by Suz

Disclaimer - Paramount own the names.

This one's for Claire. Welcome to the newsgroup!

Sorry I haven't had time to write something else. Computer access is a rare and wonderful, anyway.


"So, did you see Ensign Parsons and Crewman Emmanuelle in the mess hall today?"

Seven looked up from the console she was working at in Astrometrics and frowned. While Ensign Kim had seemed to have lost his fascination with her mammary glands, he still frequently discussed subjects that were not relevant to their work. However, she had learned and started accepting that it was something that all individuals indulged in at some point. She was grant him this. "Of course. I was sitting at the table with you; they were at the table next to ours."

Ensign Kim grinned. "And you didn't...notice anything about them?" He was clearly hoping she had.

Recalling the 28.4 minutes spent in the mess hall, she found nothing particular special about the crewmembers in question. "They ate chicken salad."

The Ensign gaped at her. "That's it? That's *all* that you noticed?"

"Their appearance was irrelevant."

Turning fully away from his console now, he faced her. "They're in *love* Seven. Didn't you notice?"

She turned her attention back to her console and continued working. "No. It is possible that their behaviour may have been different but as I was not paying close attention I did see anything out of the ordinary."

He shook his head, as if not quite believing her. "You didn't notice. They were gazing at each other with longing, Seven. They were laughing shyly, touching each other frequently. They had all the hallmarks of a couple who were newly in love."

She rose her eyebrows but continued working. "To you, perhaps. I have never experienced being in love so am not acquainted with 'all the hallmarks'."

Sighing, he shrugged as if admitting defeat. "Fine. I guess it's one of those things you won't quite understand until you see it first hand. But I hope that one day you'll understand...or at least experience it."

His tone of voice drew her attention away from her console. There was no innuendo to it that she could detect, just a genuine sincerity. "We have discussed this topic of conversation before, regarding your...encounter with Tal."

His expression darkened and he lowered his eyes. "Yeah."

"I did not personally witness your closeness to her, but I heard about it from many members of the crew."

The Ensign chuckled. "Yeah, I'm sure you did."

She continued. "I am not sure it is something that I wish to experience. While I no longer consider it a 'disease', it still very obviously reduces the efficiency of the members involved and as a result makes them less effective members of their respective departments and/or crews."

Apparently finding something amusing, he shook his head. "Look, never mind Seven. Let's just...get back to work. I suggest we discuss this another time when I don't have Borg algorithms floating around my brain. You *do* pick the most complicated conversation subjects to become interested in."

She merely tilted her head to one side. "*You* are the individual who brought up the subject."


Her shift over, Seven bid farewell to Ensign Kim and decided to head towards cargo bay two. There were several personal projects she was working on that were not a specific part of her on-duty work. Increasing the strength of-

Her avenue of thought ended when she saw someone just around the corner of an intersection in the corridor. It was the Captain and Commander Chakotay. Obviously they were talking about something of extreme importance and secrecy as they were leaning towards each other and speaking in low voices that she couldn't quite decipher, clearly not wanting to be overheard. did not seem to make sense. Surely the briefing room or the Captains ready room would be a more logical and secure place to conduct such a meeting.

For no reason that she could clarify, Seven's thoughts turned to her recent discussion with Ensign Kim. She tried to assess them as he might.

Close body contact. Maintaining eye contact. Although she could not hear exactly what they were saying, both of their voices were equally friendly and almost...playful. A bizarre word Lieutenant Paris had introduced her to, but it seemed oddly appropriate now.

Still, this was all still circumstantial. It did not prove anything.

And then it happened.

Reaching out a hand, the Commander touched the Captains face using only his fingertips. Sliding his hand down, he maintained the contact and eventually rested his fingers where the Captains uniform started. In response the Captain chewed on her lower lip and tilted her head to one side. He murmured something. She smiled, her eyes closed.

Seven understood.

She understood.

Turning away from them and trying to ignore the strange tightness in her stomach, she advanced towards the nearest turbolift and ordered it to another deck, any deck.

There was no reason for her to do this. The Captain and Commander both *knew* they were in the corridor, *knew* they could be seen by any crewmember who passed them. But still...she could not stay.

She understood.


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