DISCLAIMER: It's Paramount's galaxy.

NOTE: C/7. The result of a challenge using Chakotay, Seven, and a hula hoop. I added their 2 year-old daughter into the mix.



Stardate 62831.53


Ixchel stood with the iridescent blue ring beside her. The ring's diameter was almost as wide as the child was tall. She gave the ring a push and it rolled across the floor for precisely 2.3 meters, then fell.

"That is incorrect, Ixchel."

Lt. Commander Annika Hansen, known to her friends as Seven, stood in the center of her living quarters on board the USS Sacagawea, reviewing the instructions for the toy in her mind.

It was a hula hoop. Another of Tom Paris' twentieth century recreations. She wondered--not for the first time--where he found the time to excavate such trivia from the ship's database. She wondered--not for the first time--why she gave such ridiculous items a try.

Shimmy, shimmy. Work those hips, he'd said. Slow and graceful gyrations.

She was not certain how to "work" hips. Hers worked without her thinking about them.

She placed the toy, a hoop made of a petroleum-based substance called plastic, around her waist. She looked down at her two year-old daughter, who was expectantly watching her, wide-eyed.

"Ixchel," she said. "Observe closely. Your mother will now demonstrate a hula hoop."

Shimmy, shimmy, she thought. Slow and graceful gyrations.

She followed instructions.

The hoop clattered to her ankles. She picked it up and tried again.

Another failure. She thought for a moment about setting the artificial gravity on the deck at a slightly lower level--perhaps that would help. She thought better of it. She picked up the hoop and tried again.

Another failure. She wondered how she was supposed to teach her child how to do this, if she couldn't master the motion herself.

Ixchel was observing closely.

She tried again. Shimmy, shimmy. This time she suceeded. She thought that perhaps she understood what it meant to "work hips." She fell into a smooth rhythm.

Ixchel clapped and laughed. Seven beamed at the sound. There was no noise in all the galaxy that could thrill her like that laugh. She put more effort into her gyrations, hoping to encourage Ixchel to laugh some more.

Seven started to think that it was easy. She started to think that she would be as good at this as she was at some of the other athletic pursuits Mr. Paris had introduced her to. With her extraordinary visual acuity, coordination, and stamina, she was what he called "a natural," even though she was not entirely natural. She had to admit that Borg enhancements were occasionally useful.

But Borg do not shimmy. And they are not particularly known for their grace.

She worked her hips. And then heard a "pop." And felt an excruciating pain across her lumbar spine, radiating down her right leg. Too painful to stand, she crumpled to the floor.

Ixchel was still laughing, thinking it part of her mother's performance. Seven lay on the floor, staring at the ceiling, trying to ignore the agony in her back.

After a few moments, the child understood that something was wrong. "Mama?" she asked.

"Mama is damaged," said Seven. Her combadge was out of her reach on the end table near the sofa.

"Ixchel," she said. "Please retrieve Mama's combadge and bring it to me, so that I can contact sickbay."

Ixchel looked at her and stood, but did not comply. Instead, she walked into her bedroom and retrieved her favorite blanket, love-worn and threadbare, and smelling like baby's sleep. She carried it to Seven and carefully placed it over her. She crouched and patted Seven gently on the head.

"Feel better, Mama," she said.

Seven sighed.

She heard the doors to their quarters open. Ixchel looked up from her position next to Seven. "Papa!" she said, and ran to him, squealing and giggling.

Chakotay swept her up in his arms, gave her a hug and a kiss. "What have we here?" he asked, walking over to stand where Seven lay. He looked down at his Science Officer and tried to suppress a smile.

"Mama damaged," Ixchel said seriously.

"So it would appear," Chakotay said. He set the toddler down and crouched next to his wife. "What happened to you?" he asked.

By way of an answer, Ixchel handed him the hula hoop.

"You were playing with this?" He was trying not to laugh, but his effort was less than successful.

"Affirmative," Seven said. "A toy."

"Looks interesting," he said, smirking.

"Apparently, Borg do not gyrate," Seven said.

"Oh, I don't know about that," he said. "I've seen you 'gyrate' pretty well."

"Not well enough, obviously," Seven said, gritting her teeth against the pain.

"Well, Ixchel, it looks as if we've got to get Mama to sickbay," he said. He looked at Seven. "Can you walk?"

"Crawl, perhaps," she said. "But walking is unlikely. I cannot stand."

He tapped his combadge. "Sickbay, this is the Captain. We have a medical emergency in our quarters. You'll need to beam Commander Hansen directly to sickbay." He was laughing.

On command, Seven shimmered out of their quarters.

Chakotay picked up Ixchel. "Let's go to sickbay and see Mama," he said.


Seven rose on tiptoes, then brought her heels back to the floor. She stretched. She bent over from the waist. She crouched and came to a standing position.

"No pain," she said. "The doctor has cured me."

Chakotay stood in the doorway to their bedroom, in shorts, bare- chested. Seven smiled. There was no sight in all the galaxy that thrilled her like the sight of her husband, half-dressed.

He held the hula hoop in his hand. "So how do you work this?" he asked.

"I will not demonstrate," she said. "However, I can explain... You place the ring around your waist and give it a push. At the same time, you gyrate to keep the item in motion."

He grinned. "Like this?" he asked. He gave the hoop a push, started moving his hips rhythmically. It worked. The hoop remained in motion.

"Very good," Seven said. "You have discovered another talent." She smiled. There were worse ways to spend an evening following disc surgery than looking at her husband's bare torso gyrating.

He put more effort into it. She started to warn him about getting too confident, but she was too late. She heard the "pop" from his back and his agonized groan at the same time.

He crumpled to the floor.

She walked over and stood next to him. She looked down, trying to suppress a smile. "Should I get Ixchel's 'blankie'?" she asked.

"Just my combadge," he said through clenched teeth.

But Seven was one step ahead of him. She activated her own combadge. "Sickbay, this is Commander Hansen. The Captain is lying supine on the floor of our quarters."

She heard the doctor sigh. "Can he walk?"

She looked at Chakotay. "Can you walk?" she asked.

He looked at her.

"Negative," she said to her combadge.

"Very well. Stand by for transport."

She looked down at Chakotay, trying not to laugh.

"Apparently, I don't gyrate as well as I used to," he said. His eyes were twinkling, even though his face was creased with pain.

"I thought you were gyrating quite well," she said. She crouched. "Perhaps the problem is the hoop."

He grinned. She leaned over and kissed him. "The surgery takes only a half-hour," she said. "When you return, we can 'practice'... without the hoop."

He shimmered away from her. She stood, picked up the hoop and looked at it. She started to place it over her head, then thought better of it. She put it on the floor and gave it a push. It rolled through the door.

Obviously Ixchel had the right idea after all.