wyvriin: (Default)
The Roads One Follows
by Wyrdmaege 20NOV01

1. I don't own these characters, and I'm not Ferengi, so profit's the last thing on my mind.
2. Rating: NC-17 for language, and, eventually, sex between two women, or if you want to be technical, three*smirk*. At least*Smirk*.

1. "/ . . . /" denotes emphasis, more is stronger. And "* . . . *" denotes sound.
2. Some of the Klingon words are real, some aren't. Whatever I couldn't find online, I made up.
3. The opening scene might seem familiar, but I did make some changes to make it work as part of a larger story. Fleshed it out, ya might say, so I hope it's worth reading again.

http://www.kli.org - phonetics table, et. al
http://www.beyond.olm.net/klingon.html - small online Klingon dictionary

For this story, and it's predecessors, I still want to thank Kathryn. It has been over two years since I've written anything. At all. Thanks, one last time, for "B'Elanna and Seven Get Together". My beautiful betas, Bethany and BT, who saved my Klingonese and not a few grammatical errors. Your reassurance was also very mmuch appreciated.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"/God/ //damnit//, Seven!" B'Elanna Torres, Chief Engineer of USS Voyager, slapped the former drone's hand out of her way. "I told you to just /tell me/ the next time I had to make an adjustment!" B'Elanna was livid. This was the fourth time in the last hour she'd repeated the request. Even for the Ice Borg Bitch Queen of the Universe, this was a bit much and the tension was winding Torres to her breaking point.

"And I told you, you are too slow. We would not be having this discussion /again/ if the ship were under attack." Seven of Nine was more frustrated than she'd ever been in her short life. Lieutenant Torres wasn't even the focus, and that was the entire problem. Seven of Nine, former Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix Zero One, Head of Astrometrics of the USS Voyager, was simply, irrationally frustrated. A general sense of dissatisfaction had been haunting her for weeks, and the fiery chief was simply a convenient outlet. Their fights followed a satisfyingly releasing pattern. Today, however, Seven could feel it slipping out of control. Her voice was rigidly controlled flint that finally struck one spark too many.

"Well, the ship /isn't/ under attack, you fucking Borg cha'tlh! Follow the fucking /procedure/!" The simulation they'd been working on required near perfect timing and now, it collapsed on itself. B'Elanna slammed her hands on the console, eliciting a blipping protest from the computer. The ridiculously perky noise only irritated her more. "Just fucking great, Ms. Borg nga'ehrg Perfection!" The engineer snapped as she threw her angry gaze at Seven." Thanks to you, we've got to start the whole damnned sequence over again! You batlhHa' ase'dch targ nga'ehrg poq' - "

*/CRACK/!!* Seven's human hand snapped across B'Elanna's face, leaving not only a burning imprint, but four welts from her nails. B'Elanna had been flung a step backward and her head snapped almost completely around. Slowly, with an odd, utter stillness, she moved back to her position. Then she spat blood onto the deck at Seven's feet as her darkly luminous eyes riveted an obviously shaking, enraged Seven of Nine. Some distant part of the former drone knew that she'd pushed B'Elanna to this point, but the viciousness was cutting deeper than it ever had before and now she was simply reacting on emotion.

There was a collective gasp throughout engineering. The entire department had become fascinated by the entire exchange. This went so far beyond the usual that even Vorik was too stunned to call Janeway. This kind of raw, trip-wire restrained violence had never been seen in any of the dangerous battles the crew had encountered since being stranded in the Delta Quadrant. Staring at Seven's feet, several people realized that more blood was dripping to the floor. As they glanced up the long legs, they saw that both of Seven's fists were clenched so tightly her nails had cut into her palms.

"yImev! Why do you delight in tormenting me?" the tall woman ground out in an impossibly deep voice.

"Delight in tormenting?" B'Elanna's voice was utterly calm, but her disdain became increasingly apparent. "An arrogant, self-righteous, jI'Hogh chIm cha'tlh like you /has/ no emotions. You care for nothing but your empty perfection, Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix Zero One. How can someone torment an empty /drone/?" The final word hit Seven with every ounce of hate, resentment, and disgust contained within B'Elanna Torres body and soul. It slashed and burned and ripped and crushed Seven's heart and soul. She shrieked a howl of pain, anguish, and self-loathing as she rushed the serene lieutenant. Snatching the unresisting woman up with two fistfuls of tunic, she didn't stop running until they slammed into the bulkhead twenty feet beyond them.

Seven's voice was strangled as her deep, wet blue eyes searched the unfazed woman she had pinned slightly above her. "You want to see what my /non-emotions/ //do// to me?" More loudly, "Computer, site to site transport, Lieutenant Torres and Seven of Nine to Sickbay." B'Elanna's eyes widened as they dematerialized.

Their transport snapped Ensign Vorik out of his trance. "Computer, activate Emergency Medical Holoprogram in Sickbay."

"Program already in progress." Vorik nodded, and began ordering the crew back to work, assuring them that the Doctor would take the appropriate action. Everybody was glad they wouldn't have to be the ones to call Captain Janeway.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"What the hell is going on here?" The doctor hurried out of his office as soon as he realized who the materializing combatants were. Seven released her uplifted captive, turned on her heel, and locked her fists behind her back. The maneuver placed her slightly in front of B'Elanna, who was recovering her balance. The hybrid noticed the still dripping blood. She knew the control that implied was far more than she could ever exert over her own violent impulses, and she didn't know whether to be more pissed off or simply admire the tall woman. She had fully expected to be dismembered upon arrival. Of course, Seven of Nine wouldn't want to deprive the ship of it's best engineer. It would be inefficient. At least, that's what B'Elanna assumed the transport had meant. Now she didn't know what the hell was going on. A slight ache in her right shoulder, where Seven's Borg hand had shredded uniform and skin, was edging into her consciousness.

"Doctor." Seven appeared the perfect Ice Queen as she spoke, serene, cold, and uncaring. "How many times have I been forced to report to sickbay in the last two weeks?"

"28 times." The hologram said disgustedly. He'd been trying to give Seven time to work out whatever it was she wouldn't, couldn't discuss. Now he'd waited so long that Janeway was going to reprogram his matrix when she found out. The only thing Seven would say was that she was becoming inefficient.

"What??" B'Elanna's calm finally ditched her. "What the hell have you been /doing/, Seven?" B'Elanna shoved Seven around so they were facing each other again. Seven stumbled slightly, but otherwise appeared completely unaffected.

The doctor answered for Seven as he scanned and repaired their minor wounds. "Twisting a page from /your/ book, Lieutenant. Running the most dangerous programs she can create with the holo-safeties /off/."

B'Elanna was certain there was another ear-splitting crack. Unfeeling drones had no reason to be creating life-threatening programs. The implications were rocking the foundation of B'Elanna's beliefs about Seven of Nine. Her soul crumpled as she stared at the determinedly stoic woman before her. Her own pain welled up, reminding her of every spiteful, vicious thing that had been perputrated upon her. She was shocked to realize what kind of monster she'd become. Just to make sure her flagellation was total, B'Elanna asked the doctor to state Seven's injuries.

As he worked on them, the irritated doctor litanied reproachfully, "An impressive number of abrasions, contusions, and concussions. Each arm broken six times, radii four, left humerus twice. Eight broken legs, three of them femur breaks. Two broken ankles, one for each leg, and let's not forget the outstandingly numerous puncture wounds to the upper torso, which, to /her/ chagrin, didn't puncture anything vital that I couldn't fix. You, dear B'Elanna, would have been dead ten times over. This one just beamed herself in for repair, regenerated for a couple of hours, and was back at her station good as new." The Doctor finally looked up from his completed work and saw the tears streaming down B'Elanna's face. "oh, dear."

"Why - " the hybrid choked back her heartache and guilt as she stared at the impassive blonde, "why didn't you report her?"

"Because not even Captain Janeway could have stopped me from accessing the holodeck. It also appears I can defeat every opponent. I beamed myself to Sickbay because death was not instantaneous, and lingering would have been . . . inefficient." Seven responded for the doctor. B'Elanna was torn completely apart. She didn't know what to do. She finally realized that while she'd simply been trying to feel, Seven had been attempting HoH'egh. Suicide. The hybrid remembered how selfless Seven had been for the sake of the ship over the years, and she, B'Elanna Torres, Honorless Daughter of Miral, had nearly killed her. And she couldn't even think of a reason for her brutality. Finally, B'Elanna did the only thing that seemed to edge towards right. She flung herself at Seven and wrapped the tall woman in a fiercely tight hug. It forced Seven to bend slightly, and B'Elanna began whispering heartfelt apologies.

"I'm less than targ shit, Seven. I'm the one who's batlhHa'. I'm beyond honorless. I'm so sorry, Sev. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, Sev. Not a word I've uttered in the last eight years is true. I see that now. It's over. My stupid fight is over, Seven. Never again. I swear it on the crap that is my honor."

The hoarsely mumbled words released Seven of Nine. The Ice Queen shattered and crumpled to the floor, dragging B'Elanna with her. B'Elanna was dimly aware of the doctor sealing Sickbay and deactivating himself as she rocked the sobbing woman and crooned apologies. For hours, they sat in the middle of sickbay. Every so often, the engineer would cry as well, but she always pulled out of it to comfort Seven. The tears ran out before the blonde's sobs, which broke B'Elanna's heart all over again. Finally, they were simply cuddled together, drifting in a haze of exhaustion.

"Janeway to Sickbay."

"Crap," Seven muttered tiredly against B'Elanna's neck. Seven finally understood Lieutenant Torres' fascination with cursing.

"I'll handle it, Sev. Just rest." B'Elanna looked at the ceiling as she responded, "Sickbay here, Captain. Do you need the EMH?"

"Lieutenant Torres?" Janeway's surprise was clear. "Is something wrong with the Doctor?"

"No, Captain. He's just deactivated so I can have some privacy."

"Are you alright, B'Elanna?" The hybrid glanced at the golden crown beneath her chin.

"I will be, Captain." Seven squeezed Torres, who sighed. She still hated it when Seven was right, but Janeway was going to find out eventually. "Seven and I had another fight in Engineering. Things started getting out of hand, so we transported to Sickbay. We've been working things out ever since." Seven nudged B'Elanna's chin. "Non-violently."

There was a long pause. "Is the situation resolved?" B'Elanna winced at the crisp tone.

"Yes. There will be no more arguments. Only completely calm, rational disagreements. We will . . . attempt friendship." Seven spoke for the first time. B'Elanna stared down into twinkling blue eyes. B'Elanna smiled as well. She had a feeling none of their disagreements would ever be calm or rational, no matter how well their relationship improved.

"B'Elanna?" Janeway needed confirmation.

"Like the lady said, Captain, only calm, rational disagreements, and plenty of compromising between friends."

"On your honor, Lieutenant?" Janeway had to be sure. B'Elanna gazed questioningly at Seven, who nodded reassuringly.

"On my honor."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

In the last three months, little had changed between B'Elanna Torres and Seven of Nine. The insults and violence had stopped, but they still argued long and loud over everything. Captain Janeway shifted in her command chair and tilted her head. At this angle, she could /just/ see Seven at the science station out of the corner of her eye. Janeway sighed and looked at the main viewer, letting her mind wander. Finally, she stood up and walked towards her ready room. "Seven, come with me." Seven shut down her station. While it had been very subtle, she had noticed the captian's observation. She braced herself for the expected difficult conversation and decided to take the lead as she entered the ready room.

"You are dissatisfied with the progression of my relationship with Lieutenant Torres."

"No . . . Well, yes, I am. I don't understand why the two of you are still arguing so much if you've reached an understanding. You two aren't throwing punches or insults, but anger still seems to be your predominant reaction to each other. What's going on?" The captain sat after replicating a cup of coffee. She was surprised when, after a brief hesitation, Seven sat as well.

Seven noticed the raised eyebrow and commented, "I have noticed people are more comfortable with me when I adopt familiar behaviors. And . . . I am learning to enjoy some of them. As for Lieutenant Torres and I, we . . ." Seven wasn't sure how to explain the state of their relationship. "Neither Lieutenant Torres nor I are people who easily make friends. I believe it is now a matter of us not knowing how to relate to each other. In truth, we do talk more before erupting into an argument. And I believe they are decreasing in number. It is simply going to take some . . . time." It was apparent even Seven wasn't satisfied with that concept.

"What about spending time together off-duty?" Janeway genuinely wanted to help her crewmembers adjust into a new, better relationship. She saw so much potential for a strong friendship between the women.

"We tried that once, shortly after our experience in Sickbay." A look of such distaste washed over Seven's faced that Janeway almost laughed. "We ended the encounter in 6.8 minutes. We were extremely relieved it was over." Seven took a deep breath, another new action. In trying not to argue so much, she'd discovered this helped clear her mind. "We agreed it was best to simply work on our professional relationship for the time being. Perhaps out of that we shall find the basis for a tolerable level of off-duty interaction."

Janeway heard the firmness of Seven's voice, and smiled indulgently, "Alright, I'll quit interfering." She settled back into her chair and sipped her coffee, "Now, when are you going to join me in the Maestro's studio again? He's been asking about you, you know." For the next several minutes, the two friends spoke about the program's idiosyncrasies and agreed to meet in two day's time on Holodeck 2.

After Seven returned to her duties, Janeway sat contemplating her young friend. Three weeks ago, Seven had requested quarters. She had gently, but bluntly, explained that she felt she'd changed as much as she could while living in Cargo Bay 2. There were aspects of humanity, such as sleep, which she was reluctant to try without the assurance of privacy. Also, she believed the crew would begin viewing her as a person rather than a machine if they could no longer her view her at will.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"At will?" That unsettled Janeway. She'd thought regeneration was like sleep and that Seven was unaware of her surroundings. Seven gently disabused her of that notion.

"Yes. The Collective controlled a drone's regeneration, but now I control my own regeneration. A small part of my consciousness remains aware to assess possible dangers to my person in such a vulnerable state. I might not know exactly what the danger is, but I can at least wake myself in defense." Seven didn't want to offend her captain, but after the final fight with B'Elanna, she'd had a long discussion with the doctor. Once she'd explained her restlessness and frustration, he'd said that it might be a kind of growing pain, her unconsciousness' way of saying it was time for a change. Seven acknowledged there were things she wanted to try, but didn't feel comfortable doing in the Cargo Bay and the holodecks weren't always available when she had these impulses. So now she stood before the captain.

"I . . . see." Janeway was torn between guilt and a sense of loss. She sighed as she leaned back, and Seven spoke again.

"I want you to know . . . I found your observation of me very comforting. And . . . you were not the only one who observed me in a caring manner. I will miss that."

Janeway stifled a pang of jealously. Of course she wasn't the only one who cared about Seven. And it wasn't like she was moving in with someone. God, what a nightmare that would be, her daughter- Janeway's thoughts stopped short. This she would analyze later. "Still, we were wrong to invade your privacy like that."

"It didn't matter before. Now that it does, I am taking steps to alter the situation so that the lines are clearer. I . . ." Seven was hesitant about revealing the next fact, but she needed Janeway to know how important this issue was to her. "I believe it played a part in my goading of the lieutenant during the fight that took us to sickbay. I have been unsettled for sometime, Captain, and Lieutenant Torres made a . . .good target."

Janeway sighed again, "Alright, Seven. There are two singles open. I'll have Chakotay assign one to you, and get B'Elanna and Harry working on modifying one of the alcoves."

"Thank you, Captain." Seven stood to leave. "This does not change anything between us."

Janeway smiled warmly, "Sure it does, Seven. It's going to change you. For the better, I think. It'll be fine." Seven noted the slight sadness in the captain's eyes, but knew there was nothing she could do about it. She dipped her head in acknowledgement and left.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Janeway pulled herself out of her recollections. The slight easing of Seven's manners was an indication that it really had been for the best. Seven was discovering life beyond star maps and algorithms.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
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* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

One Year Later

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"Hey, Seven, I almost forgot, " Ensign Kim looked up from his displays at the main engineering console. He, B'Elanna, and Seven were upgrading the shields while the ship hid in a cavernous asteroid. Two days ago, they'd fended off a mysterious ambush, and their shields had been badly damaged. The passing asteroid, with its dense metal make-up, offered protection while they made repairs. "Happy Anniversary!" Harry grinned as both women gave him enquiring looks. "It's been a year since you got your own place!"

B'Elanna looked over at Seven who wore a small smile. It was something that still surprised her. It seemed like the drone was ever so slowly being replaced by a human being. It wasn't just her interaction with Seven. She would hear jokes attributed to Seven, and once a month Harry was sure to spend at least three days raving about the jam sessions she hosted. B'Elanna had little doubt about Seven's virtuosity on the piano, but Kim still hadn't been able to get her to sing. Briefly, B'Elanna wondered why. Seven had taken lessons with the Doctor. That soft, rich voice drew her out of her musings.

"Thank you, Ensign. I . . . have been considering a house-warming for sometime now." Seven shyly kept her eyes on her display as she made her invitations. "I was hoping you and Mr. Paris would attend, Lieutenant. I am assuming that you will come as well, Mr. Kim." Seven's heart fluttered nervously. This would be the first time that she and B'Elanna had deliberately interacted outside of engineering. If the engineer agreed. Seven desperately wanted the Klingon to accept.

"Sure, Seven." B'Elanna smiled when Seven's smile widened a bit and their eyes met. "I think we can hang out without killing each other now."

Seven arched her optical implant and said in her best Borg voice, smiling the entire time, "Indeed." B'Elanna and Harry chuckled.

"So when are you planning this gig?" Kim asked eagerly. "I'd like to help you plan it."

"I would be most appreciative. After today, I thought perhaps in two weeks?" B'Elanna had never heard Seven ask anything with hesitation. And her shy look clearly indicated she wanted their opinion. B'Elanna nodded, and did some quick calculating.

"You know, " the Klingon said, "I saw the doctor this morning. I'm pregnant, and knowing Tom, he'll see this as the perfect opportunity to make the announcement. I don't want him stealing your thunder, so I'll have to have a talk with him about holding off until afterwards." She was openly grinning at Harry's stunned expression. After all, it had /only/ taken her and Tom four years to decide to have a kid.

"Perhaps . . ." Shy Seven was back, "we could make it a baby shower?"

"Oh, no, Seven! That's not why I-" B'Elanna was horrified.

"I know, Lieutenant. It's just . . . part of why I waited so long is because I . . . didn't want the attention. I would, however, like to have a party to show off my quarters." Seven was staring at her display again.

"Yeah!" Harry interrupted enthusiastically. "B'Elanna, she's just redone her quarters, and they are absolutely fantastic! I don't know how she did it, but she painted the walls! And she's got this fantastic geometric scene on the ceiling! And her chairs are /so/ comfortable! I'm having stores make me a relining chair similar to hers."

"I merely had stores change the pigment of the hull paint." Seven was happily staring at her display. B'Elanna realized the nanoprobes must prevent her from becoming flushed and chuckled. Seven of Nine was blushing.

"Alright, " the chief acquiesced, "We have the party at your place in two weeks." B'Elanna paused as something occurred to her. "You do know that most of the ship will end up stopping by, right? I'll have to invite all of engineering, the bridge crew, and Tom's going to be telling everybody he crosses paths with."

Seven smiled warmly at the Klingon, "And people always crash even the most exclusive parties." She stared at her display again, "Even I have done so." She looked up with that same smile, "It is alright, B'Elanna. Invite whomever you would like. Ensign Kim, Neelix, and I shall take care of the rest."

"Thank you, Seven. This is really sweet of you." B'Elanna had just learned more about Seven of Nine in the past ten minutes, than in the entire year following their truce. The trio worked in silence for a few minutes, then Ensign Kim went to check on some scans.

"You know, Seven, " B'Elanna said quietly, "I never did say thank you for giving me my honor back." Both women stared at their displays, working industriously.

"I pushed you that day, Lieutenant. I frequently taunted you in a manner which I knew would cause you to lose your temper. That day was just as much my own fault. You did not lose your honor. In fact, you held back when I slapped you, and I was quite prepared for a battle. I do not believe you ever really lost your honor, but I understood that you felt you had. I am only sorry it has taken me more than a year to tell you of my own part in our interactions."

"Huh," B'Elanna chuckled softly. "I always thought you were being extra bitchy that day." They glanced up at the same instant. Their eyes locked and they smiled at each other. Then they went back to their shield calculations.

* * * * * * * * * * T B C * * * * * * * * * *


**Klingon Translations - some are real, some aren't**


cha'tlh - cunt
nga'ehrg - sex (fucking)
batlhHa' - honorless
ase'dch - assimilating
poq' - piece of
jI'Hogh - stone cold
chIm - empty (barren)
HoH'egh - commit suicide
yImev - stop
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