Title: Beginnings (1/7)
Couples: 7 & J Delaney (P/T, C/K)
Rating: R (for language)
Disclaimer:  I don't own the characters... Paramount does.  I can't even
get a micron of Voyager's dust for myself.  I made no money off the use
of their characters, and I promise to return everyone when I'm done,
happier and more sexually satisfied!

This is the *very* first part of the story I began in Welcomes.  As such
I have to establish the *old* dynamic *before* I can establish the one I
came up with in Welcomes.  Don't worry, those of you who enjoyed my
pairings in "Welcomes" will enjoy this story as well.

WARNING! Spoilers for everything I've seen so far (up to "Pathfinder" in
Voyager's Sixth Season)... so if ya don't want to be spoiled *don't*
read it!

This story begins during the end of Season five... but before the events
portrayed in "Equinox I".

Summary: The Winds of Change, they are a blowin'

Seven of Nine holds her tray to her chest and looks around the Mess Hall. Despite it being the busiest time of the day, namely Alpha shift lunch, she finds no one to sit with. Lt. Tuvok and the Captain are still on the Bridge, and the other members of the senior staff are sitting at two separate tables, paired by romantic couple. She sighs when she sees the love practically shining from that corner of the room, and lets her eyes continue to drift around the room. She spots an empty place at a table near the viewports, and walks over.

"May I sit here?"

Jenny Delaney looks up from the PADD she is holding, into the face of the woman standing at her table. She licks her lips once before answering, and swallows. "Sure you can, Seven. Sit down. Meggie is on Beta shift this week, so I'm kinda lonely at meal times."

"Thank you, Ensign Delaney." Seven sits down on the chair, and notices the buzz of conversation pick up as she does so. "I do believe that my sitting here will cause rumors of friendship between us."

Jenny just giggles a little, then she leans closer to Seven. "Or we could throw them off the scent completely and act like lovers."

"That would be a complete falsehood, Ensign Delaney, would it not?"

Jenny laughs at the deadpan delivery Seven just gave her, despite knowing that her comment would cause mirth. Jenny wipes tears from her face and has to take some deep breaths. "Yeah, it would Seven. But *they* don't know that!"

"But it would be strange to decide to claim you as my lover at lunch, would it not?"

"I suppose it would, if you weren't one of the pervs on this ship. Although PDAs are *still* frowned upon, despite the senior staff's antics."

Seven stops and ponders this last statement, as she had never truly conversed with a member of the crew *besides* the senior staff, or Naomi Wildman. She blinks a little. "I suppose you are right, Ensign. Although I would not let *them* hear you say that." Seven picks up her fork and begins to try eating her lunch.

Jenny snorts at Seven's comment. "Has anyone ever told you that you have a *wicked* sense of humor, Seven?"

Seven stops, and tilts her head as if she is forcing herself to remember her entire life. "No. No one has, although I think the Doctor would agree with you on that statement. He always seems to smile at my attempts at humor."

"Perhaps he finds you amusing." Jennifer Ann Delaney, Ensign in rank, and assigned to Stellar Cartography on Voyager, looks meaningfully around the Mess hall before she speaks again. She leans closer to Seven and says, "Is it true what I heard about your date with Lt. Chapman? Isn't he a *FOX*?"

"His physique is quite pleasing. I am afraid our date did not turn out as I had intended it to. I have since determined that there are no potential mates for me aboard Voyager."

Jenny's eyebrows quirk up at the tone of Seven's voice. "Gods! And you've had what? *One* date here on Voyager? Sheesh! I haven't given up yet, and I've been dating since I came on board. Trust me when I say this Seven, there are plenty of guys who'd be willing to date you, even after hearing about your date with Chapman."

"They desire my body, nothing more."

"True. Well then, how about making some more female friends? I mean we've managed to talk these last few minutes without *once* wanting to kill each other. *Plus*, we've got some of the same interests."

Seven looks intrigued at this. "Explain."

"Well, I work in Stellar Cartography. You practically *own* Astrometrics. Same basic job, right?" Jen waits for Seven to nod her head. "Okay. Plus there's the whole music angle. Yeah, I know about the singing... I heard about it from the Doc. I think I was bemoaning the fact the Sue Nicolletti had gotten a bad sinus infection, that was also affecting her singing voice."

"Why would Lt. Nicoletti's having a sinus infection affect you?"

"Because Sue, Megan and I have formed a trio. We're actually looking for a fourth to form a Barbershop Quartet. Can you sing high harmony?" Jenny looks at Seven with a hopeful look in her eye.

"Of course. Would you like a demonstration?"

"Here?" Seven nods at Jenny. "No, that's okay, Seven. Well, since Meggie has Beta shift this week, and Sue's doing some weird engineering thing until late tonight... we're not planning on meeting to practice again for two days, when our shifts change again. Tell you what, why don't just you and I sing tonight? I can come by Astrometrics after my shift, and we can sing down there."

"That would be acceptable." Seven suddenly looks down in disgust at her plate. "This food has become more unpalatable than it was when I received it. I will see you at 1700 hours then, Ensign." Seven stands up and strides to the door.

Eyes from around the room follow her out, then turn back to look at the smug expression on Jen Delaney's face. She just leans back in her chair, and raises her mug to her lips, returning to the PADD she had been reading when Seven joined her at the table.


Jenny arrives for the remainder of her shift in Stellar Cartography, and she *knows* that the identity of her meal companion will have already spread about the ship. In fact, she was counting on it. It came as no surprise to her, when she received a comm.

"Nicoletti to J. Delaney."

"Jen here. What can I do for you, Sue?"

"Confirm or deny a rumor I just heard. Seven of Nine and lunch?"

Jenny feels the smile spread across her lips, because she can tell everyone in Stellar Cartography is awaiting her answer. "Yes, Seven of Nine joined me for lunch. We talked, I laughed, it was quite enjoyable. She left after her food got to her. We agreed to greet each other when next we passed in the hallways. Was there anything else?"

"No Jenny. I'll get better details out of you when I see you in two days. Nicoletti out."

Jen taps her comm badge as well. She hears the sudden movement around her, and has to bite on her lip to keep from laughing. /So, everyone is wondering what's going on between Seven and I? I'll let them wonder a few more days. She's not *nearly* as bad as people make her out to be. No *way* would Harry have been so ga-ga over her if she didn't have *some* redeeming qualities./

For the rest of her duty shift, Jen walks around with a partial smile on her face. All that see her assume that she has finally landed a date with that Ensign in Engineering she's been after.


At precisely 1700 hours, the doors to Astrometrics open and Jen strides through them. She takes in the equipment there, and only lets a little bit of her jealousy through into her demeanor. But her eyes fail to spot the blond woman who usually guards Astrometrics with her entire being. "Seven?"

A thump behind a bulkhead is her only answer. "Seven? Are you in here?"

A panel near the front computer screen opens, and a pair of maroon boots comes out of the panel. Their wearer soon follows, and she tucks an errant strand of hair back into its normal place on her head. "I apologize for not being in the main part of Astrometrics when you arrived Ensign Delaney, but I was repairing a faulty relay."

"No problem, Seven. You got it fixed?"

Seven stops a moment before answering. "No, it is giving me some trouble."

"Well, crawl back into that Jeffries tube, and I'll join you. Besides, I was planning on asking you to crawl through those tubes anyway." Jen walks to where Seven is standing, and looks up at the tall woman who has not yet moved back into the Jeffries tube entrance.

"Why were you going to have us crawl through the Jeffries tubes? We can sing perfectly well here in Astrometrics."

"Perhaps, but the best spot acoustically on Voyager is only a deck down and three sections forward. Megan and I always discover the best acoustical spots on any ship we've been stationed on. It's really fun to mess with the engineers that way. Although B'Elanna knows it's us now... but only because Sue told her. I don't think Joe Carey knows it's us... and he's on duty right now."

"Why do you find pleasure in confusing the engineering staff?"

"That's not the point." Jen crawls into the Jeffries tubes, and Seven follows, knowing she'll only get the rest of the explanation if she follows Jen into the tube. Jen stops and turns to face Seven on the far side of what is apparently the relay she was repairing. "Where was I?"

Seven picks up the spanner she had been using, and continues with her repair work. "You were telling me why we were going to travel along the Jeffries tubes."

"Right. Anyway, the reason Meggie and I find the best spots acoustically on any ship we're stationed on, is because quite frankly, we're 'Fleet brats. Also, being able to hurl insults at each other in a place where all of engineering can hear you is a particularly thrilling experience when you're eight years old. But when Meggie and I went to the Academy, one of our favorite teachers, Commander Nella Darren, encouraged the practice."

"Why?" Seven finishes the repair, and stows the kit in the wall.

Jen motions for Seven to follow her, and begins the crawl towards the space she had indicated. "Why? Well, because Commander Darren is one of the most accomplished pianists in Star Fleet. I'm just talking 'Fleet mind you, not the entire Federation. And besides being our instructor in final semester Stellar Sciences, she was more often than not our accompanist during Choir practice. So she *knew* we can sing, and told us that we should always look for the best place acoustically at any duty station we had. Besides being musical, it also helps you learn the ship or station better. Hell, I've probably crawled through more square meters of these Jeffries tubes than anyone on board, except maybe B'Elanna."

"That does not explain why we are crawling to Deck nine, intersection Gamma-7."

"Sure it does. That's really near the now *infamous* deck nine, Section twelve. One of the reasons that Tom and B'Elanna's antics carried so well is the acoustics in that part of the ship."

Seven has the grace to become uncomfortable at the mention of Deck nine, Section twelve, but she does not blush. "I concur that the acoustics in that part of the ship carry well. Do you know why?"

"Honestly? No. But Meggie and I figure that whoever designed this ship has a perverse sense of humor anyway. I mean puh-leaze, Stellar Cartography on the same deck as Airponics?!? That's nearly blasphemous!"


"Because it just is, Seven. I thought you found this kind of talk, 'irrelevant'."

"No, I find gossip and small talk irrelevant. This is informative, and lets me learn a bit about more about the people in my collective."

Jen shudders a bit at the word 'collective'. "Seven? Do me a favor, okay? Don't mention people and collective in the same sentence again, especially not when referring to Voyager. It makes me uncomfortable, and I like to be comfy in the company of my friends."

"You consider me your friend, Ensign Delaney?" Seven's tone displaying her disbelief.

"You could very well be, Seven. And call me Jenny, or Jen. Head's up! We're at the ladder we need." Swinging onto the ladder she indicated, Jen crawls down it.

"Very well, Jen. Only another section forward, correct?"

"Yup. And if we're *real* quiet, we'll hear Tom and B'Elanna at their usual antics." The smile in her voice is obvious, even to the former Borg.

"I thought they had learned to be quieter while copulating."

"They have, but we're in the Jeffries tubes. There's not a lot between us and the actual rooms."

"Your persona is not what I expected from you, Jennifer Delaney."

Jen turns and looks at Seven over her shoulder. She opened the access panel before her, and crawled to the far side. "Welcome to Deck nine, intersection Gamma-7." She spreads her arms welcoming, and sits with her back into the far corner of the intersection. "Anyway, back to your statement. I bet you were expecting the vapid, voracious flirt I show to the crew. Oh, that's still me... but this is the one only my friends and sister get to see. Heck, I don't think even Harry has seen this side of me."

"A defense mechanism then?"

"You bet your sweet Bippy!" She stops and looks around the intersection. "Well we're here... so why don't we sing. What's in your repertoire, Seven?"

"Do you know 'I'll be home for Christmas'?" Seven asks Jen.

"Of course! It's one of the classics. Although why that song?"

"Because it expresses many of the feelings I have seen in the crew. While not technically the Christmas Holiday season, it is still a good song."

"I agree. Why don't you start, and I'll join in."

"Very well." Seven finds a comfortable position, by sitting in her heels. She takes a deep breath and begins the song.
   "I'll be home for Christmas, 
    You can count, on me.
    Please have snow, and mistletoe, 
    and presents on the tree."

Jen joins in on the second voice, their voices blending perfectly.
   "Christmas eve will find me, 
    where the love light gleams.
    I'll be home, for Christmas, 
    if only in my dreams."


Joe Carey is standing near the access hatch of the Gamma series Jeffries Tubes when the song starts, and he stops to listen. He cocks his head, and smiles when he recognizes the song. When the last refrains of the song echo down the Jeffries tube, he grabs the official Engineering log and inputs that the singers have begun singing again, and that they have now included Terran holiday songs to their repertoire.

End Part One