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Seven was sitting rigidly on the bench they shared, eyes downcast.

“I have felt the— compulsion to surrender, in the past.”

Ezri was glad that they’d found a quiet corner of the Academy gardens for this conversation. She wouldn’t have been able to parse Seven’s reticence with the noise of the cadets enjoying the sunny weather in the background.

“You don’t mean to the Borg,” Ezri guessed.

“I do not.” She paused. “But I find myself currently wishing for a Borg neural link. It would be a more efficient way to share my predicament.”

“I thought we both disliked having too many voices inside our head.”

A few months ago Ezri would've found confusion or irritation on Seven’s face, but lately she’d been more receptive to her silly jokes. She was pretty sure Seven actually found this one funny.

“You have a point, Lieutenant,” Seven conceded. She inhaled sharply, fingers curling on the fabric of her uniform pants. “At times I want to relinquish control. To surrender to my basest instincts. The demands of being an individual and those of living in human society are too contradictory. I cannot make sense of them.”

With anyone else Ezri would’ve thought that the conversation had taken a sudden turn, but this was the nature of her acquaintance with Seven. It had been awkward, at first, to try to make small talk; realizing that they could skip that part entirely and just say what was on their mind had been a relief for both of them, and the beginning of their friendship.

“That’s the question. How do you do personhood without going crazy?” Ezri said, in a sing-song voice.

Seven turned towards her sharply, and Ezri cringed.

“I’m sorry. I wasn’t making fun of you— just of myself. I meant to say that it’s something I can relate to. Sometimes I can’t tell if I’m doing a good job at being a person. I usually just pretend very hard that I’m Ezri and not nine personalities in a trench coat.” Ezri paused, realizing she was gesticulating. She tucked her hands under her thighs. “The point has escaped me a bit but what I wanted to say is, this stuff is hard work, and I often think about giving up despite all the progress I’ve made. I think these thoughts you’re having are understandable for someone with your experiences.” 

Seven nodded, acknowledging Ezri’s rant. Ezri let her take her time to mull it over and closed her eyes, taking in the warmth of the afternoon. A breeze was coming from the Bay, rustling the ginkgo leaves above them. 

“It is remarkable.”

“What is?” Ezri asked, opening one eye.

“Submitting my thoughts to you, and you reflecting them back to me with your own insight. My unique experiences do not make me an isolated being.”

Ezri grinned. “Does this help with the contradiction?”

“More data is required,” Seven replied, the corners of her mouth twitching. “But preliminary results are promising.”

Ezri only laughed in response.