Title: Beginnings (2/7)
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.

Disclaimer2: I got the words for the Xmas songs I‘ve been using from
Santa‘s Main Carols Page, 
http://www.primenet.com/~kringle/Main-Carols.html, a really great place
for Xmas stuff... year round.  The other songs I use I transcribed
myself (never try to transcribe song parodies while coughing).

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‘


Joe signals to others working Beta shift with him that there‘s singing coming from the Gamma Jeffries tubes. Soon, everyone that can works their way towards the opening, while still tending to their duties. Sue Nicoletti smiles when she hears the next song start. She recognizes one of the voices but not the other.

 "Have yourself a merry little Christmas.
  Let your heart be light,
  From now on our troubles 
  Will be out of sight.

  Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
  Make the Yule-tide gay,
  From now on our troubles 
  Will be miles away.

  Here we are as in olden days, 
  Happy golden days of yore,
  Faithful friends who are dear to us
  Gather near to us once more.

  Through the years 
  We all will be together 
  If the Fates allow,
  Hang a shining star 
  On the highest bough,
  And have yourself 
  A merry little Christmas now."

Back in Jeffries tube intersection Gamma-7 on Deck Nine, Seven of Nine and Jen Delaney are busy grinning at each other. Jen bites her lip as Seven winks, then begins to sing again.

  "Well a scotsman clad in kilt left the bar one evening fair,
  and one could tell by how he walked that he‘d drunk more than his share.
  He fumbled ‚round ‚til he could no longer keep his feet,
  then he stumbled off into to the grass to sleep beside the street.

  Ring-ding-didlily-ah-do-o, ring-die-didly-ah-o, He stumbled off into the
  grass to sleep beside the street.

  About that time two young and lovely girls just happened by,
  and one said to the other with a twinkle in her eye,
  "See yon sleeping scotsman, so strong and handsome built,
  I wonder if it‘s true what they don‘t wear beneath their kilts."    

  Ring-ding-didlily-ah-do-o, ring-die-didly-ah-o, I wonder if it‘s true
  what they don‘t wear beneath their kilts.

  They crept up on that sleeping scotsman, quiet as could be,
  and lifted up his kilt about an inch so they could see,
  and there behold, for them to view, beneath his Scottish skirt,
  was nothing more than god has graced him with upon his birth.

  Ring-ding-didlily-ah-do-o, ring-die-didly-ah-o, was nothing more than
  God had graced him with upon his birth.

  They stared for a moment, then one said, "We must be gone.
  Let‘s leave a present for our friend, before we move along."
  As a present, they left a blue silk ribbon, tied into a bow,
  ‚roun the bonnie star the Scots kilt did lift an‘ show.   

  Ring-ding-didlily-ah-do-o, ring-die-didly-ah-o, ‚roun the bonnie star
  the Scots kilt did lift an‘ show.

  The scotsman woke to nature‘s call, and stumbled for the trees,
  Behind a bush he lifts kilt and gawks at what he sees,
  An‘ in a startled voice, he says to what‘s before his eyes,
  "Lad I don‘t know where you‘ve been, but I see you won first prize."

  Ring-ding-didlily-ah-do-o, ring-die-didly-ah-o, Lad I don‘t know where
  you been but I see you won first prize!"

Jen has both her hands placed over her mouth, and she‘s holding her breath to keep from laughing during Seven‘s most recent song. When Seven finishes the song, sung with a faux Scottish brogue, and winks at Jen... Jen loses her battle with laughter. Her laughter echoes down the Jeffries tubes, and Jen nearly stops breathing, she‘s laughing so hard.

Seven raises an eyebrow at Jen‘s reaction, but waits patiently for her to calm down. Finally, Jen does, and she wipes the tears from her eyes. "Oh God... I wasn‘t expecting *that* song! Where‘d you learn that Mike Cross classic?"

"I heard it on a collection of songs I found in the ship‘s library. I believe the collection is called ‚Dr. Demento‘s 20th Anniversary Collection‘. I found it while running a search on humor. I had not realized that so many pieces of humor were recorded during the twentieth century. I think either Spike Jones or ‚Weird‘ Al Yankovic are my favorites."

"Yeah, Weird Al‘s great! Hey! That reminds me. His song ‚One More Minute‘ would be *great* for us to sing! Anyway, we need to get going. Three songs is usually the limit before Engineering crews start to climb through the Jeffries tubes looking for us."

"Then we should depart." Seven matches her actions to words, and activates the door leading back towards Astrometrics.

"Seven, wait," Jen grabs Seven‘s ankle to stop her.

Seven glances back over her shoulder, and says, "What?"

Jen swallows, nervously, before she answers. "Thank you for letting me sing with you. I also hope that this is the beginning of a friendship between us."

"That is my hope as well, Jennifer Delaney." She cocks her head to the side, as if listening for something. "Come. We must depart, as they are trying to pinpoint our position."

Jen smiles as Seven leads the way back to the ladder they need to reach deck eight. As they pass by the area of Deck Nine that holds the quarters of Chief Engineer B‘Elanna Torres, Seven stops crawling through the tubes to listen. Jen stops just behind her, and listens as well.

Sounds of raised voices and breaking furniture meet the two women listening in. As she concentrates to distinguish what the voices are saying, Seven is glad Jen is here with her. She often concentrates so much she forgets her surroundings.
  "...I‘m telling you, *nothing* happened between us!"  

  < sound of ceramic object hitting a wall and shattering

  "Why don‘t I believe you?"

  "I don‘t know!  Since we started dating exclusively, I haven‘t done
  anything to arouse your suspicions, have I?"

  "Maybe I just haven‘t caught you at it!"

  "Even after all this time, you can‘t trust me?"

  "I want to Tom, really I do..."

  "No, don‘t come near me.  I‘m going back to my quarters before we say
  something we‘ll both regret *and* you still have some furniture left. 
  Goodnight, Lieutenant."

  < sounds of door opening, and closing.  Then, sobs of anguish

Jen whispers to Seven, "I think we should get out of here. I might be a gossip, but *no one* should have their private moments listened into like this."

"I concur." Seven continues to crawl forward, and before long, they are climbing up the ladder to Deck Eight.

The two women crawl out of the Jeffries tubes in Astrometrics ten minutes later. Jen brushes her knees off, and turns to look at the still silent Seven of Nine. "Something wrong Seven?"

"No, I am within acceptable limits. However, I find myself repeating the argument we heard between Lt. Torres and Ensign Paris in my head. Does this mean they will stop copulating?"

Jen bites her bottom lip, but closes and latches the entrance to the Jeffries tubes before she answers. "I‘m not sure, Seven. Tom and B‘Elanna are infamous for their fights, and a few days later their ‚make-up sex‘. This time could be different, or it could be the same. Those of us that are friends of Tom can only offer our support and love, and hope it‘s the latter occurrence."

"Why?" Seven crosses her arms over her chest, emphasizing her breasts.

"Because, I don‘t think Tom could survive heartbreak like that. He‘s tough and a survivor, but I don‘t think he could make it without B‘Elanna anymore."

"I concur." Seven glances at the chronometer at the corner of the workstation is standing near. "It is late, and dinner is no longer being served in the Mess Hall. Do you require nutrients?"

Jen smiles at Seven. "Yes, I am rather hungry. Tell you what, why don‘t we go back to my place and replicate something? I replicate a *mean* alfredo sauce."

"Thank you Jennifer. I accept your offer of food, with the understanding that some time I will return the favor."

Jen smiles at Seven‘s ‚subtle‘ hint there would be another time. "Deal. C‘mon, let‘s go eat."

The walk down the corridors, with both women talking animatedly, to each other, causes heads to whip around suddenly and silence to precede them down corridors. Seven and Jen smile at each other using only their eyes, but continue their conversation. They share the turbolift to Jen‘s deck with Commander Chakotay, the ship‘s first officer.

When Jen laughs at something Seven says, he turns to look at them. Jen raises an eyebrow and stares back at him. "Can I help you with something, Commander?"

"No, that‘s all right, Ensign Delaney. It‘s good to see you associate with the crew, Seven."

Jen narrows her eyes at the smile he aims towards Seven. It‘s congratulatory, predatory, and sarcastic all at the same time. The turbolift stops at her deck then. "It was nice to see you, Commander. Have a pleasant evening. Come on Seven, this is my deck."

Jen brushes past Chakotay and strides down the corridor towards the quarters she shares with Megan. Seven notices her stiff shoulders and back, assuming that something happened in the turbolift to upset her. Jen punches in the code to her door, and stalks inside.

"Lights, full." She turns to look at Seven as she comes inside. Once the door closes behind her guest, she explodes. "Gods above! Is he always like that towards you?"

"How do you mean, Jennifer?"

"I mean sarcastic, yet leery. Like he wants your body, resents you for that, but is also angry at the same time."

"Not that I am aware. But I have noticed he treats me in a much more civil manner during senior staff meetings, ever since he and Ensign Kim began dating."

"What a waste! Two of the best looking guys on board, and they‘re dating *each other*! But then, I wouldn‘t mind having front row seats the next time they make love." Jen leers at Seven.

Seven nods her head. "I agree with you. The sight of two men copulating would be an interesting site."

Jen snorts. "You‘re too good, Seven! Somehow you manage to say the most outrageous things, but no one calls you on them. I think it‘s because you used to be Borg, and no one is sure if you‘ve learned *that* aspect of human manners."

"I have learned it. I simply state myself in the most precise terms, and if that offends the human condition, I make no apologies."

"Well that‘s another way of saying ‚Resistance is Futile‘, if ever I heard one. Now, I‘m going to change out of my uniform. Make yourself comfortable. I‘ll be back in like five minutes."

While Jen is gone from the main room, Seven glances around. She notices two distinct decorating styles, both having a love of bold colors, but one favoring antiques and the other favoring 24th century decor. She notices a large area of the main room has been divided into two separate work areas, containing the same basic objects. Seven walks over and tries to figure out what these work areas could be for.

When Jen walks out of the bedroom a few minutes later, she finds Seven standing on the far side of the room, looking about her in confusion. "What‘s wrong Seven?"

"What is this area of your room for? I can not find anything matching it in my database."

"Oh." Jen walks over and whisks the cover off her serging machine. "It‘s our sewing area. We got these larger quarters out of spacedock for two reasons: One, we‘re twins sisters, both of us Ensigns, assigned to the same ship. Two, we‘re seamstresses of immense talent. Our talent for sewing has come in handy quite a bit since we‘ve been out here in the Delta."

"You can sing and sew? You are a talented woman then, Jennifer Delaney."

Jen blushes a little at the praise. "Thanks. You ever want something that‘s not replicated, or that catsuit you wear all the time, Meggie and I take orders." She recovers her serging machine, and heads towards the very small eating area. "You want synthehol with dinner?"

"No, thank you. It interferes with my ocular implant. Water will be sufficient."

"Okay." She activates the replicator and keys in her code. "Two orders of J. Delaney meal Alpha-nine. Hot. Two glasses of water, cold." The replicator hums and Jen turns to find Seven just standing next to the table. "Sit. I‘ll carry everything over. It‘s the least I can do, since you *are* my guest." Jen turns back to the replicator when it beeps, letting her know the order is processed.

She carries the tray of food on over to the table, and sets it down. She hands Seven a plate of chicken fettuccine alfredo and mashed potatoes, a spoon, and a fork. Then she hands Seven a napkin and her glass of water. Jen grabs her own meal, moving the tray off to the side of the table. She places the napkin in her lap and catches Seven staring at her food. "What?"

"I am unfamiliar with this food."

"OH! Well the white lumps with green flecks in it are garlic mashed potatoes. The noodles, sauce and chicken is fettuccine alfredo with chicken. It‘s Italian food. Just be careful about not getting the sauce on you and you‘ll do fine." Jen demonstrates by taking a forkful of mashed potatoes into her mouth.

Seven stares in uncertainty at the food, but trusts that Jen wouldn‘t poison her. She takes a forkful of the potatoes for herself. Raising it to her lips, she takes the food into her mouth, letting the taste and texture of the strange food register with her brain. She swallows it, noticing that she did not need to chew the mashed potatoes. "That was very good, Jennifer. How do you eat fettuccine?"

"Carefully. You need to chew it, because I put chicken into the alfredo. I did that mostly because I *know* I hadn‘t had any protein today."

"A sensible action." They grow silent, as they eat the meal. Seven looks over and catches Jen watching her. "You are observing me eat. Why?"

"You remind me of my cousin Bertie... and her first experience with chicken fettuccine alfredo. She grew up on a Colony world near Vulcan space, and was unfamiliar with many Terran foods. Meggie and I took it upon ourselves to introduce her to everything we could that summer. Fortunately she *adored* spicy food! Otherwise our trip to the French Quarter in New Orleans would have been an exercise in futility.

"Bertie went home that fall with almost the entire memory of our replicator on data chips. I remember Aunt Stephanie writing later thanking us for the Terran foods *she* had missed while on that Colony."

"Why do I remind you of this ‚Cousin Bertie‘?"

"Because you look like you aren‘t sure whether to beat or eat the food in front of you. Trust me Seven, it‘s okay."

"All right. Now, what is your opinion of my singing voice?"

"I think you have excellent tone and rhythm, but you lack motivation. Technically, your skills are beyond compare, but I don‘t get anything out of your songs. I mean, we sang two of *the* most depressing Christmas songs there are, but I didn‘t get anything out of your performance. About the only song you seemed to enjoy was ‚The Scotsman Song‘, and I think only that one to show that you know some interesting songs. Am I wrong?"

"No. The Doctor told me similar things when I first sang with him. Perhaps I should not join your Quartet."

"No, I think you should, Seven." Jen grasps Seven‘s hand in her own. "I think singing with us, and of course becoming our friend, will be the best thing for you Seven. But the decision is yours, of course. I already consider you an acquaintance, with the possibility of becoming a friend."

"Thank you Jennifer." Seven looks down and notices that her plate is now empty. She could not remember eating all the food there. "You have given me much to consider tonight as I regenerate. I am afraid I must leave now, I have a report to finish before the senior staff meeting tomorrow."

"Of course. Thank you for eating dinner *and* lunch with me today, Seven. My offer of friendship stands, whether you join our singing group or not." Jen stands up and motions for Seven to precede her to the door.

They reach the door, and Seven turns to face Jen. She smiles at her. "Thank you once again, Jennifer. I will think it over, of course. What time should I meet you in two days?"

"I‘ll either comm you *or* send you a message with the details, all right?"

"Of course." With a nod, Seven leaves the quarters of Jen and Megan Delaney.

Jen goes to clear off her table, and that complete she goes to sit down at her sewing table. Grabbing a pile of pinned fabric from a drawer of the table, she sews into the night.