by Kevin

"Please state the nature of the medical emergency," the Doctor uttered as Seven of Nine activated his program. "Oh. Hello, Seven." He paused to reflect. "That's odd. I usually only say that phrase when I've been reprogrammed or - "

Seven interrupted. "It is probably an anomaly in the program. What Mr. Paris refers to as a 'glitch.'"

"Hmm, possibly. I'll run a diagnostic - " His eyes fell on Seven's face. The look on her face seemed out of character, revealing emotions she normally kept repressed. Concern furrowed the Doctor's brow.

"Doctor," Seven said, "there is a matter I wish to inform you of."

"Yes, Seven? What is it?" His voice was unusually solicitous.

Seven of Nine lowered her usually penetrating gaze to the Sickbay deck, not meeting his gaze. She felt more tense than she ever had been. In fact she was beginning to shiver.

"Computer, adjust Sickbay temperature to … " The Doctor checked the sensors. The room was a comfortable 78.71 F. "Cancel that request. Give me life sign readings for Seven of Nine - "

Seven interrupted, lifting her head and holding out one arm. "There is no need, Doctor. I am fine." She heard her subdued voice reveal the untruthfulness of her words. She was only physically fine.

"What is wrong, Seven?" the hologram inquired. Lines of sympathetic pain creased his worried face.

Seven stomped her heel on the deck, more to keep herself from shuffling her feet like an idiot than from anger, swallowed and felt herself flushing hotly. "Doctor, I wish to inform you that I am in love with y - Oh, no. Computer, end program."

The Doctor vanished, and Sickbay resolved itself out of existence, leaving Seven of Nine standing alone in the naked holodeck.

She muttered under her breath, "I wish to inform you that I am in love with you. Stupid! I might as well have said 'resistance is futile.'"

She paced the holodeck, as fast as her long legs allowed, reviewing the scenario over and over again in her mind. She compared it to the various romance fictions she had read. It was not satisfactory. She would have to try again.

"Computer, replay Seven of Nine's Holodoc Simulation Alpha-57-delta. Erase record of previous twelve plays."


The walls of the holodeck again took on the familiar appearance of Sickbay. Examination tables, diagnostic equipment and medical supplies took on reality around her.

"Hello, Seven." The Doctor's eyes fell on Seven's face. He saw the subtle alteration of her normal expression. The former Borg appeared distressed. She had the most remarkable expression normally, an enchanting blend of the harsh logician and the naive innocent. The Doctor often wondered whether he was attracted to her because she, somehow, reached both the human and computer parts of him.

//Ridiculous,// he dismissed the thought. //I don't have a computer side to my personality. The holoprogram is merely a template that holds my human personality.//

Seven's features were softer than he had ever seen them, softer and more vulnerable. The sudden thought occurred to him: //Why is she so frightened?//

"Doctor," Seven said. "There is something I wish to... talk about."

"Yes, Seven? What is it?"

She stammered out the words, determined not to sound like... well, like a Borg... this time. "Doctor, I have to tell you. I - I feel - "

"Yes, Seven? What is it?" The Doctor stepped forward and held her satin-sheathed arms tenderly.

She looked away. The Doctor's hand cupped her chin gently, stilling its sudden trembling, and turned her face toward him. Her eyes began to tear, but she noted his odd smile before her vision blurred. "I love you!"

"I know."

His arms slipped around her and he pulled her to him. Hers went around his broad, strong back and held him to her. They stood that way for a long while.

"I love you, too, Seven," the Doctor murmured, lifting one of his hands to lightly stroke her short, blonde hair.

At his words Seven froze. She had finally succeeded. She was tempted to remain here, secure in his arms and his warmth, away from the cold reality where she could never tell him things like this. But that was not ... not productive. Nor fair, either to herself or to the real Holodoctor. She knew that she needed to break away, determine just what she had done and said right this time and extrapolate the odds that the real Doctor would react to it as his simulation had.

Still, she let herself cling to the hologram for long seconds more. Then she stepped back and said, "Computer. End program."

Everything but her and the Doctor disappeared.

"Computer, end - " She paused. The Doctor stared back, wearing an amused and contented smile. Then it hit her.

"What are you doing here?" Seven's voice reassumed some of its old harsh assertiveness.

"Telling you that I love you."

"I mean - "

"I noticed that someone was reproducing my programming for use on the holodeck. I became curious and I'm afraid that I eavesdropped on the perpetrator and replayed several of the simulations." His smile became a brief grimace of evident pain and embarrassment. "Then, I understood what you were trying to do and I... replaced your program with a Sickbay simulation and inserted myself into it." He looked shamefaced into her wide eyes. "I certainly didn't mean to intrude. When I saw the opportunity... " He ended with a shrug.

"What opportunity?"

"Seven, I have had feelings for you for a very long time. I didn't know how to tell you, or if I should tell you. When I replayed your sims and realized that you felt the same way, I had to take the chance."

Seven shook her head. She did not understand. The Doctor had not been assimilated and raised by the emotionless Collective. Why should he have any problem sharing how he felt?

As though he could read her mind, the Doctor said, "Seven, you don't have trouble revealing your emotions because you were Borg. It's because you are human."

She considered that for a moment, then pressed on. "Very well. Our mutual feelings have come out. We must plan what to do about them next... "

The Doctor's grin grew several parsecs wider. "No, dear, we don't plan. We don't extrapolate, measure, catalog or set agendas. What do you *feel* like doing now?"

Seven smiled, a sight rarely seen but to the Doctor one capable of lighting the entire Delta Quadrant. "This," she said softly. "Computer. Seven of Nine's Holodoc Simulation Alpha-57-delta-B. Activate."

The stark lines of the holodeck melted into an intimate, softly lighted room with couches stacked with velvet pillows, a table set with candles for a romantic dinner, in front of a roaring fireplace. Seven of Nine slipped into the Doctor's waiting arms and lifted her wide mouth to his...