Disclaimer - Morn said nothing as he was assimilated by the Para-Borg.
Part 16 of the DQ90210 series. Earlier parts can be found at: http://members.tripod.com/~SuzVoy/deltaq.html
Contains references to a scene from '11:59' that Americans didn't get to see. Also contains references to 'Drone'. Oh, and 'The Fight'. Obviously. Set directly after the events in part 15.
Dedicated to Jen.
She located him - as the computer informed her - on deck six, holodeck two. The doors opened dutifully for her as she marched towards them so she concluded that the privacy lock was not activated and therefore he would not be offended by her intrusion.
Recognising the design, if not the specific holoprogramme, she advanced further into the room. It appeared to be a primitive exercise and training area. Following the sounds of exertion that she heard she saw the Commander inside a boxing ring fighting against a holographic partner.
Of course. She had heard about the programme from others but this was the first time she had seen it herself. She was also not surprised that he was exercising - although she sided with the Doctor when he said that boxing was an unnecessarily dangerous activity.
Through her observations of the individuals aboard Voyager, Seven had come to the conclusion that they often needed to ease their anxieties through exertion. Or, as the Doctor called it, 'working off tension'. Frustrations and annoyances occasionally built up to unacceptable levels and the only way that they could purge these was to exercise. It was not something she had fully experienced herself, but she had begun to understand at least some of it through her own frustrations created by certain conversations with Captain Janeway, and all conversations with Lieutenant Torres.
The Commander was still dressed in his uniform, something that was not particularly conducive to healthy exercise. He was quite clearly perspiring, and his opposer was a Terrellian who was dressed much more appropriately for this activity.
If the Commander had noticed her presence he said nothing, still intent on his purpose. He and the Terrellian were not throwing many punches, mainly sparring and dodging each other.
Deciding to make her presence known, Seven considered a variety of topics to discuss. She knew what she had come here to discuss, but she was not sure how comfortable he would be with jumping into that conversation directly. She needed something that might interest him.
Something that was appropriate to this arena.
A thought occurred, a memory resurfacing.
"One of my progenitors was a prize fighter." She informed him, standing next to the ring.
He said nothing, continuing to spar.
Concluding that he had known she was there all along, she continued. "From the 22nd Century. Sven 'Buttercup' Hansen. I must admit that I found the idea of boxers having nicknames rather bizarre, but then there is much about humanity that could be classified as such."
Not appreciating her subtle dig, he still remained silent, moving around the ring as lightly as possible.
Seven was beginning to become frustrated. "Do not ignore me," She stated loudly.
It prompted a response. "I'm not ignoring you," He gasped dodging a punch, words barely decipherable through the gum shield. "I'm listening."
"Then respond," Seven insisted. "It is extremely frustrating when you say nothing to a statement I make."
Dodging yet another punch he quickly stepped to one side and spat out the gum shield. "Computer: freeze programme."
Obligingly the Terrellian held still with one arm outstretched. Moving around him and still panting for Oxygen, Chakotay managed to pull off one of his gloves and held it under the other arm. Reaching up with his free hand to wipe his face he stopped when he noticed that Seven had found a towel and was holding it out to him. Taking it from her he rubbed it over his face and began pulling off the other glove.
Both of them removed, he allowed them to thump to the ring and - still holding the towel - he studied her as she studied him.
After a few moments of silence, he spoke softly. "Why didn't you tell me?"
She had known that some version of this would be brought up during their conversation. She had thought that she knew exactly how to respond, yet she found herself struggling for words. "It...did not seem appropriate."
He laughed once - loudly - and looked towards the ceiling in despair. "Gods Seven..." He looked back at her, speaking intently, honestly. "I shared with you some of the most intimately emotionally memories I've ever shared with anyone. We *slept* together. We are way beyond what is appropriate for a First Officer and another member of the crew."
"I did not believe so," Seven responded immediately, ignoring the tension in her abdomen. "However, if my assessment was incorrect then I apologise for the error."
Turning away and muttering a profanity, he then grabbed the ropes and climbed out of the ring. Landing on the floor, he walked over to a bench where he promptly sat and placed the towel to one side. "Come on," He invited.
She regarded him and the bench dubiously.
"I won't bite," He insisted.
Surprised at the sudden response to that statement that flashed through her mind, she was barely able to stop it from escaping in time. Feeling her cheeks beginning to blush she chose to do as he suggested and immediately sat down next to him, avoiding looking at him directly.
Leaning forwards and resting an elbow on his knee, he looked at the ring. "I'm sorry for getting angry at you Seven. It's just that this whole situation has just thrown me for a loop." At her questioning gaze he elaborated. "Umm...confused the hell out of me." She nodded her understanding and he continued. "I genuinely thought that by helping Kathryn and Tom become closer I was doing everyone a favour. But I suppose I just made things worse." Shaking his head he lowered it until it rested in the palm of a hand. "This is all my fault."
"No, it is not. I have observed that individuals often believe that the Universe revolves around them; that everything that happens is because of them." She looked at him directly. "This is simply not the case. An individual can change a world, a civilisation, an entire galaxy...but no single individual is responsible for absolutely everything that occurs in the Universe. You had no means to anticipate recent events and their subsequent outcomes, and while your self-recrimination is understandable it is also highly inefficient."
His head pulled away from his hand, Chakotay stared at her.
Seven rose an eyebrow. "Do you intend to pursue a romantic affiliation with Captain Janeway?"
"Hell Seven, I don't know. Things haven't officially ended with her and Tom and I don't know if they ever will. And though he may be good at taking the bull by the horns it's not something I do particularly well." He sighed. "It's been difficult, sometimes. No matter how hard I've tried my personal feelings have got in the way of our working relationship. If I was worried for her and her health it would affect my command decisions. If we argued it would still hang between us months later. That's not a very nice atmosphere to be working in."
"I do not believe it is entirely possible to make an unbiased command decision when someone you care for is in danger...and in those situations where you did the memory of it would haunt you for a long time. If it did not you would not be an individual."
Frowning at her speech, he studied her. "You're talking from personal experience."
Knowing that he wanted her to elaborate, she forced herself to continue. "When One was...dying," She almost stopped "I instructed - pleaded - that he lower the forcefield so that the Doctor could heal him. What no one is aware of is that during my time spent teaching him I became aware of certain Borg algorithms and passwords he used. Even though he was a technologically superior Borg, if I had used them I would have been able to deactivate the forcefield and allow the Doctor to proceed. I could not. I knew that his argument was logical; his presence was putting Voyager and its crew in danger and I could not make the decision to sacrifice them for him alone." Her eyes almost closed and she was finding it increasingly difficult to speak. "But...if he had agreed...if he had lowered the forcefield of his own volition...I would not have stopped him. If he made the decision himself I would have been pleased." She paused, looking down. "He did not. And I could not."
Seven remained in that position, eyes nearly closed as she waited for a response. He did not offer meaningless platitudes.
"When was the last time you hugged someone?"
Blinking harshly, she raised her head and looked at him. "Not since I was a child. Why?"
He held out the arm closest to her in obvious invitation. At her expression he smiled. "We've already slept together Seven. This should be nothing."
Awkwardly she shuffled over and allowed him to rest his arm around her shoulders. Holding herself stiffly, she nonetheless wrapped an arm around him, allowing their bodies to press together.
Chakotay shifted. "I'm sorry?"
Realising that she had spoken Seven pulled away and stood up. "I apologise Commander. I am not particularly comfortable with this activity."
The Commander smiled in understanding. "Okay." Standing up he climbed back into the ring, picked up the gum shield which he quickly shoved into his mouth and picked up his gloves. A few moments later he had them on and positioned himself opposite the Terrellian.
Seven made the request for him. "Computer: resume programme."
She remained as an observer for a few minutes, watching as they danced around each other. The sport was still far too violent, but she appreciated his appreciation of it.
"Thank you," she told him softly.
He was not intended to hear it but he did, and as he turned his head to look at her he missed the gloved fist heading for his face.
Seven took a step forward. "Commander!"
Too late he raised an arm to block his face and the lack of holodeck safeties - which had been deactivated and long forgotten about - allowed him to feel the full impact of the hit and he fell against the ropes before falling onto his front on the floor.
Seven climbed into the ring, unable to believe that he was seriously injured. "Computer: freeze programme."
Checking his pulse she quickly struck her com badge. "Seven of Nine to the Doctor. Medical emergency. Beam Commander Chakotay directly to sickbay."
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