Warnings: None, in this version.
Categories: Ship, Het, Romance, Humor
Pairings: EMH/7, Megan/Chell, Paris/Torres, Kim/Campbell, Telfer/Tal, Harrison/Mannick, Janeway/Chakotay
Characters: EMH, Seven of Nine, Megan Delaney, Chell, Tom Paris, B'Elanna Torres, Mortimer Harren
Spoilers: Body and Soul
A/N: Set shortly after the seventh season episode Body and Soul. So his program can be transferred to her cortical node, can it? The T™© rated version of Bodily Experiences, which was written for Voyager Blue Alert. This one was hard to edit into submission, folks. Now I know how those network censors feel when they have to paste stupid phrases over the naughty words in movies.
Credits: Thank you to Shayenne for the wonderful beta job. This was a difficult piece and I couldn't have pulled it all together without your help.
Disclaimer: Paramount's. 'nuff said.
Original ST-17™© version found here.
An uninhabited M class planet was always a treat in the Delta Quadrant. That its northern hemisphere just happened to be rich in dilithium made it almost too good to be true. A number of away teams were dispatched to the surface.
Megan Delaney spun around, dark hair flying as she looked up at the sky. "I love the snow."
A smile spread across Chell's face at her enthusiasm. "I agree. The cold is so invigorating."
"I fail to see how you view being chilled as a pleasurable experience." Seven of Nine studied her tricorder. "This weather could have a negative effect upon the efficiency of this mission."
"Seven, there's more to life than efficiency," the Doctor said. "This is one of those experiences you should try to enjoy. I would, if I could."
Seven bit back a remark about this being a mission, and not shore leave. Only the night before she had promised the Doctor that she'd try to appreciate life's little experiences. She had no doubt that the Doctor would savor the cold.
In fact, he very much would savor the cold. And why shouldn't he? "Doctor?"
Even Tuvok couldn't have faulted her logic as she explained her plan. The answering smile on the Doctor's face gave her a pleasure she had no trouble savoring.
So this was what cold felt like. The air had a hardness to it. Seven's skin felt more alive somehow, and the Doctor understood what Chell had meant when he called the feeling invigorating. He felt Seven's body shiver in response.
Fascinated, he held her arm up and tugged the sleeve back so he could watch the goose flesh rise on her skin. The intensity of the sensation increased to the point of discomfort - perhaps even pain - although it was different than the back spasms had been. He pulled the Starfleet survival gear back over the exposed skin, and waited for the absence of cold to turn to warmth.
It didn't, at least not quickly. But his mind was on other things. The last time his program had been transferred to Seven's cortical node, and he had occupied her body, they had been on a starship. There hadn't been extremes in temperature, nor had there been the stirring of air that was found on a planet.
He enjoyed the way the wind licked at Seven's face. Perhaps someday he'd know the caress of a summer breeze. This wind couldn't be described as a caress; it was sharp. Invigorating, but with a hint of pain. He turned back towards the rest of the away team.
Megan and Chell were giggling madly as they set up the mining equipment. The cheerful Bolian moved back from his work to look his laughing companion in the eye, and she tackled him, pressing him back into the snow and sliding her body across his.
The Doctor didn't immediately look away, and felt a surge of longing as Megan straddled Chell and leaned forward to brush her lips to his. If only he had the courage for such a relationship himself.
Megan's tongue traced Chell's facial ridge, and a whispered word was picked up by Seven's ear.
It crossed the Doctor's mind to wonder if Megan's contraceptive booster was up to date, but he stopped short of accessing the information. Of course it was; no woman on board kept her boosters up to date with more vigilance than Megan Delaney.
Back on board, the Doctor and Seven sat together in the mess hall. She had Neelix's latest creation on the tray before her, and he tried to remember the sensation of eating. It had been a surprisingly enjoyable part of their last adventure.
"I wanted to thank you, Seven, for earlier. It was wonderful."
She smiled and the holographic simulation of his heart pattered oddly against his sternum.
"I would not be adverse to further experiments," she said. "I never quite experienced the cold that way before. It was...stimulating."
"The Doctor looks especially happy," Janeway said.
"Of course he does." Chakotay poked at his food and lowered his voice. "He's not eating."
The captain snickered and continued to watch her crew. The mess hall was crowded.
Tom and B'Elanna were having an animated discussion; whether it was an argument or the prelude to a romantic encounter was unclear. Harry was laughing with Ensign Lyssa Campbell as they both watched Megan Delaney lick creamed leola root from Chell's blue fingers. Brad Harrison and Noah Mannick were eating off the same plate, while Tal Celes and Billy Telfer hid in the corner and shared a whispered secret.
Janeway's eyes returned to her own companion, who caught her mood and gave her that special smile which expressed what words could not. Someday.
Seven watched the various couples in the room. Did the Doctor look at her like that? She had suspected that he might, and yet he had obviously been attracted to that woman during their recent captivity. His reaction to the backrub had been intense. Exciting and yet disturbing. She'd been angry. Was she jealous? Jealousy, like most emotions, was inefficient, yet her feelings seemed to fit the term.
What would happen if she pursued a romantic affiliation with the Doctor? The thought scared her in a way that no threat to the ship ever had. His friendship was vital to her; she couldn't afford to risk it.
Who else on board could possibly understand her as he did? While she looked at this crew as family, the bond she shared with the Doctor was unique. What were the possible consequences to a change in their relationship?
Her eyes found the captain and first officer. Was that why they weren't together? No, they were bound by Starfleet regulations. Certainly, when Voyager reached the Alpha Quadrant, that would change. Everyone on board seemed to agree on that, minus the obvious exceptions, since no one had broached the subject with either of the commanding officers.
Briefly, Seven wondered why she was pursuing that line of thought. Her own situation seemed much more worthy of her attention. Yet when she looked at the Doctor, intending to discuss that situation, she was seized by a strange paralysis. She did not begin that conversation.
A new topic sprang to mind. "Doctor, I have accumulated some holodeck time. Perhaps we could try one of Mister Paris' skiing programs sometime soon?"
"Why Seven, I'd be delighted." Again, there was that smile that affected her so notably. Yes, she'd have to give more thought to the forming of a romantic affiliation.
Megan Delaney sat at her station in Stellar Cartography and tried to concentrate on the star charts Lieutenant Paris required, rather than on how much she had enjoyed her date with Chell the night before.
And tonight -
Seven's voice cut through her daydream. Guiltily, she turned to look at the astrometric's chief and prepared herself for a reprimand.
Instead, she found a rather perplexed look on her supervisor's face. "What made you decide to form a romantic affiliation with Crewman Chell?"
She shrugged. "He made me laugh, so I thought we'd give it a try."
"Did it not concern you that if the affiliation failed it would negatively affect your friendship?"
"Well...no. My romantic affiliations, as you call them, don't tend to end badly. Why should they? I have fun; he has fun. It lasts a few days or a few weeks, and then we move on."
"The captain suggested that permanence makes for a more satisfying romantic affiliation. Do you not feel that to be true?"
"Well, probably. But if I looked for permanence every time I'd be disappointed. I might give up, and that would be a lonely way to live."
"So your advice is not to strive for permanence?"
"No, I wouldn't say that. Everyone's different. Is this about you and the Doctor?"
Seven shifted uncomfortably.
"He's your closest friend. If you got together like that, I'd think that there would be a pretty good chance that it would last. It's like the captain and Chakotay. If they ever cross that line, it will be for keeps."
The Doctor tried to recall the sensation of cold as he stood in the holodeck and waited for Seven. This skiing program had been blamed for a number of injuries, most commonly to Lieutenant Paris' collarbone. He suspected that Tom had never fractured a clavicle on the slopes, but he allowed his chief medic the little white lie.
When Seven of Nine entered the holodeck, Paris' skiing injuries ceased to be compelling. He was captivated by the graceful way she moved, even as she worked with the unfamiliar clasps on her ski boots. Every action had such precision.
She smiled at him. "Ready?"
He held up a boot clad foot with a ski attached. "Lead the way."
Side by side in the ski-lift chair, they watched the mountain moving slowly beneath them.
"Have you previously participated in this activity?" she asked.
"No, but Mister Paris is quite fond of it."
Seven gave him a dazzling smile. "I have already found this program to be more enjoyable than his previous recommendation."
He tried to think of an intelligent reply. "Oh?"
Her gloved hand sought his. "I find you to be a more suitable companion than Buster Kincaid."
"Oh." A grin split his face. "I agree."
Her eyebrow rose.
"I mean, I enjoy your company, too, Seven. Very much."
"What's this?" The captain took the PADD Seven was holding out to her.
"A proposal regarding the installation of my regeneration chamber in the quarters previously occupied by Lieutenant Paris."
The captain looked down at the PADD to sign it, hiding her smile from her protégé. Was Seven finally seeking a little privacy?
"Thank you, Captain."
There was a gleam in Seven's eye. Perhaps it wasn't time alone she was seeking.
Megan rushed back to her quarters to shed her uniform, intent upon meeting Chell before he left his quarters.
As soon as the door slid open, she realized she had failed, but she wasn't a bit disappointed. He was waiting for her.
"Mister Neelix, I require your assistance. Would that be possible at this time?"
"Certainly, Seven. What can I do for you?"
"I wish to prepare a romantic meal in my quarters. I am uncertain as to what food choices would be appropriate."
"Well I would certainly love to help. Will you be cooking or using the replicator?"
"I would prefer to cook, but it may be most efficient to replicate some portions of the meal."
The two disappeared into the galley.
Tom Paris rushed into the quarters he now shared with his wife. "You'll never guess what I just overheard in the mess hall."
B'Elanna moved into his arms and slid her hands up his chest. "It can't be better than what I just found out."
"Well, it is." Tom looked thoughtful. "Unless yours involves the captain?"
"No." She looked hopeful. "Yours does?"
"No," Tom admitted. "But listen to this. Seven of Nine is planning a romantic dinner in her quarters."
"Really? Well that explains what I heard."
Tom nipped at his wife's ear. "Which was?"
"That Seven moved into your old quarters this afternoon." She threw back her head, exposing her throat. "So who do you think it is?"
"The mystery man? Well, my money would be on the Doc but then why would it be dinner...Harry would have said something..."
"It couldn't be Harry anyway." She said. "He's been spending a lot of time with Lyssa Campbell recently."
"Could it be someone in engineering?"
"Can't imagine who. Carey has a wife. It wouldn't be Vorik, certainly not for a couple more years." She tugged at his shirt. "Harrison and Mannick are, well, you know...Telfer's seeing Tal Celes..."
"Well, there aren't any single men in Stellar Cartography," he said.
"How about Security?"
"It's not Tuvok," he said. "Ayala's married. Dalby maybe?."
"Dalby and Seven? No chance."
"Chell's with Megan now, right?" Tom asked.
"Quite literally, as you can hear." B'Elanna answered. "It wouldn't be Chell anyhow. He's too bubbly for her, and besides, they don't spend any time together. Neelix would be more likely."
"We know it isn't Neelix." "Else she wouldn't have asked for his help."
She shrugged. "So no one on the senior staff."
"No, we've ruled out everyone except us married guys."
"Chakotay isn't exactly married."
Tom shook his head sadly. "Might as well be, not that he enjoys any of the benefits."
B'Elanna circled her husband in a predatory manner. "Tom, my love? Let's finish this discussion later."
"I like the way you think," he managed before she pounced.
Mortimer Harren cursed, reminded again of why he preferred his tiny cubicle on deck fifteen to the comfort of his quarters. Deck nine was noisy. On the other side of the bulkhead, he could hear the expected cacophony from Megan Delaney's quarters.
Across the corridor, Lieutenants Paris and Torres were either enjoying each other's company or trying to kill one another. He was never sure which, nor did it make much difference to him. He just wanted the noise to stop.
It had been his hope when Paris and Torres married that they would move into the helm officer's quarters, but that hadn't happened. Probably because those quarters were fairly close to the captain's quarters. That unholy racket wouldn't be tolerated up there.
Those nice quiet quarters were vacant now, he realized. He set off in search of the first officer.
The candles were lit. That was the last step. Seven stood back and surveyed the fruits of her labor. Neelix had been confused by the small portions she had required, arguing that it wasn't enough to feed two people.
He was correct, of course, but she wasn't willing to waste resources for the sake of appearances. She had told Neelix that she wasn't planning on having more than a taste herself.
She was a bit surprised at herself for having set two place settings. They were unnecessary, but she hadn't wanted Neelix to guess her intentions. Not that he would, and not that it really mattered if he did, but for some reason she cared.
The door chimed. The Doctor had arrived.
"Seven came to me and requested her own quarters today," Janeway said over dinner.
"I know." Chakotay grinned, pleased to be a step ahead of her. Her crestfallen look dampened his mood, though.
"How do you know so fast?"
"You gave her Tom's old quarters. I had a request for those quarters just before coming over here. Imagine my surprise when I learned they were already taken."
"Who wanted those quarters?"
"What would he want with them? He's hardly the type to want bigger quarters."
"I don't think bigger was the issue. I think quieter was the issue."
"Where does he live?"
"Deck nine. Across the hall from Tom and B'Elanna." The first officer laughed softly. "And next door to Megan Delaney."
She laughed but didn't meet his gaze. "That hardly seems fair."
He wondered how much she knew about Bolians. "Especially since Megan just discovered Chell."
The captain sipped her coffee. "Oh my."
Megan and Chell were still in her quarters.
"Seven, you look beautiful." The Doctor struggled to tear his eyes from his hostess so that he could look around at her new quarters. "This suits you. Congratulations."
His eyes returned to her. Her hair was down, cascading around her face in golden waves. Her dress, a curve hugging number in silver, had a slit clear up to her hip, and her shoulders were bare. Did she have any idea what she was doing to him?
Did he dare hope that she did?
"I have a surprise for you, Doctor, for a little later."
His heart thumped and skipped about without any regard for the blood pumping activity it was meant to be simulating.
"Dance with me first?" she asked softly.
She sounded so shy, so unlike her usual confident self. He stepped forward and took her gently in his arms. "With pleasure, Seven. With great pleasure."
Together, they moved slowly to the music. Her body pressed against his. He closed his eyes. This was bliss. Whatever she had planned for later was forgotten as he lost himself in the perfection of this moment.
Seven felt her pulse increase as the Doctor held her close. Yes, a romantic affiliation was what she desired. Being close to the Doctor was pleasurable, and exciting. She cared for him, and knew that he cared for her in return.
The music selection ended.
"I believe, Doctor, that it is now the appropriate time to reveal this evening's surprise." Seven gestured to a previously unnoticed curtain, which slid back to reveal an elaborate feast. She aimed the tubules on her wrist at his holoemitter. "We'll enjoy this meal together."
"Seven, I'm touched. This is so thoughtful, so generous," he said. "Did you prepare all of this yourself?"
"I received some assistance from Mister Neelix." She smiled. "I found the preparation of this meal to be a very satisfying activity. I hope you find the consumption of this meal to be equally satisfying."
He was in Seven's body again. This time, however, she wasn't wearing Starfleet issue cold weather survival gear. This time she was wearing a stunning silver gown. He knew if he looked down he could see cleavage. He firmly ordered himself not to look down. Seven was here, after all, a silent observer in her own body. If he looked down, she would know.
He desperately tried to redirect his thoughts.
Wine. French wine, vintage 1942. Replicated, quite clearly. He tasted it, swirling it about Seven's mouth as Sandrine had once told him to do. The sensation was so much more intense with real wine, and a real tongue.
The salad was fresh and crisp. Each vegetable had its own unique flavor, and he savored each one. There was a note from Seven, explaining that the main course had been suggested by Neelix as a particular favorite.
It was spicy, and made Seven's eye water. The taste was both pleasant and unpleasant at the same time. He followed the written instructions, and sampled a piece of bread. The intensity of the burning was indeed reduced.
Desert was a slice of New York cheesecake. He had sampled that particular delicacy before, and regarded it as a favorite. It was wonderful to think that Seven knew that, and had chosen it for that reason. This entire meal was such a beautiful gesture. Did he dare hope that her feelings were more than platonic?
He cleaned up the remains of the meal and moved over to the couch. He removed his holoemitter from the coffee table and carefully aimed her Borg tubules at the device. A moment later they were seated side by side on her couch.
"Everything was delicious, Seven. Thank you."
"I enjoyed it as well. I believe our experiment was successful. We should try it again sometime."
"Yes, that would be nice."
"There is something else I would like to discuss." She looked at her hands. "Anxiety is irrelevant."
She jumped a little and met his gaze. She swallowed. "I have developed a strong emotional attachment to you which I believe signifies the need to form a romantic affiliation."
"Oh, Seven!" He reached for her hands. "You've made me the happiest hologram in the quadrant. I love you too."
A smile lit up her face. "I believe it would be appropriate if we now kissed."
He smiled back. "I believe that it would."
She leaned forward and gently pressed her lips to his.
Her lips were soft and full. His hands released hers to slide up her back to caress her bare shoulders. He felt her skin shiver in response to his touch as they sank into the kiss together.
Tom grinned at Harry across the mess hall table. "So who do you think Seven has been seeing?" Tom asked.
"It isn't the Doctor?"
"Nope. Can't be. Whoever it is, she cooked him dinner last night."
"Seven can cook?"
"Who knows. That's not really the point."
Lyssa Campbell slid into the seat beside Harry. "What's not really the point?"
"Whether or not Seven can cook," Tom answered.
"Seven cooked dinner for someone last night," Harry explained.
"Interesting," Lyssa said. "Any guesses?"
Seven entered Stellar Cartography with a spring in her step.
Megan Delaney looked up from her station and grinned. "Good morning, Seven."
The two women exchanged data PADDs and discussed the astronomical features of the upcoming sector of space.
"So how are things going between you and the Doc?" Megan asked.
"Very well," Seven said. "We have decided to establish a romantic affiliation."
"Congratulations. That's wonderful." Megan grinned. "I've recently given some serious thought to permanence myself."
The captain stared out her viewport. As she had predicted years ago, her crew was pairing off. She remembered Chakotay's question, and her answer. As captain that's a luxury I don't have. That was back when she had the luxury of Mark, safely waiting back on Earth, a convenient excuse to keep her feelings locked away.
She turned her mind to the identity of Seven's new beau. It wasn't an easy puzzle to unlock. She didn't hear the door chime, but wasn't entirely surprised when Chakotay appeared behind her. He stood so close she could feel the rise and fall of his chest, but he didn't touch her.
Neither spoke. This is how it was with them. Not together, but never really apart.
The Doctor was seated on the couch in Seven's quarters. Several minutes ago, she had disappeared, saying that she wished to slip into something more comfortable. He wondered if she knew what that traditionally implied.
Then she was standing in the bedroom door, a catlike smile upon her lips, and he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that she knew precisely what that traditionally implied.
Mortimer Harren was seated alone in the mess hall, as was his usual habit. He wasn't a man to give much thought to his emotions, but he did wonder at the oddity of his feelings towards this crew. He was willing to die for them, but he certainly wasn't interested in socializing with them.
Captain Janeway was dining with the first officer, which was far from unusual. The captain, he had to admit, intrigued him. She had a sharp scientific mind, and he enjoyed the discussions they shared.
A shriek drew every eye in the room to a table in the far corner. Chell was kneeling on the ground, his blue face smiling up at Megan Delaney. She leapt to her feet. "I have an announcement, everyone! Chell and I are getting married."
For a moment, everyone just stared at her in shocked silence. Then applause filled the crowded room.
Harren put his head in his hands. He didn't dare hope that they'd move to Chell's quarters.
The captain exchanged hugs and congratulations with the happy couple. Neelix and Tom were hastily organizing an impromptu engagement party, while Tal Celes paged Jenny Delaney to come hear the news.
Janeway noticed that one person looked somewhat less than thrilled at this development. She crossed the room and took the seat across from Mortimer Harren. "It has come to my attention that you are not happy on deck nine."
"You could say that," he said. "I don't mean to complain, but I thought there were quarters available on deck two."
She smiled. "There are empty quarters directly between Seven and Tuvok. I think they will be more to your liking. I'd suggest you move in this evening. The...celebration...could be disrupting to your work."
"Thank you, Captain."
Seven and the Doctor...well, let's watch some horses gallop across a grassy field.
"We usually don't see you here this late, Mister Harren." Neelix said. "Aren't you enjoying your new quarters?"
"Not as much as one would think," Harren answered. "I expected less noise."
"Tuvok's chanting monks and Vulcan music getting to you?"
"I think I could adjust to the chanting monks. But what I most certainly do not want to get used to is the noise I heard from Seven's quarters."
The captain looked up at her protégé. "Another request, Seven?"
"I would like to install holoemitters in my quarters."
"I'm sure many crewmembers would like holoemitters in their quarters, but the power requirements - ."
"The Doctor does not have quarters." Seven met the captain's eyes despite the blush she felt crawling across her cheeks.
"I see." The captain scanned the PADD before pressing her thumb to it. "Permission granted."
Janeway and Chakotay relaxed in her quarters, watching each other over steaming cups of coffee. Chakotay, as usual, had asked for too much sugar. She, as usual, hadn't given it to him. He, as usual, had neither complained nor drank much of his coffee.
Was it fair of her to deny him what he wanted? She was starting to think that it wasn't. So many couples were finding happiness aboard Voyager. Didn't her loyal first officer, her best friend, deserve the same?
The time to redefine parameters was approaching.
Megan and Chell lounged upon the couch in her quarters. As an engagement gift, Tom Paris had loaned them his television for the week. Megan suspected that the gift had been as much for B'Elanna as it had been for them, but she didn't mind.
It was nice to relax in her quarters with this man who had stolen her heart. She loved the way he laughed at the silly old cartoons and it had touched her heart when he had cried at the sappy black and white love story they had watched the night before.
Their physical relationship was good, but that wasn't what had made her squeal with joy at his proposal. No, her desire for permanence had sprung from the way he had made her breakfast, providing all of her favorite dishes without asking a single question. She had realized then that he had been watching her long before she had turned her attentions upon him.
He was sweet and caring as well as passionate. She admired how he had risked so much to fight for the Maquis cause, and she ached for the way he missed the family he hadn't seen in so many years. She was lucky, she realized, to have her sister on the same ship.
Now she would also have a husband on board. She cuddled up against Chell. She was truly blessed.
The Doctor and Seven of Nine stood at the viewport in her quarters and watched the stars pass at warp. He wrapped his arms around her waist and settled his face against her hair.
She sighed with contentment and leaned back against him. "I wish there was a way for you to know how this feels."
"I already know how this feels," he said. "It feels like I'm holding the woman I love in my arms. I cannot imagine that a greater feeling is even possible."
Star Trek™©, Star Trek: The Next Generation™©, Star Trek: Voyager™© and related properties are Registered Trademarks of Paramount Pictures. No copyright infringement intended. No profits made here. © Spiletta42, October 2002.