DISCLAIMER: To all the lawyers out there - Paramount owns Voyager, I don't. I'm just doing this for fun, not profit, so please don't sue me. Please?
WARNING: T/7…if f/f bothers you, please don't read (not that there's actually any in this so far...but you never know ;)
Words Mean Nothing
'Dammit Seven!' B'Elanna growled with frustration as the ex-Borg invaded her space, ostensibly to check the lieutenants work, but B'Elanna was sure the woman just loved to piss her off any way she could. Pushing the taller woman back, she tapped a few controls and set the commands in motion before Seven could read them all.
The blonde immediately straightened, her eyes wide. 'Lieutenant Torres, I believe I saw a miscalculation just as you-'
'No, you didn't Seven,' B'Elanna smiled, but there was no humour in it. 'I checked those figures at least four times, and you know what? They were fine. Perfect, even. Surely an ex-Borg can appreciate perfection?'
'Yes, Lieutenant, I could. But I do not think that was perfection. I noted a discrepancy in the field modulation. Left unattended it could create some extreme reactions in anyone who attempted to use the Transporters.'
B'Elanna placed her hands on her hips. They had been working together - Captains orders - in Transporter room one for about three hours, trying to recalibrate the modulation of the Transporters themselves and the Ensign behind the Transporter control panel had long since taken to cowering behind it in abject fear as the bickering continued to escalate toward outright fighting.
Seven placed her hands behind her back and straightened imperceptibly, looking down her nose at the older woman. 'If you wish to be responsible for a Transporter accident that could lead to a fatality, I will not say another word.'
'Fatality? Fatality?! You're accusing me of putting the crew at risk?' B'Elanna bared her teeth.
'The discrepancy may prove a risk to someone, yes.'
'Look…' Torres took a step closer and jabbed Seven in the chest with a finger. 'Astrometrics officer.' She hiked a thumb toward herself. 'Chief Engineer. I think I know what I'm doing!'
'That is not in question, Lieutenant. I am simply stating you made a mistake.'
'Mistake?' B'Elanna bridled. 'I'll show you mistake! Ensign!'
The terrified woman poked her head above the desk, and when she saw both senior officers staring at her, she stopped whimpering and stood straight, smoothing down her uniform and trying to appear business like. 'Yes-' the word came out as a squeak, and she cleared her throat quickly. 'Yes ma'am?'
'Power up the Transporters.'
Within seconds the women were surrounded by the familiar hum of active machinery, and without hesitation B'Elanna stepped up onto the Transporter pad.
'Lieutenant…I do not think this is a good idea.' Seven took a step forward. 'I merely meant that your data might have been flawed.'
'Flawed my ass!' B'Elanna spat back. 'Ensign, lets just take it for a test drive, eh? Just transport me to…er, Cargo Bay Two.'
The woman nodded and started imputing commands. 'Belay that, Ensign,' Seven said suddenly, taking another step. 'Lieutenant Torres, please step down.'
'No way Seven! I'm going to prove that you were wrong and I was right!'
Seven raised her implanted eyebrow. 'Why are you being so stubborn? Would it do any harm to check?'
'Yes, Seven, it would! You're always so perfect and unattainable, why can't you just admit you're infallible like the rest of us?'
'Unattainable?' Seven asked, taking yet another step.
A look of shock wormed its way onto B'Elanna's face as her ears caught up with her mouth. 'I…er…I meant…um…. Ensign! Begin transport!'
The woman behind the desk jumped into life, finishing the commands she'd just been prevented from completing within a few seconds. Seven leapt forward, and the Chief Engineer saw her lips form the word 'B'Elanna!' when the world disintegrated into blue sparkles.
'Hey! Hey! HEY!' Someone shaking her by the front of her uniform rudely jerked B'Elanna awake. 'That's better. Sheesh, you were dead the world!'
Her vision remained black despite the fact she knew her eyes were open. 'You wanna tell me what the hell you're doing here?' The voice said, still hidden by the absence of light. The hands released her jacket as soon as it was apparent she could sit by herself.
She opened her eyes wide and tried to penetrate the darkness, to no avail. The voice, however, sounded familiar and B'Elannas eyebrows rose in recognition. 'Seven?'
'Seven what?' The voice said.
Suddenly light blazed and B'Elanna hissed, covering her eyes with her hand. 'Hey!'
'Sorry toots, light too bright?' The voice was mocking, and B'Elanna snarled. Removing her hand immediately, she waited for the pain to disperse and her sight to focus.
The first thing she saw was a wall. It looked old, decrepit, and it certainly didn't look like the bulkhead from a starship. The next thing she saw was the light source; one naked bulb hanging from a fraying cable. A shadow moved in the corner of her vision and she whirled to meet it, moving fluidly into a fighting crouch. Her hair flew across her face, but she didn't lift a hand to move it, not wanting to leave herself open to attack.
'Hey, hey, no need for violence. If you want to try, go ahead, but if you calm down we can all play nice.'
B'Elannas' jaw dropped, and her eyes widened. Her self-control was lost and she sat down heavily, staring at the only other person in the room…it couldn't be!
'What's the matter with you? You look like you've seen a ghost!' The woman said, relaxing against a wall and, after sparing B'Elanna a bored, cold glance, turning her attention to the threadbare carpet, which she picked at.
'Seven?!' B'Elanna gasped.
The woman did look like Seven…screw that, she could have been Seven, except…
'Look, Seven what? What the hell is with you?' The woman pulled a strand of tangled blonde hair away from her face in a movement that screamed exasperation, and B'Elanna took a moment to look her up and down.
She was wearing a pair of black trousers and a black T-shirt that was tight fitting. More than that, her implants just…weren't there, and the expression on her face - very annoyed curiosity - was one that Seven never would have worn.
B'Elanna blinked, and then rubbed a hand across her eyes. When they refocused, the woman was still there, still staring at the same piece of floor.
Okay…okay, don't panic…what's the last thing you remember? Transporter room one…okay, that's good. I was in Transporter room one. I was working with Seven - God sometimes she pisses me off - and she said I made a mistake (yeah right). So what happened next? Oh, yeah. I might have maybe got a little annoyed, just a little, and I decided to prove to her that I hadn't. Then what…?
'Are you gonna tell me how you got in here or not?' The woman asked, stretching her legs out in front of her and yawning. 'And what's this seven thing?'
The woman was Seven and yet not Seven, remarkably similar in structure, but quickly shaping up to be another person. B'Elanna was having difficulty adjusting, and so she fell back on what she knew. Anger.
'Never mind how I got in here! Where the hell am I? And who the hell are you?' Torres risked movement and pulled the hair that blocked her vision away in a quick swipe. The woman looked up as B'Elanna moved and gasped.
'Your forehead…' She murmured. Before B'Elanna could react she'd moved forward, reaching out delicate fingers to touch the ridges.
B'Elanna couldn't stop herself as her arm snaked out, catching the hand before it could make contact. 'What the hell are you doing, haven't you ever seen Klingon before!?'
The Seven woman looked perplexed. 'What the hell's a Klingon?'
B'Elannas' mouth opened, but no sound came out. She tried once, twice, three times, but she could not produce words.
They stayed frozen for a few seconds, the woman reaching out on hands and knees, and B'Elanna blocking her, holding her hand in a grip that was warningly tight but not painful. Finally, B'Elannas indignation at her predicament gave her speech.
'Who are you?' She asked, her tone verging on rough.
'Let me go,' the other woman countered, a fire lighting in her eyes. 'I'm asking the questions here, not you.'
'Who are you!' B'Elanna repeated, the woman's fire stoking her own before she could stop it.
'Let me go!' The woman ripped her hand out of Torres's grasp and overbalanced, landing on her butt with an angry grunt. 'Who the hell are you?'
'My name is Lue…Torres.' B'Elanna's Maquis instincts had told her rank might not be the card to play…yet.
The Seven woman, however, had caught her slip. 'What were you going to say?'
'Liar,' she countered, narrowing her eyes. 'Who do you work for? Did the Government send you?'
B'Elanna felt her short fuse coming to an end. 'No! I have no idea what you're talking about, okay? Look, I want to know where I am, how I got here and who the hell you are! Now!'
The woman raised an eyebrow and a vision of Seven crossed B'Elannas' mind. 'Fine,' she stood, crossing the room to a door the same colour as the walls that the Klingon had not previously noticed. She knocked and the door was opened from the outside. 'My name is Anna.' And with that, she was gone, leaving B'Elanna confused, angry and alone.
After a few hours of solitude, B'Elanna had checked the walls, door and floor. The walls were made of some sort of plaster construct, crumbling easily when excessive force was applied to it but hiding hard brick underneath. The door appeared flimsy but one or two tentative shoulder-bashes proved it was solid. She'd spent a good hour thumping the door and yelling for someone, anyone to come and tell her what the hell was going on, but all had been quiet outside of her room.
So, in the end, B'Elanna had time to think.
She thought about where she was - the construct suggested a lower technological level than Voyager, but how could she be sure without going outside?
She thought about how she'd got there - the only answer she could think of was a Transporter malfunction, which meant Seven had been right, and that thought made her growl in annoyance. But…she was obviously far away from the ship…how could a simple malfunction have sent her this far?
She also thought who she was with - the Seven woman, Anna. It occurred to B'Elanna that maybe the similarity wasn't a mistake.
Time travel! You're actually thinking about time travel? Yeah, right, like that would ever happen! A voice said in her head.
Do you have a better explanation? She shot back.
Could be some wacky new training thing the Captain and Chakotay have cooked up on the Holodeck…or maybe Seven's messing with your mind, trying to teach you a lesson...Maybe you ate cheese before you went to bed! It could be anything!
Shut up, she growled at herself
She awoke with a start, unaware she'd been asleep, and was shocked to find Anna staring at her, sitting back in her space on the floor.
'Are you ready to answer my questions?' She said, running a hand through her blonde hair.
'No.' B'Elanna forced herself to wake up quickly and sat up facing the other woman. 'No way.'
Anna shrugged. 'Fine.'
She stood up and had knocked on the door again, one foot out when B'Elanna called, 'Wait!'
'Am I a prisoner?'
Anna sighed, a look of almost regret passing over her fine features. 'I don't know.'
'What do you mean? I thought you were in charge?'
Laughing short and bitter, Anna shook her head. 'Far from it.' Then she looked around, as if ashamed to be talking so candidly to her charge. 'I mean, if you answer my questions, we'll see about getting you out of here.'
'Okay.' B'Elanna sat back, gritting her teeth. 'What do you want to know?'
Anna hiked an eyebrow toward her hairline. ' This isn't major surgery, I'm only going to be asking you a few questions, so don't look like I'm about to pounce on you, hold you down and start pulling teeth.'
'I'd like to see you try and hold me down!' B'Elanna spat.
Anna smirked as she shut the door and sat back on the floor, but instead of looking at the carpet, she looked straight into the Klingons' eyes.
'What's your name?'
'Where are you from?'
'What do you do?'
'Engineer.' The questions continued thick and fast, and B'Elanna tried to be vague, but they were so quick she sometimes let answers go before she could think about them, like the next:
'What's your rank?'
She hadn't been expecting it, and her lips said half of the word before she could shut them. Half was enough, however.
'Lieutenant, hey? I knew it.' Anna's eyes became guarded and cold. 'You were sent to infiltrate us?'
'Yeah, 'cos I'm so inconspicuous!' B'Elanna snapped, pointing at her forehead and uniform.
Surprising them both, Anna snorted laughter through her nose. She quickly wiped the expression of amusement off her face and stood.
'Food will come in an hour. More questions later.'
'You know, I've been thinking. As far as you know, I'm a complete unknown, and yet you wander in and out like you own the place, not obviously armed and not afraid to sit and let your guard down. Why?' B'Elanna asked the question through a mouthful of bread. Anna shrugged, nibbling on her own food, obviously uncomfortable.
'You don't beat around the bush do you?' She asked.
'You didn't answer my question.' B'Elanna retorted. 'And I think it's only fair, since I answered all those questions for you.'
'Fine. Fine, whatever,' Anna sighed, 'I just…I just don't feel like you'd harm me. That's all. But should you decide you'd like to try, please remember there are armed guards behind that door that moniter you while i'm in here...' She shrugged. 'I just don't feel threatened by you.'
B'Elanna's Klingon sensibilities raged, saying things like so she doesn't think I'm a threat? But she swallowed them, somewhat pleased by her captors candour. And yet, it didn't help her situation.
'I want out of here.' She said eventually. 'If you don't think I'm a threat then you shuold let me go. Let me go, dammit!'
'I can't do that.' Anna's voice held the smallest hint of apology, but that was it. It was almost monotone, like Seven's.
'I want out!' B'Elanna lost her temper, captivity weighing down on her. 'I haven't done anything wrong!'
Anna stared at her for a long minute, searching B'Elanna's gaze with her own, and then she leaned forward like a conspirator, her voice low. 'Look, keep your voice down. I believe you.' Then she stood abruptly, ashamed to have admitted that, it seemed. Her hard mask fell back into place and before B'Elanna could move, she was gone.
'What the hell is goin' on?!' B'Elanna leant her head back and yelled, letting out all of her frustration.
As if it was an answer to her shout, a huge explosion rocked the building she was in. She looked on in horror as the roof and walls shook, plaster flaking off in huge chunks. She thumped her hands against the door, yelling, but her shouts were swallowed by another explosion, and then a third.
The forth one blew out the wall of her room, and the last thing she saw was a huge chunk of brick sailing toward her face.
'Wha?!' B'Elanna awoke with a start, sitting straight up and immediately smacking her head on something cold and hard.
She screwed her eyes shut and started swearing under her breath, getting louder and louder until someone clapped sweaty hands over her mouth. 'When I was trying to get you to wake up just now, this was not what I had in mind.'
Torres jerked her head away and tried to raise her hands to rub her sore forehead but they stopped half way, tight chains digging into her wrists. 'What the hell…'
That finally made her open her eyes, and for the first time she noticed the sensation of movement. She was sat in the belly of some sort of vehicle, surrounded by bodies, most groaning or unconscious. She'd hit her head on one of the bars caging them off from the centre of the vehicle, where a stern looking man with a weapon she didn't recognise was crouched, looking wary.
'Don't draw attention to yourself, if you want to get through this in one piece,' The voice said, and B'Elanna looked sideways.
Anna was sitting next to her, a dirty gash across her face and her hair matted with dirt. Her clothes were ripped and filthy, and B'Elanna looked down at herself. Her clothes were just as tattered and dirty, and she bit her lip to keep from swearing again.
'What the hell happened!' She hissed.
'Why don't you tell me?' Anna hissed back.
'What?' B'Elanna's eyes widened incredulously. 'What the fu-'
In one quick movement, Anna stretched her arms out as far as they would go, ripping B'Elanna's com-badge from her tunic. 'Is this how they found us? What is this, some sort of tracking device?' Anna's eyes were full of rage. 'I can't believe I was starting to believe you!'
'Give that back!' B'Elanna reached out, but Anna held it out of range and B'Elanna's restraints stopped her short.
'I saw you, playing with this on our base...but I didn't think anything of it!' Anna raged, but B'Elanna got the feeling that she was talking to herself more than she was talking to the Klingon. 'I should have listened to Michael! He said you were trouble from the minute we found you unconcious in the basement!'
'I don't know what you're talking about! But I need that!'
'Why? What does it do?' Anna turned her gaze to the other woman, and B'Elanna wanted so desperately to lie to her. But...she couldn't. For some reason, she just couldn't.
'It's...it's a com-badge. A communicator. Please, I have to have it back.'
'No. No way. It was you, you sold us out!'
'No! If I did, why would I be riding back here with you?!'
'Maybe you're a deep cover agent,' Anna hissed, her eyes begging B'Elanna to argue, which she did happily.
'Why won't you listen? I'm not whatever you think I am!' B'Elanna went mad then, sheer undeniable fury bubbling up from her hopeless situation. She ripped her at her chains, and Anna's angry demeanour started to crack as she saw the rage on B'Elanna's features. 'I didn't know where I was! I don't know what's going on! Fuck!' She started to thrash in her restraints, and the guard in the centre took notice.
'Calm down!' He barked, raising the weapon. B'Elanna spat at him, and it landed in a gooey mess on his jacket.
'Go to hell!'
Her snarl raised a like one from him, and without preamble he shoved the weapon through the bars. It touched her arm, and she went rigid, convulsing violently as the strong electrical current passed through her body. She lashed out, strong limbs flailing, but as the electricity continued she became weaker, and with one last, muscle agonising jerk she was rendered unconscious, a snarl still on her lips.
'Hey! Let go of me! Where are you taking me!' Someone screamed. The voice reverberated around B'Elanna's head, and her headache reached a new level of pain. The screaming became wordless, projecting only terror, and the Klingon opened her eyes. The first thing she saw was a solid looking brick wall. She tried to sit, and immediately regretted it as pain lanced through all her muscles at once. Gritting her teeth, she blocked it out, sitting painfully and turning around.
Jail was the first thought she had. I'm in jail.
All the walls were made of the same uniform grey bricks, and the only thing that stood out was a very thick steel door. She stood painfully, air hissing through her clenched teeth as pain overrode her brain for a second, and then tottered to the door. Set in the door was a small barred window, and she held onto the thick bars, checking out the hallway outside. She could see a door identical to her own directly opposite, and then one down from that, and another, all the way down to a thick pair of double doors at the other end of the hall.
'Hey!' She yelled, but her voice was thick and painful. Clearing her throat, she tried again. 'Hey! Why am I here? I don't belong here! What's going on!'
'B'Elanna?' Someone groaned.
'Se…Anna! Is that you?' B'Elanna asked.
'Who else would it be? The…' Anna had seemed to be about to make some sarcastic comment, but then a wet cough bubbled up from her throat.
B'Elanna winced. 'What happened to you?'
There was a scrabbling inside the cell opposite, and then a delicate hand grabbed the bars of the door. With a heave and a grunt, Anna rose into view. 'You did.' She said.
Anna raised an eyebrow and coughed again. 'You happened to me. When they shocked you, you started convulsing, and I think you broke my damn rib.' Anna gripped the bars with both hands, her angry gaze locking B'Elanna in place. 'Ever since I met you it's been one damn thing after another!' She tried to say more, but once again a cough came up instead of words.
'So now you're blaming me for all your problems?' B'Elanna growled. She was secretly devastated that she had hurt the woman, but she would never admit it to herself or to the obstinate, stubborn, self-assured Anna. 'Just once, I would like to be in the know! I want to get out of here! Goddammit, I want to go home!' She banged the flats of her hands on the bars in a futile gesture. It didn't help, and B'Elanna felt her Klingon rage bubbling up.
'Why am I here!' She screeched, running at the door and crashing into it shoulder first. 'Get me out of here!' Again and again she slammed against the unmoving metal, until she felt something tear in her shoulder. She howled in pain, but more in frustration, and started kicking walls, punching the door…anything to get out.
'What the fu…?!' Anna gasped. 'Stop it! Stop it! Do you want them to take you away? Don't you know what they'll do to you?!'
'Don't you understand?!' B'Elanna snarled, grabbing the bars and pulling them toward her with all her Klingon/human strength. 'Anything is better than THIS!'
B'Elanna stopped struggling as Anna just stared at her, her jaw hanging slack and her face pale. 'My God…' She whispered …'You really don't know what they'll do to you, do you?' She spoke with such disbelief that Torres felt part of her anger start to drain away. 'You really don't work for them. You really don't know how you ended up at our base. You really…Oh.'
Anna's eyes were so wide, B'Elanna felt the need to reassure the woman bubble up inside her. Whatever was going on here was obviously big; bigger than Anna or B'Elanna or the other prisoners…but, before she could say anything, the big double doors began to open. They transferred their gaze to them as they heard the locks click and whirr, and B'Elanna's eyes opened wide as she saw the person come through.
'Oh no…' Anna choked.
Striding toward them, dressed in a severe black suit and with her hair tied back so tightly it looked almost painful, was Kathryn Janeway.
Without hesitation she used a keycard to open Anna's cell. The once self-possessed blonde woman was huddled in the far corner, and B'Elanna watched in horror as the-Kathryn-woman wrapped slender fingers around the injured woman's throat, hauling her upright.
'Where is she!' She snarled, her familiar tones carrying to B'Elanna's cell. She shook Anna once, and the prisoner cried out in pain.
'Stop!' B'Elanna yelled. 'Stop it!' She slammed into the door again and again, unmindful of her injured shoulder. 'You're hurting her!'
The-Kathryn-woman dropped Anna like she was on fire and span to face B'Elanna's cell. Her face, so harsh seconds before, was softening slowly.
'Is that you?' She whispered. 'Is that really you?'
She came close, opening the door to B'Elanna's cell and entering quickly. Before she knew what was going on, B'Elanna was being hugged tightly, her arms pinned to her sides and her breath pushed out of her chest. Then the woman looked up, and a murderous look the Captain never would have worn crossed her features.
'What did they do to you?' She thundered, her eyes on B'Elanna's ridges. Then her face softened one more, and a smile passed over her lips. B'Elanna couldn't be sure, but she thought she saw tears quickly blinked back in the woman's eyes. 'Are you okay?'
'I…I…I…' B'Elanna managed.
'I understand,' the woman nodded, sighing. 'You've been gone so long…You're in shock…come with me, will get those…those things removed.' The tone was meant to be comforting, but B'Elanna stepped back in horror.
'I…don't understand…' the redhead looked shocked, and the Klingon could see a hint of suspicion in her eyes. 'What's happened to you? What did they do to you?'
C'mon, B'Elanna, think fast, this could be your ticket out of here…Your years in the Maquis had to have been good for something! You gotta take every opportunity you can! Think, dammit, think!
'They're…scars. Scars. I don't want them removed.' It'll have to do, B'Elanna thought, but before she could say anything else, she realised she might have made a huge mistake.
'I don't see any residual damage…no obvious scar tissue…' The woman's expression was mixed parts trepidation and suspicion. B'Elanna snapped.
'Look, I've been gone a long time like you said! They've had time to heal!' She didn't know what was going on, and the simularity between the woman and Janeway was freaking her out, more so because the similarities were all physical. The Captain would never have acted like this...or would she? Janeway had lost her temper once or twice, but usually only when protecting a member of...B'Elanna swallowed hard, a horrible suspicion forming in her mind.
For a moment after B'Elanna's outburst, it looked like the woman would just leave her in the cell - slam the door and just leave, but then acceptance, followed by dark rage came into her eyes. 'They did that to you. What the hell could they do to give you scars like that?'
'Err…No! No, they didn't do it. No. This was an accident.' She looked at the other woman, eyes roving over her clenched fists and taunt shoulders and…finally, a break! A nametag flapped from the woman's lapel, telling B'Elanna her name was…
'No…Claudia. No. In fact…' She glanced across the hall where Anna was huddled, carefully watching them. 'They treated me. Healed me.'
'Did they hurt you at all?' Claudia asked, her anger dissipating somewhat.
'No.' B'Elanna shook her head. 'Not at all.'
Claudia shot her a look, but then smiled, taking B'Elanna's elbow and leading her out into the hall. Despite feeling unbelievably overwhelmed, she couldn't help but smile a little as she left the cramped confines of her cell.
'Lets get you cleaned up, hey? The guys in Unit Seven are going to be so happy to see you. And I tell you, I'm am going to murder whoever mistook you for one of them and locked you up in here. No-one treats anyone under my command like that,' Claudia said as they paused to let her close and re-lock both B'Elanna's and Anna's cell door.
'Under my command...' B'Elanna's stomach sank.
The Klingon was thinking hard about what to say next when she caught movement out of the corner of her eye. Her small smile faded as she saw Anna watching her through the bars on her door, a few proud tears dripping down her cheeks. B'Elanna suddenly realised how it must look to her; after convincing her she wasn't working for who-ever it was Anna was fighting, here she was being led out of the jail by someone who was obviously happy to see her, and obviously not on the same side as the blonde.
'Unit Seven,' Anna whispered, so low B'Elanna almost didn't hear. 'That's what you meant. That's why you kept saying seven.'
'Anna, I…' B'Elanna made the mistake of looking straight into Anna's eyes, and what she saw there froze the words in her throat. Hurt simmered in her eyes. Hurt, hate, betrayal…
B'Elanna was silent the rest of the way down the hall.
Claudia led B'Elanna to a dimly lit changing area and gave her clothes she was told were hers - jeans, a plain shirt and a tight fitting leather jacket. Mindful of the other woman's idle eyes on her, she slipped out of her uniform.
'Where'd you get that?' Claudia asked, fingering the material as B'Elanna changed.
'I…woke up in it. I'm not sure where it came from,' the white lie came easily from her lips as she tried to change as quickly as possible.
'Hmmm. By the way, how much do you remember?'
B'Elanna did up her new jeans and tried to look frustrated. It wasn't hard, and the words were nearly true. 'Not as much as I'd like.'
Claudia nodded, once. 'It's possible whatever accident gave you those…scars muddled your memories somewhat.'
'Count on it,' B'Elanna muttered under her breath.
'What was that?'
'Oh…I said yeah. It's all really messed up,' B'Elanna's eyes narrowed. 'I wish, I just fucking wish, I knew what was going on.'
'What do you mean? You know what's going on,' Claudia was eyeing her up and down with an unfathomable expression, and she did up her shirt quickly.
'I meant…the time after the accident is a little unclear.'
'I think we'll make you an appointment with the Doc, and then…Owen…okay?' The way she said, B'Elanna knew she was not supposed to like it.
'I think you need it, and if I have to I'll order you there.' Claudia spoke in a commanding tone, but it fell away after a second. 'Please?'
'Whatever,' B'Elanna sighed. It wasn't as if she even knew who Owen was.
She was led through the confusing maze of a building, and she started to repeat the words it's okay, soon you'll be out of here, just keep moving to herself, resisting the urge to run out of the building as fast as she could. It became her mantra, as it seemed at every turn there was something holding them up.
Uniforms were prevalent in the building, and B'Elanna was almost sure it was some sort of police station. They stopped by little rooms with desks behind wire mesh, and B'Elanna got lots of items she assumed were hers. She packed them all into a large black hold-all she'd aquired somewhere along the line and continued to follow the other woman out of the building. She couldn't help but notice that Claudia kept glancing at her now covered forehead - covered since they'd found her a police style cap - and a black look would appear in her eyes. Then she would blink and it would be gone.
Men and women she didn't know stopped to talk to her, and she muddled through the conversations as best she could, trying hard not to snap at them. For all she knew, the her that they knew was a pushover. Fortunately, Claudia helped her out, explaining to everyone that she was just tired and in shock. Before B'Elanna knew it, they were outside, and she squinted at the overcast sky and then cast curios looks about her. The buildings around her were all at least three stories high, and the style rang a huge bell in her head, but she just couldn't put her finger on what was so familiar.
Claudia led her to an underground space, filled with vehicles…B'Elanna looked around, eyes wide, as all of them appeared ancient to her eyes.
They reached one such vehicle, and B'Elanna looked at it, giving it the once over as her professional Engineer side came out. It was sleek and a deep midnight blue, low to the ground. Claudia smiled as she unlocked it, seeing the look on B'Elanna's face.
'I'm still not selling it to you,' she said, motioning B'Elanna inside.
So we've had this conversation before? B'Elanna thought, sliding into the seat and hearing a satisfying creak from the leather upholstery, cool against her warm skin.
'I'd love to get my hands on this,' She murmured, running her fingers along the dash. And the weird thing was, it was true. She wanted to get into the guts of the car and understand everything about it. B'Elanna suddenly understood Tom's obsession with his holo-programmes; the car radiated a feel of power and confidence.
'What did I just say?' Claudia chuckled. Then they were off.
After a few moments, the sensation of travelling so close to the ground, and so fast, became exhilarating despite B'Elanna's best efforts not to enjoy it. It felt like flying a shuttle close to a planets' surface with the inertial dampeners turned off, and she loved it.
She wondered if she - or rather, her other self - had one of these machines parked beside her quarte…beside her home. B'Elanna was suddenly impatient to find out, wanting something to take her mind off her predicament. She'd already realised subconsciously that the level of technology here would make it almost impossibly difficult to contact Voyager - not that that had stopped her before - and the task made even worse by the fact she did not even know where the ship was in relation to herself. She wanted a distraction.
'We're here,' Claudia said, shutting off the engine. 'Do you want me to come in? I could-'
'No.' B'Elanna opened the passenger door and looked back. 'I'm sorry, I am, but I just…I just need some time alone…okay? Need to get settled in.'
Claudia smiled, 'You were always so independent…even when we lived together, you were always off on your own.'
B'Elanna, who'd been just stepping out of the car, tripped over her own feet and landed face first on the concrete. '…!' She managed, picking up her spilled bag.
'Are you okay?' Claudia called.
'I'm fine!' B'Elanna snapped. This was just too much. Too much information.
As overwhelmed as she was, she didn't have the time or the patience to continue the charade. She just looked back and said. 'I'm fine.'
'I'll ring you later,' Claudia said.
B'Elanna nodded once and then headed toward the building she assumed she lived in. It must have been the right one, because a few moments later, she heard Claudia gun the engine and drive away.
Finally, for the first time, she was alone. She wandered up to the doors to the apartment building, which was surrounded by other similar looking buildings and trees on a slight hill. For a moment, she stood in front of them, wondering why they weren't opening, and then she realised where she was. Feeling foolish, and extremely frustrated, she pushed the heavy door open and it was then that she realised she didn't actually know where she lived.
I have no place here. The thought blind sided her and almost made her stumble as she strode toward the stairs, afraid she'd make another mistake if she tried to use the primitive lifts, and then forgot they weren't voice activated or something. I don't belong here.
She blocked the thoughts out, and then another struck. Emptying out the bag of her belongings on the stairs, she found a set of keys with a number on the key-chain. '312'.
She did have a place. And it was apartment 312. It was a start, and though it wasn't much, B'Elanna felt a little better. At least she had somewhere to go.
She found it without much difficulty, and after wrestling with the antiquated locking systems for a moment, she was in. The place was a mess, and for a moment she thought it had been ransacked, but then she realised the devastation was self-inflicted.
Old habits die hard, apparently, she mused as she picked her way across the floor of the living room. The decor was sparse yet tasteful, and B'Elanna found that she liked it. Comfortable, well-used furniture was carefully placed, and then covered with an assortment of clothes, books, magazines and…just stuff.
She opened doors as she passed, and found a bedroom - surprisingly neat - a kitchenette, a bathroom and a study. The last room on her tour made her eyes widen, and she stepped in. Definately not a pushover.
Weights, weapons, equipment and a punch bag were well spaced in a room that was almost nothing more than windows and unpolished floorboards. The only other items in the room were an old bookcase and a closet. A few pictures were hanging here and there, and she pulled one off the wall.
Her eyes went even wider as she stared back at herself, shocked brown eyes meeting confident ones. It was her, only without the ridges, in some sort of ceremonial blue uniform with nine other people. They were obviously posing, and the plaque at their feet read 'Unit Seven.' She saw Claudia at the front, sitting ramrod straight, and she sighed.
She picked up another picture and saw herself in full military riot gear, holding an old projectile weapon. She looked like she'd been snapped in mid-movement, running toward an unfocused disturbance further down the street, and the inscription on the frame read 'The Street Riots.'
As she went over and examined a third picture - a picture of the police station - her mind wandered back to the blonde woman, locked in that cell. Anna…what's going to happen to you? What's going on here? And where do I fit in?
Her fists clenched, and before she knew it she'd dropped the picture and was taking out all her frustration on the punch-bag, making it swing violently from its chain. She kept going until her knuckles hurt and sweat beaded her forehead, her breath coming in short pants that were almost angry grunts. She slumped to the ground on her knees, her head in her hands.
It had been such a long, weird day, and she just didn't know how to deal with it. Give her thirty seconds to repair a core breach, fine; tell her to keep the ship from ripping itself apart for another minute, great. Those things she knew. What she didn't know was how to perform the same trick on herself. She wanted to go home
No. A voice in her mind said, sudden and strong. I'm not going to give up. I've been through worse. I will NOT give up. I will find a way.
Buoyed by that thought, she regained her breath and stood, giving the 'bag one last tap as she headed for the door. Just then, her stomach reminded her that it had been god knows how long since she'd last eaten, and she headed for the kitchen.
As she reached it, a wave of dizziness swept over her, making her stumble into the doorframe. 'Wha…?' She managed, before the pain came. It knocked her to her knees immediately, despite her high tolerance, and she opened her mouth in a silent scream as it felt like she was being ripped apart.
'B'E…c…ou…r…us?' The voice was like a whisper, and B'Elanna tried to answer but couldn't, the pain constricting her throat so badly she could not speak. Captain?!
'W..'r…t…ge…u…B…!' Despite her best efforts to answer she couldn't. A few tears began to roll from her eyes, screwed tightly shut, as the pain increased. The last thing she heard before she blacked out was 'St..! Sh…n…in…to…ke…it!'
When she came to, she was lying on the cold kitchen floor in darkness. Her body shook as she tried to stand and failed, slumping back to the ground. The voice…could it really have been the captain? But how? Never mind. It didn't matter. What mattered was that they were searching for her, looking for her. Not even the pain mattered as long as they found her.
Groaning, she heaved herself upright using one of the kitchen cabinets…
…and found herself looking down the barrel of a gun.
Following it along its length, she saw a man clad all in black, with a ski-mask over his face. 'Where's Anna?' He growled, and she realised with a start that she knew that voice.
I should be getting used to this by now, A cynical voice said in the back of her mind, but her jaw still fell open.
'Where is she?' He said, poking her with the gun. She pushed it away angrily and got a smack in the face from the cold steel. 'Where!'
'She's…in the jail.' B'Elanna growled, wiping her lip where blood had started to flow.
Before he could respond, a shrill ringing sounded right next to them. Trying to hide the fact that she'd jumped out of her skin when it'd started, B'Elanna looked around for its source.
'Don't answer it,' The man said.
Resisting the urge to lunge forward, B'Elanna nodded once. Soon, the ringing gave way to a strange beeping, and then B'Elanna heard her own voice coming from somewhere.
'Hey, it's me. Leave a message.'
'Are you in?' Claudia's voice rang out across the dark kitchen, and B'Elanna heard the man breath in sharply. 'You're probably in the shower. I'll call back.'
Everything was silent for a second, and then a tone rang out. When that had finished, the man turned his attention back to B'Elanna.
'Anna's caught because of you,' He said harshly. 'Give me access to get her out, and I'll leave right now and let you live. All I want is your key-card.'
Things began to fall together in B'Elanna's mind. If Janeway was working to get her back, that meant the Captain knew where she was, and had some clue of how to do it, two things B'Elanna was sadly lacking. It looked like it was just a question of waiting.
'No.' She said.
He snarled and lifted the weapon to his shoulder, but she held up her hand.
'I'll help you.'
The man paused, the gun not quite trained on her. 'I don't believe you,' he said bluntly, 'you're just trying to get yourself out of this. Just hand me the key-card and we'll be gone. We're not monsters you know, no matter what you've been trained to believe.'
'That's just it!' B'Elanna snapped. 'I haven't been trained to believe anything. I don't remember anything before I woke up in your cell!'
'You're lying,' he snarled, poking her with the gun. She nearly reacted on instinct, reaching forward to snatch the gun out of his grasp, but she stopped herself at the last minute. This was a game of trust, and she didn't know the rules. She wished she was better at stuff like this.
'I'm not lying,' she growled, gently pushing the barrel away from her. 'I don't want her in there any more than you do.'
'Why? Why would you risk your life to help her? To help us?' He asked.
'This isn't my life.' B'Elanna said. For a moment, she felt a stab of guilt for doing something that she was sure the owner of this life wouldn't do. It grew into a dull ache as she realised she was breaking so many Starfleet rules it didn't bear thinking about. She had no right to mess around with whatever was going on in this timeline…these lives were not hers to help.
'You want to help us?' The man asked, his eyes searching out B'Elanna's in the dark of the room.
You never worried about Starfleet rules before, she thought. Are you turning into a model officer?
A sly grin stole across B'Elanna's face. 'I do.'
Didn't think so.
The man led her back to the workout room, where another person was rummaging through the cupboard. They were dressed the same as the first guy, their sex interminable. As they stepped back, B'Elanna saw that it was full of weaponry - big guns, small guns, knives, a machete…it was a veritable arsenal right here in her home.
'If you want 'em, take 'em,' she said to the first man. He shot her look and then nodded to the other person.
'We were going to anyway.'
Suddenly, a fierce knocking interrupted them. B'Elanna shared a glance with the man. He didn't seem to know whether to shoot her and run or to trust her to open the door.
She made the choice for him as the knocking continued. 'Hide. I'll take care of it.'
He held her gaze for a second and then nodded. His gaze, however, said if you cross us…
She ignored it and went to the door, wrenching it open with slightly excessive force, but hey, she wasn't in the best of moods.
Claudia stood on the doorstep, her hand raised to knock again.
'What's the problem?' B'Elanna asked as nicely as she could.
'I was worried about you. You didn't answer my call, so I thought I'd come over. I bought you a gift,' she added, holding out a bottle of red wine.
'I was in the shower when you called,' B'Elanna said, crossing her arms, 'and I'm a little…exhausted. I really just want to sleep, Claudia. No offence.'
'None taken. I'll see you tomorrow, right?'
'Sure.' B'Elanna said. With one last exchange of goodbyes, Claudia backed away from the door. Suddenly, a crash resounded through B'Elanna's apartment.
'What was that?' Claudia asked, trying to see past the Klingon's compact form.
'Mice?' The older woman sounded thoroughly disbelieving, and she tried to walk past B'Elanna into the apartment.
'Hey!' B'Elanna stood her ground.
'What's going on, Charlotte?' Claudia asked. 'You've been acting strangely ever since we picked you up!' She started eyeing her suspiciously.
B'Elanna bridled. 'Nothing! Nothing is going on! I'm tired!' She snapped. 'All I want to do is rest, okay?'
'I don't believe you! You've been gone so long, anything could have happened to you!'
'Will you let it go! Nothing is wrong.'
'I'm coming in. I want you to come down to the station, and I want you to let the Doc and Owen to look at you.'
'Hey…what's goin' on?' A sleepy voice called out. 'C? Who are you talking to?'
A woman appeared from B'Elanna's bedroom, apparently only wearing one of her shirts. B'Elanna's eyes nearly popped out of her head, as the woman looked remarkably like Sam Wildman. "Sam" came right up to B'Elanna and wrapped her arms around her from behind. 'Hi,' she said, looking at Claudia. 'Are you one of C's work friends?'
'I…Yes. I'm her superior,' Claudia shook herself out of her shock and straightened her stance. 'I just came by to say get well soon.' Without preamble, she shoved the wine into B'Elanna's shocked hands and strode away.
For a second, B'Elanna found herself wanting to go after the woman and make something up…just say that she didn't want Claudia in because she had company, but the other woman pulled her back into the apartment and shut the door.
'So your names Charlotte huh?' She said, wandering back into the bedroom to retrieve her clothes.
'Apparently,' B'Elanna said. She tried it on for size…and then decided she didn't really like it. 'What's yours?'
'Sarah,' she called. A few moments later she re-emerged, fully clothed in her black outfit. 'Sorry i had to do that, but that noise was me tripping over something. I thought I'd better do something before she pushed her way in.'
B'Elanna nodded at her as the guy came out from his hiding place.
'I'm Michael,' the man said, stepping out of the gym room and pulling off his ski-mask. As she stared at him, Harry's youthful face stared back.
After picking up a few things, they left separately, meeting up a little way down the street. Sarah and Michael blindfolded B'Elanna, and despite her instincts screaming at her to rip off, she grit her teeth and it stayed on. They drove for what seemed to B'Elanna to be a stupidly long time, until finally the car ground to a halt.
Once she was out of the vehicle, she'd assumed the blindfold would be removed, but it wasn't. They each took one of her elbows and led her through passages that seemed to twist and turn a lot, and B'Elanna was soon convinced she would've been lost even without the blindfold. The way their feet echoed off the walls let her know they were underground, however.
Eventually, she was allowed to sit down, and they carefully undid the blindfold. She blinked a few times, letting her eyes adjust to the light, and then looked around. She was in a room remarkably like the one she'd woken up in before, except this one was furnished. A few locked cabinets lined the walls, and she was sat on one side of a large, commanding desk.
Michael sat down on the other side and clasped his hands. 'Why do you want to help us?' He asked.
'I don't agree with the way the police treat their prisoners,' B'Elanna replied. It was true…sort of.
'You are the police,' he replied.
'Not really. I don't belong there any more than Anna does,' B'Elanna said.
He nodded and waved a hand at Sarah. She walked over to him and bent and he whispered something in her ear. Nodding once, she left the room.
'I still don't trust you…but…' he sighed …'the last attack depleted our forces. We need more able bodies. You're coming with us, tonight, to get her out. But…if you deceive us in any way, I will hunt you down and shoot you myself, understood?'
The words almost didn't make sense to B'Elanna, as strong and harsh as they were, coming from her friends face. Michael, not Harry, she reminded herself, and she gave him a curt nod.
'Here's the plan…'
'Get outta my way!' B'Elanna snapped at a clerk. He jumped like she'd set fire to his pants and flattened himself against the wall as she dragged her prisoner through the station.
'What's going on?' A uniformed policeman stuck his head out of an office. 'Oh, Sarge! It's you! I thought you were on sick leave?'
'I am, but I found this jerk trying to break into an apartment in my building, and I couldn't resist bringing him in myself. You know how it is.' She grinned toothily, and the uniform nodded.
'Well, hey, do you want me to take him the rest of the way?' He asked, but she shook her head.
'Feels good to get back, you know?'
The man grinned back and ducked back into his office, and B'Elanna breathed a sigh of relief. She picked up the pace, almost dragging the man in handcuffs behind her in her haste.
Soon, they were in front of the double doors that led to the cells, and she used her 'card to unlock the door. They were inside.
The man immediately stood straight and smiled at B'Elanna. 'Good job.'
B'Elanna didn't know his name; they'd sent someone not yet discovered as a supporter of their cause to be her warden, so that he didn't get recognised.
She strode up to Anna's cell and saw the woman sitting in a corner, apparently asleep. She looked back to where her 'prisoner' was striping off his clothes to reveal a uniform underneath. He looked back and smiled again.
She gave him a tight-lipped smile and opened the cell, slipping inside. 'Anna!' she hissed, but got no response. She prodded the woman lightly and got a small groan in answer. The blondes eyes fluttered open and slowly focused on B'Elanna.
'You!' She tried to lunge forward and latch her hands around B'Elanna's throat but something bought her up short. 'You…' She gasped, clutching her belly tightly.
'Can you walk?' B'Elanna whispered, daring to move closer again. Anna gave her a look, and she continued: 'I'm here to get you out.'
'Yeah, right…' Anna's breath turned into a wheeze, and she coughed violently for a second. B'Elanna was disturbed to see specks of blood on Anna's chin.
'We don't have time for this,' she muttered. Without warning, she put her hands under Anna's armpits, heaving her upright. Anna almost cried out in pain, but she coughed it down at the last minute. 'Now, are you ready to get out of here, or would you like to take another shot at me?'
Anna looked at her sidelong as B'Elanna positioned herself under one arm. 'Let's go.'
'That's what I thought you'd say.'
The plan was, dress Anna in the clothes that Tim - the other guy - had come in in, including a hat that would cover her distinctive and eye-catching blonde hair. Then B'Elanna and Policeman Tim had to take Anna and escort her out of the building as if she was a petty criminal they were realising with a warning. Sounded good on paper, but…
'Will you please look like you at least know how to use your legs?!' B'Elanna hissed in Anna's ear as they strode through the building, the Klingon on one elbow and Tim on the other. For a few moments at a time, they were having to carry their charge between them, whilst making it look like they weren't carrying her. It was certainly turning into a fun experience.
'Well…I know who to kick next time they're down,' Anna gasped, trying to find her footing.
'Charlotte? Is that you?' The woman froze as she heard Claudia call out.
'Keep going!' She said, letting go of Anna's elbow and turning back to her superior. 'Claudia! There you are! I've been looking all over for you!'
'What's going on…? She waved a hand at the two disappearing around a corner.
'That? Oh, just some officer helping some idiot back out to litter the streets. He swore at an officer or something. I said I'd help.'
'That's just like you,' Claudia agreed, 'you want to have your fingers in every pie.' She hocked an eyebrow at B'Elanna as she spoke, and the Klingon got the feeling they weren't just talking about work anymore. Taking a second to shake off an image of her fingers anywhere near the Captains pie, B'Elanna shuddered and then smiled at Claudia.
'Look, about that…I'm sorry. I'm not quite sure how it happened…'
Claudia held up her hand. 'It's me who should be apologising. I had no right to get so…'
'Protective?' B'Elanna supplied, and Claudia smiled sheepishly.
'Yeah. I realised as I was leaving that you didn't want to invite me in because you didn't want to hurt my feelings. You always did have a sensitive side.'
B'Elanna gave Claudia her best charming, crooked smile and watched the poor woman almost melt into a puddle at her feet. 'Couldn't have said it better myself. Hey. I'd love to stay and chat, but I'm supposed to be on sick leave…'
'Yeah, go on, get out before you get dragged into something else,' Claudia said. 'I'll see you in a few days.'
'You betcha,' B'Elanna winked, and grinned at herself as she hurried out. Making poor Claudia sweat was almost as fun as winding up Janeway.
Just as she was about to turn the corner, she heard someone cry out. 'Detective! Detective!' She turned in time to see Claudia's head pop back out of her office.
'What is it?'
'The prisoner! The one from the raid! She's gone!'
B'Elanna waited only to see what the Detective's reaction would be. Claudia's head came round as if in slow motion, her gaze hitting B'Elanna and stopping. Claudia's mouth fell open, and she glanced toward where Tim and Anna had disappeared.
B'Elanna hit the doors running, bursting out onto the street and leaping down the stairs. She started sprinting down the street, aware that at any second Claudia would be out of the building and after her. She was suddenly very aware she didn't know how to get to her apartment, and she definitely didn't know how to get to the base of Anna's people. She was screwed.
She heard feet hit the pavement behind her and tried to speed up. Risking a glance behind her, she saw Claudia, surprisingly fast in her heels.
Well, it's what she does, she chases people. I stand around watching an engine. Not much of a contest, B'Elanna thought, trying yet again to increase her speed.
She scrambled round a corner and continued running, aware that it sounded like Claudia was catching her. Inch by inch the older woman gained on her, and not even B'Elanna's Klingon physicality was helping her out.
She glanced back again: Claudia was closer than she'd thought, and she could see two uniforms just coming round the corner. A few more metres and she was going to be caught. Fear of what they'd do to her if she went back spurred her on, and she changed direction suddenly, sliding across the bonnet of a parked car and sprinting across the road. Cars honked and skidded to a halt but she kept on regardless, weaving across the road. Once across, she dove into a nearby alley and ran all out, her breath coming in harsh pants. Halfway down she heard the harsh clicking of Claudia's smart shoes, amplified by the proximity of the walls.
She'd just reached the end of the alley when a bullet smacked into the brickwork by her head. 'Freeze! Do not move!' Claudia called.
Slowly, B'Elanna raised her hands over her head, lacing her fingers. She turned around and saw Claudia, chest heaving and hair free of its confines, pointing a pistol at her. She took a step backwards toward the end of the alley and freedom.
'Don't make me shoot you!' Claudia called, her voice cracking slightly.
B'Elanna kept eye-contact with the other woman as she took another step back, and then another. Claudia shook her head in a silent plea and took two corresponding steps forward.
B'Elanna let her eyes flutter shut for just a second, taking a deep breath. Then they snapped open, and without warning, she turned and ran for the end. She bent over slightly, arms pumping at her sides. A bullet cracked the cement by her back foot, and she leapt sideways and kept going.
She heard another bullet fly past, and another, and then she was out.
The car stopped in front of her so fast she ran into it, bouncing off a door. The same door flew open. 'Get in!' Someone shouted.
She dove for the door just as Claudia came into view, still shooting. A window smashed, and bullets thudded into the car around B'Elanna's position. She bunched her legs underneath her and leapt into the back seat, colliding with someone else. The car skidded away from the alley so quickly that B'Elanna and the person she was lying on were thrown into the back of the back seat.
She heard groaning and looked up as the ride smoothed out. Anna was spread out underneath her, and B'Elanna suddenly realised that her head was level with Anna's not un-abundant cleavage. She got off the other woman as quickly as she could without being over-enthusiastic and throwing herself back out of the car. She helped the other woman to sit up. Anna groaned again.
'You just keep happening to me, don't you?' She said, rubbing her injury. She looked up and saw B'Elanna's apologetic expression when it was clear she'd been expecting a barb in return. For a moment, they stared at each other, blue eyes meeting brown. What Anna was trying to say was transparent in her gaze - the blonde hadn't trusted her, but B'Elanna had come through.
'I'm sorry,' they said simultaneously. Then they looked at each other again, and a smile started on Anna's full lips. B'Elanna found herself wondering why Seven didn't smile more often.
Just then, Anna's eyes skittered across to something on B'Elanna's body.
'Oh my god! You're hit!' She cried.
B'Elanna's first thought was Why didn't I feel it? but as soon as she thought that, a fiery, breathtaking pain blossomed in her shoulder.
Anna was frantically trying to apply pressure to the wound but that just seemed to make it worse, and B'Elanna shoved her off with an angry snarl. The pain increased and she closed her eyes for a second, taking deep breaths and trying to block it out. When she opened them, Anna's eyes found hers. She saw the fear in those wide blue eyes and she managed a weak grin.
'It's okay. Flesh wound,' She managed.
Anna actually smiled at her attempt at diffusing the situation. Then she paused, looking at the Half Klingon's wound, and then into her eyes. 'It better be,' she said, reaching out and grabbing B'Elanna's hand.
B'Elanna would have drawn her hand back, but something stopped her. The look in Anna's eyes was so sincere: the woman really was worried about her. She squeezed the delicate hand tightly and closed her eyes as a wave of dizziness passed over her. It felt familiar, and she felt her hearts pumping faster as she realise where she'd felt it before. Before she could warn the others, she felt her body arch in pain…worse than before.
She distantly heard Anna's voice as she bucked on the back seat, but mingled with the blonde's voice was another, very familiar.
'B'Ela…an…you…ear…s?' It was stronger than last time, and B'Elanna tried to focus on it; tried to move herself toward it using only her will. 'We're…ying…but…we..n't…get a…ock…'
'I'm here!' She gasped, the pain almost overriding her systems.
'Shush…I know you're here…everything's going to be fine…shhhhh.' B'Elanna tried to focus on the voice, and she became aware of someone stroking her hair. Another wave of pain hit her and she was knocked unconscious by the force of it, descending into darkness.
B'Elanna rose to consciousness slowly, a large headache impeding her progress. As she became self aware, she realised that she was lying flat on her back, covered by a thin sheet. I'm in sickbay, she thought, they bought me back and I'm in sickbay.
But, as much as she wanted that to be true, doubts wormed their way into her subconscious; there was no humming of machinery so indicative of her starship, and the light on her eyes felt more natural than un. She hesitantly opened one a crack, and a plain painted ceiling swam into view.
Not Voyager, her brain supplied. I'm still here.
Stifling a groan, she hiked herself up onto her elbows and looked around. The room was long and narrow, beds spaced evenly and large windows supplying the natural light she'd felt. Soft music filled the room, apparently coming from an area at the end of the room, partitioned off from the rest. All the beds were empty apart from her own, and the one right next to hers…
Anna was in the same position she'd woken up in; flat on her back, arms and legs straight, hair fanned out around her head. Carefully, B'Elanna swung her legs over the edge of the bed, stifling her moans of pain as her stiff body refused to work the way she wanted it to. Her hat was on the edge of the bed, and she put it on.
She discovered she was still wearing her jeans, but her top half had been stripped down to her starfleet vest. A white bandage poked out of the grey material, and she peered down the top, trying to see how far the bandage went.
'Enjoying the view or just checking you haven't lost one along the way?' Someone whispered.
B'Elanna jerked her gaze up and felt an embarrassed flush colour her caramel coloured cheeks. 'I…uh…I mean…'
Anna, her head tipped so that could see the half-Klingon, laughed lightly, 'Calm down. I was just teasing.'
'I know that!' B'Elanna retorted, feeling her lips twitch into a half-smile. 'How are you doin?'
Anna grimaced. 'I'll be okay,' she said, starting to sit. B'Elanna jumped off her bed and help her upright, only to find a bemused pair of blue eyes staring at her.
'Playing nursemaid?' The blonde asked.
B'Elanna shrugged, a little self-conscious. 'I guess I feel a little responsible.'
'Just a little?' Anna asked, raising an eyebrow.
B'Elanna opened her mouth to retort and then noticed a glimmer of humour in Anna's eyes. 'Yes, only a little. The rest you bought on yourself for being so damn infuriating.'
The other woman chuckled and was about to say something else when a crash resounded from the little partitioned area. B'Elanna looked around, placing herself defensively in front of the other woman, but a soft hand on her arm and a shake of Anna's head let her know it was okay.
Another crash sounded, and a figure fell out of the makeshift office. They tried to pick themselves up and tripped over their feet, falling over a nearby bed.
Anna was laughing under her breath and even B'Elanna was having to subdue chuckles as the person picked themselves up and smoothed down the very rumpled clothing they wore.
They looked up and smiled, and B'Elanna gasped. The gangs all here.
'Peter, B'Elanna; B'Elanna this Peter,' Anna said as the man came over.
'And how are my favourite patients?' Peter grinned, grabbing B'Elanna's hand and pumping it enthusiastically. Peter was tall, with slightly dark skin, a big smile permanently on his face and thick black hair. All that was missing was the facial tattoo.
'You know, you were pretty when you were asleep, but you're an absolutely stunner when you're awake,' Peter said amiably. 'And B'Elanna: what a lovely name.Don't you agree Anna?'
For the first time B'Elanna could remember, Anna seemed lost for words. She opened her mouth to speak but seemed so flustered that all she managed was. 'I…sorry, what?'
'Oh, never mind, never mind. You just rest,' Peter finally let go of the half-Klingon's hand and patted her shoulder before moving off. 'I'll go and get you some food,' he said, speaking over his shoulder. As he finished, his shin caught the edge of a bed and he went flat on his face.
'That's who stitched me up??' B'Elanna hissed.
Anna looked reprovingly at her. 'He may seem clumsy, but he's the best doctor we've ever had…Although I completely understand you thinking that if you've never met him before.'
B'Elanna watched him go, holding back a grin as he bounced off the door frame waving to someone in the hall, and then sat cross-legged on her bed. 'My shoulder does feel better,' she murmured, trying to roll it.
'You were lucky; the bullet went straight through. All you needed were a few stitches.'
B'Elanna looked up. 'What about you?'
'I'm going to be fine. No damage to organs, just the ribs,' the blonde smiled.
B'Elanna found herself returning it, and it seemed to go on for a long time…an unusually long time. B'Elanna was the first to look away, clearing her throat and scrunching her face up as she said, 'Look…thanks. For coming back for me with the car.'
'Well, you came back for me,' Anna said softly. 'Why'd you do that anyway?'
'I…don't know. It didn't seem to be right for you to be in there,' B'Elanna's gaze brushed the other woman and then darted away again. 'I felt…guilty,' she admitted.
'Why? Because you were on their side all along?' Anna's voice held only a hint of bitterness, but B'Elanna couldn't help reacting to it.
'You still don't trust me?' She asked, her tone slightly disbelieving.
'It's not that, it's just…'
'Just what?' B'Elanna looked her in the eyes. 'You still think I'm not on your side?'
'I believed you!' Anna snapped, the emotion she suddenly presented taking B'Elanna by surprise. 'I believed you, and you were working for them the whole time!'
'No!' B'Elanna leapt off her bed with as much agility as her injury would allow and moved closer, placing balled fists on Anna's bed. 'I was never working for them. They just thought I was!' To a degree, it was the absolute truth. B'Elanna herself had never worked for them. But…on another level…whoever Anna thought she was had…
'What did I tell you my name was when we first met?' She asked.
Anna, caught off guard by the sudden change of subject, replied slowly. 'B'Elanna.'
'And what did they call me in the police station?'
Anna's brow furrowed in thought. 'Catherine? No. Charlotte? That was it, wasn't it?'
'Uh huh,' B'Elanna nodded. 'I'm not who they think I am.'
'Oh, come on,' Anna said. 'B'Elanna was just your undercover name or something.'
'No! B'Elanna is my real name! If anything, Charlotte is my undercover name!' B'Elanna ran her hands through her hair in an overtly frustrated gesture. 'Kah'less, you are so stubborn!' Just like Seven, she thought, biting her lip to stop more curses escaping.
'Car-what?' Anna asked.
For a long moment, B'Elanna looked at her, torn between laughing and shaking the woman until she stopped questioning the engineer. 'It's…err, it's a curse. In another language.'
'One you wouldn't know!' B'Elanna exploded. 'If you think I'm stringing you along why do you keep on asking me pointless questions?'
It looked like Anna was going to argue, but just then Peter ambled back into the room with an armload of food. B'Elanna sat back on her own bed and watched as he miraculously made it to them without tripping or falling or dropping anything.
'Here you go!' He said, still smiling. 'It's all we've got, I'm afraid, but I'm sure you'll make do!' And with that, he tottered back to his little office, humming tunelessly under his breath.
They sat in silence for what seemed like a long time, quietly picking and choosing from the packets spread before them. B'Elanna was lost in her thoughts when she heard something she privately thought she'd never hear sincerely from Seven's lips.
Finishing her mouthful as quickly as she could, B'Elanna said, 'What made you change your mind.'
'You did,' Anna said, holding B'Elanna's gaze. 'I've never got the feeling that you were lying to me…usually I can tell, but with you…you always seemed so sincere.'
B'Elanna found they were smiling at each other again, and it wasn't unpleasant. 'So I guess we're even?' She asked, her smile growing.
It faltered as Anna shook her head. 'No way,' the blonde said, her own smile turning slightly sly. 'The fact remains, you still injured me.'
'So I owe you?' B'Elanna said.
'You're absolutely right. And I'm calling it in. You owe me dinner,' Anna grinned, and B'Elanna felt it mirrored on her own features.
'Okay,' she heard herself say.
'So it's settled then? Dinner?' Anna asked, looking at B'Elanna.
The half-Klingon realised she'd been staring and shook herself out of it. 'Dinner, but…' She paused, thinking of the words, and Anna took the opportunity to gently lever herself out of bed. When B'Elanna realised what the other woman was doing, she leapt upright and took her elbow, carefully leading her to her own bed, where Anna sat down with an undignified groan.
B'Elanna settled herself once more and looked up. She caught the other woman studying her face and returned the look until Anna gave her a bemused smile. 'You were saying something?'
I was? 'Oh…yeah. I was just wondering…where would we go for dinner? I mean it's not like they're just going to let us out of your base to go to a restaurant with a pat on the back and a 'don't let the police see you.' We're probably pretty high on the police's shit list right now!'
Anna chuckled. 'You can cook, can't you?'
The chuckles turn to laughs as B'Elanna's face fell. 'I…uh…'
'How about a picnic? Then you wouldn't really have to cook at all,' Anna suggested.
'I can probably…do that,' B'Elanna managed, still not quite able to get the look of horror off her face. She was an engineer, not a chef!
A wide smile parted Anna's full lips and B'Elanna's eyes were drawn to them before she could stop herself. She glanced upwards and found blue eyes staring into hers. She had the irrational urge to apologise for staring but smothered it quickly, feeling like she needed to re-gain at least the semblance of control over herself.
She grinned with a confidence only half there and nodded once. 'Yes, I can do that. But, going to back to the "where" problem. Like I said, I hardly think your lot are going to let us roam the streets.'
Anna tapped the side of her nose. 'I think I have just the spot in mind.'
Slightly intrigued, B'Elanna stood and said, 'I'd better get started.' She'd already turned and was a half-step away before Anna's hand locked around her wrist.
'I didn't mean right now - you're in here for a reason, remember?' She nodded to B'Elanna's injury.
Trying to ignore the gentleness in Anna's touch, B'Elanna swallowed. 'It's fine. Besides, I'm making sandwiches, what could possibly happen?'
'Knowing you, just about anything,' Anna said, smirking. 'I'd feel better if you let Peter check you over before you left.'
B'Elanna finally gave in and was taken behind Peter's partition, where the likeable doctor gave her a thorough once over, checking the bandage and handing her a new plain white shirt. He tried to convince her to put her arm sling but she refused flat out, saying it was the shoulder, not the arm that was hurt, and it was clear he didn't have the heart to force her.
'No strain,' he said, trying to look stern but failing miserably. 'And no sudden movements.'
Smiling, the half Klingon nodded. When she went back into the main medical area, she saw a familiar looking person talking to Anna. The blonde Seven-look-a-like threw her head back and laughed, and B'Elanna picked up her pace, wanting to know what the joke was.
Sarah looked up when she approached. 'Hello again,' she said, smiling. 'I hear you're going for a picnic.'
The way she said the last word, not to mention the overly dramatic wink delivered with it, made B'Elanna think that Sarah's idea of a nice picnic would probably involve foodstuffs that were designed to be eaten without using plates…shaking off the rest of that thought before she began to flush, she nodded.
'Would you like a hand?'
'Well, you hardly know you're way around, do you? I'd be happy to help you sort things out,' Sarah said, standing and grabbing hold of the hybrids elbow. Before she knew it, she'd been led out of the room and into an unfamiliar corridor.
Realising she hadn't said goodbye to Anna, B'Elanna tried to steer them back to the medical wing, but Sarah had already led them to her room.
'Sorry about the mess,' she said as B'Elanna eyed the quarters with a curios gaze. They were large but not particularly well furnished - the term 'Spartan' came to mind. A large bed was in the middle of one wall, with a few cupboards and other pieces of furniture scattered about. Clothes were draped across just about every spare area, including a good sized portion of the floor.
'So she finally cornered you hey?' Sarah asked, catching B'Elanna off guard.
Sarah grinned, 'she's been talking about you pretty much since you got here.'
'She has?' B'Elanna felt her jaw drop open.
'Don't tell me you haven't noticed,' Sarah said, looking disbelieving.
'I…no…I mean…I have a boyfriend,' B'Elanna managed, although a small part of her piped up and said she hadn't thought of Tom since she'd woken up there. A wave of guilt passed over her, and she shook it off. 'I have a boyfriend,' she said again, her voice stronger.
'Really?' Sarah winked. 'Could've fooled me.'
There was a knock at the door. 'Are you decent?' Sarah asked, already through the door and staring at her impromptu charge.
She'd lent B'Elanna some of her clothes, and the half-Klingon had to admit that they fitted in all the right places. It wasn't like she was unaware that she had curves, but somewhere along the line on Voyager the mental picture she'd had of herself had swapped the title of 'woman' with 'engineer.'
She smoothed down the cream coloured top and asked, 'how do I look?'
Sarah eyed her up and down, 'I tell ya, if I swung that way, Anna would have serious competition.'
B'Elanna couldn't help but laugh at Sarah's cheeky expression. 'I told you, we're just getting to know each other better,' she said.
'Yeah, but how much better, hey?' Sarah nudged her in the ribs lightly and laughed.
'You've got it all wrong.' B'Elanna insisted, turning to look at herself in the slightly grimy full-length mirror once again. She was wearing a pair of charcoal trousers, quite tight, the form fitting cream shirt and a green silk scarf was tied around her head.
'Okay, okay, you're just "getting to know each other better".' The other woman made air quotes, and B'Elanna chuckled.
Sarah handed her the wicker basket full of food they'd prepared and B'Elanna took a deep breath as Sarah led her through the base. She hadn't dared to ask herself exactly why she was so nervous about this, and she didn't intend to start now. We're just…getting to know each other better, that's all. Nothing more than that. Just getting to know each other better. She thought. Had she been willing to think more about it, she might have asked herself why exactly she was trying to convice herself of that fact, but as it was she was quite happy to keep repeating the thought every couple of seconds.
Sarah opened a pair of big double doors and B'Elanna followed her out, gasping at the area laid out before them. A huge open space, surrounded by buildings, was dominated by large, healthy trees. Small ponds were laid out in strategically, the reflections of tree branches seeming to dance across their ever moving surfaces. B'Elanna looked down into one as they passed and saw a flash of silver scales.
'Michael made sure this area wasn't harmed when we took over the buildings,' Sarah said, smiling at the surroundings as they walked across freashly cut grass. 'He said it was important for us to have somewhere to relax and feel safe outside.'
'So he's a good leader?' B'Elanna asked.
'The best,' Sarah agreed. 'We'd be nothing without him.'
Despite knowing that this Michael was about as far as you could get from her Harry Kim, she had sudden sense of pride toward the man who shared her friends face. At least this man had had a chance to prove himself - to prove himself worthy of more than the title of ensign, as it were - and it sounded like he was doing well.
'Well, here we are,' Sarah bought them to a stop and B'Elanna shook herself out of her thoughts. Opening her mouth to greet Anna, but then she looked down…
The words froze in her throat as she saw Anna sitting on a red and white checked blanket, wearing a tightly fitting light blue summer dress with thin straps. The blonde unleashed a dazzling smile on the stricken engineer, and B'Elanna didn't even notice when Sarah slipped back the way they had come.
'Aren't you going to sit down?' Anna asked. 'I'm really looking forward to getting to know you better.'
B'Elanna choked and dropped the picnic basket on her foot.
B'Elanna didn't register the pain for a moment, but when it did make itself felt she had to bite her lip to stop a wave of expletives a sailor would've blushed at exploding from her mouth.
'I…Fu…Oh…' She managed, hopping around and trying to bend down and grab the foot while not pulling too much at her injured shoulder.
Anna stared at her for a full ten seconds before bursting out laughing. 'Are...you ok?' She managed between breaths.
'Me? Oh, yeah.' B'Elanna straightened, trying to smile and ignore the pain coming from her foot. She made it to the blanket, bringing the basket with her. 'I'm fine, didn't feel a thing.'
'Really?' Anna reached out, placing a comforting hand on the half-Klingons' foot. B'Elanna flinched in pain. 'Not a thing?'
Realising the other woman was teasing her, B'Elanna allowed herself to grimace. 'Who knew sandwiches could weigh so much?'
'I told you: anything could happen if you were in charge!' Anna exclaimed, rubbing B'Elanna's foot.
Even thorough her boots, B'Elanna felt the comforting movement of Anna's hand, and she felt a slight flush colour her cheeks. 'Hey, I made it here didn't I?
Anna smiled. 'Yes, you did.'
They shared a silent moment before B'Elanna started to feel uncomfortable. She opened the basket and started fishing out all the food she and Sarah had prepared.
'Are you sure you made enough?' Anna asked, hiking up an eyebrow. The expression reminded B'Elanna so strongly of Seven that for a moment she was overcome by homesickness, but she shook it off.
Is this what Seven would have been like? If she hadn't been assimilated? The thought took B'Elanna by surprise as she watched Anna eat, the blonde checking the filling of each sandwich before she bought it to her lips. If she'd of had a chance to grow up normally?
Anna looked up and caught her watching. 'Penny for them?'
'It's nothing.' B'Elanna took a bite of a ham sandwich.
'Come on, you can tell me,' Anna said.
'It's just…you remind me of someone,' B'Elanna felt a wave of sadness pass over her as she thought about how far away she seemed from her beloved ship. She'd give anything to get back there, and with that realisation a pall suddenly marred her enjoyment of her food, and the company. So far, she'd - pretty successfully - managed not to think about her predicament.
'An ex?' Anna asked softly, as if sensing B'Elanna's growing discomfort.
'What? No! I mean…I can barely stand her most of the time…' The half Klingon sighed, looking up into the face so familiar, yet so alien.
'Oh…' Anna smiled at her. 'Ohhhh…' And then she started laughing, something that took B'Elanna completely by surprise.
'So you think it's funny?' B'Elanna snapped, her temper getting the best of her. She threw her half eaten sandwich down and started to stand, ready to leave.
'No! No, I'm sorry,' Anna said, still not being able to disguise the laughter in her tone. 'I didn't mean to laugh like that.'
B'Elanna was already standing, her back turned, ready to stride away, not understanding why she was so angry. She heard Anna move behind her and then an exclamation of pain. Whirling, she saw the blonde frozen trying to stand, a hand pressed against her side, groaning.
She moved forward, kneeling and helping Anna to sit back down. 'You okay?' She asked, grudgingly sitting down once more.
'Yeah, just a twinge,' Anna replied, her breathing returning to normal and colour returning to her cheeks.
They sat in silence once again until B'Elanna said, 'Look, I'm sorry, okay? I thought you were laughing at me.'
'I was…but not for the reason you're thinking,' Anna said, smiling.
B'Elanna couldn't help but move the corners of her mouth upwards in response. 'So why were you?'
'Because…the expression on your face. If you hadn't of had a little tantrum, my next question would have been 'How long have you liked her?''
'I told you, sometimes I can't even stand her,' B'Elanna said confusedly.
'No…not like, like.'
'I said…' B'Elanna paused as her brain caught up with her ears. 'Sorry, what?'
Anna's eyes widened. 'You mean you don't know? It was written all over your face not five minutes before,' the woman said.
'Are your ears malfunctioning?' Anna laughed at the shock on B'Elanna's face. 'Do you want me to shout it?'
As she opened her mouth to retort, a huge explosion rocked the compound, a column of fire and dust exploding from the building on B'Elanna's left. 'I heard that just fine!' B'Elanna exclaimed, helping Anna to her feet as quickly as she could.
Faintly, in the ringing silence that followed the explosion, a voice cried out. 'We're under attack!'
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