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This is a little piece, nothing special really.  But feedback would be just wonderful!

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.A Little Late.

In the back of her mind there was a little voice that always went on and on about things of no importance.  The darkness of the Mess Hall had caught its attention only moments before, and it had felt the need to remind her of how late it really was.  She didn't need a reminder; she had just completed some work in Astrometrics and emerged to find the ship eerily quiet.  She wasn't one to forget the passage of time, but she had to admit that the hour had surprised her. 

She had finished her shift and then some.  And now that the task was done she felt heavy, but oddly hollow.  What she really wanted was to fall into one of the empty chairs and stretch out, but the only movement she allowed was the slight tilting of her head.  It would have to be enough.  The little voice had an answer, no matter how useless, for everything though.  According to it, she was experiencing a combination of exhaustion and loneliness.  Physical fatigue she agreed with, but the other . . .loneliness was an all too human emotion.  And an irrational one at that. 

     But you're human now.  Well . . .mostly.

     She clasped her hands behind her back, observed space as it flowed past the window.  Her eyes momentarily caught her own reflection superimposed over the passing stars.  It wasn't often she took the time to study herself.  No more than to catch a glint of her optical implant, or sometimes she found herself absently studying her Borg-enhanced hand on the rare moments she let herself relax.  It was . . .a useless hobby that she witnessed many of her colleagues become taken with.  She refocused her gaze beyond herself and tried not to think too much about her appearance.  Such thoughts had no use.

     Oh?  And staring out the window is so productive.

     She sighed.  She knew that her body required regeneration, but she could not get herself to go just yet.  She felt restless and annoyed and mildly wondered if she should report these feelings to The Doctor.  Their occurrences were becoming more and more frequent.  No, they did not impair her work yet so they were of no consequence.  Of course, he would probably get hyper-emotional and accuse her of taking on too much stress, launch into one of his many lectures about how everyone disregards him and his opinions---Or smile and remind her that it was just another part of being human.  'Being human'?  She despised that phrase, and she despised being unable to tell if she were malfunctioning or just 'being human'.

     She would prefer not to concern The Doctor.  He would certainly make something out of nothing.  Or become highly amused at her ignorance.  It wouldn't be the first time on either point. 

     Her mind wandered, despite her efforts, to a scene that had played out earlier that very evening.  During a 'break' forced on her by the Captain she had been stopped and accosted by Ensign Paris in the corridor outside the turbolift.  She *had* planned on running some routine diagnostics on her alcove, but moments later found herself reluctantly accompanying him to Chez Sandrines.  At his (over-dramatic) insistence, of course.  She had been promised that the matter he wished to discuss was of 'grave importance'.  But to her annoyance it was anything but.  As it turned out, he had wanted to spend some time with two of his 'favourite people'.  The Doctor and herself, oddly.  And from the looks of it---Ensign Paris had roped him in as well.

     Of recent Ensign Paris had taken to seeking her out at various times in her day.  At first she had credited his behaviour to his meddlesome tendencies. He would make off-hand remarks or attempt to engage her in irrelevant conversations.  She would usually dismiss him and go about her activities, but soon she had noticed a pattern to his disruptions. 

     The Doctor. 

     She was unfamiliar with many human customs, but she had come to the conclusion that Ensign Paris was trying to hint at something.  Perhaps . . .

     She closed her eyes and allowed the thought to surface.

     Perhaps that I am . . .romantically interested in The Doctor.

     Her eyes flew open and she had just a moment to recognize the soft jarring of her breath before her thoughts went on without her.  Was it true?  Along with the Captain he was the most important individual in her life.  But did it mean more than that?  How does one know?

     She refocused on her reflection and raised a finger tentatively to trace its/her jaw, tried to imagine it was him.  Told herself it was him.  Nothing so concrete entered her eyes, but it felt as if something had clawed and coiled into her stomach.  She blinked.

     So, it is sexual.  I am romantically attracted to The Doctor.

     But was it mutual?  She mentally summoned him into her presence.  Observed him, not as her friend, but as an individual.  She tried to see past her expectations of him, of her flawed perception of him.  But the little she did glimpse was inconclusive and fleeting.  She wanted to be certain.

     She tapped her Comm badge.  "Seven of Nine to Ensign Paris."  She waited several moments.  "Seven of Nine to Ensign Paris.  Respond," her voice rose slightly then lowered with the following word.  "Please."

     What came next was a low groan that sounded like "Paris here."

     "I am . . .sorry for disturbing you, Ensign," she said hesitantly. 

     There was a long silence and then Paris' voice came back more attentive and clear.  "No problem, Seven.  What can I do for you?"

     "Describe the nature of the Doctor's feelings for me.  Are they more than casual?"

     "Uhh . . ." there was a pause, "Why do you ask?"  All traces of sleep were gone; his voice rang out clear and focused from the badge.

     "I am experiencing a romantic attraction to The Doctor." 

     Seven could hear Ensign Paris' short laugh that followed, but was uncertain of what it was that he had found so amusing.  To her knowledge, this was what many humans regarded as a very serious subject.

     He sobered audibly, "He cares for you, Seven."


     Paris sighed loud enough for it to carry over.  "He is . . .romantically attracted to you as well."

     She held her breath a moment for no reason she could devise then nodded silently to herself.  "How shall I proceed?"

     "Well . . .you didn't hear this from me, but I believe The Doctor mentioned something about some samples he wanted to catalogue tonight."  Pause  "It sounded like he would be working pretty la-ate."  His vox rose with the last sentence, she noticed, and he practically sang the word 'late'.  For some reason she had a mental image of him wiggling his eyebrows provocatively at her.

     "Thank you, Ensign."

     "Hey," he said, "What are friends for?  Good luck, Seven.  And good night."

     "Good night, Ensign."

     She turned abruptly and left the Mess Hall, her walk steady and maybe just a little quicker than usual.  The corridors were deserted and she mostly listened to the low hum of the ship and her own quiet footsteps, trying to imagine his response. 

     She came to a stop just outside of Sickbay and, without truly thinking about the reasons why, reached up and undid her hair.  She ran her fingers through it until it fell in soft gold waves about her face.  She remembered exactly how much he liked when she wore it down, on those rare occasions.  Her blue eyes rose back up the door.

     Did she want to tell him?  Yes.  Did she want to tell him now?  Now was as good a time as any, she concluded with characteristic precision.  The little voice was frantic now, and there was a sharp flutter in her stomach as if to protest her decision, but she shoved it down.  Of all the aspects of her 'humanity' that she had been curious to explore---unfounded anxiety was not one of them.

     Determination coursed through her veins and drowned nearly all tints of hesitation.  With her head cocked slightly she stepped in, cast a calculated glance around, and found him. 

     "A little late, Doctor."

     He jumped out of some sort of reverie, a data padd in his hand and the other cradling his chin.  His dark eyes moved to her and they widened slightly when he took in her hair.  "Yes it is."

     "Allow me to remedy that."

.The End.

This has been sitting on my hard-drive for at least two years.  I can't believe it took me that long to finally post.  Oh well, tell me what you think, please?

Thanks! ^_^