Rating: R/NC-17 later
Summary: Captain Jung Yunho of the USS Valiant wants nothing more than to take his ship out into deep space and leave the memories of Earth behind; however, when he and his crew come across a destroyed Borg cube and a drone in need of help, he finds himself battling old demons and unexpected emotions. In the end, it’s the drone, struggling to remember what it means to be human, who teaches him about forgiveness, healing and maybe even love.
Warnings: Violence and language. I just wanted to write a story about the Borg. OTL Fic takes place in the TNG/DS9/VOY-era.
chapter one | chapter two | chapter three | side story one | chapter four | chapter five | chapter six | chapter seven | chapter eight | chapter nine
Chapter Four: Fitting In
Romulan Ale was illegal in the Federation. Not because it was particularly dangerous — the blue liquor was known throughout the galaxy for its ability to intoxicate certain species with only one sip — but because it was produced by the Romulans, the Federation's long-time adversaries. As a result, the drink could only be procured through smugglers.
Not like that was that difficult, though.
Tipping his glass back, Hyukjae took a slow, long gulp and savored the burn of the alcohol as it slid down his throat. What a waste, he thought as the warmth of inebriation settled around his shoulders. The best drink in the galaxy and I can't have it more often because of some damn politics.
The only thing Hyukjae knew about Romulans is that they were basically angrier, more war-prone Vulcans. Compared to their distant cousins, however, Romulans seemed to have a much better idea of how to relax. He took another swig of the blue drink and winced as it burned its way down his throat. He turned to his drinking buddy, face still twisted in a grimace.
"What year is this?"
Donghae hiccuped and grabbed the bottle. He struggled to read the label, which was now spinning because of his drunken vision. "2298," he finally slurred.
Hyukjae raised his glass. "Good year. How'd you get this?"
"I have friends," the crewman answered cryptically. "You'd be surprised how many in engineering have connections in Romulus' blackmarket. We stocked up for the long trip."
"Smart boys." He raised his glass in a toast. "Here's to the journey." They clinked glasses and emptied their drinks.
They sat in companionable silence for a few minutes, listening to the strains of music playing in Hyukjae's stereo. One of the perks of being an officer was having your own quarters. Being a crewman meant sharing a room with three other bunkmates. Donghae was currently bunking with two other Humans and a Klingon with a terrible snoring problem.
Hyukjae slid his gaze over to his friend and watched his head loll about in a happy, drunken stupor. Donghae had been in Starfleet nearly five years longer than he had, and Hyukjae was grateful for the other man's insight. Too impatient to make his way through Starfleet Academy, Donghae had rushed to enlist and joined the crew of the first ship that would have him. By the time Hyukjae had graduated as an ensign, Donghae had already flown to edges of known space and stared into the blackness. He had been itching to go out and explore deep space, but skirmishes within the Federation had kept him near Earth, serving on supply ships that aided the larger vessels of the fleet.
Hyukjae would be lying if he didn't say he was glad. He wanted his friend to be safe, but even more than that, he'd wanted a chance to catch up to him. He wanted to feel like his equal again and to take part in his own wild adventures like the ones Donghae had always seemed to find himself in. That was why, as soon as Starfleet had given the clear for deep space exploration and Donghae put in a request for transfer, Hyukjae followed.
"Have you seen it?" Donghae asked after a moment, interrupting his thoughts.
Hyukjae shook his head. "No. No one outside of security and the upper command have been able to get close to it."
"I heard they moved it from the brig," Donghae sneered. "I heard it's staying in sickbay being waited on hand and foot by the doctor."
Hyukjae stared at the pattern in his ceiling and waited for the heaviness in his chest to dissipate. He hated any mention of the Borg. He had served as part of the Mars Defense Perimeter shortly before the Battle of Wolf 359 when the Borg had decided they would make an attempt to assimilate Earth. He had friends who'd been sent to stop them who had never come back.
"It's bullshit," he whispered bitterly. "The number of people on this ship who've lost someone to those things, and we're ferrying it around like it's some great ambassador."
"I've never seen one up close before," Donghae confessed.
"Do you think it talks? Think it can fight?"
"I heard they can't protect themselves when they're disconnected from each other. That's probably why they're watching it. Can you imagine how the crew would react if it were allowed to walk around the ship?"
Donghae took a long sip of ale before answering. "I know what I'd like to do to it if I got the chance," he said darkly. He wiped his lips on the back of his hands before slumping back in his seat.
Hyukjae's mother never approved of him drinking. She'd had to clean him up after too many bar fights. Alcohol made men brave, she'd told him, but it also made them stupid.
"We should introduce ourselves," he commented bitterly. "I know there are some other crew members who'd love to meet it."
"I don't think the doctor would like us causing a scene in his sickbay."
"We'll just have to visit when he's away, then."
Donghae grinned cruelly. "I think I can make that happen."
Hyukjae turned to look at him. "How?" he questioned.
His friend poured himself another drink. "I told you, I have friends."
Chief medical officer's log, stardate: 45088.9: It's been only a few days since the captain allowed the Borg drone to leave the brig and he's already doing much better. I'm going to work hard to help him fit in with the other members of the crew — something I still need help with myself now and then.
Junsu took a step back from the recently unassimilated man in front of him and studied his work. Not half bad, he thought to himself. For my first face. He reached out and gently patted at the healing pink flesh surround the drone's eye.
“How does it feel?” Junsu asked. He’d transplanted the new eye that morning, completely removing the drone's optic eye piece. He thought he'd done an excellent job of matching the nearly black iris of the replacement eye with the drone’s own. Now, for the first time since coming on board, the Borg's face was completely exposed, save for a few pieces of hardware above his left brow that were too deeply embedded to be removed safely.
The Borg touched his face and gently ran the pads of his fingers over his brow. “It is acceptable.”
Junsu gave a teasing smile. “I guess that’s as close to a compliment as I’ll get.” He took a step back and studied his work. “It wasn’t really needed, but having both eyes will help you fit in better.”
"Fitting in is irrelevant, Doctor. We have been instructed not to leave this room."
"For now, but that could change " Junsu pulled his tricorder out of his lab coat pocket and scanned. "You're healing much faster than even I expected. There's no medical reason to force you to stay in sickbay."
"We do not think your captain is concerned with medicine."
"He may come around. Have you given any thought to your future?"
The ex-drone frowned in confusion. "We are being transferred to another Federation facility."
"Beyond that, I mean. Will you try to find your family?"
"We have no family."
Junsu scoffed. "Of course you have family. The Borg didn't just find you floating in a nebula. You're Human; you could have family back on Earth." He stopped scanning and turned to grab a small mirror off a nearby table. He held it up, allowing his patient to see his Human face fully for the first time. "What do you think?"
He pulled at his bangs — not used to having hair — and winced. “We look ... different,” he replied.
“You look Human,” Junsu confirmed.
“We do not feel Human.”
"You'll get there."
He ran his fingers across his face, touching the technology along his jaw the doctor was unable to remove. He found comfort in its presence. Junsu gently slapped his hand away and then feathered his black bangs along his forehead, attempting to hide the implants.
"We should give you a name," he said offhandedly as he ran his fingers through the Borg's new hair.
"We do not require a name."
"Everyone needs a name. We need something to call you until we can find out who you are."
"Our designation is One of Five."
"That's what you want to be called?"
"It is what we are used to."
Junsu shrugged. "I guess One does sort of suit you. You're very unique."
"We do not welcome this uniqueness."
The doctor held his tongue. He'd spent much of the morning trying to convince the former drone to accept his individuality. He might have agreed to follow Yunho's command to not attempt to re-establish a connection with the Collective, but that didn't mean he was ready to stop viewing himself as a part of it. Junsu had tried to help him accept his new found independence, asking him to try and refer to himself as "I" rather than "we." He'd failed to comprehend the difference.
Junsu's thoughts were interrupted by the quiet whoosh of the sickbay doors. He turned to see Yunho strolling into the bay before quickly stopping short, surprise evident on his face.
"Captain!" Junsu greeted cheerfully. "Come and properly meet our guest."
Yunho took in the sight that awaited him in the bay and felt the ridiculous urge to laugh. The drone stood in the middle of the room — his discomfort so apparent it was nearly tangible — as the doctor bustled around him, fixing his hair and straightening his clothes. He seemed to be cooperating, allowing the other man to touch him with no problem and following his instructions.
The full essence of his humanity was apparent now. He was dressed in plain civilian clothes — a loose tunic over a pair of slacks — that appeared to be just slightly too big for him. The deep blue of the shirt contrasted nicely with the now healthy flush of his skin. With the exception of a few small pieces of metal along his jaw, above his eye and laced around his fingers, hands, and wrists, all of his Borg implants, plating, and technology had been removed. The doctor had also done something to stimulate his hair to grow, and now, shiny black locks framed the Borg's angular face. Without all the heavy technology adding bulk to his frame, Yunho could easily see how lean he was. He needs to eat something, he thought absently.
Ignoring the curious gaze of the ex-drone, he turned to face Junsu. “Doctor, report.”
Junsu beamed at him and turned to show off the man in front of him. “As you can see, he's doing much better this morning. I’ve been successful in removing 90 percent of his implants. I’ll have to see about getting him a place to regenerate once he’s able to do so on his own, but he’s nearly completely healed.”
"He's no longer Borg, but his cybernetic systems will still need constant charging. Energy gained only through food won't be near enough."
"We'll see about building him something," Yunho said with a sigh. The Borg's needs seemed never ending. As soon as they saw to one, five more popped up. Yunho turned to eye him. “How are you doing in here compared to the brig?”
One's gaze shifted warily back and forth between Yunho and Junsu before he gave a small shrug. “It is acceptable. The doctor’s company is helpful. His constant talking keeps us from feeling alone. We are coping much better.”
Junsu feigned offense. "You lived with the thoughts of a billion other people in your head and you think I talk too much?"
Both Yunho and the Borg ignored him. “Do you understand your place here?” Yunho asked curtly.
“We are on board the Federation starship Valiant, located in—”
“No,” Yunho interrupted with an annoyed shake of his head. “Do you understand your relationship with the crew?"
"We are not allowed to speak or interact with them."
“You are still a prisoner on this ship. Don’t forget it."
"If we're going to find a place for him to regenerate, I'll need to study his energy output more," Junsu muttered more to himself than anyone else.
"Think you'll need help from engineering?" Yunho asked.
Still deep in thought, it took Junsu a moment to answer. "Oh, I can handle it. I'll send them my findings and let you know what we come up with."
"Fine with me." Yunho gave him a nod before turning to leave. "Carry on, Doctor."
One watched as Yunho exited the bay, his strides quick and rushed, then glanced over to see Junsu studying the assimilation technology still in his arm. ("We are no danger," he had comforted when Junsu had discovered the tubules were still active. "With our link to the hive mind broken, our technology is only useful now for assimilating information for our own use, not people." The doctor had looked less than convinced.)
"We do not understand your captain," he told the doctor once they were left alone again.
Junsu snorted. "Me neither." He lifted One's arm up and pressed a thumb into a wire running down into the crook of his elbow. The drone tried not to wince in pain.
"He does not like us, he says we are a prisoner, but he allows you to help us."
"Well, that, I do understand. The captain has a ... " Junsu struggled to find a word that wouldn't offend, "painful history with the Borg, but he can't ignore his duty as a Starfleet officer to provide aid to those in need."
"The Borg have no use for those in need. Our goal is to become better, to achieve perfection. People lacking that would only hold us back."
The doctor gave him a gentle smile before lowering his arm and moving to stand in front of him. "Humans do things a bit differently."
"What do they strive for?"
Junsu shrugged. "It's different for everyone. Mine is to help as many people as I can."
"Each Human has their own goal? How does your species achieve anything?"
"We find people with goals similar to ours. We can work together when we need to. For example, one goal all the people on this ship share is to complete our mission and return home safely."
The drone considered this. "What is your captain's goal?"
"I don't know him that well," Junsu admitted. "But he's a good captain, I've heard he's an excellent officer, and I know he has a great reputation in the science community. I'm sure his goal is to have a successful mission."
"Tell us more about him."
Junsu cocked his head in amusement. "You're pretty fixated on the captain."
"He is the only other Human we know beside you," One offered simply. "We wish to acquire more information."
Junsu gave the other man's hair a playful tug. "There's no rush. A lot's happened to you these past three weeks. You'll have time to learn all you want."
But it seemed "learn" was apparently all that his patient was interested in. His Borg conditioning hadn't completely left him yet and so, in his drive to take in as much information about the ship and crew as he could, he had barraged Junsu with question after question, ranging from general information about the ship's systems to the health histories of every member of the crew. Noticing he was beginning to wear on Junsu's patience, he'd offered to assimilate the necessary information from the computer's databanks. Junsu had told him that wouldn't be necessary.
He'd finally found a chance to escape the "interrogation" when One had to spend a few hours resting, and had left sickbay to grab lunch in the mess hall. He looked out in the throng of officers and found two familiar faces.
He wasn't surprised to see the two commanders together. He'd noticed that Cmdr. Park had spent a lot of time in Cmdr. Changmin's company ever since he'd come on board, and while the other officer seemed put off by his presence, he tolerated him better than Junsu had expected.
"Commanders, may I join you?" he asked, approaching the table where Yoochun and Changmin were eating lunch.
"Certainly." Yoochun pulled out a chair for the younger man. "I'm surprised to see you out of sickbay, Doc," he joked. "You've been playing wet nurse for days." He snatched a piece of bread off Junsu's tray just as the other man sat down.
"One doesn't like to be alone. He's resting now and I have the bay locked up, but I can't stay away for too long."
Changmin cocked his head in curiosity. "'One'?"
"That's what I've been calling the Borg."
"You named it?" Yoochun asked, disgusted.
"I had to call him something. I haven't been able to find his real name yet."
"You think it has a name?"
Junsu rolled his eyes. "Of course he has a name, Commander. The Borg took him when he was a child, which means he had Human parents which means he has a name."
Changmin grinned his approval. "Your logic is rudimentary but reasonable."
"Watch it, Doc. Logic makes Changmin hot."
Junsu flushed and the Vulcan scowled. "Your crudeness never ceases to amaze me, Commander."
"I didn't think it was possible for me to embarrass you, Mr. Vulcan."
"It's not. The doctor, however ..." The two officers turned to face the nervous young scientist. Junsu was focusing hard on the meal in front of him and trying very hard to look unbothered by their stares.
Yoochun grinned apologetically before replacing Junsu's stolen bread with a piece of his own. "Sorry, Doc. I didn't mean to rile you up. I just like messing with pointy -ears over here."
"No, it's fine," Junsu said before giving a nervous laugh. "The command on this ship just takes some getting used to. It's more laid back than I expected."
"The captain, Changmin, and I have known each other for a long time," Yoochun explained. He draped an arm around a stern-faced Changmin, who simply crossed his arms in disapproval. "That and this is a small ship heading far away from home. Try and relax a bit before you end up like him."
The scowl the Vulcan shot Yoochun was strong enough to curdle milk. Junsu tried not to laugh at the sight, but in doing so, he nearly choked on his kimchi.
"I told my wife about your new patient," Changmin said, deciding to ignore Yoochun and Junsu's flustered eating. "She's very interested in the potential research opportunities his rehabilitation may provide."
That stopped Junsu's giggles cold. "You're married?!" he yelped in shock.
Yoochun laughed. "I know right? Bless that Vulcan physiology. Grumpy looks like he's the youngest, but he's actually been alive longer than anyone else on the ship."
"No. I mean, he looks old enough to be married, I just thought ... "
The Vulcan simply raised an eyebrow. "You thought?"
"I thought you and the commander were sort of ... possibly ... together."
Junsu couldn't believe he'd just said that out loud. He'd been entertaining the notion of the two being in some sort of relationship since the commander's near-assimilation. But if Yoochun's out-of-control laughter and the scandalized look that seemed frozen across the Vulcan's face (Junsu was three seconds away from jumping up to see if Changmin had suffered a stroke) were any indication, he was way, way, way off.
"I mean ... I just," he began rambling. "You tease each other all the time and ... and, Cmdr. Changmin, you let him touch you — and I've never come across a Vulcan who was comfortable with random physical contact — and he was so concerned when One attacked you."
To his relief, Yoochun brought an end to his awkward babbling with a laugh and rough smack on the back. He grinned brightly before leaning into Changmin and giving him a squeeze.
"Oh, trust me, Doc. I tried."
"Don't listen to him, Doctor; he did no such thing," Changmin retorted, shoving his way out of Yoochun's embrace. "The commander just enjoys making me uncomfortable with his irrational emotional ties."
"See? My cold-hearted baby cares nothing for my emotions; he's only interested in the physical."
"This conversation is continuing to get more inappropriate, Commander," Changmin replied with a glare.
"Yeah," Yoochun began. "Inappropriate, but not illogical. Doc made a few good points. You do let me touch you a lot."
"I've just realized the futility in trying to get you to stop."
"And I was so very worried about you when our guest tried to Borg-ify you."
Changmin rolled his eyes. "You were probably just concerned Lee Hyukjae would be the ship's new second officer."
Junsu grinned at the annoyed look on the security officer's face. Changmin, noticing this, gathered his composure and inched away from Yoochun.
Getting back on topic, he rested his elbows on the table and wrinkled his forehead in concentration. "It wouldn't be that difficult to trace the drone's background."
"Do you have any suggestions of where I can start?"
"We have theorized that he was assimilated as a child. You estimated he was in his twenties, which would mean he was assimilated well before the Federation learned of the Borg. Search through Starfleet's unexplained missing person reports from between 2340 and 2344 and I believe you'll find his family."
"You think his parents were in Starfleet?"
"Can you think of another logical reason for why a child would be brought so close to Borg space?"
Junsu considered that. "No, I can't. Thank you, Commander. I'll check that out as soon as I get back to sickbay."
Yoochun raised an eyebrow. "You're going right back after you eat?"
"I'd planned to."
"Do you have a life outside that room, Doc?"
Junsu shifted uncomfortably in his seat and picked at his meal. "Things have been busy. It's a new crew. I've had to organize the health files, prep sickbay, not to mention One. He's still very weak."
"You spend most of your time locked up with the drone. That can't be healthy."
"He needs a lot of care," Junsu said with a shrug. "I don't mind. I don't know many other people on the ship, anyway."
"It is impossible for you to meet them, Dr. Kim, if you keep to yourself," Changmin put in.
Yoochun nodded. "Changmin's right. I'll come drag you out for a night of poker some time. I'm sure the captain would love it if you'd join us."
"Thank you, Commander. I appreciate your concern." The mention of the captain reminded Junsu of his earlier conversation with One. "Since you all seem to know him the best, do any of you have any ideas about what his plans for One are?" he asked nervously.
Yoochun shook his head. "I'd be surprised if he didn't even know. This thing sort of fell in his lap and I think he'd be happy it just magically disappeared."
"What happens to the drone once we reach Ceti Alpha VIII is out of the captain's hands, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Federation sought to press legal charges against it," Changmin replied evenly.
"For what?" Junsu exclaimed.
The Vulcan looked at him dispassionately. That look was beginning to get on Junsu's nerves. "For his part in the atrocities the Borg have committed."
"He was a drone! He had no control of his actions; he was simply doing what the Collective told him."
"There is precedent, Doctor. Soldiers who have committed murder — even under the direct order of a superior — still have had to answer for their actions."
"'Answer for their ... '" Junsu sputtered. "They — the drones — are all victims. This isn't a matter of simply following orders; they had no control over their own lives. We can't just rip One from the Collective and send him to rot in a Federation cell."
"While I agree with you, Doctor, you may find that your opinion is the minority."
A new panic seized Junsu's thoughts and the sudden urge to run to sickbay, to tend to his patient, gripped him. "I have to get back," Junsu said as he gathered his things. "I ... I have a lot more work to do than I thought."
"Take it easy, Doc," Yoochun said, voice low. He placed a comforting hand on Junsu's arm. "We have no idea what will happen to him. Changmin just has a tendency to jump to the worst-possible conclusion."
"The most-logical conclusion," Changmin cut in.
Junsu had planned for nearly everything for One's road to recovery — medical treatment, psychological treatment, and his social reconditioning — but had clearly forgotten one very important thing. Of course, the Federation and its citizens would push for One's prosecution. There were still too many open wounds, too many lives devastated by the Borg to allow him to expect him to be left alone. Junsu wasn't enough of a legal expert to know of any possible legal defense that could be used to protect the former Borg and the realization made his stomach twist in fear.
Junsu knew he was getting overly invested in this single man's future. His heart clenched as he remembered the pitying words of his captain: This drone is not your brother. Junsu knew that. He knew the chances of finding his own brother out of the billions of the Collective were near impossible.
But ... if by some wondrous happening, in the one-in-a-trillion chance that he'd ever find him and have the opportunity to save him, he was going to make sure he was prepared to save him from anything that might take him away again.
"Calm down, Doctor," Yoochun told him again, standing as he watched Junsu nearly fly out of his chair. "I know you're protective of the thing, but nothing's going to happen to him right now."
"Yes," Changmin agreed. "However we should be prepared for any change in plan. Defense from the Borg is the Federation's top priority right now."
Junsu frowned. "Thank you, Commander," he shot back, tone treading the thin line between curt and disrespectful. He shot off a messy salute before turning on his heel and nearly running out of the mess hall.
"What do you believe caused that?" the Vulcan asked, genuine curiosity in his voice.
Yoochun sighed and grabbed the piece of bread off Changmin's tray with a glare before pushing his chair in. He ignored the frown the other man shot him and took a large bite.
"For someone so logical, Min," he muttered, a few bread crumbs spitting from his mouth, "you're incredibly stupid."
One was not yet adept in reading the emotions of other Humans, but when he woke to find Junsu pacing his office, flustered and distracted, he'd figured it'd be best to leave him be.
Apparently the doctor had come to a different conclusion, however, because as soon as Junsu had spotted him lingering outside the doorway, he'd dragged him in and began pressing him for information that One considered pointless and extremely irrelevant.
"How old are you?" Junsu asked.
"27 Human years," One offered.
"How long were you with the Borg?'
"We do not know."
"Where were you born?"
"We do not know."
"Where were you assimilated?"
"We do not know."
The doctor's mood seemed to worsen with each unanswered question, until he had snapped in frustration. "Well, what do you know?"
"Our designation is One of Five, Auxiliary — "
"I know that," Junsu groaned. "What else?"
One cocked his head slightly, studying his panicked mentor. "What else do you need to know?"
"Everything! Anything that can help me find out who you are!"
"We are Borg," One answered simply.
"Not anymore," Junsu replied. He collapsed back into his chair and ran his hands over his face. "Aren't you the least bit curious about what you were before that?"
One watched as Junsu watched him dejectedly. This obsession with his Human self was disorienting to him. Intellectually, he knew he had existed in the world untouched by the Borg, if for only a very short period of time. But that Human — whatever his name was — had lived such a long time ago and felt so incredibly foreign, that it was hard for One to view him as a part of himself. He was Borg, had been Borg, and, despite his disconnection from the Collective, still felt very much like Borg.
"Do you think there could be a clue about your past in any of your implants?"
"No. Our technology simply served as tools. Information is kept with the Collective."
Junsu ran his eyes up and down One's frame, making the former Borg decidedly uncomfortable. "Then maybe the answer isn't in your implants, but in your organic tissue."
Guiding One into his lab, Junsu pulled out his tricorder and began to scan him.
"I don't know why I didn't think about this before. If we assume your parents were with Starfleet, then we should have medical records on file: DNA, blood type, the like. I'll take samples from you and match them up to what's in the records."
"You think our parents were a part of your organization?"
Junsu shrugged. "It's a theory. Stand still, please."
One did, remaining stock still as the doctor circled around him gathering the information he needed. And when the walls of the room began to spin, One assumed he was just dizzy from the doctor's buzzing around. Soon, however, the room began to tilt and sway. He felt the ground shift from underneath him before he fell inelegantly on his behind.
"One!" Junsu shouted in surprise, dropping his tricorder and kneeling by his side. "What happened? Are you okay?"
"We are undamaged." The drone sat up, but was unable to fully stand. "Our energy has run low again."
"So soon? It's only been about an hour."
"We have not been able to regenerate fully since before leaving our ship. We require a regeneration alcove."
"Well, that's going to take some time. Until then, you'll just have to rest in a bed." Junsu reached down to help One up, only to get pulled to the ground when the ex-drone stumbled again.
At that moment, Yoochun came wandering into the small lab, a friendly smile gracing his lips. "Sorry to bother you, Doc, you weren't in the main bay and I just wanted—" he froze when he saw the pair collapsed on the ground. Face darkening, he rushed over to pull Junsu out of One's grip
"Doctor, what happened? What'd he do to you?" He attempted to pull Junsu back and out of One's reach.
"I'm fine, Commander." Junsu replied, shrugging out of Yoochun's grasp. "I'm just having trouble getting him up. Help me get him to a bed."
"I'd rather not touch it."
One looked up from the ground and frowned. "It will not harm you."
Yoochun frowned, bent down, grabbed the drone's thin upper arm and wrenched it to its feet. One hissed in pain before pulling away, but was only able to make it three steps before the dizziness overtook him again and he stumbled to the ground.
"You have to be careful, Commander. He's still healing from the surgeries." Junsu kneeled low and, placing a hand on One's back, helped him to his feet. "I'll help him to his bed. Just wait here."
Junsu disappeared with the Borg and returned quickly, a worried frown pulling at the corners of his mouth.
Yoochun cleared his throat and ran his hand through his messy hair. "Sorry if I interrupted," he offered as he followed Junsu to his office. "I just wanted to make sure we didn't scare you away at lunch earlier. Changmin and I are close, but sometimes I forget how blunt he can be."
"No, Commander, you were both fine." Junsu collapsed into his desk chair with a groan of exhaustion. "He was right. There's a lot more I need to do if I'm going to be of any help to One."
Yoochun gave him a worried look. "I was serious, Doc, about you getting out of sickbay and away from that thing. We play poker every other Friday in the captain's quarters. Want to join?"
Junsu smiled — his stomach fluttering nervously for a reason he wasn't entirely sure of — but tried to hide it. "I appreciate the offer, Commander, but I don't even know how to play cards."
The older man waved his excuses away. "You and I can play for a bit first and I can teach you. But don't stress too much about it, we don't play for money or anything. None of us can beat Changmin and his stone poker face."
A voice over the comm interrupted before Junsu could respond. "Engineering to sickbay, we need medical assistance." The smile disappeared off Junsu's face as he snapped into business mode.
"I'm on my way," he shot back. "Someone probably just hit their head on a bulkhead," he grumbled under his breath. He stood and stretched his tired muscles.
Yoochun laughed warmly. "Has that been a big problem?"
"A few crewmen in engineering like to relax by drinking. It makes them clumsy. I've been meaning to tell the Captain about it. Want to come check it out?"
Yoochun nodded and followed the doctor out as he hurried to engineering, snapping questions into his comm badge.
Neither of them remembered to inform One of their absence.
Captain's log, supplemental: We have approached the border of Federation space and so begins the first leg of our mission. I must admit that our run-in with the Borg earlier in the trip has me on edge and I'm pushing the crew to make sure that we are fully prepared for anything we may encounter. The last thing I want to deal with is another uninvited guest.
Yunho was surprised when he walked into sickbay to find the doctor missing and the bay's only patient pacing the room anxiously, repeating his designation in a growing panic.
"We are One of Five, Auxiliary Drone of Unimatrix 263. We are Borg. We are One of Five, Auxiliary Drone—"
"Where's the doctor?" Yunho interrupted. "Tell me."
The other man turned sharply at the sound of his voice and ceased his rambling. He moved to come as close to Yunho as he dared, apparently getting comfort in the other's presence.
"We don't know. He was gone when we woke up."
Yunho turned to leave before a firm voice stopped him.
"You promised we wouldn't be left alone. We have been waiting for the doctor's return for 17 minutes. You must stay with us until he returns."
"First lesson on social interaction," Yunho warned. "Don't boss around your superiors."
"You promised," the ex-drone pushed, his voice tense. "You promised we would no longer be alone."
"You'll be fine. The doctor will be back soon." Yunho didn't have time to baby-sit emotionally fragile Borg; the ship would soon be entering unknown space and he needed everyone to be in top form. He'd have to talk with his chief medical officer about the amount of time he was devoting to this little side project and remind him of their true mission. "Just stay here and calm down." Turning to leave, he winced slightly when something grabbed his arm so tightly that he was sure it'd leave bruises.
"No," the Borg demanded. "We won't. We haven't adapted to the silence yet. You must remain with us."
"Let go of me," Yunho demanded, a dangerous edge to his voice. It took all his self-control not to fling the other man away, with the knowledge that he'd more than likely only end up dislocating his own shoulder keeping him from trying.
One seemed to falter for only a moment before lifting his chin slightly and tightening his grip. "Only if you promise to stay."
They stared at one another, the silent battle of wills ending when Yunho finally sighed and turned away. One still had a Borg's strength and Yunho knew that he could easily overpower him if he chose to. He snatched his arm away and tapped at his badge.
"Doctor, report. Where are you and when are you coming back to sickbay?"
It took a few moments for Junsu to reply. When he finally did, he sounded winded and annoyed. "There was a small ... uhm, incident in engineering, Captain. I should be back in 20 minutes."
"Make it ten, Doctor." He rolled his eyes and noted the pleased look on One's face. Turning away with a snort of disgust, he began pacing the bay.
He couldn't believe it. Even when they were alone, de-assimilated and injured, the Borg still got their way. He didn't want to be in this room, didn't want to have to be in the presence of his increasingly willful prisoner and the memories he dredged up.
Yunho leaned against the wall and studied the other man. He didn't know whether to be surprised by One's spirit or if it should have been expected. The Borg didn't answer to anyone; overtaking whole planets and systems with the same ease that a Human could destroy an ant farm or bird's nest. Still, individual drones were nothing but mindless zombies. They had no will and lived according to the desires of the Collective.
He couldn't imagine it. He couldn't fathom what it would be like to be no more than a single cell in a larger organism. Disposable and insignificant. Couldn't imagine being so used to having the thoughts of billions of others echoing in his head that he was terrified of his own. How in the world did One even begin to cope?
"What's it like?" Yunho heard himself ask out loud. He mentally kicked himself for the slip, but the other man seemed grateful for the distraction.
"What is what like?"
"Being a drone."
One looked confused for a moment as he searched for the words to describe the experience. "We ... we have not been Human long enough to be able to compare."
"You heard voices?" Yunho prompted. "All the time?"
"Not voices. The Collective. It speaks to all of us, tells us what to do, gives us information. Every moment of every drone's life is guided by the will of the Collective."
"Didn't that drive you nuts?"
"We do not understand your question."
Yunho rolled his eyes. "Forget it."
They stood in uncomfortable silence and Yunho pretended to not notice the former drone inching closer to him. One seemed to grow more calm the closer to him he got. Yunho would have found the action amusing if he hadn't personally experienced how deadly a force One and his brothers could be.
Another question soon burned on his tongue. "Have you ever assimilated anyone?"
"Yes," One answered quickly and without a moment's hesitation.
Yunho's stomach tightened and his jaw clenched as he struggled to stave off his temper. Well, what did you expect? he asked himself. They had figured that One had been with the Borg for the majority of his life, which meant he'd probably assimilated thousands of individuals. The bitter taste of bile burned at the back of his throat. "Do you ever feel guilty about it?"
"Why should we feel guilty?"
Yunho nearly saw red. He clenched his fists tightly and he would have punched One had he not believed that the question was asked out of genuine confusion. He doesn't get it yet, Yunho had to remind himself. He hasn't been an individual long enough to understand the wrongs he's committed to so many others.
Sensing Yunho's growing rage, the ex-drone attempted to explain himself. "Bringing others into the Collective is a drone's mission. Why should we feel guilty for fulfilling that mission?"
"Even if those others don't want it?"
"What they want is irrelevant."
Yunho laughed bitterly. "You don't see the irony of that? People are killed and their lives are destroyed because it's what the Borg want. I can't leave you alone in this room because it's what you want."
"We ... we bring individuals closer to perfection. We take their lives and make them part of something bigger than themselves." One hesitated a moment. “A question, Captain.”
“Do you dislike us?”
“I don’t trust you,” Yunho answered truthfully.
“Because we were Borg and we have assimilated others?”
"We cannot assimilate people anymore; however, even if we could, we would not try to assimilate you."
That surprised Yunho and he stopped his pacing to turn around and stare at One. "Why not?"
"We have made a deal. We promised to cooperate and we will do anything to avoid being sent back to the brig."
"You're that afraid of being alone?"
The drone nodded. "Yes."
Yunho snorted humorlessly. "Even you don't want to spend time with you."
One frowned, not fully understanding the quip. He studied Yunho a moment longer before raising a question of his own. "Captain, what is your goal?"
The change in topic threw Yunho. "What are you talking about?"
"The doctor told us that Humans don't have a single goal that they all strive for. Every individual has their own. What is yours?"
"Why do you want to know?"
"We don't know many Humans. The doctor said you are a good example of one. We wish to learn more about you."
Yunho shook his head. "I don't have a goal."
One stared at him in confusion. "You have to," he insisted.
"If you have no purpose to guide you, then how do know what to do with your life? How do you prioritize your decisions?"
"Right now, I just do what's best for the ship and the crew."
Yunho was surprised when One seemed to brighten at this. "Yes, you told us that earlier. You act on what's best for your crew, your Collective. We can understand this."
"Can you?" Yunho murmured, barely concealing the sarcasm in his voice. "So tell me, what's your goal?"
One looked away and frowned. "We don't have one."
"But you have to," Yunho retorted, throwing One's words back at him.
"We had one when we were with the Collective, but we don't know what we can accomplish on our own. Everything seems very overwhelming."
Yunho tried to ignore how small One's voice sounded, but it was difficult. In fact, each time he spoke with the former drone, it became more difficult to not see him for what he was: a hurt, lonely Human surrounded by bunch of strangers. But Yunho couldn't afford to lower his guard. The risks were still much too high.
The lull in the conversation was interrupted by the chirping of Yunho's comm badge.
"Lt. Kwon to the Captain. Please report to the bridge."
Grateful for the excuse to escape, Yunho tapped his badge and acknowledged the call.
"On my way, lieutenant." He strode quickly toward to the double doors of the bay before One had the chance to grab him again.
"Captain," the Borg called out in distress. "You promised us —"
"You'll deal," Yunho snapped behind him. "Remember," he mocked. "You are Borg."
One didn't have long to fret about his solitude because shortly after Yunho stormed out, another unfamiliar man walked in.
He wore a single dark pip on his collar — an enlisted crewman, he recognized — and the gold color of his uniform identified him a member of ops/engineering crew.
Smirking at One, the man glanced around sickbay, popping his head in the rooms and labs off the main bay.
"Where's the doctor?" he had asked without introducing himself.
One had held his tongue, remembering Yunho's order not to speak to his crew.
The man glared at him. "Are you deaf, Borg? I said, where's the doctor?"
Again, One hadn't answered.
Groaning in frustration, the younger man had searched the other rooms of the large bay again before returning to the main room.
"Are you here by yourself?"
He had nodded slowly. He didn't want the other man to leave, didn't want to be left alone again.
The man gave him a grin. Had anyone else had seen it, they would have classified it as "predatory." Without saying anything, he had grabbed his arm and pulled him from the bay. Looking back at One's confused face, he grinned, showing more teeth than necessary, and tightened his grip around his wrist.
"Don't worry, Borg. We'll keep you company."
Yunho was sure he was beginning to tread a path along the corridors of his ship. In the past hour, he had gone from the bridge, to sickbay, to the science labs, and back.
He'd finally settled things on the bridge (nothing worries a group of bridge officers quite like unidentified fatal radiation) when he was called back down to sickbay.
"Captain!" Junsu greeted the taller man. "Sorry I missed you earlier."
"It wasn't a problem, Doctor. One and I had an interesting talk." Leaning against a biobed, Yunho glanced around the room. "Where is your patient, anyway? I gave orders he's not to leave this room."
"Don't worry. Jaejoong is resting."
"The Borg drone," Junsu replied happily.
"Who picked that name for it?"
The doctor grinned. "His mother. I've been researching his background. It was just a hunch, but I was able to find genetic relatives of his in Starfleet records.
Junsu handed him a PADD with the image of a chubby faced toddler sitting on the lap of a pretty woman surrounded by a gaggle of young girls. The child grinned toothily into the camera, familiar bright eyes shining.
"Both of his parents were scientists stationed at a colony on Caldos II. We found the original crew list of the ship his parents left Earth on. They took with them many daughters and one 18-month-old son named Jaejoong."
Staring into the black eyes of the small child in the photo, Yunho could feel something in his heart break. One had much less baby fat and more implanted metal in his face, but there was no denying he was the child in the photo. It made him a little sick to think that the Borg spared no one when they attacked, not even a helpless infant.
Junsu seemed to pick up on the nature of his thoughts, if the grief-stricken smile he gave Yunho were any indication. "He wasn't just a child when they got him," he lamented softly. "He was a baby."
"Doctor, have you considered that maybe he's spent too many formative years with the Borg to fix?" Yunho asked, setting the photo aside.
Junsu was silent for a moment, hinting to Yunho that he had considered it. "Captain, he ... he's trying."
"Do you think that's enough? Where is he going to go? What is he going to do?"
"We'll find his extended family on Earth and reunite them. He'll survive and he'll get better."
"And what if we can't? Doctor, the truth is that he's not adapting well. I walked in on him earlier nearly having a panic attack because you had left him alone.
Junsu frowned. "That's my fault," he argued. "I thought he'd sleep the whole time. So what if he doesn't like being alone? That's nothing that can be fixed with time. He's been quiet since I came in. Here, let me go get him."
Junsu was gone only a moment before returning to the main room of sickbay, face pale and eyes stricken.
"What's wrong, Doctor?" Yunho asked. He stood and headed into the room before Junsu blocked his path.
"Captain, please. Don't get mad."
Yunho didn't find that all to reassuring. "What is it?" he demanded.
"He's not here.
A/N: This is late because I wasted time writing drabbles on my tumblr. Oops. But, one included a side story featuring Vulcan Seohyun and Changmin. Cute, logical maknaes~
Oh, and speaking of maknaes, earlier it was mentioned that Changmin was the youngest, but that goes agains Star Trek canon. Vulcans live nearly twice as long as Humans; so even though he's developmentally younger than the other four, he's lived the longest. Too many damn fandoms in one story. OTL