Dinner with Seven

Delta Story
cmwende@compuserve.com

DINNER WITH SEVEN PG-13

Summary: Seven of Nine discovers that mealtime is for more than the assimilation of food.

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He had said to her, “If there’s any way I can help you adjust, just ask me.” This was an interesting
observation that she would have to discuss with him. For a non-Borg unit, Lt. Paris was certainly
willing to share… much more so than that female in engineering. Actually, other than Captain
Janeway, the females on this ship appeared to want to be completely separate from her, yet the
males were more than willing to spend time with her.
Captain Janeway had offered her something to drink, and told her that soon her physiology
would be allowing her to assimilate food. She had overheard a great deal of conversation
regarding this subject of food. She had thought of such assimilation as strictly a necessary
activity to regenerate the energy supplies of the humans, but they seemed to deem its
consumption as an essential social ritual. Perhaps there was more of a collective structure to
humans than she had perceived.

Lt. Kim suddenly was beside her. “Good evening, Seven,” he said nervously. “Are you heading
back to your alcove?”

“Mr. Kim…” she nodded perfunctorily, not noticing the young ensign’s thorough and appreciative
visual scan of her tight metallic garment. “I would like to know more about food and its
importance in human lives.”

Harry’s face flushed as the words tumbled from his mouth. “Well, I’m heading to the mess hall
for dinner right now. Would you care to join me? That is, unless…”

“That would be suitable,” Seven answered. “Perhaps I will try to eat some… food. Will Lt. Paris
be there?”

The ensign’s face clouded as quickly as it had brightened seconds earlier. “Yeah, I guess so.
Why do you need to see him?”

“Because he told me that if I needed help, he would help me. I need help in understanding
food.”

Harry laughed. “I think any of us can do that; I can do it, too!”

Seven looked at him, with nothing but seriousness in her large, inquisitive eyes. “Why do human
males like me, and the females dislike me? Are the males more interested in a collective
structure?”

*No, they’re more interested in ‘your’ structure,* thought Harry, knowing better than to say his
thoughts out loud. The ever- polite young man attempted to compose the correct words before
vocalizing them. “I think that you will find that all of the crew are friendly. It’s just that we have
had some very tough experiences recently… and not many of our experiences with the Borg have
been memorable.”

“Memory is irrelevant. Only function is important… the
function of the whole.”

Harry chuckled. “I think that as you start to appreciate your human side, you will find that
individuality is something to be appreciated. We all have our own individual ‘functions’ aboard
Voyager; and by combining all of our unique personalities and functions, we make it a better
place.”

They came to the turbolift. Harry stood back, and waved her on in front of him. He got on, and
addressed the computer, “Deck two.”

Seven looked at him, still with questions. “I wish to function in an appropriate manner also. I
wish to function in
engineering. Yet Lt. Torres does not wish me to add my
functions.”

Again, Harry agonized before responding. “Lt. Torres can be… impatient with anybody, not just
you. You caught her on a *really* bad day; don’t let first impressions be your only ones. And,
yes — she can be rather possessive…”

“What is this possessive?”

“It means that she thinks that she is in charge of certain things… functions… people…”

“But Captain Janeway is the superior officer. No one should have possession but her… she is the
head of this collective.”
“True, but Captain Janeway allows certain people to act in her place when she is not present. Lt.
Torres has a great deal of knowledge and experience in engineering, so she is in charge of that
area.”

“I also have a great deal of knowledge about engineering.
Although I am no longer connected to the collective, I retain much of their assimilated
information. I should be given… possession… of some engineering functions.”

Harry was saved from having to reply by the doors’ opening onto the entrance to the mess hall.
He felt the blood rushing to his face as eyes from all around the hall turned to see him with the
statuesque Seven. Gawks, stares and glares made their way to the entering twosome. And he
noticed that Seven’s observations had been correct: the eyes of the men were wide with wonder
and admiration, while those of most of the women were narrow with suspicion and seeming
distrust. His blush intensified as he felt he knew the thoughts of most of the men.

To his relief, he saw Tom, and called out to him. He then saw B’Elanna, who was hidden by
Tom’s height. *Traitor,* her
thoughts burned through her dark eyes into his. But he was committed, so he began to lead
Seven over to the table where Tom and B’Elanna were just beginning to settle for the meal. He
noticed Tom quickly leaning over and whispering something into B’Elanna’s ear. She glared up
at him, then shook her head as if in agreement with him. Her face still looked defiant, but she
had forced a half-smile.

“Tom, B’Elanna… Seven wanted to try some of Neelix’s home cooking tonight.”

“I do not wish to eat any of Neelix’ cooked home… I want to eat food.”

Tom and Harry tried to stifle grins; B’Elanna closed her eyes and sighed with impatience.

Tom gently corrected her. “No, what we mean is that Neelix cooks here… and this is our home.
Although his… er,… food is sometimes quite different from what any of us have known before,
and…”

“I have never known food. Will I like it?” She looked down at the plates that they had in front
of them. “Is that food? Why does it look different here.. and here… and here…” she said as she
pointed to the three items on their plates.

“We like a little variety in our lives,” said B’Elanna in a tone that was almost neutral for her.
“We call this pasta,” she said as she pointed to something that looked like white strings; “this is
argulian squash,” she continued moving over to a sliced green substance. “And this is… I don’t
know what it is; what is it, Tom?” she concluded by indicating a pile of round brown… things.

“I think Neelix referred to them as ramthurn. Tastes like chicken.”

“Will I enjoy this taste?”

“If not right away, I’m sure you will learn to… appreciate certain sensations associated with
eating,” said Harry. “Would you like to try something?”

“Yes. I think I would like some of the white strings.”

“Pasta,” Harry stated.

“Yes, pasta.”

“All right.” He turned and gestured towards the serving area. “We go over there to get our food,
and then we’ll come back over here and join Tom and B’Elanna.” He quickly glanced at them to
make sure that his self-invite was all right.

“Sure,” said Tom; B’Elanna glowered.

As Harry and Seven walked over to the serving area, she said to him, “Lt. Torres does not want
me there. She seems… possessive of Lt. Paris.”

*Uh, oh,* thought Harry. *How do I explain ‘that’ to her?*
“It’s not you, Seven. It’s just that… well, after their traumatic experience with the shuttle
accident, Tom and B’Elanna have realized that… they have discovered that… um… they have very
strong feelings for each other. They want to take care of each other and do special things
together.”

“They are forming their own collective?”

Harry tried to keep a straight face. “Not exactly like the Borg collective, but they… want to
understand each other better and share their feelings and experiences.”

“You have said… ‘feelings’… what are feelings?”

Harry knew that he was really getting into deep water now. He relished the fact that Seven was
letting him teach her, but… oh, boy… let’s see… “As you learn more about your human side,
Seven, you will understand that sometimes certain things… or actions can’t be described or put
into logical terms; you just have to experience them. It is something that comes with being an
individual; each person has different experiences… feelings.”
“Mr. Kim, do you have strong feelings for anyone?”

That deep water was rapidly closing over his head. He started to answer when Neelix’s friendly
voice welcomed them. “Why, Mr. Kim, Ms. Seven … good to see you this evening! And what
could I help you with? We have a lovely selection of items on the menu…”

“Mr. Neelix,” Seven said, her wide eyes staring thoughtfully into his, “I am going to try… to eat…
food. I would like some…” She looked at Harry, trying to remember the word. *Pasta,* he
whispered. “Yes… pasta,” she repeated. A beaming Neelix placed a steaming mound of the
substance on her plate. “Thank you,” she said, remembering her lessons in kindness from the
Captain and taking the plate he offered her. Harry settled on the same, also getting some of the
qxerneberry pie that actually looked
appetizing.

They turned to walk back to their table. Seven stopped suddenly, looking at the couple already
seated there. B’Elanna was talking with animation, as usual, when Tom interrupted her, reached
out and caught her gesturing hands between his. Her look suddenly softened, she ceased talking
and a smile formed on her lips. She looked down, as if he had said something embarrassing, and
they both started to laugh softly. He lowered her hands to the table, and slowly released them.
She raised her right hand, and gently laid two fingers on his lips. He made a furtive glance, and
saw no one in the immediate vicinity looking at them, and kissed her fingers. Her smile
wordlessly responded.

Harry intently watched Seven’s observation of this little scene and knew that another question
would follow.

“What are Lt. Paris and Lt. Torres doing? I thought that we were supposed to eat in this room.
They are not eating.”

Harry nervously cleared his throat before answering. “Well… they are being polite, and waiting
for us to return, so that we can all eat together. And, I guess, while they are waiting they are
talking and…”

“They are talking? But they are also touching each other… I have not noticed this touching
among others. Is it part of the strong feelings?”

Satisfied with her analysis and wishing to end the conversation before it became too much for
him, Harry said, “Yes, you could say that… now, we better join them and eat. I’m starving!”
Seven looked at him. “Mr. Kim, you do not look as if…”

He cut her off. “Seven, please call me Harry. Remember, Captain Janeway wanted to identify
you by a shorter… designation than ‘Seven of Nine’… I would like to be called by a shorter name,
too.”

“I understand… Harry,” she responded as they reached the table.
B’Elanna’s expression was not quite as hostile as it was when they had first arrived. Harry
remembered some manners from a seemingly-distant past and pulled out the chair for Seven to
sit.
She looked at him strangely. “Why are you doing that?” she asked.

“Um… well, you are a woman… and this is something that a man does for a woman… when he
wants to be kind.”

“Oh. All right. Thank you… Harry.”

An unnatural, unexpected silence quickly fell over the foursome, as if someone was waiting for
the hostess to take a first bite. They were glancing at one another. Finally, Tom broke the
silence. “So… this is your first meal, Seven?” And suddenly, the resident trio realized the
problem; Seven didn’t know how to proceed!

Harry picked up on the cue quickly; he twisted some of the pasta around the tines of his fork,
and delivered the food to his mouth. Then, he placed a fork into Seven’s right hand, and repeated
the movements. She opened her mouth like the baby bird she was and accepted the rather large
mouthful. He was showing her how to chew, and then told her to swallow it. *How strange this
is… teaching someone how to eat!* he thought. But, as with everything else, Seven proved to be
an astute student.
The Starfleet trio tried not to watch her expressions as she experienced the multiple sensations
of the simple task. She chewed slowly, as if wanting to remember every nuance of the action.
She reacted with surprise, as swallowing occurred as a reflex, and she looked up at her
companions. “Interesting,” she stated, trying not to show any reaction to the feat. However, she
hastened to attempt another bite of the substance. She accomplished the act with no difficulty,
and soon was keeping pace with the others.

Harry noted that they had not gotten anything to drink. “Would you like something to drink?” he
asked, as he got up. Seven immediately associated the action with the “kindness” talk she had
received from the captain. “Yes… that would be kind,” she said. He made his way back to the
serving area.

“So… it seems like you and Harry are becoming friends,” Tom offered as a bit of small talk.

“He is… kind,” she responded. She looked at him and B’Elanna, who were once again sharing a
secret shared gaze. “Lt. Paris, Harry says that you and Lt. Torres have… strong feelings… for
each other. What is that?” The couple immediately blushed.
B’Elanna, back in her defensive mode, muttered, “Harry has been talking too much…”

Tom quietly, quickly put his hand to her mouth. “B’Elanna and I do share… feelings for each
other that are quite different than what we feel for others.”

“You do not feel for other people?

A sigh came from B’Elanna. “Oh, no… but, well, it’s the sort of thing that happens between… a
man and a woman… sometimes. They feel a special… um… bond that separates them from the
others.”

Seven repeated her previous observation. “You are forming a collective.”

Tom laughed. “Well, maybe someday we’ll be adding to just the two of us…” he felt a swift kick
from his “beloved” under the table. “I mean… we have formed our own unit, but we are still part
of the whole… the crew of Voyager. With humans, such units within the whole are normal… and
expected.”

She saw Harry on his way back. Quickly she asked, “Has Harry formed… a unit… with a female?
He is… very kind.”

Panic crossed B’Elanna’s face, as she instantaneously knew that Seven was becoming human all
too quickly. She started to speak, but again was quickly cut off by the gallant Paris.

“Harry… has a special friend back on Earth. Perhaps you could talk to him about her.”
B’Elanna’s expression quickly relaxed, as she shot a thankful look at Tom. For once, his way
with words with women came in handy! However, a dark shadow overcame Seven, the first
indication either of the duo had noticed of any sense of emotion in their new crew member. “I
will,” she said, her voice still firm, but not as strident and confident as it had been before.

Harry was beaming as he returned and placed two steaming mugs on the table. “We might as
well start things off right: Klingon coffee!” He winked at B’Elanna as he said it. “It’s a real
energizer.”

She followed his lead and raised the mug to her lips. She quickly jerked it away as the hot liquid
made contact with her mouth. “Oh!” was her startled response, as she tried not to spill any of it.
“That was…”

“Hot…” Harry apologetically said. “I’m sorry; I should have warned you.” She had put the mug
down and was holding her hand to her full lips. “Are you all right?” he continued, as he raised
his hand to her lips. She looked at him in a confused manner, as she recalled her earlier
observation of a similar action between Tom and B’Elanna. The ensign promptly realized his
faux pas and pulled his hand away. Her eyes looked at him quizzically, trying to comprehend
the series of actions and emotions he was trying hard to disguise.

It was now the chief engineer’s turn to try to salvage a delicate situation. “Did you enjoy your
first meal?” she bravely asked.
Seven looked at her plate, which had only a few strands of pasta left on it. “It was… a different
way of… assimilating energy. Not as efficient as using my alcove, but… I am
learning more about humans this way.”

B’Elanna continued. “Yes, we ‘humans’ like to use our meal time to… socialize. I guess this is
the time when we become more like a collective. It’s a time in which we share our thoughts and
experiences.”

The doors of the turbolift opened, and Captain Janeway got off. She immediately saw that Seven
was there. Her smile beamed its thanks to the three younger officers who had obviously offered
their hospitality to the woman. The captain went over to the serving line and quickly strolled
over to speak with them.
“Seven, I see that you are in good company this evening.” Her eyes fell to the almost-empty
plate in front of their newest crew member. “And I see that you have braved Voyager’s cuisine.”
Seven looked at her, again not understanding the in-joke about the ship’s food. “I did not know
that one had to be brave to eat,” she said. The mutual laugh came from all around her. “No… I’m
sorry, I don’t mean to confuse you. It’s just that… sometimes the food is not what we expect.”

“I found it… acceptable,” she said.

The Captain’s face corrected itself. “Yes, Mr. Neelix’s food is acceptable… Do you mind if I
join you?” Nods from all invited her to the group. Harry hurriedly got up and moved another
small table to adjoin their already quite crowded one, adding a couple of chairs as he was at it.
He held out one of the chairs for his captain, and Janeway took her place.

An uneasy air hung over the group once more. The captain noted that there was definitely a
thread of tension between B’Elanna and Seven, although it seemed weighted towards her chief
engineer. Harry was fidgeting nervously, and Tom’s smile
appeared a bit more cheerful than it should be. She began to have second thoughts about
inviting herself to join them, as if she were eavesdropping on a definitely private conversation.
She was just about to excuse herself, mentally fumbling with an apology, when once again the
turbolift doors opened for yet another arrival to the mess hall — Commander Chakotay appeared
as the doors slid open; he strode over to the table.

“Captain, could I have a word with you?” he said in a neutral tone.

“Certainly, Commander.” She tried to hide her sigh of relief for the welcome justification to exit
herself, although his demeanor was not a welcoming one. She got up, picking up her tray as she
rose. “Please excuse us; it seems that duty calls…”
They moved to another table, away from any of the other crew in the mess hall, but still within
view of the younger officers and Seven.

All action in the large room abruptly seemed to freeze; the only movement appeared to be eyes
of the hall’s inhabitants focusing and locking onto specific targets: all of the crew present, save at
the two tables identified, centered on the quartet including Seven; Tom, B’Elanna and Harry
were converging their gazes on Seven; and Seven’s attention was drawn to the two seniors on the
ship… her eyes seemed glued to their actions. Her bionic left eye in particular allowed her to
notice small gestures in their actions that might have slipped past the range of normal vision.

Her study of the couple was intense. She followed them from the moment they left her table.
The captain walked a pace ahead of her first officer, not once looking back at him. He was
silent, with his head slightly lowered. When they reached their somewhat secluded table, she sat
down first. He sat at a right angle to her left, with his back to the rest of the room. He obviously
was talking to her; she started to eat, only to put her fork down and look at him, her hands and
forearms to either side of her tray. She looked at him, and started to answer. Suddenly, she
stopped talking, and lowered her eyes. She took a deep breath, then resumed her vocalization.
Again, she became silent but looked at him intently. It was obvious that he was now speaking;
his shoulders moved indicating some animation of his unseen hands and arms.

Seven’s eyes seemed intent on focusing on Janeway’s eye
movements. Suddenly, she noticed a slight change in the
captain’s eyes, as if they became covered with a film of
moisture. The senior officer quickly straightened her shoulders, took another deep breath,
forcefully blinked and sat more
upright. It appeared that both of the officers were silent at this time. She then saw Chakotay’s
right hand extend itself and cover the captain’s left hand, resting on the table. She looked up,
apparently into his eyes. Once again, he seemed to be
speaking. She nodded. He rose, walked behind her chair and pulled it out for her. She turned to
him, and for a brief second, she placed her hand on his chest. She then turned, and they quietly,
swiftly walked towards the turbolift, again with her just a pace or so in front. Both officers bore
expressionless faces; a visitor to the area would have noticed nothing unusual about their
reactions. But to the novice human that Seven was, the motions spoke volumes.

As they exited, she broke her visual contact, and the spell appeared broken. All was as it had
been only moments earlier; the usual lively chatter of the room resumed.

She looked at her companions and stated matter-of-factly, “The Captain and Commander
Chakotay… have strong feelings for each other.”

B’Elanna gave a short gasp; was it *that* noticeable? She quickly opined, “Well, they work
together very closely.
Sometimes things… well, sometimes they do not agree with each other.” She hesitated in
elaborating what most of the crew had noticed in recent weeks… that ever since the Borg-8472
incident that Janeway and Chakotay had been going out of their way to avoid each other…
almost like (was this really it?)… almost like… a lovers’ quarrel.

“They touched,” Seven further added.

Now it was Tom’s turn to add to the explanation. “The Captain sometimes touches people when
she wants to emphasize a point.”
Seven continued with her observations. “But Commander
Chakotay… touched her like you touched Lt. Torres. He has… very strong feelings for her.”

*’Out of the mouths of babies…’* Harry recalled from a long- forgotten quote. He knew that he
probably should not share what the rest of crew already surmised, but the words came bubbling
forth before he realized it. “Seven, they both like each other… very much. Yes, they have…
strong feelings for each other, but they have not told each other yet.”

“Why not?” she said with an innocence that was usually his domain. “Do they not know that it is
better to share… that to be individual is to be weak? Neither Captain Janeway or
Commander Chakotay wish to be weak.”

The logic of her comment silenced the other three momentarily. Tom finally interjected, “They
think that to admit their feelings is a sign of weakness… that the rest of the crew will find their
shared togetherness… as not being as committed to the ship and crew.”

“Singleness is not good; being together, in one mind and focus, is the best option. Captain
Janeway has taught me… how to be kind. I should teach her… how to join with Commander
Chakotay.”

Harry stammered, “Er… no, Seven… I think they need to
discover that on their own.” But, her look back to him told him that she would find a time… the
*right* time… to add to the education of Captain Janeway. Quickly wishing to change the
subject, he said, “Seven, now that we have finished dinner, may I walk you back to your alcove?”

She looked at him, her lock on his eyes never swerving.
“Harry… thank you for dinner. It was most… interesting. Now, I would like to explore something
else I have heard people speak of… what is the holodeck?”

“Harry… Harry… my friend, you’re on your own! B’Elanna and I… um… have other plans! The
evening’s young… enjoy, you two!” And he and B’Elanna quickly rose and left, leaving a very
startled Harry Kim with alone with Seven, who was looking
strangely at him. “What is the holodeck, Harry? What functions are performed there?”

Harry sighed; he knew that this was going to be a long — if not interesting — evening…

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