Touch Part 1 by RalSt

Name: RalSt
E-mail: ralst31@yahoo.co.uk
Title: Touch
Disclaimer: Star Trek is the property of Paramount, this story depicts a loving relationship between women. This story also deals with emotional trauma, and I apologise in advance for not being more versed in the subject matter.
Rating: R
Summary: An invasion of her privacy prompts Seven to explore her emotions

| Part 1 | Part 2 |

Touch
Part 1

Seven stepped from her alcove, a frown marring her usually serene features as she surveyed the area around her. Icheb her young former Borg charge ended his regeneration cycle to her right, and turned to issue his customary morning greeting, but the look on Seven's face stopped him.

"Is there a problem?"

The blonde woman's initial instinct was to deny any problem, not only did she not want to worry the young man but she lacked any firm evidence that there really was a problem. Her natural honesty and a deepening worry made her change her mind and share her fears.

"I felt something while regenerating." Seven stopped trying to catalogue her impressions. "As if I was being physically... touched."

"You did not wake?" Enquired the boy, his voice was calm but there was a tension developing behind his eyes.

"No." An irrational urge to immerse herself in cleansing water consumed Seven's thoughts, her hands distractedly tracing a route over her body, as if needing to check for themselves everything was as it should be.

"Could it have been a dream?"

"No, I do not believe so." Looking at Icheb Seven could detect his concern, and suddenly a fiery sensation engulfed her. "Did you feel anything?" Thoughts that someone could have been touching the boy as well overwhelmed any concerns of her own treatment.

"No, I felt nothing."

"Good." A held breath escaped Seven's full lips.

"Have you felt anything like this before?"

"No." Seven hesitated a moment. "I have never felt a touch before, but for the previous five nights I did have the impression I was being watched."

"Why did you not tell me, or the Captain?" From being an emotionally reticent ex-Borg, the young man soon metamorphosised into the image of a scared parent, a transformation that didn't go unnoticed by Seven, the sight almost bringing a smile to her troubled face.

"I presumed my impression came from crew members working or retrieving material from the cargo bay. It is not unusual for people to be in here while we regenerate." Cocking her head to one side Seven continued. "Captain Janeway has on occasion watched me while I 'slept', especially if she was concerned by some aspect of my behavior. I thought it might have been her."

"Is it possible the Captain was the one who touched you?"

"No!" The touched had made her feel uneasy, and she couldn't equate that with her overprotective and sometimes overbearing friend.

"Then I believe the correct course of action would be to inform Captain Janeway and Commander Tuvok of your suspicions." Standing straight with his hands firmly grasped behind his back Icheb gave no doubt that his words were infact an order.

"Yes." Turning to leave Seven looked back over her shoulder at Icheb's worried expression and added with a slight smile "Sir."

* * * * * *

Janeway had been troubled the moment Seven walked through her ready room door, after having waiting patiently outside for permission to enter, the young woman's face held traces of tension that to most would be unnoticeable, but to the Captain signaled something very wrong.

"What is it?" Coming around to face the young blonde Janeway laid what she hoped would be a reassuring hand on Seven's arm.

"I wish to report a..." Seven faltered not sure how best to describe what she suspected in Starfleet language. "I believe someone touched me while I was regenerating."

"What!" Janeway's voice rose into a near shriek, "Where?"

"Cargo Bay 2." Seven answered cautiously, wondering if the Captain was suffering some form of memory loss as she appeared to have forgotten where the Borg alcoves were located.

"No Seven, I mean where did they touch you?"

"I am not sure."

"Not sure?" Taking Seven's arm Kathryn led the young woman to the couch and sat down forcing the young former Borg to take the seat next to her. "I don't understand Seven, if you felt the touch how do you not know where you were touched?"

"I was regenerating." Seeing the blank look on Janeway's face Seven tried to explain. "When engaged in regeneration my bodies normal sensations are somewhat dampened, I believe it is similar to when you sleep, a touch of any force would bring me out of my regenerative state immediately, but a gentle touch, a caress, only registers on a subliminal level."

"But when you woke up you knew you had been touched?" Kathryn tried to qualify.

"Not at first, for point zero nine seconds after completing my regeneration cycle I was unsure of what had transpired, although I knew something had happened." Once again Seven's arms started a slow rhythmic caress of her own skin. "Then as I analysed my unease I knew that I had been touched." There was not a hint of doubt in Seven's voice.

"I will need to inform Commander Tuvok." Placing her hands on top of Seven's agitated ones Kathryn gave them a gentle squeeze. "Are you okay with that?"

"Yes, of course." Seven flinched at Janeway's touch but forced herself to not shrug off the friendly gesture.

Reaching up Janeway activated her comm. "Tuvok, please report to my ready room."

"Yes, Captain."

* * * * * *

After explaining the situation to Tuvok he began to implement a security investigation, beginning with a check of the ships logs concerning the entrants into Cargo Bay 2 during Seven's last six regeneration periods. Unfortunately the logs appeared to have been altered masking the names of any entrants, and without this information or any other physical evidence Tuvok was unable to proceed satisfactorily with his investigation. On consultation with the Captain and Seven it was decided that the security investigation would expand to include members of the senior staff. Convening in the conference room Janeway explained the situation to the rest of the senior officers, Tuvok taking up the explanation to include the difficulties he had encountered when investigating.

"Are you all right? Were you injured?" The Doctor asked in a more than professionally concerned voice, his questions the first direct contact any of them had had with Seven.

"I am...fine." Seven's voice was quiet, but looking towards her friend she managed a vague smile. "Thank you."

A moment of quiet descended on the room as all thoughts turned to the suddenly fragile appearing ex-Borg.

"Do you have any idea who might have done this Seven?" Harry questioned gently. "Has anyone been bothering you lately?"

"Not any more than is usual." Seven replied in a calm voice.

"What do you mean 'than is usual'?" B'Elanna piped up, dread filling her at the thought that maybe she was the usual bother Seven was referring to. For years the two had shared a rather volatile relationship, but over the past couple of months there had been a definite change in the half Klingon's feelings towards the former drone, and to think that Seven might still see her as a source of bother troubled her.

"Some members of the crew do not feel comfortable around a Borg." Looking into B'Elanna's eyes Seven detected her unease. "They do not say anything directly to my face, as would be honourable, they just mumbled comments and obstruct my work."

"Why didn't you inform me of this?" Janeway interrupted. "I would have put a stop to it immediately."

"With respect Captain, if you'd interfered it would just have made people more resentful." B'Elanna offered, she didn't need to add that she herself had felt that way.

"Lieutenant Torres is correct Captain." Seven agreed. "The reactions of others are irrelevant, I did not require your assistance." She paused, "Until this time, this time is different."

"Why is now different?" Tom asked with a shrug.

"Mr Paris." Janeway's tone was sharp, and the eyes of all those around the table bore in on the sandy haired helmsman with either contempt or anger, in the case of B'Elanna both. Only Seven seem unaffected by his question and had been about to answer.

"I didn't, I just meant." Tom floundered.

"Now is different because it occurred while I was unconscious, not to my face, or even behind my back." Seven addressed a red faced Tom Paris. "It was also where Icheb regenerates."

"The touch, could it have been sexual in nature?" Chakotay tried to soften his tone, it wasn't a question he wanted to have to ask but he knew he must.

"I do not know." Seven looked confused "I am not sure how to differentiate between a sexual and a non-sexual touch, especially as I do not know the area of my body he or she touched."

Colourful words in several languages could just be heard issuing from B'Elanna's rigid mouth, her whole body was taut, desperate to find the person and rip their head off. "The sick bastard, he probably just sees a beautiful woman and figures he has the right to stare and..." Clenching her fist B'Elanna smashed it onto the table. "We have to stop him."

"Stopping him or her and apprehending them is the reason we are all here Lieutenant." Tuvok interrupted in his usual emotionless tone.

For the first time since ending her regeneration cycle that morning Seven experienced a moment of happiness, B'Elanna thought her beautiful. Normally others opinions of her appearance were of little or no importance to the former Borg, but if B'Elanna thought her beautiful it was just one less hurdle in her goal to gain the other woman's affections. Winning the half Klingon's heart had been a serious goal of Seven's ever since the other woman had annulled her marriage to Lieutenant Paris, but although there had been a definite change in the way B'Elanna acted towards her, this was the first proof she had that the woman could possible, in the future, be attracted to her.

"I would have thought the solution to that was simple." The Doctor addressed Tuvok.

"Really?" The Vulcan's eyebrow rose to the heavens.

"This 'person' has comes to Cargo Bay 2 on six consecutive occasions while Seven has been regenerating. Therefore if you 'stake out' the area tonight the perpetrator will show themselves." The Doctor leaned back in his chair, a smug look on his face.

"A logical assumption." Tuvok allowed. "However, the investigation into this crime may have alerted the perpetrator, who would therefore alter his or her modus operandi." Turning from the now not so smug EMH Tuvok addressed the Captain. "A surveillance operation will be put into effect in Cargo Bay 2 during Seven of Nine's next regeneration cycle, but in the event that it is not successful other avenues of investigation must be attempted."

"I agree." Janeway looked around the room as she spoke, "Does anyone have any ideas?"

"I'd like to have a look at the computer logs." Harry volunteered. "I might be able to find something the security team missed."

"Good. Anything else?"

"We should check the crew manifest to see who was off duty, or in unsupervisory positions during all six attacks." B'Elanna offered.

"I think it would be a good idea if Seven worked with you on that." Chakotay added. "She might be able to identify any person who has shown any overt interest in her recently."

"That could be practically all the guy's on the ship." Tom chimed in with a smile.

Ignoring the helmsman Janeway addressed the more productive members of her senior staff. "B'Elanna, you and Seven start work on the crew rosters, Harry, you take a look at the logs, and Tuvok I'll leave you to organise the surveillance." She again surveyed those around the table, "Anything else?" The only response was a few shaken heads. "Fine, then you're all dismissed."

* * * * * *

Seven stood, her hands clasped tightly behind her back, an expression of icy calm settled on her beautiful face. Beside her B'Elanna was busy entering search perameters into the Astrometrics console, her fingers flying over the slick controls in her haste to identify the sick individual she knew was hidden among the crew.

"Do you have any idea what time this...this person touched you?" Forced out the engineer, just mentioning the individual responsible for frightening the ex-Borg made her want to seriously maim something, preferably the slime responsible.

"No, I have no real concept of time whilst I regenerate." Seven's voice carried a hint of apology that wasn't lost on B'Elanna.

"That's okay, its the same for me when I sleep." B'Elanna assured "Besides from the pattern of the log tampering it's possible to narrow the search down some." She started tapping at the console again. Names began scrolling down the large view screen, sections turning blue and disappearing once the duty rosters had eliminated them from the suspect list. After all the rosters had been checked there were still nearly forty names remaining on the screen. "We got lucky, the blank times on the logs occur during two different duty shifts, if not the list would have been more like eighty people long."

"Thirty-eight is lucky?" Borg implant rose.

"Sure, I mean a list of one would have been real lucky, but thirty-eight's not so bad." B'Elanna uncharacteristically laid a friendly hand on Seven's arm, but almost immediately remembered why they were there and removed what she thought would be an unwelcome physical gesture. "All we have to do now is narrow it down a bit."

"How do you suggest we proceed?"

"Lets just go through them one at a time and you can tell me what, if any, contact you've had with each, especially if they've ever shown any overt interest in you, erm." B'Elanna found herself studying the floor, "sexually."

"Why do you presume these visitations are of a sexual nature?" Seven asked her calmly.

"He touched you." The half Klingon practically shouted.

Seven studied the shorter woman for a moment, not quite able to understand her apparent anger. "There are other forms of touch besides sexual."

"Look Seven, you're a beautiful, sexy and ultimately unattainable woman, looking at you or touching you while you're unconscious might be the only way some creep would think himself able to be with you." B'Elanna's agitation just kept growing. "Some people can't handle rejection or even the possibility of it, they just have to take what they think belongs to them. They're sick!"

"Lieutenant? Are you alright?" Seven was concerned by B'Elanna's seemingly unreasonable anger.

"Yes." Forcing herself to calm down B'Elanna faced a worried looking Seven. "I'm sorry Seven, the last thing you need is me going off the deep end. I just can't stand the idea of someone taking advantage of you."

A gentle smile found its way to Seven's lips. "Then let us hope the person's intentions were homicidal not romantic."

A Klingon jaw gaped open.

"I was joking." Seven explained, wondering if her attempts to master humour had failed yet again.

B'Elanna slowly brought her eyes up to lock with the blue of Seven's, her face still a picture of surprise. Then just as she detected the young former drone about to explain further B'Elanna winked, "I know." A cheeky smile dominating the engineers face. "Come on we'd best get on with this."

"Acceptable." Stepping up to the console Seven press the button that brought up the first in their list of suspects. Half turning she spoke quietly into B'Elanna's ear, "I am not unattainable, Lieutenant, at least not to the right person."

Looking up B'Elanna was captured by the intensity of Seven's eyes, her heart rates soaring with every second she was held in the electric gaze. "You are? What I mean is...do you think, I mean...we, we should get to work."

"Yes, Lieutenant." Seven replied unsuccessfully trying to hide her smile.

* * * * * *

At the assigned time Seven stepped into her Borg alcove, Icheb already ensconced in the alcove to her right, and began her regeneration cycle, hopeful that by the time her cycle came to an end the identity of her nocturnal visitor would be known. Tuvok had positioned a select team of security personnel, all taken from those already eliminated, around Cargo Bay 2. While Harry Kim and B'Elanna monitored the sensor readings for the area directly surrounding the cargo bay. B'Elanna had wanted to be in the cargo bay when the perpetrator was apprehended, but one look at the Klingon fury just waiting to be unleashed had quickly decided the Captain that the best place for the young woman was in Astrometrics.

Seven's regeneration period was scheduled to last six hours, and for all of that time the security team, and the majority or the senior staff, just waited. Waited, and waited, and then waited some more, until the feminine tones of the computer announced "Regeneration cycle complete."

Seven stepped from her alcove and after checking on Icheb walked towards the approaching security detail. "Did you apprehend the individual?"

"No." Tuvok replied, "No one has entered Cargo Bay 2 since the start of your regeneration period."

"I see." For a moment Seven just stood there unsure of what to do next. Her thoughts interrupted by the hasty arrival of the Captain, B'Elanna and Harry, all of whom gathered around the blonde in what she supposed was a sympathetic manner.

"I'm sorry Seven." Janeway soothed, placing a hand on her shoulder. "We'll figure out some other way to find this person."

"Indeed."

"We still have some names to recheck, I'm sure with the information Harry's managed to gather from the logs we should be able to work out who it is." B'Elanna added, surpressing the desire to knock Janeway's hand from Seven's shoulder and replace it with her own. "Captain, if you don't need Seven anymore we should get on with our investigation."

"Do you want any extra help?" Janeway offered, rather hoping that she could be of personal use in this situation.

"Not right now Captain, its kind of a two woman job." B'Elanna smiled over at Seven, "You ready?"

Seven looked over at Icheb, and seeing her young charge give an almost undetectable nod, replied "Yes Lieutenant." After receiving permission from Janeway the two women exited the cargo bay, soon followed by Harry Kim.

* * * * * *

On entering Astrometrics, B'Elanna and Seven had been greeted by three ensigns from stellar cartography who were in the process of charting a nearby nebula. Hoping to keep the investigation as quiet as possible B'Elanna decided to reconvene to another location. Few areas on the ship offered the degree of privacy the half Klingon wanted, her office in Engineering had been a possibility, but it lacked the relaxed atmosphere she thought would be an advantage to the former Borg when discussing peoples adverse reactions to her. The one place on the ship she felt truly relaxed and at peace was her quarters, seeing that the nearest Seven had to quarters was the cargo bay, the scene of the crime so to speak, she decided to invite the blonde into her safe place. So the two found themselves sitting comfortably on B'Elanna's couch, sifting through a collection of data pads.

"Ensign Janice Clunes, twenty-eight, works in the hydroponics bay." B'Elanna turned once more to Seven, this was the fourteenth name they'd gone through, but they were still no closer to identifying their guy. Harry's work on the logs had managed to isolate the time when the computer logs were tampered with, and from what group of computer consoles, although not the actual console. So what had been a list of thirty-eight was now down to just nineteen, they were getting closer, just not quite close enough.

"We were on an away mission together 174 days ago, it lasted four days seventeen hours, a routine assessment of an M class planet for nutritional supplements." Seven began. "53 days ago I was assigned by the Chief Engineer to work in the hydroponics bay," B'Elanna smothered a grin, remembering having sent the ex-Borg as far from engineering as she could in the hopes the other woman wouldn't get in her way during the latest emergency repairs. "Ensign Clunes assisted me at that time."

"Okay, lets back up to the first one." B'Elanna began tapping notes into a data pad. "How did she react to you on the away mission?"

"We performed our duties adequately."

"Seven," B'Elanna interrupted wearily, "we've been through this a dozen times, I need to know how she reacted to you as a person, not a work colleague. Tell me if she.."

"Lieutenant, if you had allowed me to finish I would have elaborated further." Seven was getting tired of explaining her relationships to all the suspects, and wished she could have been involved with the more academic areas of investigation. "Ensign Clunes was at the time of the mission friendly and even engaged me on several occasions in conversations about ships business and in particular Neelix's cooking."

"Was she hitting on you?" Each time B'Elanna had asked the question she'd secretly dreaded the answer, not so much that someone would make a pass at Seven, but that the blonde might indicate she was receptive to the pass, or wished the person had made a move.

"I do not believe so." Seven always found this question difficult, she had so little experience in sexual matters that she wasn't always sure of what made up an overture or just simple friendliness. "She made jokes about Neelix's cooking, not malicious jokes, infact I think they were a sign of affection, although I am uncertain."

"Could be, I think Janice has kind of a crush on Neelix."

"Really?" Seven's implant rose and she slid slightly closer to B'Elanna on the couch, the half Klingon's usual reaction to gossip having, over the course of the day, rubbed off on the ex-Borg.

"It's what Sam Wildman told me." Leaning in further B'Elanna continued in a conspiratorially lowered voice. "Apparently Janice has taken to arriving at the mess-hall towards the end of the day and joining Neelix for tea. Then about three weeks ago Naomi caught the two of them kissing in the galley."

"Kissing, that's erm," noting the close proximity of B'Elanna's lips to her own Seven couldn't stop a blush from overtaking her face, "that's nice. He's a good man, and I think he's been lonely."

"Yeah, and he deserves to be happy." B'Elanna's eyes fixed on Seven's full lips, the urge to kiss them getting increasingly hard to resist. "We all do."

Seven's heart rate was increasing, her pulse echoing inside her mind, a mixture of fear and excitement. For seconds they sat unmoving, so close their breaths mingled in the air infront of them, then as if they were both privy to a special set of directions they eased back in their seats, the moment broken, the time not yet right.

"So," B'Elanna cleared her throat, and with it her more lustful thoughts, "did Janice ever mention anything about the Borg, or sound resentful about your position?"

"No."

"Fine, I think we'd best go on to number fifteen." B'Elanna picked up the next data pad, and looking at the name and profile displayed she couldn't help but pull a face.

"Is something wrong, Lieutenant?" Seven questioned, reaching for the data pad she scanned the details. "Lieutenant Williams, thirty-six, assigned to sensor maintenance. That is a rather lowly position for a lieutenant is it not?"

"It's where I thought he would be of most use." B'Elanna defended. "Have you met him?"

"Yes." Pausing a second she continued. "He has 'hit on' me on several occasions, I refused his advances each time. I found him to be rather... 'slimy' I think would be the correct term."

"Yeah that describes him down to a tee." Came the disgusted reply. "Did he ever try to touch you without your consent? Maybe try and kiss you or something?"

"Not exactly, although he did stand closer to me than I believe is considered polite, and his eyes tended to wander my body as we spoke." At that Seven lifter her own eyes from feasting on the sight of B'Elanna's lips, worried that she too might have been guilty of behaviour similar to that of Williams. "After I refused him he made detrimental remarks about my Borg nature and physiology, although I do not think he realised I could still hear him."

"That sounds about right," B'Elanna scoffed, "you reject him so obviously there must be something wrong with you. Typical of that type of slimeball."

"You have experience with 'that type of slimeball'?" Came Seven's curious voice, accompanied by a raised ocular implant.

"Yes unfortunately, Williams isn't the only person to think they're god's gift to women, or men come to that." Leaning back B'Elanna allowed her mind to wander to her time at the academy, and an incident with her roommate and one of the fitness instructors. "In the academy I shared a room with this woman Clea Otaren, she was friendly and outgoing and I grew to really like her. Then we started a new physical fitness course and she set her eye on the instructor, John something, anyway she'd flirt with him during class and tell me how she was going to win him over and stuff, and it all sounded fun, like a harmless crush. Then a few weeks later she started telling people how he had some kind of emotional problem, couldn't get close to anyone and that he probably couldn't even get it..." She trailed off blushing, somehow describing someone's sexual inadequacies to Seven made her feel dirty. "That he was unable to have sex."

"Brief periods of impotence are not that uncommon in human males." Seven offered, her knowledge of human biology being rather extensive, thanks to Borg tactical information and the Doctor's insistance that she peruse his data base whenever she wished. "It is generally easily corrected over time or with medication, and not I would have thought a matter for derision."

"You're right its not," B'Elanna smiled at the blonde, there she was afraid of tarnishing Seven's innocence when all along the Borg encyclopaedia new more about the facts of the subject than she did, but still remained as innocent as ever. "Well from things Clea said I got the impression that John might have tried to force himself on her or something, and so being the hot blooded Klingon that I was back then," The past tense earned a raised brow from Seven, "I decided to confront him over it. So I found out where he lived and practically forced my way into his house demanding to know what he'd done to my friend."

"My deduction would be nothing."

"Correct, it turns out the guy was happily married with a two month old daughter, and so when Clea made a pass at him he declined, explaining that he was married and although flattered he couldn't go out with her." Shrugging B'Elanna picked up Williams data pad once more. "The first month on board Voyager Williams made a play for me, I wasn't interested, he said some things about how a half breed Klingon should feel lucky anyone was willing to date her. Well," B'Elanna's flush was one of anger this time not embarrassment, "he didn't actually say date, but you get the idea."

"Did you hit him?"

"No!" The half Klingon seemed indignant at the idea. "I'm not a barbarian you know."

"I know that." Seven began to stand. "He acted in a reprehensible manner, if you do not wish to strike him, I will." Her face had taken on a cold demeanor that would have been enough to send the Borg Queen packing.

"Hold on Seven." B'Elanna managed to force the young blonde back into her seat, no easy task given her Borg strength and obvious determination. "That was years ago, and besides we have other things to focus on now."

"I am not sure I agree with that assessment," Seeing B'Elanna about to launch another volley of reasons not to pulverise Williams, Seven decided to desist for the moment, her wish to cause physical harm to the man was surprising but she had every intention of going through with it, she would just wait for a more appropriate time. She did have one idea for speeding up the process however. "If it transpires that Lieutenant Williams was the person responsible for my nocturnal visits, would it be acceptable if I struck him then? For what he did to you."

"I'll tell you what, if he is responsible I'll hit him for you and you can hit him for me, deal?"

"Deal." Taking Williams data pad Seven placed it face down on the floor. "For now he shall remain at the top of the suspect list."

"Right, on to the next one, Ensign Bradley Roth, thirty-nine..."

* * * * * *

After having sifted through the list of possible suspects B'Elanna and Seven were called to the Captain's ready room, where the three women were joined by Tuvok and Ensign Kim. Harry had spent most of the morning trying to analyse the computer logs so as to narrow the suspect list, but apart from his initial pruning the list remained at nineteen. His agitation at what he saw as his failure was evident, and Seven, in a rare show of emotional understanding, tried to reassure him. "Your work on the computer logs has been exemplary Ensign, I do not believe anyone else, including myself, could have narrowed the list further."

"Thanks Seven." The young man blushed slightly at this rare praise from the super efficient young woman, his not quite forgotten crush making him want to make a good impression, but more importantly catch the person responsible for scaring her. "The problem is that whoever did this has used a scrambling device on Cargo Bay 2's sensor logs, which has spread out to encompass all the sensors for the surrounding area. If only I could find the pattern sequencer I'd be able to unscramble the thing again, but even using the computers that could take months, if not years."

"Expending too much time on this problem would be a waste of resources." Seven declared, she was already concerned that the time expended on what was her problem, was in disproportion to the actual offence committed. If it hadn't been for her worry that the person responsible might, in addition to bothering her, start to harass Icheb she would have called the investigation off before now, well that and the opportunity to work closely with the Chief Engineer.

"We have to find this sicko!" B'Elanna protested.

"He'll only do it again if we don't catch him." Agreed Harry.

"This individual has broken the law," Tuvok calmly intoned, "not only by touching a crew member without their permission or supposed knowledge, but also by sabotaging ships systems, which could have led to serious repercussions."

Raising her hands Janeway blocked any further protest. "No-one is suggesting dropping the investigation, now lets get back to it shall we?" Her questioning stare was met by signs of agreement. "B'Elanna, did you and Seven come up with anything from the crew list?"

"We've got four people who've shown either romantic interest, Borg hostility or both directed towards Seven."

"Is that all?" Harry asked, but after doing so realised that he'd sounded a bit too much like Tom. "I mean, well the romantic bit, not the hostility, cos you know she's well..." He looked around desperately for someone to take his foot out of his mouth.

"Beautiful, sexy and ultimately unattainable?" B'Elanna offered with a barely restrained smile.

Three faces turned to her with some astonishment, Seven merely cocked her head as if in deep thought and clarified, "I thought we had agreed to delete the unattainable portion of that declaration?"

The two women shared a gentle look, which had the effect of confusing further the others in the room. "Can we get back to the list now please." Janeway finally interrupted.

"Yes, Captain." B'Elanna pulled her eyes from Seven's reluctantly, and made a decision to act on these flirtations before they sky rocketed her blood pressure even further. "Of the four we do have a firm favourite, or I should say least favourite, as to be honest neither of us like the man." She handed Janeway Lieutenant Williams data pad. "So perhaps he should be considered by someone more impartial?"

Janeway looked over the file recalling the man but not really knowing anything about him on a personal level. "He's assigned to sensor maintenance, would he have the computer expertise to scramble the cargo bay sensors as Harry described?"

"He's a fully trained engineer, so I don't think it would have given him any problems." B'Elanna took another cursory look through her main list. "In fact I don't think anyone on the list would be incapable of scrambling the sensor readings, the result may be hard to undo but the execution is pretty simple once you know the basics of sensor data storage. The details of which are stored in the ships main computer, and readily available for use by the technicians and theoretically anyone else who is interested."

"A search of computer records for requests for that information may be prudent." Tuvok suggested, at which Harry stepped up to the Captain's console and with her permission began the computer search. Before he'd finished inputting the request the chime sounded on the ready room door.

"Come in."

Tom Paris entered, and seeing all those gathered took on the look of a little boy not invited to the party, before taking his position in front of Janeway. "Captain, I have some news about Seven's admirer."

"Go ahead." All eyes were now focused on the helmsman.

"I was talking to Ensign Lawton about a party she wanted in the holodeck for her birthday next month, its her thirtieth and she wanted something special to commemorate it." Four faces practically screamed 'get on with it', even though none had actually spoken. "She then happened to mention how Lieutenant Edwards had originally been going to help with the preparations, only for the last couple of weeks he'd been acting strangely and appeared to be spending a large amount of his off duty time in Cargo Bay 2, although she couldn't think why he'd rather be there than in the holodeck with her."

"Lieutenant Edwards?" Janeway double checked, and when Tom affirmed that she turned to B'Elanna. "Is he on your list?"

"He's on the main list," She looked towards Seven, "but we never had him down as a suspect."

"Captain!" Came Harry's excited voice. "Lieutenant Edwards accessed the sensor specifications eight days ago."

Janeway looked to Tuvok, "I think we need to have a word with Lieutenant Edwards." She turned to regard the others. "Good work all of you, we will take it from here. I hope I don't need to add that all of this information stays in this room until the investigation is complete?"

"I wish to accompany you to interview Lieutenant Edwards." Seven stated, her stance rigid.

"I don't think that's such a good idea Seven." Janeway did her usual soothing pat of the hand to the shoulder gesture, but this time it appeared to have no success. "We don't yet know for certain that Edwards is the one who touched you, and if he is there's no need for you to have to suffer through any excuses or reasons he might try to concoct in his defense."

"You say that as if any defense on his behalf would be unacceptable?"

"Well.." Janeway floundered, she knew that where the young ex-Borg was concerned she tended to be overprotective, and would have a hard time accepting any mitigating reason for the worry these events had caused her.

"I need to know why he did this." Having remained calm through the whole process Seven's demeanour slipped fractionally as a pleading note entered her voice. "Please Captain, I have to know if something about me made him think he could just..." Her words trailed off, unable to describe why having someone just watch her had in some strange way stripped her of her humanity, and the touch had left her feeling defiled.

The Captain knew without a shadow of a doubt that she should refuse the request, but Kathryn, the friend, knew without a shadow of a doubt that she could not refuse, and on this one occasion Kathryn was victorious. "You can join us, but Seven you leave the questions to Tuvok and myself, okay?"

Seven nodded sparing Kathryn a smile of gratitude.

"I should be there too." B'Elanna jumped in.

"This is an investigation not a picnic Lieutenant." Janeway snapped.

"I am fully aware of that Captain," Unmindful of how it might look to the others B'Elanna gestured for Janeway to follow her to the side of the room, which she did reluctantly, and continued in a softer voice. "She might need someone there, if it turns ugly with Edwards. I know she doesn't show it but you and I both know how vulnerable she really is, and with you and Tuvok conducting the investigation someone has to keep an eye on her."

Kathryn studied her Chief Engineer, what she'd said made sense but she was rather surprised that it had been B'Elanna who'd thought of it. Not that the young woman wasn't sensitive, in her own way she was, but the fact she was displaying her more caring nature because of Seven was astonishing. "Fine, but if I tell you to leave you go, and if I tell Seven to leave you make sure she does."

"Yes, Captain."

The two women rejoined the group and after ascertaining Edwards location the four person posse left to find its target.

* * * * * *

Richard Edwards was a tall man, at least 6'5", and had muscles straining for freedom beneath his red and black uniform. At the time the investigative team arrived at his quarters he was busy polishing his bat'leth, a present from his Klingon instructor at a prestigious martial arts training academy, the weapon was honed to a fine point, a killing blade just waiting for its next worthy opponent. With weapon still clutched in his hand Edwards answered the chime on his door, his surprise at seeing the Captain was soon over shadowed by the sight of the blonde ex-Borg standing just behind her.

When the door to Edwards quarters opened to reveal the bear of a man carrying a bat'leth B'Elanna immediately fell into a defensive pose, her body partially blocking that of Seven's and her muscles primed ready for attack. Tuvok was also on the alert, his mind calculating defence scenarios quicker than the supposed attacker had time to blink. Both had their eyes glued to the hand grasping the weapon, and so both were caught slightly off guard when the bat'leth fell to the floor, a dull thud marking its harmless position resting on the carpet.

Astonished the four watched as Edwards appeared to lose his balance and[,] after stumbling a few feet back into the room[,] collapsed in a boneless heap on the floor, the sound of uncontrollable sobbing the only noise in the room. Sharing a bewildered look with the others[,] Janeway stepped fully into Edwards quarters[] and[,] kneeling beside the man[,] tried to speak to him. "Lieutenant Edwards, I have some questions to ask you." The man just continued to sob, his hunched figure beginning to sway to an unknown rhythm.

"I'm no legal expert, but that looks a lot like proof of guilt to me," B'Elanna offered, while reaching down to retrieve the bat'leth, the man's behaviour had unsettled her but she wasn't taking any chances that the man mountain would regain his composure and try to hack them to pieces with the blade.

"Perhaps we should call the Doctor?" Seven asked, she found unrestrained emotional outbursts like this unnerving.

The sound of her voice had an instantaneous effect of Edwards, his rocking stopped and his sob's receded to a barely audible level. Looking up his eyes fixed on those of Seven. "Don't worry, Laura, daddy's okay." A wavering smile traversed his face before crumbling at Seven's blank expression.

"Who is Laura?" Disregarding Janeway's orders and the looks she was now receiving from her Captain and Tuvok, Seven bent down to kneel besides Edwards. Her movements caused B'Elanna to rush to her side, and place a restraining arm around her waist to attempt to pull Seven away from the possible danger. "It is all right, B'Elanna," Seven whispered, her eyes pleading with the other woman to trust her judgment and, although her arm remained around Seven's waist, B'Elanna allowed her to move in closer to the silently weeping man. "Lieutenant, who is Laura?"

"My angel." Unconsciously his hand reached up to touch Seven's hair, the ex-Borg's flinch sending it plunging to the floor. "My golden haired angel."

"Where is she?"

"You're here." Puffy blood shot eyes stared at the tall blonde, indecision suddenly communicated through his stare. "Seven? Where's...are they all gone again?"

"All who?" Janeway interrupted, she had no idea what was going on, she'd come here to arrest some pervert for playing peeping tom with one of her crew, now she felt as if they were being given front row seats to a psychiatrists convention.

"Our children." He gave his answer directly to Janeway, and as if the sight of her had reopened a page in his mind he thrust out an accusing finger in her direction, his body straining to rise and meet hers. "You gave them our children!" He screamed, Seven and B'Elanna having to hold him in his place before he could accost the Captain.

"Shhhh," Gently rubbing his back Seven tried to calm him, her mind wondering where this instinctive gesture had originated, "gave who the children?"

"The Borg." Capturing one of Seven's hands Edwards stared into her eyes with desperation, "They took Laura, then Mitzoti and the twins, they'll try and reclaim you soon, and Icheb. I won't let that happen, I won't loose you again."

"The Borg do not have Mitzoti or the twins." Seven reasoned. "They are safe."

"No!" His scream pierced the room. "The Borg have them, they take everything." The rocking began again, his body curling up into a ball. "They destroy everything I love." His agitation was mounting, and with it the speed of his body's movement.

"Lieutenant?" Seven's address was met with silence, the large man having retreated into himself. "Richard? Can you hear me?" Still nothing.

Placing a hand on Seven's shoulder Janeway caught her attention, then with a shake of the head indicated that they should leave the distraught man for the moment. Leaning back Seven permitted B'Elanna to help her stand, the feel of the other woman's hand in hers a comfort she didn't immediately let go.

"The Doctor will be here shortly." Janeway informed the two women. "I think it best if Edwards is sedated for now, and then when he is calmer we can try and talk to him again. Tuvok is arranging a security detail to guard him in sickbay."

"I would like to be there when he is questioned." Seven stated.

"I'm not sure that's such a good idea Seven, he doesn't appear to me to be in any state to undergo an interrogation." Looking down on Edwards Janeway's face took on a trouble expression. "He looks more in need of a therapist or counselor, neither of which we have."

"I did not plan on interrogating him Captain, I thought I might be able to help, he appears to have formed a connection to me."

"I'll discuss it with the Doctor and Commander Chakotay, if they agree then I'll let you participate." Janeway's eyes turned to the door as it opened to admit the EMH. "For now, B'Elanna I want you to take Seven somewhere to relax." Seeing Seven about to protest Kathryn gave the Borg's Klingon shadow a stern look. "Now Lieutenant."

"Captain." Placing her arm around Seven's shoulders B'Elanna began guiding the young woman out. "Come on Seven, I think we could both use a drink."

* * * * * *

The mess-hall was reasonably empty enabling B'Elanna to commandeer a corner table for her and Seven, the young blonde complaining that the consumption of liquid refreshment was unnecessary at that time, and that she had been away from her duties for long enough. Pushing Seven into a seat B'Elanna growled at her to, "Sit." Before retrieving their cups of tea. "Drink this."

Seven took a sip of the drink before scrunching up her face in disgust and pushing the offending beverage away from her. "The replicators need to be recalibrated, this liquid is overly sweetened. I can perform the procedure immediately, unless you would prefer a member of engineering to carry out the task Lieutenant?"

"There's nothing wrong with the tea, Seven."

"Yes there is, it has an increased.."

"I asked for it to be extra sweet." B'Elanna interrupted. "Sweet tea is good for shock, I think."

"I am not in shock Lieutenant." Seven pushed the cup further from her. "If we are finished here I should return to Astrometrics."

"Stay where you are Seven." B'Elanna placed her hand over Seven's as the young blonde attempted to rise from her seat. "Those three from stellar cartography are probably still in Astrometrics, and if you go barging in now you'll only get in their way."

"Are you saying I'm an encumbrance?" Indignation rolled off the perfectionist in waves.

"No!" B'Elanna brought her other hand up to join its twin in holding Seven's still captured hand, her fingers making small circular patterns across the Borg metal and then on to caress the skin underneath. "I didn't mean it like that." Looking up into confused blue eyes the half Klingon gave a small guilty smile, "I just don't want you to leave yet."

"Why?" The sensations travelling through Seven's hand were making it hard for her to concentrate, she knew she should be angry with B'Elanna, but all she could think about was how those strong yet gentle fingers were touching her, and not only her human skin but also the Borg implants.

"You need to talk about what just happened, with Edwards, and," B'Elanna looked down at her hands still busy holding Seven's and knew she should withdraw them, but she didn't, "I want to spend more time with you."

"You do?"

"Yes." As she answered B'Elanna indicated their linked hands. "Is that okay?"

Seven's fully human hand came up to join the others in a gentle hold. "Yes, it is okay." Her half smile was met by a fuller one from B'Elanna.

"How do you feel? About what just happened with Edwards." Although at first she had planned on asking 'how do you feel about me', the half Klingon found herself in the unusual position of loosing her nerve, and so backed out before the sentence was even complete.

"I am uncertain." Seven's thoughts were momentarily halted by the sight of Tom Paris and Harry entering the mess-hall, she was afraid that B'Elanna would remove her hand when she caught sight of them, but apart from a flicker of recognition in her warm brown eyes she made no move. "He wasn't hostile, that I would have understood."

"Why?"

"I am Borg. People dislike or even fear me because of it." Her tone was neutral but through their touch B'Elanna could feel a slight tremor run through her.

"You're not a Borg anymore." To stop the interruption she knew was coming B'Elanna squeezed Seven's hands. "They have no reason to dislike or fear you." Then to lighten the mood she gave Seven a big smile. "Not until they get to know you anyway."

"You dislike and fear me?" Seven knew B'Elanna had meant it as a joke but it was a question she had long wanted the answer to.

"No." Suddenly she wished she'd just let Seven go back to work. "I was never afraid of you, and I don't dislike you now."

"But you did?"

"No. Yes. I don't know." Bringing up one of her hands B'Elanna raked her fingers through her hair trying to work out how best to explain her previous feelings towards the blonde. Then fearing how the abandoned touch might look, returned her hand to intertwine with Seven's. "You annoyed me, you always thought you were right and you had no manners. I know I said hurtful things about you being a Borg, but if you'd been a Vulcan or Bolian or anything else I would have said the same, only blamed it on that culture instead of the Borg, but I am sorry if I hurt you."

"So it was not the Borg you disliked, only me?"

"No! I'm not explaining this well, what I meant was that I didn't dislike you because you were a Borg. I just don't like it when anyone interferes with my work, or goes over my head to the Captain." B'Elanna shook her head, this just wasn't coming out right and every time she tried to explain she just seemed to get herself in deeper. "Look Seven, we had a clash of personalities that's all, but as I got to know you and you became more your own person, I realised that we're really a lot alike, and that's when I came to understand how much I do like you."

"Acceptable."

Brown eyes searched out blue, trying to see if they really had accepted what she was trying to say. The need to explain further how her feelings had changed, and to what degree, was strong but B'Elanna held back, wanting to get the discussion about Edwards out of the way first. "Lets get back to Edwards, okay?"

"The Captain said I could not see Lieutenant Edwards until she has discussed it with the Doctor and Commander Chakotay."

"What?" B'Elanna thought back over what she'd actually said and surpressed a smile. "I meant get back to discussing Edwards, and what he did."

"He watched me."

"Yes, I know, and touched you." Trying again to make her open up B'Elanna pressed further. "What I want to know is how you feel about that?"

"The touch was not sexual." She deflected.

"I kind of realised that, I guess I was just projecting." Seven's eyebrow rose, and blushing B'Elanna continued hurriedly. "Stop trying to change the subject, how do you feel?"

"I... his reaction was not what I expected, I am unsure... I don't know how I feel." Seven's eyes dropped to their joint hands, she wanted to answer B'Elanna's question, more to please the other woman than a desire to examine her own feelings. "When I saw him on the floor, crying, I felt...I felt responsible."

"Responsible? I don't understand."

"When we entered his quarters I was expecting hatred or disgust, but the look in his eyes was one of....sadness." Seven appeared to retreat into herself as she thought of the weeping man, her own eyes misting with tears. "I felt as if in some way I had caused that sadness, as if I had done something to make him hurt like that."

"Seven don't." Without thought to anyone watching B'Elanna moved around the table to the chair next to Seven, and placing her arm around the ex-Borg's strong shoulders tried comforting the once ice princess. "You did nothing wrong. I don't know what made Edwards do what he did, but from the way he acted I think it goes back a lot further than his meeting with you."

"I know." Seven took pleasure in B'Elanna's nearness, although she felt guilty as her thoughts turned from her encounter with Edwards to possible closer encounters with the warm bodied half Klingon. "But I still feel responsible."

B'Elanna fought the urge to pull the tall blonde into her lap and rock her until the pain stopped. "Look, until we've had the chance to speak with Edwards we won't know why he did what he did, and in the meantime it would be a waste of resources to blame yourself for his actions." She lifted a brow in further imitation of the ex-Borg. "Come on lets get out of here."

"Where are we going?" Standing Seven was thrilled when a warm hand clasped her own and began leading her from the mess-hall.

"My quarters." Leading Seven towards the exit she turned to regard her, "you know its about time you had some quarters of your own."

"I do not require living quarters."

"Not even for somewhere private to invite your friends? Say for dinner or...." B'Elanna allowed her sentence to trail off, and with it the colour rise in Seven's cheeks.

"I shall speak with the Captain."

* * * * * *

For the second time that day B'Elanna led Seven into her quarters, but unlike the first time she wasn't looking for a quiet place to work, now her reasons for bringing the blonde beauty there were much more personal, and because of that she was suddenly nervous about what to say or even where to sit. Seven solved the seating problem by returning to the same place on the couch she had occupied earlier, but unfortunately for B'Elanna she remained silent, her large blue eyes staring up at the still standing half Klingon in expectation.

"It's getting kind of late." B'Elanna tried by way of an opening, even though she wasn't quite sure why she said it.

"Do you wish for me to leave?" Seven's glance dropped to the floor fearing she had outstayed her welcome.

"No!" B'Elanna rushed to sit by Seven, and once again taking her hand tried to reassure her. "I don't want you to go. I'm not sure why I mentioned the time, I was just...just nervous."

"Nervous?" An ocular implant rose. "Why would you be nervous?"

"I'm not used to you being here when we're not working." Talking about what was making her nervous was just increasing B'Elanna's anxiety. "Are you hungry?" She suddenly asked, both to change the subject and because her stomach had started to growl. "I could replicate us some dinner."

Seven had missed her last scheduled nutritional supplement, but she realised that even if she had just eaten she would still have accepted the offer of spending this personal time with the Lieutenant. "I would like that."

"Good. Are you still on a restricted diet?" B'Elanna asked as she neared the replicator.

"I can digest most substances other humans ingest, although some of the more spicy varieties can cause minor stomach pains." Seeing the half Klingon temporary chef in thought she added. "I also do not like cheese, although I am unsure why."

"No cheese, right." B'Elanna began inputting data into the replicator. "We all have foods we don't like Seven, it just depends on the individuals taste buds. Me, I can't stand almonds or raspberries, well except in jam and then they taste great on fresh scones."

"I do not believe I would like cheese even if it was turned into a jam and spread on a scone." The normally impassive ex-Borg pulled a face of pure disgust, sending B'Elanna into a fit of the giggles.

"Okay, don't worry I won't try and sneak any cheese into the meal disguised as anything." Still laughing B'Elanna began to set the table, refusing Seven's help when it was offered as she wanted something to occupy her thoughts, and divert them from the rather lascivious images they were supplying of herself and Seven. The rather lustful images were not something she wanted to dwell upon with Seven sitting so near to her, and even though she'd promised herself that she would act on their flirtations at the next possible opportunity, she didn't think that after the stressful day Seven had endured that she would welcome her advances.

Once the meal was ready the two sat down and after Seven's initial murmurs of appreciation concerning the choice of food, they continued to eat in near silence. Unlike on other occasions recently this silence was not a companionable one, instead it was uncomfortable, both women wanting to continue their flirtation, but at the same time afraid they would scare the other off. Then underneath that level of uncomfort was their equal need to move past the flirting and touch one another, which they were even more afraid to do.

"I found the meal constituents most agreeable." Seven praised. "Thank you."

"You're welcome."

"I should go." Seven stood rather abruptly, the atmosphere having unnerved her more than she thought. "I need to regenerate, and I wish to speak with Icheb before he begins his cycle."

"Okay, I guess now it really is kind of late." B'Elanna was disappointed, but also relieved, she wasn't sure she could go another ten minutes without trying to kiss those so very inviting lips. Reaching the door Seven turned to say her farewell, but B'Elanna beat her to it. "I hope we can do this again. The meal that is, not looking for a peeping tom."

"You would?" Seven had began to think the Klingon's silence during dinner was a sign of her indifference, but if she wished to engage in this form of social activity again, she might have been mistaken.

"Yes, of course I would." B'Elanna laid a gentle hand on Seven's arm, and doing so realised that she'd touched her more within the last day than in the three years preceding. "I'd like the chance to spend a lot more off-duty time with you, if you want?"

"I would like that." Seven hesitated at the doors threshold, she didn't want to leave but didn't have the experience on how to proceed, even though her instincts were screaming at her to just kiss B'Elanna, and quickly.

They stood there for a moment, both wanting the same thing, both waiting for the other to make the first move. Eventually it was B'Elanna who moved, after recognising the longing in Seven's eyes she couldn't hold back anymore. Reaching up her free hand she cupped Seven's cheek, her thumb caressing the silky smooth skin as she brought their faces closer. As if out of instinct Seven's eyes closed, and when finally she felt the delicate brush of lips against her own she couldn't stop a tiny sigh from escaping. The lips soon returned, the kiss just as delicate as the first, and just as maddeningly short. This time when Seven sighed it was one of frustration, and placing her hand at the nape of B'Elanna's neck she brought them together for a third and more prolonged kiss. B'Elanna's desire not to overwhelm the inexperienced woman with her passion was quashed the second she felt the strong hand begin to caress the base of her skull, sending shock waves of desire throughout her body.

Using her unoccupied hand Seven encircled B'Elanna's waist and brought their bodies into closer, and more heated contact. The feel of having another body pressed so intimately to her own was a new and thrilling experience for Seven, and the fact that the body belonged to the fiery engineer was making her tremble and hold on even tighter. Just as her legs seemed to have regained their ability to work without assistance B'Elanna dropped her hand from its resting place on Seven's arm, and following a slow caress of her back the hand came to rest on Seven's behind. The feel of the hand alone was enough to send her heart into overdrive, but then with a squeeze B'Elanna pulled her closer and a moan of absolute pleasure left her lips, only to pass through the excited Klingon.

Feeling Seven moan was like pouring oil on B'Elanna's desire, it ignited, and the need to consume her beautiful blonde love became overwhelming. Delicately brushing her tongue against Seven's full and inviting lower lip she was soon welcomed inside. The velvety softness of Seven's tongue meeting her own in a lustful dance, each taking their turn to lead, and both revelling in the intimacy of the gesture.

Relinquishing her caress of B'Elanna's neck Seven allowed her fingers to slowly feel their way down the other woman's enticing form. Her hand slowing to encircle B'Elanna's breast, exerting the tiniest amount of pressure, but enough to produce a growl from deep in the Klingon's throat, before the fingers carried on in their quest, a quest to find a way inside the restrictive uniform. Somehow managing to squeeze into the non-existent space between them, Seven's fingers found the edge of the uniforms fastening, and pulling gently, even though what she really wanted to do was rip the thing off, Seven pulled the uniform top open. Then as if they'd had years of practice her fingers found the edge of B'Elanna's t-shirt, and making their way underneath began a leisurely caress of the bare stomach before moving upwards.

B'Elanna's breathing started to come in short gasps as she felt Seven's hand touching her bare flesh, a shiver of desire following each pass of a finger across skin. As the gentle caress moved ever higher up her body B'Elanna wished she too could feel the skin of her soon to be lover, but all her efforts were frustrated by the mere fact she didn't know how to undo the formfitting biosuit. As Seven's hand came into contact with her bra, and made short work of releasing the front fastening clasp, B'Elanna could wait no longer. Regretfully breaking off from the kiss, she planted smaller kisses along Seven's jaw until her lips were resting next to the delicate ear. "How..Oohhhhh." B'Elanna's words were cut off as Seven's finger began a slow assault on her nipple, the sensations robbing her of speech, and driving the lustful Klingon to take sanctuary in nipping at Seven's bared neck, although not enough to break the flawless surface. "Mmmm, tell me how," B'Elanna placed a tiny kiss to Seven's ear, followed by another, "to remove your biosuit?"

"In...the...back" Seven suddenly lost the ability to speak as B'Elanna's lips engulfed her earlobe, "in..in..the..collar."

B'Elanna's hands were soon searching the neck of the tight suit, her fingers fighting for the opportunity to be the ones to free the beauty from her bindings, the once much admired blue suit now only an obstacle.

"Icheb to Seven of Nine."

Two sets of hands stopped their wandering, although for a moment neither could understand where the interruption had come from. Then reluctantly moving slightly away, and more reluctantly removing her hand from inside B'Elanna's top, Seven activated her comm. "Yes Icheb. Is anything wrong?"

"No." There was a definite note of relief in the young man's voice. "I just wanted to know you were all ri...that the investigation was progressing adequately." He covered, still not used to showing his emotions so openly.

"The investigation has been successful." Seven felt guilty for failing to keep the young man up to date on the investigation, she knew he had been concerned but still she had allowed herself to be side-tracked by the prospect of spending time with B'Elanna. Sharing a slightly embarrassed look with her almost lover, Seven couldn't feel guilty about wanting to be with the woman, but she knew she must hold back on her desires, at least until after she had allayed Icheb's fears. "I shall return to Cargo Bay 2 shortly, I will inform you of the situation then." With that Seven cut off the link and reluctantly faced what she thought would be an angered half Klingon. "I am sorry."

"Me too." With a groan, B'Elanna let her head drop onto Seven's chest, before with a weary chuckle adding, "you've got to teach that kid about timing."

"I am sorry."

Looking up B'Elanna saw the real worry barely hidden in the blue eyes, so reaching up with both hands she pulled Seven's head down for one final kiss, this time not hurried or demanding, but loving and gentle, a kiss that she hoped conveyed the promise of more to come. "I understand, you need to speak with him, he's been worried about you."

"You are not angry?"

"No." Slipping her hands from around Seven's shoulders B'Elanna trailed them along the other woman's arms until she could grasp her hands. Bringing their joined hands to her mouth B'Elanna kissed the knuckles of both Seven's before looking up at her with eyes still full of desire. "We can finish this at a more appropriate time, when I can guarantee we won't be disturbed for hours. If that's what you want too?"

"Yes." Any further speech was beyond Seven, so she repeated B'Elanna's gesture by raising their joined hands and kissing the darker ones before regretfully having to leave.

With shaky hands B'Elanna began to straighten out her uniform jacket, her mind already trying to work out how to secure the undisturbed time she had promised Seven. Willing to part with a life times supply of replicator rations if she could get to finish what they had started here tonight.

Continue to Part 2

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