Okay, here's the first installment of my story for your general amusement. I hope pasting it into hotmail doesn't screw up the spacing etc. If it looks weird, please let me know.
Disclaimer: Star Trek Voyager belongs to Paramount, not me, no infringement intended.
* * * * *
So I'm going to seek a certain girl I've had in mind
Looking everywhere, haven't found her yet...
The Doctor was alone in Sickbay, going about his usual tasks; filing, scanning, tending to substances in tubes, humming to himself contentedly... until he realized he was unconsciously humming the tune of "Someone to Watch Over Me."
Oh, no, he thought, setting down the data padd in his hand. Stop!
She's the big affair I cannot forget...
The incessant tune refused to leave his holographic mind, along with the recent memories and images it recalled. He sighed. Would he ever stop thinking about her, wishing everything was different? Thoughts of Seven were interfering with his work, and with time not spent working, for that matter. Only cybernetic oblivion offered any peace. Every time he activated himself, his first thought after "Please state the nature of the medical emergency" was I wonder how Seven is today? followed by the hurtful memory of her voice saying there are no potential mates for me aboard this vessel. And he certainly could never go to the holodeck again without thinking of the time he spent there with her.
He walked to his desk and sat down miserably. This must stop, he told himself. As B'Elanna would say, "Doc, get over it!" Seven has made it perfectly clear that there is no one for her aboard Voyager. That obviously includes me. If she ever even considered me. Perhaps I should have told her how I feel regardless...no, the rejection would simply be too painful. And of course it's not her fault. She just can't feel...no, I am trying to find an excuse. It has nothing to do with residual Borgness. The truth is, no one could ever feel romantic towards a hologram...towards me. But it wouldn't matter if no one else could, if only *she* could feel that way.
Brows knitted, his sad brown eyes stared at his clasped hands on the desktop. At least I still have her friendship. That is worth so much to me. But how can I forget? How can I work and spend time with her as before? It will be so hard. Things will be the same for her, but they will not be for me, and she won't understand why.
He was seriously considering asking B'Elanna to erase his memory of the past few days when the Captain's voice broke in.
"Janeway to the Doctor."
"Please come to the briefing room. I've called a conference with the senior staff."
"On my way, Captain."
The Doctor stood and attached the mobile emitter to his arm. He thought of how grateful he was for the distraction as he exited sickbay, only to remember as the doors closed behind him that Seven would be there, too. Well, he couldn't hide in sickbay for the rest of his existence. Time to start getting over it, he told himself resolutely.
* * * * *
"As some of you already know, we are approaching another Mutara-class nebula very similar to the one we previously encountered and were forced to nap through due to the excessive radiation," Janeway stated as she paced behind the crew's chairs. The Doctor tried to avoid looking at Seven by staring at the Captain and hanging on her every word. "We can't go around this one either, and so will have to go through it again, although this time the trip should be shorter."
Tom Paris' face was pained. "You don't mean we have to get in those coffins again?" he whined.
"I'm afraid so, Mr. Paris. Using stasis chambers to put the crew in suspended animation still seems to be the best course of action, since most of us cannot withstand the radiation's effects for even a few minutes." Janeway returned to the head of the table as a general groan went around the room. "Everything went smoothly last time with Seven and the Doctor in charge." At that the Doctor glanced at Seven, who was sitting across from him. She turned her blue eyes to him and he felt his program flutter. "The problems that arose were dealt with - even you, Mr. Paris," Janeway said with a wry smile, referring to Tom's sleepwalking habits. "I have no doubt that Seven and the Doctor will be able to handle it this time, too, even more so since this trip should only take about a week. Hopefully, the shorter time period will prevent the radiation from wreaking much havoc on the ship's - and Seven and the Doctor's - systems."
Janeway turned to Chakotay. "Chakotay, work on assembling the stasis chambers, and let me know when they're ready. I'll be making a ship-wide announcement."
"Doctor, you and Seven make any preparations you feel necessary." Janeway beamed a smile full of confidence at them. "Dismissed."
The Doctor was the only one who noticed the fear in Seven's eyes.
* * * * *
Chakotay and the Doctor worked diligently, Chakotay setting up the stasis chambers while the EMH ran tests to make sure all systems were functioning properly. As he performed his duties, the Doctor contemplated the coming week and the prospect of being virtually alone on the ship with Seven.
It would certainly be different than the last time, and different too than how it would have been just a few weeks ago. His memories of the first nebula experience were not pleasant. He and Seven had constantly bickered, and he deeply regretted that. I didn't really know her then like I do now, he thought. If only I had realized how dear she would become to me! But then, it was sort of fun even to argue with her. His face broke out into a crooked smile as he continued to push buttons. She was annoying, but so was I, I must admit. We had a certain rapport even then. His smile faded into a worried look as he recalled Seven's hallucinations. She had been terrified and alone. That was the first time he had been able to see past the cool Borg exterior and realize that Seven harbored deep, abiding fears she hid masterfully from everyone. Her humanity had shone through the cracks in the Borg mask even as she insisted "I will adapt." The Doctor paused in his work as guilt became his primary emotion. If only I had been there for her then...she was so alone...although my mobile emitter wasn't working, there should have been something I could have done to protect her! The enemies weren't real, but they were very real to her...and I was all she had. He resumed working. No use thinking about the past, after all, and there were the more recent times, after they had grown closer. He smiled again as he thought of how he understood her more and more and delighted that she seemed to enjoy his company. He longed to give her joy always, and take the fear and loneliness away. If only she could want him to...if only she would let him! He would try with every photon of his being. And she could take my loneliness away...
He squashed the thought. We are good friends. I will help her get through this nebula... we will get the crew through it together, and then go on being good friends afterwards.
The Doctor checked the last few chambers and addressed Chakotay. "Commander, I believe we are ready."
* * * * *
Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of Unamatrix 01. You have left the Many, you are only One. You are weak and pathetic.
I will adapt!
You cannot. You are alone. You cannot survive. A Borg cannot be One. She will die as One.
It is dark...
Annika was afraid of the dark. She was weak, as you have become.
You know what you are.
I am an individual.
You cannot rejoin the Collective and you cannot be human, you can never be human. You are nothing.
Seven, my program is destabilizing! Help me!
I can repair you...
You are too imperfect now. You are not efficient.
Seven, help! Help me!
No, please, I cannot function alone!
You deserve to be alone. You are the murderer of millions.
I acted as part of the collective...
You think that absolves you of guilt? You have killed us! It is your fault that we no longer exist!
YOU WILL DIE ALONE.
Seven jerked out of her regeneration alcove, trembling and panting, and fell into the dark and quiet cargo bay on her hands and knees. It was happening again...but was it the radiation? Or a dream? Or perhaps both?
"Regeneration cycle incomplete."
Seven jumped and gasped at the voice. I am weak! she spat mentally at herself, hating the vulnerability and fear. She clenched her teeth and pulled herself upright, seeming ready to do battle with her demons. But the trembling wouldn't stop, the shadows seemed to encroach upon her. In a moment her shoulders slumped slightly as she gave in to the emotions. "I cannot be alone," she said aloud in a desperate voice. "Computer, locate EMH."
To be continued.