Best Interests

by Lesa L.

Softly lilting music came out of the doors as I entered the holodeck. Neelix's Talaxian resort program was running this afternoon, and it seemed like the crew was taking advantage of the relatively calm area of space we'd entered to enjoy it. I took my customary position on the far side of the bar, it gave me an unobstructed view of the 'guests' as well as new arrivals.

The attractive bartender, came over with my usual, as I took stock of who was in attendance. "Here you are Miss." Noticing my data Padd he asked with a sly grin, "Are you on duty this lovely afternoon?" He'd figured out that I used the Padd as a defense when someone pressed unwanted attentions on me. Sometimes holograms were too smart for their own good.

I knew that Harry would be here, I had overhead him talking to Sue in the Messhall. I was surprised to see Tom and B'Elanna sitting with him. Tommyboy's only been out of the brig for three days. I didn't think that B'Elanna had let him out of her quarters for anything except helm duty since his release. Poor Gerron is B'Elanna's next door neighbor and he said the sounds coming out of her room the last couple of days have caused him to light more than a few candles to the Prophets.

The door swished open to reveal Samantha and Naomi Wildman, closely followed by the Captain and Seven of Nine. They were all dressed very casually, and carried several beach bags with them. Seven had been persuaded to change from her usual unitard into her Velocity outfit to my and all the other women's great relief she had chosen not to wear bathing attire. Not that I don't get my share of attention mind you, but our Seven is in a class by herself. There's a betting pool out on what kind of swim suit she'll appear in one day. I have ten credits riding on a plain black one piece. Bikini's being irrelevant, don't you know.

Naomi shrieked with delight when she saw Tom. Why is it when little girls make those noises its cute and when women make the same sounds its annoying? "Uncle Tommy," she ran towards him jumping at him and letting him catch her up in a deep hug. "I've missed you so much."

"I've missed you too squirt," he said, smoothing her long hair.

This could get interesting, especially if she asked him where he's been for the last, say, thirty days or so, I thought as I took a sip of my drink.

The whole dynamics of the table are fascinating. B'Elanna, who hadn't been too thrilled when the Captain had overruled her request about being treated by a hologram, had positively seethed while Tom was incarcerated. Some of the crew thought it was really cold of her to not try to visit Tom when he was in the Brig. I understood, I think. With that volatile Klingon temper of hers, who knows what she would have done if she'd seen her mate behind bars.

Poor Harry, the guy practically worshiped Janeway. He wouldn't talk about what had happened that day on the bridge, but I could tell he was pretty devastated that she so could calmly issue the command to fire.

He doesn't know how to handle the situation. So it's up to Captain Proton to save the day. "What are you all up to?" Smooth move Tommyboy, change the subject. We wouldn't want Janeway to be uncomfortable now would we?

"Mommy and I, and the Captain and Seven are going to have a picnic out at the cove," she says pointing toward a secluded area slightly apart from the resort itself.

"Sounds like fun," he says setting her down gently.

"It will be," she assures him. "I brought that toy you gave me, the Frisbee? I'm going to teach Seven how to throw it. Do you want to come play with us?" she asks them all.

"No thanks squirt. B'Elanna and I aren't planning on staying much longer. Harry might want to play though."

Harry glares at Tom, his face flushed.

"Ensign Kim you may join us if you wish," Seven says amiably.

"Thanks Seven, Naomi but I'm not sure how much longer I'll be staying myself."

The foursome say their good-byes and make their way over to the cove.

Tom and B'Elanna are teasing Harry about Seven, again. I hear Tom say, "You mean you don't want to play with her anymore?" Damn them. I know they'd do anything for the guy but their constant taunting really irks me. They think of him as such a little brother, that they seem to forget that he's a grown man with adult feelings and passions. They have no idea how hard they made it for Harry by flaunting their relationship in his face. It made him so much more aware of what he was missing.

I have a soft spot for Harry, I always have. I knew that Tom had practically forced him to double-date with me and Jenny when we first got tossed out here. Poor Tom didn't realize that I only wanted a double- date the first time we dated, so that I could, feel him out so to speak. Having Jenny and Harry with us gave me a little security buffer. I really felt for Harry, Jenny really flung herself at him back them. On the other hand, the memory of them falling out of the gondola always makes me smile.

Harry gets up to get them more drinks and I suspect to interrupt the flow of the teasing. He smiles broadly when he sees me and approaches me after placing his order.

"Hey Megan. I didn't realize you were going to be here tonight."

"Yeah, well Jenny and Sue decided to do Sandrine's next door, but I felt like a little sun and water."

"Good choice," he says with a smile.

"I'm going to go work on a report for Cartography over by the cove side. It's a little too noisy here. I should be done in about twenty minutes if you want to join me," I add.

"That'll be great," he says, his eyes lighting up with surprise. "I'll bring you out a fresh drink."

"Sounds like a plan. See you in a while."

I pass their table. Tom greets me with absent smile. That man, I swear there are times when I actually think he doesn't know which twin I am. Old B'Elanna even nods pleasantly to me, which is odd, until I recognize the look in her eyes. She was so satiated with sex, that she'd probably yawn at a warp core breach. Must be nice.

To her credit, our Chief Engineer has been pretty decent to me the last few months. She actually let Jenny and I play that holoprogram with Tom and Harry, jeez was it actually over a month ago? As if we would have done it without knowing it was okay with her. As much fun as Tom and Harry are, we wouldn't risk invoking the wrath of the, what was that cute nickname the Engineering staff was calling her while Tom was in the brig? "The Queen Bitch from Hell."

Again, I said she's been pretty decent to me. I don't actually anticipate a time where we'd sit down and discuss Tommyboy's techniques over tea. But at least she's stopped looking at me like she'd like to reach down my throat and pull out my spleen.

I settle down in a lounge chair thinking about B'Elanna's old animosity towards me. I understand how territorial Klingons are, even half Klingons. And I knew that it really galled her that I knew her mate in the, what's that old term? The biblical sense. But things were crazy back then, I don't think any one of us hasn't been changed by this experience. For a while after we ended up in the Delta Quadrant we went a little wild. There was something so shattering about the thought of never seeing our families or loved ones again that it was like we all needed someone, anyone.

Which led me to Mr. Paris. Not that I regret it mind you. No, I knew from the get go, that it was a fling pure and simple. Tom was so much fun, and eager, hey, he'd been in prison for two years, he was eagerness personified, he was eagerness to the ninth degree, but I digress. That was then and this is now. Now I know that I would like someone to share my life, not just my bed.

I look over and observe the little mother and daughter picnic to my left. I was far enough away so as not to intrude, but close enough to overhear patches of conversation. It was sweet, and I mean that in a good way, not sweet like I was going to lose my dinner any minute.

I'm glad to see that Janeway's finally wised up and gone to someone with actual experience with parenting. You could see after Seven had been with us for a couple of months that Janeway was just shocked that Seven didn't toe the line for her. I still don't understand what gave the woman the idea that she could be a parental influence on Seven. Prior to Voyager, all the woman had raised were dogs. She really seemed to believe that she could just tell Seven to sit and she would. Well, she had a rude awakening, but at least she knew when she was getting out of her depth. The time she and Seven have spent with the Wildman's had been good for all of them.

Now, there are some salacious people on the crew that have suggested that the Captain intentions with our resident Ex-Borg aren't totally honorable. Frankly, I don't buy it for a minute, chronologically there is maybe a 20 year age difference, but when you minus Seven's emotional age, it would be pushing old Janeway right into the ranks of lechery. Our Captain's just too "Fleet" to do something that dishonorable.

The Captain will simply not allow herself to get involved with any member of the crew because it could somehow jeopardize what she sees as her divine mission, getting us home. Besides, I've seen the smoldering looks she and Chakotay exchange, they could melt titanium. The woman is noble. Silly but noble. Personally, the thought of possibly going thirty more years without intimate contact makes me want to reach for the nearest warm body.

I punch out some commands onto the Padd, ruminating about what I was going to do this evening. A girl's gotta do, what a girls gotta do, I think to myself. The faint tinkle of ice alerted me to Harry's approach, I turn my head to watch him. Damn, this is one good looking man. That smile, those dark eyes, and out of those gender neutering Starfleet issue, he had a hell of a bod. Steady girl.

"Tom and B'Elanna decided that they'd call it a night. Am I too early?"

Chuckling, I pat the seat to my left. "I figured they'd just come up for air. I'm surprised they lasted that long. I hope they decided to give poor Gerron a break and use Tom's quarters this time?"

"Well, they did go back to Tom's, but only because his quarters were closer."

We chat about the day, nothing deep. He's a good listener, a real listener. Sometimes guys that are interested in you will 'look' like every word you utter is a pearl of wisdom, when you know their just thinking about how long it will take to separate you from your undies.

I notice some movement behind him. Seven and Naomi have started tossing around what appears to be an upside-down dinner plate, composed of a blue polymer-like substance.

"Is that a Frisbee?"

Harry nodded, watching them with a smile. "Yeah. Its another one of Tom's 20th Century toys. Naomi seems to like it."

Seven scans the area, then focuses her attention on us. Childlike, she has no inhibitions against staring. Catching the disk awkwardly, she attempts to toss it back.

Nodding to him, I agree. "Seven seems to be having a problem handling it, though."

"I guess that's another one of those skills the Borg never bothered to assimilate."

I smile at his remark, then watch him, watching her. I have to give the guy credit, he doesn't just stare at her body like most of the other people on board. He studies her face, reverently. As lovely as her face is, a lot of people try not to look too closely. The remaining Borg hardware is such a vicious reminder of what she was, and what she did that they'd rather concentrate on her body and what they'd like to do.

Taking a deep breath I make my decision. Sitting up, I swing my legs to the left. Harry gentlemanly as usual, sat up and faced me.

"Harry it's time we talk."

"Is something wrong?" he asks.

"No. I'm going to say this straight out. You've made it pretty clear that your interested in me."

He blushed and sits back slightly. "I've been wanting to ask you out," he admits.

"And I haven't exactly encouraged you. Don't get me wrong, its very flattering, you're a great guy Harry but-"

He hold up his hand quickly, "I know where this is going you don't have to finish." He drops his hand to his knee, I cover it with mine.

"I do have to finish, because it's not what you think." I see Seven out of the corner of my eye, missing the Frisbee entirely as she watches us. "Harry look at me." He raises his eyes, I see dark pools of pain. Jeez, where did that come from. This man makes me wax poetic. "Why do want to go out with me?"

His eyes widen in surprise. "Because you're sensitive, pretty, artistic and intelligent."

"Thank you. If you keep repeating those words enough to yourself you might start to believe them. But your right, I am start, too smart too let myself fall for someone whose carrying the torch for someone else."

He stiffens and watches me warily. "If you think I'm interested in Jenny?"

"Harry please," I say with a hint of sarcasm. "Don't insult my intelligence." I pointedly look over his shoulder then back at him.

He stammers slightly, "Megan, believe me there is nothing going on between me and Seven."

"I know," I say gently, looking back over his shoulder. "I guess we all assumed when we got a load of Seven in her outfit that she would just jump-start her way to puberty. Too bad, she decided that she wants to have a childhood first."

Harry nods, glancing back at her for a moment. "She missed so much, she's trying to make up for it. She might be the smartest person in the galaxy but as far as her emotional development goes it might stop right there." In a husky voice he adds, "I know that she may never be ready for a relationship."

"And you're so ready. Some of us wondered whether you'd ever be able to put Libby away in a special place. And then here comes Seven who reminded you that you could care for someone again, as well as reminding your body that it was time to get going. But as much as your mind tells you to move on, and well, another part of your anatomy is screaming for attention, your heart isn't ready." I reach out to touch his cheek and add, "I know if I let us happen, you would treat me like a queen."

"Since when is that a bad thing?" he asks with a hint of bitterness.

"It's a wonderful thing and I would love it. But I would always be afraid that one day, Seven's hormones would kick in, and she'd come looking for the first person she really bonded with, the first person who treated her like a human being, you. So you see, logically speaking it would not be in my best interests to pursue a relationship with you."

"I would never do anything to hurt you," he insists.

"Oh, I know that even if she came around you wouldn't leave me. But she has a place in your heart, and I would always know that I came in second." I reach out and do what I should have done when I started this conversation. Wrapping my arms around him I hug him closely.

This is a good man, a decent man. A man who has lost more than most people ever have. He rests his cheek on my hair, his breathing ragged. I don't fool myself by thinking that its because of me. Rocking him slightly, I croon to him like a child. Opening my eyes for a brief moment I take satisfaction in seeing Seven so mesmerized by our actions that the Frisbee hits her squarely in the boobs and then falls to the ground. I stroke his hair, his pain and loneliness so palpable I feel it as though it were my own. I wonder how long its been since someone held this lovely man. For a moment, my resolve wavers, it would be so easy to love him.

Suddenly a strong voice startles us both. "You have damaged him!"

I look up to see Seven standing behind Harry, her face a mix of confusion and anger. "Ensign Kim do you require medical assistance?"

Harry sits up struggling to regain his composure. I know he doesn't want her to see him like this. Over his shoulder he says, "I'm fine Seven. Megan and I were talking about something that made me sad."

She looks coldly at me, "Why did you cause him distress?"

I look up at her. I want to tell her that I was not the cause of it, she was. I want to be angry at her for hurting him so badly, but I can't, because it's not her fault. Maybe someday she would understand what she did, maybe. "Seven, we were discussing feelings and emotions, and sometimes it makes people sad. Go back to your picnic, Harry's going to be okay."

"Ensign Kim will you be well?" she asks as if disbelieving my reassurance."

Harry takes a deep breath, before turning to her. "I'll be fine Seven. I'm just a little tired I guess. You should go back and play with Naomi."

She looks uneasily from him to me, "Very well."

We both watch her rejoin her group. Finally I sit back, brushing some hair off his face, I ask, "Are you going to be well?"

His eyes glistening, he nods, taking a deep breath. "I'm always all right. Remember, I've died and come back. Experienced alternative universes and returned, been turned into an alien and survived. You can't kill Harry Kim."

I smile at his attitude, teasingly I ask, "Are you sure your not part cat? They're supposed to have nine lives you know." He smiles slightly and I continue, "Harry there's something that you have to do." He looks inquiringly at me, as I continue, "You have to learn to play again."

"Excuse me?"

"I've watched you with Seven. The things you invited her to do, go to Sandrines, dining under the stars, things like that. She wasn't ready for them at the time. She's just learning how to be a child again. You need to play with her, the way a child does. I know you don't think that she has feelings for you, but its been obvious to me that she does. The way she stormed over here when she thought I did something to you should tell you that."

"I don't know," he admits. "Sometimes it so hard to be with her and not think about, I mean, I " he looks embarrassed at his admission.

"There's nothing to be ashamed of," I answer heartily. "Everyone has needs. What you could use is a fling."

A devilish smile crosses his face, "Megan, I thought you weren't interested."

"Not me you dolt. I don't do flings anymore." I grin brazenly at him, "Jenny would happily step in."

"Thanks, but no thanks. I couldn't do that with someone I see everyday, without having a relationship. I know that sounds silly."

"No it doesn't," I say quickly. "That's the kind of man you are."

"Thanks," he says. Looking up at the holographic sky he rubs his face. "I should go back to my quarters and leave you alone."

"That's exactly what you won't do," I say sternly. "You spend too much time in your quarters alone, or practicing your clarinet. You need to be around people more. I'm going to make it an early night and leave you in peace. You can either A, go back to the resort and hang out with the crew, the limbo contest should be starting soon or B, if you're so inclined you can go join the foursome over there and maybe teach Seven and Naomi how to play volleyball. The choice is yours."

He smiles gently at me. "Thanks Megan, for everything. I think I'll choose C, sit here for a few while and think about my options."

"Good luck." Standing up I see Seven watching me suspiciously, giving in to my baser instincts I leave over and kiss Harry gently on the cheek before leaving. So what do you think about that Miss Seven?


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