| Part 1 | Part 2 |
Late the following afternoon Janeway called a senior staff meeting to discuss the situation with Edwards. Having decided to involve them in the hunt for what, at the time, she thought was a peeping tom, it now seemed appropriate, especially for Edwards future amongst the crew, to explain as fully as they were able the real reasons behind the Lieutenant's actions. The situation had also brought to light several changes in ships business that needed to be discussed, and she was hoping for suggestions for a candidate to fill a long overdue post.
As the senior officers filed in Janeway noticed an obvious change in their demeanour from the last meeting. Tom, who had barely seemed to register any need for concern at Seven's accusations, now displayed a serious and troubled face, as if someone had taken the time to point out to the helmsman what an invasion of privacy being stalked like that actually was. Next to Tom sat his most probable enlightener, Harry Kim, who having missed the confrontation with Edwards was still angry at the man and determined to see him punished to the full extent of Federation law, a subject he had spent much of the previous night studying. Tuvok sat as impassive as always, his countenance echoed in that of Commander Chakotay and, in a drastic change from his obvious concern and agitation at the previous meeting, the Doctor. The biggest change Kathryn noticed was in the attitudes of B'Elanna and Seven, one had been hostile and fuelled by anger, while the other confused and sad. Now as she watched Kathryn saw the smiles that fought for release on each of their faces, and more than that there was a certain lightness to their countenance, and sparkle in their eyes that could not completely be explained by Edwards capture.
"Captain?" Chakotay interrupted her speculation, indicating the meeting was now ready for her to begin.
"Thank you, Commander." Janeway surveyed the people sitting around her, a small smile on her lips an indication of happier news, or at least that was the impression she hoped to achieve. "I expect you all know why we are here, the individual responsible for spying on, and touching Seven has been apprehended. Lieutenant Richard Edwards is currently in sickbay, recov..."
"You hit him?" Tom blurted to the two women sat opposite him, his tone one of joy and vicarious excitement, although his eyes did travel in confusion from one face to the other trying to guess which had actually thrown the punch.
"No," Seven replied calmly, although the question did remind her of one Lieutenant Williams with whom she had unfinished business.
"As I was saying." Janeway's raised voice was enough to curb Tom's more obvious excitement at the thought of a fight. "Lieutenant Edwards is currently recovering from what in layman's terms I would call a breakdown." The EMH was about to step in with the correct terminology for what he believed was afflicting the Lieutenant, but refrained, knowing the language would most likely pass over most of their heads anyway. "His actions towards Seven were, we now believe, a result of long standing emotional problems brought on by severe trauma. For that reason Commander Tuvok, Seven and I have decided that it would be best to refrain from pressing charges in this matter."
"Excuse me, Captain?" Harry butted in, his data pad full of Federation legal precedents clutched in his hand. "I don't understand how you can let the man get away with sexually assaulting Seven, just because he's a bit..." Harry wavered between his distaste at what he thought Edwards had done and his natural empathy for those suffering emotional difficulties. "A bit unsettled."
"Ensign Kim." Speaking for the first time, Seven caught the attention of all those around the table, and calmed Harry's rising temper at the same time. "Lieutenant Edwards did not assault me, sexually or otherwise." Looking over at B'Elanna she wondered why all these individuals seemed to have a fixation with the sexual nature of touch, admittedly she had been thinking of little else for the past eight hours, but still she was uncertain why they all assumed that any unwanted contact was sexual in nature. She would ask the Doctor and research the phenomena at a later date. "He was attempting to secure my safety."
"Huh?" Harry's eloquence was joined by a confused look from Tom, and even B'Elanna was unsure of exactly what Seven meant, having missed the mornings lengthier session between Edwards, Seven, the Doctor and Chakotay.
"I think it best if you explain it from the beginning, Doctor," Janeway broke in, again taking control. "The shorter version," she added quickly seeing the man puff up his holographic lungs in preparation for a two hour operetta.
"Yes, Captain." The EMH collected his thoughts before continuing. "Seven and a half years ago Lieutenant Edwards was stationed with his family on the USS Cassiopeia, a long range science vessel, at that time he was a member of security and his wife a research immunologist. They had one child, a little blonde haired girl called Laura, who was on the ship with them. It appears the Cassiopeia came into contact with a Borg scout ship, one of the smallest vessels used by the Collective, and during the altercation almost half of the ships personnel were either killed or assimilated before they were able to hide behind a nebulous gas formation. Edwards daughter Laura was one of those assimilated."
"So that's why he attacked Seven?" Tom asked, never one to wait patiently for a story to unfold.
"He did not attack me!" Seven's words were becoming more forceful as the constant interruptions began to wear on her patience.
"If I was allowed to continue you might find your questions already answered." The Doctor spared the helmsman a condescending look, wondering for the 1,736th time why such a man had been assigned as his medical backup. "The trauma caused by his daughters assimilation was compounded by his temporary separation from his wife, which became permanent when he along with the rest of us was stranded in the Delta quadrant. The speed with which he transferred from his old ship to Voyager, and the hectic nature of the first months, or I could say years, in the Delta quadrant meant that he never allowed himself to grieve properly for his lost child." Stopping a moment the EMH remembered his own holo-family, and although he had only been with them a short time he in some tiny way was able to empathise with the man, having also experienced the loss of a child. "Our not infrequent encounters with the Borg only added to his bottled up feelings of grief and anger, but when Seven joined the crew he recognised in her another child that had been taken from her parents, and I think in some way seeing her returned to humanity alleviated some of his grief, while at the same time instilling within him a need to protect her safety."
"In a way Seven became a replacement figure for his lost child," Chakotay added for clarification.
"Precisely." The Doctor looked over at Seven, and with a smile continued, "It is plainly obvious that Seven isn't a child, so although linked in his mind with his daughter, Edwards was able to easily distinguish between the two and carry on his duties mostly unaffected. Then three separate events occurred to 'tip him over the edge', firstly we rescued the four Borg children, but instead of identifying them with his daughter, Edwards began to see Seven as both a representation of his child and as a parent, like himself, of Borg assimilated children."
"Sounds to me like he's ready for a rubber room," came another interruption from Tom.
Ignoring him, but putting the count up to 1,737, the Doctor went on. "Secondly he received a communication from his wife in the Alpha quadrant, in which she informed him that she had remarried having thought him dead." Janeway made a slight wince at this, the news too closely resembling her own from Mark. "Finally, three of the Borg children, including Mitzoti a girl only a few years older than his own when she was taken, left the ship. Now in Edwards mind he believed the children had been reassimilated by the Borg, and so to protect Seven, his substitute daughter, from suffering the same fate, he decided to protect her at the time she was most vulnerable, while she slept."
"I can understand him wanting to look out for Seven when she was regenerating, but why did he touch her?" B'Elanna questioned.
"It was my hair." Seven turned to talk directly to B'Elanna. "His daughter had golden coloured hair, and apparently as he stood watching me my hair reminded him of his daughters. So he did what he used to do with her when she fell asleep, he brushed the hair from her face and told her he loved her. Or in this case brushed my hair, and told me he loved me." There was a yearning in Seven's big blue eyes as she told this to her friend, a wish to remember her own father ever having shown as much love and attention towards her.
Reaching across the table B'Elanna rested her hand on Seven's for a moment. "I can understand that."
"So what happens to him now? Edwards I mean," Harry asked, his anger and list of Federation laws forgotten.
"The Doctor and Commander Chakotay have both offered to help counsel Edwards, and Seven and Icheb have also volunteered to talk and listen to him, when the need arises." Janeway looked agitated at this part of the meeting, the fact that a man had been suffering like this for years aboard her ship and no-one, including herself, had noticed anything or in anyway tried to help made her feel useless. She just wondered how many others were suffering in silence. "This brings up an important matter I wanted to discuss, the lack of a ships counsellor. This incident has displayed the very real need for a trained professional who would be able to handle, not just the past trauma's of the crew, but those we are forced to endure on a seemingly regular basis whilst in the Delta quadrant."
"How do you propose to find a trained professional?" B'Elanna asked skeptically, then with a sense of dread added, "You're not suggesting handing over the ships emotional well being to a hologram? No offence Doctor, I meant a normal hologram not you."
"No offence taken." In fact he was quite pleased at the engineers classification of him as not a normal hologram.
"No, I wanted suggestions of possible candidates for training, although some of that will of necessity be done on the holodeck." Both B'Elanna and Seven's attitude towards non-sentient holograms always left Kathryn feeling slightly soiled, so she moved the conversation on quickly. "I thought if any of you knew of someone who had shown a natural inclination to this type of profession I could approach them about beginning a training program. With our now more regular communication with the Alpha quadrant we might even be able to put them in contact with a trained counselor there to help with any problems."
"Chakotay has experience with this sort of thing, but I guess he doesn't really have the time to take on that kind of role." B'Elanna thought out loud.
"Correct, it will be a full time job, especially at the beginning." Janeway clarified.
"I suppose that would take Neelix out of the running too, what with him already being chef, moral officer and diplomat." Harry added with a smile.
"I would suggest Tal Celes from Astrometrics," Seven offered.
"Is that because you think she'd be good, or you just want her out of your hair?" B'Elanna asked her with a smile.
Seven put on her most superior glare and replied, "Both." Before returning the half Klingon's smile.
"I must agree, after working with her on an away mission I think she'd be a good choice for counselor, she seemed genuinely interested in people and had a desire to help." Kathryn looked around the table once more. "Anyone else?" When no further names were forthcoming Janeway looked ready to adjourn. "In that case I shall approach her about the position, and inform you later of her response. If that's all?"
"Actually Captain there is something else," B'Elanna got in quickly. "The incident with Edwards has highlighted the situation as regards Seven and Icheb's living quarters."
"Well, basically that they don't have any." With a look to Seven B'Elanna continued. "As it stands neither of them has any privacy while they sleep, or any space in which to relax or even just sit without interruption. That is a problem not shared by anyone else onboard, and from what the Doctor has told me, both Seven and Icheb will eventually need to start sleeping normally as well as continuing shorter periods of regeneration. Therefore they need quarters in close proximity to the Borg alcoves."
"I see." Janeway looked over to Seven to ga[u]ge her reaction, the ex-Borg's eyes were transfixed on B'Elanna, a small smile edging up her lips. "Do you have a proposal for these new quarters?"
"Yes Captain." B'Elanna handed over a data pad, one she had worked on most of the night when sleep had proven unattainable, at least without the blonde resting beside her.
"You have?" Seven questioned, pleased that the other woman would expend so much energy on her.
"Here." B'Elanna passed a data pad with a duplicate set of designs to Seven. "The construction would actually be quite simple, we would use the sides of the cargo bay to form two of the walls then just add the other two outer walls and the room divisions. My people could most likely have it completed within two days."
"Fine." The Captain set the designs down more than satisfied with the details, turning to Seven she just needed the young woman's opinion before giving the go ahead. "What do you think Seven, is the space adequate?" At the use of one of the ex-Borg's most frequently used words Kathryn couldn't hold back a smile.
"It is more than adequate Captain." Seven's finger traced the lines that made up the design of her quarters. "It is a home."
"Good. Start work on Seven's new 'home' immediately, Lieutenant." With that business was concluded and the staff meeting was adjourned.
* * * * * *
For two days Seven and Icheb avoided entering Cargo Bay 2, the one time they had attempted to enter a flustered engineering detail, led by the Chief Engineer, had practically thrown them out, with admonishments to 'wait until its finished'. The logical argument that they need to enter in order to regenerate were pushed aside, and once outside the doors to the cargo bay they were directed to sickbay where the Doctor had readied a portable regeneration unit.
"It is impractical for Seven and I to take turns using this inferior regeneration unit when our own are perfectly serviceable in Cargo Bay 2." Icheb complained to the EMH on the second day.
"That would spoil the surprise."
"What surprise?" The young man looked confused. "We already know they are constructing quarters for us, I have even see the designs, so how can that be a surprise?"
"You may have seen the designs, but not the finished building." The Doctor would never get used to the ex-Borg seeming lack of the dramatic. "Lieutenant Torres wishes to present it to you complete, so you can enjoy it properly."
"I believe Seven would rather enjoy spending time with Lieutenant Torres, and wait for the completion of our quarters."
"Really?" The Doctor looked around sickbay, making sure they couldn't be overheard before he began digging for gossip. "They did appear to be on much more friendlier terms recently."
"I suppose that means they've been seeing a lot more of each other, before the Lieutenant began construction that is." The Doctor tried again.
"So did Seven mention if they were planning on..." The Doctor took a moment to think, questioning adolescent ex-Borg males about their guardian's love life was not as easy as he had hoped. "Extending their friendship."
"I give up." This was positively the last time he tried to engage former members of the Collective in gossiping.
"Three nights ago Seven returned from being with Lieutenant Torres in a highly agitated state." The boy linked his arms behind his back as if giving a recital to the Borg Queen. "Her temperature was increased, her eyes still marginally dilated and her breathing rapid. I deduced from this she had either been involved with a violent altercation or had engaged in some form of sexual activity. From the look on her face, and the absence of injuries, I concluded that she and Lieutenant Torres had formed a sexual bond."
The Doctor just stared at the boy, silently taking back all he had said about not gossiping with former drones. The lad was a natural. Then his mind turned to the information he had retrieved, he had long come to the realisation that his own feelings for Seven would never be returned with anything beyond friendship, and was glad that she had finally found someone who she could share her feelings with. He liked and respected B'Elanna, although he would never tell her so in those words, and thought it a good, if on the surface odd, match. "I think Seven and B'Elanna would appreciate it if you didn't share these assumptions with anyone else until they are ready to have any relationship between them known." Suppressing gossip was contrary to his natural instinct, or some glitch in his program, but the EMH didn't want to be the one to have to reattach any of Icheb's severed limbs if B'Elanna found out he was innocently spreading rumours.
"I will comply." Icheb slipped back into true Borg vocabulary only when he was confused, and the person who had just spent the last few minutes trying to get him to talk about Seven's relationship now telling him he shouldn't, was confusing.
Just then Seven entered sickbay, "Icheb, I have been informed by Captain Janeway that our quarters are ready. You may resume regenerating in your Borg alcove." The clipped nature of Seven's speech was due to her disappointment that B'Elanna herself hadn't contacted her with news of the completion[. S]he had hoped to finally spend some time with the other woman.
"Doctor, the Captain informs me that it is customary to hold a 'house warming party' when you move into new accommodation." A raised ocular implant signified Seven's own thoughts on the warming of her home. "Therefore you are invited to attend the event tomorrow evening, 1800 hours."
"I would be delighted."
Without anything further the two ex-Borg left sickbay.
* * * * * *
Entering Cargo Bay 2 the two former drones were met by silence, the large rooms lights set to minimum, and tools still in evidence around the outer perimeter of what they knew must be their new quarters. Seven's heart was heavy, despite the prospect of viewing her new home. She had hoped B'Elanna would be there to greet her, the past two days had been interminably long as she waited for contact, her usually disciplined mind constantly betraying her to slip into memories and fantasies about the fiery Klingon. A glimmer of hope found a home in Seven's heart as she recalled the custom of 'surprising' individuals on the occasions of birthdays or anniversaries, and thought that perhaps a new home was also an occasion for surprise. If that were the case B'Elanna, along with her other friends, would be waiting just inside their quarters.
"We should examine our accommodation." Seven told Icheb, with barely concealed enthusiasm.
"Acceptable." The boy allowed Seven to precede him into the room.
On first entering the living area the lights were off, so calling for them to illuminate Seven prepared for people to rise up and shout 'Surprise' in a way guaranteed to scare three years off the life expectancy of anyone unfortunate enough to walk in on it. The lights came on, and Seven waited.
"Is something wrong?" Icheb enquired from behind her.
"No." She peered around the room, the decor was standard Starfleet issue, with a large couch taking up the left hand side of the room, a table and chairs the right, but no sign of a hiding chief engineer. Walking quickly[,] Seven went to the first of the doors adjoining the living area, looking in she expended just enough time to find out if anyone was present before moving onto the next. Two bedrooms with en suite bathroom, one on either side of the living room, and an area to the back of the living room containing the Borg alcoves, were all checked and still no sign of B'Elanna, or anyone else.
"Do you have a preference over bedrooms?" Icheb asked[. H]e was unsure if he too should begin a whirlwind tour of the house, but as his regeneration cycle was now overdue by forty-three minutes, two seconds, he just wanted to pick a room and step into the alcove.
"Either will be sufficient."
Icheb nodded his agreement and chose the room nearest him on the left. Then as she watched the boy entered the room, surveyed it for eleven seconds, then sat down on the bed, bounced on the mattress three times, then made his way back to the living room. "I shall redistribute my belongings once my regeneration cycle is complete." Moving towards the door at the rear he turned and attempted a smile, "Good night, Seven, I..I like our new home."
After watching Icheb disappear into the back room Seven walked into what was now her bedroom, and following the young man's example took a quick survey of the room before dropping down on the bed and giving a tiny bounce. Arching a brow, Seven checked there was still no-one within range, and bounced again, harder and higher, followed by a second and a third, before red faced with embarrassment she stood and walked to the door of the bathroom.
Looking around the bathroom Seven noticed a couple of small bottles of scented oils, and other bathing paraphernalia. Peering further she was surprised to see a small corner bath as well as a sonic shower taking up the majority of the space. As far as she was aware baths were not common accessories in Voyager crew quarters. Which made her wonder why they were still called bathrooms and not shower rooms, before rejecting the enquiry and deciding to experiment with this new apparatus.
* * * * * *
Harry Kim walked onto the Bridge to begin his duty shift, after having spent the morning helping the engineering team work on Seven's quarters. He was met by a friendly smile from the Captain, and her cheerful greeting. "Glad to have you back with us Harry, I hope Seven liked her new rooms."
"I'm not sure Captain, B'Elanna still had to recalibrate the replicator before she contacted Seven and Icheb." Harry had wanted to stay around to witness Seven's reaction, but he had already missed too much of his assigned Bridge time, so had left the Chief Engineer to finish up.
"You mean its not finished?" An urgent tone had entered Janeway's voice.
"The main structure is complete." Harry reassured. "B'Elanna just wanted to hold off until she had finished all the smaller details."
"I seem to have been previously misinformed." Kathryn prepared to tap her comm. badge and alert Seven to the mistake, but she realised it was now too late, the young woman would have wasted no time in moving into her quarters, and even if the replicators were not up and running, there could be no harm in her moving in a few hours early. "Its of no importance. I guess we can now look forward to Seven's housewarming."
"A Borg housewarming, only in the Delta quadrant," Piped up Tom, the others on the Bridge sharing his laughter.
* * * * * *
Hoping to add a little colour and personality to Seven's new quarters B'Elanna decided to replicate a large bunch of red roses, she had worried that it was perhaps not the ideal gift, as the quarters were to be shared with Icheb and the young man might not be too fond of flowers, but the need to get Seven something was too strong to ignore. Wanting to add other small touches of personality to the place, and knowing the two ex-Borg would more than likely leave the place practically bare if left to themselves, B'Elanna also replicated two bedcovers. The choice of cover had taken her some time, she wished to get Icheb something that reflected both his near adulthood and his lost childhood, the choice made all the more difficult as she still wasn't that familiar with the boy, in the end she settled for a cover depicting a space shuttle race, although memories of her disastrous marriage to Tom Paris had almost made her change her mind. For Seven she wanted something with a bit of colour and warmth, a nice contrast to the sterile nature of the Borg alcove. She decided on an artists interpretation of spring flowers, each bud imperfect but still beautiful, the colour she thought would light up the room.
Carrying her presents, along with a three-line alignment wrench to finish the adjustments to the replicator, B'Elanna entered Seven's quarters. The first thing she noticed was that someone had turned the lights on after she left, and wondered if Harry had sneaked back after she'd dismissed him to welcome the new residents. She knew it was selfish but she had hoped to welcome Seven and Icheb on her own, and give them a personal tour of their quarters. Now with completion only minutes away she wouldn't be able to find an excuse to banish Harry.
Grumbling under her breath B'Elanna laid down her packages before turning to try and see which room Harry was occupying. Walking to the bedroom on the right she noticed the temporary bedcover had been disarranged, as if someone had been jumping on it, so with more grumbling directed at the ensign she removed the cover and replaced it with the patterned one. Standing back B'Elanna admired her choice, before a noise from the bathroom alerted her to Harry's position.
Striding to the bathroom door B'Elanna planned on having a few choice words with Ensign Kim regarding the proper execution of a superior officers orders, or simply put when she told him to scram he should scram. Walking through the door B'Elanna was caught momentarily sightless by the excess of steam occupying the room, then her sight was blocked altogether as she walked into a tall towelling clad figure.
"What! Harry?" Stepping back B'Elanna was caught by the sight of Seven, damp hair hanging loosely down around her shoulders, cheeks flushed with the after effects of a steaming bath, or just running into another person in her bathroom. "Seven?"
"Yes, Lieutenant?" Although surprised to walk into the half Klingon only moments after getting out of her first remembered bath, Seven was still upset with the other woman for not being there when she arrived, even though having her here now was sending her heart into overdrive.
"What are you doing here?"
"These are my quarters." Moving out into the bedroom the ex-Borg made a sweeping gesture as if claiming the territory as her own. "I received permission from the Captain to take residence."
"You weren't supposed to move in until I'd finished." Feebly pointing at the new bedcover B'Elanna continued, "I wanted to make it nice for you."
Seven looked down at the new cover, she didn't understand why this new version had been chosen to replace the perfectly serviceable cover that had adorned the bed before she bathed, but if it meant B'Elanna had been thinking of her, of making this special for her, she was very happy with it. "Now you are here it is nice for me."
B'Elanna's blush wasn't only due to Seven's words, she had gotten her first full glimpse of the robe clad figure, and although the soft towelling covered nearly her entire body, its length ending just past her knees, there was something about the sight, or the knowledge that with one tug on the belt Seven would be naked, that set twin Klingon hearts thumping erratically. "Where's Icheb?"
"Regenerating." Approaching B'Elanna Seven could see the desire begin to awaken in her eyes, just as it had the night Edwards was caught. Only this time there would be not interruptions from Icheb, and her clothing would surrender to gravity with a lot less trouble and waste of time. "We are alone here Lieutenant." Seven's fingers effortlessly found the fastening to B'Elanna's uniform top and opened it, moving upwards they slipped the offending article from her shoulders allowing it to pool at the Klingon's booted feet.
"You can call me B'Elanna, you know," she managed past a mouth gone suddenly dry.
"Yes, Lieutenant." Seven's fingers again found the edge of the Starfleet issue t-shirt and began lifting it from B'Elanna's trim body, the half Klingon raising her arms to help complete the action, before the garment joined its companion on the floor.
Having remained passive for too long B'Elanna's hand reached out to grasp the end of the belt securing Seven's robe, only to find her fingers captured by the blondes and brought to her lips where they received a tender kiss. "Not yet Lieutenant."
Placing B'Elanna's hand back at her side, Seven trailed her fingers down the length of the exposed stomach, then reversing the action brought them up to graze the sides of the still covered breasts before exploring the smooth skin of B'Elanna's neck and shoulders, then slowly trailing her fingers down the caramel coloured arms she capture both of B'Elanna's hands in her own. With minimal encouragement she lead the captivated woman towards the bed, turning as they reached the side, so B'Elanna was standing with the back of her legs only an inch from the bed's edge. Letting a single finger slide around the waistband of the uniform trousers Seven located the fastening and tugged it free, allowing the last remains of the Starfleet uniform to gather around B'Elanna's feet. In a voice deeper and more strained than anyone had heard from her before Seven leaned forward to whisper in the excited Klingon's ear, "Take a seat please Lieutenant."
B'Elanna did as she was asked, she would have been a total fool not to, and saw Seven kneel at her feet, to remove first one then the other boot, and slip the trousers from her legs. Sitting there in nothing but her underwear all B'Elanna wanted to do was pull on Seven's belt and feel the naked form beside her on the bed, but she didn't, somehow during the course of the encounter Seven had chosen to lead, maybe given her inexperience it was her way of reclaiming control over uncertainty, or perhaps she just liked having her own way inside the bedroom as much as out, whatever the reason B'Elanna had decided to go along with it, they would have plenty of other opportunities, but this was Seven's first and she would decide how it progressed.
Standing Seven was again captured by the beauty of the other woman, the firm body leaning slightly back displayed all the perfection she could ever want from another, B'Elanna's face was open and filled with desire, desire that she had inspired. Trying to catch her breath the inexperienced woman was suddenly overwhelmed by all the feelings running through her, the needs of her body crying out to be met, but a small measure of fear seemed to be trapping her in mid-motion. "Seven?" B'Elanna called, a smile gracing her lips. Broken from her indecision Seven reached down and captured B'Elanna's face in her hands, bringing their lips together for a kiss filling with desire, tongues exploring freely as a hand found its way to Seven's belt. Ending the kiss Seven batted the hand away, "Not yet Lieutenant."
"When?" The desperation in B'Elanna's voice couldn't be masked.
"Soon, B'Elanna." Full lips curled as they spoke the name, and fingers traveled the short distance to B'Elanna's bra, unclasping the object and slowly stripping it from around her body to fall in a heap with the other discarded items. Splayed fingers traced a path down B'Elanna's chest, then moved down further to slip beneath the panties and begin an agonisingly slow journey to finally free the Klingon of all unnecessary clothing.
Lifting herself from the bed, B'Elanna could feel the material slide down her legs, leaving her naked and at the mercy of another's gaze, but instead of feeling vulnerable or even shy, she was thrilled. The look in Seven's eyes only adding to her sense of desirability, and as she watched in silent astonishment a long pale finger worked its way into Seven's belt, and with a frustratingly slow movement pulled the belt apart. The white material opened to reveal her first glimpse of Seven's beauty, a slightly worried frown going unnoticed as B'Elanna feasted on the emerging form. Seven's body was much as she had always imagined, perfection and flaws in harmony, the creamy white skin broken in places by the dark metal of the Borg, a starburst implant similar to the one on Seven's jaw sat on the underside of her left breast where it joined her side. The contrast was beautiful, and B'Elanna wanted nothing more than to reach for it and consume the implant with kisses. Her eyes travelling up to take in the sight of full breasts, her hands straining to reach out and touch the delicate skin, with a groan of pure frustration B'Elanna looked up into Seven's eyes, her intentions forgotten the second she saw the fear in the blue pools. "You are so beautiful, I don't deserve you Seven."
A gentle smile curled Seven's lips, her fear of rejection vanquished with a few heartfelt words, "I think we deserve each other Lieu...B'Elanna." Moving forward Seven once again captured the Klingon's lips in a fiery kiss, using her momentum to lay the other woman down on the bed. Before she could fully take advantage of the change in position and begin to explore the newly revealed body, Seven felt her sides being held and a quick movement found her lying in the centre of the bed with a smiling B'Elanna leaning over her.
"Sorry, just thought I'd get comfortable." The move had been instinctive, and from the look on Seven's face, welcome.
"Indeed." Seven again pulled B'Elanna's mouth to hers, this time forcing the Klingon's body to drape over her. Breaking the kiss and running her hands down the strong back Seven let her hands rest on B'Elanna's firm behind, "Now this is comfortable." Squeezing the firm flesh, just as B'Elanna had done to her the time before, Seven was rewarded with a deep groan and the feel of their bodies pushed closer together.
"Oh Kahless!" Dropping her head B'Elanna began to rain kisses down Seven's neck, trailing a path across her collar bone and down to encircle her left breast with tiny kisses. Seven's back arched with the contact, and B'Elanna took that opportunity to capture her nipple with an eagerly waiting mouth. The sound of Seven crying out only fuelled her desire further, flicking a tongue across the excited flesh her hand came around to search out the starburst implant, the metal surprisingly warm, and as she'd hoped responsive to touch, a second moan was torn from Seven's lips as fingers dances along the metal, its Borg precision sending sensations throughout her body. Temporarily leaving the tempting flesh B'Elanna's lips encircled the implant letting her tongue trace the edges of the metal as it descended into pure creamy skin.
Waves of pleasure worked their way through Seven's body, her mind unable to process all the new and incredible feelings assailing her senses. Needing the grounding of B'Elanna's presence Seven reached for her, urging her lips into contact with her own. Smooth fingers gliding down her body forced Seven to deepen the kiss still further, their decent towards her thighs leaving her fighting for breath.
Stilling her hand B'Elanna broke the kiss. "You okay?"
"Yes, I just didn't know it was so..." Seven's dictionary of words failed her, and shadowing B'Elanna's hand as it rested on her thigh she whispered. "Don't stop."
Smiling B'Elanna resumed her hands path towards Seven's inner thigh, her brown eyes glued to the blue of her lover, for the first touch of that most intimate of flesh. As she watched Seven's breath caught and her eyes closed, then a new and decidedly erotic sound made its way from deep in her throat, bringing an answering whimper from B'Elanna. Letting her hand intimately explore the smoothly soft flesh she couldn't take her eyes from the beauty that was Seven, silently praying she would open her eyes so they could fully share this moment. As if reading her mind the heavy lids began to flutter, and then she was captured by a blue so vibrant it stole her breath.
Sensations were running rampant throughout her body, wonderful, exciting feelings that seemed to overtake all other responses. Her eyes had closed of their own freewill, but pushing as if against lead weights she prised them open to search out the woman who had captured her heart, and now her body. Brown eyes met hers and physical pleasure was overtaken by the pleasure of the heart, the love she saw in those expressive eyes was more than she could ever have hoped to inspire, physical and emotional pleasure collided in a wave of orgasm, "B'Elannnnnaaaaa," reaching out blindly Seven pulled her love to her, needing to feel every inch of this miraculous woman.
B'Elanna revelled in Seven's death grip, planting small kisses on a rosy cheek as she watched Seven's breathing come under control, and the blue eyes clear and turn to focus on her. "You are incredible." She told the young blonde, and knew her words had failed to even come close to how truly remarkable she was. "I have never felt so..." Unable to explain properly she kiss the inviting lips once more.
Breaking from the kiss Seven stroked the side of B'Elanna's face, letting her fingers follow patterns in the warm skin. "You are the incredible one B'Elanna Torres, no one has ever made me feel the way you do. I didn't think I could."
"Well how about we call it a draw?" B'Elanna kissed a finger as it passed her lips, "We're both incredible," smiling she leaned forward and gave Seven a tender kiss, "together."
"Acceptable." An ocular implant rose, soon followed by the corners of Seven's lips, before she pulled her lover to her with every intention of finding out even more ways they were incredible together.
* * * * * *
Richard Edwards sat huddled on his bed in a quiet corner of sickbay, his fingers tracing lines on the data pad screen as tears streamed down his face. An image of a blonde blue eyed Laura stared back up at him, her face filled with such happiness and joy. For the first time in over seven years he allowed his mind to remember the day the image was taken, he and his wife Alyssa had taken their overexcited five year old on shore leave, the idea had been for a sedate picnic while Alyssa collected a few samples. What they hadn't anticipated was Laura becoming fascinated with one of the harmless fluffy pink mammals that lived in the area, and deciding to chase the probably very scared creature down towards the river. He remembered the panic at seeing her suddenly take off laughing towards the water, and the joy and relief when his strong arms captured her before she could try crossing the bridge. More tears followed the path of their predecessors as he recalled her turning to him with mounting glee, "Can I have one of the fluffy things daddy? I'll take care of him." At the time he'd had to refuse, but to keep the smile on his little angels face he'd promised to replicate her a fluffy pink teddy just like the animal when they got home. "Apple." A chuckle escaped him as he remembered the name Laura had chosen for the stuffed toy, at the time Alyssa had just looked at him with a barely restrained grin, "It's not round and it's not green, so of course he's called Apple." Then they had both laughed, only to be temporarily silenced by a five year old sigh of "Adults" before beginning to laugh even louder.
The EMH looked over at his most recent patient and was satisfied when he saw the object in his hands, for all the time he'd been on Voyager Edwards had refused to look at the picture of his daughter, his denial and guilt so strong even the thought of her had been like a knife wound. Now seeing him stare at the pretty little girl, and even hearing the occasional sound of muted laughter, the Doctor felt reassured they had not been too late to help the poor man. Going over to his console he wrote out a small progress report to give to Seven, the young woman and her ex-Borg charge had been Edwards most constant visitors, and even though he had been uncertain at first, the presence of the two Borg survivors had seemed to help the man open up and begin to come to terms with his grief. So he had agreed to keep Seven appraised of the situation, he only hoped their new counselor, when they got one, would be half as good as the ex-Borg in empathising with people. Stopping his train of thought the EMH wondered if he should have his program checked, 'Borg do not empathise.' He grinned to himself, maybe not but the two they had seemed to do a pretty good imitation.
Picking up the next object that Seven had retrieved for him Edwards looked at the transmission he had received from his wife Alyssa in the Alpha quadrant. He could remember reading the words of her new marriage, but other than that the contents were a blur, another memory buried because it was too painful to deal with. With a feeling of dread he opened the file, but the first few words caught him as a surprise;
I have missed you and loved you so much over all these years, the memory of you and Laura sometimes the only thing that kept me going, while at others the thought of finally joining the two of you in death was so strong I almost ended it all. I've lost count of how many times I wished I'd joined you on Voyager as you wanted, but I needed time after loosing Laura although I soon realised not time away from you, I thought then we could have faced the end together, maybe even been able to comfort each other. Now to know you're alive its so amazing, I've been crying tears of joy and sadness ever since I found out, joy that you are still alive my love, but sadness because you are so far away I will never see you again....
Edwards put down the pad, somehow he'd forgotten about these words of love and had only remembered the story of a lonely woman who took comfort from one of his old friends and ended up his wife. This was the Alyssa he'd married, the warm, loving and generous woman who had always made him feel special, the woman whose later messages he'd ignored and tried to forget. He sighed, he would talk with the Doctor, and maybe Seven, about the prospect of contacting her, just to let her know he still cared, still loved her, and he understood about her marrying Brian, even though he was still unsure if he did. Putting the objects to one side he laid down to rest, suddenly wishing he had a fluffy animal names Apple to snuggle up to.
* * * * * *
Laying on her side, Seven watched as B'Elanna slept contentedly in her arms, the darker woman's face relaxed in a way she had never seen before, inspiring within Seven a deep desire to protect her. The young woman felt the corners of her mouth turn up in amusement, she could just picture the volatile half Klingon's reaction to someone attempting to act as her protector, the language alone would probably be enough to frighten off most of her foes.
"What's so funny?" B'Elanna drawled, still half asleep.
"Nothing." Seven was usually honest to a fault, but didn't like the prospect of having to explain how she found B'Elanna's independence and stubbornness amusing. "I was thinking about the housewarming." Which was kind of true, she had considered it approximately two hours eleven minutes ago, after spending the first hour of B'Elanna's slumber just memorising the contours of her face, and scent of her body.
"And you were wondering why they wanted to set your quarters on fire?" B'Elanna smirked before snuggling in tighter to her Borg pillow.
"No." Seven was about to comment that she wasn't that naive, or literal, when the feel of hot breath on her neck stole her thoughts.
"So what about the housewarming?"
"Hmm?" Seven's finger began tracing patterns across B'Elanna's back, feeling the muscles ripple in her wake. "I was just trying to work out who I was meant to invite."
"You can invite whoever you want."
"What if I just want to invite you?" Seven's hand began to travel lower, her work being rewarded by a low purr from her lover.
"Well, I think the Captain might feel a bit put out by that." She planted a tiny kiss on Seven's neck. "Not to mention the Doctor, Harry, Naomi, oh and of course Icheb, I mean this is his home too."
"Icheb!" Seven sat up straight in bed, much to B'Elanna's surprise, especially as she found herself practically thrown off the bed in the upheaval.
"Calm down, what about him?"
"His regeneration cycle finishes in twelve minutes thirty-one seconds." Seven pulled the bedcover over herself and her companion. "He will see you."
"Are you ashamed to be seen with me?" B'Elanna's voice had taken on an indignant but also frightened tone.
"No, how could I ever be ashamed of you? I love you." Seven quickly peered through the still open door to the living room. "But, well he's only a boy..."
"What did you say?" B'Elanna sat up in the bed, the cover falling from her body earned first a hungry look, then a rapid sheet rearrangement by the flustered ex-Borg.
"I said he is only a boy, seeing his, his parental role model in this kind of situation might confuse him. I know I experienced deep confusion and even revulsion when the Captain took Sullivan as a lover, and I'm an adult."
"But that was because he's a hologram, I'm not." Stilling Seven's almost frantic movements, B'Elanna took her shoulders in her hands and turned the time calculating ex-Borg to face her. "That was not the part I want to hear you repeat."
Seven's face was a blank mask for a second as she replayed her words, then a shocked expression overtook her. She had not meant to express her feelings like that, she didn't want to scare the other woman off, and her research hand shown that too rapid declarations of love could have that effect if the feeling was not returned, or even in some cases when it was. "I am sorry, I did not mean to...to upset you."
"I'm not upset." B'Elanna's hearts were pounding, she had to know if Seven meant what she'd said. "Is it true? Do you love me?"
Seven felt like crying, she was caught between telling the truth and possibly loosing B'Elanna or telling a lie and still loosing her. Finally honesty won. "Yes. I love you."
Seven found herself engulfed in the tightest embrace she had ever experienced before lips found hers in a fiery kiss. If this was how rejection felt she didn't know what all those old country and western songs were complaining about. Her body was on fire yet again, and reaching down she began to let her fingers explore the exposed skin of B'Elanna's thigh.
"Mmm, stop that Seven." Having broken the kiss B'Elanna swatted enticing fingers away. "I can't have the almost son of the woman I love catching me in his new home, naked and being erm, pleasured by you."
"The woman you love?" Borg nanoprobes couldn't keep up with the galloping of Seven's heart at hearing those words, and for a moment she thought she would pass out. Most inefficient.
"That my annoying," kiss, "irrepressible," kiss, "alluring," kiss, "sexy," kiss, "woman, is you." Sitting back and observing a red faced Seven, B'Elanna took her hands and looking directly into her eyes told her "I love you Seven."
The Borg and Klingon equivalent of soppy grins were soon disturbed by the muted sound of the computer announcing a regeneration cycle complete. Leaping from the bed the two began a comical search for clothing, B'Elanna noting her house designs obvious lack of proper sound proofing, if the noise from the alcove could be so easily distinguished, and made the rectifying of that situation her top engineering project. While in the bathroom pulling at the skin tight biosuit Seven decided to replicate herself some more easily removable clothing, and to make sure B'Elanna had clear instructions on the fastenings of each.
Red faced and slightly disheveled B'Elanna and Seven made their way to the living room, where they bade an overly cheerful 'good morning', to an observant Icheb.
"Indeed." The boy answered, glad to see he was right, and his family had grown.