Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek: Voyager or anything related to it. I am but a poor student, so please don't try and sue me.
A.N. I apologise for the immense delay at finishing this fic. I've had an overabundance of coursework and a serious lack of sleep lately. However I now have a three hour boat journey home so what better way to occupy myself than writing?
Eight hours later and Seven was glad to finally be able to leave Sickbay, her obligations to duty fulfilled. She had been distracted throughout her shift and was relieved that there were relatively few patients for her and the Doctor to attend to. However, this meant that the Doctor was able to focus all his energies into discovering what it was that had left Seven so unfocused. He had questioned her on her memories of Quarra, her attachment to Icheb and Naomi and he had even questioned her on her identity- the difference between Seven of Nine and Annika Hansen.
Not once did he bring up the topic of the Commander nor did he bring up Unimatrix Zero, for which she was thankful. If he had asked her, point blank, about the subject of her preoccupation, she didn't think she would have been able to convincingly lie. It just wasn't in her nature.
She had successfully avoided discussing Unimatrix Zero with the Doctor after the events that led up to its destruction, consistently claiming that they had more important things to consider at the time- the de-assimilation of Janeway, Tuvok and Torres, the repairs to the ship, and the condition of the former drones who had requested to have as much of their plated armour removed as possible. She had evaded the topic so long, in fact, that it had never again been mentioned. Yet many of her memories, and more relevantly, her feelings, from her time there still plagued her.
Captain Janeway, after meeting 'Annika' (the part of her who had existed inside Unimatrix Zero could not be described as Seven of Nine) in Unimatrix Zero had commented on how human she was there. But Seven had felt no pressure to act more human whilst there. She had known, somehow, that in a world full of Borg drones there would be no one that could judge her past. She could be herself without the fear of making a mistake and forever being judged for it. It was a freedom that she had never exercised on Voyager, especially after numerous lessons in Social Skills.
Captain Janeway had been wrong, Seven realised. In a place where she was equal to everyone else she hadn't been more human. She, like every other drone who had possessed the mutation, had just been trying to act less Borg. And it was that feeling that she had been trying so hard to reproduce. She had tried interacting with the crew more, she had taken up hobbies, she had tried to understand why people behaved the way they did and adjust her own behaviour accordingly. She had tried but she was still uneasy and as a result she, more often than not, reverted back to the familiar comfort of her Borg superiority.
During her time in the Mess Hall talking to Chakotay she had been able to relax, aware that there was little she could do to re-induce the distain Voyager's First Officer had felt for her when she had first come aboard. Then she had experienced feelings that she recognised. When he had complemented her, she had felt pleasant. When he had laughed, it had felt pleasant. When he touched her on the shoulder or took her by the elbow, it felt pleasant. Everything felt pleasant. But pleasant didn't seem like a profound enough word to describe the feeling. After all, it was pleasant to sing a new aria with the Doctor and it was pleasant play kadis-kot with Naomi. Perhaps she would have to expand her dictionary.
These things didn't evoke the same feelings as she had experienced in Unimatrix Zero however during the time she had spend with Chakotay her residual feelings for Axum had echoed through her.
It was only later, in Sickbay, that she had fully realised this and in an instant the relaxed feeling she had experienced evaporated to be replaced with something more familiar. A nervous tension that left a sick sensation in her stomach. So she employed all the skills she had acquired over the past four years to dodge the Doctor's persistent questions while she considered her current dilemma.
She was attracted to Commander Chakotay. But the attraction was merely a series of chemical imbalances in her body, all of which she could easily ignore.
This particular train of thought was put aside rather quickly, though she did come back to it several times before the end of the shift. She knew better than that now. Yes, Seven could ignore the attraction and perhaps, in time, it would go away. But was that what she really wanted to do? No, she answered to herself. If she really wanted to become less Borg then she would do exactly the opposite.
Now, standing before her alcove in Cargo Bay Two, the knot tightening in her gut, Seven knew she had to accept and approach the problem. How to approach it was another matter entirely.
As Chakotay entered Astrometrics, Icheb turned and opened his mouth to speak, before stopping abruptly, obviously expecting Seven rather than the Commander. "Can I help you, Commander?" he asked, standing straight. "Seven should be here shortly," he added.
Chakotay shook his head. "No she won't. I'm taking you for a history lesson today, Icheb."
The younger man's eyes widened almost imperceptibly. "Why? What's wrong?" Seeing Chakotay's smile, he blushed and stuttered, "Not that I'm not happy to learn from you, Commander."
"Everything's fine," Chakotay reassured him. "I just heard that you were studying Captain Kirk for an essay and I wanted to see how it was going. Maybe I can help you structure it." Better to not tell him that he had taken over the lesson to allow Seven time to regenerate because he had kept her up all night. The majority of the crew would misunderstand that particular statement (he could feel his own face warming at the thought) and he thought it would be best not to accidently add it to Voyager's ever active rumour mill.
Icheb beamed, "Thank you, Commander," he turned towards the Astrometrics screen and pressed a few buttons. "I thought I would split it into these sections," he gestured at the screen.
Chakotay nodded and withheld a grimace at the length of the proposed essay. He hoped Seven appreciated this...
"Computer, add a simulation of Voyager and the crew," Seven commanded the Holodeck. The Doctor had promoted the use of the Holodeck to experiment with social situations before attempting them in the real world. Seven had decided to utilise it to that exact effect. After all, if she made a fool of herself here, she could delete the program and start again, without having to worry about the consequences.
Voyager appeared around her and she found herself in a very busy mess hall. Her stomach clenched. No, this wouldn't do. She needed it to be quieter so that she could collect herself. She headed towards the holographic Astrometrics when she caught her reflection in a console screen along the corridor.
Perhaps, she thought, if she were to alter the facts of the holoprogram she could 'even the odds' so to speak. In Unimatrix Zero she was equal to everyone there because they were all, or in her case, had been, Borg. Perhaps she could change the perception of the holographic crew to think that she was completely human.
"Computer, display console," Seven said, ignoring the fact that her voice was shaking. It was just a holoprogram, she told herself. It wasn't real. So long as she kept that in mind it would be a perfectly valid experiment. She finished typing in the commands then stood back. "Computer, run holoprogram mask."
Her reflection changed instantly. She instinctively raised a hand to her occipital implant and was able to feel it beneath the mask but the reflection told a different story. It looked like she was just running a finger along her eyebrow.
She smiled instinctively at the result. Of course, if she was one hundred percent human in this simulation she would need quarters to sleep in. She bent over the console again to add more changes to the program. The frozen holographic Voyager still surrounded her and when she looked up again she noticed something she hadn't before. Heading right for her spot was the holographic Chakotay.
A new sensation entered her stomach and she remembered the Doctor describing it as butterflies. She, however, could define it more exactly. It was a mixture between excitement and an underlying sense of foreboding.
She glanced back down at the console again. It was just an experiment. After all, if she did something wrong or embarrassing no one would know. What was the worst that could happen?
A.N. And that's that. I'm really quite sad to see the end of this fic. It's been really fun to write! I hope you all enjoyed it!