1. I don't own these characters, and I'm not Ferengi, so profit's the last thing on my mind.
2. Rated PG.
3. Escape (The Pina Colada Song) isn't mine either. It belongs to Rupert Holmes. I got the words from the Internet, and I think they've been slightly altered, but it still fits seemlessly*S*.
4. This was originally written (or posted or both as happened back then) on Nov 11, 2001.
After reading Kathryn's "B'Elanna and Seven Get Together", I got several ideas that became this. Thanks for the inspiration!*G*
A sincere thanks to the hard-working archivists as Voq-Je_Bang. I lost my website years ago and then nearly lost my own copies. They're currently on a hard-drive that I can't find so I took a chance, remembering that someone on the group started creating story list text files. Another enterprising soul has created file with links to the original messages. If you haven't read B'Elanna/Seven fanfiction, this is a great group to join!
Seven of Nine, late of the Borg Collective, stood diligently as ever before her Astrometrics console. Ten different streams of data flew across the screen. An eleventh merely crawled. It was Borg encrypted to shield against prying eyes. After all, it wouldn't do for the crew of the USS Voyager to know that their Ice Queen read the ship's personal ads on a daily basis. Barring alien attacks, temporal anomalies, and the occasional cortical implant meltdown, of course.
The door hissed open, signaling the chief engineer's arrival. The fierce Klingon-Human hybrid had been the focus of one of Seven's more intense crushes over the years. In fact, once Seven realized that was the cause of her constant antagonism, she'd managed to reign herself in and the two of them had become pretty good friends. Now it was many years later. B'Elanna's daughter was a quick-witted twelve year old, and B'Elanna was currently separated from Tom. It had taken them years to realize their constant fighting wasn't foreplay, and a few more to admit defeat. Through all of this, Seven had remained an impartial friend to both. Tom Paris had proven his worth as a helmsman and dedicated father, and oddly, as Seven's friend. She steadfastly refused to interfere with their interactions.
"Okay, Princess, what's up with those gel packs?" B'Elanna queried as she leaned against Seven's console. B'Elanna's playful tone softened the teasing nickname that she couldn't quit using. Seven shut down the unit before straightening into her typical at attention stance.
"The gel pack in junction 10B has become corrupted and must be replaced. Several damaged isolinear chips in the same junction are the cause." Seven nodded in the direction of the far wall as she spoke. B'Elanna gallantly gestured with her arm for Seven to lead the way. As the tall blonde kneeled and removed the access panel, B'Elanna began laying out the tools they would need. Seven then moved out of the way and B'Elanna began replacing the equipment.
"Tom and I sign the papers tomorrow," she said quietly.
"Are you relieved?" Seven responded just as quietly.
"I don't know. I think so," B'Elanna sighed before continuing. "I'm kinda worried about Miral."
"She seems to have adapted well, B'Elanna," Seven said gently. It had taken B'Elanna months to get used to Seven's sensitive side, but now she was grateful. Seven's honor during this divorce had impressed B'Elanna beyond measure. Even Harry had been hard pressed to balance both friendships. In Seven, she'd found the first friend she trusted implicitly with every aspect of her life.
"I think that's what's worrying me, Seven. If she'd scream or fight or yell . . . anything! I'd know what to do. I'd be able to comfort her, advise her, let her know she's loved, you know?" B'Elanna leaned against the wall as Seven put the tools away.
"So she sees the logic of your divorce. However, she is Klingon. And you know those arguments deeply affected her. She will still require those things, B'Elanna. It's just going to take some time for it all to surface. As it has with you."
"Seven, my emotions have always been very plain for everybody to see," B'Elanna smirked. "Remember our little arguments in engineering?" Seven quirked her own small smirk and spoke to the computer as she moved to sit next to her friend.
"Seal Astrometrics, authorization Seven beta beta." Then she wrapped an arm around B'Elanna's shoulders and pulled her into a loose hug. "B'Elanna Torres, anger has always been a mask for your true emotions. You have just shared a significant portion of you life with someone you thought you loved deeply. Even though Miral will continue living with you and Tom moved out months ago, you're Collective is being significantly, permanently reduced." Even Seven's gentle tones couldn't prevent the reality of her statement from piercing B'Elanna's stubborn defenses.
"Oh, God." B'Elanna groaned as she pressed her face into the crook of Seven's neck and wrapped her arms tightly around the slim waist. She sighed again and snuggled against her curvaceous friend. Hugs from Seven were few and far between, but she never rushed them when she did give them, and they'd become a safe haven for B'Elanna during the last rocky years of her marriage. She and Tom might be civil now, but they'd fought bitterly. It was always something stupid and petty, but it had hurt terribly. B'Elanna was amazed that Seven's impartiality hadn't kept her from being the same loving friend that she'd come to cherish. "You're saying I'm going to be alone. Seven, I hate being alone."
"B'Elanna," Seven chided gently, "You will never be alone. You have many friends, and a wonderful daughter. You are a fiercely wonderful person. When you are ready, I know you will find the right mate. But there will be emotional ramifications which you must deal with. Your emotions, not Miral's." B'Elanna's response was yet another sigh. "And quit sighing!" Seven actually chuckled as she poked the hybrid's ticklish ribs.
"Stop that, you heartless bitch!" B'Elanna squealed as Seven used her Borg hand to hold the squirming woman against her and tickle her mercilessly.
"I am Borg, B'Elanna Torres. I shall not relent until you pee your pants," the ex-drone deadpanned.
"No!" B'Elanna renewed her giggling struggles. As she gave a strong push, Seven released her hold and the woman fell back against the floor. Her skull cracked against the deck plating, but she simply lay there laughing. Seven knew her friend was unharmed and merely smiled indulgently. They helped each other off the floor and the engineer gathered her tool kit. "Thanks, Seven. I'll see you later, okay?" Now, the smaller woman was smiling warmly. Seven nodded and unsealed the doors. Seven reactivated her console and returned to her scans. As her eyes returned to the personal ad she'd been contemplating, it was her turn to sigh. She deactivated the data stream and wondered if she'd ever have the nerve to answer one.
"Miral! What do you mean you put an ad in personals for me?!" B'Elanna didn't know whether to be shocked or angry. She had just come off a double shift after yet another of Janeway's negotiations had gone bad. B'Elanna swore there was a Delta Quadrant conspiracy against this little ship. For every ally they made, there were at least a dozen vicious enemies snapping at their heels. And now her daughter was conspiring against her as well. "Why, honey?"
"Because you've been a real pain lately, mom." Miral looked belligerently at her mother. The truth was she was worried about her mom. Maybe it was her human side showing, but her mother had done more moping than Miral had ever thought possible for a Klingon warrior. It had been three years since her parents' divorce was finalized. Her father had long ago moved on, but B'Elanna just kept burying herself in her work. This second shift was one of many that could have been handed over to someone else. Miral remembered the good times, when her mom and dad would rush home to be with her. When things always felt good and safe. When everyone was happy.
"Excuse me, young lady?" B'Elanna's gaze became hard.
"Umm. I mean..." Miral grabbed a padd off the dining table and thrust it at her mother. "You've already gotten six responses!" B'Elanna took the padd.
"What did you write?" She was actually surprised, and a little worried. Her fifteen year old daughter had gotten six bites on an anonymous dating service.
"I used that pina colada song you like so much." Miral perked up and sat next to her mom. "One of them actually responded with the other half of it. Look." Miral pulled up the original ad and then the response that she thought was the best of the bunch.
>"If you like Pina Coladas
>And getting caught in the rain
>If you're not into yoga
>If you have half a brain
>If you'd like making love at midnight
>In the dunes on the Cape
>Then I'm the love that you've looked for
>Write to me and escape."
"Yes I like Pina Coladas
And getting caught in the rain
I'm not much into health food
I am into champagne
I've got to meet you by tomorrow noon
and cut through all this red tape,
At a bar called O'Malley's
we can plan our escape."
B'Elanna scrolled through the other responses, and came back to the first one. "Well, at least this one knows the song. That's something." Suddenly, she tossed the padd onto the table and stood up. "What am I saying! I can't believe I would even consider a date set up by my daughter! On the personal net of all things!!"
"Then forget it, Mom. I was just trying to help!" Miral jumped up and ran into her room.
"Shit!" B'Elanna pounded on her daughter's door. "Miral! Miral, open up! That's not what I meant! Sweetheart!" She slumped against the door and sighed. Things had been pretty good between them lately, and B'Elanna just screwed it up. "Miral," she said quietly. "Miral, this is hard for me, but if my own daughter thinks I need to move on, then I probably do." B'Elanna slumped against the door, then fell into the room when her daughter opened it.
Miral giggled at her sprawling mother before helping her up. "I know it's hard. Sorry I overreacted. Must be that whole nasty Klingon thing."
"Yeah, must be," B'Elanna hugged Miral. "So when exactly did you post that ad?"
"Umm, day before yesterday. The timestamp on 88479 was yesterday morning. It's too late now, but I think whoever it is understands." Miral quirked a grin very much like her mother's.
"Hmmph. Yeah, I guess so. Let's eat and you can help me write up a response." The rest of the evening was spent meticulously, gigglingly writing to the mysterious person that knew a late twentieth century song.
Seven of Nine pressed the chime to the captain's ready room and waited patiently for the husky response. She shouldered her way through the door and quickly sealed it. Then she tossed a padd onto the captain's desk and began pacing. "08227 has responded to my overture. Are you sure this is a good idea?" Then she flung herself into one of the chairs in front of the desk.
Before answering, the captain read the newest message.
"Still want to escape?
Let's skip O'Malley's
and head for the dunes on the Cape.
Champagne and caviar, no strings
and no more red tape.
Holodeck 1, tomorrow night, 17:30.
"Seven, this is wonderful!" Seven was too busy berating herself to notice that she was slumped and scowling. She'd seen the ad and had been intrigued by it. The captain had noticed it as well and commented on how frequently she'd heard Seven humming that song. Over lunch, she encouraged the former drone to answer the ad. Seven demurred at first because it was something that she associated with B'Elanna. Seven slipped away to the night she first heard it.
Most of the Alpha shift was at Sandrine's wiling away a few hours. Suddenly, the jukebox began playing Escape right in the middle of Tom's favorite doo-wop song. Seven had been sitting with B'Elanna sharing nachos and a pitcher of non-alcoholic beer.
"You altered the program, didn't you, B'Elanna?" Seven smiled indulgently as B'Elanna tried to keep the smirk at bay.
"Now, Seven, why would I mess with Tom's toys?"
"To torture him, naturally." Seven observed Paris' dual examination of the program and ranting at poor Harry about people keeping their hands off other people's stuff. "It appears you've done quite well." Seven tipped her glass in salute as B'Elanna laughed.
"Yeah, I did, didn't I? And you know the real bitch of it? He'll never be able to backtrack it because the program will delete and overwrite when he shuts it down tonight." B'Elanna was grinning unabashedly now. Seven quirked her full lips.
"He will be pouting for weeks. You do realize this, do you not?"
"Yeah, but I think it's worth it to watch the Great Holoprogrammer outsmarted." B'Elanna scooped up a large portion of the guacamole before swallowing her nacho whole.
"If you are going to consume all of the funky green stuff, you could at least savor it for the rest of us."
Seven pulled herself from that pleasant evening, and uncharacteristically sighed. "I still don't know if this is a good idea."
"Seven, you're more than ready for another date. You've been aboard much longer, you've grown remarkably well, and I know you've got plenty to offer a potential partner. You're strong and caring in your own way, and it's time to share that with someone." Janeway had moved to lean against her desk in front of Seven. Her arms were crossed and her tone was gentle but firm. "I know you decided there was no one on board qualified to be your mate after that disaster with Chapman, but you're a different person than you now. It's time to try again, Seven."
The former drone sighed and gazed at her hands. Apparently, her favorite excuse had just been tossed out the airlock. "I will comply, Captain."
"No, Seven. It's not a matter of complying. It's simply time, okay?" Seven looked up and saw the sincere love and concern in Janeway's eyes. She rose and impulsively hugged the startled officer.
"I understand, Kathryn," Seven whispered. "Thank you." Then she stood back, nodded regally, and left. Janeway stared at the door.
"Just when you think you know someone." Kathryn paused and then laughed. "And it only took her sixteen years!"
The following day Seven managed to keep her jitters at bay by immersing herself in her work. Briefly, she'd wanted to share the news of her date with B'Elanna when she saw her in the mess hall, but Vorik had been with the chief and they'd been poring over some padds. The rise of affection was expertly quelled before it was more than a ghost of a thought. Once her shift ended, she hurried to her quarters. A few years ago, the doctor had advocated for her privacy, and the captain had quickly agreed. They were cramped crew quarters, and her bedroom was dominated by a modified regeneration alcove, but it was her space and she cherished it.
Now, she stood before her closet trying to find something to wear. Her leisure outfits had grown as her interests had diversified. She had come to enjoy "outdoor" sports like horseback riding, camping, and windsurfing. Her biosuits, while very efficient, had proven to hinder her enjoyment of such sports. Finally, she decided on some relaxed jeans and a plain white t-shirt covered with a soft flannel man's shirt. She pulled on her beach sandals and proceeded to the ensuite. There she spent a few minutes brushing her hair vigorously before pulling it into a loose ponytail. She stared at her reflection, satisfied with the results. Finally feeling ready, she lifted her chin and left her quarters.
B'Elanna paced nervously. A gentle breeze ruffled her dark hair, and she wrapped her arms around her. In half an hour the sunset would begin. She glanced around. A beautiful beach spread out around her. To her left, were grassy dunes, and to her right was the ocean. It wasn't completely calm, but neither was it intrusively active. It was a subtlety that had been difficult to recreate, and she'd been forced to bring Tom into the project. She'd been surprised that he hadn't simply taken over. He had been glad to help her with her first date. He'd listened to what she wanted and programmed everything accordingly rather than creating whatever he thought was best.
Now a glass-topped iron table waited on the other side of the nearest dune. Two comfortable chairs waited for occupants, the promised champagne was chilling, and caviar as well as assorted fruits and cheeses sat beneath stasis lids. Her date had two more minutes to show up and then B'Elanna was running a workout program.
Seven keyed in her personal net access code and strode briskly through the holodeck doors only to promptly freeze. B'Elanna Torres was wearing brown linen pants, a tan linen tunic with the sleeves rolled up, and no shoes. Her long, dark hair lifted and settled in the gentle breeze. Currently, she looked rather agitated.
"Seven! I'm sort of in the middle of something." As the beautiful brunette spoke, the tall ex-drone fought her compulsion to fall into her Ice Queen role. It would serve no purpose except to make things more difficult. Instead, she wrapped her arms around herself and approached more slowly.
"I . . ." Seven cleared her throat and tried again. "I am here for a date." Slightly stilted but not Borg-like, it came out better than she'd expected. B'Elanna was looking her over more carefully now as she, too, closed the distance between them to just a foot or so.
"You're 884. . ." B'Elanna hesitated as something clicked. ". . .7 of 9." B'Elanna slipped her hands into her pockets and regarded her tall friend. As Seven nodded slightly, B'Elanna took note of the tightness of fear around the woman's mouth, and relaxed.
"If you would prefer me to leave, B'El-"
"Hold on, Seven. Gimme a minute to process this, would ya?" B'Elanna smiled gently. "I might never have thought about dating my best friend before, but . . ." B'Elanna tried to find the right words, "I think I can get used to it." She searched Seven's face, and saw her relax slightly. Impulsively, B'Elanna grinned, grabbed Seven's hand, and begain pulling her towards the dune. "I believe I promised champagne and caviar."
Seven allowed herself to be led a couple of steps and then stopped. "Wait. I need to say something." B'Elanna turned around and frowned slightly. "I . . . can not do this if it . . . B'Elanna, I have had feelings for you since before your marriage. I can't just-" B'Elanna grabbed Seven's other hand and smiled at her friend, cutting her off.
"I'm not going to ruin the best damned friendship I've ever had with some casual fling, Seven. I know I love you. I don't know how deeply, but I want a chance to find out. You . . ." For a moment the Klingon stumbled for words, "You once said I was too good at hiding my feelings. You were right. Once I let myself get to know you, I started admiring you. Your honesty, your innocence, your ironic sense of humor, and . . ." B'Elanna's voice softened, "the way you let me show those feelings I tried so damned hard to hide. You bring them out more quickly, make me feel safer, more . . . loved, Seven, than anyone I've ever met." A tentative smile spread across the brunette's face. "I've always known you love me. I've always felt that you cared for me in a way that no one else ever could. I think . . . I think that's why I let myself be so open with you, be such good friends." B'Elanna's smile turned a little sad. "That was one of the things Tom and I used to argue about. He couldn't understand why I couldn't share with him the way I could you, and I couldn't ever explain it." B'Elanna searched for understanding in Seven's deep blue eyes. "I still can't. But I know it's true and I know it's there, and whatever the bond is, it's solid, Seven. Explore it with me. I promise this isn't an experiment or a game for me. You're the only one I can see trusting my heart to, Seven."
Seven felt like she was floating. "Then come teach me about caviar," she whispered huskily.