Disclaimer: Yes, Paramount still owns the Star Trek Universe, but they don't own any characters that I've made up (even if they own their parents) nor the vessel I made up. Dana Marcus is my creative product from some of the events in the novel "Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan" by Vonda N. McIntire, but is still owned by me, H. S. Hines. Saavik history derived from "The Pandora Principle" by Carolyn Clowes.

Notes: References to TNG and TOS

Genre: Angst, Drama
Rating: M
Codes: B/7
Feedback: Reviews beget more fiction!
Description: Back in the alpha quadrant and life is very different.

Chapter 1

Harry laughed. Tom was balancing a spoon on the end of his nose and making it wiggle like a pendulum. B'Elanna laughed, too, after trying to fight it. Tom looked at B'Elanna, laughing and felt a pang in his chest. He covered it with a smile, refusing to ruin the new friendship they had developed by giving any sign that he still loved her.

Or that he still hated her.

The breakup had been difficult and hard for him to accept. Five months had gone by before he was able to speak to her again. At first, he cursed at her, told her that he hated her and hid from her as often as he could. At night he fought tears and destroyed anything that reminded him of her.

Then he started calming down. Now, thirteen months after the breakup, he was able to look at her without his heart aching as if someone had ripped a hole in it. Only a pang now and then, to remind him that he had been so in love with her that he was willing to die for her.

B'Elanna didn't notice any of this as it passed through the mind of the man now building a snowman out of his mashed potatoes. She looked across the room and noticed Seven of Nine, sitting alone in a corner, as usual. She felt her hearts beating faster, as they had for almost two months whenever she caught sight of the blonde.

She watched, oblivious to the room as the woman she had developed an infatuation for set down her padd and rubbed her eyes. Then she tugged at the collar of her uniform. Her Starfleet uniform.

When Voyager had returned to the Alpha Quadrant, at the expense of their captain, they had been shocked to find that Starfleet was willing to maintain the ship and instate, as crew, any member who wished to continue serving aboard her.

They had all been granted full commissions, including Seven, who was given the rank of Lieutenant.

Only a few members of the crew had chosen to leave Voyager for reassignment, retirement and in the case of Icheb, Starfleet Academy. Samantha Wildman had taken Naomi to Ktaria for two months, then returned, at Naomi's insistence. A Captain Dana Marcus had been assigned to Voyager.

B'Elanna still didn't know what to think of that woman. She had curly, brown hair, so different from the usual Vulcan straight, black hair; her eyes always seemed to be laughing and something about her screamed that she wasn't as disciplined as she pretended to be.

There were rumors that her grandmother was half Romulan, but B'Elanna didn't see any sign of the thick brow ridges that modern Romulans had under her thin, upsweeping brows. Her father, David, had been in Starfleet, as had his mother, Saavik, but that was all B'Elanna knew about their new captain and only because that was what she had revealed.

There were, of course, more additions than that to the Voyager family, but none quite as important. At first, the new crew had been almost hostile, what with post-war prejudices still in place. Seven, especially, had seemed to suffer, since she still retained so much of her Borg heritage.

So off the implants went, with the help of a Doctor Beverly Crusher, who was the Alpha Quadrant's leading medical expert on Borg systems. Apparently, her expertise had grown since it was incorporated into the doctor's program eight years before and working together, the hologram and the doctor were able to make Seven almost human.


Her left arm still maintained its exoskeleton, as it was more advanced, especially with its organic parts, than any artificial limb with limited movement and strength that the Federation could construct. Other than that, her ocular implant was the only one to remain, as far as B'Elanna knew, because Seven had rejected the artificial Starfleet optical implant in favor of her half-organic, more realistic orb, designed by the doctor.

The Doctor.

That was his name. Doctor. He decided that no other fit as well as that one word, describing him better than any other moniker. He had been recognized as a Sentient Artificial Intelligence and assigned to Voyager as her Chief Medical Officer with a rank of Commander, due to his command subroutines. Commander Doctor. B'Elanna still got a chuckle when she thought of it. More computer memory had been uploaded to Voyager to maintain his ever-growing systems.

Neelix's role as a chef and morale officer had ended upon return to the Alpha Quadrant. However, when Voyager was being repaired, she was also refitted. A new 'Ten Forward' lounge had been added on, as it was now standard on all UFP Starfleet ships, for the purpose of morale and social interaction. Neelix had immediately snatched the position of 'bartender.'

B'Elanna rested her chin on her arms for a moment and resumed staring at Seven across the lounge. She still looked a little odd without her biosuit, severe hairstyle or starburst implant, but she was still Seven of Nine. Her new service documents designated her Annika Hansen, and indeed, the new captain called her Lieutenant Hansen, but all the people she knew on Voyager called her Seven.

That was her name.

Perhaps she felt B'Elanna's stare, as she lifted her head to search it out in the crowd. B'Elanna had looked away by the time those blue eyes scanned her table. Harry smiled and waved at Seven, subtly and she nodded, acknowledging him.

Seven still didn't smile.

When Captain Janeway had died, Seven had withdrawn from the crew, even further than before. B'Elanna tried to draw her out, to make her smile, frown, even raise her adorned eyebrow, but she couldn't get a rise out of her by yelling, cursing, teasing, or joking, as she had tried all approaches.

Seven refused to visit the new counselor.

He was a young psychologist, fresh out of the Academy, eager and thoughtful. His Andorian heritage was plain from the blue skin and long, thin antennae on his head, but the red hair proclaimed his mixed ancestry better than anything else about him did. His voice was lightly accented; his name was Jellev Finn, his last name revealing that his father had been Human.

A perfect addition to the misfit crew of Voyager.

He had pursued Seven for a session since he had come aboard Voyager, but she refused, limiting her company primarily to the doctor.

Tuvok had retired. At the age of 114, he had finally decided to return to his wife, T'Pel and his children on Vulcan, completely resigning from Starfleet with honors and high recognition.

He never failed to write Seven. She maintained a correspondence with him that she shared with no one else on Voyager. She had considered transferring to the Serenity, an almost completely Vulcan ship, but decided that Voyager was her home and though it held many painful memories and she didn't socialize, for the most part, it held her friends and family. All that she valued.

Not that she discussed any of this with anyone but Tuvok and, on occasion, the Doctor. Seven didn't really feel as close to any other member of Voyager. Though she and Lieutenants Kim, Paris and Torres were friendly to each other, they never invited her along to their activities and she had never once heard any of them call her 'friend.'

Tuvok had called her friend. The Doctor had and Neelix, as well. The Talaxian was too emotional for her counsel, however, so she rarely discussed her fears with him. Her desires, on occasion, but never anything truly important to her. Janeway had been the only other member of Voyager with whom she discussed her problems, but now she was dead.

It made Seven very lonely. She wished that just once, the lieutenants at the table not far from her own would ask her to join them. Perhaps they never thought about it. Perhaps they didn't want her there. She didn't know and she wasn't about to expose her feelings by asking.

The Alpha Quadrant seemed quiet, compared to the unknowns of the Delta. That is not to say that they were left without excitement, but on Voyager one had routinely heard "I've never seen this..." or "I never imagined..." for years. Now, everything was already discovered, everything was regulated and classified.

Exploration seemed a thing of the past.

Tom was complaining that his skills were going to waste in the routine missions that Voyager was being assigned to. Everyone was restless and edgy. Jellev had reported this to Starfleet Command, but they didn't offer him anything that any third-year psych student couldn't. It was frustrating and it made his job very difficult.

He listened to Tom continue complaining for about five minutes, then he couldn't take it anymore. It was the same thing, crewmember to crewmember. >From crewman to Commander, everyone needed to escape the monotony.

He wasn't any exception.

Tom sat up, wondering why Finn had left him in the middle of a sentence. A little offended, he stood and left the counseling room.

"Captain, you have to do something. Even Mr. Neelix is complaining! The old members of the crew are used to the Delta Quadrant and exploring the unknown, the new members are all itching for adventure. Voyager is not a ship for routine, scheduled missions. She is meant for unexplored regions of space. An eight year veteran of the unknown; even the ship seems bored!"

"Please calm your passions, Counselor. I am aware that the crew is unsettled. I have already made my request to Command for reassignment. I await their reply." Marcus answered calmly, never turning from the window she studied.

"But in the meantime, how am I supposed to help them when all they hear from their friends is the same story they themselves have to tell? I can't offer advice and counsel—"

"That, sir, is your job and I'll thank you to do it," Marcus said, turning on the young man. When she saw his antennae droop, she immediately regretted her harsh tone. The emotions boiling under the surface of her mask were so hard for her to control at times. It was more than Vulcan discipline that held them in check—it was her command.

The crew knew that she wasn't full Vulcan, some even knew that it wasn't just human in the mix. None of them had bothered to look up her grandmother, or they would discover that she was born on a little known planet called Thieurrull (Hellguard), where Vulcan women were held captive and bred with Romulans. Where children were abandoned to the life of animals.

Her father's mother had not denied him his emotions, had encouraged him to maintain them under the veil of discipline. He loved his mother for that. And he hated her. He was a bastard without a father, raised on Vulcan with the dream of going to Starfleet. His dream had ended when, as a mere Ensign, he had fallen in love with another half-Vulcan. She had died in childbirth and he had died not long after, when Dana was three.

Dana was raised by her grandmother on stories of Starfleet, James Kirk (whom she had the pleasure of serving under) and a David Marcus who was not her father and who hated Starfleet, though he had loved a cadet who never quite finished the academy.

Dana had succeeded where her father and his mother failed. She was a Captain. The burdens on her shoulders were great and the shoes that she had to fill were even greater. This crew still looked at her with curiosity, mixed with a little resentment. They wanted their real captain, like a child wants their mother, not the person their other parent has married. The ghost of Captain Kathryn Janeway followed her around the ship, disapproving of this and unimpressed with that.

"I did not mean to be short," Marcus apologized, hearing Janeway's ghost tell her that she would never have yelled at an undeserving officer and she brushed it away. She needed to believe in herself, or no one else would. She wasn't Kathryn Janeway. She was Dana Marcus, her own person and her own breed of Captain. It was ridiculous to second-guess herself as she did.

"It's understandable, Captain. You're right; this is my job. It's just so new and overwhelming. Almost two hundred men and women… all with the same problem. A problem that I can't help them with, because... I have it, too," Jellev confessed quietly.

"As do I, Counselor." Dana sat at Janeway's—her desk. 'Everything in this room is mine now, not hers. Voyager is mine.' Dana repeated the words like a mantra in her head. "This ship is meant for the unknown. It's what she was built for. Small, strong and fast, she was built to explore. And that's what we'll do. But keep in your mind, as well as those of your patients, that even the Enterprise performs uninteresting tasks."

"But between those tasks, she is adventuresome. We are not." Dana couldn't argue with Finn's logic.

"I know." Marcus folded her hands together, index fingers extended, pressed together against her lips, her thumbs brushing her chin. It was in this way that she most often thought, a very Vulcan gesture. "But I have done all that I can. Please stress to Mr. Neelix that we need his support and encouraging words to the crew now, more than ever." Jellev nodded. "You are dismissed." He turned and left, leaving Dana to her thoughts.

"Woohoo!" Harry whooped. Months of tiresome assignments had finally ended with Voyager being sent to the furthest reaches of Federation space, with the instruction to 'explore.' Past UFP territory, towards the Gamma Quadrant (the opposite way from the Delta Quadrant), she had been assigned to spend six years 'boldly going...' Though it would take them almost a month, pushing Voyager to her absolute limits of warp 9.9995, and would require them to take a week-long break at Station Deep Space 13 for repairs and final energy supplies, to reach the limits of Federation space, soon the tediousness would come to an end.

Everyone was celebrating.

Naomi Wildman had entered the last phase of Ktarian childhood development and applied for the Academy. Where she was accepted. Seventeen years developed, though only seven years old, she had passed the rigorous entrance exams and this was a going away party for her as well.

Sam was crying, holding her daughter and complaining about how quickly children grew up. Naomi, for her part, waved it off with a laugh.

"This is really perfect timing, Mom. If I was still a kid, you would be reassigned, or I would be sent to live with Dad. Neither one would be acceptable for me, since I wouldn't be here. Well, if I can't be here, I'd rather be at the Academy than anywhere else in the universe. In four years, I'll get assigned to my own ship, and two years after that, I'll see all of you again." Naomi turned and included everyone in her conversation.

"We'll miss you so much," Neelix said, unshed tears shining in his eyes.

"And I'll miss you, too!" she cried, hugging Neelix, then Seven, who tentatively hugged her back.

"I shall be incomplete without you in my collective," Seven stated and Naomi burst into tears.

"Stop it, you guys, you're making it hard for me to leave!" She wiped away the tears and hugged Seven again. Harry hugged her next, then Tom. She passed through the room, alternately hugging and shaking hands with the people who had raised her and been her family. When she came to the new captain, the empty spot in her heart that had been Kathryn Janeway almost pushed her to tears again.

"I know that I am not Kathryn Janeway," Dana said. "She was your first captain; someone whom can never be replaced. Not that I would try. But I have had the privilege of watching you grow into a strong, intelligent and beautiful young woman this past year. I am certain you will succeed in all your endeavors, as you have a passion and intelligence to rival your peers. I wish you luck, though I doubt you will need it." Naomi laughed as the tears poured down her cheeks and she clasped Captain Marcus' hand tightly in gratitude.

"Thank you," she whispered, looking around at the crewmembers of Voyager. "Thank all of you!" She smiled at everyone, her gaze resting the longest on her mother, Neelix and Seven. "No matter where I am or who I am with, you'll always be my crew, my family... my collective." Seven smiled at Naomi, unable to stop herself. Everyone who knew Seven stood in shock, but Naomi only returned the smile, as though she saw it every day, almost making Seven cry herself.

"This is a party, is it not?' Captain Marcus said suddenly, breaking the silence. "Then let us celebrate. Naomi is moving on, yes, but this is a happy time as well. Let us treat it as such." The words had the desired effect as everyone in the room began talking, laughing and mingling.

All but Seven.

The ex-Borg moved to a corner, fighting tears and all the emotions that were threatening to break her delicate control. Only B'Elanna noticed and she decided that enough was enough and chased after the taciturn blonde.

"Hi, Seven." Seven looked up, nearly choking as she reigned in her pathos before B'Elanna saw it, despising pity more than anything else.

"Hello, Lieutenant."

"Seven, in almost five years, I think it's been, you've never called me B'Elanna."

"I was not aware that we were on a first name basis."

"I call you Seven, not Lieutenant."

"Because I had no rank when you originally began referring to me."

"No, because I consider you a friend."

"Friend?" Seven's eyebrow rose. "You have never said so."

"I'm a little antisocial at times. It's hard for me to express my feelings." B'Elanna confessed. Seven was surprised. She thought that B'Elanna was quite proficient in expressing her feelings and she said so. "Well, I'm bad at hiding those kinds of feelings, but I mean, the friendly kind." B'Elanna started getting flustered.

"Why are you telling me mow, then?" Seven asked. B'Elanna took a deep breath and thought 'here goes.'

"Because I like you."

"Me? What is there to like about me?" Seven asked, bitter from the stigma she had suffered.

"You're beautiful, intelligent and don't think that I haven't noticed your sense of humor!" B'Elanna answered.

"Beautiful? What does the way I look have to do with likable features?" B'Elanna felt trapped.

"Maybe I... more than... like you," B'Elanna muttered slowly. Seven grew cold immediately.

"Then you are interested in a romantic relationship with me," she said, harshly. B'Elanna looked up, surprised.

"I—" Seven stepped closer to B'Elanna and took the shorter woman by her arm, bringing their bodies close together. Seven kissed B'Elanna roughly, making the smaller woman moan in a mix of pleasure and pain. Abruptly, she let her go.

"I do not share your feelings, Lieutenant. But if you wish, we could copulate. Perhaps that will satiate some of your desires." B'Elanna felt angry and hurt and she had to restrain herself from hitting Seven for her coldness. A coldness she had previously believed affected. Tears warred with fists and she finally managed to spit out:

"Fuck you, Lieutenant Hansen. I'm sorry I ever gave a damn about you, I'm sorry that I thought you were human. Don't ever come near me again, outside of work. You can rest damned assured that I won't approach you again." B'Elanna spun and ran from the room, to hide in her quarters and cry the rest of the evening. Seven watched her leave, wishing that she hadn't been so hard on her, but believing firmly that she was right to stop B'Elanna before she became any more attached.

The universe didn't stop and B'Elanna survived her broken heart but...

Except when duty forced them to, the entire time they were on Voyager, B'Elanna Torres and Seven of Nine never spoke to each other again.

To Be Continued…