BOHEMIAN

Truth

SUMMARY: This is the first part of a proposed four part story. The Doctor and Seven get stranded in the Delta Flyer, and several confessions fly… but how will this unfortunate pair end up? A songfic based VERY loosely on "Moulin Rouge". You don't have to have seen it to understand this, though.

RATING: PG, to be safe. Probably more of a G, though… And 7/D sap, completely and utterly. Apologies for any OOC-ness.

DISCLAIMER: Seven, the Doctor and Tom Paris all belong to Paramount, even though they don't deserve them. This will teach them to neglect their pets. The song "Elephant Love Medley" belongs to Baz Luhrmann; there are too many songs incorporated into it to credit everyone, but it belongs to them as well. Many, many thanks to Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman for singing it so damn well. Oh yeah, and I nicked a line from "Farscape", so that belongs to Jim Henson Productions, the Sci-Fi Channel, et al. See if you can find it ;) Finally, the plot, no matter how contrite it is, is mine. All mine!!! Hahahaha!

AUTHOR'S NOTES: I always wanted to write a songfic from the moment I heard "On My Own" and decided to learn the words. However, that has been done to death. So has this, probably… I should explain the title. In "Moulin Rouge" (which Everyone Must See!), one of the themes is the idea of the Bohemian ideal of "Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and, above all things, Love…" I decided to turn these into titles for the four sections, and use a "Moulin Rouge" quote appropriate to each (by the way, if anyone can tell me if they're right or wrong, I will be grateful…) I have decided to post this part now since I lost my inspiration for "Beauty" (part 2), and I really wanted to get this up. I promise it'll be here soon.

Enjoy! Please R&R, and be nice :)

BOHEMIAN

(c) T'eyla Minh 2001

Truth

I only speak the truth, I only speak the truth…

--Toulouse Lautrec (John Leguizamo) as the Magical Sitar, "Spectacular, Spectacular" (M.R.)

Why, oh why did she end up in these situations? 'Routine maintenance', they said. 'Just take her out for a spin', they said. That was three hours ago, and Seven of Nine was still stuck in the same shuttlecraft, staring out at the same asteroid field, and trying to fix the same burnt out conduits.

Her predicament was not helped by the fact that her travelling companion was singing an operatic aria at the top of his voice in the back room. Yes, he had a good voice, pitch and technique perfect at the best of times, but still, it was incredibly irritating when she was trying to work. She put down the tricorder in her hand and called into the galley of the Delta Flyer:

"Doctor!"

The singing abruptly stopped and was replaced by the clatter of holographic shoes as the Doctor came running in, a look of concern on his face.

"Seven? What's wrong?"

"Nothing." She smiled and started scanning the conduits again, facing away from him. "You were singing too loud."

He raised an eyebrow, somewhat irritated, and made his way back to the galley. "If you're interested, I'll be playing some Puccini later. You might want to take a break and come join me." It took only several seconds before the singing started again, only slightly quieter than before. Seven sighed, got up, placed the tricorder on the pilot's seat, and joined him in the back. He abruptly stopped singing when he saw her walk in.

"Boredom set in?"

"No," she said, giving him her best withering stare and moving to the replicator. "I got hungry." She ordered her usual unadventurous nutritional supplement and took it with her to the front of the Flyer. She was just positioning herself in the pilot's seat when the Doctor followed her in.

"Be careful," he said lightly. "I don't think Lieutenant Paris will approve if you drop crumbs on the controls."

"I will be sure to hoover up after myself." With that, she diverted her attention to the course she had laid in that morning, checking for what seemed like the hundredth time to see what had gone wrong. The Doctor watched her for several seconds before sitting at the tactical console behind her.

"Seven, you've been examining every available part of this ship for the past two and half hours. I think it's time to give yourself a break." She ignored him. "It's my experience that the more you look, the less obvious things become."

"Perhaps while you're sitting there you could tell me our present status," she said. There were times when she valued his advice. This was not one of those times. He sighed impatiently and checked the readings in front of him.

"Um… everything, according to this, is exactly the same as when we stopped. Engines still offline, life support still operational, and absolutely nothing to report for light years around us in any direction."

"Thank you." With yet another impatient sigh, she moved back to the open panel near the floor and started examining it again. After apparently ascertaining what was wrong, she entered a code. Something bleeped promisingly. The Doctor smiled.

"I think that's-"

The shuttle went black.

"-done it."

He was promptly blinded by the light from Seven's wrist-torch as she shone it at him in annoyance. She said nothing, however, and returned her attention to the open panel. She entered the same code again, but nothing happened. After trying various combinations, and everything else in her power, all to no avail whatsoever, she gave up.

"I concede defeat, Doctor. It appears you were right."

Trying not to look too smug, he followed her to the galley. She had opened every available panel in the Flyer, and it was the light from these, the various consoles and the replicator that gave the room an eerie glow. It was, however, just enough to see by, and they sat at the table in amicable silence.

~^~^~^~^~^~

After another hour of doing blissful nothing, Seven had finally dropped her guard and yawned. The Doctor noticed instantly, of course, looking up from the PADD he was perusing to examine her thoughtfully.

"I think someone needs some sleep," he suggested. She was just about to prove him wrong when she yawned again. Frowning, she attempted not to look tired.

"I'm fine," she assured him, taking up a PADD from the pile near the Doctor. Perusing it, she asked, "What is it you're reading?"

"Ah, I was wondering when this would grab your attention!" he said, gleefully. "I'm updating my collection of music, throwing out the dusty old pieces. Care to assist me?"

A nod. "Very well."

They both found it impossible to be ruthless. The Doctor refused to get rid of certain pieces, even those he neglected to sing any more, because he claimed they were 'memorable'. Similarly, Seven kept pieces she found interesting, including several the Doctor could no longer stand. Eventually, they both stumbled upon an old Klingon opera.

"Where on Earth did that come from?" he asked, looking quite appalled.

"I would imagine it came from the Klingon homeworld," Seven said, smirking. "Is it to be discarded?"

"Please." She deleted it from the list.

"That makes one," she pointed out. Then she came across one that looked promising. "What about this one?"

He examined the PADD for a few seconds, then shook his head. "No, I'll keep it."

"I recall you have only sung this twice at the most."

"I'll have you know I sing that one a lot more than you realise."

She scrutinised it again. You Are My Sunshine. She refused to admit that the song had a certain inexplicable sentimental value to her as well. In fact, that was why she wanted to remove it from the database. "Why?"

There was a thoughtful pause. "Several reasons. Does it matter?" She shrugged, indicating that it was relatively unimportant, and they focussed on the task at hand.

After several minutes of silent perusal, the Doctor noticed that it appeared to be even quieter than before on the other side of the table. Looking up cautiously, he was pleasantly surprised to see that Seven had fallen asleep, slumped forward on the table, arms serving as a makeshift pillow, head turned to the right. He tried - and failed - to suppress a smile.

"Oh, Seven." Now that it was obvious she wasn't listening, he allowed a certain fondness into his tone. He reached over tentatively to brush a loose strand of hair from her eyes, and, when she made no movement, bravely let his hand linger on her cheek. "I wish I could tell you the truth…"

Then a thought struck him. He could tell her now, knowing that she would never hear him, and see how difficult - or easy - it might be if he ever got around to doing it for real. Better to have a practice run than to launch in blindly, after all.

Already agitated by the very idea, he rose from his chair and started to pace the room. It didn't matter that she was asleep, this certainly felt real to him. He pondered possible things to say in his head, found that it helped very little, and starting thinking out loud instead, quietly.

"Seven… I'd like to take this opportunity to… No, that's silly. Seven, there's something I've been meaning to tell you for some time." That sounded better. "I'm sorry I… I should have told you this sooner, but…" He thought. "…but… I've never been able to say the words." Pause. "I should write this down," he told himself, reaching for a PADD and noting down the phrase he had decided on. He read it back for sense, nodded, and continued, writing as he did so. "The words were so easy to find, but I lacked the courage to say them. I know there's no way you can ever reciprocate, but…" He took a deep breath. Replacing the PADD on the table, he sat back down, watching her at eye-level. He sighed. "God, Seven. Haven't I made it obvious enough? I love you."

Almost instantly, he got up and went to the other side of the room, busying himself with the replicator for no more feasible a reason than it gave him something else to look at. When he heard a sound behind him, he put it down to his imagination. However, his imagination did not account for the voice that said, thick with sleep and almost terrified:

"You… what?"

~^~^~^~^~^~

He turned slowly to see her standing with her back to the table, her expression a mixture of curiosity and mild shock. Neither of them moved any closer, seemingly adhered to the floor. There was an uncomfortable silence, during which the Doctor came up with ways of justifying himself, all of which ended in a panic attack. Just as he was going through his fifteenth possibility, her expression of wide-eyed horror changed to sudden realisation.

"I apologise, Doctor. I think I was… dreaming."

His heart sank. She had heard him, but now believed it was some subconscious mind game. This isn't supposed to happen like this! he thought.

"No, Seven," he began. "It was no dream."

"Then… you really said-"

"That I love you, yes!" he shouted, not entirely aware of what he was saying. There was silence. He smiled in realisation to himself, and repeated, more slowly. "I love you. I said it!"

Then, he took it upon himself to pay attention to her. She had sat back down again, clearly attempting to think rationally. He was just about to say something else when she silenced him with a wave of her hand, as if to say Just let me think… please. He granted her the opportunity, moving to sit opposite her while she digested this new information. Eventually, she regained some composure and faced him, calmly.

"You love me." It was a statement.

"Yes." He added, quietly, "More than you know…" That was quite obviously the wrong thing to say, as she looked away from him again.

"And… how long have you realised this?"

"Too long."

Silence again. The Doctor cursed himself silently for ever reprogramming himself. If he had never wished to be more, this might never have happened.

"And… what is it you intend to do now?"

He thought carefully, choosing his words with caution. "Well, I always hoped we might… deepen our relationship." There was no reply to that suggestion. "Is it too much to ask?" he implored. "Is there any possible way you could feel the same?" He was asking out of sheer curiosity, although he knew it was futile.

They stared at each other a long time before she spoke. In a low, calculated tone, she immediately dashed his ideas to the rocks. "Love is irrelevant, Doctor."

~^~^~^~^~^~

(He/spoken:)

Love is many a splendoured thing.

Love lifts us up where we belong.

All you need is love.

(She:)

Please don't start that again.

It had been another hour since their brief, yet final, conversation. Finally, the Doctor could take it no more.

"How can you say that?!"

"Excuse me?" She had, apparently, conveniently chosen to forget the topic they had been discussing.

"You said 'Love is irrelevant'. How can you believe that?"

"The matter is closed, Doctor," she said with determination.

(He/sung: )

All you need is love…

(She/spoken: )

A girl has got to eat!

(He/sung: )

All you need is love.

(She/spoken: )

Or she'll end up on the streets!

(He/sung: )

All you need is love!

(She/sung: )

Love is just a game!

"Not for me, it isn't," he said. "How can you sit there and tell me that love is irrelevant. You've been witness to it on Voyager - Tom Paris and B'elanna Torres for a start!"

"I admit that their relationship has… intrigued me on occasion. However, it is not something I wish to indulge in."

"How do you know that unless you try it?"

She sighed, somewhat impatiently. "Love is just an emotion, Doctor, nothing more. And a very inefficient one at that. It clouds a person's judgement, makes them do rash things-"

"Yes, it does…" he said, suddenly reaching out to grasp one of her hands. "But that doesn't make it bad, does it?"

(He:)

I was made for loving for you baby, you were made for loving me

(She:)

The only way of loving me baby is to pay a lovely fee

He tried a different tactic. "A while back, when you were 'dating', and you went through the crew manifest…"

"Yes?"

"Did you ever come up with anybody… 'suitable'?"

She bristled at this, wrenching her hand free. "No." Something was clearly on her mind, but she was not willing to share it with anybody, especially not the Doctor.

"Nobody?" She shook her head. "Out of the fifty odd men on the ship, you found nobody?"

"Nobody," she reiterated.

The Doctor sat back in his chair, defeated. Somehow, in a dream, in a crazy, manic fantasy, he had thought this would be easy, that she would simply fall into his arms without a murmur of protest. He was beginning to realise the truth of the situation. He had finally managed to push his infatuation too far and fall in love with her beyond the point of reason, and now he had pushed Seven too far as well. A sudden confession, it seemed, was not the way to tell her. Now she was frightened, and determined not to let him faze her, fobbing his affections off by resorting to her usual, familiar Borg mannerisms.

Bitterly, he decided to ascertain something. "I suppose you didn't even think to include me into your investigations, did you?"

She lowered her head, not meeting his gaze. "I did not," she admitted, slowly and carefully. He nodded, as if knowing this all along. Having it clarified had not helped in the slightest. "I did not," she repeated, interrupting him before he could speak again, "because…"

"Yes?"

She looked up to face him. "Because I knew you were the only one left… and I knew… you would always be the only one left…"

(He: )

Just one night, give me just one night

(She: )

There's no way 'cause you can't pay

(He: )

In the name of love

One night in the name of love

(She: )

You crazy fool

I won't give in to you!

"I'm not sure I understand," he said. It sounded like a good thing, but he could never be entirely certain with Seven.

"I don't fully understand myself. I think what I'm trying to say is… I know you'll always be there for me."

"Of course I will. Don't ever doubt that."

"I don't." She swallowed, her own voice suddenly sounding incredibly alien to her. "I got scared, Doctor."

"Scared? You should have come to me."

"I couldn't, not at the time." She stopped, uncomfortable with the revelation she had just made, and unwilling to expand on it. He did not push her, merely put on an expression he hoped was approachable, barely able to hide the curiosity in it. She took a deep breath and got out of her chair, situating herself a safe distance from him. "I realised… that I had developed feelings for you…"

The Doctor couldn't resist breaking into a wide grin. He soon dropped it when she turned to face him again. "I was unsure how to deal with them, so I ignored them in the hope they would go away."

"And?"

"They did not."

"In that case, why won't you give me a chance?"

"Because I could never hope to match your own feelings, Doctor. It would be unfair to even try."

"You don't have to match me! That was never my intention."

"Please try to understand," she said, finding her recently released emotions difficult to cope with. "I respect you, I see you as a wonderful friend, I may have even entertained the notion of…" she stopped to choose her words without making herself panic. "Of… a Relationship. But I don't love you…"

~^~^~^~^~^~

(He: )

Don't leave me this way

I can't survive without your sweet love, oh baby

Don't leave me this way…

His heart sank to his knees. Then he began to think, far too fast, determined to save this before it disappeared completely. As far as he was concerned, Seven had just admitted that she had some kind of feelings for him… but she didn't love him… yet. If he could just convince her to give it a try, he was sure she might… one day.

"Seven, that doesn't matter to me. I love you enough for both of us."

(She: )

You'd think that people

Would've had enough

Of silly love songs

(He: )

I look around me and I see

It isn't so, oh no

(She: )

Some people

Wanna fill the world

With silly love songs

She seemed to flinch at that. Trying to convince a lovesick hologram not to pursue his infatuation was no easy task, and she was certainly not the best person to attempt it… especially when she was the object of that infatuation. Which was what she had convinced herself it was. She found it far easier to deal with that way. In fact, she was just telling herself he would 'grow out of it' when she caught his eyes… and realised she was very wrong.

No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't hide the fact. She wondered how she had never noticed it before.

"It doesn't matter what you say, Doctor. I'm only being fair to you. I must wilfully decline your affection." She reprimanded herself for sounding so detached. Something inside her was screaming to be let out but she refused to listen.

"What more can I do?" he asked, grasping for anything possible to keep her talking to him. "Is it that you don't believe me? Can I convince you somehow?"

"There's no need. I believe you."

Another of those damnable awkward silences descended on them. Slowly, Seven made her way back to the table. The pile of PADDs still lay discarded from the night's earlier activity, haphazardly strewn across the surface. Absently, she picked the top PADD up to distract herself and read it. You Are My- She hastily turned it face down and put it back on the pile.

Without warning, after they had been sitting trying not to look at each other for several minutes, the Doctor reached across to take both of her hands in his, before she had time to react. She decided it was probably easier to allow him this instead of hurting him by wrenching free again. She would have been fine had he not spoken.

"I don't know what it is… I think it's the strange lighting, but… you look absolutely beautiful."

She blushed involuntarily and freed a hand to cover one of her cheeks. She watched, half-amused and half-transfixed, as he kissed the hand he held, gently. Their joined hands remained on the table's surface for a few timeless seconds, Seven staring at a point somewhere between them and the Doctor. He broke the silence again.

"I love you, Seven." She closed her eyes as if to shut out the words… or shut out the world around her. "You do believe me, don't you?"

She suddenly felt her stomach tighten and a lump seem to form in her throat. She nodded, not trusting herself with words in that moment. The urge to kiss him was suddenly overwhelming, but she fought it back, then pulled her other hand free of his grip.

"You should save these words, Doctor."

"For whom? There'll never be anybody else, not anybody like you."

"Save them for someone who can reciprocate," she said. "I cannot." There was a pause. "And even if I could… I would not be easy to be with."

"I don't care!" he said vehemently. "And I don't care if you don't want me to say these things to you, because I'm going to anyway."

(He: )

Well what's wrong with that

I'd like to know?

'Cause here I go again!

Love lifts us up

Where we belong:

Where eagles fly,

Over mountains high!

She gave him what she hoped was a convincingly exasperated look. It seemed to have very little effect as he reiterated the point he had been making all day. "I. Love. You. I will tell you as many times as I have to until you believe me."

"I believe you!" she said, unsure whether to be amused now or irritated with him for being stubborn. Then she made the mistake of looking him in the eye, and suddenly, she felt something that made her panic. A curious sensation in her chest, an almost jarring pain which made her gasp. Her brain decided on neither reaction; she got up again, quickly yet calmly, and completely vacated the area. She moved back out to sit in the pilot's seat, leaving the Doctor, bewildered, behind her in the galley.

~^~^~^~^~^~

(She: )

Love makes us act

Like we are fools

Throw our lives away

For one happy day

(He: )

We could be heroes

Just for one day

The asteroids that surrounded the Flyer were still as densely packed around them as they were when they arrived, almost five hours ago. They were all in the same position, floating stationary in space, immobile. And, more than anything, Seven wanted to be back on Voyager, where at least she could have some sanctuary. The Delta Flyer was larger than the average shuttle, but as far as she was concerned, there was presently not enough space between herself and the Doctor. She thanked him silently for not immediately pursuing her - she needed time to think, and, more importantly, to evaluate what had just occurred. She had felt something, but she was entirely unsure what it was.

She disliked the possibility that, suddenly, she had lied to him, without even realising it…

~^~^~^~^~^~

When the Doctor could finally take it no more, he meandered in to talk to her after sitting with his PADDs for an hour. He was met with what seemed like forced silence - it was far too quiet. Then, suddenly, she sensed his presence and turned in her seat to face him.

"Doctor… you startled me."

"Sorry, I…" he began. Then, in the even dimmer light of the room, he noticed what could only be tears in her eyes. "Have you been crying?"

Instinctively, she wiped them, proving him right, then denied it. "I think my ocular implant may be malfunctioning." She stood up, to make good her escape should she need to do so.

"Now, you know that excuse doesn't work any more…" he said lightly, walking towards her. "Anything you want to talk about?" She shook her head. "You're sure?"

"Now is not the time." With that, she stalked past him, getting halfway to the door before he called her back.

"Seven!" She stopped, but did not turn. "I'm sure by now Voyager has realised we're missing and Mr. Paris is probably on his way to pick us up. The first thing he's going to ask is how we're feeling. I suggest that if you want to avoid an awkward silence then, you talk to me now about whatever's bothering you."

(She: )

You…

You will be mean…

(He: )

No I won't…

(She: )

And I…

I'll drink all the time!

She turned to face him then, tears stemmed for the moment. "I need to apologise," she said, more calm in voice than in mind.

"You as well?" She did not react. "What about?"

"I… I'm sorry… I didn't tell you the truth before."

"The truth about what…?" He was genuinely confused.

"When I…" she started, then decided it would be easier if she turned away. She addressed the wall. "When I said that I didn't love you…"

There seemed to be an endless cacophony of noiselessness as he approached her, ever cautious, and stopped mere inches behind her. They were frozen in a moment of revelation and terror. The only sound was the random sparks flying from a burnt out conduit in a nearby panel. The torture ended, finally, when the Doctor's hand came to rest on her shoulder.

Seven started, even though she had been expecting it. Slowly, he used a light, yet insistent, pressure to turn her around to face him.

"You weren't lying at the time, were you?" he asked, clarifying. She shook her head.

"No. But I came to realise that now the words are untrue."

The silence that fell this time was more comfortable. He removed his hand from her shoulder and instead reached up to stroke her cheek. He followed the gesture by tracing the side of her face, the shape of her ocular implant. With his free arm, he pulled her closer, and as her eyes closed, he leaned forward to bridge the chasm between them…

(He:)

We should be lovers

(She:)

We can't do that!

(He: )

We should be lovers

And that's a fact

(She: )

Though nothing

Would keep us together…

Their lips barely touched before she pushed him back. She tried to ignore the expression of rejection he was failing to conceal, and explained herself.

"We cannot act on it."

"What?"

"This is… not the time."

He wanted to say It seems like the perfect time to me! but he restrained himself. He allowed her to continue only so he could gather his thoughts.

"As you said, Lieutenant Paris, or some crewman, will come to help us soon. I don't want them to find us… in an embarrassing situation."

Tom Paris would probably cheer us on, he thought. "I understand. If you want to wait until we get back to Voyager, then-"

"No…" Puzzled silence. "I'm sorry, Doctor… I'm not ready for this."

"I'll help you."

She shook her head. "I'm afraid…" she admitted. "So many things can go wrong."

"I know. They scare me as well. But we'll have each other." He kept his tone quiet, but meaningful. "It can't help to give it a try…"

(He: )

We could steal time

(He and She: )

Just for one day

We could be heroes

Forever and ever

We could be heroes

Forever and ever

We could be heroes

She sighed and seemed convinced. "Very well. We will try."

Smiling broadly, feeling as though his face would split in two, he gathered her into his arms. He placed a kiss on the top of her head and simply held her. For a brief moment, everything seemed right in the universe. They were stranded in an asteroid field inside an immobilised Delta Flyer… but there was nowhere he would rather have been.

(He:)

Just because

I will always love you

(She:)

And I

(He and She:)

Can't help loving

(He:)

You

(She:)

How wonderful life is

(He and She:)

Now you're in the world.

(She/spoken: )

I can tell you're going to be very bad for business…

~^~^~^~^~^~

Crackling. Static. A loathsome noise that was suddenly the most welcome sound ever discovered.

"This is… [static] Paris to the Del- [static] Flyer."

The Doctor released Seven, and tapped his comm. badge. "This is the Doctor. Can you find us?" He went to the front window to see if Voyager's shuttle was visible yet.

"Hey, Doc. [static] need you to [static] talking. I need to trace the sig- [static]."

"Understood." He couldn't think of anything to say and turned to Seven with a questioning look on his face.

"You had plenty to say earlier."

"I know, but… hmm." He launched into an operatic aria, shrugging as he did so. Seven rolled her eyes and started tampering with the comm. system to send out a hail to Tom. After three songs and nine failed attempts at a hail, Tom's voice filtered clearly through the Doctor's badge.

"We got you."

"Where?" he said, peering out of the window.

"Right above you. Transport here. We're going to take you with us, then come back with Voyager to retrieve the Flyer. Meantime, you can explain what the hell you did to her! There's a scratch the size of B'elanna's bat'leth all along the side!"

"It's a long story…" said the Doctor, taking Seven's hand as he did so. "Two to beam up."

~^~F~I~N~^~