AUTHOR: Bridget Cochran
TITLE: Thinking Out of the Cube ©1999
SUMMARY: Seven has some questions about the choices Captain Janeway made in altering the Doctor‘s program after a crew member‘s death. Spoilers for Latent Image.
Disclaimer: I own the ideas, Paramount owns the rest. Archive at will, including ASC/EML, BLTs and SassCat‘s Home for Wayward P/7 Writers.
Thanks to Mike for the title and Mike and Karen for the Beta. They‘re gifts from God.
Thinking Out of the Cube
Tom was pretty surprised to see Seven standing in the corridor when he answered the door. It was 0230.
Harry he could picture standing in the corridor. Months ago, he could have pictured B‘Elanna standing there. But not any more. Seven at his door in the middle of the night was just too much to hope for.
He was scratching his stomach through his t-shirt as she strode by him to the center of the room. Tom scratched his head, and wished he had some gum to take the stale taste out of his mouth. "Is there something I can help you with, Seven?"
She didn‘t answer as she finished the examination of his day room. "I have just completed an unsatisfactory discourse with the Captain."
At two in the morning? Tom couldn‘t be any more incredulous as one side of his mouth turned up. But Seven wasn‘t in the mood for a smile. He moved to the sofa. "Sit down and tell me about it."
"I have no wish to sit."
Tom cleared his throat. "I have no wish to be awake. Sit down." Their eyes met and he didn‘t back off. She sat stiffly on one end of the couch, turning toward him.
"I am conflicted."
Tom sighed. He knew she was conflicted. Christ, he was conflicted. The whole damn ship was one large amoeba of conflict since the Doctor had uncovered their feeble attempt to protect him.
It had seemed like such a good idea eighteen months ago.
"You told the Doctor today that you would recommend that the Captain recommit this purge of his memory files."
Tom swallowed. "I did."
"You have first hand knowledge of these events."
"I wish to know of the events."
"I wish to know."
"Has lied to me, and the Doctor," she finished for him. "You have lied to me. Every individual on Voyager has lied to the Doctor repeatedly. I wish to know the truth."
Tom sank back onto the sofa, hands covering his face. "Seven, it was probably one of the worst days of my life," he said from behind the hands.
"I have experienced many bad days."
Tom snorted. Yes, he guessed she had experienced some pretty rough days. His hands came down, but he didn‘t straighten. "Jetal was really a nice kid. Sweet and funny and loved tinkering with shuttle crafts. We spent many an hour in the cargo bay with Joe Carey making the shuttlecrafts work after Chakotay had broken them."
"Well, the day after her birthday—" Tom paused, "You know about her birthday, right?"
"One of the images left in the Doctor‘s imager was of a birthday party."
Tom nodded. "Well, Jetal and Harry got to take the Doc on an away mission. They were attacked by an alien whose weapon damaged Harry and Jetal, but had no effect on the Doc.
"Good thing, too, because they were a mess when they were beamed to Sick Bay. God, there was blood everywhere. Their synapses were disintegrating. Meds that should have worked, didn‘t.
"It was out of control, Seven. We had to figure it all out then and there. Come up with a miracle in thirty seconds. Well, the Doc did. Came up with a miracle, but then he had to come up with the wisdom of Solomon. Who to pick. Who to save."
"He chose Ensign Kim."
Tom sighed, and blinked. "He chose Ensign Kim. And after he saved Harry, he started to fall apart."
"His program began to disintegrate." Seven made no comment and Tom turned his focus on her. "He had a break down in the mess hall going over homeopathic stores with Neelix. Went psycho over the decision he had to make. Harry over Jetal. Ayala said it was so sad."
"Lt. Ayala discussed the Doctor‘s condition with you?"
Tom brought his brows together at the censure in Seven‘s voice. "He pitched the fit in a crowded Mess Hall, Seven. It wasn‘t a secret." The full lips were still pursed. Tom looked at his disapproving face and stiff carriage and heaved a huge sigh. "Seven, I wasn‘t in very good shape then either. My guilt was pretty enormous, too. I could barely stand to look at Harry; not without seeing that flat line on Jetal‘s monitor. Harry, he was a mess. The guilt was massive. Then the Doctor went out to lunch."
"You devised this plan to erase the Doctor‘s memories, and, thereby, assuage your guilt."
Seven didn‘t need a hammer, she didn‘t need photon grenades, she only needed words. She could choose a few words that could and would make you second guess why you got up in the morning. "Uh, yeah," he replied. "It was easiest to purge the problem and then go on like nothing happened."
"To repress and deny."
Tom sighed and looked away from her eyes.
"What other lies have you told me?"
Tom‘s eyes raised slowly, chagrin in the movement, plain on his face. What could he answer?
"This lying phenomenon is unknown to me. The Borg have no need to lie, our thoughts are conjoined. Until today I was unaware that a Vulcan could lie with such impunity." She paused. "Mr. Kim has disappointed me with his participation." She paused again, staring blindly away from Tom. "Unaccountably, your duplicity is most disturbing."
The statement took his breath away. "Explain." The word came out a whisper.
She blinked and looked down at his reclining form.
"From my first moments on Voyager, you were the lone individual that made me welcome."
"The Captain made you welcome," Tom objected.
"The Captain has made me a project."
Tom sat up straight. "Well, she made me a project, too."
"And when you disappointed her, she punished you severely."
"Yeah, well." He slumped back into the sofa and began to toy with the hem of his t-shirt. His thirty days in the brig was something he didn‘t discuss much. Another issue he‘d swept under the carpet. Much like this one.
"You accepted me as I was. You did not expect to make something of me."
Tom‘s lips turned up, but said nothing. He understood high expectations of others, then not meeting them. "I‘m sorry I lied to you."
"What other truths have you kept from me?"
The sigh he gave now was heavy and tired. His eyes closed. "Look," he said, "off the top of my head, I can‘t think of one. Except ‚heck, no, I‘m not sexually attracted to you‘." Shit. One eye opened on her. Her head was cocked as she examined him as if he lay under a micronic enhancer.
"You have never said any thing to that effect."
Great. "Uh, Seven. It‘s pretty late. I‘m tired, you‘re tired. I‘m saying stupid things."
"Then what is the truth?"
Both eyes were open now and the chagrin began to disappear as he softened at her question. "I **am** sexually attracted to you."
She nodded once, as if that answer was acceptable. "I find you sexually attractive, as well." She rose. "It is late. You must rest. I must regenerate."
Tom frowned, wondering if this was the end of a rather confusing holonovel. He stood, too. She‘d shown up looking for answers to the root of the Doctor‘s problems and hadn‘t really gotten any. Then the conversation had bounced all over the place.
He grasped her arm as she turned to leave. "You know you can trust me?" Was it a question or a statement?
Seven examined his eyes for long moments. "I do."
In his relief, he pressed his lips lightly to her cheek. "I‘m glad," he said as he endured more scrutiny. She nodded before heading to the door.
Tom stood for his own long moments staring at the closed door, rubbing his head. Did they or did they not just declare mutual attraction for one another? And he let her go with just a peck on the cheek. Was he getting old, or just maturing?
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