Wedding # 3
Seven had been quietly walking down the corridor, thoughts on the PADD in front of her, when a hand had suddenly seised her arm and propelled her into a disused storage compartment. Her assimilation tubules straining to be let loose, Seven had turned on her attacker, ready to rip its head from its body, when she came face to face with a panicked B'Elanna Torres.
"B'Elanna? Is something wrong?" Tactical plans flashed across the back of Seven's mind as she awaited news of whatever alien of the week was currently promising death and destruction to her crew. "Is it the Ben'tala?" she prompted, when B'Elanna appeared unable to speak, "Have they replaced the senior officers with amphibious clones? Again?"
"No!" B'Elanna's voice was unusually shrill. "It's Tom," she said, her eyes wild as she searched the interior of the storage compartment for interlopers, "he's getting married!"
Seven's ocular implant rose as she waited for the second half of that sentence, but as B'Elanna's agitation grew, the news she conveyed remained strangely static. "Lieutenant Paris is getting married?" An alien race could be forcing Tom to marry one of its old maids, Seven supposed, or he could have joined a cult and declared his intention to marry the nacelles; thus following in Commander Chakotay's dubious shoes. "To whom is he going to be married?"
"Liz, of course," B'Elanna's panic subsided into irritation at the stupidity of the question, "you know they've been dating for the last six months."
Indeed, Seven had been aware of their liaison, as were most of the crew, and therefore, she could see no reason for alarm over the news. "Have you discovered something unsavoury about Ensign Treager?"
Again, B'Elanna looked irritated. "No, Liz is great, you know that." It had been B'Elanna who had introduced her ex-husband to the botanist, and she had been overjoyed when they'd hit it off and had started dating. "Liz is a good influence on Tom and vice versa."
"Then you are not averse to them getting married?" Seven was out of her depths and sinking fast, but she refused to surrender and admit to her total bafflement if there was the slightest chance she could unravel her friend's odd behaviour before then. "You have no objections?"
For a moment, B'Elanna's panic and irritation faded, and she realised how crazed she must sound, especially considering their current location and the strong grip she still had around Seven's arm. "Sorry," she said, the word alien to her lips, "I can explain." Taking a step back, B'Elanna tried to put some room between them, but the size of the storage compartment made that someone problematic. "I'm happy for Tom and Liz, I really am, but it's the crew." She shuddered and suddenly Seven realised it wasn't panic or irritation or even insanity she'd glimpsed on her friend's face, it was dread. "They'll pity me," she finished, her voice subdued and posture defeated.
"Pity you?" It was inconceivable. "Why?"
"Most of the crew already think Tom dumped me for another woman," a more-human woman, B'Elanna left unsaid, but she'd heard those rumours and been hurt by them, "and this will just prove it."
"But Ensign Treager and Lieutenant Paris did not start dating until five months after the dissolution of your marriage."
"Do you think the crew cares about facts?" B'Elanna knew she was being unfair; the vast majority of the crew probably hadn't given her short marriage a single thought and even those who had probably hadn't cared enough to apportion blame, but it was the minority, far from silence, who B'Elanna knew would revel in her perceived failings. "I refuse to be the object of pity."
The urge to disagree with B'Elanna's assumptions was strong, but Seven realised that it would be futile, and therefore, she turned her vast analytical skills to a far more productive area of research, discovering a way to thwart the crew's perceived pity. "Has Lieutenant Paris publicly announced his impending marriage?"
"No." Tom and Liz had told B'Elanna privately that morning, not that either feared she would be upset by the news, but Tom knew that the gossips would set their sights on B'Elanna and he wanted to give her as much time as he could to prepare her defences. "He - they - wanted to give me some time to... I don't know, come up with a plan, I suppose."
Seven nodded, her plan already beginning to take shape. "Do Lieutenant Paris and Ensign Treager intend to have a long engagement or will the ceremony take place at once?" In the old films that Tom watched, it wasn't uncommon for engagements to last years, but in the Alpha Quadrant, they generally only lasted long enough for relatives and friends to fly in from various corners of the universe; in the Delta Quadrant, where everyone who could possibly be on the guest list already resided on the ship, an engagement could last little more than an hour.
"They'd like to be married as soon as possible."
"Good." Her plan complete, Seven turned a rare and beaming smile on B'Elanna. "I believe I have a solution."
For a moment, B'Elanna was too busy trying to stop her knees from buckling to take in Seven's words, but once she'd recovered from the effects of Seven's smile, she listened attentively as the plan was laid out. "Are you mad!" It was ludicrous, totally and utterly ludicrous. "I hate weddings!"
"A fact that is universally acknowledged." B'Elanna's aversion to weddings had played a large part in Seven's planning process. "Therefore, it would be inconceivable, to even the most vicious of gossips, to assume that you would volunteer to organise your ex-husband's wedding, unless you truly wished to bless their union."
B'Elanna was of the opinion that Seven had gone stark raving mad. "I don't know the first thing about weddings." As much as she liked and respected Liz, B'Elanna knew that the woman wouldn't be satisfied with anything less than a romantic smorgasbord of lace and frills, flowing with pink and other nauseating colours. "I think I'm going to be sick."
"It is your only viable option."
For the first time in months, B'Elanna felt like decking the ship's resident ex-Borg. "I don't know why you're looking so smug, blondie; if I have to arrange this stupid wedding, so do you."
Seven's ocular implant threatened to jump off her face. "I do not -"
"If I'm playing wedding co-ordinator," B'Elanna interrupted, stepping into Seven's personal space and pointing a demanding finger at the other woman's chest, "you're playing assistant." The finger landed, rebounded, and landed again. "Got it!"
Seven wanted to argue, she really did, but she suspected the oxygen levels in the storage compartment had been tampered with, because she was suddenly too weak to move and the nanoprobes regulating her body temperature failed to stop a flash of warmth from engulfing her body. "Got it," she croaked.
Somewhat mollified, and totally unaware of the affect she was having on her friend, B'Elanna took a step back and prepared to exit the compartment. "Meet me in Tom's quarters in an hour."
Seven nodded mutely, but as B'Elanna turned to leave, she once again found her voice and leant it to a question that had been nagging away at the back of her mind since the beginning of their encounter, "B'Elanna? Why are we meeting in a storage compartment?"
"Uh..." Twin points of red blossomed on B'Elanna's cheeks. "I didn't want the Captain to see us together." She had eventually managed to explain away Seven's comment at Tal Celes' wedding, but ever since that moment, she'd been aware of the Captain's eyes boring into her back every time she got within ten feet of the blonde. "She thinks I'm trying to seduce you."
"I see." Seven gave the matter a second's thought. "Then I would suggest you try a little harder," she advised, and slipped quietly from the confines of the storage compartment.
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