humanity that sleeping afforded her.

For the next two days B'Elanna and Seven spent every second of every day in one another's company. They took their meals together with Kate, even though meals for the adults mostly consisted of emergency rations to supplement the food that Neelix had stored on board. They worked side by side all day and returned to B'Elanna's quarters at night. They had fallen into an easy routine and found that as they worked they could easily anticipate one another's requirements…sometimes offering tools or assistance even before the other person knew they needed it.

By the end of the second day they were running out of things to do. It wasn't that there weren't massive repairs that still needed doing, but that they had essentially run out of raw materials and power to effect the repairs. They were both on the bridge tinkering with the science consoles, more to occupy their time than anything else, when Voyager was hailed by the cheerful voice of Tom Paris. When Harry brought his image up on screen he was smiling broadly, as was Neelix.

"Captain, you are not going to believe how lucky we just got," the cheerful helmsman shouted.

There wasn't a single person on the bridge who didn't cringe at those words. The randy young Lieutenant was more than capable of telling risqué stories over subspace no matter who was on the bridge.

The Captain broke the silence, "I'm almost afraid to ask Lieutenant."

"What, oh…no not that kind of lucky…I mean you should see this place…it is amazing. It has everything we need and more. The inhabitants are friendly, and there are more than enough facilities to do the repairs."

"And they trusted us enough to load the Flyer with supplies just on my word alone that we would make good," interrupted Neelix, clearly happy with himself.

"Excellent work you two. What have you got?" The Captain queried.

"It would be easier to show you when we arrive…which should be in just over an hour."

"Well, I guess we'll just have to be patient then," the Captain joked. She looked more relaxed than she had in days.

Word of the away team's success spread like wildfire over the ship and many of the crewmembers found a reason to be in the landing bay when the Flyer returned.

Tom opened the door and leapt out like a returning hero, raising his arms in mock acceptance of the adulation he imagined. The crew gathered round to listen as Paris and Neelix began to regal all listeners with tales of their triumphs.

In the end it turned out that they had brought back enough dilithium to power the ship fully until they reached the planet where they had already arranged for a full load to be taken on. They had also managed to scrounge enough raw materials so that replicators could be used and for added measure had brought some very tasty looking food that Neelix was ready to prepare. The crew had been eating emergency rations for long enough now that they were thrilled at the thought of anything the Talaxian might come up with.

Tom bounded over to B'Elanna when he caught sight of her. His grin was infectious and she found herself smiling up at him as he began to speak,

"You won't believe it Lanna, there's enough fuel and material to rebuild Voyager twice. Repairs will be no problem. They have a space dock we can use; we won't even have to ground the ship. Wait'll you see it, it will be almost as good as pulling into Utopia Planetia for repairs." He was so enthusiastic that he picked the young half-Klingon up in his arms and spun her around until they were both dizzy.

"Alright already, let me down flyboy," she laughed as Tom set her back on her feet. "You did good Tom."

"I know…sometimes I even amaze myself," he joked. "Speaking of which, how about I take Kate for the night, I missed her while I was gone."

"Sure Tom, I know she'd love to spend some time with dear old Dad. She's in the captain's ready room right now…. You might have to get in line to play with her."

Tom raised an eyebrow at that, "Ok, if you say so. I think I'll head down there now. See you later Lanna."

B'Elanna helped supervise the unloading of the dilithium and headed down to engineering to oversee getting it stored properly. Without repairs to the nacelles there was no way they were going to warp any time soon, but it felt good to know that they had enough crystals to last for some time, and that there were more on the way. It also meant that they could get to work on some of the other systems that had been neglected for lack of power. She went into her office and began to set up duty rosters for the next few days in order to get as much done as possible before they arrived at the space dock.

Seven was standing nervously outside of B'Elanna's office. She had witnessed the scene between B'Elanna and Tom in the landing bay, and while she knew there was no chance of a reconciliation between them she had been startled to feel a surge of jealousy sweep over her when Paris had picked her up in his arms. She was nervous now because she knew that B'Elanna would have her quarters to herself this evening. She was afraid that B'Elanna would want to be alone. Without Kate there perhaps the young engineer wouldn't want her company. Seven also knew that there was no longer a plausible excuse to keep them from repairing her regeneration alcove. She did not want to be apart from the young Lieutenant, especially not now when she was finally beginning to understand what it was she felt for B'Elanna.

Plucking up her courage she entered B'Elanna's office and sat in the chair across from the young Chief just as she had done many times over the past few days.

B'Elanna looked up and smiled at her friend, "hey, where did you get to all of a sudden?"

"I had some things to take care of in Astrometrics," Seven replied hoping that B'Elanna wouldn't press for details since she had none to give her.

"Good news about the supplies and the planet eh Seven?"

"Indeed, it will be a relief to have the ship in working order again."

"Yup, I'm just finishing up the duty roster for the next few days and then I'm gonna knock off and have a real meal."

Seven smiled at B'Elanna's obvious delight, but was unsure of what to say and so remained silent.

"Tom is taking Kate for the night, so I think I'll replicate a huge meal and eat in my quarters."

Again the silence stretched between them.

B'Elanna was hoping to avoid asking the question outright, but Seven did not appear to be taking any of her hints, so she was forced to the more direct route.

"Do you want to have dinner with me Seven?"

"Are you sure you wouldn't rather have the time to be alone. I know that you very seldom have that luxury any more. With Kate gone for the night you could have your quarters to yourself if you wanted. I can find another place to stay tonight if you'd like."

B'Elanna looked deeply into Seven's eyes, "What I'd like is to have dinner with you in my quarters tonight Seven."

The young drone felt her face suffuse with colour, her cheeks were burning as she replied, "I would very much like that B'Elanna."

B'Elanna finished the duty roster and then the two of them made sure that the replication systems were online and fully stocked with raw material before they headed back to B'Elanna's quarters.

They both showered and changed when they reached the quarters, B'Elanna into jeans and a tee shirt and Seven into another of her biosuits. B'Elanna replicated a bottle of Chardonnay, pulling the cork and pouring while they discussed what to replicate for dinner. They got a little carried away after so many days of emergency rations and had a very eclectic meal of roast chicken, hamburgers and pasta primavera. When the meal was over they were both stuffed and they lolled on the sofa unable to muster up energy for anything else.

"Its kind of strange without Kate here isn't it?" B'Elanna remarked.

"Yes, it is rather quiet. Do you miss her?"

"Sure I miss her, I mean, I'm happy for the break and everything, but this place seems empty without her. I'm really glad that you're here Seven."

"As am I B'Elanna."

"Maybe I should read you a story before bed," B'Elanna joked.

"I would like that."

B'Elanna looked at Seven to see if the young drone was joking, but Seven looked completely serious.

"You mean it, you really want me to read to you?"

"I find it very soothing when I hear you read to Kate, I have one memory of my mother reading to me aboard the Raven. It is a pleasant memory, so yes, I believe I would like you to read to me."

"OK, name your story."

"I believe we should get ready for bed first….is that not proper procedure?"

"Absolutely, can't neglect the rules now can we," B'Elanna teased.

The two of them changed into their pajamas and Seven made up the sofa and then crawled under the covers. B'Elanna picked up a book and came to sit on the edge of the couch beside Seven's recumbent body.

"What do you want to hear?"

"I wish to hear 'In Which Tigger Comes to the Forest and Has Breakfast.'" Seven said in a small tired voice.

"My favourite," said B'Elanna as she began to read. She was no more than three pages into the tale when Seven drifted off to sleep with a sweet smile on her lips. B'Elanna bent down and gently kissed the beautiful woman's forehead, shaking her head in disbelief at her own sentimentality before she made her way to her own bed.

The next morning's senior staff meeting had an entirely different tenor than the previous few. Everyone was clean, rested and in a good mood. Tom and Neelix in particular were practically vibrating with excitement. The Captain called the meeting to order and the department heads made quick assessments of their progress with repairs and made projections for future progress based on the amount of power and raw material available to them. Paris gave a report of facilities available in the Kintari system and Neelix provided an exhaustive list of supplies that were available so that department heads could prepare lists of supplies and equipment which they would like to obtain.

After the routine discussions were over B'Elanna noticed Paris and Neelix nudging one another like children, each daring the other to go first. Finally the Captain, who obviously knew what was going on, urged Mr. Paris to speak up. To no one's surprise he proposed a holodeck party to celebrate their good fortune. It appeared that he and Neelix had stocked up on some special supplies and were anxious to have a 'theme' party to mark the occasion. The Captain had heard their ideas and approved only because they made a good argument for people needing a release after all they had been through in the past few days. Since it would take three days to reach Kintari at impulse power they felt a party the next night would make sense and interfere very little with repairs.

"Sorry to burst your bubble Tom, but the holodecks are still offline," B'Elanna said, smiling indulgently at her ex-husband's ever-present enthusiasm for a good party.

"I understand it wasn't a priority Lieutenant, but now that our future seems secure I believe we can spare you to work on the holodecks for today. We have sufficient power for all systems now, and frankly I think we could all use a good laugh. We are going to be awfully busy when we reach Kintari so we might as well enjoy ourselves a bit while we can," the Captain came to Tom's defense.

B'Elanna shook her head, but secretly agreed that a party might actually be in order for a change. "All right Captain…I'll get on it after the meeting."

She dropped by engineering to check on her crew's progress, and once she was pleased with what she saw she grabbed a toolkit and headed to the holodecks. The damage was relatively minor, but labour intensive. Ordinarily she would have assigned someone else to the problem, but she was enjoying a little mindless labour just now. She replaced several holo-emitters and three burned out gelpacks before she turned to the problem of the power flow. The power fluctuation took several hours to trace and several more to fix. It was dinnertime before she looked up to even notice that she had missed lunch. She quickly started a diagnostic, promising herself to come back and check on it before she went to bed, and then headed to the messhall.

She was not surprised to find her daughter once more in the arms of Seven. Tom was actually in the messhall but he was so enraptured with the plans he and Neelix were making that he had gladly allowed Seven to take over caring for his daughter. B'Elanna got her food and joined Seven at her table.

Seven was feeling a bit sad. She had spent the day repairing her alcove, and knew that tonight she would need to regenerate. She was going to miss spending the evening with B'Elanna and Kate, but there was no avoiding the fact that she was still reliant on her alcove for some of her body's needs. She was pleased to have been able to go so long with no ill effects, but her nanoprobes and implants needed recharging and since she wished to attend the party tomorrow she decided that tonight was the night.

She smiled happily when B'Elanna took her seat across the table. They chatted happily about work and some shield modifications they had been researching before the devastation of the battle. They were hoping to be able to incorporate the modifications into the repairs they would be making once they were in space dock.

When dinner was over they walked to the turbolift together, and B'Elanna was surprised to hear Seven order the lift to Cargo Bay 2.

"You aren't coming with us?" She asked, surprised at how disappointed she was by that fact.

"My alcove is repaired, and I require a period of regeneration this evening," Seven replied in her familiar Borg monotone.

B'Elanna knew that tone of voice meant that Seven was as unhappy about that fact as she was, and somehow this made her feel a bit better.

"Well, I guess this is goodnight," she said as the lift stopped on Seven's deck.

Seven smiled wanly, she desperately wanted to remain in the company of her friend. She leaned forward and placed a kiss on Kate's forehead before she wished them both good night and left the lift.

"Aren't you the lucky one," B'Elanna said to her daughter as she kissed her forehead in the same spot where Seven's lips had been only seconds before.

The next day went by in a blur of work and party preparations. Tom and Neelix had sent messages to the crew to outline the theme of the party and what costumes were considered appropriate. Tom had also informed B'Elanna that he had arranged for Kate to be looked after tonight by the same person who was babysitting Naomi Wildman.

B'Elanna looked through the small catalogue of costumes that Tom had created and shook her head. 'I don't think so Paris, not this Klingon,' she thought to herself. She replicated a costume for herself and smiled at the thought of what Tom would have to say when he saw her.

By the time B'Elanna was ready for the party it had already been going on for a half-hour and almost everyone was already in attendance. Seven had not been able to stop watching the doors to the holodeck, as she was terribly anxious to see B'Elanna; they had barely had time to speak all day. The young drone was feeling a little self-conscious in her outfit, although almost every other woman there was dressed in a similar fashion. Even Captain Janeway was wearing the long dress and bustle of a female of the Ancient West era.

Paris was wearing an all white costume with large flapping chaps and an oversized cowboy hat. He wore two six shooters on his belt and a tin star on his chest designated him 'sheriff.' Chakotay was dressed as an American Plains Indian in full regalia and looked quite striking. There were many different variations on the Cowboys and Indians theme of the party, unless you happened to be a woman—then it was long dress, bustle, and black lace-up boots. Unless you were a Delaney sister and Tom had explained to you what Burlesque girls wore during that era.

Finally Seven's vigilance was rewarded when the doors to the holodeck opened and B'Elanna entered the room. The young drone felt her heart begin to pound and her stomach constrict at the sight of the young engineer. Even Tom Paris couldn't manage anything more coherent than 'Wow.'

B'Elanna was clad almost entirely in black leather. Her chaps were tight fitting, with a slight fringe, and her dark crimson silk shirt was covered with a tight black leather vest. She was wearing a black cowboy hat with silver rowels around the hatband. She wore a single pistol low on her hip, a black neckerchief tied in front, and she swaggered in her cowboy boots in a manner that was palpably sensuous.

Seven could barely breathe as B'Elanna sashayed right up to her.

"Nice dress Seven," she teased archly.

Seven blushed furiously, but was unable to come up with anything to say that she didn't immediately dismiss as nonsense.

Tom Paris saved them from the ensuing awkward silence by coming up and teasing B'Elanna about having upstaged his costume. He then described the food and entertainment in detail.

"We've got it all, a barbecue, beans, the whole nine yards. Later we'll have dancing…its going to be great," he enthused.

The captain came up at that moment and after complimenting B'Elanna on her outfit, secretly jealous that she hadn't thought of the idea herself, she engaged Seven in a long conversation. Once the doctor, dressed as what looked to B'Elanna like an undertaker, joined in the conversation B'Elanna gradually lost interest and drifted around the room, chatting with various people.

The dancing began after people had a chance to eat and consume several of the whiskey shots that Tom and Neelix were recommending. The first few dances were authentic Western dances of the era, and although people struggled gamely it was a failing effort. Finally Tom relented and programmed in some country music from the late twentieth century. Finally people began to relax and the dance floor quickly filled up.

Seven, who was still deep in conversation with the captain and the doctor, noticed B'Elanna dancing with Harry Kim. Her movements were athletic and sensuous as she swayed to the music and Seven once again found herself having difficulty breathing. B'Elanna was twisting her body around Harry's, dancing in front and behind him, constantly in contact with his body; Harry was grinning like an idiot and enjoying every minute of it. He and B'Elanna were old friends and their comfort level with one another allowed them freedoms they wouldn't dare with others.

Finally it was Tom who cut in and swept B'Elanna into a two-step around the dance floor. He was a good dancer in his own right, but no one came close to the power and grace that B'Elanna exhibited as she moved.

When the song ended B'Elanna headed to the bar and downed a shot or two of whiskey before she headed out to find Seven. She found her exactly where she left her, still listening to the Captain and the doctor. B'Elanna approached and removed her hat, bowing low and offering her hand to the young drone she drawled,

"Pardon me Ma'am, but could I have the honour of this dance?"

Seven nodded demurely and took the proffered arm, allowing herself to be led to the dance floor. She had taken many dance lessons with the doctor, but this type of dancing was something the hologram had considered beneath his dignity, so she was unsure of what to expect.

The song was of a medium speed and B'Elanna immediately began to move her body to the beat. Seven stood awkwardly for a moment before B'Elanna caught on to her difficulties.

"Just listen to the music, try to feel the beat and just move to it. There aren't any rules Seven, just do what you feel."

The young Klingon moved closer and placed her hands lightly on Seven's hips, guiding her into rhythm with the beat. Seven closed her eyes and let the music and the feeling of B'Elanna's hands on her body sweep over her and she gradually relaxed and began to dance.

The next song was slightly faster and had a more definite beat. Seven watched as B'Elanna moved away, eyes closed completely lost in the music. She was having an easier time of it now, but the sight of B'Elanna's powerful frame moving so gracefully in front of her was having a potent effect on the young drone; the sight of B'Elanna dancing intoxicated her senses and made her dizzy with emotion.

Every song seemed to be about love or heartbreak. All the words seemed applicable to Seven's situation and she felt the music more powerfully because of it. Finally a song began playing that B'Elanna appeared to know. Seven heard the young Klingon singing in a husky contralto as she moved to the beat.

Loving you

Isn't really something I should do

Shouldn't want to spend my time with you

I should try to be strong

But baby you're the right kind of wrong

Say my name and I can't fight it anymore

Oh I know I should go

But I need your touch just too damn much

Seven moved closer as they danced, until their bodies were mere centimeters apart. Now it was Seven's turn to place her hands on B'Elanna's hips. She smiled slightly as B'Elanna continued to sing with the music.

I should try to run but I just can't seem to

Every time I run you're the one that I run to.

You walk in and my strength walks out the door

Say my name and I can't fight it anymore

Loving you

Isn't really something I should do

Shouldn't want to spend my time with you

I should try to be strong

But baby you're the right kind of wrong

The song ended and they drifted apart, standing awkwardly in the silence. Neither one of them knew what to do or say, and so it was something of a relief when Harry and Tom came up and began talking to them. The two young men had been drinking heavily and were in high spirits. They insisted on dancing with both Seven and B'Elanna, and for the rest of the evening they were never alone together for a moment. Harry and Tom even insisted on walking them both home, so when they arrived at the Cargo Bay B'Elanna could only smile and wish Seven a good night, before the two drunken friends pulled her away to escort her home. She had trouble convincing them both that it wasn't a good idea to come in for a nightcap, and it was several minutes of good-natured arguing before they headed off to their quarters. She briefly considered walking back to the cargo bay to talk to Seven, but it was late and she decided that she didn't know what she would say anyway, so she reluctantly went to bed.

Chapter 6

They would be arriving in the Kintari system late this night, so the morning meeting was largely concerned with finalizing lists of materials and repairs. The Captain had already been in contact with the Space Dock outside of Kintari and they would be docking just before midnight. Arrangements had been made for supplies to begin to be delivered in the morning, and for repair crews to have access to all of the space dock's systems in order to begin repairs. B'Elanna had already spoken to the Space Dock's Chief engineer and was looking forward to working with the jovial older man on repairs to the ship.

She and Seven had not had a chance to speak yet this morning, but they decided to have breakfast together with Kate after the meeting. Once they were seated they again found themselves with little to say, but with Kate present they were able to compensate by talking to her. Finally B'Elanna brought up the shield modifications they had been working on and they were able to have a normal conversation at last.

Seven was going to be working in engineering for the rest of the day helping B'Elanna oversee the last of the system's analysis before they docked at Kintari. B'Elanna wanted to know exactly where they stood on outstanding repairs and upgrades so she wouldn't waste of second of time once they docked.

Gradually as they worked they got back the easy feeling that had been between them for weeks now. It was a relief to not have to guard against catching one another's eyes unexpectedly or accidental touches that caused hearts to race and concentration to suffer. They finished up the duty rosters and realigned the shield emitters just in case anything unexpected came up once they entered Kintari space. They were reasonably confident they would be fine, but it never hurt to be certain. Once that was finished they left for the bridge to be able to watch Voyager come into space dock.

The Kintari homeworld was on screen when they arrived on the bridge. It seemed to be fairly similar to earth in that it was green and blue, although it was a little smaller than their home planet. The space dock was indeed an impressive site; Tom hadn't exaggerated its similarities to Utopia Planetia. The space surrounding it was filled with ships of all descriptions and Voyager had to file a flight plan before entering Kintari space to avoid colliding with the numerous ships that had business in this bustling space port. Even with the flight plan Tom had his hands full keeping Voyager out of harm's way as they approached the dock.

<Federation vessel this is the Dentaka Prime repair facility. Please make your heading 157 mark 2 and proceed to docking station 23>

"Acknowledged," replied Lieutenant Paris he set the required course.

Voyager was moving in slowly, while Paris continued to make hundreds of tiny course corrections. Finally they were in position and there was a collective sigh of relief as they felt the docking clamps engage.

<Docking Clamps engaged. Welcome to Dentaka Prime Voyager. Have a good night. >

Tom shut down the engines and turned to face the rest of the bridge complement.

"Well done everyone," said Captain Janeway. "I suggest we all get a good night's sleep and get ready for the morning. Dismissed."

The bridge crew slowly departed as a skeleton crew drawn from the Gamma shift took over watch on the bridge for the evening.

B'Elanna and Seven found themselves in the same turbo lift; B'Elanna ordered it to the messhall, as she needed to retrieve her daughter. Seven hesitated for a moment and then chiding herself for her cowardice spoke up,

"B'Elanna, I was wondering if…" her voice trailed off as she seemed unable to put her wishes into words.

"Do you want to stay with us tonight Seven?" B'Elanna asked at last, letting the young drone off the hook.

"Yes, I, thank you."

Kate was asleep already when they picked her up, so it was a simple matter to simply put the infant in her own crib. She snuggled under her covers never once waking up. B'Elanna and Seven watched her for several moments before they returned to the living room.

B'Elanna replicated a drink of scotch from the replicator, Seven had declined her offer of a drink, and sat on the couch.

"I think I'm just a little to wound up to sleep just now. I hope this is Ok Seven. I can always go into my room if you want to sleep."

"I believe I am 'wound up' as well B'Elanna, please stay," the young drone replied.

They sat in comfortable silence while B'Elanna nursed her drink. She couldn't stop her mind from wandering over the events of the past few days. The truth was that she enjoyed Seven's company. She had never had a friendship this intense before. She wondered if anything more was possible with the young drone, but dismissed the thought. She was relatively certain that Seven wouldn't reject her physical advances, but she wasn't willing to risk what they had for the sake of sex. She had a sense of family when Seven was around and she wasn't about to screw that up. She knew from experience that sex was highly overrated, and she knew that she didn't require it in her life. She decided to concentrate on raising Kate and maintaining her friendship with Seven and leave it at that. She had been very happy over the past few weeks since the emotion inhibitor had been removed and the young drone had become her friend; she could live with happy. Kahless knew she'd had very little of it in her life.

Her drink finished, she recycled the glass and helped Seven to make up the bed. Wishing her friend a good night she went to her own room to sleep.

Her alarm went off early the next day and she rushed to get Kate ready to be taken to Neelix before she reported to the Dentaka Prime Chief Engineer's office. Kate seemed to sense her urgency and was being terribly difficult. She was crying and refusing to eat, ignoring her mother's desperate pleas. Seven woke up upon hearing the noise and wandered into B'Elanna's bedroom to see a very tense Klingon still in her pajama's trying to bathe a squirming, squalling infant.

"B'Elanna you're going to be late for your meeting. Please allow me to take care of Kate this morning. I will see to it that she gets to the messhall all right."

B'Elanna hesitated only a second. "Are you sure?"

"Yes, my duties are less pressing this morning. I will join you on Dentaka Prime after I drop Kate off." She said as she urged the young engineer toward the sonic shower.

B'Elanna raced through her shower and was dressed and headed out the door when she heard Seven call out to her,

"You have not had breakfast yet B'Elanna."

"No time, if I leave now I'll just make the meeting."

"Fine then you can eat this on your way to the meeting," said Seven as she handed a fried egg sandwich she had replicated for just this reason to B'Elanna.

"Thanks Seven, what would I do without you." B'Elanna took the sandwich and kissed her daughter on the forehead, without thinking she kissed Seven on the cheek before she hurried from the room.

She was halfway down the corridor with her mouth full of sandwich before she realized what she'd done. 'Oh well, I'm sure Seven thought nothing of it,' she convinced herself. 'I mean it was only a peck on the cheek, friend's do that all the time don't they?'

Seven meanwhile was standing stock still, seemingly rooted in place while she replayed again and again the feeling of B'Elanna's full lips pressing briefly against her cheek. It was only Kate's squirming that brought her back to reality. She marshaled her thoughts and quickly began to prepare both herself and the child for the day ahead.

B'Elanna made it to the meeting on time, just! She knocked on the door of the Chief Engineer's office and was greeted with a booming voice telling her to come in.

The Chief Engineer of Dentaka Prime repair station was over 6 feet tall and he towered over the Voyager's diminutive chief. She took the proffered hand and was grateful for her Klingon physiology as she felt it crushed in the grasp of the older man. He was humanoid, looking very normal except for the gill-like growths along his neck. His hair was graying, but he seemed very vital.

"Good morning Lieutenant Torres. I'm happy to meet you in person at last," he was pumping her arm furiously as he spoke.

"Good morning Chief Dartak, I'm pleased to be finally meeting you as well."

Pleasantries over they sat down and immediately got to work. B'Elanna outlined her plans for the repairs and her needs as far as materials went. She was pleased to note that Dartak had anticipated many of her needs and that much of the material was already on hand. Her crew was required to attend a safety course on the station's systems, which they were currently attending, and once that was finished she was pleased to note that they would be able to get right to work.

Dartak was interested in B'Elanna's knowledge surrounding shield technology as they had been having problems maintaining a stabile matrix on such a large station. She took his schematics and promised to go over them. In turn Dartak assigned several of his crew to work with B'Elanna and her teams on the repairs. All told, things couldn't have gone better for either one of them.

Once their meeting was over B'Elanna hurried to the safety meeting. She took a seat beside Seven as she listened to the last of the lectures on fire suppression systems on the station as well as protocol for the space walks that would be required for some of the more delicate work on the nacelles.

A week went by so quickly it hardly seemed as though a day had passed. Everyone on board the ship was working full out to get the repairs finished. B'Elanna and Seven spent most evenings together in the Klingon's quarters; they were going over plans to upgrade the shields around Dartak's station. Once the repairs to Voyager were finished they planned to assist Dartak in making the upgrades to the docking station as a partial payment for the materials and assistance.

Over the course of the week B'Elanna had become very found of the older Kintarian. He was a confirmed bachelor, but sometimes as they worked together he imagined that if he ever had a child she would have been a lot like B'Elanna. He had heard that Janeway was considering shore leave for her crew after the repairs were completed and so at the end of the week he told B'Elanna about his sister's ocean-side resort. He had spoken to his sister, who was notoriously softhearted, and she had agreed to allow the Voyager crew to occupy as many cabins as they wished for a week at minimal cost. B'Elanna was thrilled when Dartak told her of his sister's decision and quickly informed Janeway over the comm of the offer. Janeway agreed to visit the resort with a security team and inform them of her decision as soon as possible.

After touring the resort Janeway had to agree it looked perfect for their purposes. There were more than enough cabins for the crew and the view of the ocean and mountains was breathtaking. She informed the crew and assigned Neelix to gather all the requests for cabins together and make the arrangements through Dartak's sister Illiria.

B'Elanna was looking forward to shore leave. She was thoroughly exhausted from the pace she had been maintaining over the past month or so. She was also looking forward to spending lots of time with Kate. It seemed like her daughter grew a little more everyday and B'Elanna didn't want to miss any more of her childhood than was necessary. She caught up with Neelix in the messhall and asked him to make a reservation for herself and Kate. She was walking away when a thought crossed her mind. She went back to the Talaxian and inquired as to whether or not Seven had made arrangements for her shore leave. When Neelix told her that Seven had made no effort to secure a cabin, B'Elanna asked to change her reservation to a three-bedroom house, hoping that Seven would agree to vacation with her and Kate.

That night over dinner she broached the subject with Seven,

"So Seven, Neelix tells me that you haven't bothered to arrange shore leave for yourself. Aren't you planning on taking any time off?"

"I do not require a vacation at this time. I thought I would upgrade my filing system in Astrometrics and proceed with sensor sweeps of the next areas of space we will be encountering."

"Oh, I see."

"You do not approve of my plan," Seven inquired.

"Nno, its just, well, I thought maybe you'd like to spend the week with Kate and I. I was kind of hoping you would anyway, but if you really don't want to I understand." B'Elanna tried very hard to keep the disappointment out of her voice.

"I did not realize that you wished for my company B'Elanna. If you truly want me to I would be happy to take shore leave with you and Kate."

"I do Seven. I think it'll be fun. To be honest I already booked a three bedroom cabin on the off chance you said yes," B'Elanna finished sheepishly.

"You seem awfully sure of yourself Lieutenant Torres," Seven teased.

"Actually I'm just awfully sure you couldn't turn down a chance to spend a week with my daughter," B'Elanna laughed.

"Indeed," Seven raised her implant at B'Elanna's attempt to distract her from her teasing.

"Good, it's settled then. We leave in three days after we finish the upgrades to Dartak's shield emitters."

"Very well, I am looking forward to our vacation."

The last three days were hectic but fun as B'Elanna and Seven worked closely with Dartak and his crew making the shield upgrades to the station. Dartak enjoyed getting to know Seven; he appreciated her brilliance and focus on the task at hand, and he noticed how well she seemed to suit B'Elanna's style of working. Even though their styles were completely opposite and they often argued vehemently over the proper way to do things, they always seemed to find a compromise, usually a perfect combination of both of their ideas. He knew that they spent almost every night together in B'Elanna's quarters; he sensed the growing attraction between the two young women. Sadly he also sensed that neither one of them seemed to be willing to make the first move nor did they seem inclined to open up to the other about how they were feeling. He tried hinting around both of them, seeing if he could get one or the other to take the bait, but to no avail. By the end of the three days he had to admit defeat in his amateur attempts at matchmaking.

The work was finally done and Dartak had invited both B'Elanna and Seven to his house for dinner. They passed a pleasant evening telling stories and eating the delicious food that the older man had prepared. He was going to miss having such lively company when they were gone. To his delight both B'Elanna and Seven had insisted that he visit them at his sister's while they were on leave. He had found out that B'Elanna was an avid rock climber and he had promised to show her some of his favourite climbs in the mountains near the resort. When the evening was finally over he hugged them both tightly and promised to see them in a few days. He watched sadly as they shimmered out of existance when the transporter chief brought them back to Voyager. He shook his head at the two of them, and went to make a call to his sister.

Seven spent the night before their vacation was to start regenerating so she wouldn't have to worry about coming back to the ship for the week that they were away. The doctor assured her that if she slept and ate properly she should be able to go as long as 10 days with no problem. She had approached both the doctor and Harry Kim about the proper procedure for packing for a vacation. She got vastly different answers from both of them and in the end decided to simply bring everything she thought they might need for their planned activities over the course of the week.

She met B'Elanna outside the transporter room where they joined the line of people waiting to beam down to the surface. B'Elanna raised an eyebrow at the amount of gear Seven seemed to have with her, but upon looking down at the size of own pile she wisely decided to keep her mouth shut. Once they were on the transporter pad B'Elanna gave the coordinates of their cabin and they were whisked away to the planet's surface.

They materialized in the living room of the house that B'Elanna had rented and looked around curiously. There were many windows facing the beach that ran along the front of the house, and a large deck with several comfortable looking chairs. The kitchen was large and airy, and B'Elanna stored the food she had brought for Kate and themselves in the fridge. The living room was quite large as well, and had a fireplace and several small couches and chairs. They went to investigate the bedrooms and were surprised to find only two doors opening off the short hallway. The first door led to a bathroom and the second led to a large bedroom with an enormous bed.

"I don't understand," B'Elanna said. "There should be three bedrooms. I distinctly asked for a three- bedroom house. There must be some mistake."

"Perhaps we should call Illiria and see what the problem is," Seven suggested.

"Good idea, the comm is in the living room I think."

They made the call only to be informed that when Illiria received the paperwork the request had been for a single bedroom. When they asked if any other cabins were available the gray-haired Kintarian looked amused for a moment before informing them that the resort was all booked up for the week. They thanked her for her time and ended the call.

"Perhaps I should return to the ship. That way you and Kate can enjoy your vacation. I could beam down for a visit perhaps," Seven said sadly.

"No, we'll find a way to work this out Seven, you're not going anywhere."

"None of the couches seem suitable for sleeping B'Elanna," Seven observed.

"Well, we can put Kate's crib in the living room and you and I will just have to share the bedroom. That's the biggest bed I've ever seen. I'm sure we'll manage," B'Elanna barely managed to get out the last words as the thought of sharing a bed with Seven engulfed her mind. 'Come on Torres, grow up, you're just friends, and you can do this no problem,' she chided herself firmly.

They set up Kate's crib and put away the bulk of their gear before changing into swimsuits and heading out to the beach. The sun was warm on their skin and once they had set up an umbrella to allow Kate to play in the sand without getting burned they relaxed on the oversized towels they had brought with them. Seven was helping Kate construct a rather ambitious sandcastle, while B'Elanna read a holonovel she had brought with her from Voyager. She couldn't remember the last time she had felt this relaxed. She made herself more comfortable as she read and gradually she drifted off to sleep. She awoke with a start at the feeling of water dripping on her face, and opened her eyes to see a dripping wet Tom Paris standing over her.

"Are you just going to sleep away this vacation Torres?" He inquired.

"Huh, what, no…I guess I just fell asleep while I was reading," she stammered.

"Well, I just thought I'd take Kate for an hour or so if that's ok with you?" He asked.

"Sure, Tom, go ahead, just make sure she's back in time for dinner. I want to make sure she gets settled ok on her first night off the ship."

"No problem." He picked up his daughter from where she was still engrossed in the sandcastle she and Seven were building and loped off down the beach with his daughter laughing in his arms.

"Well, I don't know about you, but I'm going swimming," B'Elanna announced, standing and stretching.

She peeled off her tee shirt and shorts to reveal a black one-piece bathing suit that Seven couldn't seem to stop staring at. The young drone stood up and removed her own clothes exhibiting a blue one-piece. B'Elanna felt the colour rising in her face and so grabbed her towel and jogged off toward the water before she said or did something stupid. The water was cool and once she plunged beneath the waves she felt more in control of herself. She swam strongly away from shore for quite a distance before she stopped and began to tread water until Seven caught up with her. They floated on their backs, relaxing in the warmth of the sun for several minutes before they began to swim slowly back to shore.

A rather large group of the Voyager crew was playing a version of water polo in the water just off the sand ledge that ran the length of this part of the beach and both B'Elanna and Seven joined in the game. They were playing on opposite sides with B'Elanna attacking for her team and Seven defending for her own. B'Elanna was the stronger swimmer but Seven's analytical mind allowed her to anticipate the young Klingon's moves and she was able to defend admirably against B'Elanna's attempts to score. In the dying moments of the game B'Elanna received a long pass from Harry and broke free of the defenders to move in on Seven's goal. Only the young drone stood between her and the winning goal and B'Elanna was determined to triumph. She swam swiftly with two hands, keeping the ball between her arms as she moved, allowing Seven to close in to a few feet and commit to attempting to take the ball away before she grabbed it in one hand and moved swiftly to one side. She felt Seven's arms encircle her body from behind just as she fired the shot, scoring to win the game. Seven pulled her under the water and as they sank she felt the young drone's hands slide down her body, brushing against her breasts as the younger woman released her and swam back to the surface. B'Elanna allowed her body to sink further in the water for a few seconds as she attempted to regain her senses, which were reeling from Seven's accidental touch. Finally she ran out of air and swam back to the surface to receive the congratulations of her team. She allowed herself to be swept up in the moment and began to tease Seven about being unable to stop her from scoring and soon she felt comfortable in the younger woman's presence again.

They made their way back to their belongings and packed up as Tom returned Kate to them. The sun was low in the sky and they made dinner in the house and sat on the deck watching the sunset as they ate. It was a lovely evening. They had opened a bottle of wine with dinner and once they put Kate down to sleep they finished the bottle on the deck, enjoying the cool fresh breeze and the sight of millions of stars appearing in the moonless sky. Finally, exhausted from the day, they got ready for bed. They showered and changed in the bathroom before coming into the bedroom. They both slept in tank tops and boxer shorts so they felt at least partially dressed as they climbed into opposite sides of the huge bed. They lay there in awkward silence for several minutes before wishing one another a good night. Both of them tossed and turned for at least a half-hour despite their exhaustion before falling asleep.

The first thing B'Elanna noticed was that Kate was crying in the living room, the second thing she noticed was the warm body draped over her from behind. Seven must have sought her out in the night. She lay still for a moment, just enjoying the feeling of being held. She was about to get up and go to her daughter when she felt Seven move away and get out of bed, heading for the living room. She checked the chronometer beside the bed, 2:00am, Kate was like clockwork. She got out of bed and went to the kitchen to prepare her daughter's bottle.

Seven came into view soothing Kate quietly, "You didn't need to get up B'Elanna, I can take care of this."

"S'Ok, I'm up."

Seven sat on the small couch and snuggled Kate while she waited. When the bottle was the proper temperature B'Elanna brought it to Seven and knelt at her side, kissing her daughter's forehead as she began to feed. Once the meal was underway, B'Elanna curled up on the floor and rested her head on Seven's knee. She played with her daughter's toes while Kate hungrily devoured her meal. Once finished, Seven hoisted the infant onto her shoulder, gently patting her back until she heard the child's rather loud belch.

"That's my little Princess," B'Elanna chuckled.

"Yes, she does remind of someone I know…now who could that be…" Seven teased back.

Seven continued to rub Kate's back gently until the infant was asleep once more and then she stood and carried her to the crib, laying her down gently. B'Elanna watched as Seven smoothed the covers over her daughter, and as they stood together watching the child settle into her bed she lay her head on Seven's shoulder, and slowly wound her arm about her waist. After a moment's hesitation Seven placed her arm over B'Elanna's shoulders, and the two of them watched Kate sleep for some time.

"Sometimes I wish she was your daughter," B'Elanna's voice was quiet, "then Tom could be the older brother, or the indulgent uncle who spoils her rotten, and I wouldn't have to worry…" she let her voice trail off.

"I too sometimes imagine that she is my daughter," Seven spoke softly.

"Seven, if something ever happens to me," B'Elanna began.

"No, don't," Seven interrupted.

"I'm serious Seven, Tom will always be her father, but we both know that he can't really look after her alone. He knows it too. I'd feel better knowing that you would be there to take care of her."

"I will never allow your daughter to be harmed." Seven's voice was quiet, but B'Elanna knew that she need never doubt the steel behind the words.

After a few more minutes of watching Kate sleep like an angel they made their way back to the bedroom. They lay down on opposite sides of the bed, and a rather awkward silence ensued. B'Elanna knew she was never going to be able to sleep like this, so she slid over and spooned herself into Seven's body. "Is this okay," she asked shyly.

"It is, acceptable," Seven answered, snuggling back into the embrace. They were asleep in minutes.

The next morning B'Elanna awoke with her head on Seven's shoulder and felt the young drone's arms holding her gently. She lay listening to her breathing, until it changed and she knew Seven was awake.

"Good morning Seven," B'Elanna was feeling a little awkward waking up like this, but was determined to get over it. "Did you sleep okay?"

Seven murmured affirmatively, seeming content to simply lie there in one another's arms. It had been so long for B'Elanna that she just decided to enjoy the feeling. The truth was, laying here like this with Seven was calling up a murmur, a tiny echo from somewhere deep in B'Elanna's heart that said, despite her attempts to convince herself otherwise, she needed this kind of contact. For a moment she allowed hope to stir in her heart.

"I guess we should think about getting up before my daughter makes the decision for us."

B'Elanna started to move her hand away from Seven's side where she had been holding her when she felt the young drone flinch.

"Sorry, did I hurt you?" she cried.

"No, I just…" Seven didn't finish.

B'Elanna saw the look on Seven's face and knew instantly what had happened.

"Why Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct to Unimatrix Zero One, I believe you are ticklish." B'Elanna crowed.

"Ridiculous, I am Borg, Borg are NOT ticklish," Seven replied in her best Borg monotone.

"Oh really, then you won't mind if I do this," B'Elanna trailed her fingers back over the sensitive spot in Seven's side.

Seven squealed in a decidedly unborglike manner and attempted to twist out of B'Elanna's reach.

"Oh no you don't," the Klingon cried as she pounced on Seven, holding her down and tickling her mercilessly.

"You are in big trouble now," Seven challenged as she grabbed at B'Elanna, searching until she found the young engineer's own Achilles' heel.

It was B'Elanna's turn to try to escape now, but Seven flipped her onto her back and was pinning her down as she attacked the Klingon's sides with her hands. B'Elanna tried to get out from under, but when she couldn't, she reached up over her head and grabbed the first weapon she could find. She hit Seven full in the side of the face with the pillow and used the moment of surprise to wiggle away. She got up to her knees and began to pummel Seven mercilessly, until the Borg found her own weapon and went on the offensive.

"I believe you have started something that you cannot finish Klingon," she gasped as she grabbed another pillow and began to swat B'Elanna with both of them. "Resistance is futile." B'Elanna fought her way to the opposite side of the bed and leapt to her feet, careful to keep the bed between herself and the decidedly disheveled blonde on the other side. B'Elanna knew it was now or never; she fired her pillow across the bed, hitting Seven squarely in the chest and made a break for the door.

Seven was on her before she had a chance. "Hah, tactical error, you are now unarmed," cried Seven as she grabbed B'Elanna around the waist, hoisting her in the air before throwing her down on the bed and leaping on top of her to pin her down.

Seven found herself looking down into B'Elanna's deep brown eyes, and she froze at the sight. For her part, B'Elanna lay absolutely still, enjoying the feeling of the younger woman's body holding her down. She stared up and felt like she was drowning in the oceanic depths of Seven's blue eyes. The hands she had placed on the young drone's shoulders to fight off her attack slowly slid up and around her neck and tangled in her hair. They were both panting from the exertion of the past few minutes, but as they lay there, unmoving, they both seemed to forget to breathe.

Slowly Seven began to lower her head down to B'Elanna's feeling the gentle pressure of the young Klingon's hands guiding her lower. She paused, their lips a breath apart; just as the moment reached its breaking point, they heard a cry from the living room as Kate woke up to demand her breakfast.

Chapter 7

With a groan Seven rolled off B'Elanna and flopped onto her back. B'Elanna covered her face with her hands, unsure whether to laugh, cry or scream. In the end they both got up and attended to Kate's needs. Neither one of them seemed capable of looking at or talking to the other. Once Kate was fed and happily playing in the living room B'Elanna went into the kitchen to rinse out the bottle. She was standing at the sink when she heard Seven come into the room. She didn't dare to turn around; she couldn't bear to see what Seven was thinking. Feeling a little weak in the knees she braced her hands on the counter, and simply waited for whatever was going to happen.

Seven stood in the doorway to the kitchen; she could see the tension in B'Elanna's shoulders as she leaned on the sink, not turning around. She was torn between fear and hope, afraid to go to B'Elanna in case she had misread the moment between them in the bedroom. She could not bear to be rejected now; they had come so close so many times and still they were apart. B'Elanna's words came unbidden to her mind, 'The one thing I know for sure is that when things get tough emotionally we should run to the people we love, not run from them.' Now firm in her resolve Seven moved across the kitchen toward B'Elanna.

B'Elanna felt the heat from Seven's body close behind her, and then felt the beautiful young woman's arms encircle her waist, hands sliding beneath her shirt to find the burning flesh beneath. She leaned back into the contact, allowing Seven to bear the responsibility for holding her up on her feet. Not a word was spoken as they stood there, together at last. When her legs were feeling strong enough, B'Elanna turned in the circle of Seven's arms, finally allowing herself to pull the younger woman into an embrace. She leaned her forehead against Seven's for a moment, before leaning back to see what was in her eyes. All she saw was love and tenderness, a mirror image of what she felt shining through her own eyes.

"Is this really happening?" B'Elanna whispered softy, afraid of breaking the spell.

"Kiss me B'Elanna," Seven breathed.

Finally their lips met, the faintest of pressure, the lightest of touches, but it was enough, and yet if it lasted a lifetime it would never be enough.

"I have loved you for so long B'Elanna, and I have longed for this moment, but I never dared hope until this morning."

"And I love you. So many times I tried to say it, but I was terrified that you wouldn't love me back, I was afraid of losing what we already have," B'Elanna murmured.

Once again their lips met, lightly at first and then quickly deeper, harder. Tongues touched and withdrew, returning to begin a slow erotic dance of exploration together.

Feeling herself growing dizzy and out of control with the emotions flooding her cortical array Seven ended the kiss and allowed her full weight to sag into the strong arms of B'Elanna. She was weak and shaking as tears began to track down her face.

"Seven," B'Elanna was alarmed at the young drone's reaction, "what's wrong, are you alright…. Talk to me Seven, please."

"I believe that I am malfunctioning, I am feeling joy, and fear and other things that I am unable to identify. My cardiac muscle is contracting erratically and I believe I am sick to my stomach."

After all of her fear and hesitation B'Elanna was suddenly completely calm as she spoke to the distressed woman in her arms. "You're functioning perfectly. I'm feeling exactly the same way…I think it must be love," she smiled.

"What should I do?" The panic was evident in Seven's voice.

"Just breathe love, just breathe."

B'Elanna gently kissed the tears away from Seven's face, "Shhh, sweetheart, everything is going to be alright now, we're going to be just fine," she murmured.

Seven slowly began to calm down, drawing strength from B'Elanna's words and embrace.

"I have in my memory the assimilated knowledge of thousands of species, and yet in this moment I find I do not have any words to describe all that I am feeling," she finally managed.

"I know love, it's overwhelming. I've never felt anything like this before either, but I know that if we just hold on to each other we'll figure it out—together," B'Elanna reassured.

A noise from the living room reminded them both that they were not alone, and B'Elanna grinned sheepishly, "C'mon, we'd better check on Kate before she dismantles the living room.

Seven felt bereft as B'Elanna hugged her fiercely and then moved away to retrieve her daughter, but she recognized that some things had to take precedence.

B'Elanna scooped up her daughter saying, "Alright Qu'Hom, lets get you ready for the day shall we?"

One they were all bathed and dressed they went back to the spot on the beach that they had occupied the day before. They stretched out in the sand and Seven shyly asked,

"Do you thing that Tom will wish to spend time with Kate today?"

B'Elanna laughed, "I was just wondering the same thing. Why don't you watch her while I go see if I can find him."

She loped down the beach, enjoying the feeling of running in the fresh air, of burning off some of the nervous energy that had been building up in her since this morning. She finally spotted Tom down the beach a little further, surrounded by a number of young women. He was laughing and talking while Harry looked on enviously.

"Hey Tom can I talk to you for a minute?"

"I'm a little busy right now B'Elanna, can it wait?" he replied still staring at the beautiful Kintari woman he had been flirting with.

B'Elanna felt a surge of irritation, "Its about Kate."

"Is she alright?" Tom demanded, the Kintari female now forgotten.

"Yes, but I need a favour from you. I was, ah, I was wondering if you could take her tonight and tomorrow."

"I can take her tomorrow, but I kind of have plans for tonight."

"Tom, you know I wouldn't ask if it weren't really important."

"I know Lanna, but my plans are pretty important as well." His leering look at his female companion told B'Elanna all she needed to know about his plans for this evening. She knew there was no point in arguing so she simply made plans to have Tom pick Kate up at 0700 the next morning, as she and Dartak were to go climbing that day.

B'Elanna's face told Seven all she needed to know about whether or not they would have any time alone together today. She was disappointed but was determined to cheer B'Elanna up, and so she suggested that they find Sam, Neelix and Naomi in the hopes that lively company would make the day pass more quickly.

They found their friends ensconced beneath the largest, most colourful umbrella on the beach; Naomi was happy to see her friends and soon they were all laughing and playing together. B'Elanna was feeling much better when Sam offered to watch Kate if she and Seven wanted some time to themselves. Not needing to be asked twice they jumped to their feet and took a walk down the beach.

As they walked Seven felt her knuckles graze B'Elanna's hand, she was surprised at how powerfully that simple touch affected her; she was gratified when she felt B'Elanna take her hand, intertwining their fingers as they walked. They walked along the burning sand just enjoying the feeling of holding hands together. They followed the curve of the beach far beyond the borders of the resort until they were out of sight of everyone on the beach. In the near distance was a rather large rock formation and without a word they headed toward it. Upon reaching the outcropping they stopped and melted into one another's arms. Seven felt herself growing weak in the knees again, and was grateful when she felt B'Elanna lift her up onto a rock ledge, gently sitting her down and standing between her legs without once breaking their kiss.

B'Elanna allowed her hands to rest on Seven's legs, her thumbs gently stroking the soft skin of her inner thighs. Seven moaned her pleasure at the touch. When B'Elanna's hands slid up under her shirt to explore the skin Seven felt a moment of discomfort as the Klingon's hands encountered her abdominal implant, but the moment passed as she felt B'Elanna stroke the metal lovingly, evoking a myriad of pleasurable responses from her companion. Seven brought her legs up and crossed them behind B'Elanna's back, pulling her closer. She felt the young Klingon's fingers gently graze the sides of her breasts as the sensual exploration continued.

Seven massaged the prominent spinal ridges on B'Elanna's back, gratified to hear the moans of pleasure it elicited from the fiery young woman. She allowed her hands to drift still lower to grasp the shapely behind of the young Klingon, kneading the firm flesh between her hands, reveling in the sensations it evoked when her actions caused B'Elanna's body to come into closer contact with her own. She slowly drew her hands up B'Elanna's sides until they reached the firm swell of the Klingon's breasts. She stopped here, brushing her knuckles gently along the sides of the sensuous globes, coming close to but never touching the achingly erect nipples of the young woman's beautiful breasts. She kept up her gentle torture until B'Elanna broke their kiss; panting for breath she growled,

"Kahless I want you Seven."

"And you shall have me," Seven replied in a demure voice that belied the raging passion she was feeling.

"We should head back or I'm going to take you right here on the beach," B'Elanna groaned.

"Would that be so bad?"

"I'm not having our first time be some roll in the sand, worried that we're going to get caught by a tourist out for a stroll Seven. When we make love for the first time we aren't going to rush, or think about anything but one another and what we're doing."

"Very well, then I believe your idea to return is a sound one, if we continue this activity any longer I am not convinced that I will be able to stop myself from making love to you."

B'Elanna's heart leapt at the idea that Seven was having as hard a time as she with not making love. She always thought that the Klingon side of her made her more headstrong in that area. It was thrilling to know that she was finally with someone who returned her unbridled passion in kind. It was going to be hard to wait, but she knew it was going to be worth it.

They returned to Sam and Neelix, still holding hands and giggling like schoolgirls. Their bruised lips and giddy manner was more than enough to tell their friends that the nature of their relationship had changed irrevocably. Although they had plans for this evening, Sam and Neelix offered to take Kate overnight tomorrow, and their offer was gratefully accepted. To Seven and B'Elanna's immense relief they agreed to pick Kate up from Tom's at dinnertime the next day.

When it was time for Neelix and Sam to leave for their evening B'Elanna and Seven found themselves wondering how in the world they would get through the rest of the day without losing their minds.

"I was thinking that maybe we could wander around a bit and see who we can scare up to have dinner with us tonight," B'Elanna suggested.

"You do not wish to spend the evening alone with me?" Seven pouted.

"You know I do, but I don't want us to be together for the first time with Kate asleep in the next room. I want to wait until tomorrow when we'll have the whole house to ourselves. I just thought it might be nice to have some friends over; I guess I also think it might be nice to let our friends in on our happiness."

"You wish to inform them of the change in the status of our relationship?"

"Well, yeah, I guess I want everyone to know we're in love, why, don't you?"

"I am happy to be open about our relationship, I just wasn't sure that you would be. I know that many of the crew are uncomfortable around me because I am Borg, and I would not like to see your reputation suffer as a result of your involvement with me." Seven looked very sad as she spoke.

B'Elanna took the younger woman in her arms, "Look at me Seven. I love you and I don't care who knows it. If people have a problem with you then they have a problem with me too, but I really don't think that many people are going to have a problem with us. Give people a chance to get to know you, they'll love you just like I do."

"If you say so B'Elanna," Seven remained skeptical.

They gathered up their things and wandered down the beach; in the end they found the Captain, Chakotay and Harry Kim all without plans for the evening and quickly invited them all for dinner. Seven was concerned about Chakotay's reaction to the news of their relationship. She was still uncomfortable around him after he objected to the removal of the cortical inhibitor, but she knew that he was important to B'Elanna and so tried to keep an open mind about getting to know him better.

The evening turned out to be a great success. Everyone was happy to hear about the change in their relationship, even Chakotay only hesitated a moment before proposing a toast to the happy couple. He had had his doubts about Seven in the past, but it was obvious to anyone with eyes that B'Elanna had never been happier in her life, and he cared too much for her to do anything to mar that happiness.

When everyone had left and Kate was asleep they got ready for bed, each still changing in the bathroom before entering the bedroom. B'Elanna was the first one under the covers and she lay there waiting for Seven to reenter the room. She knew it was going to be nearly impossible to keep her hands off the beautiful young Borg, but she was determined to do her best. When Seven entered the room B'Elanna's breath caught in her throat. Even though the younger woman was only wearing boxer shorts and a tee shirt she was stunningly beautiful with her hair cascading around her shoulders. She crawled under the sheets and immediately sought out the warmth of B'Elanna's body. They snuggled together in one another's arms. Seven lay her head on B'Elanna's shoulder, enjoying the sounds of her hearts beating and her breathing. B'Elanna kissed her forehead and gently stroked her back through the fabric of her shirt. Seven loved the ticklish feeling of the young Klingon's fingers dancing up and down her spine, and she was content to lie still and enjoy this feeling of connection with her soon-to-be lover. Eventually they both fell asleep tangled together in their loving embrace.

Seven o'clock came early the next day, and Tom's knock at the door brought them both awake. The young helmsman looked sleepy, but he was in a good mood as he regaled B'Elanna with his tales of amorous success from the previous evening. As he left with his daughter in his arms B'Elanna saw Dartak coming up the walkway to the house. She smiled broadly at the sight of the older man's powerful frame, and even though she would have liked to spend the entire day alone with Seven she was happy to be going climbing with her friend.

Seven was joining them for the day as Dartak assured her that there were several climbs that a beginner could enjoy. She was looking forward to spending the day with the older man as well, and she quickly helped pack up food and equipment for their adventure. Dartak had arranged transport to and from the trailhead, but there was still a long hilly hike ahead of them before they reached the rock face they were going to be climbing on.

The hike was challenging but they were all in good shape and the fresh air was invigorating. They all felt as if they had more energy not less by the time they reached the wall. Seven watched as Dartak and B'Elanna laid out the necessary equipment. Some of the climbs were well marked and had top ropes already attached. These were the beginners' climbs and they would warm up here first while Seven learned how to use the equipment and mastered the basic moves of the art. She would watch in the afternoon as the two more experienced climbers attempted the tougher lead climbs of the southern face.

Once they began, Seven found that she loved the feeling of climbing high on the rock. She began to understand that it was more than a sport, there was an art to finding the right hand holds, and balancing your body perfectly as you planned your next move. She was surprised to find how difficult it could be to ensure that you ended up with the proper foot or hand on the proper hold in order to make your next move. The analytical part of her mind was getting a workout as she began to learn how to read the rock, and plan her routes to the top.

Dartak and B'Elanna were as different as day and night on the wall. Dartak was all muscle and bull strength; he literally pulled his way up the wall. B'Elanna however moved like a dancer, her lithe frame was always perfectly balanced and she appeared to be moving effortlessly as she climbed. B'Elanna was wearing only a cropped tank top and very tight shorts and Seven could see every muscle and sinew work as she climbed, it was often an effort to drag her eyes away from the awesome display of power and pay attention to her own surroundings.

At lunch they ate ravenously, and prepared for the afternoon's climb. Seven was not going to be joining them on the wall, but she had brought a holoimager with her and was anxious to capture the scenery around her, as well as some images of the two climbers on the rock. Lead climbing was much more dangerous than the top roped climbs and Seven knew she was not ready for such an undertaking yet.

Once they were loaded with their equipment Dartak led the first pitch of the climb. He had an uncanny ability to find nooks and crannies to insert gear and they moved very quickly upwards. B'Elanna followed, removing the gear as she passed, her ascent much quicker than Dartak's as she needn't bother to map the route. Once she reached the ledge they switched leads and B'Elanna led the second pitch to the top. Seven managed to capture several breathtaking images as they worked.

When they reached the top they both sat down to catch their breath and enjoy the scenery. Dartak was exhausted but completely happy.

"So I see that you and Seven have finally managed to get over your fears little one," he teased B'Elanna.

"Yeah, it took a while, but I think we've finally seen the light."

"I was a little worried you might panic and leave when you realized your vacation house had shrunk a little," he grinned broadly as he spoke.

"Shrunk, what are you…. How did you know about that?" B'Elanna cried.

"Well, I may have made a call to a certain resort owner…" he allowed his voice to trail off.

"You didn't…. You did … You son of a Targ…. You set us up!!!!" B'Elanna shook her head in disbelief.

"Somebody needed to do something…I've never met a more stubborn pair in my entire life," he shook his head at the memories of how hard he had tried to get the pair to realize their feelings when they were working on the station. "If there's one thing I've learned in life its that life is short and time is precious, so I just decided to move things along a little quicker that's all."

"I can't decide whether to hug you or push you off this wall old man," B'Elanna teased.

"Well, if you push me you'll have a hard time getting down there yourself, so you might want to bear that in mind," he laughed. "Oh, and by the way…. jachchoHmeH 'lwraj penaghtaH B'Elanna."

"How is it possible that a Kintari engineer from the Delta Quadrant could possible know the Klingon for THAT?" B'Elanna was blushing furiously at the Klingon admonition to 'mate until your blood screams.'

"I had a little help from a certain hairy ambassador. He did the research for me before you people left the station."

B'Elanna could only shake her head as they prepared for the descent.

When they reached the floor they packed up the gear and prepared to leave. Dartak told B'Elanna about a small free climb he attempted whenever he came up here and asked if they would mind waiting while he tried. They agreed and followed him to a short climb up and over a rather prominent overhang. He made his way up about 3 meters until he was below the ledge. They watched his muscles strain as he fought to find a handhold that would allow him to lever his body up and over the ledge. He cast about in several directions, but the elusive holds always seemed just out of reach. Finally he gave up and let himself drop back to the ground.

"May I?" B'Elanna inquired.

"Be my guest," he gasped.

B'Elanna swung up onto the wall, climbing with ease to the spot where Dartak had failed in his attempt. She attempted several different ways of getting up to the ledge, but it looked as if she was going to suffer the same fate as the older man. She rested for a moment, shaking out first one arm then the other, reapplying the chalk to her hands. Seven held her breath as she watched B'Elanna grip the rock anew, allowing her body to stretch out to arms length. She then drew herself up almost as if she were doing a chin up; she gathered herself, muscles bunching in the effort, swung down and then launched herself up into the air. For a moment she seemed to hang weightless in space and then her arms snaked out to grasp the top of the ledge. With catlike grace she swung her feet into the wall, avoiding smashing her body into the rock, in a few quick moves she was over the ledge and on top of the wall. She appeared to be a force of nature in those moments, absolutely powerful and utterly unstoppable. It was a moment before Seven remembered to breathe.

When B'Elanna was once again on the ground beside her Seven gathered her into her arms, kissing her deeply. She reveled in holding that power close; every fibre of her being was in love, in that moment she knew what it was to lust.

They made their way back down to the trailhead where the transport was waiting to return them to the resort. As they hiked B'Elanna teased Dartak mercilessly about having flashed his favourite climb. He gave as good as he got however, teasing her about how long it took for her to admit her feelings for Seven. As they walked B'Elanna revealed that Dartak and his sister Illiria had conspired together to ensure they ended up in a one-bedroom cabin. Seven couldn't believe the kind old man was capable of such deception, but she was certainly glad that he had been.

When they reached the resort they invited Dartak for dinner, but he politely declined, saying he had already made plans to dine with his sister. He sensed that what the two of them really wanted was to finally be alone, and he certainly wasn't going to be the one that stood in the way, not after all the work he'd done to get them together finally. He just hoped that Illiria would be at home so they really could have dinner together.

B'Elanna and Seven held hands as they walked up the path to the house. B'Elanna had her hand on the doorknob when Seven spun her around, pulling her into a passionate embrace. They kissed hungrily for several minutes on the doorstep before they finally broke apart and entered the cabin together.

Chapter 8

They were completely unprepared for the sight that greeted them when they entered the house. The entire room was radiant with the light of a hundred candles, and there was a fire burning in the fireplace, the faint smell of incense lingered in the air. The dining room table was set with silver gleaming in the candlelight. Stasis trays were set out on the table with a complete meal prepared and kept warm for them. There were several gifts wrapped and set out on one of the couches.

They just stared at the house and then at one another.

"Did you know anything about this?" B'Elanna queried.

"I, no, I did not."

Stepping further into the room they noticed a card lying on the table, upon reading it they realized that Sam and Neelix were responsible for the dinner; the card wished them nothing but the best and brought tears to both of their eyes.

Janeway had replicated a wonderful dress for Seven to wear to dinner this evening. Her card read 'Dearest Seven: I've always thought of you as a friend and a daughter to me, and so I hope you won't mind your 'mother' picking out clothes for you to wear on a special night like this. I wish you all the love and happiness in the world. I can't think of anyone more perfect for you than B'Elanna. Take some advice from one who knows, don't be afraid, don't hold anything back, just love her as much as I know she loves you. Love always. Your friend Katherine.'

B'Elanna found a package with her name on it from Harry and Tom as well, the dress it contained was a stunning black cocktail dress of the type B'Elanna would never normally wear. There was also a PADD with a music file they had created for the pair. Tom wrote: 'I will be looking after Kate tomorrow morning, so just enjoy the night, and the morning. I have to admit I feel a little weird getting a dress for you to wear on your first night with another woman, but I figured that seeing as I was such a failure as a husband at least I can prove how much I care for you by being a friend. Love Tom.'

Harry's note was addressed to 'Maquis' and teased that B'Elanna should suck it up and dress like a girl for a change, and that he couldn't be happier for his friend.

The candles, incense and the chilled bottle of Dom Perignon they found on ice in the bedroom was apparently courtesy of Chakotay. He wrote them that he had performed a sweetgrass ritual to bless the house and bring them luck, and that he wished them light and love in intoxicating measure as they began their life together.

Even Naomi Wildman had made a contribution. B'Elanna joked that if the night wasn't what they expected that at least they could play Kadis Kot now that Naomi had given them a board!

The unexpected and emotional gesture of love and acceptance from their friends was completely overwhelming and for a long time they could only stare in wonder at the beauty around them. Finally B'Elanna broke the silence, suggesting that they shower and dress for dinner before the candles burned completely away.

B'Elanna felt strange dressed up in a cocktail dress, like a little kid playing dress-up; she was tempted to change into jeans but remembered Harry's admonition to 'suck it up' so she remained in the dress. Her reward was the look of absolute wonder on Seven's face when she caught sight of the young engineer. B'Elanna felt herself blushing under Seven's gaze and forced a light note into her voice as she opened a bottle of wine and suggested that they have dinner.

Seven had downloaded the music file into the computer and soft piano music was playing as they ate. The meal was wonderful, Neelix had taken special care to avoid his usual overkill with spices, and every dish was a sensation of flavour and texture. When the meal began they talked nonstop about the day and about their friends, and the wonderful gift they had been given. However, by the end of the meal the seriousness of the occasion seemed to overwhelm them and they grew quiet.

They sat in silence for a few moments after they finished eating, listening to the music, both lost in their thoughts. B'Elanna finally stood and moved around the table, offering her hand to Seven, leading her into the middle of the living room and taking her into her arms. They danced together slowly, their bodies pressed close, moving together as one. When the song ended B'Elanna kept hold of Seven's hand and led her slowly toward the bedroom.

Once in the room she opened the bottle of Champagne and poured them both a glass. They raised their glasses together in a silent toast and then B'Elanna began to speak.

"Seven, there's something I want to tell you, something you need to know. This isn't easy for me but I really need to say it. You are my heart and my soul, I feel like I'm only half-alive when you aren't with me. Nothing in my life ever prepared me for this feeling, and I have to be honest, it's the most frightening thing I've ever felt, and the most wonderful. You of all people know that there are two sides of me and they have been at war for as long as I can remember, but now, in your arms I'm truly at peace. I never dreamed it was possible to feel this way, and even now I can hardly dare believe that its real. You are my world, my universe, and my love; I would die for you, do battle for you, do anything you ever asked of me—I could deny you nothing. I just want you to know that in this moment, right here right now, you are completely and utterly loved."

Tears were running down B'Elanna's cheeks as she spoke, and Seven herself was crying tears of joy. Never in her life had she imagined that anyone would ever feel that way about her, a former Borg drone. She reached out a hand to B'Elanna's cheek and brushed away the tears.

"I am not the person I was when I first met you B'Elanna," Seven began. "I am different, better somehow, and that is in part because of you; you make me whole. I want to be your peace, your shelter, your heart's home. Let me be your lodestone and our love the compass. That way no matter where you are you need only follow your heart to find your way home to me. I want you to know that if I live forever there will never be enough time to show you how much I love you. I will never have the words to describe the depth of my love for you, but I want you to know that even if all we have is here and now, if there are no more tomorrows, I will always be grateful that I had the chance to be with you."

Exhausted by the unaccustomed expression of emotion they held one another close, snuggling together and simply feeling the connection between them for a few moments. When they felt more in control of their emotions, they sat back and simply drank in the sight of one another. B'Elanna refilled their glasses and they enjoyed the taste of the exquisite champagne.

B'Elanna stood, drawing Seven up with her, setting their glasses aside she pulled Seven into her arms, allowing her hands to wander over the young drone's back and shoulders. Seven captured her lips in a kiss that began as a tentative exploration, but quickly turned into a searing expression of passion. They pressed their bodies close, feeling the firm flesh pressed full length against her, Seven moaned her approval. Her fingers found their way up to the slender straps of B'Elanna's dress and she slid them off those powerful shoulders; undoing the dress she allowed it to pool on the floor at their feet. B'Elanna had not been wearing a bra and now her exposed breasts were pressed against Seven, she gasped at the sensation of her nipples sliding against the silk fabric of the younger woman's dress.

B'Elanna undid the zip in the back of the sheath that Seven was wearing, and, stepping back, peeled away the fabric with slow sensual deliberation. Once freed from the constraints of their clothing they stretched out on the bed, laying on their sides, facing one another, limbs tangled, hands explored, lips and tongues met and mingled.

Drawing back B'Elanna smiled into the brilliant eyes of her lover, "Kahless, I feel like I could drown in your eyes, they're so blue. You are so beautiful, do you know that?"

"Only with you my love, only when you look at me, then I am beautiful," Seven meant what she said, she knew others found her aesthetically pleasing, but only when B'Elanna gazed so lovingly at her did she feel truly beautiful.

"I love you Seven," she kissed her passionately, slowly beginning an erotic exploration of the delicate curve of Seven's neck. "God how I want to taste you."

Seven whimpered at the combined effect of B'Elanna's words and actions. She was pure sensation in these moments, as if nothing existed outside of the touch of her lover. "Make love to me please B'Elanna."

B'Elanna growled her pleasure at her lover's words. She gently pushed Seven onto her back, slowly spreading her legs and lying between them. She caressed her tongue along Seven's swan-like neck, smelling the clean fresh scent, feeling the blood that pounded beneath the flawless skin, losing herself in the sensations. She rained kisses in a fiery trail that led to first one beautiful breast and then the other. Swirling her tongue ever closer before finally capturing the straining nipples. Seven moaned her pleasure as she felt B'Elanna's mouth finally close on her sensitized flesh. While she continued to suck gently on Seven's luscious breast, she used her fingers to stimulate the other one, slowly rolling the rose coloured tip between her fingers while Seven writhed beneath her touch.

Seven's need was growing ever stronger as B'Elanna continued her exquisite sensual torture. The throbbing between her legs was growing steadily and she knew she needed to find relief. She captured the hand B'Elanna was using to caress her breast and guided it slowly down between her legs,

"Please B'Elanna, I need you, touch me, god please."

B'Elanna swooned at the raw need in Seven's voice, and she allowed her hand to slip inside the heated flesh of Seven's sex; her nether lips as soft as rose petals in the rain. She parted the burning wet flesh with her fingertips and began slowly stroking up and down her full length. She traced slowly around the secret opening while Seven thrust her hips up into her touch.

"Please, inside me, please."

B'Elanna complied with the impassioned request, slipping first one and then two fingers inside the hot tight core. She began moving with Seven's rhythm, increasing her speed to match the need she felt growing in the younger woman. She shifted downward to capture the sensitive nexus of nerves in her lips, sucking and rolling the tiny bundle in her mouth as Seven moaned and pitched beneath her.

"Oh B'Elanna, god yes, yes ahhhh B'Elanna," she finally climaxed with a throaty roar.

B'Elanna held on through the aftermath, continuing to gently stroke the now-satiated flesh until Seven pulled her up to capture her lips in a sweet kiss, snuggling into the strong arms of her lover.

Seven's lovemaking, when it came, was as intense and as all encompassing as the woman herself. B'Elanna loved the way that the younger woman explored every nook and cranny of her body with hands, eyes, and tongue. She felt completely known in a way that was new to her, there was nowhere to hide from that loving gaze, not that she wanted to hide. Seven made love to every inch of her body; caressing the ridges of her forehead and back, tracing the outline of the muscles of her abdomen and shoulders, and kissing every finger, toe, and inch of delicious skin before making love to B'Elanna with a skill and understanding that belied her inexperience.

While they had each achieved a measure of release with their initial lovemaking neither was satiated, and they spent the night exploring hungrily, touching lovingly, pleasuring endlessly until at last they slept the sleep of the exhausted in one another's arms.

Chapter 9

The sun was streaming in the windows of the cabin the next morning and the bed was bathed in sunlight as B'Elanna slowly awakened in the arms of her lover. She looked up to see that Seven was still sleeping peacefully on her back. She eased up on one elbow and drank in the sight of the beautiful young drone relaxed and totally at peace with the world. She gently brushed a strand of hair off of the lovely face and simply stared at the picture before her. She again felt the now-familiar surge of protectiveness and decided that Seven should be introduced to the pleasures of breakfast in bed. Not wanting to wake the younger woman she eased out of her arms slowly and dropped a kiss on the pillow beside her head.

"Those are precious and you should not waste them." Seven murmured sleepily, one eye open, awake after all.

B'Elanna grinned and rectified the fault by kissing Seven thoroughly before she left the bed and padded into the kitchen.

She was joined shortly by Seven who shuffled sleepily into the kitchen and perched on top of the counter, yawning.

"Hey I'm supposed to be making you breakfast in bed," B'Elanna protested.

"I would rather spend my time with you than waiting in bed for nutritional supplements."

"Well in that case, here," said B'Elanna popping a piece of fruit into Seven's mouth.

So that is how they ate, sitting on the counter, swinging their feet and eating whatever they could find in the refrigerator. It was the best meal either of them could ever remember.

By the time they had eaten, showered and changed Sam, Neelix and Naomi were at the door with Kate. Although they would have loved to have more time alone together they were both happy to see the little child, and soon they were heading out the door to spend the afternoon on the beach with their friends.

B'Elanna was laying back with her head in Seven's lap reading her holonovel, while Seven watched Naomi and Kate playing in the sand nearby. She could never remember having this sense of 'belonging' before. She absently traced the ridges on B'Elanna's forehead as they enjoyed the sun.

"Are you guys gonna get married now?" Naomi asked all of a sudden.

B'Elanna's head shot up in a flash, "What, married, I don't know about that, why would you ask a thing like that?"

"Mom and Neelix said you were in love, people in love get married don't they?" Naomi asked with a child's logic.

"Um, well, sometimes yes, I guess they do," B'Elanna replied her uncertainty evident in her voice.

"You do not wish to marry me?" Seven felt all the old insecurities she thought were gone forever come flooding back. Perhaps B'Elanna's feelings did not run as deeply as her own.

"I didn't say that! I just, well to be honest I just don't know what I think about the idea of marriage anymore. I mean I failed miserably at it once." She could see the look of panic on Seven's face and hastened to reassure her. "This doesn't change a thing about the way I feel about you Seven, honestly."

They sat in silence for a moment or two, while Sam and Neelix quickly found a place for themselves and the children to be out of earshot.

"Does this mean that you want to get married Seven."

"I had not thought of it until right now, but it is the next logical step in our relationship is it not."

"I don't think logic enters into it. I don't want to do something just because tradition or logic says we should, and I don't think we should be thinking about getting married just because other people might expect us to. The only reason for even considering a step like that is because it's what we both want."

"I know that I wish to spend the rest of my life with you B'Elanna."

B'Elanna smiled fiercely at Seven, "I want the same thing. So maybe this is something we should talk about. It is possible to spend the rest of our lives together without having a formal ceremony you know."

"I know, but it would be nice to celebrate our love with our friends would it not?"

B'Elanna's heart melted at the look of longing on Seven's face. She had told her last night that she could deny her nothing and never truer words were spoken.

"I am NOT wearing a wedding dress!"

Two days later with the help of all of their friends, the wedding for B'Elanna and Seven was about to take place. They discussed many options about when and where and what type of ceremony they should have. They talked about how long they wished to wait, or not, but they finally decided that waiting was futile, and that they wanted to be married here in the spot where they finally admitted their love. B'Elanna was also anxious to have Dartak and his sister be a part of their ceremony. She was estranged from her father and found solace in the old man's obvious love for her. He had readily agreed to give B'Elanna away.

B'Elanna was wearing her full dress uniform and she looked confident and happy as she walked on the arm of Dartak toward the place where the captain stood waiting.

Seven had opted for the traditional white wedding dress, and she took away everyone's breath as she came down the isle on the arm of Neelix, who had happily agreed to stand in as a father figure for her.

Harry was standing up for B'Elanna and Sam Wildman for Seven. Naomi was the flower girl and Tom stood near the group with Kate in his arms.

It was a simple ceremony; the captain read several of her favorite passages from literature and then the happy couple exchanged the vows that they had written themselves.

"My heart and soul belong to you, and today I bind my fate to yours for life. With you I am a warrior, a lover, a mother, a poet, only with you am I everything I want to be. With you I am at peace. You are my love, my life, and my heart's home. QamuSHa' tai be'nal."

"My heart and soul belong to you, and today I bind my fate to yours for life. With you I have become more fully human than I ever dreamed was possible, you gave me my life and my emotions and today I dedicate them back to you with love. Love is a journey not a destination…. It is a promise made to the future. A future I will gladly share with you. I love you my honoured wife."

With the simple exchange of rings and the promises of all of their friends gathered there to honour and support their union it was both finished and begun.

Chapter 10 Epilogue

It seemed to take longer this year to walk the distance to the rockface at the end of the trail, but they had made it together. They walked hand in hand like young lovers always do.

"It reminds me of the rock on Kintari where we went climbing with Dartak."

"You were magnificent that day my love."

"Does that mean you don't think I'm magnificent any longer."

Seven ran her fingers through the pure white hair of her lover. "You will always be magnificent to me, but I do not suggest you attempt to scale the rock today."

"It's been a long time, I may have forgotten a move or two I suppose."

"You still have all the right moves as far as I'm concerned," Seven smiled lovingly at the woman she had spent her life with. She drew the beautiful Klingon into her arms and they kissed lovingly as they so often did.

"Ahh gee, are you at it again. You never stop do you?" She never tired of teasing her mothers about their undying affection for one another. Their love had stood the test of time untarnished and they were as physically affectionate with one another now as they had been forty years ago on the day of their marriage.

"And we never will Kate, we never will."


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