Pairing : B'Elanna / Seven
Rating : Mature
Feedback : I took the time to write it, so do me the honour of taking the time to respond when you read it.
Chapter I : Reluctant Photons on the arm of Perfection ...
The Doctor threw the Padd to the desk, sighing as the document clattered loudly and skidded across the surface. Laying his hands upon the armrests provided, the hologram bemoaned quietly the pointlessness of the medical logistical reports he was forced to complete - Neither unimportant enough to delegate to a crewman, or befitting of a Chief Medical Officer.
Scanning the empty Sickbay, an ironic smirk settled on his computer-generated features. A Chief Medical Officer devoid of a staff, recognition or realistic existence. His sole assistant not even that of a nurse, but the pseudo-medic Tom Paris, whose abilities beyond working a medical tricorder were doubtful and best not tested.
The Doctor sighed, his eyes travelling back to the confines of his office. He could hardly blame Mister Paris for loathing his Sickbay duties - even the Emergency Medical Hologram felt melancholy at his daily slog and grind; a hypospray was as far from the helm of a starship as any self-respecting pilot could hope to bear and though he was hardly enthusiastic, he complied with his duty - nothing more could be asked of him.
The Doctor gazed now at his liberator, in the form of the mobile emitter, laying atop its charging pad where it had sat undisturbed for the past several weeks. His limited understanding of the unit at least confirmed it stood at full charge, awaiting use at the slightest inclination. Yet it had dawned upon the hologram that he had little true purpose for the wondrous piece of Twenty-Ninth Century technology, as limited as his existence beyond these walls was.
He boasted few close friends; the closest of which, Kes, smitten with fantastical abilities had set out to explore the universe and all it contained many months beforehand. Her desire to learn, to be educated by The Doctor and in turn become his assistant had fled with her, and robbed the Chief Medical Officer of much of his confidence.
She had been the first to believe in his worth as a person, and now she was beyond reach.
His fondness for holophotography could be sated by the holodeck itself, which his program required no help in reaching. He had quickly discontinued his public showings, when an overheard conversation between Megan Delaney and her sister had revealed the true loathing the senior staff had held for his exhibitions - better to end them, than to be embarrassed by the most pathetic of excuses not to attend.
Retrieving the pad and emitter, The Doctor opened the first drawer of his desk, depositing the technology within and closing it once more. The emitter would be relegated to emergency use, where his skills required departing the range of the holoprojectors or compulsory social events he could hardly avoid.
Thoughts shifted to the crew, and how they had changed since Kes' departure. Personal relationships had begun to spring forth, to which the Doctor was glad - he had feared a long journey, too long a journey without companionship for the crew to withstand, and took heart in their happiness found with each other; B'Elanna and Tom one of the more widely known, but Harry and Samantha Wildeman, Vorik and Jennifer Delaney just as important and of course the ever-mysterious relationship between the Captain and her First Officer.
Yet the melancholy which afflicted him would not be pleased and depart, clouding his spirit and relegating his feeling of well-being to new lows. Only the walls of Sickbay, his home if such a thing existed for a being composed of light, seemed more a reminder of that which made him so much more different than B'Elanna, or Harry, or even Seven of Nine.
He was a simulation - the personality of Lewis Zimmerman endowed with medical knowledge, and generated by onboard holoprojectors and coordinated computer systems. Despite his modifications, some more successful than others, the obvious truth was unavoidable - he was an Emergency Medical Program, in an extraordinary situation with regards to the Voyager and her mammoth journey, but a program nonetheless.
He came to realise this, the moment he accepted the folly of his constant quest for further refinement at the conclusion of his former protégé's rather unfortunate date with Mister Chapman. When his many supposed talents, all uploaded rather than learned or practised, were employed; as waiter, pianist teacher and ultimately physician when events took an unfortunate turn. The conclusion, and Seven of Nine's summation that `no suitable mates existed onboard' had been crushing, and as The Doctor eventually accepted, true.
He had done his upmost to banish thoughts of the beautiful and brilliant woman from his mind, unwilling to endure the torture of longing.
His ponderings were interrupted by the hiss of opening doors beyond his office, and the impossibly tall form of the former drone, Seven of Nine, crossing the short distance to his office. He turned his gaze away, successfully avoiding meeting her own.
"Please state the nature of the medical emergency," he began flatly.
"I have come for my maintenance Doctor ," she replied, assuming the pose so comfortable for her and so alien to others. Hands clasped tightly behind a back so straight as to create a posture impossibly perfect and visually uncomfortable. Legs slightly apart, head held high, her true aesthetic beauty was obvious.
"Have a seat at a biobed," The Doctor ordered. "There's plenty to choose from, and I don't suppose it'll change anytime soon."
Seven's occular implant rose, though she said nothing as she negotiated the short distance to the nearest bed and sat atop, legs dangling over the side. Her auditory processor informed her The Doctor's tone was almost forty percent less pronounced than when she had last undertaken a visit to sickbay, three weeks before.
Armed now with a tricorder, The Doctor dutifully ran the hand scanner downwards, from forehead to jaw and back up once more, a few inches from the alabaster flesh which obscured the workings of the body beneath. Interpreting the data flawlessly and instantly, he read aloud his findings.
"Cortical node functional, no indications of malfunction; neural activity nominal; electrolyte levels consistent with regeneration cycle; brain stem regulation implant operating normally - your brachial clamp is out of alignment, it'll take a moment to realign if you have the time now."
This did cause Seven to pause - The Doctor did not usually offer a choice even when dealing with the most minor of her implants' problems, traditionally insisting on the correction of even the slightest anomalous reading. Nodding her head, the ex-Borg took the impetus on offer; "Correct the misalignment."
Taking hold of her mesh-encased hand, the hologram straightened the arm outwards, his right hand tracing the nerve pathways up through the elbow, the bicep and finally, the shoulder. Joined by the other both hand he began to massage the implant that replaced the Human clavicle; gently though firmly rotating the angle to optimum.
"Are you alright, Doctor?"
Pausing his treatment momentarily, he simply nodded, before returning to his work. Several moments further and he announced success by withdrawing his hands, and retrieving the tricorder. Analysing the results, he nodded again with satisfaction. "Your clamp is realigned, and that concludes your check-up. I'll see you in a few weeks."
Seven returned to standing, slowly as she pondered the odd behaviour of the Doctor. Not a single joke cracked, or complaint at the most minor of things. He had been professional, efficient but he had been … cold.
"Will you be attending Tal Celess' birth day celebration this evening?" She asked, seeking to steer the conversation to something resembling small talk - hardly her speciality, but seeking to inspire the Doctor to some semblance of conversation regardless.
The Doctor shook his head as he replaced the instruments used in the examination upon a tray, and in turn placed the tray upon the trolley which concluded his attempts to tidy the already sparse Sickbay. "I hadn't planned - I've a lot of work to complete here."
"You have no work I can ascertain," Seven rebuked, her brow rising as her gaze indicated the emptiness of Sickbay and as a result, the emptiness in the hologram's schedule and workload. She clasped her hands behind back once more, reverting to her traditional challenging stance.
"My work doesn't end with fixing broken bones and brachial clamps," he admonished with an almost-weary tone. "Mister Paris has shown such desire to avoid Sickbay as often as possible that I have to undertake his duties too - I don't have a staff Seven, or even a proper assistant. "
The blonde pondered for a moment, "Then you are overworked, and require recreation - you shall accompany me tonight, and we will complete the outstanding social lesson you have not yet found the time to teach me."
The Doctor frowned, "Which lesson?"
"I believe," she began as her eidetic memory recalled the fact when requested, "It was lesson Forty Eight; `Turn that frown upside down'."
"Seven, I think you've moved well beyond what a hologram can teach you about humanity. You've been on a date, you've attended gatherings and you've made friends; there's really nothing more I can show you, and I'd just be monopolising your time."
"You cannot monopolise what is given freely," she countered. "If I did not wish to spend time with you, rest assured I would not. As it stands, I will `pick you up' at nineteen-hundred-hours. I have been informed it is smart dress, I assume you know what is appropriate?"
The Doctor sighed realising resistance, in this case, was futile. "I'm sure I'll find something relevant," he relented.
Seven nodded, turning to exit Sickbay. As the doors parted to allow her leave, the Astrometrics officer paused, turning finally to address the holographic physician. "It is a `date', then. I shall return at nineteen hundred hours approximately - be punctual."
The Doctor shook his head as he was once more left alone - with the worst possible outcome of what he had hoped would be a speedy, and painless interaction with the object of his affections. How could he hope to restrain his foolish desire? An evening of suffering and sadness awaited him, and in the irony of it all, the former-drone was implicitly innocent - seeking to lift a veil of grey she had detected over his head despite the cause of it.
Satisfied his Sickbay was once more utterly spotless, The Doctor returned to his office, and replaced the emitter upon the desktop. "Computer, set auto re-initialisation of Emergency Medical Hologram for eighteen-hundred hours."
"Re-initialisation set," confirmed the shipboard intelligence.
"Computer, deactivate Emergency Medical Hologram."
B'Elanna tumbled from the Jefferies tube hatch with a thud and accompanying Kingonese cursing. Aiming a swift kick at the offending door, she dusted her uniform jacket off, sealing the slightly dented hatchway closed and climbing back to her feet. The day had been beyond unproductive - almost seven hours spent correcting minor malfunctions and problems with precisely nothing of long-term interest served. Whilst the engineer didn't mind fixing problems, both the Human and Klingon united in their hatred of teething irritations and minor distractions.
Entering her quarters, she deposited the engineering kit on the couch by way of throwing, satisfied enough it had landed intact. Stripping down to vest and uniform trousers, B'Elanna entered the bedroom to find her husband locked in a battle of wills with which tie to wear.
"Black is so traditional …" he mused, unaware of the company, before switching to a bright red. " ... But colour is more interesting," and finally, running a hand through his hair; "I could probably stand for a haircut too."
"You could wear your birthday suit?" Torres chimed in with a grin, stepping into the bathroom.
"Evening dear!" Tom replied cheerfully, finally discarding the black tie in favour of the red. "I'd take up your suggestion, but it's Tal's birthday after all - I don't think her guests are supposed to turn up naked."
B'Elanna shrugged as she entered the sonic shower, "I heard she was part Betazoid."
Tom didn't answer, imagining for a moment the interesting consequences of a Betazoid wedding; nakedness and nudity foremost in his mind even as he nodded his approval at the mirror - he certainly looked good in a suit, though it added a few years to his boyish charm.
"You're thinking of the Delaney sisters, aren't you?"
Tom turned to rebuke as his wife exited the shower, wearing only a towel. "Most certainly not, Miss Torres! Besides, I wouldn't fancy my chances against Vorik - He's so protective of Jennifer that between you and him … I'd definitely need the Doc's twenty-four hour call out."
B'Elanna grinned as she leant over the replicator panel; "You should be thankful it isn't Betazoid - Do you really want to see The Doctor naked?"
Retrieving his shoes, Voyager's helmsman pondered. "It'd be worse on you - whose gonna' modify his programme? Then again, maybe you're right … I mean, we'd be seeing Seven of Nine too."
The Chief Engineer screwed up her nose at the mention of modelling nude holograms, but frowned at Tom's final words. "I'm surprised flyboy - I'd have thought you'd be dying to see her curves up close and personal, sans bio suit and all."
Tom shook his head; "Nah, I'm not too comfortable with that. I mean, the implants she has that I can see sort of freak me out … the thought of metal screwed into bones and fused with flesh … gives me the shudders just thinking about it."
Standing, he continued. "I once saw her leave the holodeck after a game of Velocity with the Captain. Her shoulder, the left one I think had an implant like the starburst one on her cheek, but much bigger - it had eight or so points which buried underneath the skin, and the flesh around it was still the same hue as the colour of drones; pale and clammy, and snaking with veins-"
"Alright Tom, I get the picture," B'Elanna interrupted. "Besides, why do we have to discuss our resident Ice Princess? We're going to a party, not a funeral after all."
"Digging out the Klingon death armour?" He added, waggling his eyebrows suggestively but stopping short enough to avoid a swinging backhand. "C'mon, just the titanium bustier - I won't tell if you don't."
"I'll kill you Paris," she mumbled, waiting for the replicator to do its work. Satisfied she'd programmed it properly and replicated, Torres removed the dress from the hatchway, to a whistle from her husband. The gown was blood red, a sleeveless affair with a hemline terminating only halfway between her thighs and knees. An intricate pattern of sewn white star outlines permeated the material, bar where the sleeves should have begun - there the thinnest membranes of white flittered outwards.
"That's absolutely stunning," Tom complimented.
"I might not like to wear dresses, but I'll be damned if I look stupid doing it. Besides, you better enjoy it while you can - This is the most you'll be seeing of my flesh for the next few days - bustier indeed."
No amount of whining therein, absolved Tom of his burden.
"Computer, alter the suit to white, include the tie and shoes … No, that's utterly horrible. Computer, remove last change to garments and rotate shoe type to brogue; colour white and black."
The doctor looked at the mirror one final time, and sighed at his ordinary appearance. After almost an hour of attempting to find something unique, he had instead settled upon the simple combination of black suit jacket and trousers, brogues, white shirt and black tie. He might as well have been going to a funeral. He sighed, "Computer, remove holographic mirror."
At that moment, as the Computer fulfilled both The Doctor's request in regards to the mirror, and alerted him of the time being nineteen hundred hours approximately, the doors to Sickbay opened to admit a very different Seven of Nine.
The Doctor was utterly unable to comprehend words, mouth opening, subroutines active, but no vocalisation coming forth. After several moments the feedback loop between his cognitive system and physical subroutine solved itself and he managed a few words. "Seven, you look beautiful."
"Thank you Doctor, you are efficient also," came the response from the woman who had apparently replaced the less-is-more ex-Borg. Seven wore a dress coloured a cobalt blue and not entirely dissimilar to her eyes, so that an observer would be forced to stare into the enticing orbs to match any similarity. The hem ended just above the ankles, so that elegant, black strapped high-heels could be seen upon her feet.
Surrounding her neck, a simple silver necklace hung, beneath a neckline which allowed for a tasteful though enticing view. More shocking though, were the cascading blonde locks which obscured her occular implant, freed from their severe bun for one night only and ending just beneath her shoulder blades.
"I believe it is customary to join arms in accompaniment," she began, offering her mesh-encased limb for the taking. "Am I accurate in your social lessons?"
The Doctor nodded, and lined his arm in hers without hesitation. As the pair walked towards exit, the Doctor extended his free arm and swiped the mobile emitter from its new, though brief spot atop a medical trolley.
"Computer, transfer the Emergency Medical Hologram to the mobile emitter."
The Doctor and Seven were not in Sickbay to hear Voyager's artificial intelligence conclude the transfer, and advice the departed hologram of his successful transference. Nonetheless , the Computer made the statement for completeness' sake.
Kathryn Janeway, Captain of the U.S.S. Voyager and sole Starfleet command authority within the Delta Quadrant, regarded the mess hall with a warm smile. Returning the wave from the beaming Tal Celess, she placed her champagne glass on the table, turning to her First Officer.
"We haven't had an atmosphere like this in quite some time," she mused. "We've been a little too dutiful these passing months, Commander."
Chakotay nodded, "It's nice to see everyone letting their hair down, including our Captain, and our resident authority on the Borg."
Janeway's curiosity was piqued, "Oh? Seven's view of social situations doesn't fill me with confidence. I expect a twenty minute stay and the excuse of "Important Astrometrics assignments"' to depart. I really wish she'd use these opportunities to forge some friendships amongst the crew."
"Oh, she'll be forging some blindness," he replied sipping some of the champagne from his glass. "She's certainly gone to some trouble."
Without further intervention, the doors to the mess hall opened to admit the woman in question and on her arm The Doctor, who had been conspicuous in his absence from various meetings and informal get-togethers for several weeks without explanation beyond work commitments.
Continuing on as he watched his superior dumfounded by the former Borg, Chakotay ploughed ahead. "If ever I needed a reason why you did what you did in separating her from the collective Kathryn, that is it. She's radiant."
Janeway nodded, "I feel a little too prideful I think. The man on her arm should probably take a little of the credit."
Chakotay nodded a smile breaking outwards on his face, "He's really branching out; Doctor, Tenor, Tailor and Teacher."
The Captain playfully elbowed the older man in the ribs; "What are you waiting or Commander? Let's go and make our introductions - before we have to join a queue."
"Holy shit," Tom announced, drawing the ire of his wife as he downed the last of his glass' contents abruptly. "Harry!" he called, gathering the attention of his best friend from the buffet table, and gesturing towards the new arrival.
"Holy shit," Harry echoed, joined by an equally surprised Samantha Wildeman. "Is that Seven of Nine?" she asked.
"Probably a new method of assimilation," Torres replied caustically. "They've replaced "resistance is futile" with "come and get me big boy"."
"She can assimilate me any time," Tom replied, smiling from ear to ear, and again sidestepping his wife. "But then again, I hear once you've had Borg, you never go back."
B'Elanna downed her fourth glass of champagne, huffing. She wouldn't begrudge any of the crew putting some effort into their appearance - Samantha, Megan or Jennifer or Tal but Seven? The woman who's practically married to numbers? It's just insulting. To her it was some game of reaction, measuring responses like an experiment. Where was the emotion?
Grabbing another glass, this one destined for Tom, she drank it quickly, despite his protests. She didn't enjoy parties much, and she doubly didn't enjoy being upstaged at one of the few parties B'Elanna had bothered attending.
"Don't you think you're going a little overboard on the synthehol?"
"Cram it, flyboy." She retorted icily, in no mood for her meanderings to be interrupted by Tom, who was still doing his upmost, and failing terribly, at masking his constant stolen glances in the blonde's general direction.
B'Elanna had almost worked up the courage to introduce herself to Seven, with the intention of making a few pointed remarks, when the mess hall shook violently - the buffet table upending and sending the assorted works of Neelix and some more spice-fearing individual recipes into the air. The Half-Klingon found herself thrown to the floor along with the majority of the other guests, bar those with superior reflexes, such as Seven, The Doctor and Tuvok.
Even as Janeway used the counter to haul herself back level, a second thunderous impact robbed the mess hall of lighting, illuminated only by the red alert tapers which had now become active, accompanied by the blaring siren of warning.
"Janeway to Bridge, report!"
Lieutenant Ayala responded - "We've taken two direct hits from an as-yet unknown assailant; energy imprints on the hull are consistent with some type of phased beam weapon, but sensors are reading nothing except open space ahead; possible cloaking device in operation."
The Captain was already moving, along with the now-recovered Chakotay, towards the mess hall exit. "Damage report?"
"We've lost warp engines - the second impact blew out a plasma injector on the deuterium assembly. Shields have taken a serious dent, we're down to fifty three percent effectiveness across the dorsal grid."
"All senior staff, report to their stations," Janeway ordered. "Seven, report to Engineering; Lieutenant Torres might need your assistance."
Torres groaned as she shook her head, thankful at least that synthehol forgave the sin of overdoing it and already feeling the mental fogginess accompanied by binging beginning to fade. Putting aside her usual Seven-related reservations, she called on her professionalism and slowed her pace as she passed the ex-Borg, a clear though reluctant invitation to join her stride evident.
"So Seven, where'd you get that number? I don't think it's in the bio-suit database?"
Seven followed the question with a trademark brow furrowing, as she and the diminutive engineer worked their way towards Engineering. "You are correct Lieutenant, it is a custom design of my own making, incorporating various aesthetic ideals and my own particular body form into consideration."
"Yes, I know you're curvy - no need to rub it in the faces of us mere mortals," she muttered.
"You are mistaken Lieutenant Torres, I had to make changes to ensure my implants would not be visible, through their shape disturbing the material of the dress. It has nothing to do with my 'curves', whatever you are referring to. In any case, you are widely considered by the crew to possess an attractive figure."
B'Elanna stopped, "Excuse me?"
"My enhanced hearing means I am privy to conversations others cannot hear. Many times I have heard of both male and female crewman describing you variously as hot, sexy, pretty, beautiful, vivacious, exotic …"
"Alright," she interrupted, "I get your point. …Thanks, I suppose."
"I am merely relaying what I have heard, Lieutenant."
Torres did not have the time to formulate a thought cursing those irritating final words, as a third and totally debilitating rumble threw her from standing. Seven likewise could not resist, and was thrown against the bulkhead, groaning as her shoulder impacted the metal painfully. Sliding to the floor, she took a few moments to ascertain the pain radiating from the brachial clamp indicated damage, and that the Chief Engineer lived, from the stream of foul language emanating from her general direction.
"You still livin'?"
Seven nodded, "I am functioning."
The Computer, perhaps taking offence at not being consulted, chimed in with a ship-wide announcement. "Warning, intruder alert; deck ten, section four."
B'Elanna had already broken into a run, knowing Seven would be aside her in moments . They were a deck from Engineering and probably the second safest place on the ship. From there they could coordinate with security teams and fine-tune the internal sensors, whilst also addressing obvious damage already sustained to the warp drive.
"We have been boarded," Seven announced as she began to overtake the hybrid, despite still wearing high-heels.
"Seems so," she shot back, ignoring the obvious. B'Elanna did however slow her pace down upon the bright flash which assailed her vision directly in front, and forced her to stop, temporarily unable to see bar a bright white noise of light. Placing her hands on her knees, bent over and breathing heavily from exertion, her vision cleared and joined the unmistakable groaning of Seven of Nine.
The ex-Drone was on her knees, a bright blue tendril of energy leaping forth from her occular implant and jumping into the starburst implant upon her cheekbone. No sooner had Torres opened her mouth to ask Seven if she was alright than a second impact struck the blonde, and sent her to the deck, unconscious.
Dropping to her knees, B'Elanna checked for a pulse, and found one at the tip of fingers pressed on the younger woman's neck. Turning her head, B'Elanna spied a shadow emerging from the corner of the corridor and the features of something obviously not bipedal.
Then she became the target of the third energy strike, and she knew no more.
The Doctor pressed the hypospray upon clammy, pale flesh. Running a tricorder over the body prone below he frowned, even as a groan indicated a somewhat reassuring revival. Moving to a diagnostic station, the hologram input the results.
Seven of Nine sat up slowly, her gaze travelling across the various dermal plasters bound across her limbs and chest. With long tresses of blonde stuck to her sweat-laden forehead uncomfortably, her cobalt-blue eyes were clouded, and confused.
"Seven, how do you feel?" Came the familiar, reassuring voice.
"Doc?" She asked, uncertainly.
The Doctor frowned at the choice of language. "We were boarded by outlaws, pirates. They overpowered our shields and transported aboard - Taking a number of supplies from our cargo bay and some bio-neural gel packs, but nothing irreplaceable. Yourself and Lieutenant Torres were the only injuries; Some sort of neural disruptor ... A quite immoral weapon."
"I feel like a Targ on the third day Mid-Summer mating season," groaned Seven. Pausing, her eyes opened widely. She ran a hand over the tendrils of metal that formed a mesh over the left arm, breathing coming in heaving gasps.
"Doc, this isn't my body." She whispered.
For a moment, the Hologram was utterly speechless. Ever professional, he examined the neural logs in front of him further. As Seven continued to fidget, stretching arms, clicking joints and running fingers through blonde hair, he silenced the monitor.
"It seems there are two neural signals within your … Seven's … neo-cortex. I'd thought this a side-effect of the neural disruptor you were both hit with, but obviously something quite alarming has transpired."
"Two signals … You mean, I'm not where I should be? What happened to me, I mean … myself?"
The Doctor gestured to a biobed at the other side of Sickbay. Atop it, unconscious and surrounded by various medical technologies, lay the utterly motionless form of the Chief Engineer, seemingly asleep bar the healing cut on her ridged brow.
"You were in a coma upon transport to Sickbay … but evidently your consciousness has migrated into Seven's body."
He pondered the shocking development. "You're now a tenant of our ex-Borg B'Elanna - and I don't have the faintest idea how to reverse the damage. That is, until I find out precisely how this came about and the exact circumstances of the attack … I can't do anything more."
To Be Continued ...