Weekend in Tahiti, or
Tom and B'Elanna's and Harry and Seven's Excellent Vacation
by J.A. Toner, AKA Jamelia
NC-17, P/T, K/7
Disclaimer:Yes, these characters all belong to Paramount, Viacom, and the producers, who have taken Gene Roddenberry's ideas and are (hopefully) bringing them forward to continue to flourish into the twenty-first century. I'm just having a bit of fun with them. I lay claim only to those elements of this story that originated with me, like the shuttle naming contest and the love scenes. Everything else belongs to them. I'm performing a service here, however. No way Paramount and Company would ever portray the actual relationships of Paris and Torres or Kim and Seven (and yes, they are friendly, so they have a relationship) in this way. It might sully the AOTW romances the producers love to give us. I, along with many other fanfic writers, am letting them off the hook by doing it for them. Thanks to PTFever, especially the "sandrines" group, for their assistance in commenting on this story.
Author's Note: Last spring, Cheile, of the PTFever Mail List, issued a challenge: write a story entirely in dialogue. I had this little idea about a PWP story anyway, set a few months after "Satisfaction," and wrote it up for the list with the title "Sex on the Beach." It's still in the story, in an altered form. I'm sure you can figure out which part it is.
I kind of liked the whole concept of a vacation for my favorite Voyager characters, however, so even back then, I decided that some day I would turn it into a full-blown sequel to "Satisfaction." Harry is a lieutenant since I promoted him in that story, while Seven wears a uniform and answers to Ensign Hansen when on duty. Yes, this is a bit of a sex romp too, but like its predecessor, there's some character stuff going on as well. It isn't a dialogue-only story now, but it is still an NC-17 tale entitled
Weekend in Tahiti,
or Tom and B'Elanna and Harry and Seven's Excellent Vacation
by J.A. Toner, A.K.A. "Jamelia"
~~~The Best-Laid Plans~~~
"You've got to be kidding. Me, talk Seven into taking a vacation with us? Please!"
"But B'Elanna--Seven's the one who *won* the vacation. She has to come along, or there *is* no vacation!"
Voyager's chief engineer, hand on hip, hip tilted to one side, pursed her lips and thought for several very long moments. Tom's pleading comment could not be denied--no Seven, no vacation. "It figures she'd come up with a name that the captain would go ga-ga over. With that computer she has for a brain, no one else will ever win a shuttle naming contest again."
"I don't know. I think she was reviewing some old Earth history and just hit it lucky. The Hogg is a good name for a shuttle, you have to admit. It's short, to the point, the name of a twentieth century female astronomer. . ."
". . . and the perfect name for a craft that you'll be flying! How come you couldn't come up with that one, Tom? You're the big twentieth century buff."
"I probably would have. Eventually," he replied, eyebrow arched in response to her pun.
"Uh-hmmm. If you spent less time researching those old Grade-Z space fiction serial movies and more on the worthwhile things, maybe you would have come up with it first! And then it would have been just the two of us, languishing on the beach for two whole days. A whole weekend, just the two of us! Alone! Relaxing, doing nothing--or almost nothing. Wearing almost nothing. And now, if we're going to get a chance to do it at all, we have to share it with the Borgasm." B'Elanna tried not to whine about the injustice, but she wasn't very successful.
"Now, now, let's put this all in perspective. We won't be spending that much time with the B . . . I mean, with Seven. Harry's going to be there too, and she'll be with him. You know what that means. The way they've been going at it lately, we'll be lucky to see them for an hour over the entire weekend. They've been really . . . enjoying each other lately." It was Tom's turn to purse his lips, but in his case, he was trying to control his smirking. "They're giving us a run for our money in the 'most satisfied couple of Voyager' sweepstakes, you know. I think I'm jealous."
B'Elanna fixed her lover with the stare that that comment richly deserved. "Yeah. Right. I'm so frustrated!"
"Exactly. So what you need to get you un-frustrated is a wonderful, relaxing vacation with your lover, and one of your oldest friends . . ." He coughed, and added, in a quick whisper, ". . . and Seven."
"What a choice! Working the same as always, taking care of Voyager under impossible conditions, arguing with the engines and our lovely bioneural gelpacks--or having forty- eight hours off with you on the Holodeck, but with Harry and Seven along. I don't know, Tom; it's a pretty close call."
As she said this, B'Elanna shook her head and rolled her eyes, but she really couldn't be convincing. A knowing smirk now emerged, full-blown, on her lover's face. How could she pretend she didn't love the idea of spending a nice, long weekend with Tom? Chucking her responsibilities with the captain's blessing and just lazing on the beach, doing nothing. Or at least, nothing that she didn't want to do. There were certainly plenty of things that she would like to do with Tom. In fact, they did some of those things almost every day, whenever the two of them were off duty long enough to get together and, well, do what they wanted to do. Repeatedly. Assuming there was time.
And there was the rub. There never *was* enough time. Maybe, if they were lucky, they'd both have a free day that ran concurrently for twenty-four hours. If they were very lucky, they wouldn't be bothered more than, oh, say, three or four times by somebody in Engineering, needing to talk to Lieutenant Torres immediately about plasma conduits, or warp core efficiency status, et al. And maybe the captain might not need to talk to Tom about course corrections, or the Doctor wouldn't be calling on his field medic to help out in Sickbay more than two or three times. Not to mention various and sundry interruptions from whoever else might want to talk to the chief engineer and/or the chief helmsman of Voyager during any given period of time. They were just too popular sometimes, especially when all they wanted to do was to get up close and personal. Repeatedly.
But the beauty of this prize was that, by order of Captain Janeway, no one was to interfere with the contest winner and her up-to-three companions on the Holodeck unless there was a true emergency. It was like shore leave, only better.
From Tom's Cheshire Cat grin, he was pretty sure of her answer. Forty-eight hours of uninterrupted time on Holodeck One, unless there was a red alert--then all leave time was off, of course. That would be true even on shore leave, not that B'Elanna would have wanted it any other way. If she really were needed, of course she'd want to run to take care of her ship, just as she'd want Tom to be sitting at the helm to fly them all out of trouble. Still, despite all of the dangers that the Delta Quadrant continually cast into their path to delay their passage home, it was the mundane, "Lieutenant, could I have a minute of your time? I just wanted to ask you abouts" that drove her crazy. Red alerts weren't really all that common. Usually.
"Guaranteed there'll be a red alert and we'll have to quit the program early."
"Maybe. But maybe not. We can ask the captain to please, try to get through the weekend without us, at least once. We've been out here over five years. We're due to hit it lucky for a change, don't you think?"
"I don't know. I think I've been pretty lucky in the Delta Quadrant," B'Elanna answered, a warm purr coming into her voice. "Especially lately."
Tom's smile broadened even further as his voice deepened with a husky, "Well, now that you mention it, Lieutenant, I'd have to agree with you." His eyes darkened to molten cobalt as he made his intentions towards B'Elanna perfectly clear. Stepping forward to encircle her in his arms, Tom's hands gently caressed her back in that certain way he had that always made her knees get wobbly and all eight chambers of her heart pound wildly. His soft mouth melded with hers. Kissing tenderly at first, then more insistently, Tom's breath began to come in gasps. Her ragged breathing matched his. As they drifted slowly towards the sleeping area, passing a display shelf, B'Elanna's hands stretched out towards the small wooden carving that doubled as their favorite flung heavy object (it being devoid of any sharp corners to tear into tender flesh, requiring a visit to an already too-inquisitive Doctor of their acquaintance).
Breaking off the kiss for a few seconds, Tom called out, "Lights, 30%." B'Elanna's fingers made contact with the wooden carving.
The door chime brutishly broke the mood. The crash of an object from a display shelf was accompanied by a muttered Klingon curse.
"Enter," Tom called out reluctantly, backing out of his fierce grip and moving his arm to rest lightly along B'Elanna's shoulders, visibly struggling to calm his overly fast respiration.
"Hi, Tom, B'Elanna. I'm not interrupting, am I?" Harry skidded to a stop a meter in front of the couple, correctly interpreting their flushed faces and annoyed expressions several seconds after it was too late to do anything other than utter a silent //Damn, I certainly did!// to himself.
"Well, yes, actually, but we don't mind, do we, Lovey?" Tom said. At B'Elanna's jaundiced look, Tom sighed deeply and went on, "What did you want, Harry?"
"Have you had a chance to talk about that weekend off?"
"Funny you should ask that," Tom said, as B'Elanna stomped on the toe of his boot. "We were just talking about it, Harry."
"Are you both going to help me talk Seven into it, then?"
The young lieutenant's countenance was so hopeful that, as always, B'Elanna felt what resistance she could muster melting away. It was futile to deny the obvious allure of spending time off with each other and with Harry. It was tempting to make both of her fellow lieutenants squirm, but she finally acquiesced. "Yes, Starfleet. I'll see what I can do." Sighing, she added, "You realize she may still refuse to go, just because it's me asking her."
"Oh, no, B'Elanna. I happen to know that Seven thinks very highly of you!" Harry stated, with conviction.
"Oh, sure. I'm her favorite non-Borg. Well, of the female gender, anyway. She's got closer male companions, doesn't she?" B'Elanna had to chuckle at Harry's sudden blush. Poor Harry! She still had trouble understanding how the Borg had hooked him so thoroughly, but hook him, she certainly had.
"So you'll talk to her?"
"Yes, Harry. Tomorrow. In the mess hall, or maybe in Astrometrics. Or I could call her down to Engineering to take a little break and somehow, bring it up. I'll do it. But now, Harry, I'm sorry, but I was just about ready for a little break myself . . ."
Seeing B'Elanna's intent look, Harry suddenly remembered a very important appointment he had with . . . he wasn't sure, but he was sure he'd remember it once he got outside the door. Nodding and smiling, Harry backed out into the corridor, effusively expressing his appreciation for B'Elanna's unbelievably generous offer to help him win over Seven to the idea of taking a vacation.
Once the door was closed Harry away from them, B'Elanna turned to Tom and said, "He really *does* have it bad, doesn't he?"
"I've been trying to tell you . . ." He pulled her closer towards him and kissed her softly on her topmost forehead ridge. "Thanks for helping him out."
"Anything for a friend. Now, where were we?"
As she puckered up for a kiss, B'Elanna reached out again for their favorite heavy object.
Ensign Hansen, who preferred to be called Seven of Nine but tolerated her birth name when she was on duty, checked the calibration of her Astrometric scanners once more and frowned. The flaw, a barely detectable doubling of the image on her view screen, would be unnoticeable to the biological eyes of her crewmates and, frankly, required all of her attention to be perceptible even with the enhanced vision of her ocular implant. While the correct information could still be accessed digitally without any problem, any deviation in the parameters of her equipment was an unacceptable deviation in parameters. She briefly considered calling Lieutenant Kim at the Ops station and asking him to assist her in repairing what was most likely a misalignment in the sensors, but she decided against it. It would only offer him another opportunity to badger her about the holodeck vacation she had won.
If she'd known it would cause so much trouble, she would never have even posted her entry, despite Captain Janeway's insistence. The captain had claimed that participating in the contest was part of Seven's "social skills training." A quick review of the Starfleet database had revealed the existence of an American-born Canadian astronomer named Helen Sawyer Hogg, who had been noteworthy for her research into primitive methods of measuring the distance of stars from Earth through the peridocity of variable stars. An imprecise method, to be sure, but given the great distance that Voyager still must travel to return to the Alpha Quadrant, there was sufficient relevance to their journey that memorializing the scientist by naming a Delta Flyer shuttle after her seemed appropriate.
The captain had agreed, unfortunately, and had awarded the prize to Ensign Hansen: forty-eight hours of uninterrupted holodeck time with up to three crewmates, along with sufficient bonus replicator rations to enable them all to dine well on food that Neelix had had no opportunity to sully with Talaxian spices. A vacation.
Although missing a weekend's worth of Neelix's cooking had its attractions, the last thing Seven wanted to do was waste her time taking a vacation. It was not only irrelevant, but inefficient. Recreational activities in general merely diverted the crew's purpose from utilizing every second of time towards achieving their goals. Why this simple fact appeared to have escaped everyone else on board Voyager, even Commander Tuvok, was puzzling. Just about the only recreational activity Seven found acceptable was taking physical exercise. Particularly that taken in the company of Lieutenant Kim.
For several seconds, Seven stood motionless at her post while her mind reviewed the various forms of cardiovascular activity that she had been enjoying recently. The realization that her usually sharp mind was being diverted towards anticipating her next cardiovascular workout with Harry rather than concentrating on the matter at hand brought Seven back to reality. Any time they were together now, even for a few minutes, Harry would encourage her to schedule a date for her "prize." Dealing with such a distraction at the moment was unacceptable. She would prefer to perform the necessary repairs by herself.
As she prepared to exit the Astrometrics Lab to go to a nearby Jeffries tube where the problem was most likely to be located, Ensign Hansen recalled that any repairs to the ship's systems required the permission of the senior officers before being undertaken, particularly if the power supplies might be affected. This point had been reiterated on many occasions by the chief engineer. Rather than risk another incident, Seven activated her comm badge.
"Ensign Hansen to Lieutenant Torres."
::::Yes, Ensign. What can I do for you?::::
"I request clearance to make necessary adjustments to the long range sensor system in Astrometrics. It may require my accessing the power grids in Jeffries tube 32, Section A, in order to complete my repairs."
::::Fine. I'll meet you there. Torres out.::::
Seven raised an eyebrow in surprise. The chief engineer's presence was hardly needed to complete this task. There was at least one thing that Seven could count on, however. At least Lieutenant Torres would not be bothering her about taking a vacation.
~~~Deviation from the Norm~~~
The first sight to come into Lieutenant Torres' view upon entering Jeffries tube 32, Section A, was Ensign Hansen's derriere, poking out from underneath an access panel along the outside wall. Even B'Elanna had to admit that it was an impressively-shaped anatomical part that had proven attractive to many of the male inhabitants of Voyager, and some of the females, as well. Harry's attachment to that body part and its possessor was well-known. B'Elanna, who was far more interested in the rock hard bottom of a certain helmsman of her acquaintance, wasn't particularly intimidated by it, however. The helmsman had made it known to her, in many ways, that her own was just as impressive to him as Seven's was to Harry.
"What's the situation, Ensign?" B'Elanna asked.
"I see. How far off are they?"
"They are off by .0035% at the longest range."
"That's not a very great discrepancy."
"It is not within specifications. The imperfection can be readily detected through my ocular implant."
B'Elanna was enough of a perfectionist herself not to comment further. "All right then; let's get to it. With both of us working on it, it shouldn't take long."
First they checked all of the connections and relays to make sure everything was aligned properly. Everything was. They traced the circuitry back to every junction, whether it was a data cable or part of the power supply system, and whether it was standard construction or bioneural gelpack. Next, the console connections and the viewscreen assembly was carefully examined, sometimes with B'Elanna in the Jeffries tube while Seven worked at her console in Astrometrics. After two hours, both were frustrated. The "talk" with Seven that B'Elanna had planned on having once they'd finished what had promised to be a routine repair had been put off indefinitely. Solving the puzzle of the ghost on the viewscreen (even though it was invisible to B'Elanna) became all-consuming.
"Look, Seven. I mean Ensign. There doesn't seem to be anything wrong with your actual system. Perhaps there's some kind of unusual reading coming in, maybe even a distortion in space you're just barely picking up, which is the explanation for the effect."
"If it is a distortion, why does it not appear in any of the readings closer in? And why does it appear in every direction?"
"Hmmm. Well, maybe the problem is within the ship after all."
"We have just spent one hundred and thirty-one minutes investigating that possibility without success."
"No, we've spent one hundred and thirty-one minutes investigating your system. What we could have is interference from another system that is affecting yours."
Seven tilted up her right eyebrow and nodded slightly. "Agreed. We have failed to consider that possibility. We should check near the long range sensor cables."
"Let's look at the connections for the gelpacks first. They get sort of twitchy sometimes when they need to be refurbished."
It took less than five minutes to uncover the offending gelpack, part of the environmental control system in that section of the ship. The extreme sensitivity of the sensors interpreted the slight emanation from the gelpack as a distortion coming from far away in space, when, in fact, it was within fifty centimeters. A chagrined Seven stated, "I should have considered the possibility that my own systems were not at fault prior to this."
"Oh, don't worry about it, Seven. I missed it for over two hours myself. That happens sometimes when people are overworked. Fatigue makes you overlook the obvious."
Seven looked coolly at Lieutenant Torres. That sounded suspiciously like some of the comments that Lieutenant Kim had been making of late. Remaining silent, Seven completed hooking up the new gelpack and picked up the one that needed to be returned to Engineering to be repaired. As she handed the malfunctioning part to her superior officer, Seven met B'Elanna's eyes and saw an expression she was unable to interpret.
"It's past my usual lunchtime, Seven. I've missed eating with Tom. Why don't we go to the messhall together?"
The former Borg woman would have deflected the invitation at another time, but she was, in fact, due to ingest nutrients this lunch period. According to her schedule for the day, she was to have eaten at 1200 hours with Lieutenant Kim, roughly the same time that Lieutenant Paris would have met with Lieutenant Torres. Missing her lunch date with Harry was not, she suspected, going to spare her another discussion of the benefits of vacation time. She could have refused to go and replicated something in her quarters--Seven had plenty of rations, since her personal habits still tended to the austere side--but the fact that Lieutenant Torres, of all people, appeared to be approaching her at Harry's instigation to convince her to take a vacation stimulated her curiosity. What possible argument could the lieutenant have to convince her when Harry had failed?
"Agreed. I will meet you there in ten minutes. I wish to make a final evaluation of the viewscreen in Astrometrics."
"And I need to drop off this gelpack down in Engineering for repair. Ten minutes, then."
~~~When Confronting the Inevitable~~~
Lieutenant Torres was already seated at table in a quiet corner of the messhall when Seven arrived. Three times, Seven had hit her comm badge, intending to contact the lieutenant to say she could not leave Astrometrics and to eat without her. Three times, she deactivated the comm badge without speaking. Lieutenant Torres could not possibly sway her any more than Harry had. What she had to say should be of interest.
"Seven," Torres nodded as the Borg took the seat across from her, putting down her tray of kava fruit salad and Nutritional Supplement Number Three.
They ate in silence for several minutes before Seven said, "Lieutenant. Since you have never invited me previously to join you for a meal when Lieutenant Kim and Lieutenant Paris have not been present, I presume you have been asked by Lieutenant Kim to request that I agree to accepting the contest prize." The last two words were said with what might be considered to be a sneer.
"No, Tom begged me to ask you to accept it. Harry asked Tom to ask me."
"I do not wish to waste my time taking vacation. I have all the time off I need because I am denied the opportunity to be on duty every day. It is inefficient to be absent more from my assigned tasks," Seven said, sullenly.
B'Elanna leaned back in her chair. "Actually, no, it isn't really inefficient to take vacation. I meant what I said up in the Jeffries tube. Gelpacks are like people. Both need to be taken off line and spruced up every now and then. A change in routine is good for humanoids. I'm sure the Doctor can fill you in on exactly why. I worry more about the blasted gelpacks, myself, but biological beings *do* need a rest every now and then. It's a fact of life. Even the Borg have regeneration cycles, don't they?"
"You know that I still require regeneration for an average of an hour every day."
"Exactly. And humans require sleep, too. Do you sleep, Seven?"
"Makes you feel better, doesn't it?"
"I fail to see what sleeping has to do with taking a vacation."
"On vacation, you can spend as much time as you want sleeping! Lazing around, in bed, enjoying the view. . . I mean, enjoying doing nothing. Or not much of anything, anyway." B'Elanna's mouth quirked up on one side as she considered exactly what forms that "not much of anything" could take. Particularly when the view included the tall, lanky form of a certain lieutenant.
"Harry has discussed indulging in water sports such as sailing and swimming, hiking, eating, drinking, and 'seeing the sights.' He has not stated his intention to 'do nothing' on vacation."
"Come on, Seven, Harry knows you like to use your time efficiently. He's hoping that by suggesting you fill up your time with activities, you'd be more likely to say you'll go."
"Possibly. However, since I have no desire to do any of those things, I have no desire to do them efficiently."
Exasperation began to show on B'Elanna's face. "Don't you like to do anything in your spare time, Seven? I know that you play Velocity with the captain and with Harry. There must be some other forms of activity that you like to do."
"Physical activity has a purpose. It tones my biological components and increases my cardiovascular conditioning."
"There you go, Seven. You'll have lots of time for physical activities and come out of the weekend in top physical condition. You can spend as much time as you want doing your favorite form of physical exercise. Which is . . ."
When Seven did not answer immediately, choosing to sip her nutritional supplement instead, B'Elanna inquired again, "Seven, what's your favorite form of physical exercise?"
"Sexual intercourse with Lieutenant Kim."
B'Elanna was momentarily nonplused by the answer, but then said, "Ah. I see. How interesting. To you it's physical exercise, and to me, it's 'doing almost nothing.' To each his own, I suppose." Leaning over conspiratorially, B'Elanna added, "Tell me, Seven, what makes that your favorite form of exercise? Other than it feels good, of course."
"Feeling good is irrelevant. Lieutenant Kim and I both get an excellent cardiovascular workout whenever we engage in this activity. It is extremely beneficial for our physical conditioning. And, while we are not currently interested in procreating, practicing for a time when we might feel otherwise is a justifiable expenditure of our time."
"I see. Practice makes perfect. And I'm well aware of how important perfection is to you, Seven."
B'Elanna's companion did not dignify this comment with an immediate response, but after a moment's hesitation, she said, "Lieutenant Torres, surely you are not asking me these questions because you are interested in the state of my cardiovascular fitness."
"You're right, I'm not, but I *am* interested in Tom's and mine. You realize that you can take an additional couple along with you. Harry wants to take us along when the two of you go."
"You would wish to spend an entire weekend with me?"
"Not really, any more than you want to spend a lot of time with me. But I've been assured, Seven, that neither one of us will have to spend all that much time together. You and Harry will go your way; Tom and I will go ours. We'll get together for an occasional meal. Chat a bit. And, at the end of the weekend, all of us will be relaxed and very satisfied, especially sexually, I'm sure. Lots of time to work on achieving perfection."
Seven thought about this. There was a certain appeal to spending a lot of time trying to achieve perfection. "I will think about it further."
"Excellent. I can't ask for any more than that. Just remember, you wouldn't only be taking this vacation for yourself. It would be for Harry. You want him to be happy, don't you?"
"Happiness . . ."
". . . is irrelevant, I know. I know. To you, maybe. But not to Harry. I'll be honest with you, Seven. You're not the one I would have picked to make him happy, but you do. Since you've been involved, he's been wearing a shit-eating grin almost every day."
Seven looked at B'Elanna, puzzled for a moment, until she recalled the context of their conversation. "I am not familiar with this term. Are you referring to some form of anal intercourse?"
"Uh, not exactly. It's just a figure of speech. It refers to that very self-satisfied smile he wears whenever the two of you have been alone together for a while." //Although, now that I think of it, I wonder exactly how that expression evolved, anyway?// B'Elanna felt her lips twitch into a smirk.
"I see. I have studied many idiomatic expressions, but there are always more that I have not previously heard to confuse me."
"I'm sure that's true." B'Elanna, despite herself, was enjoying this conversation with Seven. Emboldened by the Borg's lack of inhibition in discussing intimate matters, B'Elanna asked her a few more questions. The answers were so frank and amusing that B'Elanna wished that Tom was there so she could share them with him.
Almost as soon as the wish to share the experience with her lover entered her mind, B'Elanna observed the object of her affections enter the messhall and grab a cup of coffee substitute before approaching their table. "Seven, B'Elanna, I was wondering if you'd had a chance to eat lunch. I'm on break. I sure needed one. May I join you for a few minutes?"
"Certainly," Seven replied, noting the emphasis on the word "break," already resigned to the direction in which the conversation would be heading.
"So, what have the two of you been talking about?" Tom grinned expansively as he sat down and glanced towards B'Elanna. Self-interest oozed out of every pore.
"We've been discussing the benefits of cardiovascular conditioning activities, perfection, and kissing. Seven has some very interesting views on kissing, Tom."
"Oh, really?" Tom took a sip of his drink.
"Seven isn't much of a fan of kissing, Tom. It's inefficient."
"Really? You don't like kissing?" Tom said, raising his mug to his lips again.
"It is not that I do not like kissing. It is just that Harry's lips and tongue are much more efficiently employed elsewhere. They produce much more intense sensations when they are used to stimulate my nipples or clitoris. Lieutenant, are you well? You seem to have aspirated your coffee." Seven stated this in what was a relatively solicitous tone of voice for her, as Tom's mouthful of coffee sprayed out of his mouth and dribbled down his chin to discolor the front of his uniform.
"I'll live," he coughed, taking in the dancing eyes of his lover, who was cheerfully blotting away the coffee that had spilled over his chest with a napkin.
"Of course you will. And you can hardly see the stain. As you can tell, Tom, we've had a rather . . . interesting . . . conversation."
"Tahiti come up at all?" Tom mentioned hopefully, still brushing away at his uniform and staring intently at B'Elanna's face.
"Oh, we've talked around it a bit, right, Seven?"
"Yes." Seven's voice was grim. "That was clearly what we were discussing. I understand that you want to take this vacation. Lieutenant Paris, Lieutenant Torres. I will ask the captain to allow you to accept my prize for me."
"The captain would never allow it, Seven. You know that. She believes it's something you need to experience. And I'd feel really guilty taking it away from you and Harry. Especially Harry. He could use the break, after all that we've been through lately." Tom's blue eyes stared beseechingly into Seven's.
B'Elanna tossed the soiled napkin onto her tray and added, "Seven, a word of advice? You're going to have to give in eventually. Harry will never let up on you until you say yes, and the only reason the captain hasn't ordered you to take the vacation--'for your own good,' of course--is because she wants you to say she's right and agree to it yourself. I promise you *I* won't be asking you again, but I can't speak for Mr. Paris, here. Sometimes it's just better . . . more efficient, if you will . . . to avoid all the arguments and pleadings and just do it. The sooner you schedule the weekend off, the sooner it will be over and done with and you can get back to your regular routine. Who knows, you might find that taking a vacation is just as satisfying as we've been telling you it can be."
Sighing, Seven replied, "I will consider it. Is that a sufficient answer for now?"
"It is," B'Elanna and Tom said simultaneously. If Harry had been there, B'Elanna was relatively sure, he would have echoed them. Arising from her seat, Seven nodded her farewell to the couple and carried her tray to the recycler, lost in thought.
After Seven had left the messhall and could no longer hear them, Tom warily took another sip of his coffee, eyeing B'Elanna to make sure she wasn't going to engineer another convulsion of his esophagus. She was merciful. Once he'd safely swallowed the liquid, he said, "So, it sounds like you had quite a conversation with Seven."
"Oh, yes. She has some very interesting ideas about relaxation and exercise. I'll have to fill you in later, when we're off duty and you don't have a coffee cup in your hand."
"Your sudden consideration for my well-being is touching, Lieutenant. So, you think she's going to go along with it?"
"I think she will, Tom. I have a hunch that the prospect of not having you and Harry bugging her all the time might tip the scales."
"Thanks. I think."
Later that evening, having thought very hard about what B'Elanna had last said and once again being confronted by Lieutenant Kim's pleading, Seven contacted the captain. While Seven doubted she would find wasting time on vacation beneficial, if it meant not being pestered any more by Harry, the captain, and now Tom and B'Elanna, it might indeed be worth it to "just get it over with." As long as their journey was not complicated by any dangerous conditions, Seven requested that she, Harry, B'Elanna and Tom be permitted to spend the weekend after next on Holodeck One, running the Tahiti program.
The captain was delighted to agree.
"What is this contraption anyway, Harry?" asked B'Elanna, at her first view of the large panel and several components lying on the worktable in the shuttle construction bay.
"It's a portable regenerator, B'Elanna. Or at least, it will be once we can get it to work. We've been having a little trouble getting the mass down to where it can be carried and configuring it right, so we came down here where we could find right tools.
"Hmm. I see. I'm sure that Seven can get it working, Harry. Why do you need me?"
"We'd like to get it ready in time for our trip to Tahiti. So we can test it. Like it was under field conditions, you know? We won't be interrupted, and we can pretend we're out of touch with">Kiager and Seven's regular cubicles, so we can see if it really works."
"That sounds like a good idea, Harry, but if it isn't ready, it's no problem. You can always test it another time. What's the big rush?"
"Oh, there's no rush. But I'd really, really like to get it ready as soon as possible. You know, Seven was very reluctant to take this vacation. My suggestion that we use the vacation to test the portable regenerator finally tipped the scales for her. If it's not ready, she might want to back out, and we don't want that to happen, now, would we?"
B'Elanna was well aware that Seven agreed to go just to shut up Harry and avoid any further hassles from Tom and the captain. Seven had admitted as much when she'd informed B'Elanna she'd taken her advice about giving in to the inevitable. B'Elanna refrained from confronting Harry with this knowledge, more interested now in Harry's eagerness over this new, previously unmentioned, project. Somehow, there seemed to be more to this than concern that Seven would back out on the vacation. "Aren't we getting a bit desperate over nothing, Harry? Seven is our resident expert on Borg technology. Why don't you get her help? If she's working on it with you, I'm sure she'll understand if you can't get this particular piece of equipment ready for testing in time for Tahiti."
"Really, B'Elanna, we need your help on this. We've been having trouble getting the components miniaturized properly. The Borg don't have to worry that much about how small or light a regeneration cubicle needs to be. They have lots of room and power in their cubes. We want this to be something that could be carried around on someone's back. Something small enough to be used just about anywhere." Harry's laugh sounded a bit forced to B'Elanna. "This project could really use all the experience in improvising new ways to make things work that you've gained out here in the Delta Quadrant."
B'Elanna looked at him shrewdly. "You seem very invested in this project, Harry. There wouldn't be any, shall we say, side benefits to you in having a regeneration cubicle available for Seven while you're on vacation? Maybe in, say, improved cardiovascular conditioning?"
"Oh, no, not really. I want to make sure Seven completely enjoys our vacation, of course. I want to make it so memorable that she won't mind taking another one someday, without having to go through all that arguing first. You know Seven, though. An efficient use of our time, and all that."
Harry's laugh this time was more of a nervous titter. Wickedly, B'Elanna inquired, "But I thought Seven only needed to regenerate about an hour a day now. Surely she can regenerate extra time before vacation, and make up any extra regeneration time after she gets back to the daily grind?"
"B'Elanna, we never know when an emergency will come up and Seven will need to go on an away mission that would keep her from regenerating for days! I've really been worried about that for a while now. I'm concerned with her safety."
"Oh, Harry, I understand now; it's a matter of life and death. Why didn't you just say so in the first place?"
"Oh, I don't know, I, uh . . . B'Elanna, can you just fix the thing for us?"
No longer making the slightest attempt to hide her amusement, B'Elanna relented. "Okay, Harry. Let me check on the schematics. I'm pretty sure I've got them loaded into the computer. Could you demonstrate how Seven inserts herself into the mechanism? Or do I need to fetch her?"
"I'm sure I can help you there. We don't need to bother Seven with it."
"Fine. Oh, and Harry--didn't I hear that you and Seven have already set up one of her spare Borg cubicles in your bedroom? Is there anything about that experience I should know for this project?"
"B'Elanna, check the schematics."
The chief engineer nodded her head, laughing out loud at the operations officer's discomfiture. She couldn't wait to get Seven's version of why thaboveeded to bring a portable regeneration unit onto the holodeck.
Maybe this vacation was going to be a lot more fun than she'd anticipated.
~~~Taking the Plunge~~~
At 1800 hours, Friday night, three of Voyager's senior officers and the ensign serving as head of the Astrometrics Lab approached Holodeck One, laden with several bags of resort wear, recreational items that they already had on hand and didn't want to waste replicator rations on in order to create them, and one large, surfboard-shaped object strapped to Harry's back, the weight of which was causing him to walk somewhat unsteadily down the corridor.
B'Elanna commented nonchalantly, "Sorry I couldn't get the mass down a bit more, Seven. This is only a prototype, just to make sure we're on the right track with the modifications. I'm sure we can get your portable regenerator smaller in the future."
"Your efforts are appreciated. I could have carried it myself without difficulty." Seven cast a disapproving eye towards Harry as his weaving path took him very close to the left- hand side of the passageway.
"One thing I've learned, Seven, is that men are great for carrying things. So many muscles, and in all the right places. Right, Tom?" Without waiting for an answer from the helmsman, she added, "And I'm sure that it's good for Harry's cardiovascular conditioning for him to be bringing it onto the holodeck. Right, Harry?"
Lieutenant Kim's grunted answer was indecipherable to the others. Tom couldn't help feeling that there were undercurrents regarding this device he was not privy to, but he wasn't about to rock the boat now, with Paradise so close at hand.
Once the entrance to the holodeck loomed over them, Tom recited the open sesame of "Run program Tahiti Resort Simulation, Paris Program Sigma Epsilon Xi, Version Two," the pair of couples entered a very different world from the automated, machine-made environs of Voyager.
The Tahiti on Holodeck One was as artificial as the rest of Voyager, but it certainly didn't look, sound, smell or feel like it. Seven had no doubt that with Mr. Paris' skills at holographic programming, taste would be stimulated in just as authentic a manner as her other senses. Even with her enhanced vision and hearing, Seven failed to detect anything that rang false in the simulation. The illusion of walking onto a tropical beach was complete, from the warmth of the late afternoon sun on her skin to the uneven texture of the sandy beach which forced her to steady Harry when he stumbled, courtesy of the weight on his back. While she herself had no basis for comparison with the real Tahiti, since she'd never been to Earth; she was certain that Harry, Tom, and B'Elanna would verify her assumptions regarding the simulation's veracity.
At a command from Tom, the entrance arch evaporated into nothingness. For the next forty-eight hours, courtesy of her contest win and barring unforeseen events, the four would be, for all intents and purposes, experiencing life on Tahiti.
"Isn't this great?" enthused Tom. "Come on, let's get settled into our huts. You can see them at the curve of the lagoon. Yours is closer, on the right, so you don't have to carry that thing any further than you have to, Harry. Ours is around the bend, to the left."
As they began to walk, Tom moved next to Harry and grabbed hold of his right elbow while Seven steadied Harry by holding him by his right arm. "I still don't understand why you couldn't have asked the captain to transport this regeneration thing directly onto the holodeck, Harry. I'm sure she'd have given permission."
"The point of it . . . was to make . . . a portable . . . unit, . . . so I wanted . . . to make sure it . . . really was . . . portable."
Tom shrugged his shoulders. "B'Elanna said it was only a prototype anyway. I'm still not sure why you wanted to clutter up our vacation time with an experiment like this."
"Oh, Tom, I'm sure he'll be compensated in some way for going through all this trouble, won't you, Harry?" B'Elanna grinned expansively. Harry grunted another inaudible reply. Seven remained silent, although her right eyebrow remained arched for most of the trip down the beach to the hut.
With the help of Seven and Tom, the portable regeneration unit was very shortly resting against the inside wall of Seven and Harry's hut, next to the king size bed upon which Harry deposited himself with a sigh once he was freed of his burden. The hut, which looked primitive from the outside, was equipped with all the amenities of modern life on the inside. Seven reconnoitered the small structure and quickly filed away all that she needed to know into her eidetic memory.
"This dwelling should prove satisfactory for the next forty-seven hours and forty-four minutes."
Harry cleared his throat. "Actually, it will be more like the next fifty-nine hours and forty-four minutes. Tom, B'Elanna and I pooled our replicator rations to reserve the holodeck for another twelve hours. W won't have to leave until 0600 on Monday."
Seven fixed him with an unblinking, disbelieving stare.
B'Elanna said in a conciliatory tone of voice, "It's only one more night, Seven. I'm sure you and Harry can find something to do to fill up the time. It's not like you were going to be going right back on duty before 0800 that morning anyway."
"I would prefer to have been informed beforehand," she responded frostily.
"Absolutely. Common courtesy. It was just an oversight, Seven, I'm sure. B'Elanna, why don't we get our things over to our hut now? Dinner on the beach, on that deck over there. The sunset will be spectacular, by the way. You won't want to miss it. See you in a few. Maybe more like an hour. Bye."
As Tom hustled her out of the hut and down the path to the other hut, B'Elanna teased, "Gee, Tom. Targ got your tongue? You had so little to say just now."
"Uh hunh. I just didn't want to see a Borg lose her temper. Not a pretty sight, I'm sure. Almost as bad as a half- Klingon's, I'll bet."
"I think I've just been insulted. This vacation is starting out well."
Tom threw an arm around B'Elanna and gave her a quick hug. "Then let me soothe that Klingon temper of yours. We should have just about enough time to get settled in our hut and have time to relax a bit before dinner. In our very secluded, private hut."
By the time Tom had reached the ultimate "hut" in his recitation, the husky promise in his voice had mollified any remnant of snit B'Elanna may have felt by having her temper compared to a Borg's, not that there had been much to begin with. From observing Seven since her arrival on Voyager, she secretly had to agree there was more truth to the comparison than she liked to admit. She wasn't about to let him know that, of course. Better that Tom, in his own, inimitable style, work at overcoming her presumed irritation in a much more satisfactory manner. In the seclusion of their very private hut.
~~~Moonlight Becomes You~~~
Never let it be said that Tom Paris did not think of everything when planning a special holodeck program. The topography of the real Tahiti had been carefully examined so that the program could be oriented for an optimum view of the full disc of Luna's reflection upon the waters of the pristine lagoon. It was, in fact, an even more glorious view then was possible now on Earth. The real Tahiti, while still a tropical paradise, had become built up with far more buildings along the shoreline than in this simulation. All of the additional buildings of the resort which had served as the model for Tom's creative endeavors had been deleted. Only the two private huts, the main building with br> deck for dining, and a dock and boathouse halfway along the far side of the lagoon remained. Even the moon was not the current day moon, upon which the habitations of man at Tycho City, Luna City, and other metropolises could be faintly detected by a sharp-eyed viewer from Terra Firma. The moon floating on the water bore the face of the unsettled moon of the twentieth and earlier centuries.
The perfection of the setting, however, did not raise the spirits of two of those dining on the deck. Seven was still in a sullen mood that the length of her vacation, which she had never wanted to take in the first place, had been unexpectedly extended by 25%. She had never changed out of the everyday, off-duty body suit she'd been wearing when they'd first walked onto the holodeck, expressing her distaste for the evening's activities by her stiff posture and inappropriate outfit. Harry was in an unhappy state because of Seven's obvious annoyance.
The spirits of the other couple, despite their own personal feelings of well-being after Tom's efforts to mollify B'Elanna's non-existent irritation had proven spectacularly successful, were less ebullient than they might have been because of the silence emanating from Seven and Harry. Scintillating conversation tends to be at a premium when half of the potential conversationalists respond in monosyllables to any topic promoted for discussion by the other half of the group.
"So, how about that moon?" Tom said, for the third time that evening.
Silence greeted the effort, as it had with every other attempt.
"Tom, give it up. Seven and Harry aren't interested in the moon, good food, or talking, especially to each other. Let's face it. We've forced this vacation on Seven and she is *not* grateful. She obviously had better things to do with her time in Astrometrics--even though the area of space we're going through is almost as bleak as the void where those toxic aliens were killing off everything in sight. I'm sure that Seven can find some smidgen of data at her duty console to go over that would mean more than spending time with her friends. Not that I'm assuming I'm one, of course." B'Elanna, on the verge of losing her own temper, gathered her feet beneath her and arose from the table, ready to stalk off to her hut, with or without Tom's company.
"B'Elanna, please. Don't go yet. We can take a nice walk on the beach, maybe?" Tom reached out and grabbed her hand to pull her nearer to him, stroking her thumb with his own in supplication.
"It's no use . . . "
"Lieutenant Torres. I am . . . sorry . . . that I have disrupted your weekend off with Lieutenant Paris. You are correct; I feel this vacation was forced upon me. However, it was not you that forced it, but the captain when she awarded it to me in the first place. I am certain she had motives other than to reward me for providing an appropriate name for a new shuttle. I suspect she always intended to make me 'take some time to look at myself,' as she called it when she informed me of my prize. This was only an excuse. I believe she knew which name I had volunteered for the contest and 'rigged' the outcome. I would not be surprised if I would have won even if my entry had been 'The Crash Landing.' " Seven paused in her recitation, stood up and walked to the edge of the deck, leaning her hands against the edge of the wooden railing.
"And I do not have anything better to do with my time in Astrometrics at present. Time passes slowly there lately. This is a 'bleak' area of space; there is very little data of any consequence for me to examine. The Doctor reminded me earlier today that the lack of anything of interest in this vicinity makes this the ideal time to advance my social interaction training." Turning her attention towards Harry, she added, "I regret I have taken what you thought would be a pleasant surprise for me with such . . . ill humor."
"Oh, no, Seven. It's my fault. I really shouldn't have sprung it on you at the last minute like that, especially knowing how reluctant you were from the beginning. Please, forgive me." Harry walked over to rest his hands upon her shoulders and touched his lips to the back of her neck, very tenderly. At Harry's first touch, Tom and B'Elanna turned their own gazes to each other, squeezing their locked hands, both acutely conscious their presence was an intrusion for the younger couple.
After what seemed to be a very long time to B'Elanna and Tom and an exceedingly short one to Harry and Seven, Tom cleared his throat and said, "Well, B'Elanna, how about that walk on the beach?"
Harry and Seven turned to face them, nodding to them as they descended the steps to the beach below. "See you tomorrow?"
"Sure, Harry. Until tomorrow," Tom answered, adding a tip of his head and a "Good night, Seven," as he proffered his hand to B'Elanna. Kicking off her sandals, she took his hand and murmured a soft farewell of her own to the two who remained on the deck.
After they disappeared into the darkness, taking the path leading off to the right, Harry asked softly, "Would you like to take a walk on our side of the lagoon, Seven?"
"Yes. But I must change what I am wearing. These shoes are not well-adapted for walking in sand."
They walked slowly back to their hut. The spike heels on Seven's shoes were far too high for her to walk comfortably on the bark chip-strewn path, let alone the sandy edge of the lagoon. When they arrived at the hut, Seven went inside alone to change while Harry sat on the steps of the tiny porch to remove his shoes and socks, waiting for his lover and feeling far better about his prospects for a pleasant weekend than he had a mere hour before.
Harry was not conscious that he'd heard Seven's step behind him, but he turned just as she approached the open doorway. She was dressed in a costume that virtually matched his: a thin white linen man-tailored shirt and softly pleated pants. Her feet were now barefoot, also, as they seldom were. Seven, as he knew, always felt better encased in layers of clothing and walking in high heeled footwear, the legacy of spending years imprisoned in the functional, permanent garb of the Borg. She was slipping on the jacket that matched her slacks. Although he was certain she must still be wearing her regeneration corset around her middle, he noted from the bouncing of her breasts and the outline of her nipples against the thin cloth that her breasts were unencumbered by the supportive garment that usually bound them into tight, albeit large, globes of flesh. He felt his groin tighten just by thinking about them--and even more, how they would look once even that thin fabric would no longer hide them from his eyes, hands, and mouth.
Taking her hand as she descended the steps to help her balance herself, since she was walking on her toes, Harry escorted Seven onto the path to the beach of the lagoon. They walked in languid silence, accompanied by the gentle lapping sounds of the lagoon waters and the whispering shudder of palm fronds above them, virtually obscuring the soft footfalls upon the sands.
The full moon was still riding high in the sky, but it was not until they rounded the point of the lagoon inlet and came to the beach that was washed by the waves of the ocean that its full glory could be seen, painting a shimmering trail of light from the satellite's roundness to the waters crashing at the edge of the sea strand. The smell of the salt water was stronger here by the simulated ocean, mingling with the scent of frangipani and other tropical flowers to form a heady perfume.
"God, this is beautiful. Tom really knows how to set a scene, doesn't he?"
"Agreed," she answered, coming to a stop and allowing Harry to lay his left arm around her shoulders. "Is this an accurate representation of Tahiti?"
"I don't know. I've never been there. It's is a lot like Hawaii, though, and I have been there. That's just about as close to being Paradise as Tahiti, I think."
"Perhaps this program is like Hawaii because Mr. Paris intended it that way?"
"No, I don't think so. Tom's been to Tahiti, so I'm sure it's pretty close to the real thing. Not that he remembers much about his stay there. It wasn't a very good time in his life. He said he was drinking a lot then, living on the credits his mother sent him, trying to forget how he'd ruined his career and killed three of his friends at Caldik Prime. But Tom doesn't skimp on his research. You can count on this as being pretty authentic."
Seven nodded her head slightly, then leaned it against Harry's shoulder. She was just about the right height to bury her face there, if she wanted. Instead, she asked, "Do you have good memories of Hawaii, Harry?"
"Yes, I do, Seven. I was fourteen when my parents took me there on vacation. There's a coincidence for you! And I didn't even want to go. I can barely believe it now, but when I was fourteen, the last thing I wanted to do was spend time with my parents. They insisted, and I'm glad I went. We spent almost a week on Maui. At the end of our stay, we hired a schooner and sailed to one of the nearby islands and on to Honolulu for a last few days before returning home. We were on the water overnight for that part of our vacation. The stars--Seven, it's hard to describe. We live among them here, on Voyager, but they're just as brilliant there as in this simulation. There's something about being on the water at night, away from any city lights, that makes the stars so close to you. It was one of the things that made me want a career in Starfleet. It's as if--well, you could really tell that you were sailing through space. Like Earth is just another Starfleet vessel, you know? The first, the oldest one, but it travels through space just the same as we do on Voyager. Different quadrant, different propulsion system, but the same kind of trip, in a way."
Seven listened to Harry's reminiscence, thinking about how different her own fourteenth year had been, locked up on a Borg cube and spent in a maturation chamber. Seven of Nine had seen none of the Delta Quadrant's stars that year.
In comparing her life experiences with those of Harry and the other members of the crew complement, Seven seldom felt herself lacking in any way. Much of the time, she felt the course of her life had been far superior to theirs. This was not one of those times.
The view of the stars lining the roof of the holodeck, just like those over the real Tahiti or those visible flying by at faster-than-light speeds through the viewscreen of Voyager's bridge and the Astrometrics Lab, were far superior than the interior of a Borg maturation chamber, extensive as the education it provided her might have been. As small as Voyager was compared to a Borg cube, let alone a planet, Naomi Wildman had obtained a far broader exposure to life and to the stars than the child who had been Annika Hansen had gained as a young teenager. This was something Seven seldom thought about, but she could not escape it tonight. As a younger child, the age that Naomi was now, Annika Hansen may have seen the stars. She must have seen the stars, having lived on The Raven. But Seven could not recall seeing them. Those memories had all been washed away by the reality of being Borg.
Aware that his companion had fallen silent again, Harry tilted her face towards his with his fingertips and apologized, "I'm sorry, Seven. I'm monopolizing the conversation. Is there something you'd like to talk about?"
She leaned her cheek against his fingertips. "No, Harry. Continue talking about the stars." She favored him with one of her rare smiles, clearly visible to him because of the moonlight illuminating her face with silvery beauty. He gently touched his lips to hers, moving his hand down to cup her breast and rubbing the nipple to a point beneath the thin linen. As the kiss deepened, she opened the top two buttons of her shirt and invited his hand to caress the bare skin beneath the cloth, to knead her bosom until quiet little sounds slipped out of her throat, intensifying his state of arousal.
"Annika," he breathed, momentarily breaking their kiss so he could look into her face and gaze into her clear eyes. He was on shaky ground, calling her that now when she had been so upset with him such a short time before. He was reassured as she continued to smile at him, accepting the name she allowed Harry and Harry alone to call her. Moving her hand to the juncture of his thighs, she felt his hard maleness, straining to be released from the confinement of his garments and longing for her touch. She stroked him on the outside of the cloth, barely touching him, making him moan. As she heard him whisper her human name again, her smile broadened, almost to that of any other woman who lived on Voyager. But never, at any second, was Harry fooled into thinking that she was any woman, any other woman but his Seven, who let him call her Annika only when the two of them were alone and enjoying intimacies like this.
She stepped back then, but her hand slipped loosely into one of his. He gulped a bit, trying to control his swiftly racing heart. It would take more than a gulp to do that, however, at the sight of her. Her shirt hung wide open, her substantial, round breasts and the dark circles of their areolas in full view. A loose strand of her golden hair, almost white in the moonlight, fluttered in the light breeze. "Do you want us to take each other here, Harry Kim?" she asked.
Reflexively, Harry looked over his shoulder towards the other side of the lagoon, looking for two other figures dressed in white. "Could they see us?"
The slightest hint of amusement seemed to be in her voice as she answered, "I can barely see them, even with my enhanced vision, Harry. I do not believe they could see us, if you wish to do it here."
Harry briefly considered going back to the privacy of their hut. The night air was cool, but his skin was already fevered from his desire for her. She was as willing as he, and the setting was as secluded as one could get on a ship carrying more than one hundred and thirty beings. He reached out, finished unbuttoning her shirt, and unhooked the side clasps of her corset. Carefully hanging the corset on a branch to keep it away from even holographic sand, Harry slipped off her jacket and shirt as she loosened her slacks and let them drop to her ankles.
He laughed when he saw what she wore beneath her slacks. Nothing. "Am I that predictable, Seven?"
"Yes. Harry. You are very predictable," she said, helping him to divest himself of his clothing and eagerly stroking his shaft as soon as it came free of his pants. "And I am very glad for it," she whispered before they kissed again.
They eased themselves down at the edge of the beach, where the sand met some scrubby vegetation. Seven's clothing and Harry's shirt were spread out for bedding, to keep them from being scratched as they used their hands and mouths and most intimate parts to pleasure each other in a passionate joining. Afterwards, the male human and female human/Borg gained a measure of the peace that eluded them so much during their daily lives as they lay in each other's arms, their bodies bathed in an illusion of moonlight shining from an imitation sky. And nothing seemed artificial about it.
On the other side of the lagoon, the other couple on the holodeck walked a far greater distance than the ones who had found each other's bodies impossible to resist at the edge of the ocean. Tom and B'Elanna had been a couple longer, however. Before dinner, when Seven and Harry were still too busy being angry with each other to have been willing to make up in any way, the full lieutenants had taken the time to indulge each other in the acts their junior officers were performing at that moment. For now, B'Elanna and Tom were content to stroll for the most part in silence, enjoying the same sights, sounds, and scents as the other pair, but with far less need to speak about them.
They had been to the Tahiti simulation before, of course, although never for so long a time as this weekend. Every now and then one would utter a phrase or sentence that caused the other to smile and tighten his or her grip on the other's hand. Their steps took them well around the right hand curve of the lagoon to a long, curving beach on the ocean side. After walking quite away along that beach, they retraced their steps and found a place to sit, watching the moonlight shining on the breakers that splashed onto the beach. A few bird calls could be heard, cutting through the sound of waves and the breeze rustling through the vegetation. Tom could have named the birds for B'Elanna, had she wished to know what species they were. He'd programmed them into the simulation just for her. She didn't ask, so he chose not to volunteer.
Prying the chief engineer of Voyager away from her engines for an entire weekend was such a gift that Tom could barely believe it, let alone talk about it, lest it be ripped away in a blast of "Red Alert, all senior officers to the bridge, Red Alert." It had happened often enough to them when they'd had plans for quiet time together alone. So, for now, Tom was willing to sit with his arms around his B'Elanna, her slender hips nestled between his legs as she rested her weight against his tall body.
The thoughts running through Tom's head were not far from what Harry had described to Seven only minutes before. He had never come to the Tahiti program on file on Voyager's holodeck before his half-Klingon lover, desirous of spending time where it was warm and peaceful, had expressed a desire to visit there. When she did, he'd thrown himself into custom designing the program they were now enjoying, all to please B'Elanna. There was no nostalgia on his part to recreate a place he'd once visited on Earth; for Tom's stay on the real Tahiti had not been a pleasant one.
Many of his memories of that time were lost in a haze of alcohol-induced self-pity. Those who had walked on the beaches with him there--and several women had done so--were not interested in anything more than the good time he had promised them and which, it must be stated, he had delivered as promised. Empty days and nights of drinking and sex, to try to raise the spirits of a man who knew he had absolutely, positively, totally ruined his life. And that was *before* he'd landed in prison, branded a traitor by his father and everyone else whose opinion had ever mattered to him, except one. That one had been his mother, who had kept him supplied with what he needed to survive, confident that someday her only son would find his way again and live a life of honor. Even Tom hadn't believed his mother could possibly be right.
That he had somehow come out of the other side of that terrible time to be here, the chief helmsman of Voyager, a respected man and the lover of the Klingon/human female who, he confidently believed, was the most beautiful and intelligent woman in the universe, had the capacity to fill him with awe at times.
And this was one of those times.
While Tom Paris could talk the birds out of the trees and women out of their clothes any time he really set his mind to it, when he was alone with his B'Elanna in a scenario like this, he felt he was in the midst of a religious experience, unlike anything else he had ever encountered in his life. And one did not talk during a mystical, religious experience. His mother had taught him that.
Thus, the normally loquacious Thomas Paris was quiet, drinking in the night air as he held his beloved close, until B'Elanna softly said, "Let's go back, Tom."
She stood up first and offered her hand to him, pulling him easily to his feet with her Klingon strength. They returned along the path to their hut, as quietly as they had come down it initially. His body stirred in anticipation of the delights they would produce in each other once they got back to the structure, but he was in no hurry. There was no need to rush back.
Tonight, Tom anticipated, would not be a Klingon night. Tonight would be a quieter, yet somehow more intense experience. More mystical. More human-style, somehow. He could tell how it would be.
They would enter their bedroom and quietly remove their clothes. No ripping off of garments tonight. Perhaps he would come behind her, once her dress was down by her ankles, to push the panties off her hips and circle his arms around to her front, cupping her breasts with his hands. She would lean back against his naked body, much as she had when they were sitting on the beach, squirming and making soft little sounds while his fingers kneaded her nipples and his kisses rained over her neck, shoulders, and back. Every bump of her buttocks against his throbbing length would excite him more, yet he would not succumb to the pressure to take her too soon. Instead, his stroking hands would take turns exploring her body, caressing her buttocks and lifting one of her legs onto the bed so that his fingers could be slipped into her gently from behind. He would flex them in just the right way, from long practice, for them to work their magic. Her moans would make him harder, yet he would hold off, as long as he could, before pulling her around to face him and kissing her full on the mouth.
He would ease her onto the bed, laying her on her back, spreading her arms and legs as he proceeded to worship her body with his lips, to lap the salty sweetness of her with his tongue. He would take his time to taste her thoroughly, enjoying every gush, every cry, before climbing onto the bed next to her and letting her have her turn with him. She would be gentle with him tonight, too, loving him at a languid, peaceful pace. No biting. No scratching. Just whisper-soft hands and even softer lips all down his body. If she used her teeth at all, it would be to drag the pearly enamel over his skin to make him shiver. She would rub her cheeks against the cloud of down upon his chest, sucking his nipples as gently as he had hers. Finally, her lips would descend past his navel to close around him. He would be almost ready to burst, but her licking would be so careful that he would be able to hold himself back.
When he knew he was close, he would roll her over onto her back again, entering her smoothly but gradually until she breathed his name because she was so full of him. Easily, they would move together, molding their bodies together, rocking slowly but deliberately until the very last. When their groaning had intensified and their quickened tempo had at last speeded up to reach a passionate crescendo, he would spill into her, crying out, moaning kisses into her mouth as she hungrily dove her tongue between his lips as demandingly as he was thrusting between her thighs.
And when it was over, he would lay gasping, his entire weight resting upon her as she held him in place until their breathing had calmed. Only then would she allow him to withdraw from her, even more slowly than he had entered, rolling him onto his side so they could rest beside each other on the bed. Lying in each other's arms, they would smooth their hands over each other's hair and skin until slipping away into an easy, satisfied sleep, feeling that one thing both had always sought in a lover all their lives without truly finding until now. Until they'd come, lonely and unsure of their futures, and finding what Tom always thought of as the miracle of Voyager: finding each other.
That's how it would be. He knew it. Whenever B'Elanna's mood was calmly serene like this, that's how it was. He enjoyed these gentle nights just as much as he did the wild Klingon ones, when heavy objects flew through the air of their quarters with reckless abandon and bites, bruises, and broken clavicles needed to be repaired before either could be seen in public. ul rrow might even be a Klingon night. That's how it was for them, and he wouldn't dream of changing it. Not for a second.
~~~Sex on the Beach: One~~~
The morning sun was fairly high in the sky and glittering through the trees before signs of life were detected from either hut on the Tahiti lagoon. It was almost 0800 before any sound at all could be heard issuing from the hut housing Lieutenants Torres and Paris. Those sounds consisted of the light, rhythmic squeak of bouncing mattress springs and a duet of enthusiastic moans as the pair brought each other to orgasm in one final session of lovemaking before emerging to sample whatever activities might be on the agenda for the day. Hopefully, the day's events would prove satisfying, even though they might not approach those experienced during the night and early morning hours.
It was past 0900 before Harry was observed splashing into the lagoon for a brief wake-up swim before breakfast.
"They're finally up," announced Tom, calling through the window of the hut from his perch on the front porch. The chair in which he was sitting leaned precariously on its back legs, prevented from depositing him ignominiously onto the decking only because his long legs stretched far enough to brace him against the porch rail and propped the tilted back of the chair firmly against the wall of the structure. Tom had a smile on his face. A very happy smile on his face. It had been a very good night, just as anticipated.
When Harry pulled himself out of the water to shake the water from his eyes, he glanced up at the hut of his friends and waved to Tom. While he couldn't see Tom very well, he was pretty sure those big feet resting on the porch rail belonged to the pilot and not the petite engineer. A few seconds later B'Elanna descended the steps, proving Harry's hypothesis about the identity of the owner of the feet. When she was close enough to Harry, she called out, "Do you want to have breakfast by yourselves, or do you want to eat together on the dining deck?"
"Haven't you eaten yet?" he called back.
"No, we were waiting for you two sleepyheads! Besides, we just got up a little while ago ourselves."
"Let me ask Seven. I think we'll want to eat on the deck with you."
Breakfast was a much more gratifying meal than last night's dinner. Seven didn't usually eat very much in the morning, a carryover from her days of obtaining her sole sustenance from her regeneration cubicle. Lunch and dinner tended to be her substantial meals, although regeneration provided energy primarily for her implant system, not for her biological body. Overall she ate just about as much as any other human woman of her size, however, and this morning she admitted she was "famished."
It was the first time B'Elanna and Tom had ever seen a "famished" Borg before, although Harry had been privileged with the experience on several occasions. Seven's intake of the cheese omelet, replicated sausage, fruit compote, cranberry muffins, orange marmalade, coffee, and Danish pastry which constituted the morning's menu was greater than either Tom or Harry had been able to manage, and significantly more than B'Elanna was able to consume.
"Must be the sea air," said Tom, sagely, as he watched Seven consume a second cherry Danish.
"Must be," said B'Elanna, thinking to herself that the make-up sex must have been truly magnificent the night before. Harry had been no slouch at breakfast, either, although Seven had outeaten him by a notable margin.
"Sleeping late always makes me want to eat a lot," said Harry, sipping the last of his coffee.
"This food is delicious. Neelix has not touched it," commented Seven.
"Now, there, I think she's got it," laughed Tom. The others murmured their agreement that this was the most likely explanation for Seven's raging appetite.
"One thing, you'll definitely have to wait an hour before going in for a swim after that meal," Harry stated.
"After a heavy meal, you should always wait an hour before swimming. Right, Tom? B'Elanna?"
"I never heard that," said B'Elanna.
"Maybe it's just a human custom, but yeah. My mom never let me go in swimming until my food 'had a chance to settle a little.' Something about getting cramps and drowning." Tom wagged his head in support of Harry's statement.
"I never heard of such a thing. Of course, my mother never took me swimming much. It wasn't a Klingon thing to do. The safeties are on here though. We can go swimming as soon as we like."
"True, B'Elanna, but if we're going to make this just like a real vacation in Tahiti, we should do everything just like we would if this was the real deal. So I say we wait."
B'Elanna rolled her eyes at Tom's mother hen approach, but then a thought occurred to her. What must Seven look like in a bathing suit? Suddenly, the prospect of not swimming for a while wasn't so unappealing. In fact, getting into one of her own swimsuits wasn't something she felt much like doing. "Okay, I guess you're right. We can wait, can't we, Seven?"
B'Elanna had brought six bathing suits with her. Two were fairly conservative, one piece models, good for activities like water skiing (which, thanks to Tom's love of the sport, she was guaranteed to have to participate in at some point during the weekend). The others were all much more decorative--and skimpy. B'Elanna loved to lie in the sun with as little cloth as possible coming between her and the warm rays. Thanks to her Klingon complexion and the Doctor's hypos of sunburn prophylactic, even in high ultraviolet conditions she didn't have to worry about the kind of damage to her skin that Tom suffered even when he faithfully took every preventative measure known to man. He had been cursed with that fragile, blond/redhead skin which bubbled into third degree burns at the very suggestion of sunbathing.
Fortunately, the sun on the holodeck had been carefully engineered so that B'Elanna would need no sunburn hypo or lotion on this excursion, and even Tom would be safe as long as B'Elanna applied sufficient sunscreen over his body. Only when they were water-skiing or if he were going to be lying in the sun for an extended period would he have to take one of the hypos. Harry's skin wasn't much more tender than B'Elanna's; he would need little in the way of protection for his skin on this trip. Seven, another icy-blue-eyed, fair-skinned Nordic type, as befitted her birth name, would need to take the same safety measures as Tom.
So coverage wasn't something B'Elanna worried about because of the sun. In fact, if only Tom and she were here, she wouldn't bother with a bathing suit at all. Nature could take its course, in more ways than one. With Harry and Seven around, she wasn't comfortable with that (and devoutly hoped Seven felt the same way). It wasn't that she was ashamed of her body, either, far from it. B'Elanna had a good body in excellent shape, and she knew it.
But Seven in a skimpy bathing suit. Wow. That was a little intimidating. Considering what the woman looked like in any costume at all, the thought of an almost nude Seven parading around Tom was something B'Elanna didn't like to contemplate. It wasn't that Tom's head would be turned by her. She was Harry's girlfriend, and B'Elanna had complete confidence that Tom would respect that fact. She was sure he would refrain from making any comment to embarrass or disturb his friend.
But the man was human. While her human side understood perfectly that Tom, at one time the bearer of a reputation of pig that had not been particularly well-deserved even when B'Elanna had thrown it into his face, might find it impossible to look away from the extremely well-endowed, statuesque Ensign Hansen, B'Elanna was nowhere near as certain her Klingon side would understand. She didn't want to create a medical emergency tearing Tom to shreds just because his eyes might linger a tad too long on those twin anatomical marvels on Seven's upper anterior torso. Or that rather spectacular derriere that even B'Elanna had taken notice of when it had been waving in the air before her in the Jeffries tubes not that long ago. It almost made her want to wear the muumuu that the rather large, holographic Polynesian waitress who served them their meals was wearing. Or, better yet, to throw that same muumuu over Seven.
So, the best thing for B'Elanna to do would be to wear a suit that was so eye-catching, her man would have eyes only for her.
But which one might that be?
After several were tried on, B'Elanna settled on a classic, the tried and true. A basic black bikini, the skimpiest she owned, with tiny pieces of cloth arranged in strategic places across her bosom and genitals and a thong back brief to display her own very trim and enticing (as Tom constantly informed her) buttocks. The piece de resistance was the black lace cover-up jacket, which covered up nothing but added just enough "now you see it, now you don't" to drive Tom wild. She knew. She'd worn a very similar outfit before with a much more conservative bikini. If this didn't keep Tom's attention, nothing would.
Feeling as well prepared as possible under the circumstances, B'Elanna presented herself on the porch for Tom's approval.
His wolf-whistle response was gratifying, as was the out and out staring at her body and the readily perceptible bulge that quietly appeared in the crotch of his baggy dark blue bathing suit. Her outfit had had the desired effect on Tom.
They walked down to the edge of the lagoon where Tom had already spread out two blankets for them. Stretching themselves out, they waited for the competition to arrive. When it did, B'Elanna muttered a sotto voce "Damn" and shook her head in disbelief.
Seven was stunning, but not because her suit was so revealing. She was well-covered from her crotch to her neck by a sleek, snugly-fitted silver bathing suit. It was only when Seven turned her back to them to take off the simple terry jacket she was wearing that the fact that the suit was virtually backless registered. The two electrodes along Seven's spine that connected her to her alcove while she regenerated were visible, as was the top of the crack of her ass. The only decoration on it was not really decoration at all. Seven's subdermal wires at the bottom of her ribs and around her hips just below her waistline were visible, almost like piping. At her navel and a few other places, implants could be detected, either as slight, button-like distortions of the cloth or fully revealed, as was the one on her right upper arm. B'Elanna couldn't help but think that Ensign Hansen had chosen the perfect suit to accentuate all of her assets. And then some.
"Looking good, Seven," said Tom lightly. "Say, B'Elanna, how about rubbing that suntan stuff on my back, huh?"
That was it? That was all he was going to say? One look at Tom, eyes closed and choir boy face resting on his arms as he lay chest down on the blanket in anticipation of receiving a slathering of protective cream over his back, suggested that yes, this *was* all he was going to say. Harry's "Hubba, hubba, B'Elanna, great suit," was more heartfelt than Tom's comment to Seven.
Still muttering internally to herself for being silly, B'Elanna squeezed out a generous supply of the lotion and began to rub Tom's back. Little grunts of pleasure emanated from the direction of the blanket as she massaged him vigorously.
As she poured more sunscreen onto her hands to work it down the back of Tom's legs (paying special attention to the backs of his knees, where he once had suffered a nasty burn because he'd forgotten to protect himself there), B'Elanna detected, out of the corner of her eye, Seven squeezing herself several times around the waist.
"What's the matter, Seven?" B'Elanna asked.
"I'm not used to being without my corset. It feels . . . odd." The pinched look on Seven's face gave testimony to the fact that she was not kidding.
Harry cautioned, "But you can't go into the water at all with your corset on. The Doctor said he couldn't be certain you wouldn't damage it."
"Perhaps I should not go into the water."
B'Elanna smoothed the lotion over Tom's ankles before ordering him to flip over. Spreading the cream up the front of his golden-fuzzed legs and into the waves of hair on his chest promised to be even more fun for B'Elanna than doing his dorsal side, but her mind was not concentrating on the many ways she could torment Tom while protecting his skin; it was diverted by Seven's dilemma.
She had known about the existence of the corset before. In her role as chief engineer, the Doctor had asked her to examine it upon Seven's arrival on Voyager. When the Doctor had been forced to remove Seven's malfunctioning implants, B'Elanna had advised him about those which were essential for the system to function so that the Doctor knew the ones he could safely remove from the Borg's body.
B'Elanna hadn't really thought about it since, but now that she was thinking of it, Seven's feeling "odd" about being relatively undressed did make sense. The tight suits Seven had worn before agreeing to wear the Starfleet uniform, and which she continued to favor when off-duty, would feel more comfortable for the former Borg. The regeneration corset must feel even more essential to her well-being. When part of the Collective, Seven had been encased in leather and metal.
While her hands rubbed Tom's skin, Chief Engineer Torres reviewed various options that were readily available in the ship's computer, should Seven allow one to be suggested to her. Out of the corner of her eye, B'Elanna saw that one might be necessary. Seven's distress was becoming increasingly obvious.
After jiggling a few more times on the blanket, Seven finally jumped up, stating, "I'm sorry, Harry. I cannot continue. I must get dressed."
"Seven, if you can hold out until I'm done with greasing up 'Paleface,' here, maybe I can help you."
"Can't Tom can do that himself, B'Elanna?" inquired Harry, eager to preserve his chance to swim with his Seven and perceiving that the opportunity was quickly slipping away.
"I can, but I prefer B'Elanna to do it." Tom had just enough mischieviousness in his voice that she wanted to poke him. Settling for muttering "pig" under her breath, B'Elanna elicited a very big smile from Tom and a groan from Harry. Seven, however, managed to remain sufficiently calm to remain standing on the blanket during the final few minutes B'Elanna spent ministering to her lover, the last one somewhat lengthened by the look of his eyes, which today rivaled the sky in color and clarity.
Finally, B'Elanna gave Tom an easy slap on the shoulder. "You're done. You can do those arms yourself."
"What a hard task master you are, Chief," he laughed, as he allowed her to get up on her feet to face Seven.
"Now, then. Maybe you should wear a corset, Seven. But who says it has to be the one that's equipped with delicate electronic circuitry? There are other choices. You just need your middle squeezed tightly to feel good, right?"
Seven twitched an eyebrow and nodded her head in agreement.
"Okay. You can choose from some old-fashioned bustiers, girdles, and ordinary human corsets. The specs are in the computer because they're used when somebody wants to put on a play or have a costume party with authentic period clothing. Exactly how much of your waistline do you need covered?"
After a few hurried moments of consultation with the formerly Borg human, B'Elanna ordered the computer to supply a simple, whalebone-stay corset made from white cotton, which wouldn't be damaged by water. "
"Okay, Seven. I'll need to tie you into this for it to stay on you. Shall we go up to your hut?"
"There is no need." Seven reached up to the back of her neck and unhooked the closure of her suit, stripping the garment down to just above her crotch, disclosing everything a bikini would reveal, and then some. B'Elanna observed with a sigh that Seven's assets were, contrary to some nasty rumors, obviously just as real as Harry had always claimed they were.
Helping Seven lower the corset over shoulders and into position around her waist, B'Elanna circled around to Seven's back and instructed Harry, "You *are* watching how I'm doing this so you can help her in the future, aren't you?" She stole a look at the operations officer. His eyes were affixed to Seven's midsection, but B'Elanna couldn't be sure how often they were making it around to where the chief engineer's busy hands were lacing up the corset along the back. Harry seemed to be paying a lot more attention to Seven's front. He had a the ghost of a smile on his face, almost like he was planning his next move. B'Elanna figured he probably was.
When B'Elanna glanced at Tom, on the other hand, she saw he was sprawled on his stomach with his face modestly turned away from what he was undoubtedly dying to look at. B'Elanna couldn't see if he were grimacing, although she had a hunch he might be. However, by averting his eyes from Seven's physique, Tom was preventing B'Elanna's Klingon side from boiling over and smiting him, for which B'Elanna was exceedingly grateful. As soon as the corset was properly aligned on her body, Seven pulled the front of her suit back up to its original position. With B'Elanna's assistance, she refastened the closure at the back of her neck. By the time B'Elanna had finished lacing her up and had tied off the strings, Seven was again clothed. More or less.
The corset detracted from Seven's striking appearance in her swimsuit. The cotton foundation garment bunched somewhat, and its whalebone stays were clearly visible underneath the suit. The corset itself was exposed by the bare back, but Seven expended a big sigh of relief. "This is a great improvement, Lieutenant. Thank you."
"Call me B'Elanna," remarked the chief engineer, grinning with self-satisfaction now that the woman in the most attractive beach costume was herself. "One advantage to this arrangement is you won't have to rub so much lotion on, Seven. Just your face, arms, and legs, and maybe a couple of places above and below the corset in back. Here, Harry, your turn to play masseur." B'Elanna tossed the bottle of lotion to Harry, who had managed to tuck his eyes back into his head well enough to catch it. He moved around to Seven's back to apply the lotion, beginning, B'Elanna noted, at the crack of Seven's buttocks.
"Don't forget the back of Seven's neck, now," she added cheerily, glancing down at Tom, who had turned on his side so he could look at B'Elanna's face.
"Want to take a swim, Chief?" he asked, smiling crookedly up at her.
"This outfit isn't too comfortable for swimming in, Tom."
"So--we'll just go in and wade around a little."
"Okay. If that's what you want to do." B'Elanna stretched her petite frame as far as it would go as she pulled off her black lace cover-up. The rapid intake of breath that issued from the figure below her on the blanket was very gratifying to hear. The just-about-cover-up had done its job. B'Elanna concentrated on sucking in her stomach and tightening her buttocks while she stood there on display before Tom. Harry and Seven were both too busy playing "splash the lotion over the epidermal layer" to care, at that point, what the other two were up to.
Grabbing B'Elanna by the hand, Tom hauled her into the warm waters of the lagoon. Even warmth-loving B'Elanna had to concede, "This water is more like bathwater than any natural sea I've ever been in. How authentic is this scenario, anyway?"
"Very. I'm not making any adjustments for your Klingon blood," Tom assured her. "The water in Tahiti would actually reach these temperatures."
"It feels wonderful. And so does this . . . this extra appendage you have poking out the front of your bathing suit. Is this the real reason you were so eager to jump into the water?"
"Caught me, Lieutenant. Too bad this water's too warm to cool me off. I'll have to find another way."
"Oh, really?" she sniggered, giving the gentlest of yanks to what she was holding in her hand, promoting a small grunt of pain/pleasure from Tom. Smirking, B'Elanna began to use her fingers to rub him in a way she knew would be even more satisfying to him.
He moaned a little and gathered her into his arms. "You are a truly wicked woman, B'Elanna Torres."
"You better believe it. Now, tell me, is this like this because of me, or because of Miss Seven, the uh, what did they call them? The ones in the corsets? Some kind of girls?"
"You're probably thinking of Gibson Girls. Or maybe Vargas girls. Actually, our Seven's more like Mae West. They called flotation devices after her during the one of the world wars of the twentieth century thanks to her . . . attributes. Mae West poked out of the front of her outfits pretty much the way Seven does."
"And here I thought you had eyes only for me," B'Elanna cooed, although by now, from his teasing tone of voice, she no longer cared what he had or had not noticed about the other female in their little party.
"My eyes *are* on you, Chief. May I say that's the most intriguing bit of swimwear I have ever seen? And such a very little bit. I don't see how it stays on you, it's so tiny."
"Actually, it isn't staying on me very well," she admitted. The action of the water had slipped certain strategic areas of the top away from the parts they were designed to cover.
"You know, that's one thing I really like about your suit. Hers is so snug I'm sure Harry would have lots of trouble slipping his hand inside it, like this." With B'Elanna's arms wrapped around his neck to hold her in place in front of him, both of Tom's hands were now very busy, one working its way down to play with the area between her legs that the bikini bottom almost covered, and the other teasing her now completely exposed nipples with little pinches while he kissed her face and neck.
B'Elanna glanced over her shoulder towards the pair on the beach. Neither were paying the slightest attention to Tom and B'Elanna. From the way they were sprawled on the beach, with Seven's upper leg hooked high over Harry's hip as they faced each other on the blanket, B'Elanna suspected that Harry was doing his best to squeeze his fingers beneath that snug suit and that Seven might be tugging on Harry's own "appendage." Maintaining her hold on Tom by her left arm only, B'Elanna moved her right hand down to play magic fingers beneath Tom's swim trunks again.
The water was very warm. Very wet. As was she. As was Tom. Within the next few minutes, between the two of them, they were bound to add to that wetness. B'Elanna allowed a very happy groan to escape her lips as Tom pushed his wiggling fingers the rest of the way inside her. Very, very wet, indeed.
The rest of the morning was spent in very separate, quiet pursuits, although Seven eventually consented to go into the water, bobbing along with the others for a short while. Tom whispered under his breath that Seven could never drown thanks to her "Mae Wests," forcing B'Elanna to struggle mightily to stifle the erupting guffaws that would prompt the other couple to ask why she was laughing. Seven's eventual conclusion about bathing in the lagoon was that it was a "boring, but relatively inoffensive pastime. It would undou, asly contribute to personal cleanliness." While she did not swear off going into the water again at some point, Seven declared she would be unlikely to make any special effort to seek out opportunities to perform the activity in the future.
After this momentous pronouncement, Seven whispered something to Harry. The two disappeared into their hut for an extended length of time, apparently agreeing upon an activity they were more willing to make a special effort to perform. Harry's eagerness to comply with her request spared Tom and B'Elanna from any complaints from him about Seven's lack of appreciation for salt-water bathing.
Their absence was not missed. Tom was able to remove the by-now-completely-dislodged bathing wear from B'Elanna's body and indulge in a mutual petting session with her. Hidden beneath the surface of the water, their groping and poking made both of them feel very happy. The lack of any real person within earshot freed them to be as loudly appreciative as they liked--before they remembered just how well sound carries over water, even when the water was of the holographic variety. Hoping that their companions had been far too busy themselves at the time to hear them, B'Elanna and Tom splashed out of the water after playtime was over. A totally nude B'Elanna raced up to the hut, strings of bikini in hand, and returned more sedately several minutes later clad in one of her more practical bathing suits. The worst was over now. No need to obsess about bathing wear.
~~~Sex on the Beach: Two~~~
"How did you like lunch, Seven?" asked Harry solicitously.
"It was agreeable. The salad was adequate, but the grilled tuna and baked potato provided the necessary nutrients in a way that was not at all obnoxious. Has anyone spoken to Neelix about serving meals that taste like this instead of his usual fare?"
"Many, many times, Seven," groaned Tom. "His idea of tasty food is the opposite of mine."
"We should replicate more of our meals."
"I wish we always had the rations to be able to do that!" B'Elanna sighed. "But we don't. I don't even want to think about a Neelix meal for the rest of the weekend. Let's take advantage of what we've got now, while we've got it. Shall we have some dessert?"
"How about a drink? Harry, would you and Seven like some Sex on the Beach?" Tom inquired, an evil gleam in his eyes.
"That would be interesting," commented Seven, glancing over at Harry with a glint in her own, biological eye.
"It's a drink, Seven. Tom's teasing you. Pig." B'Elanna stuck her tongue out at Tom, in an unusually giddy mood herself by that time. "It does taste good if you want to try an alcoholic beverage. It's made of vodka, peach schnapps, and Chambord. There's probably a syntheholic version, too, if you want one."
Although all four of them settled upon the syntheholic version, brought by the plump, smiling waitress in her bright red flowered muumuu, the lack of an adrenaline rush meant that the full effects of the concoction were just as noticeable as if they had drunk the real stuff. Especially after the third round.
"So, what's on the agenda for the afternoon, Seven? Are you and Harry going to go into hibernation in your hut again?" asked B'Elanna.
"Hibernation? No. Perhaps we should regenerate?" Seven giggled. Harry's response was to titter nervously.
B'Elanna raised her eyebrows and looked over at Tom, who looked about ready to dissolve into laughter himself. The sight of a giggly Seven was enough to set anyone off, and B'Elanna wondered what the captain would have thought, had she been around to see her protegee acting so uncharacteristically.
Tom took pity upon his friends, however. "Hey, why don't we all water ski?"
"How did I know we were going to get to that today?" groaned B'Elanna.
"Because you know me so well?" he responded, with an exaggerated innocence.
"You've got that right, Flyboy." She looked at Tom beseechingly, but the innocent air had been transformed into the kind of enthusiasm that was hard to blunt, when it wasn't downright contagious.
"You do not enjoy water-skiing?" inquired Seven.
"It's not that. I like it well enough. It's just that I really like to relax when I'm on vacation. Tom always wants to pack every minute with 'fun' things to do. Just doing nothing is 'fun' enough for me!"
"So you don't want to go?" Harry asked, trying to gauge B'Elanna's true reaction to Tom's proposal before committing himself, one way or the other. Seven hiccuped twice, but was otherwise silent.
Obviously, they were leaving the decision up to B'Elanna. She quickly glanced in Tom's direction and saw that eager puppy look he always used when he really wanted to do something.
"I didn't say I didn't want to." Sighing, B'Elanna added, "Seven, remember I said that sometimes it's best to say okay to get the inevitable over with?"
"I do recall it."
"Well, I think it's my turn."
"I knew you would do it!" Tom leaned over to give her a big hug and a quick kiss. B'Elanna sighed again. Sometimes the man just turned her into putty. Of course, sometimes she pounded him into pulp. It seemed to be a nice arrangement all around.
"Are you sure you don't want to try skiing, Seven?" asked Tom. "It's lots of fun."
"Experiencing the sensation of riding on the water on slats of replicated composite materials is less efficient than riding over the waves in a powerboat. The skis have no independent power source and are dependent upon the boat for propulsion. Skiing is a recreational activity and is . . . " She was about to say "irrelevant" but caught Harry's warning look. She substituted, ". . . less preferable an activity than steering the powerboat. The skills practiced in steering should transfer over to piloting a shuttlecraft. It is a practical expenditure of my time."
"And by all means, we must be practical," muttered Tom.
"Yes, that was fun, wasn't it, Tom?" agreed a happily grinning B'Elanna, ignoring Tom's comment. "Seven's Borg reflexes made for some very entertaining hairpin turns, didn't they?"
"I'm glad you enjoyed them, Chief. I didn't notice you getting out there and enjoying any hairpin turns yourself."
"Oh, I wouldn't want to get in the way of your having a good time. I agree with Seven. Piloting a boat is very practical. And besides, riding along in a boat while somebody else is doing the steering is almost like 'doing nothing.' Though I *did* enjoy watching you and Harry hanging on for dear life," she added, sweetly.
"Uh-huh," he grunted, non-committally. "Isn't it dinner time yet?"
"Pretty soon, I think. Do you want to eat on the dining deck tonight?" Harry asked Seven.
Perhaps it was the fact that they had spent so much of the day, including the other two meals, together. The uneasy meal they'd all shared the previous night may also have contributed to Seven's reply of, "No, not tonight. I would prefer to retire to the hut for the evening."
Harry turned to his friends, "I hope you don't mind . . ."
One look at B'Elanna was enough for Tom to respond, "No, Harry, it's fine. I think B'Elanna and I would like to do the same thing. We've had lots of food today already. A small snack would be plenty for us. And I think B'Elanna needs some more 'doing nothing' time." B'Elanna's head nodded vigorously in agreement. "See you in the morning?"
"See you in the morning," they all agreed, as they steered the boat back to the boathouse.
~~~Sex on the Beach: Three~~~
The weather was going to be perfect all that weekend. Tom had seen to that. Not even a suggestion of clouds would be permitted to mar the moonlight gleaming across the gently lapping waters of the lagoon. The conditions would be favorable for them to indulge themselves in any outdoor pastime they could imagine--and three of the four officers present on Holodeck One that weekend had excellent imaginations.
The exception was Seven, whose creative thinking had a decidedly technological bent; but on those rare occasions when she accompanied Harry to the holodeck along with Tom and B'Elanna, she made up for any lack in this regard by her encyclopedic knowledge, gleaned from absorbing the experiences of a multitude of cultures when she was growing up Borg. The Collective may have found recreational pursuits irrelevant, but Seven's brain contained such data from the memories of the assimilated nonetheless. The sheer volume of information within her mind guaranteed that if someone made a suggestion, Seven could give a description of how "Species XYZ" did something similar, adding, "We will adapt it." Seven contributed much, although she herself was usually a reluctant participant. Harry cajoled her into joining the others in activities whenever he could.
On this particular evening, however, neither Seven nor Harry were responsible for the gentle splashing that could be heard issuing from the two beings immersing themselves in the lagoon. They were, in fact, ensconced in their hut, engaging in selected indoor exercises. Their two companions were not upset about their continued absence. For the activities they were interested in pursuing themselves, solitude was preferable.
Quiet, however, was a bit harder to preserve. B'Elanna found it impossible to keep herself from whispering a teasing, "There aren't any sharks in this program, are there, Tom?"
"Not a chance, Lieutenant. No sharks, no snakes, no scorpions, no biting insects. Just moonlight and surf and sand."
". . . and Harry and Seven in the other hut."
"I didn't program them in, but don't worry. I think they're too busy to pD> ny attention to us. Come here and let me kiss you again, Lieutenant."
A few little splashes could be heard, then faint slapping from the water as it ebbed and flowed against the two bodies merging into one figure while small, wordless murmurs of appreciation were shared.
The two heads silhouetted by the moonlight separated again, and a contented feminine sigh preceded, "You know, I wasn't too sure how this was going to work, Tom, but it's been okay. Seven hasn't been quite so . . . so 'Sevenish.' Although I'm still not sure why Harry wanted to come to Tahiti. Wasn't he afraid she'd get some sand in her implants, or something?"
"Actually, Harry said something like 'there's an idea' when I mentioned that very thing to him when we were discussing the trip. I have a feeling he's been getting very . . . creative with Seven. And speaking of feeling, that feels very good, Lieutenant."
"Uhhhh, so does that. Now do the other one. Oh, yes! Suck harder. Oh, yeah. Oh . . . Hey! What was that? I thought you didn't program in any sharks!"
"Don't worry, B'Elanna. It wasn't a shark. I put in a few little schools of fish to swim around our feet. Didn't you notice them when we were swimming today? Umm. Nice and salty."
"I was a little too distracted today when we were swimming to notice fish, Tom. But you really do get into this programming. Even the holographic water has to taste like salt!"
"You want to really experience this, don't you? Warm lagoon waters . . . the moonlight and stars shining in the sky . . . and you in my arms."
"You are so full of it."
"I know. And you love it, Don't you, mhumm?"
"Mmmmmm. You know, Harry and Seven don't seem to be appreciating your hard work trying to achieve all this perfect detail for them. They aren't out here admiring the moon. I haven't seen them out on the beach even once this evening."
"I'm sure they're busy seeking perfection on their own, and I don't think I mind that much, since we're skinny dipping. Come back here, Chief. I'd like to give that beautiful tit of yours another suck."
More murmuring sounds and soft splashes, echoing off the top of the water, carried across the lagoon in the silence of the night.
"B'Elanna, what is that green light coming out of their hut?"
"Hmmmm. Oh, don't stop. Oh, that's just Seven's regeneration alcove. Harry wanted to test the portable one we cobbled together. I told you about that."
"That surfboard thing?"
"Yes. Harry thinks that's how he got her to agree to the weekend. I know better. We did it in the messhall."
"Oh, yes, you are one wicked woman, B'Elanna Torres. Ah. Yes. Do that some more."
"Sure you want to stay out here in the water when we could be up in our hut? Grrrrr. Wouldn't mind licking away some salt, Tom."
"Uhh, well. If you twist my arm . . . Ah! Ah! If you twist me more there, I can just about guarantee I'm going to want to get out. Ah, oh, ah, ah, yeah, all right--let's get out."
"I knew I could convince you."
"Wait a minute, B'Elanna. I've got a great idea. You run up out onto the beach and I'll catch you and we'll roll around right at the edge of the sea while the waves crash over us. Like in 'From Here to Eternity.'"
"Waves? Tom, this is a lagoon. You didn't program in any waves here. We'd have to go over to the outer beach unless you spend the next hour changing the scenario. I have to tell you, I've got better things planned for that next hour than holodeck programming. And what is 'From Here to Eternity' anyway?"
"One of those old classic 2D movies. 1950-something. Lovers slip off to the beach and roll around in the surf making love."
"Not very authentic if there isn't any surf."
"Maybe not, but I have a hunch this would be more authentic. They were wearing bathing suits in the movie. Somehow, I don't think so. So, B'Elanna, you run up to the beach and I'll have to catch you and pull you down."
"You think so, Hotshot."
"I know so, Lieutenant."
"Oh, you think you're so smart!" <Sspslshsshslllhshslsshsh>
"Hahahahaha. Told you!" <Sspslshsshslllhshslsshsh SPLASHHHH!>
"Lucky, uh, catch, uh, Tom."
"Oh, Tom, oh, yes, oh, yes. Keep it up, Tom."
"How's that, B'Elanna . . . mmmm"
"Yes, oh, uh, hhhhh, Tom. That feels soooo gooood."
"B'Elanna, what is that sound? Is that Harry? And that green light . . . what are they doing in there?"
"Probably what we were doing a few seconds ago--and what I'd like to be doing again."
"Yeah, but the way that light is flickering . . . and . . . oh, yeah. I think you're right. Harry is definitely getting satisfied tonight."
"Tom, you don't think Harry is . . . 'regenerating' himself, do you? I know he has one of the spare alcoves set up in his quarters, but I thought it was just so Seven could stay all night with him and regenerate when it's convenient. Now I'm wondering. I mean, I never asked him *how* they were going to use that portable one."
"I don't know. He's been pretty close mouthed about what they've been doing together. And he's been looking really happy lately . . . . Man, listen to him shout. Whatever he's *been* doing, he's having a really good time now."
"That sounds like Seven, too. And look at that light flashing! Tom, I do believe that 'testing' Harry was so keen on doing is in process right now. Very successfully, don't you think?"
Tom's only response was a silent chuckle that B'Elanna felt along her entire body.
From where Tom and B'Elanna were lying at the edge of the water, the flashing green light shimmered over the lagoon's tiny waves. No figures could be seen, just the light, but the sounds coming from the hut were very distinctive--and difficult to mistake. Combined with the faint whiff of ozone that was drifting through the air, it was pretty clear that a significant amount of power was being dedicated to regeneration in the green-lit hut.
Finally, Tom whispered, "I think Harry's been doing a pretty good job of helping Seven find her humanity, don't you, Lieutenant? In fact, I wouldn't mind doing a bit more exploring of your domain, B'Elanna."
"As long as I get to explore your domain too, Tom."
"Absolutely. How about let's starting right here."
"Sounds . . . good . . .oh, yeah. Feels pretty good . . ."
"Yes, Hotshot. Ah!"
"Mmmm. That's good."
"Oh, yeah. So's that."
"Oh, Tom . . . Ah!"
"Hunh . . ."
"Ahh . . ."
"Hunh . . ."
"Ahh . . ."
"Hunh . . ."
"Ahh . . ."
"Hunh . . ."
"Ahh . . ."
"Hunh . . ."
"Ahh . . ."
"Hunh . . ."
"Ahh . . ."
"Uh, oww . . ."
"Uh, wait, B'Elanna, Oww! I think we've . . ."
"Oh, grrrreat! That feels soooo grrrrrrreat . . ."
"B'Elanna, wait, I think we've got a grain or two of sand inside . . ."
"Ow! Wait, I . . . oh, hell. Oww . . ."
"Grrrrr . . . owww"
"Uh, oww! . . ."
"Grrrrr . . . uhhh"
"Uh, oww! . . ."
"Grrrrr . . . oooo"
"Uh, oww! . . ."
"Grrreat, oh gods Tom, I . . . owwww! Kahless! Owwwww! Yeeoowwwww!!!"
"Uh, uh, nggggh . . . YYYEeeeooowwww . . . gngh, huh, huh, mm . . ."
"Oh, Tom. That was great . . ."
"Oh, yeah. It was, hhhhh. A little, like using . . . sandpaper, hhhh, but yeah. Felt great."
"I'm sorry, Tom. Are you hurt?"
"Just a little abraded. No problem. That's what dermal regenerators are for. It's up at the hut. I had a hunch we were going to need it tonight."
"You want to go back up to the hut?"
"Yeah, it would be much better to use it up there. You're hand, Lieutenant?"
"Poor Tommy. Let me help you up. Do you want me to kiss it and make it better?"
"Hmmmm. When we get back up to the hut, that sounds like a very good plan. We can see what . . . develops . . ."
"I think we already know the answer to that, given enough time."
"Uhm, hmmm. Hey, if Harry and Seven are using Seven's regenerator for erotic purposes, what about a dermal regenerator? I mean, it does give off that buzz when it's working. Kind of like a tickle."
"You trying to tell me you never experimented with it before? I'm shocked."
"Maybe I never had the right someone to experiment with, before."
"You are *full* of it, Tom, but I'm willing to give it a whirl."
"I knew you would be, B'Elanna."
Two bodies arose from the sands to stand by the water's edge. Moonlight shone on bare, wet skin. Once they had padded soundlessly up to their hut, the moon was left to shine on tranquil waters, with no biological eyes to watch the reflection of the lunar disc. The only sound was that of the breeze, blowing through the branches of the trees.
"Harry, what is that noise?"
"Tom and B'Elanna, of course. They're having sex on the beach."
"This seems to be a strange time of night to partake of syntheholic beverages on the beach."
"Uh, it's not the drink this time, Seven. I'm sure it's the real thing."
Seven of Nine propped herself on her elbow, which was planted on the surface of the portable regenerator that was lying on the floor next to the hut's only bed. Not much green light sparkled from the unit now that Seven's electrodes no longer made contact with it▓F┤rcuitry. Harry eased himself away from Seven and the surfboard-shaped regenerator, stood up, and then sat down with a satisfied sigh at the edge of the bed. The body of his lover was faintly visible via the residual light of the regenerator, adding to his feeling of contentment.
"Harry, I have difficulty comprehending their relationship."
"So does everyone. Don't worry yourself about it. Just climb up here with me. Enough regeneration for one night, do you think?"
"Perhaps. I wish to continue with our other experiments. I want to work on our efficiency studies for an extended period of time tonight."
"If we're going to finish our testing protocols, we should use the bed."
"You do wish to increase our efficiency rating?"
"Of course. You set the parameters, Seven, and I'll do my best to increase my efficiency."
"I believe you deserve recognition for the manner in which you have devoted yourself to increasing our efficiency, Harry Kim."
"How much tonight?"
"Stamina was extended by 12.4% A significant improvement."
"So, Seven, what plans do you have to 'recognize' my efforts to increase efficiency?"
"It would be beneficial to perform additional practice sessions, with a goal of striving for perfection. If you are sufficiently recovered . . ."
"Excellent idea, Seven . . ."
"Harry, I believe I should tell you that your efficiency rating in reducing the needed recovery time has also improved by over 11%"
"Shall we work on getting it over 12%?"
"I believe if we work very hard at it, it should happen without much difficulty."
"It appears you are . . . hard at work. I will have to make a note of that for next time."
"Ahhh . . ."
~~~Dawn's Welcoming Skies~~~
Tom stretched his frame in the predlabltwilight, smiling as he thought about the weekend they'd been having. One more day and night, and it would be back to the usual routine. Plotting navigational charts for him. Keeping the engines running for her.
Yet somehow, it wouldn't be the same. Not how B'Elanna and Tom felt about each other, but the routine. Something had changed here, some fork in the road had been reached. A path had been chosen. He could no longer imagine life without B'Elanna Torres at his side. It was almost a Klingon kind of thing: mating for life. Without taking any kind of oath, or speaking any words beyond what they always said to each other while making love, somehow, he knew, it had all changed. They were mates.
Now, he just had to find a way to tell B'Elanna about it. He wasn't at his best with this kind of talk. Commitment talk. He always despised getting all sloppy about feelings. Yet he had to tell her. To talk around it, feeling the way he did, might get her angry. He might lose her. He might lose her if he told her and she didn't feel the same way about him as he felt about her. Sure, she'd told him she loved him, a long time ago; even though he'd always been chary about making an actual declaration of love back to her. But after their mind melding experience with Tuvok, they'd known what was in each other's hearts so completely they really hadn't needed to speak of their feelings out loud. Surely she knew he still felt the same way about her. She must know the signs.
Tom sighed. This wasn't the first time his thoughts had tumbled around in this way about B'Elanna, but it was the first time he felt a compelling need to speak. //Tom Paris, it's time to tell her. Move onto the next step on the road.// But, instead of running inside, shaking B'Elanna awake, and saying, "I love you, B'Elanna Torres, marry me," he walked down to the beach, to clear his head and assure himself that what he was feeling this time was the real thing. The "I have to do it" thing.<#9;He didn't know what he might have done, afterwards, if Harry hadn't come out of his hut just at that moment and slipped down to the water's edge. Would he have gone back in to B'Elanna, or would he have waffled again, as he had so often before? Harry did come out, however, and Tom walked over to his friend to wish him a good morning instead of running up to the hut.
"So, how're you doing this morning, Harry? Get a good night's rest?"
"Great, Tom, just great. What about you?"
"Oh, terrific, terrific. Although we were a little concerned last night. It almost looked like you were having some kind of electrical fire in your hut. We knew it couldn't be the program, but that, uh, thing you brought here? That portable regenerator. We thought you might be having trouble with it. We were thinking about running in to help you, but we, uh, figured you could handle it yourselves."
Harry chuckled nervously as they waded chest-deep into the placid water, taking easy strokes parallel to the shoreline as the rim of the sun emerged from the horizon.
Finally, Harry remarked, "Oh, yeah. That. It was nothing. Just Seven regenerating. We heard you outside though. Seven thought maybe you were having some drinks out there on the beach. Were you?" Harry's face wore an angelic look.
Tom spoke out of the side of his mouth. "Oh, yeah, Harry. We had some 'Sex on the Beach. Delicious. Too bad you couldn't come to join us."
"I was a little busy," Harry laughed.
Tom joined in the laughter. "Come on, Harry, spill!"
"Aren't you the same guy who didn't want to talk about what you and B'Elanna like to do when I asked you about it a few months ago?"
"Yes, but I happen to know that Seven is a very forthright kind of girl about some things. Not like B'Elanna at all that way."
"How do you know that?"
In a few succinct words, Tom filled Harry in on a recent conversation in the mess hall. The squinting of Harry's eyeva; d his moaned, "Oh, no!" was not due to the brightness of the ball of the sun, now floating just above the waterline and filling the sky with light.
"So, Harry, you lucky devil, you. I figure that whatever I thought was happening with that portable regenerator probably *was* happening, wasn't it?"
Harry chuckled a bit more before admitting, "Tom, all I've got to say is that feedback can be your friend."
Tom laughed so hard he sank down in the lagoon, swallowing a mouthful of water in the process and fountaining it out of his throat as he coughed it up. When he stopped sputtering, Tom said, "I think maybe it's time to get out of here, Harry, or I may drown. It would be just my luck to die on a holodeck with the safeties on because I couldn't stop laughing."
As they waded up to the beach, Tom asked, "What do the two of you have planned for our last day in Paradise?"
"Nothing, really. Seven has some data she wants to review . . ."
"Data! She's on vacation, Harry! She's not supposed to be working!"
"Oh, she's not. This is a, uh, kind of personal--a hobby kind of project."
"Will I spray coffee or swallow salt water if I hear the details about this little project?"
"You *are* getting lucky lately, aren't you, Harry? Ask Seven if she'd be interested in taking a sail in the catamaran that's stored in the boathouse. I already asked B'Elanna, but she says she wants to 'do nothing' instead. In other words, she wants to sleep all morning."
"Maybe we can talk it over at breakfast."
~~~On a Pool, Drifting~~~
They didn't get together for breakfast, either. B'Elanna wanted a leisurely breakfast in bed. Once she and Tom were finished eating, she declared herself ready for a nap. Seven and Harry, likewise, stayed in their hut for breakfast. Seven refused to leave her data PADDS to go on a sailboat. Harry and Tom, after taking hypos of sunblock and hauling all sorts of snacks on board, sailed the catamaran out into the ocean part of the simulation. Tom, who had had experience sailing on water, was the skipper. Harry was a quick study, however, and was able to help him with the sails as they skimmed out of the lagoon and into the "sea" surrounding the Tahiti simulation.
Once they were far enough away from land, they furled the sails and allowed the craft to drift gradually towards land with the help of a conveniently programmed current. As the twin hulls of the catamaran bobbed on the waves, both men fell quiet. The water was peaceful, and though, in real space, they were only a few meters from B'Elanna and Seven, the illusion of drifting in the ocean just off shore from a tropical island was complete. In hushed voices they began to talk about their futures. About the Alpha Quadrant.
It was an old topic. While Harry Kim's career had probably been made by performing well under such difficult circumstances, many of the others on board Voyager had much to worry about upon their return. Would Tom be ushered back into Starfleet, the prodigal hero returning to the fold, or be cast off as the cashiered embarrassment of a family of admirals, perhaps even be returned to prison for "overstaying his parole"? Would Seven be hated as one of the few accessible representative of an implacable foe, or welcomed as Annika Hansen, sole survivor of the deep space exploration vessel The Raven, perhaps to bask in the joy of family members she had never known she had? What would happen to the Maquis? Would Chakotay and B'Elanna go to prison for war crimes, or would both be acclaimed as the able officers they had proven themselves to be despite their defections from Starfleet?
"It's not that I'm really worried about what'll happen when we get back there, Harry. Whether I get my Starfleet career back again or not, I'll get by. I always do. I'm just not sure going back is worth it for us. What do we have left? I'd like to see my mother again, and my sisters, but I'm not sure how my father's going to feel about seeing me. And B'Elanna's parents haven't exactly made it a point to keep in touch with her."
"I want to see my folks again."
"Of course you do, Harry. I'm glad I've got one friend with a normal family life. Introducing Seven to them should be interesting."
It was a gentle jibe, but Harry's sudden, complete silence made Tom glance over at his friend. His concern was not misplaced. Harry was plainly disquieted.
"Harry, I was joking. Seven's come a long way, and I'm sure your parents will be a great help for her, adjusting to life on Earth, without a family. At least, none that we . . ."
"Tom, it's not that I'm afraid of what my parents would think about her. I know they'd do everything they could to make her comfortable. I just don't know if Seven and I will be together that long."
The operations officer gazed off at the horizon, silent for a few moments before suddenly becoming aware that Tom had repeated his name. Shaking his head as if to clear it, Harry sighed and said, "Tom, I know you and B'Elanna have something really good going. I don't know what I've got with Seven. Is she really the love of my life? Or was that Libby? Did Libby wait for me? And where do I stand with Seven? I don't know if she really cares for me."
"Harry, she's pretty new to the idea of being an individual, let alone being romantically involved with another person. Give her time. I'm sure you mean a everything to her. Hell, you were the first one to really try to make her feel at ease on Voyager."
"Seven told me that you offered to help her, too."
"She never took me up on it. Good thing, I guess. I don't think B'Elanna would have been understanding about my being friendly with Seven in the beginning. Spending time with her would have been a good way for me to get my head handed to me by B'Elanna. That's just about the time that the two of us finally got together."
"Yeah, I remember. Seven started clunking me in the head right about that time."
"Hey, Harry, she hasn't bothered to clunk anybody else in the head. If she were Klingon, I'd figure you were a shoe-in."
"You *are* the expert on Klingons around here."
"Damned straight I am."
"Seven's not a Klingon, though."
"Maybe not, but there are times she reminds me of a certain half-Klingon I know. That single-minded concentration she has when she's working out a scientific problem. The need to wring the last bit of efficiency percentage out of any device she's working with. And anyway, even if she's not thumping on you like a Klingon would, you have to admit, she trusts you more than she trusts anyone else, even the captain."
"Maybe she does. Trust is good, I guess. But . . . what do you think about her and me? Do you think I've got a chance to stay with her?"
Tom pondered his answer for several very long seconds, trying to decide how honest he should be with his friend. While he owed it to Harry to be completely straight with him, Tom really didn't know how to read Seven. Finally, he fell back on an old trick: answering a question with a question. "Is that what you want, Harry?"
"I wish I knew. Sometimes I think, 'This is it. She's the one. And she feels that way about me, too.' And at other times, it's like I'm a piece of equipment, or better yet, part of a computer program on the holodeck: 'How to Be Somebody's Girlfriend.' Or maybe I'm a training program: 'Studies in Human Sexual Response, 101.' "
"Harry, I really think you mean more to her than that, but I have enough trouble understanding B'Elanna--I don't have time to try to figure out Seven, too."
"I guess I can see that. I wish I knew what to do, though," Harry sighed.
"She's never said anything to you about it? I mean, a few months ago you didn't even want to get involved with her until she could say she cared for you. You seem to have gotten past that."
"Yeah, well, I kind of learned to listen to what she was saying." Harry hesitated. "Back then, she said she loved me. Once. After, uh, well, after we were pretty . . . intimate."
"So, Harry, why are you so worried? She told you she loved you? Isn't that enough?"
"But she's never said it again!"
"Maybe she figures that once is enough, Harry! You know, Borg efficiency. She told you once, why repeat it as long as it's still true?"
Harry chuckled, a rather mournful chuckle. "I guess you might be right. And maybe I should be happy with what we've got even if I sometimes feel like . . . well, like I'm an experiment. If things go well with me, she can move on. Then I'll be, 'good old Harry, first boyfriend.' And even if she is the love of my life, it's going to be a long time before we can even think about making a commitment--if we ever even want to. I guess I'm a bit envious of what you and B'Elanna have."
Shifting from his back onto his stomach, Tom stretched out on the deck of the catamaran so he could peek over at Harry, grimacing a little as he answered his friend. "Don't be that envious. We haven't gotten everything worked out yet. Commitment is something we're not sure about either. B'Elanna still hasn't said she wants that. I can't blame her. She was so little when her father left. With the way Klingons mate for life, that must have been really hard for her mother to take."
"She won't agree to marry you?"
Tom laughed. "I, uh, I haven't asked her yet. In so many words."
Harry looked incredulously at Tom. "You haven't asked her? Why?"
"I haven't said all I should to B'Elanna before I do something like ask her to marry me."
"What are you waiting for?"
"She knows how I feel about her. And I don't really like to talk about that kind of thing."
"You? You have trouble talking about something?"
"Yeah. Sometimes. Hard to believe, huh?"
"Yes, it is--and I wouldn't take it for granted she knows how you feel."
"Oh, she knows, all right."
"How do you know she knows?"
Tom turned on his back again and faced up to the sky. He wasn't sure how much he should tell Harry. The experience that B'Elanna and he had had with Tuvok during the Vulcan commander's *pon farr* had been a deeply private one. He'd never really spoken about it to anyone except B'Elanna, not even Tuvok. Especially not Tuvok. The Vulcan would be mortified to discuss anything at all about his *pon farr* with anyone, but especially with his co-participants in a very unusual, non-traditional bonding. It had saved Tuvok's life, however; and what meant even more to the Vulcan, it had saved his life-bond with T'Pel, even though they had been about fifty-five thousand light years away from each other at the time.
Although it was never spoken of by the participants, Tom knew Tuvok was grateful. There was a difference in the way he approached both of the lieutenants who had assisted him. He showed them far more respect, probably because he knew them so much better than he had before. Tuvok's melding of minds with Tom and B'Elanna prior to his acting as a facilitator for the couple to experience a melding of their own minds had allowed him to look into those complex personalities, to move beyond the masks both were adept at hiding behind, and to see the vulnerable souls within them. Just as the human and human/Klingon had gained insight into the true psyche of their Vulcan commander, they had revealed themselves to him. For Tom, Tuvok's subsequent acceptance of him was one of the benchmarks in his long journey to accept himself as he was.
For B'Elanna and Tom, that life-changing, life-affirming experience almost seemed like the beginning of a kind of marriage. Hell, maybe that's what he'd been trying to understand all day long. It *was* the beginning of a marriage. How much more married can one be than to have looked into each other's minds and mate at the same time? No wonder Vulcans were so closed-mouthed about it!
But did she still feel the same way? Sometimes, when they'd had an argument, Tom just wasn't sure. He wasn't about to hunt up Tuvok and ask him to mediate for them by initiating another mind-meld with her, even though that would be a sure way to find out. "Harry Kim to Tom Paris. You still awake?"
"Yeah." Only when he heard Harry's question was Tom aware of just how long he'd remained silent. He had to give some kind of answer to Harry. "I just know she knows."
"Tom, you know how touchy B'Elanna can get if she's unsure about something."
"Look, Harry, something happened between us, a while ago. I . . . I can't really go into it, but yes, I do know she knows I love her." //Or that you loved her then, Paris. She might be wondering the same thing as you. 'Does he still love me now?'//
"You should still tell her."
"Yes, sir, Mr. Protective Little Brother Harry. I think you're right. I probably should."
~~~Stranger in Paradise~~~
She didn't know exactly when the PADDs and the data they contained ceased to hold her attention. It may have been around the time that a familiar desire for Harry's shaft to be enclosed within her sheath came over her, but at that moment Harry was floating in a boat with Lieutenant Par. . . Tom. She had been told, on vacation, to call him Tom. She must remember that.
Seven sighed deeply. Human naming conventions were so perplexing--so many imprecise, variable terms instead of one, unchanging designation. However, living amongst humans and other species who cherished individuality required her adherence to their naming rituals. So. Harry was floating on the simulated water of the sea in a holographic sailboat with Tom. Paris. She could still add that on the end. It was permissible. Seven of Nine took a perverse pleasure in that.
Private pleasures, in general, were among the first aspects of humanity that she had assimilated, or rather, understood.
Unfortunately, thinking of private pleasures reminded her of just what she wished to be doing at that moment with Harry. He was unavailable. There would be no more data about sexual response and recovery efficiency ratings to add into her PADDS until his return. She would need to find some other way to pass the time.
Regenerating in her portable alcove was always a possibility, but recently she found it preferable to utilize that instrument when Harry was available to share the experience with her. For several months now, unless Harry was on duty, they shared regeneration. Harry's recreational activity with Tom might be equivalent to "on duty." After giving due consideration to that concept, however, Seven rejected it as an unacceptable revision of the facts. As much as Seven might find "taking a vacation" an onerous duty, the other three clearly did not.
After spending fourteen minutes and thirty-two seconds more sitting alone in the hut, trying to concentrate on the data she had collected on Harry's sexual efficiency rating, Seven decided that pursuing some other sort of recreational activity that would meet her specifications for the minimal wastage of time would be more . . . efficient. A cardiovascular activity would suit. Her preferred cardiovascular activity being unavailable due to Harry's absence, Seven reflected upon her remaining choices. Reconfiguring the holodeck program to accommodate a game of Velocity would undoubtedly create a great deal of emotionally charged discussion from the others currently experiencing the Tahiti simulation. She would need to choose an activity compatible with this program.
Having spent most of the weekend at the lagoon, and the majority of that time inside the hut she shared with Harry, Seve§▓┴vcided that a short interlude of exploration might be in order. A walk on the beach appeared to be an acceptable option.
Seven exited the hut and took the short path down to the lagoon's beach. Since what little time Harry and she had spent perambulating had been on the paths on their side of the lagoon, the opposite shore attracted her. Resolutely, Ensign Hansen began her solitary expedition of discovery.
~~~Strangers, No More~~~
The wide, curving beach looked very different in daylight than it had in moonlight. The waves seemed to be larger, more powerful, as they washed the sands. From the inmost curve of the shoreline where B'Elanna sat, arms clasping her legs together at the knees, she could just barely perceive a small sailboat adrift out in the ocean. Well, adrift on the holodeck. Even knowing the technology of holographic matter creation, artificially created perspective, and of dampening fields to hinder sound to make it seem to be coming from far way, B'Elanna was completely caught up in the illusion. She had to remind herself continually, "This is an illusion." Most of the time, however, she preferred not to remind herself of the illusion. It was more fun that way. Tom had taught her that.
So lost in her ruminations was B'Elanna that the sound of palm fronds being slapped aside startled her. Turning around abruptly, she saw Seven, dressed in the adapted bathing costume from the previous day--whalebone corset beneath a silver bathing suit, tiptoeing over the sands barefoot. A very pensive Seven, apparently, oblivious to the presence of anyone else on the beach until B'Elanna's soft, "Afternoon, Seven," registered in the Borg's consciousness.
"Greetings, Lieutenant Tor . . . B'Elanna. I thought you were still sleeping."
"Even I can't sleep for over twelve hours at a clip." Not that she'd actually been *asleep* all twelve hours. A couple had been spent indulging 5đ┬whe most enjoyable of erotic activities with Tom, but B'Elanna had no desire to discuss that with Seven.
The blonde woman hesitated, as if she didn't know what to do now that B'Elanna had responded to her sentence. After a prolonged, awkward pause, B'Elanna said, "If you want, you can sit down here. Next to me."
B'Elanna had mixed feelings when Seven responded to her polite invitation by nodding slightly, tiptoed over to B'Elanna's position, carefully folding her legs beneath her as she sat down. Once she was seated, B'Elanna burst out, "Seven, why are you doing that?"
"Walking on your toes. It's like you have invisible, spike-heeled boots on. I don't know why you wear those things anyway. There must be something more comfortable for you to wear on your feet."
"There are. However, my back implants cause sharp pain whenever my Achilles tendons are fully extended. The 'spike' heels are a compromise, because the Doctor says I should not wear heavier boots--also, because of the implants."
Feeling a little abashed about making fun of Seven's heels, B'Elanna covered her discomfort by saying dryly, "I see. I'm sure that the Doctor's being programmed by a male, who used mostly male physicians for his personality matrix, had absolutely *nothing* to do with it." Seven's cool, wordless gaze back seemed a little less cold than B'Elanna had previously noticed. Maybe the Borgasm had a sense of humor after all, just like Harry had always maintained.
Time for another subject for discussion. From Seven's silence, B'Elanna knew it would be up to her. Terrific. Just what she needed. Social chatter with Seven. "So, we're almost done with the weekend. Just one more night, now, and then it's back home to work."
Perhaps a question would be a better conversation-starter. "Uh, is there anything . . . I mean, what was there about the program that you liked the best?"
"The opportunity for sexual activity with Harry."
"I can understand that." B'Elanna couldn't hide her smile. "So, was it worth it? Taking a vacation, I mean?"
Seven considered this seriously for a moment, as if the question had never occurred to her before. "I believe so. Just as you said, I will no longer have Harry and the captain bothering me about taking a vacation."
"Good. Have you learned anything?"
"That I do not like to spend time doing nothing. It is an inefficient expenditure of temporal resources."
"I don't know about that, Seven. Maybe it's just a human form of regeneration. Did you think about that? Since we aren't machines, we can't plug into a device like yours to regenerate."
"You could be fitted with implants, if you wished to use the regeneration cubicles."
"That's okay, Seven. I think you've got enough implants for the both of us. Besides, I prefer vacations. Wasting time doing nothing may be 'inefficient,' but it's pleasurable. Is pleasure always irrelevant?"
Seven hesitated. "Perhaps not always. Harry seems to like pleasure."
"Like it? My liking or not liking is irrelevant."
"I know. Efficiency is all."
Seven silently contemplated this statement. "Efficiency is not 'all,' but it is important. However, while a vacation may be less efficient than other methods of regeneration, pleasure appears to have its place."
"As in your favorite cardiovascular activity."
Seven's full lips almost seemed to assume the position of a smile. "Yes. Pleasure has its place in my favorite cardiovascular activity, but so does efficiency."
From the tone of Seven's voice, there seemed to be an undercurrent in her comment that B'Elanna didn't grasp at first. Then, suddenly, a thought struck her. "Efficiency in sexual relations?"
"Not a lot of time spent kissing, I take it?" B'Elanna laughed.
Seven looked away. "You are making fun of me."
Relenting, B'Elanna said, "Well, yes, maybe I am, a little; but I'm not really laughing *at* you, Seven. I'm laughing *with* you."
"In the mess hall, when you had me discuss kissing in front of Lieuten . . . Tom, you were laughing *with* me?"
"No, I was laughing at Tom. But that was perfect, Seven. Absolutely perfect." B'Elanna's eyes glowed intensely with excitement at the memory. "The way Tom spewed out that coffee all over his uniform . . . that glare he gave me afterwards . . ."
"You have a peculiar relationship."
"I know," she said simply. "But he makes me happy. And, Seven, I guess I should say that I'm . . . I'm happy for you, and for Harry, too. This weekend he's been in a *really* good mood. You do that for him, so I guess . . . " B'Elanna gulped. To admit this to the Borg was difficult. "You make him very happy. So I'm grateful to you for that."
"Even though you would prefer that I were not the one who made him happy?"
"If you're the one Harry wants, then that's that. What business is it of mine, anyway? You're his choice. That's good enough for me. Tell me, Seven, does he make you happy, too?"
Seven looked away, over the water, towards the sailboat visible over the waves. "When I am around him, I reach a state of equilibrium that I have found at no other time since leaving the Collective."
"That sounds exciting."
B'Elanna was brought up short. Reaching a state of equilibrium, exciting?
Then she thought for a moment about the drastic changes that Seven had been forced to live through during her young life. A child, terrorized by the Borg and assimilated along with her parents into the regimentation of the machine, the hive mind thinking for her. After becoming adjusted to that life of neverending, rigid routine, without any need to make decisions for herself, Seven was ripped away from that comfort and forced to learn again to become an individual. One person, hearing only her own voice in her mind, making all her decisions for herself--except when other people in a hierarchy, such as the captain or B'Elanna (when an engineering issue came up) either made them for her or maneuvered Seven into making the decision they wanted her to make. Either way, it was a long way from the kind of consensus decision making that the Borg utilized.
B'Elanna became aware of Seven's eyes staring at her. "Lieutenant T . . . B'Elanna. Do you wish to cease our conversation?"
"No, no. Not at all. I was just thinking about what you said. About what it meant. Equilibrium being exciting, I mean."
"You do not understand how this could be?"
"No, I think I do understand, Seven. It's something like what I've always fought for, to feel a balance between my Klingon side and my human side. I can see how you would want that, too, even though you're all human."
"I will never be all human," Seven pronounced with a great deal of finality. B'Elanna wanted to protest, but she quickly realized she could not.
"I guess not. Biologically, you're all human, of course. But no, I guess you can never get away from your past, any more than I can get away from being Klingon. You will always be . . . Borg."
"That makes you uncomfortable."
"Oh, I'd be lying if I said the Borg were my favorite people. But you're not really Borg anymore, either, are you? You're just Seven. You're the only one like you. Just like I am B'Elanna, the only one like me here on Voyager. That's one thing we have in common." B'Elanna halted a minute as she absorbed this truth before chuckling grimly, "I guess we're the only ones in the galaxy like us, when you come right down to it. There's not a lot of Klingon/humans around, and there are probably even fewer former Borg. Not easy being unassimilated, is it?"
"No, it is not." Seven looked away, out over the sea. "It is difficult to be alone."
"Don't think of it as being 'alone.' Think of it as being 'unique.' All of us are unique, in our own way. Half-Klingons and ex-Borgs are just a little *more* unique than the average human. But humans treasure uniqueness. That's why humans are so terrified of being assimilated. Losing yourself is frightening. Feeling that you are unique means that if you lose your individuality, you are truly lost. You might as well be dead."
"Has Lt. Paris helped you learn this?"
"Yes, he's hammered at me a long time to accept being Klingon--that it helps make me who I am."
Seven tilted up an eyebrow. "Harry has not 'hammered at me,' as you put it. He has always seemed to accept that I am Borg. He does not seem to need me to change myself, as Captain Janeway does."
"That's Harry. He was my first friend on Voyager. Tom's first friend, too. Neither one of us were very popular when we first came on board, either."
Seven was silent for a long time, reflecting upon what B'Elanna had said. Finally, she admitted, "There is still much I do not understand about myself."
"Join the club, Seven, but Harry will help you. He's a good man."
"He already does help me. And he is, as you say, a 'good man.' "
"I'm glad you realize that, Seven," B'Elanna said softly, looking at the woman sitting next to her and seeing her for what she was, perhaps for the first time. "You've been much better lately about following the chain of command, too. Does Harry help you with that?"
"When I have a question, Harry answers it, yes, but I also have understood more about the need to gain permission before making repairs from you."
"When you spoke to me once of the need to follow Starfleet procedures, in the Jeffries tube, not long after I came on board. You said that if you could learn to operate within the rules, that I could, too. It is something I strive to remember."
"Yes, well . . . " B'Elanna felt herself getting a little embarrassed. Thinking of herself as a mentor for a Borg was a little surprising. "Just so you don't follow my lead in holding your temper. I'm not so good at that."
"I will remember that, Lieu . . . B'Elanna." Seven's mouth did not change, but her eyes seemed to be smiling.
"So, then, shall we shake hands and bury the hatchet?"
" 'Bury the hatchet'? Why would we wish to place an ax in a hole and cover it? Oh . . . is this another idiomatic expression?"
"Yes, Seven," B'Elanna laughed. "It is. It means to 'call a truce.' "
"I was not aware we were in combat status."
"Oh, Seven. You've got a lot to learn," B'Elanna drawled. "Talk to Harry about it. I'm sure he'll explain it all to you." Smiling, she extended her palm to Seven. Gingerly, Seven put out her own and consented to shake hands with B'Elanna.
"I continue to have much trouble with idiomatic expressions. There are so many. It seems that whenever I think I have studied the Federation Standard Database sufficiently, another term comes to my attention."
"That's because we're always making up new ones. It's a human thing, Seven. We'll probably all have trouble understanding what people are saying when we get back to the Alpha Quadrant."
"I find the many alternative terms for sexual activity and genital parts particularly perplexing. Why are so many necessary? Precise terms such as penis are perfectly understandable. Why would someone use a term such as 'cock,' which means a male chicken, when they wish to refer to male genitalia?"
"You're right, it is perfectly clear to use the correct term, but humans like to play, too. Word play is just another kind of game--a way to have a little fun, that's all."
"But why use that particular term for the male part?"
"Well, I don't know. Shall we experiment?"
Seven looked at B'Elanna quizzically. "Experiment?"
"Sure. Computer, add to this program one male chicken. Any breed will do." The computer complied, depositing a rooster at the edge of the shoreline. His strutting was interrupted by the crash of a wave, which sent the rooster squawking further up the beach and out of range of the encroaching surf.
After observing the flustered fowl's progress up the sand to the edge of the vegetation, Seven commented, "I fail to see the resemblance."
"Maybe we need to see him in context. Computer, add a small flock--three, I think--of hens, locating them near the male chicken."
Obligingly, three females chickens appeared.
The change in behavior by the rooster was immediate. He began to strut again, but this time, he was preening for the hens. His head bobbed around; he thrust his chest forward; and he flared his feathers for the benefit of the females. While his object may have been to impress those of his own species, the two female humanoids were also impressed by his appearance, but in a very different way.
"The pattern of feathers on his chest resembles a scrotum, does it not?" Seven commented.
"And look at the way the head bobs around. Sort of reminds you of something, doesn't it?" snickered B'Elanna.
"The shape of the head--from certain angles, it does look like the tip of the penis."
"Good thing there's no beak on a penis, though."
At B'Elanna's comment about the beak, Seven made a sudden intake of breath that almost sounded like a sob. Or a laugh. B'Elanna looked back at her and saw widened eyes and a very definite smile on her companion's face. She guessed that was about as close as Seven ever came to laughter. B'Elanna was about to tell the computer to remove the chickens when Seven remarked, "Harry once told me that his seems to have a life of its own sometimes."
"Oh, yes, it certainly does!" B'Elanna laughed until tears came to her eyes, while Seven's hoarse breathing sounded very much like chortling.
Wiping her eyes, B'Elanna finally managed to add, "So I guess 'cock' is a pretty good name for it, if you aren't going to use the precise term. I wonder where some of the others come from?"
"We shall have to undertake a study."
"We should ask the 'boys,' " B'Elanna said, wickedly. "That will stir them up."
At a command from B'Elanna, the chickens disappeared. "So, Seven, speaking of the boys, I don't see them out on the water any more. Shall we go back to the huts and ask them to help us with our linguistic studies?"
Jumping to her feet first, B'Elanna extended her hand to Seven to help her to her feet. Seven accepted the assistance without comment. As the two women began to walk toward the path back to the lagoon, with Seven tottering on her toes, B'Elanna said, "Seven, you know you can replicate a pair of sandals with chunky heels to make it easier for you to walk. And that suit. We could get you one that has a back to it, with the stays already in it. That would look better than this and be more comfortable, too, I think."
"I appreciate your offer . . . B'Elanna."
As the women continued down the path they walked silently, side by side. Seven did not appear to have anything to say. B'Elanna had a lot to think about. Foremost in her thoughts was that while Seven was lucky to have Harry, perhaps Harry was lucky to have Seven, too. And not only because she relieved him of his sexual tensions.
When they reached the boathouse, Seven saw that the catamaran was tied up at the pier. Neither Harry nor Tom could be seen, however, even with her enhanced eyesight. The holodeck controls made her see the way everyone else did, which was annoying. It was part of being in a simulation, however, so it was something that must be accepted.
When they got back to the lagoon beach, there was still no sign of either of their male companions. "I guess they're up in the huts," said B'Elanna. "Probably taking naps. They were out on the water a long time today."
"Sailing in a boat is fatiguing?"
"It is when you've gone swimming in the morning--and when you haven't had a lot of sleep the night before. Tom didn't, I know. We were . . . having some fun. What about Harry?" B'Elanna inquired.
"There were several erotic interludes, if it is that to which you are referring. We were working on our efficiency rating," Seven responded coolly.
"Ah. And is it improving?" B'Elanna smiled.
This time, Seven smiled back, "Greatly."
B'Elanna laughed, but Seven continued to smile. She understood, now, the difference between "laughing with" and "laughing at." Returning B'Elanna's departure ritual of waving as the human/Klingon woman stalked up the path to the hut she was sharing with Tom, Seven tiptoed on to the other hut, where Harry was hopefully awaiting her. The discussion of male genitalia had awakened a hunger in Seven to experience the feel of Harry's 'cock' inside her.
When she reached her own path, however, she knew she would find Harry asleep. The noise she had heard on previous occasions when sleeping with Harry--snoring--could be heard issuing quite loudly from the hut even before she had reached the steps. Feeling a momentary pang of disappointment, Seven looked back to see if B'Elanna were still outside. There was no sign of her. Either Tom was awake, or she had chosen to enter the hut anyway, perhaps to take a nap herself.
Not wishing to be outside alone, Seven decided to follow B'Elanna's lead and enter her own hut, even though Harry was not awake. She could always awaken him so that they could pleasure each other again.
Pausing at the doorway, Seven could see Harry, sprawled on his back in bed. He was uncovered and totally naked, undoubtedly because of the warm temperature to which the holodeck climate controls had been set, consistent with that of tropical Tahiti. For several minutes Seven took the opportunity to gaze at him.
Truly, his form approached perfection.
Seven remembered back to the very beginning, to the first time she had slept with him. Then, she had been wearing not only her corset but also her everyday suit. They had lain together after Harry had fought Tuvok to prevent Seven from being used sexually during Tuvok's *pon farr*. At the time, she had not understood why Harry would allow his body to be abused in such a manner, but subsequently, he had helped her to see his reasoning. To accept his reasoning.
That time, after the *koon-ut-kal-if-ee*, she had crawled onto the bed and lain atop the covers to be close to him, to comfort him, since he still felt the pain of his injuries. That was the first time she had known what "human closeness" could be like. Following that experience, Seven's remembrance of that closeness caused her to think of Harry many times, until she knew she had to explore human sexuality with him, and with him alone. She did not always understand this feeling of love she had for Harry, but she knew when it first began--that day when Harry's act of self-sacrifice had led her to his bed, and to finding out what it felt like for one being to share the bed of another.
Then, months later, she had found out what sharing bodies felt like. It had been a compelling experience. Harry had led her to that discovery, too.
As Seven stood in the doorway to the hut, her mind reviewing the past, her eyes drank in every detail of Harry's body. He was beautiful. That smooth chest and broad shoulders, the flat abdominal muscles, his golden epidermal layer--how much she loved to touch him, how much she loved the feel of his body along hers. Since she usually slept with her regeneration corset on, she seldom allowed herself to feel him completely, skin to skin. When they made love, however, with his arms around her and his hands and mouth touching her, she did not need a corset to feel comfortable.
What would it be like to lie next to him, without clothing, but not make love? Once thought of, the idea would not leave her alone. Quietly stripping off her suit and corset, Seven felt the warm Tahiti air running over her body. Being without the tight constriction of the corset around her midsection was uncomfortable. She could not deny it.
Silently moving towards the bed, Seven gently moved Harry onto his side. The snoring ceased, but he did not stir. He must be exhausted by the day's exertions--on the water, as well as in bed.
Slipping in next to him, Seven conformed her body to Harry's: legs snugged up behind his, her belly pushed tightly against his buttocks, her left arm thrown over his waist with her head pressed against his back. Heat flooded from him, but although the air was already warm, the added warmth did not disturb her. With her stomach pressed so close to him, the lack of a corset was not upsetting, as she had predicted. A relaxed feeling stole over her, a pleasant lassitude not at all unlike that which she felt when she yielded herself over to the regeneration cycle.
Sleeping with Harry was always a pleasant experience, but usually it followed a session of vigorous sexual intercourse. This was different, and yet, much the same. The feel of his epidermis against hers was just as intoxicating as ever, even without the intensity of foreplay and intercourse. Yes, human closeness was a thing to be valued, even by a woman who had been raised by the Borg.
The rhythmic breathing of Harry's slumber rocked Seven's head gently. The sounds of exotic birds and breeze died away from her perception. Seven joined Harry in sleep.
~~~This Is My Beloved~~~
B'Elanna slipped quietly into the hut. From his position in bed, she was sure Tom was asleep, like a cat lazing in the warm sun flooding through the window. He was lying on his back, left arm bent over his face to hide his eyes, his long torso brightly lit by the sun's rays. The hair of his chest glowed from the sun's touch, an aureole around a celestial body, shining with incendiary beauty.
As she silently approached the bed, B'Elanna realized that Tom was barely covered by the thin sheet over the lower half of his body. She longed to reach out to him, but that would wake him. He'd been out on the sailboat a long time; he undoubtedly needed the rest. B'Elanna resisted the impulse.
Just as she was about to back out of the room, Tom stretched his lanky frame and shifted onto his side, dislodging the sheet to reveal his nakedness. The light no longer touched his chest, but clear blue eyes looked into hers. "Wondered where you were," he murmured sleepily, scratching his head and tousling his dark honey hair into further disarray.
"More or less. I could get more tired, though. Then I'd fall asleep for sure."
The very suggestion incinerated her Klingon blood. B'Elanna slipped her bathing suit down her body, removing her sandals and the suit with one kick. Crawling on top of him, B'Elanna forced Tom to lie again on his back and was treated to the renewed sight of his golden torso haloed by the light. While stroking his strong muscles with her fingertips, she rained kisses all over him and bit him on the left cheek. His hands traveled over her skin in well remembered but never boring paths and patterns. His fingers, so long and sensitive, coaxed moans from her throat and made her arch her back as they probed knowingly within her.
She lost track of time, yielding herself to his touch. When she could no longer bear not feeling him deep inside her, she straddled his body. Knowing what she needed, Tom grabbed her hips, lifting her high above him before thrusting his shaft deeply within her flesh. As she sank down on him, she moaned in harmony with his groans of pleasure. As one they moved together, as they had so many other times. This time, she gloried in the look of him beneath her, shining in the light. Her golden boy, her golden man, who knew how to please her so well--and did--every chance he got.
They rocked each other relentlessly until B'Elanna shouted out, a few moments before he did. Collapsing over him as he panted beneath her, she settled her head against his chest, listening as his heart settled down to a slower pace, even though they remained linked together. Their two hearts, beating together. A compulsion came over B'Elanna then, one she'd been fighting for a long time, but no longer. She would never willingly leave him now. What was she waiting for?
"Umm hmmm?" he answered sleepily.
"You still want me to accept my Klingon side, don't you?"
"Of course," he murmured.
"Well, then, it's time to satisfy honor. Now."
"Time to satisfy honor?" Tom's voice strengthened, his interest piqued.
"Yes. We should have done it the first time we made love. It wasn't very Klingon of me not to do it then. Now it's time. You *do* still know the words, don't you? You did when I walked around in your mind that time."
"Words? Are you saying we should take the Oath?"
"Yes. Words. To. The. Oath. Do you remember them?"
"Well, yeah," he drawled.
"Good. You start. Unless you don't want to."
"Of course I want to! But B'Elanna, won't Captain Janeway be angry? We aren't supposed to get married without her permission."
"The captain knows Klingon custom. She probably thinks we sealed our mating already. The captain has to approve of marriages, not matings."
"That's cutting it pretty fine."
"Are you having second thoughts about being mated to a Klingon?"
"No!" Tom gently moved his hands over her body. A crooked smile appeared, and he finally admitted, "You must be psychic or something. I've been trying to figure out all day how to tell you I want this."
"Good. Because it's too late to get out of it now. We *are* mated already; this Oath-taking is a one-time-only offer, though. We do it now, before *I* get second thoughts."
Nodding his head, Tom made a move to pull himself out of B'Elanna; but she squeezed her knees together and held on to his hips tightly to prevent him from withdrawing. "B'Elanna, you want to say the Oath when we're like this?"
"Sure. Klingons usually take the Oath right after mating for the first time. That's tradition. Don't you think this way is probably more authentic?"
He laughed then, sharing his wonderful smile with her. B'Elanna couldn't begin to express how full her heart was at that moment for Tom. She didn't even try.
"Can I sit up, at least? I don't think I want to get married--mated--lying flat on my back like I've been pinned by a wrestler."
"OK," she grinned, "although I kind of like the idea that I've pinned you down. Finally."
Tom grasped her hips and buttocks firmly, keeping her body close as he curled up to a sitting position. Once they were situated, with Tom's left hand pushed against the small of her back to hold himself inside her, he asked, "Help me with how the hand goes on your jaw, B'Elanna."
B'Elanna took has right hand and adjusted the thumb and fingers against her jawline, as if they were grasping her head as a prize, then rested her own hand on his jaw in a matching position. His lips quirked into a smile, but there was a fire in his eyes, almost a Klingon intensity, as he murmured softly, " 'IwwIj." //My blood.// " 'IwlIj." //Your blood.//
" 'Iwmaj. //Our blood,// she replied.
"loDnalwI'--my husband," she whispered back to him.
For the rest of her life, B'Elanna was to remember the way Tom looked at that moment, when she'd called him her husband for the first time. The barest of smiles came to his sensitive lips. His hand stroked her face where it had held her by the jaw a second before. Most of all, the pure color of his eyes made her catch her breath as the enormity of her promise--and his--engulfed her. This was what it was like to be one with another person. In human terms, "as long as ye both shall live." That was what Klingons believed, and now, she felt that promise fill her heart.
There was one thing more, however, she needed to hear.
"So, you have something to tell me, Tom?"
His eyes bored into hers. "You are beautiful."
"Wrong something. Try again."
He looked at her quizzically for a moment, and then it hit him. He gasped a bit, then glanced up to the ceiling, smiling.
"Can't even say it *now,* can you? Here you are, with your cock still inside me, mated, and you can't spit it out, can you?"
"I care about you, B'Elanna--more than I can ever say," he said, but there was a teasing quality to his voice and a grin on his face.
"Not good enough. Try again, Flyboy."
He shook his head and said, sincerely, "I love you, B'Elanna. Even though you *must* have known that already."
"Sure I did, but a woman still likes to hear it every now and then. Especially when she 'pledges her troth' to her husband for the rest of her life. And his."
"Okay, then . . . I love you . . . I love you . . . I love you . . ." Every pause was punctuated with a laugh-filled kiss as he hugged her tightly to him.
B'Elanna was acutely conscious of the light shining from the window, spotlighting half his handsome face while leaving the other half in shadow. Hers, she guessed, must look much the same to him. He was everything she'd ever wanted, and she knew he loved her. Both sides of her. She trusted him completely. Tom Paris, the sincere, lighthearted lover, as well as the tormented soul who had touched her own with his vulnerability. A highly improbable convergence of occurrences had brought them together, here in the Delta Quadrant. Where else could they have found the time for their volatile personalities to have the chance to grow together, to find their way to the other wounded, but loving soul? It was incredible, yet it had happened.
Carefully, Tom eased himself back onto the bed, still joined with B'Elanna, pulling her down with him to rest her head against his chest. She sighed in grateful contentment. Maybe this was why she had been lost in the Delta Quadrant, so that this could be. What was meant to be.
If so, getting lost had been worth it.
~~~Into the Rare~~~
As Harry returned to consciousness, he became aware of the wonderful feel of skin against skin. Her skin. Even though no one else would have been likely to have slipped into his bed, the proof was lying along his forearm. A Borg-augmented limb was resting upon his. There was only one person on Voyager--or the quadrant, most likely--who was decorated with that particular form of body jewelry.
The warmth of her body along his back and buttocks was very pleasant, but unfortunately, he was going to have to disturb her. His right leg was getting a cramp. Grunting, he moved his body slightly to ease his leg into a different position to try to forestall the knot forming in his calf.
Seven's response was to tighten her left hand on his forearm. Knowing the strength in that hand, Harry paused. He didn't want to mar their vacation with a trip to Sickbay for a broken arm.
He was about to say something to her when Seven stirred, too, releasing the grasp of her hand upon his arm. Turning over, Harry watched Seven awaken. As her eyes fluttered open, Harry couldn't help feeling he would like to see this every day for the rest of his life. He pushed the thought away. Now was not the time to think of "forever." It was too soon for Seven. If it was meant to be, it would be. If it wasn't, perhaps Harry Kim should be grateful he has had this time with Annika Seven of Nine Hansen. She was the best thing that had ever happened to him, prickly Borg nature and all.
As Seven's eyes focused upon Harry's face, she smiled slightly and sensuously extended her arms above her head. Harry's gaze flowed over her body, appreciating the plush globes of her breasts, the soft skin, the glinting implant in her navel--and then stopped as the fact registered. Seven's midsection was bare. "No corset?"
"No. I wished to remain close to you while we slept. As close as we could be. Touching my skin to yours."
"Felt good--I think. I was sleeping pretty soundly."
"I noticed. The sun is much lower in the sky than when I first lay down with you."
He nodded, thinking how beautiful she was. He had been struck by her beauty from the first, but now, lying together in bed, he knew he would never again find more perfection in a lover than he had discovered in Seven. Leaning towards her, he kissed her full lips gently on the mouth. Just a quick touch; he knew she didn't like to waste much time in kissing. When he broke the contact of their lips, however, Seven reached out to cup the back of his head with her hand and pushed his head towards her again, whispering, "Kiss me again, Harry. There is no reason to hurry."
"What would that do for our efficiency rating?" he said, teasingly.
"There is no need for our efficiency study tonight, Harry. We already have ample data, and I have decided to alter the parameters of the study. We must consider if there are other kinds of efficiency that do not involve chronometers and frequency."
"Do you think we have sufficient time to find out?"
"Yes. After all, we are in the middle of the regeneration cycle called a vacation."
Harry laughed and was rewarded with one of the broadest smiles he had ever been gifted with by Seven. He shifted himself to face her fully, tenderly stroking her full bosom as he rained gentle kisses over her face and its adorning silver implants. As hisnantd moved down to the patch of hair between her thighs, insinuating itself between them, her hands began to travel over his shoulders and down his sides.
Several languorous moments passed, with both Harry and Seven reaping the benefits of their previous erotic encounters with each other. After Seven's hand had moved to the part of Harry's body that protruded far into the air as a consequence of their joint efforts, she suddenly sat up to look at the flesh she was stroking. This dislodged his hand from the area he was exploiting on Seven. Before Harry could replace it, he felt Seven very gently caress the tip of his burgeoned penis. "That feels really good," he gasped.
"I am sure," she commented, somewhat absently. Harry looked down. Her hand was touching him intermittently, in a position that suggested she was patting someone's head.
"What are you doing, Seven?"
"It does seem like it has a life of its own when it is bobbing around like that, does it not?" Seven inquired.
"Well, yeah . . . so . . . "
"I am very glad it doesn't have a beak, though."
"A what?" he laughed in surprise.
"A beak. Like a cock. The other kind of cock. Lieutenant Torres and I were exploring idiomatic expressions today."
"I'm not sure how much of this I want to hear."
"There is not much more to speak of at this time. However, I think I would like to continue exploring such expressions in the future. With you, rather than with Lieutenant Torres, even though our discussion was . . . satisfactory."
"Any time. Any other time. Right now, there's something else I'd prefer to explore. If you don't mind?"
Seven leaned back again on the pillows, closing her eyes and sighing as Harry's mouth engaged her mammary glands in the sensuous form of suction that she had found was a most welcome sensation. Vocabulary expansion could wait for another time.
"Did you ask him if we were meeting for dinner tonight, Tom?"
"Well, no, but since it's the last night, I figured they'd come. Maybe they'd prefer a private meal in their hut again tonight." Tom sounded a bit disappointed.
"Depends upon the menu."
"B'Elanna . . . "
"Now, Tom. Why don't we just call them over the comm and find out what they want to do? It wouldn't be that much . . ."
"No need. I see them coming."
The almost full moon lit the path sufficiently for both of the watchers to see the figures gliding towards them. At the foot of the stairway to the deck, blazing torches highlighted Seven and Harry as they ascended. Like Tom, Harry was wearing a Hawaiian shirt and shorts. Seven was in a halter-neck sundress, very much like the flowered one that B'Elanna was wearing, and wore sturdy high-heeled sandals on her feet.
"We were just wondering if we were going to see you tonight," said Tom as he took his seat next to B'Elanna.
"Since this is our last night of vacation, we thought it would be good to celebrate by having dinner with you. We weren't sure if you were going to be here, either," said Harry, pulling out the chair for Seven.
"Well, here we are. Celebrating." Squeezing B'Elanna's hand as he said this, Tom enjoyed the secretive, intense look in her eyes as she smiled back at him.
When Harry took his seat, as if on cue (which, in fact, it was, according to the parameters of the program), the Polynesian waitress appeared to take their orders for dinner. While waiting to be served, the two couples talked quietly about sailing and idiomatic expressions. Seven and B'Elanna admitted to discussing "burying the hatchet" and "hammering at" things. Seven mentioned they had conjured up a small flock of chickens, but at a lifted eyebrow from B'Elanna, she forbore going into any detail regarding their observations of fowl behavior as it applied to the male anatomy. From Harry's nervousness, however, B'Elanna rightly suspected that Tom was the only one who didn't already know about the subject. It might make for an interesting topic to share with Tom later, when they were alone. In bed.
When dinner came, Tom asked, "So, does anyone want 'Sex on the Beach' tonight?"
"Hah, hah, hah," said Harry. "Isn't that joke getting a little old?"
"I think a K'tarian Merlot might be a better choice," offered B'Elanna.
"K'tarian Merlot it is," Tom agreed.
The meal was a tasty one. "Enjoy it, people. Tomorrow, it's Neelix's mess hall again," Tom reminded them, to a groan or two from his companions.
Over their dessert of Tiramisu, B'Elanna sighed, "It's 2100 hours already. Only nine more hours of vacation to go. I wish it could last longer."
"It will last longer." At this curious pronouncement, everyone looked at Seven.
"Our holodeck time ends at 0600 hours, Seven. That's not quite nine hours from now."
"It does not. I possessed enough rations to extend our time here for another two hours. We will not need to leave until 0800 tomorrow."
"Seven, when did you do this?" asked Harry incredulously.
"While you were in the sanitation facilities getting ready for dinner. I did not wish this dinner to be our last meal here. When I consulted the holodeck schedule, I found that Holodeck One had not been reserved tomorrow until 0800 hours, when Lieutenant Rollins has scheduled it for use. So I reserved it for us."
"Does this mean you . . . like being on vacation?" Harry looked hopefully at Seven.
"Liking or not liking is irrelevant. Vacation is useful for regenerative purposes. Even primitive methods of regeneration can be beneficial to organisms that practice single cell fertilization. I did not want our vacation to end until it had to end, when we must return to our duty stations."
"Seven, I don't know about you, but B'Elanna and I don't have our uniforms with us," said Tom. "Since we haven't enough credits to replicate new ones, we'll have to leave a few minutes earlier than that so we can change."
"I do not have mine with me, either. We will utilize as much of the time as we can."
"And the rest will be wasted?" Tom asked.
"Not if Lieutenant Rollins is free earlier. We will notify him when we are ready to leave, and if he is able, he may utilize the time."
"Ah. For a minute there, Seven, I actually thought you weren't going to use all the time efficiently," B'Elanna laughed. "I'm glad there are still some things I can count on."
A very happy Harry Kim enveloped Seven in a hug, while B'Elanna felt Tom's hand rest casually on her shoulder. She smiled to herself, thinking about how that hand might be put to use later on in the evening. And maybe the morning, now that they were going to be able to stay past dawn. Lifting her own hand to her shoulder, B'Elanna squeezed Tom's fingers gently, conveying her promise for later to him.
"Harry, I would like to take a walk so we can look at the stars again. If you wish."
"I think that would be great. Do you want to come along, B'Elanna and Tom?"
"Nah. We'll let you two love birds go off on your own. Get her home early, though, Harry," Tom admonished.
Harry shook his head ruefully as he took Seven by the hand and descended the steps. As they disappeared from view, Seven's voice floated up. "Are love birds fowl?"
"Uh, not now, Seven," Harry was heard to answer as they disappeared into the night.
Feeling B'Elanna's body shake with suppressed laughter, Tom asked, "What was that all about?"
"Oh, just another exploration of linguistic studies. Tom, have you ever wondered about how certain body parts have had 'idiomatic expressions' attached to them?"
"Does this have something to do with 'fowl'? And do I want to know?"
"I think so. But what I really want to know is what Seven would say if we introduced her to the word 'pecker.' "
Tom burst into hearty laughter, joined by B'Elanna. Tom extended his elbow to B'Elanna as she took to her feet. After the laughter, there was a special gleam in both pairs of eyes. It promised to be a Klingon sort of night
By 0747 on Monday morning, more than a dozen of Voyager's crew had gathered at the entrance to Holodeck One. Most studiously avoided staring at their crewmates, but it was apparent that while some had legitimate business in the area, curiosity was the reason most were present. A large quantity of replicator rations had already changed hands due to the prolongation of the vacation beyond the originally allotted time. Betting had been brisk that Seven would stalk out of the program long before its scheduled ending. Some rations on this score had changed hands as early as midnight on Friday.
Rumors had also swept through the crew that Seven and B'Elanna were sure to come to blows over Harry and Tom, especially if Seven started to "assimilate" Tom. Or vice versa. There was still a significant contingent remaining on Voyager that found it impossible to accept the notion that Lieutenant Thomas Eugene Paris had actually settled down permanently with the chief engineer, Klingon temper, or no.
Captain Janeway, one of those who were present for reasons other than a bet or rumors (although simple curiosity could not be totally ruled out), arrived seconds before the entrance to the holodeck slid open, revealing the smiling face of Tom Paris. "Whoa, it's the Welcome Home Committee! How touching! But who's minding the bridge? I hope Neelix and Tuvok have everything under control."
The captain laughed and stepped back to give Tom room to exit the holodeck. Only then did those gathered notice he held underneath one arm a long object, the other end of which was supported by Harry Kim. B'Elanna and Seven followed them closely.
As soon as B'Elanna came into view, Joe Carey, standing with Ensign Vorik, called out, "Lieutenant Torres? Could we have just a minute of your time?" B'Elanna rolled her eyes. Tom caught the gesture and laughed--for a few seconds. Ensign Mbete repeated Carey's question virtually word for word regarding a navigation problem. Chakotay and Lang both cornered Harry for his opinion about what several anomalous readings recorded in the last hour at the Ops station might possibly mean.
Seven was accosted by the Doctor. "So, Seven, how did the vacation go? Did you work on your social conversation skills while you were away?" The Doctor smiled unctuously as he waved a medical sensor at her and checked the readout on his tricorder.
"The vacation went well. I do not require any medical treatment. I need to go to my quarters to obtain my uniform, however, or I will be late for my duty shift."
"Don't worry, Seven. If the Doctor causes you to be late, any tardiness will be excused," Captain Janeway assured her. "So, how *did* the vacation go?"
"It went well."
"And despite being irrelevant, it was bearable for you?"
"Yes," Seven replied concisely.
The crowd did not need any sensor readings to tell them that juicy gossip was unlikely to appear on the agenda this morning. The four officers looked disgustingly well-rested and, hard as it was to believe, downright chummy, despite being locked away together on the holodeck for the entire weekend. Those crew members who had no actual business with the returning vacationers began to drift away.
"So, what did you do with your time?" asked the Doctor.
"We swam. We went out in boats. We walked. We talked. We ate. We slept. We engaged in various activities to improve our cardiovascular fitness. May I go now?"
"And you went surfing?" the captain inquired.
"Yes. That is a surfboard, isn't it? Although I see it has a power source. A Borg power source?" The more closely the captain looked at the object in question, the more inquisitive she became.
"No, that is my experiment."
"Seven, your vacation was supposed to be fun! Relaxation, not experimentation. No experiments allowed!" The Doctor harrumphed with indignation.
Tom, the closest to Seven and Captain Janeway of the vacationers, excused himself from his discussion with Mbete. Turning to the captain, he said gallantly, "No, Captain. This isn't that kind of an experiment, not really. It's more of a . . . a hobby."
"That's right, Captain. Harry cleared it with me before we left. This is Seven's portable regeneration unit." B'Elanna stepped away from Vorik, forcing the Vulcan engineer to halt in mid-sentence, his mouth agape. "It needs a little more work, but it's already small enough to take on a shuttle. We thought this would be the perfect time to test the prototype, so Seven wouldn't have to leave the holodeck for regeneration during her vacation. It worked perfectly. All we need to do is get it lighter so she can use it on shore leave or on away missions in the field."
"I really wish you'd consulted with me about this first. There wasn't supposed to be any work details connected with this weekend."
"Captain, it's primary use was for, uh, relaxation. While it has a practical application, I can assure you, Seven and Harry had lots of fun testing this equipment." Tom nodded wisely as he spoke, not daring to look in Seven's direction. He couldn't stop himself from peeking at Harry, however, sharing the briefest of glances and a stifled smile with his friend.
The captain didn't seem to notice. The Doctor did. Why Seven would wish to utilize the instrument he could understand completely. Not having to leave the holodeck to regenerate during her time off made perfect sense. He couldn't help speculating about the sort of "fun" Harry might have had with a regeneration cubicle, however, even a portable one. This just might be something to explore in greater detail. Before he had a chance to examine the device and inquire further, B'Elanna ordered, "Carey, Vorik. Carry the regenerator down to maintenance for further modifications."
"B'Elanna, about Vorik's question . . . "
"Joe, I'll be down in a few minutes. Just let me throw on a uniform and I'll be able to answer all the questions you want. Okay?"
Carey shrugged his shoulders and picked up one end of the object. Vorik dutifully picked up the other. As the two engineers walked away, the Doctor turned towards B'Elanna and saw her glance at Seven. There was a very slight nod from Ensign Hansen in return. Almost a respectful nod, or possibly a grateful one.
Definitely something to explore in the future.
"Captain, we really need to go to quarters to change for our shifts . . . "
"Of course, Tom. Did you enjoy yourself?"
"Absolutely, Captain. Thank you, Seven, for including us."
"Yes, Seven, thank you. Tom and I had a wonderful time."
"It was terrific. Better than shore leave," said Harry.
Bobbing her head to acknowledge Tom and B'Elanna's thanks, Seven hesitated a moment before volunteering, "It was . . . excellent."
The captain beamed. Her warm smile was returned, sincerely, by three of the vacationers. The fourth nodded to the captain and turned on her heel to leave.
As the four disappeared down the corridor to the turbolift, followed by the Doctor, Mbete, and Lang, Chakotay strolled over to the captain. "They all seem to have survived intact."
"Survived! They're thriving! Did you see? Even B'Elanna and Seven were getting along better. It was an 'excellent' vacation. That's even better than I'd hoped for from Seven. I'm delighted with the success of my little experiment."
"I thought no experiments were allowed for this weekend."
The captain pressed her lips together but couldn't prevent a crooked smile from escaping at one side of her mouth. "*They* weren't supposed to be experimenting. I didn't say anything about me."
The grunt from Chakotay was noncommittal, but his dimples were showing.
"Come on, Commander. The bridge awaits."
Accepting her first officer's arm, the captain of Voyager, her smile a perfect match with his, strode off to begin her week, very satisfied with the outcome of her little experiment. She wasn't quite as pleased several weeks later when she found out that the vacation had turned into an unauthorized honeymoon for one of the couples.
But that's another story.
Title: Weekend in Tahiti, or Tom and B'Elanna's and Harry and Seven's Excellent Vacation
Author: J.A. Toner, AKA Jamelia
Rated: NC-17, because of some sexual activity and lots of innuendo
Relationships: P/T, K/7
Summary: While vacationing on the Holodeck, Tom, B'Elanna, Harry and Seven find that taking a break from the daily grind helps them feel better in many ways. A sequel to "Quid Pro Quo" and "Satisfaction."
Comments to: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
"Quid Pro Quo" and "Satisfaction" can be read at: http://members.aol.com/jamelia116/meander.html
Thanks to Clara, Niomi, pjs, Court, Fever, Katie and a host of other PTFeverites for their assistance and comments on this story.