Title: Borg Error Author: Jemima Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Series: VOY Part: NEW 1/1 Rating: PG Codes: C&7 Summary: Chakotay advises Seven not to give up. Episode addition to "Human Error". Sequel to "Take it on the Run". Disclaimer: If these characters belonged to me, none of this C/7 stuff would ever have been dreamt of, and Seven would have come with a warranty. Borg Plot Classification: 002, 023 Date: March, 2001
"So old man, did you ask her out?"
B'Elanna shot Chakotay an apologetic look across the messhall table, but made no attempt to halt the interrogation.
The Commander sighed. "Yes, Tom, I gave it a shot. She wasn't interested."
"What did she say?"
"Maybe another time."
"I *told* you she had the hots for you!" Tom almost knocked over his leola shake in his excitement.
"Well, she seems to have cooled off."
"You don't know her like I do," Tom said, and B'Elanna stopped feigning fascination with her breakfast to raise a threatening eyebrow at her husband. "I mean," he stuttered, "I've heard a lot about Seven from Harry. She wouldn't say 'some other time' unless she meant it."
"In my experience, 'another time' means 'when we get back to the Alpha Quadrant'." Chakotay flashed his companions a wry grin to show he wasn't quite as bitter as he sounded.
B'Elanna, feeling sorry for the old man, told him something she hadn't intended to mention in front of her gossip-monger husband. "I agree with Tom. Something is definitely up with Seven - she asked me about my 'coiffure'."
Tom stared at her.
"My hairdo, flyboy," she explained. "I think Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct to Unimatrix Zero One, has gone native."
Tom transferred his stare to Chakotay. "You're a lucky man."
After two weeks and three attempts, Chakotay found himself out on his first date with Seven. It wasn't anything fancy - just a late dinner in the mess hall - nor was Seven's attitude particularly encouraging.
"How many more minutes until you tell me what's on your mind?" Chakotay asked.
"Twelve point four," Seven answered automatically, then, hearing her own words, raised an eyebrow at her dinner companion.
"Maybe we should just skip ahead to that," he suggested.
She nodded. "Am I correct in assuming that your interest in me is romantic?"
That was blunt, but then blunt was Seven's middle name. "You may assume so, for the sake of argument," he answered.
Her eyebrow, which hadn't quite resumed parade rest, rose again. "In that case, I must regretfully inform you that I am unable to pursue such a relationship." Her voice sank with her eyebrow as she said it, punctuating the unusual declaration.
Seven of Nine had occasionally repented her actions and apologized to her more easily-offended crewmates, but indulging in an emotion like regret had seemed an inefficient use of her time. Now it seemed...appropriate.
"I had hoped to recapture my life in Unimatrix Zero." Hope - another feeling, the twin of regret. Wasn't regret just dead hope, hope for the past that had not been, or despair about the future? One of the more challenging parts of understanding emotions was the way they seemed to be definable only in terms of yet other emotions, leading her into a maze of half-formed concepts and circular reasoning.
"There, I was fully human - I fell in love, I went for walks in the woods, I lived a normal life. When I tried to create such a life for myself on the holodeck recently, my cortical node...deactivated me. For a drone, emotion is a malfunction."
"Why now and not then?" he asked.
"I am unsure. Perhaps Icheb's cortical node, which I now possess, is a more efficient model, or perhaps the fail-safe does not engage during regeneration cycles. Dreams do not impair efficiency, but daydreams do."
Ah, then she hadn't really been designing a gravimetric array all those hours in the holodeck. "You approve of this fail-safe mechanism," he said, half to himself.
"I endangered the ship." She had almost said, 'I endangered the Collective'. A glowing Borg metronome was ticking in the back of her mind - when had that started? She was treading on dangerous ground; she could not afford to get into another argument with Chakotay.
Her Chakotay would have pushed the issue. The real one did not. Instead, he placed his napkin on the table, stood up, and said, "Let's go for a walk."
"What?!?" The EMH rarely shouted; Tom quailed at the sound. Even B'Elanna looked nervous.
"I know you like Seven, Doc, but she's clearly interested in Commander Chakotay," Tom said defensively. Since when was it a crime to set people up?
"I am well aware of her *interest* in the Commander," the EMH said - bitterly, Tom thought. B'Elanna's forehead creased more than usual. She had completely forgotten the back pain that had brought them here, at Tom's insistence, for a late-night prenatal check-up.
"Computer, state the location of Seven of Nine," the EMH said in a more professional tone.
"Seven of Nine is in the Airponics bay."
"Monitor her vital signs and alert me of any changes. Authorization EMH lambda two."
"What's wrong with Seven?" B'Elanna asked.
"I am not at liberty to discuss that."
"She's broken again, isn't she, Doc?"
"Seven of Nine is not a machine, Mr. Paris." He turned to B'Elanna to add, "The baby is fine, Lieutenant. If your back is still bothering you, I can give you an analgesic."
"I'm fine, Doc, thanks."
"Well, if that's all," - he gave them no chance to answer - "computer, deactivate EMH." He faded away.
"Chakotay is in his element, B'E. The unattainable woman, the tragic figurehead sacrificing her own humanity for the good of the ship - I was really hoping he'd moved on, but somehow he outwitted me."
"It's not that hard, flyboy."
They sat on a bench, facing the orchids. Seven practiced a simple Vulcan breathing exercise Tuvok had taught her two weeks before, and the haunting Borg metronome grew silent. Though the Doctor still wanted to attempt repairs on her cortical node, she preferred the organic Vulcan approach to dangerous emotions. Tuvok, like Chakotay, asked no questions.
"It's not quite the woods, but then none of us have exactly what we want here on Voyager."
He was much subtler than her Chakotay, bringing her here to make the point that she could still walk in the woods, and that none of the crew had normal lives. Only one item from her description of full humanity remained: "How many more minutes until you prove that I can fall in love?"
"I think you are in love, Seven, with Axum, or the EMH, or whomever you've been daydreaming about. A person can fall in love without even noticing. Then you wake up one morning and realize, 'Spirits, I'm in love with the Captain,' and there's nothing you can do about it."
"Are you still in love with the Captain?"
"Are you still in love with Axum?" He didn't wait for a reply. "You see, it's not such an easy question to answer. Love is not a simple emotion like anger. Sometimes love is a raging fire, but more often it's a quiet knowledge that's always with you, like the voices of the Collective."
Seven found herself deeply disturbed by the possibility that she had fallen in love with at least four people - Chakotay had left Harry out of the list, but Seven's accounting was more efficient - without noticing. She was a rogue drone twice over: a Borg who felt too much emotion, and a human who existed in an equally dangerous ignorance of her own feelings. Such a state of affairs could not be allowed to continue.
"I must consult Lieutenant Commander Tuvok," she thought aloud, not realizing her companion had heard her, or that she had stood to go, until he put a restraining hand on her arm.
"Tuvok is asleep by now. I think it can wait until morning."
Seven sank to the bench. The Commander was right, and Tuvok would certainly agree - self-knowledge did not constitute an emergency. She heard the metronome ticking faintly, or was it just the beat of her heart? She would drown it out this time with speech rather than meditation.
"The Doctor believes he can repair my cortical array, but I have refused treatment."
"You want to be fully human."
"Yes." He seemed to understand, but she explained anyway, to block out the beating in her ears: "The Doctor does not operate on Lieutenant Torres for her temper or on Captain Janeway for her depression. I do not wish my personality to be regarded as a medical condition."
"To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail." The eyebrow went up again, so Chakotay explained, "It's an old Earth saying. The Doctor can't help wanting to 'fix' you, but you're right to refuse.
"Most of us take our integrity, our uniqueness as individuals, for granted. We know if we go to sickbay, we'll walk out with the same identity we had when we were carried in. You've had to fight for your individuality, and maybe you always will have to fight for it. But that only makes it more precious. Don't give up."
Maybe the beating was only her heart. "I won't."
He stood to leave. "Good night, Seven."
"Good night, Chakotay."
He froze for a moment at the unfamiliar sound of his name, but her attention was on the orchids. If she'd heard her slip of the tongue she gave no indication of it, so he left her to the woods and her thoughts.
The end, but there's a sequel: The Wrong Emotion.