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Once Upon a Starship

 

 

Part I

 

In a far away quadrantÖ

 

B'Elanna Torres awoke with her head nestled snuggly into Tom Paris' chest. Her head swam with confusion as she struggled to remember the events that led to her waking up on his couch in his arms. Glancing over the remains of dinner on the coffee table she remembered the wonderful evening that they had spent together. They had met for dinner and spent hours cuddling, giggling, kissing, and talking on the couch like a couple of teenagers. B'Elanna had never in her entire life felt as close to anyone as she did to Tom at that moment. After her declaration of love a few weeks prior, these wonderful moments seemed to be getting more and more frequent. She had been so surprised by the cocky pilot. He had taken her in his arms and they lay on the couch, discussing their future together. Tom had stressed his insistence that they take it slow, for despite all of his lighthearted comments and jokes, B'Elanna felt his unspoken commitment to this relationship. He had told her that he didn't want them to come together in one night of passion and then lose her because of regrets the next morning. He told her he would wait forever. B'Elanna had felt her eyes mist up as he told her this. She had snuggled in his arms as she considered what he said. She told him she loved him, and turned to look at him when she got no response. He had fallen asleep, the defensive mask he kept on his face was gone, revealing a soft smiling face that looked years younger. B'Elanna tried to slip off the couch, but his arms unconsciously tightened around her waist. "Well, if you insist" she thought, and had snuggled back down and fallen asleep.

B'Elanna now looked at the sleeping man on the couch and felt her desire for him come rushing to the surface. She had also wanted to wait, but knew in her heart that she had no intention of ever letting go of Tom. She glanced at the chronometer 0557. Good, they had a few hours before they were on duty and B'Elanna had plans for those two hours. She growled as her desire grew stronger. Tom's eyes fluttered open and he smiled sleepily. But B'Elanna could tell from the flashes of desire reflecting in his sleepy blue eyes that sleep was the last thing on his mind. She softly growled as she inched her way up to Tom's face. She kissed him softly racing her fingers along his jaw line, stopping at the point where she had bit him in a moment of pon farr induced lust on the Sikari planet. She had been secretly disappointed that he had the bite healed upon their return to Voyager. She wanted to mark him, proclaim to him and the universe that he belonged to her. B'Elanna's fingers tightened in Tom's soft hair and she bit him, marking him in the same spot as before. Tom jerked to a sitting position his hand flying to his face yelling out "B'Elanna!"

Tom came fully awake in hurry. He barely noticed the stinging bite, but was instead mesmerized by the glow in her dark eyes. "B'Elanna, what are you doing?" he asked her. As he looked at the growling half-Klingon, he wondered if he was dreaming. After all he woke from a rather intense dream to the woman that he loved sitting on his chest growling seductively, and then there was that bite. His hands flew to her jaw line, wanting nothing more than to mark her as she had him, taste her blood, claim her for his own. But there was a question he had to ask her first. "Why?" he said softly, wanting to make sure that she knew what she was doing.

"Tom, I love you. I want you. I know you said you didn't want to rush, but we're not. I love you. I know I'm not going to regret this." She hesitated for a second, wondering if she had made a mistake. Tom looked up at her grinning with desire. He stood up and held out his hand to her. She took it and he led her into the bedroom. B'Elanna's hesitation disappeared as she launched herself at Tom, voraciously covering him with kisses. She nipped gently at his skin, pushing away the vest that he still wore. Tom moved in and began to nuzzle her neck, planting tiny kisses all over her soft skin. B'Elanna threw her head back growling in pleasure. Tom moved in and bit her cheek, in the same place that she bit him.

"Now you're mine B'Elanna" He murmured as he backed her towards the bed kissing her deeply. Their hands roamed all over each other exploring each other with a feverent desire. "I Love You" He told her as he tumbled backwards onto the bed, with B'Elanna sprawled across him. She placed her hands on either side of his shoulders. She pushed herself up on her hands to regard him for a moment, before lowering her lips to his. Tom held her face between his hands as they vigorously explored each other's mouths with lips, teeth and tongue. B'Elanna ground her hips into his erection, the sensations resulting from her movement, even through the multiple layers of clothing, caused him to moan into the kiss.

She rose her head for a moment and smiled at him. "Like that?" At his nod her repeated the action and was rewarded by the ecstatic look that flashed onto his face. B'Elanna's hands were not idle either, they feverishly worked on Tom's shirt, sending buttons flying in her haste to gain access to him. At last, she managed to expose his chest, with it's scattering of golden curls. With her hands roaming across his chest, she began to kiss her way downwards, working first along his jaw line, and then down the lines of his lean neck. Tom deftly lowered the zipper down her back and slid her short blue dress off of her shoulders. He slid one hand down her bare back, burying the other in her thick hair. He gasped at the sensations caused when B'Elanna reached her goal. She continued to kiss and nibble her way across his chest, pausing to tease first one nipple and then the other. Tom's back arched and he used the momentum to flip them over, reversing their positions. He mimicked her action of a few minutes earlier, grinding the straining hardness of his groin into her pelvis. He lowered his head to her breasts, sucking each in turn. B'Elanna moved her hand to the waistband of his pants, releasing his penis from what had become an almost painful restraint. As he raised up to slide his pants and briefs down his legs and shrugged his open shirt off of his shoulders, she shimmied out of her dress and removed the rest of her clothing, to leave nothing but a few inches of open space between them.

Tom lowered his body back down to hers, sliding one hand between her legs, as the other began a gentle but relentless assault on her right breast, rolling the nipple between his fingers. He lowered his lips back down to her other nipple and suckled, enjoying the soft cries of pleasure she emitted as his nimble fingers between her legs quickly drove her to the brink of ecstasy. She reached between them, wrapping her hand around his erection, encouraging him to enter her. He was only to happy to oblige, sliding slowly into her, a low groan escaping his lips as he sank deeply into the wet warmth. He held his position for a moment, savoring the delicious feelings coursing through his body. Soon B'Elanna began to move under him, thrusting her hips upwards, and together they found a rhythm, driving forward to completion. She came first, involuntarily clenching her muscles around him, calling out his name caught in the throes of her orgasm. A wordless cry ripped put of Tom's throat as she tightened around him. The intense pressure on him created the sweetest friction he had ever experienced, driving him over the edge as well.

"Computer, Time?" B'Elanna lay in Tom's bed, her head resting on his chest, her hands playing with the golden curls covering his chest.

"The time is 07:27" The computer's monotone replied.

"Damn" B'Elanna muttered as she got out of bed. Tom rose with her and winced slightly as long unused muscles protested from the workout that he had just given them. B'Elanna looked up at him with a look of extreme satisfaction on her face. "I have to be on duty at 08:00 and I still have to go back to my quarters and get into uniform."

"I would hate for you to have explain to the Captain why you're late" He laughed. "Maybe I should ask her to excuse us from duty today so we can-"

"You wouldn't dare..." her voice trailed off when she realized he was joking. "However the bite marks on our faces is going make quite a statement." Tom laughed imagining the rest if the crew's reaction to their matching bite marks. He couldn't see his own, but B'Elanna's was very noticeable. She snickered, obviously following the same train of thought. " we could always go to sickbay and have them healed." She cooed evilly.

"Not a chance, I'm not going anywhere near sickbay until my shift there later. After the fight Doc and I had when he removed the last bit mark, I can just imagine his reaction. 'But Mr. Paris, bites can become infected easily, now hold still and let the dermal regenerator do it's work'" he imitated. B'Elanna realized with a flush of warmth that he also wanted to keep the mark from the Sikari planet. Tom kissed her. Regretfully he pulled away, as she reached for her clothes. "Breakfast?" he asked.

"Okay, I'll meet you back here in fifteen minutes and we can go to the mess hall and see how bad Neelix screwed up breakfast." She pulled on her short blue dress as Tom grabbed a pair of shorts. She walked Tom towards the door. "See you soon" she whispered huskily as the doors slid open. Tom reached for her and pulled her close. Tom pressed his lips to her and she returned his kiss with enough passion to surprise even herself. B'Elanna forgot that they were standing in an open door where anyone could see them until she heard someone clearing their throat. They both looked up to see Tuvok looking at them with his usual unreadable expression on his face.

"Lieutenants, may I suggest that the corridors are not the most appropriate place for this sort of activity." He looked at them with an expression that on anyone else would be amusement. Then he turned and walked down the hallway. Behind him, Tom and B'Elanna bust into laughter and then rushed off to their respective quarters to get ready for their duty shifts. A quick shower and change of clothes later B'Elanna met Tom at his quarters and they walked hand in hand to the turbolift on their way to the mess hall.

"I suppose that we should be glad that it was Tuvok that caught us and not someone else. At least he won't set the rumor mill buzzing." B'Elanna sighed and the doors closed and she moved back to his arms.

"Well Tuvok might not set the grapevine flowing, but I think that we will." Tom laughed. "we seem to be having this problem keeping our hands off of each other. It's only a matter of time until we get caught by someone who doesn't know how to keep their mouth shut." As if on cue, the turbolift doors opened to reveal Chakotay standing there impatiently. A smile flashed over his features as he saw the two officers embrace, obviously unaware that the lift doors had opened. Chakotay cleared his throat and tried to hide his amusement as they jumped away from each other.

"Good Morning Lieutenants." Chakotay tried to keep from laughing as he looked at B'Elanna's blushing face. He felt his composure break as a chuckle escaped. It quickly grew into a full-fledged laugh.

"Computer! Halt turbolift!" B'Elanna eyes flashed as she spoke in a voice that made Tom cringe. He was just glad that this time someone else was on the receiving end. "Just what the hell is so funny Chakotay?"

Tom cringed at the anger in her voice, shocked that she would speak to a commanding officer in that tone of voice, no matter what their past relationship. Chakotay either didn't notice the tone or didn't care. He shocked both lieutenants by sweeping B'Elanna into a big hug. "You are. Just look at the two of you. Three years ago you hated each other, hell three months ago you couldn't even hold a conversation without fighting, and now I find you making out in the turbolift." He released B'Elanna and stepped back. He got a more serious look on his face and looked at both of them, "I am very happy for both of you. If anyone I know deserves this kind of happiness, it is B'Elanna." He smiled and added "If you ever hurt her Paris I will kill you, understand?"

"I would expect nothing less" Tom was as serious as Chakotay.

"Good. Computer resume turbolift." Chakotay turned away as he added his last comment. "By the way, nice uh, markings" He left the lift as soon as the doors opened and left the two with their mouths hanging open.

B'Elanna laughed. "Well that wasn't as bad as I thought. He only threatened to kill you. For a second I thought he might actually do it." Her voice sobered up. "We have to be more careful. We've been caught by two different commanding officers in the last twenty minutes. We are going to get in trouble if we are not careful. We are under orders to use better judgement."

Tom agreed. "You're right. How 'bout some breakfast. There's nothing like breakfast a la Neelix to throw cold water on romance" She nodded. Tom wrapped his arm around her waist as they walked into the mess hall.

B'Elanna saw the heads turn and the stares as they entered. Usually a private person, she enjoyed the scene that they made with their matching bite marks and cozy demeanor. They each got a tray and some breakfast and sat at a small table in the corner. As they ate they commented and giggled over they reactions of their friends and crewmates. Soon Harry Kim walked in and saw them. A huge smile broke out on his face. He grabbed some food and joined them.

"Hey Tom, there's something on your face" indicating the darkening purplish spot on his jaw. "Oh no, B'Elanna, there's one on you too. Is it catching?" He laughed as B'Elanna swiped playfully at his arm. "So if I remember my Klingon customs, doesn't this mean you are engaged?"

"Carey to Torres" B'Elanna's COM badge chirped.

"Torres here"

"Can you come down here, that plasma injector is acting up again"

"On my way. Torres out" She stood up and glanced at Tom and Harry. "Saved by the bell." She leaned down to kiss Tom, fully aware of the stare coming from around them. The kiss was short, but filled with passion and desire. "Meet me for lunch?" she whispered. "My quarters. We might even eat" With that she was gone, leaving the pilot sitting shell-shocked and breathless in his chair.

"Let's go Tom. We have to be on the bridge in five minutes" He picked up his tray and walked towards the reclamator. Tom followed, the dumbstruck expression slowly being replaced by a look of extreme happiness.

********

Later that night, Tom lay on the bed in his quarters. He was exhausted after pulling a double shift and sore. But more than anything else he was worried. He knew that the gossip mill was buzzing with the news of their relationship and that many replicator rations had changed hands as bets were paid off. Tom had tried in vain to remain ignorant of the gossip, but it had reached his ears anyway. And if he had heard it, so had the chief engineer. He knew that gossip had a much freer flow in the engineering section of the ship than on the bridge, and yet he had still heard it. This gossip did not bother him as much it did B'Elanna. She hated having people talk about her private life. Tom had not seen her all day; a problem in the plasma injector had kept her working all through the lunch break and long after her duty shift had ended. So Tom had not had a chance to see her reaction to the gossip, but he knew that it probably would not be good. So he lay back on his bed to wait.

B'Elanna snapped shut her tool kit and straightened up. Her entire body ached from the workout she had given it that morning and her back protested too many hours spent bent over an access panel. But the problem was fixed now and she was free to go. To go see Tom. Her face broke into a wide grin and a warm flush started deep inside of her as she remembered her early morning passion. She felt an overwhelming desire to see him, to touch him, to feel his lips on her, his touch, and to smell his intoxicating scent. She looked over her shoulder at her staff. As she looked up, their smiles disappeared and their head bent over their work. B'Elanna could barely contain her laughter. She knew that they were talking about her and Tom. All day long she had been aware of the gossip. Voyager's newest couple was the talk of the ship. And for once, it didn't make her angry. Deep down she felt a bit of amusement and quite a lot of pride. She loved this man. She was willing to give all of herself to him, spent the rest of her life with him, and she just wanted everyone to know. B'Elanna told her crew goodnight and walked to the turbolift, smiling as the whispers once again built up behind her. She quickly made her way to Tom's quarters and rang the door chime.

Tom shot upward off of the bed and sprinted to the door. The doors slid open to reveal B'Elanna smiling up at him. "Hi" he said quietly. He jumped in surprise as her hand shot out to the back of his neck. She pulled his head down to her lips and kissed him soundly. "B'Elanna, anyone can see us" he whispered against her neck. Her only response was to smile at him seductively and push him through the open door.

As the doors swished shut behind them, B'Elanna finally spoke. "I don't care who sees us. I love you and I want everyone to know that you belong to me."

"Well since we are the only thing that anyone had been talking about all day, I guess you succeeded."

"Really? I hadn't noticed"

"What did you do spend all day in stasis?" Throughout this little exchange, they had been fumbling with each other's uniforms, trying to get them off as soon as humanly possible.

"No, but I just kept thinking about you. Like I have time to listen to gossip when the only thought in my mind is coming back here and ripping your clothes off." With this comment she tore off Tom's red and black top and gray turtleneck and flung them across the room. She grabbed his upper arms and slammed him against the wall, kissing him so passionately that he barely noticed the sharp crack as his shoulder exploded in pain. Tom gasped and B'Elanna looked up at him, concern flashing in her dark eyes. Tom grinned at her, as the adrenaline replaced the pain with welcomed numbness. Nothing was going to keep him away from her right now.

"Are we in a Klingon mood tonight?" he teased. Her only response was a growl and then a little yelp as Tom unexpectedly hooked his leg behind her knees and brought them both crashing to the ground.

*********

Tom groaned in pain as he tried to sit up. Damn his shoulder hurt where it had come into contact with the wall. They lifted themselves off of the floor, slowly untangling naked arms and legs. B'Elanna looked at him in concern. "Are you okay? Did I hurt you?"

Tom laughed, even though it caused him great pain. "Just a little my love. What about you? You took some nasty bumps yourself."

"Nothing I can't live with" she retorted playfully. Her confidence in her own body strength lasted until she tried to stand up. B'Elanna gasped as she tried to put weight on her right ankle. "Well maybe one thing" she looked at him with a smile. "The doctor is going to have a heyday with this one. Do you realize that the two of us combined spend more time in sickbay than he does"

"Maybe we should ask them to set up us each up with a permanent bunk in there" Tom laughed. "That way we will have easy access to medical treatment." With great effort he stood up, leaning heavily against the wall. He looked a B'Elanna as she hobbled around the room, gathering up their clothes. In addition to her rapidly swelling ankle, bruises and bite marks were beginning to stand out on her bare skin. "You look like you've been to war"

"You think I look bad? Have you seen yourself yet?" Her tone was light hearted, but inwardly she winced at the marks that stood out so vividly on his pale skin. Had she really inflicted all of them? Tom crossed to her and raised the only arm he could, cupping her face in his hand.

"B'Elanna, you did not hurt me. This was fun. If we both got a little carried away, oh well. A few bruises do not change the fact that I had a wonderful time."

"Yeah well what about the broken bones?" her mood lightened a little.

"Even better" he said with a wicked grin.

Slowly they helped each other get dressed. Tom wrapped his good arm around her waist, trying to take as much weight off of her ankle as he could. They hobbled together into the turbolift. B'Elanna tucked her head under Tom's chin, perfectly content as he wrapped his arm tightly around her. She looked up at him and whispered "I love you." He leaned down a placed a kiss lightly in the center of her brow ridges. She giggled and he moved farther down. Just as his lips touched hers the turbolift slowed and the doors opened to admit Captain Janeway and Chakotay.

"Well lieutenants, that's twice" Chakotay smirked at them. Then he noticed their injuries. "What the hell have the two of you been doing? Never mind I don't really want to know the answer to that."

As the turbolift resumed, Janeway looked at the younger couple with amusement in her eyes, but said nothing. She was very glad to see the two of them together. Given her standing order on their public conduct, she felt the need to comment on their interrupted kiss and how inappropriate it was for their positions as senior officers but decided against it. After all they were off duty and seemed to be in a considerable amount of pain. Perhaps the morning would be a better time. As the lift slowed to let Tom and B'Elanna off, she grinned at them "Tell the doctor I said hello." The pilot and the chief engineer blushed deeply and hobbled off of the lift. As the doors slid shut behind them they could hear Janeway and Chakotay laugh.

********

Over the next two months, Tom and B'Elanna fell into a comfortable routine. They both made an effort to keep their minds off each other during their duty shifts. After Janeway's seeming acceptance to their relationship, she had given them a through chewing out for their lack of discretion. Tom and B'Elanna had agreed with her and had made a concerted effort to keep themselves under control in public. The crew became accustomed to seeing them together. Meals stretched out for hours, as Voyager's newest couple sat, deep in discussion, tactfully keeping their hands to themselves. Tom enjoyed these long discussions as much as he did the private time spent in their quarters. He learned more about B'Elanna, loving her more with each revelation she made about her past or the hopes she had for her future. He had never felt so comfortable with anyone in his life. He was able to open up to her and tell her things he would have never imagined himself speaking out loud. Together they explored and defeated many of the personal demons that had haunted each of them. As a couple they flourished. Together they would hold court at the resort, or at Sandrine's, always animated, entertaining with a smile on their faces. Their friends and crewmates noticed. Most of them were pleased with changes taking place in them, as their sheer joy at being alive and in love infected those around them.

Their private life flourished as well as Tom and B'Elanna settled into their new roles in each other's lives. They explored each other's likes and dislikes with a passion. They responded to each other's moods, discovering the joy they could bring to each other. The doctor became frustrated at their frequent presence in sickbay, seeking medical help for the injuries they inflicted upon each other. In his reports to the Captain, he suggested that perhaps they should be confined to their quarters for their own safety. Janeway and Chakotay laughed privately over the ever-present injury reports, commenting on the junior officers' amazing energy and resilience. They make a good couple. Tom was more than capable of withstanding B'Elanna's Klingon side. And she was amazed at the pleasure that he could bring to her body and the exuberant joy he injected into her life.

But at other times Tom was quiet and would make love to her so softly and gently that she could hardly believe that he was the same lover. This quiet, gentle, almost fragile side of Tom Paris intrigued her. He seemed so vulnerable when he was in these quiet moods. The ever-present mask gone, he was willing to spill out his fears, his hopes and painful secrets from his past. Lying in bed with him, B'Elanna would marvel at his revelations, so similar to her own. And she loved him even more for it.

The Doctor confronted B'Elanna the second she walked into sickbay.

"Lt. Torres. What a surprise. What delightful injuries have you got for me to heal today?" he asked her sarcastically. "Just this morning I repaired Mr. Paris' scapula. Again. This is the third time in a month. Medical technology can only do so much. The body needs time to heal. Perhaps the two of you should consider a room with padded walls."

B'Elanna paid him little attention as she looked around sickbay. His tirades increased with each visit. It had become almost second nature to ignore him. "Is Tom here?" she asked.

"Mr. Paris was called to the bridge. I hardly think that this is the most appropriate place for your little lover's trysts. So unless you actually have an injury, perhaps you should return to duty." The doctor's tone had a definite edge to it.

"Actually Doctor, I've been feeling a little ill. A few members of my staff had been sick over the last few days with this bug." B'Elanna shook her head. "I could kill whoever introduced this into engineering. I hate trying to run shorthanded."

"Actually it's not just engineering. More than half the crew has been infected over the past week. It's a short-lived virus, but amazingly virulent. The bio-filters are having a terrible time cleaning it out of the air supply. Fortunately, it's effects are fairly mild, just some nausea and fatigue, and easily treatable. Have a seat. I'll get you taken care of quickly." The holodoc reached for his tricorder passed the small scanner over B'Elanna. He looked at the readings, shook his head and scanned her again.

B'Elanna looked at him in concern. "What?"

"Describe your symptoms to me" his expression was unreadable.

She began to worry. "I'm exhausted. My joints ache and I've spent the last two days with my head in the toilet. The exact same symptoms that Vorik and Nicholetti had."

"Yes, but with a different cause. B'Elanna, I find no trace of the virus in your system.

"Then what the hell is wrong with me?" B'Elanna gasped as soon as she asked the question. All of a sudden the pieces fell into place. That nagging thought she had pushed to the back of her mind. The one she had dismissed as impossible rushed to the surface. "No" she whispered. "No, no, no. It can't be."

"I'm afraid so. You're pregnant."

B'Elanna sat in disbelief. Questions raced through her mind. How was this possible? How was she going to handle her job in engineering? How would Tom react? "Tom" she whispered. All of a sudden she looked at the doctor. "Don't tell him" her eyes pleaded with him.

"Of course. It would be more appropriate for you to tell him. Now lets talk..." the doctor's voice trailed off as his patient slid off of the biobed and walked towards the door. "Lieutenant?" B'Elanna turned towards him; the shell-shocked expression on her face worried him. "Would you like me to relieve you from duty for the remainder of the day?" She nodded. "Don't worry. I won't tell anyone the true reason. You and Lt. Paris will probably want to make the announcement yourselves." B'Elanna just nodded again. "I need you back here as soon as possible. You need a full medical exam, and we need to discuss your condition. But you probably want Tom here with you. Also, I'm curious, I gave you your fertility suppressant booster myself three months ago, and I believe that Mr. Paris is up to date as well. I wonder-"

"Just how the hell this happened?" B'Elanna cut in, her voice snapping with anger and her body tensing. Then her shoulders visibly slumped and her voice softened to almost a whisper. "Me too. But right now I just want to be alone. I've got to think about this. Decide what I'm going to do. Please don't tell Tom. He needs to hear it from me."

"I understand. Just take it easy and listen to your body, you'll know when you've overextended yourself. You can come back in the morning and we can discuss your options." With that he turned from her to explore the medical database for any information he could find on Klingon pregnancies.

B'Elanna walked out of sickbay and into the turbolift. She leaned against the wall, feeling drained. Between the nausea and fatigue, the shock of her pregnancy hit her hard. She had no idea where she was going, but she knew that she wanted to be alone.

Somehow B'Elanna made her way to holodeck 1. She was pleased to see that it was empty. She glanced through the list of programs, and then one caught her eye and stirred a spark of memory. She activated the program and gasped as she entered. She had selected a canyon from the Rocky Mountains on Earth. She remembered visiting here, it had been a favorite getaway for her when things got rough at the academy, but she had forgotten how the gentle beauty of the lush canyon contrasted with the raging river that had created it.

This was a perfect place for her to sit and think. She nestled under a tree beside the rushing water, pulled her knees up and rested her head on them. As she sat, the tears began to flow. It had been a long time since she had cried, but this seemed like the perfect time to begin again. In one second of comprehension, her entire life had changed.

How was it possible that this tiny life, whose existence had not even been known an hour before, could change her thinking this much? B'Elanna knew that this had come too soon. She had planned on Tom and her raising a family eventually, but this seemed too soon. Too sudden. They had finally just gotten together after three years of fighting, false starts and flirting. For, even as long as they had known each other, they were just getting to know the people behind the masks.

B'Elanna was confident in her love for Tom, and would have loved to believe that their relationship could last through anything, but she wasn't sure. She knew that, at that particular moment, she wanted to spend the rest of her life with him. But she also knew that everything would change with the baby. Tom's feelings towards her, her feelings towards him, her priorities, and most of all, their relationship. No longer would they be a couple, but instead a family. Each of them would be required to make many sacrifices, sacrifices that B'Elanna wondered if either of them was ready for.

The tears fell in earnest now. She though of Tom and imagined a baby with his bright blue eyes, and a soft swirl of dark hair. No. There was no doubt. This baby had been conceived in love, and it was in love that she now made her decision. There were no options. The sacrifices would have to be made, the priorities changed, the relationships and feelings would have to grow with the child. There was no choice.

Slowly B'Elanna's sobs tapered off. Her tightly coiled body began to relax. The cool breeze swirled softly around her, lightly playing with her hair and drying the tears on her face. The crying gasps smoothed out into deep rhythmic breathing as the stress of her day and the physical aspects of her pregnancy took their toll. Sitting there beneath the whispering leaves of the aspens, B'Elanna fell asleep.

********

Tom looked around his quarters. He was a little angry. But he was also worried. He knew that B'Elanna hadn't been feeling well, but he couldn't understand why she would stand him up for dinner. He had rushed to his quarters after his shift, eager to have everything perfect for their dinner. He had been planning this for over a week, carefully saving his replicator rations in order to have everything perfect. He had not wanted her to know what he had planned, so he kept the invitation light, asking her that morning as they lay in bed, "You up for dinner tonight? We could stay in and replicate." She had smiled at him and agreed. Then she became violently ill as they got up and began to move around. He had stood in the doorway to the bathroom as she heaved and sputtered. He had suggested that she go to sickbay, since he and the Doctor had treated many other crewmembers for this virus. She had agreed, standing up looking pale and tired. She would see him there as soon as she had checked on her engines, she had promised with a smile. But then Tom had been called to the bridge to navigate an asteroid field before B'Elanna had made an appearance. He returned to sickbay soon after she left. The Doctor told him brusquely that B'Elanna had been there, he had examined her, released her from duty for the rest of the day, and suggested that she get some rest. He then told Tom in no uncertain terms to quit asking so many questions and get to work. Tom had wondered what he wasn't being told. "Oh well, he probably found another injury of some kind after last night. I'll ask B'Elanna at dinner" A smile grew across his face as he thought of what else he planned on asking her at dinner.

He looked around his quarters. Everything was perfect. The table was set for a romantic dinner for two. Tom had truly outdone himself, the dishes and silverware shown in the soft candlelight, the flowers he had selected cast their flickering shadow gently across the tablecloth, and at B'Elanna's place sat a small wrapped box. Tom paced nervously across the floor. Yes everything was perfect except for the fact that he was alone. The candles were beginning to drip, and the guest of honor had not yet arrived. Tom grew impatient and tapped on his COM badge. "Paris to Torres". He waited. "Paris to Torres, B'Elanna please respond" No answer. Tom became worried. "Computer, location of Lt. Torres?"

"Lt. Torres is in Holodeck One." The computer responded promptly. Tom leaned over and blew out the candles before leaving the room. He arrived at the holodeck to find Harry waiting outside the door.

"Tom. Did you two have a fight?" His dark eyes looked Tom over suspiciously.

"Not that I know of. Why?" Tom's mind raced to try to remember any recent disputes between B'Elanna and himself.

"Because B'Elanna is in there with the privacy lock engaged and won't release the door or answer her hails. And I'm scheduled for holodeck time now." Harry sounded a little embarrassed to be complaining about her intrusion onto his private time. "Normally I wouldn't mind, but Seven is meeting me..." His voice trailed off, as he blushed. Definitely embarrassed now.

Tom didn't even notice his friend's discomfort. "She wasn't feeling well earlier. She didn't respond when I called her either. I wonder?" The look on his face as he turned to Harry was rapidly approaching panic. He turned to the door and overrode the privacy lock. With Harry on his heels, he rushed into the holodeck. When he saw B'Elanna lying under the tree, he rushed to her side. "B'Elanna!" Tom gently shook her shoulder and sighed in relief when she sleepily sat up and looked at him.

"Tom! What are you doing here?" Her sleepy mind raced to make sense of this. Tom looked worried, and Harry was peering over his shoulder, a concerned expression on his face as well. "What's wrong?"

"You didn't answer your hails. I know you've been sick, and when you didn't show up for dinner I got worried and came looking for you." Tom wrapped her protectively in his arms.

B'Elanna pushed away from him. "I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself thank you." Then she realized what he had said. "Dinner? What time is it?" She tried to comprehend just how long she had been here.

"B'Elanna, it's after 1900. How long have you been asleep?" Harry looked concerned, which only succeeded in irritating B'Elanna more.

"A few hours. I fell asleep. That's all. Would the two of you just back off? Why are you here anyways Harry? How much trouble could I have gotten into on the holodeck?" B'Elanna's anger was definitely beginning to flare. She felt smothered under the protective gaze of her friend and her lover.

"Actually, uh, I have a date. Here. On the holodeck. Uh, I mean I'm scheduled for now." Harry blushed again.

"I see. Seven?" B'Elanna teased him, and then relaxed, as Harry looked embarrassed. "Well then, I suppose we should leave you alone. Am I forgiven?" She looked up at Tom and smiled.

"Sure. You probably needed the sleep. Are you hungry?" At her nod he took her hand and helped her up. "I seem to have dinner for two waiting in my quarters. Shall we?" She giggled softly at his gallant offer, but didn't relinquish her hold on his hand. He smiled as he led her from the holodeck.

"See ya Harry"

They walked hand in hand back to Tom's quarters. Neither one said a word; both lost in their own thoughts. Tom thought of the small box in his quarters and the ring nestled softly inside while B'Elanna thought of Tom's child, nestled securely inside of her.

They arrived at Toms quarters, and when the door slid open to reveal the perfectly set table, B'Elanna gasped. She turned to Tom with wonder in her eyes. "What is this for?" She asked in astonishment.

"Because I love you." Tom smiled at her reaction.

She noticed the civvies he wore and realized that she was still in her uniform. "I seem to be a bit underdressed" she teased, trying to cover her amazement at the lengths he would go to for her.

"It doesn't matter, you are still beautiful." He took her hand and led her to the table. He continued to act the gentleman, pulling out her chair for her. He reached over the table and poured them each a glass of wine. He turned to the replicator got their dinner before sitting.

B'Elanna noticed the gift wrapped box next to her plate. "What is this?"

"Open it" Tom watched her face carefully as she slowly unwrapped the box and opened the lid. Her eyes widened as she saw the ring, The diamond in the center was flanked by two bright blue stones the exact color of Tom's eyes. She looked up at him in shock. "Do you like it? It was my grandmothers." Tom looked down at his plate, unable to meet her eyes. His voice softened as he remembered. "She gave it to me right before my sentencing. It has been in her family for generations. It should have gone to one of my sisters, but she gave it to me instead. Told me it was for hope. I didn't know what she meant at the time, from where I was sitting, there wasn't much hope. But I took it. It's one of the few things that I managed to hold on to throughout everything." He looked up at her, his blue eyes shining bright. "B'Elanna, you have given me hope again. Hope for my future, and for myself. I want you to have it. Because I-" Tom faltered a bit, scared of what he was about to ask and the reaction that it would receive. He looked into her dark eyes and saw tears welling up. That was all the encouragement he needed. He took her hand, still holding the ring, and knelt on one knee in front of her. "If I'm going to do this, I'm going to do it right. B'Elanna Torres, I love you. I want to raise a family with you and spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?"

B'Elanna looked down in shock into those bright blue eyes. She could hardly believe that he had actually got down on bended knee to propose to her. He wanted to marry her! A wave of joy and happiness passed over her. "Oh Tom" she whispered.

Tom looked up at her face expectantly. She looked so happy, her chocolate eyes glowing with love. He knew that he would love this woman forever. From his kneeling position, he watched in shock as the look on her face changed form one of bliss to one of panic. She clapped her hand over her mouth and ran for the bathroom, leaving Tom, still on one knee, staring after in disbelief, the forgotten ring still clasped in his hand. He heard the gagging sounds and quickly regained his senses, following B'Elanna. He stood in the doorway of the bathroom and watched as the last of the spasms wracked her small body. As the last shudder left her body, she raised her head and noticed Tom. A small smile flew across her face as she sat back and leaned against the wall, feeling drained. She looked up at Tom with an apologetic expression on her dark features. "I'm so sorry."

Laughter filled the tiny room as Tom handed her a glass of water and knelt down to gather B'Elanna into his arms. "Not exactly the reaction I was hoping for." He was rewarded with a small chuckle as she snuggled into his arms. "I know you think I'm a pig, but I didn't realize that the suggestion of marrying me would actually nauseate you." He hugged her tighter. "Hey, I thought the Doc got rid of that virus. You shouldn't still be sick."

"It's not the virus" she replied quietly. "Tom, I- um. I don't know how to tell you this, but um- I'm..," Her voice trailed off, and as she looking into his puzzled eyes, she realized that her best bet was to just blurt it out, so she did. "I'm pregnant."

He looked at her in shock. "Oh B'Elanna." He spoke in voice so soft that she could barely her him. "Pregnant? Are you sure?"

She nodded, "I went to see the doc today. I thought that it was just that virus. I mean I've been so sick to my stomach. But it wasn't." She looked at him, his face bearing the exact same one as hers' had just a few hours earlier. "Tom, I'm so sorry". Her head fell back against his chest and she began to cry again.

"B'Elanna, don't cry. We can do this. I meant what I said about wanting a family with you. I hadn't planned on it right now, but it's too late to change that now. This will all work out. I promise." His mind raced, but even with all the shock, all the thoughts running through his head, he voiced the one thing kept coming to the top. "I love you. I will always be here for you"

All of the tension disappeared from her body. She hadn't realized just how scared she was about his reaction. But he was still here. He still loved her, still wanted her. She began to believe that everything really would work out, that they would be happy. She looked up into Tom's face, a dark gleam in her eyes. "So does that mean that you still want to marry me?"

"More than anything." He laughed as she attacked him, kissing him so head that she pushed him against the back wall of the bathroom. "Is that a yes?"

"You bet it is." She smiled as he opened his fist to reveal the ring sitting on his palm. As he slipped it on her finger, he leaned over and kissed her again, surprised at the passion with which she returned it. He pulled back and looked at her with unspoken questions in his blue eyes. She responded by slipping her hand inside of his shirt. Tom looked at her sitting on the floor with a feral gleam in her eyes. He scrambled to his feet and scooped her up before she had a chance to protest.

He carried her to the bed and gently laid her down. He climbed on the bed next to her and slowly removed her uniform top. As her turtleneck followed he buried his face in the hollow of her shoulder, nibbling on the sensitive spot were her neck met her shoulder. She shuddered with delight, and reached for the buttons on his shirt. She unbuttoned them and he shrugged it off of his shoulders. Tom unfastened her pants and slid them down her legs. He placed one hand on her flat stomach, looking up at her face in wonder. She smiled and he lowered his head to plant a kiss in the center of her abdomen. He then slid further up her body to remove her bra. He cupped her breasts in his hands and took one erect nipple into his mouth. She shuddered, they had become so sensitive, almost painful, at his caresses. She buried her fingers in his hair, cradling his head in her hands. Tom continued upwards, his mouth never loosing contact with her skin. She slid one hand down his neck, across his back, urging him closer to her, while the other snaked down between them to release the fastening on his pants. Working together, they slid them down, leaving both of them lying on the bed, naked, entangled in each other.

The door chimed. Tom wondered if they would ever truly be alone together. "Who is it?" he called irritation evident in his voice.

"Tom? It's Harry. Are you busy?" Harry's voice sounded tired and dull.

"Not now Harry, Goodbye." Tom snapped the words in the direction of the door and turned his full attention back to B'Elanna. She seemed annoyed at the distraction. "Now, where was I?"

"Here." She pointed to a point on her neck, just below her ear. "No, a little lower. Yes, right there" she directed Tom He found the correct place and continued his assault on her neck, kissing and nibbling gently, whispering all the while. B'Elanna barely even heard the words, but the message was clear. Together. Love. Family. Her heart swelled with feeling for him. She whispered her own love back, even as his hands continued their caresses. As Tom shifted to enter her, his lips returned to her face. As he softly made love to her, he marveled at her face. He would have never thought of her as fragile, but as they moved together he felt a desire to protect her, to take care of her, in a way he never had before. Almost by telepathy she understood that. And even more amazing was her own desire to let him. As they neared the climax, they were both shedding tears freely. For tonight a bond had been forged.

Finally they lay together, exhausted, and emotionally spent. B'Elanna lay on her back, Tom's head resting gently on her chest, his hand caressing her abdomen. "I can't quite believe it. I'm going to be a daddy. Who would have thought it."

B'Elanna chuckled. "Probably the same people who thought that I would be a mother. No one"

"So when exactly is little baby Paris coming? You can't be that far along yet. What three, four weeks?"

"I don't know. I didn't stick around sickbay long enough to find out"

"What?"

"I just needed to be alone. I didn't really feel like discussing it at the time. I was in shock. The last thing on my mind was appointment schedules, fetal scans or a long drawn out conversation on why our boosters didn't work. He said I could come back later." Her voice conveyed her tired state. "I'm thinking maybe in the morning. You want to come with me?"

"I wouldn't miss it for the world. I can't wait to see the first picture of our baby. You realize that we'll have to tell the captain." Tom's mind was racing again, as the implications began to sink in. "We're going to need bigger quarters."

"Tom, can we keep this quiet for a little while? I mean, I know we have to tell the captain. There are certain duties I won't be able to perform. But can't we keep this our secret for a little while? The entire ship will be buzzing about our engagement anyway. For some reason, I just want to keep this to ourselves for a while."

He understood. In a short while, her pregnancy would become public knowledge, and thereby public domain. There would be questions, comments, and concerns. Announcing their engagement would already strain the limits of how much attention they could handle, telling about the baby at the same time would make it unbearable. "Right. For now we only tell the captain. The doc knows, obviously, but other than that, it can be our own delicious little secret. Is there anything you need? Are you hungry?" He remembered their neglected dinner, and instantly switched into protective father-to-be mode. "B'Elanna?"

"Mmm-hmm?" She was almost asleep. He reached down and pulled the blankets up over them. She turned and snuggled up against him. As they spooned together, he held her hand in his, curled protectively over her stomach, and fell asleep.

********

Harry Kim held his breath as he lined up his shot. He slowly drew his arm back, hesitated for just a moment, and then, scratched. He swore and threw his stick on the table. It had not been a good night. His meeting with Seven on the holodeck had gone badly. She had responded to each of his tactics with questions of the relevance. He had planned a hike in the woods, a picnic on the banks of a small lake and then a moonlight walk on the beach. Harry hoped she would open up, maybe they could actually talk, make the connection he had told himself that they were close to making. He should have known better. After he told her his plans for the evening, she told him in no uncertain terms that they were, well, unacceptable. He had cajoled her into at least giving it a try. But after an hour of uncomfortable silence broken only occasionally by his conversation attempts and her curt answers, he had suggested that they call it a night. She had politely thanked him for his efforts and turned and walked out. Harry had paced in the deserted holodeck, berating himself aloud for his bad judgement. "Way to go Harry. You are so smooth. What the hell were you thinking? She barely even knows herself, and you though that this was a good time for her to get to know you better? Come on. You don't stand a chance with a girl like that in a million years. You should have listened to Tom. He seems to know what he's talking about." Harry had shook his head and gone looking for advice. After being turned away from Tom's quarters without even a second thought, he felt his anger begin to rise. And along with it, self pity. He couldn't seem to do anything right this evening. He realized what he had probably interrupted in Tom's room, but the sharp dismissal stung. "Great." He muttered darkly to himself. "Now that they found each other, who needs me?" Harry figured that as long as he was going to wallow in misery and loneliness, he might as well go all the way. He was still scheduled on the holodeck, so he made his way there and activated Sandrine's. He slowly got drunk as he shot game after game of lousy pool against the holocharacters. He didn't even notice when the doors opened and another person came in.

She walked to a deserted booth in a dark corner. The last thing she wanted to do was to deal with anyone else. She had just gotten through a long day and wanted to relax. But relaxation was elusive for Daria MacKinney. The ensign from engineering sat wondering if this was one of those days where the fates were plotting against her. With Lt. Torres out of engineering for most of the day, the mood had lightened considerably. Sue Nicholetti spent the after noon teasing Daria about her love life. Or lack there of. Sue had not meant to be cruel, she found it amazing that the petite redhead spent so much time alone in her quarters. Daria just shrank back into her work. How could she explain to someone like Sue the overwhelming shyness that poked and prodded into every aspect of her life. The constant fear that opening her mouth would only lead to her saying something stupid. Having people laugh at her. She had flown through her years at the Academy without attracting attention. And when she had received her first starship posting, she was hoping to continue the trend. She was a bit disappointed at first to be posted to Voyager, she had her heart set on a Galaxy class ship. She felt that on one of the larger ships, she had a better chance of not standing out. But then she arrived on board and found that even a small ship, it was easy to blend into the bulkheads. But now, three years of isolation in the Delta quadrant made it almost impossible for anyone to blend. Daria shook her head. Three years of living in what amounted to a floating small town. A very small town. Was it any wonder that she was feeling a bit antsy. She had no close friends on board. Her shyness made it hard for her to approach anyone, and even when she began to fell comfortable, she had often found her cutting humor to be unappreciated. So she kept to her self, spending her off duty time curled up on the couch in her quarters with a good book downloaded into her datapadd. But for some reason tonight she needed to move. Feeling confined in her quarters she went for a walk. She came to the holodeck, noticed what program was running, and decided to have a drink. She barely noticed Harry as she entered, and it was not until he threw down his pool cue with a curse, that she realized that he was the only real person in there.

"Ensign Kim?" When he jumped and whirled around to face her, she noticed the dark expression on his face. He glared at her, his angry gaze penetrating her concern. Her black mood returned in full force. "I'm sorry. I'll leave." Yeesh. Remember this Daria, the next time you feel like leaving your quarters

"Wait. Ensign MacKinney" He looked around wildly, trying to salvage this before he offended her for life. His voice softened, "Daria, can I call you that? I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be rude." She glared at him, daring him to continue. His anger dissipated as he looked at her. "Please stay. You look like your night is going about as bad as mine is. Let me get you a drink. We can drown out our troubles together."

Daria laughed. Harry was right, in their respective bad moods, at least they couldn't bring each other any farther down. "You've got a deal Ensign. Care to let me beat you at pool?" He looked at her surprised. He had no idea what he was in for. In the basement of her parent's house, she had spent hours watching her brother and his friends play pool. Watching and learning. He linked his am through hers as they headed for the bar. It was amazing how just the company of another could help ease the black mood.

Two hours later they were both drunk, but undoubtedly cheered up. Harry broke out the bottles of wine he had traded a weeks worth of replicator rations on. He had planned on serving them to Seven as part of the picnic, but had never even opened the picnic basket. He had justified their use to Daria telling her "On a night like this, synthehol just doesn't cut it." So together they had drunk. And talked. Harry laughed until his sides ached when she told of Carey's attempts to argue with Vorik. Daria giggled as he described his disastrous date. All too soon, it was time to leave.

Harry stood up, swaying a little. He was amazed at the woman standing in front of him. He had never had much to do with her before, but was amazed at who he had discovered. He wondered how he had ever thought of her as quiet. She had a wicked sense of humor that kept him on his toes. He wanted to know her better. For her to know him better. Maybe sometime when they were sober. Harry tried to help Daria back to her quarters, both of them leaning heavily on each other to keep their balance, and giggling over every comment, strange look and difficulty. As they entered the turbolift, Harry lost his balance and they both tumbled into the side of the lift, Daria's body pinning his to the wall. Out of breath, but still laughing, he looked down into her eyes. As the moment overwhelmed him, he bent his head to kiss her and was interrupted by the other occupant of the lift.

"Ensigns Kim and MacKinney, you seem to be having difficulty. Do you require assistance." Seven had been standing against the opposite wall, unnoticed by either Harry or Daria. "Are you intoxicated?"

Harry felt his heart sink clear through his body, replaced by a flash of anger. "No thank you." His voice was cold as he replied. "I think we can handle the trip just fine by ourselves."

"You are both inebriated. You appear to be having trouble walking. Let me assist you to your quarters."

"Thanks, but no thanks. I think we can make it on our own." He glared at Seven across the small space, leaving his arms wrapped around Daria's waist. She was a bit surprised, but the feeling that his hands were sending though her body were just too good to ignore. So she reciprocated. As the lift slowed, he pushed himself off of the wall and slowly they made their way out. They kept their arms around each other's waists as they walked in silence back to Daria's quarters, the playful mood gone. When they reached her door, Harry looked down at Daria again. "I'm sorry. I did have a lot of fun tonight." He tightened his grip and hugged her close. "I'll see you tomorrow." Before she could turn to go, he surprised her by winding his arm around the back of her head, pulling her even closer, and kissing her with an unmistakable passion.

"You can come in for a while if you want." She practically purred the invitation.

"Daria, right now, if I come into your quarters, we are going to end up doing a lot more than talking." Harry wanted to take her up on her invitation, but even in his present state, the gentleman in him refused to die.

"I know." At his shocked gaze, she continued. "I'm not asking for a lifetime commitment. I have just had a wonderful evening. I've enjoyed the time we've spent together, and I don't want it to end. I'm not trying to push you into anything, just to see what might happen." He laughed at her matter-of-fact explanation and bent down to kiss her. The passion ignited between them and they stumbled through her door. "Harry?"

"Hmmm?"

"I want you to know, I don't usually do this." She had a hard time getting the words out with her mouth buried into the delicious spot where his neck met his shoulder.

"Well neither do I. Are you sure you want to-" Harry was cut off as she kissed him deeply. "I guess that's a yes."

********

Tom woke in the morning to the sound of B'Elanna dry-heaving in the bathroom. He climbed out of bed and stumbled to the bathroom. "Hey, are you okay?"

"I don't know. This seems to be getting worse. I wonder if there is anything the doctor can do to help. I can't keep this up." She rinsed her mouth out with water and turned to Tom. "And how are you?" She pressed her still naked body close to his, stood on tiptoe and kissed him.

Tom groaned. "I'm fine, but I'm not going to stay that way if you don't stop that. We have a senior staff meeting in an hour. You need to eat some breakfast. I know you skipped dinner last night, and you need to eat for the baby." A smile crossed his face as he said the word.

B'Elanna noticed the smile and giggled, his giddiness at her pregnancy melting away the anger that was beginning to rise at his overprotectiveness

Tom slid down her body to plant a kiss in the center of her abdomen. "Good morning to you too" he whispered to the baby.

"Let go. I need a shower. Do I have any clean uniforms here or do I need to go back to my quarters?" She pushed him back before she lost control and they both ended up late. Again.

Tom understood and backed off. "I think there's one left in the closet. I'll check." He disappeared into the bedroom and returned a moment later, the familiar gold and black draped over his arm. "Here you go. I'm going to go clean up that mess from last night." He grinned at her. As she raised her hand to caress his face, the ring on her finger caught the light. He could not help but notice how stunning it was on her slim hand. He kissed the palm of her hand, and left the bathroom.

********

Harry woke up, and looked around for a moment before remembering where he was. A grin spread across his face as remembered the previous night. He and Daria had made love several times before falling asleep exhausted in each other's arms. He was alone in her bed, but there was a padd lying on the pillow next to him. He picked it up and read the short note from Daria telling him that she had gone for her morning run on the holodeck and that she would meet him in the mess for breakfast. He pulled his clothes on and headed to his own quarters for a shower. He made it to the mess in record time and looked around for her. She hadn't arrived yet so Harry grabbed his breakfast and sat down where he had a good view of the door to wait for her. He was so busy watching the door that he didn't notice Seven approaching him form behind.

"Ensign Kim" The sound of her voice made him jump. He spun to face her, forgetting the coffee in his hand until it splashed out of the cup and onto Seven's hand.

"Seven, I'm so sorry. Are you okay?" He grabbed a napkin from the table and helped her clean up the hot coffee on her hand.

"I am experiencing some pain." She made this statement as if she were commenting on technical specs. It amazed Harry how the pain never reflected in her voice.

"I'll bet you are. Let me see your hand" Harry stood and took her hand to examine it. "I'm sorry about this."

Daria walked through the door of the mess and froze. There, directly in front of her stood Seven and Harry, inches apart. He held her hand clasped in both of his. His face was flushed and he was talking earnestly to him. Daria walked backwards the few steps out the door, and turned to lean against the bulkhead next to the door. She shook her head and began muttering to herself under her breath. "Come on Dar, what right do you have to get jealous? So you fuck him one night and think you have some sort of claim? You knew he was interested in someone else right off the bat." She straightened up. Damned if she was going to get in the middle of that. She'd just steer clear of Harry for a while, let things take their natural course. She tried to shake off the irrational anger that surfaced when she saw the two of them together. Fine. Harry wanted to be with Seven, the least Daria could do is leave the two of them in peace. Burying the hurt and anger deep inside of her, she held up her head and walked back down the corridor. IF she hurried, she had time to replicate a cup of coffee before going on duty. She nodded at Lt. Paris and Lt. Torres as she passed them on their way out of the turbolift.

Tom and B'Elanna entered the mess hall, both grinning with the air of someone who had a secret they are bursting to share. They turned a few heads as they entered. Although the crew had grown accustomed to seeing them as a couple, and even to their morning entrances together, this morning something was different. The expressions on their faces were so happy, so self-satisfied that they attracted attention. And they ignored it all. B'Elanna spotted Harry sitting alone at a table and gave Tom's hand a squeeze. "Can you get me some toast or something. Something bland. I'm going to go talk to Harry. He looks like hell." He did look bad. Dark circles were evident under his eyes, he looked exhausted. He held his aching head between his hands, staring at the doorway as he had been doing for the past half hour. He jumped as she spoke. "Hey Harry. Long night?"

"You could say that." Harry winced as she purposely spoke loudly and then laughed at him. The then flushed a bit as the memory flashed through his mind. He was beginning to get discouraged however, it was well past the time Daria had asked him to meet her. Seven had just left to get the scald on her hand repaired in sickbay and he had been about to call Daria over the COM when B'Elanna had shown up. He didn't want to call her in front of others until they had a chance to talk things out and find out where they stood. It was here that B'Elanna found him.

Hey, about last night." His head snapped up to stare at her. "When you came to Tom's quarters?" she wondered what else had happened to him the previous night. "I want to apologize, we were, um, busy when you came by, and I'm afraid that we may have been a little rude."

"It's okay. I should know better than to interrupt you two at that time of night. So. What's up with you?" Harry changed the subject before B'Elanna could ask what happened after he left Tom's quarters.

"What?" She grinned as she asked. Tom walked up behind her and slipped her tray onto the table. Her tray held several pieces of toast, a glass of milk, and lots of fresh fruit. Tom's contained a multicolored pile of glop. Just the smell of it made her stomachs rise. She looked away from his breakfast and concentrated on her toast.

"So what is up with you two?" Harry repeated his question, their contented smiles piquing his curiosity. Through out the course of the meal, they evaded ll. of his questions with the promise that he would soon find out. Harry on the other hand completely ignored their questions about his evening and his appearance.

They made their way to the staff meeting, with Tom and B'Elanna taking a short detour as she continued to be plagued with morning sickness. "Bland food. Sure that helped." She muttered darkly as she splashed water across her face. They rushed to the briefing room and slipped into their seats, realizing that they were the last to arrive.

Harry looked at them, questions in his dark eyes. One minute they were right behind them, the next, they were gone. Oh well. He had his own problems to deal with. When he discovered himself alone in the turbolift he had called Daria. She had been very cold over the line when he asked what happened to her that morning. She snapped at him when he asked if they could meet for lunch. He was wondering if she felt that he had taken advantage of her the previous night. He was almost desperate to see her, and see if that glint was still present in her eyes when she looked at him. Then Janeway called the meeting to order and he pushed it to the back of his mind.

The meeting was fairly short. They were currently traveling through a largely uninhabited region of space, for once the ship was running smoothly, and there was not a whole lot to discuss. Tom sat next to his future wife, holding her hand discreetly under the table. As Captain Janeway wrapped up the meeting, she asked if anyone had anything else, just as she did at the end of each briefing. However, this morning, she was in for a bit of a surprise.

Tom rose to his feet, his hand still firmly grasping B'Elanna's, pulling her up to stand next to him. "Actually Captain, we have an announcement to make. B'Elanna and I are going to be married." He looked around at the shocked faces and grinned. Glancing over at B'Elanna's face, he saw a matching grin. The rest of the senior staff quickly recovered and crowded around them, shaking hands, offering hugs and congratulations.

Kathryn, admiring B'Elanna's ring smiled. "I suppose I'd better brush up on my wedding protocol."

Neelix bustled around excitedly. "Oh a wedding! You will let me help plan the party, won't you?"

"Well, we haven't even talked about a wedding yet." B'Elanna protested. "It's not like either one of us has time to plan a huge wedding. I was thinking something simple in the captain's ready room." Beside her, Tom agreed.

"Now where's the fun in that?" Neelix sounded offended at her comment.

"Neelix is right." Kathryn agreed, surprising the other occupants of the room. "This will be the first wedding on Voyager. If the two of you would agree, I know I would be willing to help you plan this. I'm sure Mr. Neelix would be willing to offer his services also." As the look of panic rose on B'Elanna's face, she continued. "Of course, the two of you would have the final say in all of this."

"We'll think about it. Thank you for the offer." B'Elanna felt Tom's hand squeeze hers. She began to fell a little trapped, surrounded by those who wanted to wish them well. She backed into Tom, forcing them both away from the small crowd.

Soon the officers filed out of the room, talking with excitement about the upcoming nuptials. Tom overheard Chakotay whispering to Harry something about a bachelor party. They were alone in the briefing room. He smiled. This ship was their home, this crew their family. With B'Elanna next to him, and the thought of their baby growing inside of her, Tom felt contentment unlike anything he had ever known. As he turned to her, she brushed away tears he hadn't realized he was shedding. He gathered her into his arms, content to just hold her without talking. But she seemed to sense his thoughts. "Me too." She whispered into his ear. "I've never felt so completely happy."

"I hate to interrupt." A familiar voice came from the doorway. "Lt. Torres, are you ever planning on returning to sickbay?" I need to do a complete exam, and there are a few things about your pregnancy that you should be made aware of." The doctor's last comment caused a wave of panic to hit them both.

"Is there something wrong with the baby?" Tom could hardly get the words out. He felt the fear overwhelm him. He had only known about the baby for a little over twelve hours, but the thought of loosing it terrified him.

"Not that I know of, you can both relax. But I need to see you. Preferably both of you as soon as your duties permit." The doctor realized too late just how badly he had phrased his remarks. B'Elanna's pale face worried him. Perhaps now would be a good time to start thinking about his bedside manner again.

Tom relaxed. The frightened look on his face replaced by that trademark Paris smirk. "Well Doc, I'm spending the morning down there. So if you will let me off duty in sickbay long enough for me to go to sickbay, I'll be there." He teased the doctor. "B'Elanna?"

"Well I've got to go to engineering first, but I'll be there as soon as I can." With that, she gave Tom a quick kiss and was gone.

An hour later, she was perched on the edge of a biobed in sickbay, with Tom standing right beside of her. The doc approached her, tricorder in hand. "Well, are you ready?" At their nods, he punched a few buttons began the exam. "Hmm. Seven weeks along. No genetic abnormalities, good growth rate." One of the readings on the tricorder caused his head to snap up to glare at B'Elanna. "When was the last time you ate?"

"About two and a half hours ago." She replied honestly. As his angry gaze intensified, she continued. "And I threw it all back up about two hours ago. If you want to know when the last time I ate anything that stayed down, I really don't remember."

"You body chemistry is alarming. You are also suffering from the beginning stages of dehydration." He prepared a hypospray and administered it. He then handed it to Tom. "This should help with the nausea and it also contains a dietary supplement. Administer it every four hours. If it hasn't helped within 24 hours, return and we can try something else."

"I don't get it. I thought Klingons didn't get morning sickness." B'Elanna's tone bordered on the complaining.

"Well humans do. I took the liberty of researching the Federation database and found a variety of symptoms that you may encounter. The morning sickness is just the beginning. Both races experience fatigue, sometimes-painful swelling of the breasts, dizziness and hormone induced mood swings. Klingon pregnancies also tend to include fluctuations in body temperature and pain in the joints. Now you may experience some or all of these." The doctor looked smugly at their shocked faces. "I am going to need to draw some blood from both of you. Since you were both current on your boosters, I want to run a molecular analysis to see if I can figure out why they malfunctioned."

The Doctor drew a small vial of blood form each of them and finished B'Elanna's exam. "Would the two of you like to see the fetal scan?" They both nodded. "Do you want to know the sex?"

"No." B'Elanna's answer left no room for doubt. Tom agreed. Some things were just better left a surprise. The doctor placed the scanner over her belly, pressed a few buttons, and the image appeared on the viewscreen. Tom and B'Elanna both gasped. Plainly visible on the screen were two small figures. Her voice was barely a whisper. "Twins?"

********

Late in the night, the EMH sat back from the molecular scanner and sighed. He had been working almost around the clock for the past three weeks, poring over Tom and B'Elanna's blood samples. His first analysis found the hormones form the boosters to still be present in their bloodstream. He extracted them and discovered that not only were they present, but were, in fact still active. He puzzled over this fact. If the boosters were functioning properly, then there should be no pregnancy. But there was, so he continued on his research.

Two weeks after diagnosing B'Elanna's pregnancy, Ensign Natalie Brooks came into sickbay complaining of an upset stomach and fatigue. After a quick examination, he discovered that she was four weeks pregnant. Ten minutes later a bewildered but ecstatic Freddie Bristow joined her in sickbay and they both had blood drawn. With a second set of samples, the doctor began to look for similarities. He ran a second analysis, then a third. But he still found nothing. On the fourth analysis, he got creative. And then he found something. But not enough. He still didn't know what it was or how it got there, but he knew he was on the right track.

When a third unplanned pregnancy presented it's self on Voyager, the Doctor lined up six blood samples side by side. Molecule by molecule, he began to break them down. As he looked at them, a slight discrepancy showed up in one. Further analysis showed it to be all six samples. Finally the answer became almost painfully obvious. Alarmed, he making plans to draw a blood sample from every member of the crew.

********

Four weeks after learning of his impending fatherhood, Tom was almost half way through his shift in sickbay. He sighed. The doctor had set him collecting blood samples all week. Now that the analysis was almost complete, Tom had spent the last three hours checking readout after readout. He stretched and leaned back over the terminal. The Doctor was almost ready to present his finding to the captain, now that he had a handle on the extent of the problem and readministered boosters to those who were affected.

Tom checked his chronometer once again. One hour left until his lunch break. He was having a hard time concentrating on the data rolling across his screen and his mind began to wander. Tom frowned as he thought of B'Elanna. Her pregnancy was not going well. The babies were both healthy and growing fast, but they were taking their toll on their mother. The doctor had researched the Federation database and found medical records from another woman with B'Elanna's mixed heritage. It seemed Ambassador K'Ehleyr had experienced similar problems during her pregnancy with her son. It appeared that the mixed Human and Klingon reproductive systems was literally waging a war with her body. But knowing the reasons did not make B'Elanna's symptoms any easier to bear. She continued to be plagued with morning sickness that lasted the entire day. The Doctor had run her through nearly every medication he could think of that would not be harmful to the babies. None had helped much. She grew thinner and thinner, the small amounts of food she was able to consume went to nourishing their growing children. Yet, through it all, she kept a good attitude. Tom had become very protective of her. Every spare minute was spent making sure she was comfortable and happy. He gave her backrubs when she was tired, held her when she was upset, made sure that she was not to busy to sleep. He had gotten into the habit of tucking her into bed each night. B'Elanna was a little overwhelmed by all the attention. She would have normally ripped his head off for being so overprotective, but given her current health, she accepted it thankfully. He was amazed. He didn't feel that he could go through the torture that her body was going through without copping a major attitude. Also, B'Elanna had the upcoming wedding to add to her troubles.

They had agreed to let Neelix and Janeway plan the wedding. And to the morale officer and the captain's credit, they had been doing a wonderful job. The wedding was only a week away, and almost all of the details had been worked out,. Tom had made sure that no more stress had been placed on B'Elanna, instead spending hours after she was asleep helping Neelix and Kathryn with decorations, invitations, menus for the reception, and countless other details. He was beginning to wonder if B'Elanna didn't have the right idea in the first place.

Tom was exhausted. He had pulled two double shifts in the past week, and then spent most of the previous night on the bridge, covering for a sick crewmember. He had reported for duty in sickbay with only 45 minutes of sleep under his belt. With the time he spent planning the wedding, and taking care of B'Elanna, he was operating on nothing but caffeine and adrenaline. But as soon as his shift ended today, he promised himself that he would take the night off. He was meeting B'Elanna and they were going to see the captain. Over the last few weeks, they had tried several times to get Janeway alone so they could inform her of B'Elanna's pregnancy. But every time, something had interrupted. Neither of them felt like making a public announcement yet, and a message on her computer terminal seemed a tad too impersonal. So tonight they were hoping to catch her alone. Tom straightened up, stretching his arms over his head. He looked around and saw the Doctor talking quietly to Daria MacKinney. She had been in to have her booster updated, one of the last affected crewmembers to do so. But now she sat across sickbay, tearstains on her face, glaring at Tom. He absently wondered what he did wrong this time. As he was putting the finishing touches on his report for the Doc, he heard the familiar whine of the transporter. At the exact same moment, he heard the Doctor's combadge activate. "Emergency transport form Engineering." The Doctor thrust his tricorder at Tom, impatiently ordering him to finish with Daria while he dealt with the emergency.

Tom walked over to where Daria sat. "Ensign MacKinney. How are you?" He barely knew her, other than she was one of B'Elanna's engineers. And a good one at that. But she seemed so quiet, he had never had a chance to get to know her. He glanced down at the tricorder. His head snapped up to look at her. "You're pregnant?"

Her tear filled eyes snapped in anger. "Please don't tell anyone. I need a chance to figure out what I'm going to do and how I'm going to tell-" She cut herself of suddenly, realizing that the man she was talking to was Harry's best friend. Harry. She had told him in no uncertain terms that she felt that their one night together was a mistake and should be forgotten. Hell she had almost convinced herself of that. Since then she had gone out of her way to avid him, treating him coldly whenever they happened to run into each other. Now she would have to face him. To watch his face, with the pained expression that appeared every time he saw her. Oh. She cut off that line of thinking. Now was not the time. Tell the doc I'll come back when it's a little less busy." She hopped off the biobed and was out the door before Tom could say a word.

He turned back to where the Doctor was leaning over his patient. He shook his head. He tried to remember who Daria had been seeing recently. Oh well. The way the rumor mill worked on Voyager, he'd probably hear about it soon enough. "Hey Doc. Need a hand?" He walked up next to the Doctor and glanced down at the figure on the biobed. He gasped. "B'Elanna! What happened?"

"Apparently she collapsed in her office. Ensign Vorik found her and had her transported here." The Doctor's tone was matter-of-fact. "Don't worry Mr. Paris. Her vital signs are stable and the babies are fine. She seems to have just reacted badly to the last medication I gave her for her nausea. I am attempting to neutralize it now."

"It didn't work anyways. She was throwing up all day." Tom took her hand in his. He was trembling, his skin almost as pale as hers.

"Well that probably contributed as well. I see no choice but to discontinue the treatments for the nausea. I can't give her anything stronger without harming the fetuses. If she does not improve soon, we may have to consider intravenous feedings." He turned to look at Tom. "Mr. Paris, hand me that scanner." Tom turned to retrieve the piece of equipment, but his head was moving faster than his exhausted body. The doctor turned just in time to see him fall. His head smacked against the base of the biobed and Tom lay still, a trickle of blood seeping from a small cut on his forehead.

The doors to sickbay opened and Captain Janeway strode in. "Doctor, report."

"Lt. Torres passed out in engineering. She is stable, and as soon as she awakes, I will release her to her quarters. I am relieving her from duty for 24 hours." As he spoke, the Doctor quickly scanned Tom, unnoticed by the Captain.

"What is wrong with her? I thought Klingons did not faint." She stood by the biobed, shocked by B'Elanna's pallor and noticing for the first time how thin she was becoming. "Is she sick?"

"No, she's pregnant." As she fixed her gaze on the Doctor, he looked at her in surprise. "You didn't know that?"

"No. This is the first I've heard of it." The anger in her voice was unmistakable. "Doctor, I should have been notified."

"Both Lt. Torres and Lt. Paris expressed a desire to tell you themselves. Have you read the report I sent to you two days ago?" He moved Tom off of the floor and onto an adjacent biobed. Tom stirred, but as the doctor administered a hypo, he lay still. Janeway's eyes flew open as she noticed her unconscious pilot.

"Not yet. With the crew evaluations going on, I'm a little behind on my reports. What happened to Tom?" The anger was once again replaced by concern. The sight of Tom lying on the floor had alarmed her. Even on the biobed, his skin was still grayish and the blood stood out in startling contrast.

"Exhaustion. I would guess from these readings that he been averaging less than three hours of sleep a day. B'Elanna was beamed in unconscious, his mind was moving faster than his body could deal with. The hardest head in the Delta quadrant has suffered from yet another concussion. I think he could also benefit from 24 hours off duty. And you should read that report." As he spoke, the Doctor administered a hypospray to B'Elanna.

"I agree." Kathryn shook her head. Between double shifts, the wedding, and B'Elanna, he had literally worked himself into the ground. She turned away from Tom and looked at B'Elanna. "She's so thin." She mused to herself.

"B'Elanna is suffering from severe morning sickness. She is not responding to any of the treatments I have given her."

"Is her health in danger?" Janeway's concern was evident in her voice.

"It will be if she doesn't improve soon. I'm at the extent of what I can do for her medically. As closely as I can tell, it is her mixed heritage that is making her so ill. The hormones currently needed to maintain her pregnancy are interacting badly with her body chemistry. Within the month, her hormonal balance will change again and I'm hoping she will begin to feel better. For now though, I can do nothing more than discontinue the medications, see if her body can cope on it's own. If not, I will have to consider feeding her intravenously. However I don't think Mr. Neelix's cooking is helping the situation. Perhaps some changes in the replicator rationing system would be appropriate."

"I understand. I will be looking into it. Please inform me as soon as Lt. Paris and Lt. Torres hare regained consciousness. Now I've got a report to read. I hope it will answer some of my questions." She gave one more glance at the still forms of her senior staff members and left sickbay.

********

Tom woke up, automatically reached out for B'Elanna and fell off the edge of the biobed. He landed with a thump and moaned softly. How the hell had he ended up sleeping in sickbay. As he tried to sit up, the splitting pain in his head forced him to lay back down. Realization hit. B'Elanna. He jerked around to face the biobed where she lay, peering over the edge, giggling softly.

"You woke me up" she accused. "Here I was sleeping soundly, and all of a sudden this 'whump'. I looked down and there you were. What is going on anyways?"

Tom opened his mouth to answer as he stood up, but was cut off as the doctor walked up behind him. "You collapsed in Engineering. The babies are fine, but I've had to neutralize the anti-nausea medication I was giving you. Now, Mr. Paris bounced his head off the base of the biobed. He has a mild concussion, but other than that, he will also be fine. However I'm really getting sick of the two of you cluttering up my sickbay."

"So why don't you release us and we will be only to happy to leave." Tom whirled to face the doctor, and quickly regretted the movement when his throbbing head protested with sharp pain and a wave of dizziness. He leaned against the biobed for support.

"That's why. You need to rest a while longer. You are exhausted. I will be releasing you both in a few hours. But you need to get some rest first. B'Elanna, I would like you to try and eat something. Feel free to replicate anything you want. Also the Captain will be down to see you shortly. Now Mr. Paris, please return to bed." The doctor turned and walked to his office, leaving the two of them alone.

"Well. Nothing like a trip to sickbay to liven up a boring afternoon. I'm going to take the doc up on his offer of the replicator. I'm hungry. Do you realize that this is the first time in weeks that I've woken up without feeling nauseous?" B'Elanna slid off the edge of the bed and padded over to the replicator.

Tom grinned as she walked over. "Good. Maybe the morning sickness is starting to pass. What are you having?"

"I'm going to take it easy. I don't want to push it. Computer, chicken noodle soup." She grinned at Tom as the replicator whirred softly. She picked up the bowl and careful walked back over to the bed where Tom sat. She sat next to him, and slowly ate her soup.

They were still sitting there, Tom's arm wrapped around her waist when the Captain arrived. "Lieutenants, how are you feeling?"

"Better than I have in weeks, Captain" B'Elanna answered truthfully. "Uh, there is something we need to speak to you about" She was surprised by the fluttering of nervousness in her stomach. This would be the first person that they had told about her pregnancy, and she felt a bit disappointed about loosing their secret.

"Before you do that, I want to give you your new quarters assignment." Janeway handed Tom a padd, stepped back and grinned as they looked at it. When they looked up at her with questioning looks on their faces she shrugged. "You will be needing a two bedroom. Unless of course you want to share a room with the baby." She laughed as they looked at her, both wearing identical expressions of shock and amazement. "Relax. The doctor told me earlier. I'm very happy for the both of you. Don't get me wrong, I would have liked to have known about this earlier, but I realize that you have not had many chances to speak to me alone."

"Thank you Captain. We were going to try and catch you tonight, but-" B'Elanna cut off, as a now-familiar feeling began to build inside of her. She turned to Tom, a look of panic on her face. Tom reached behind him and grabbed a basin, barely getting it to her in time. She leaned heavily against him as the nausea once again reasserted its claim on her.

Janeway left the two of them to confront the doctor. "Doctor. Is there anything else that you would like to tell me? Anything that falls under the category of Captain's need to know? I read your report, but let's go over this in person."

"I believe I have found the results of another experiment performed on our crew by our uninvited alien visitors. It appears to be a fertility study. I found a substance in the bloodstream of some crewmembers that should not have been there. Although it was not phased, it took some extensive research to find it. It is almost identical to the composition of the contraceptive boosters." The doctor sounded almost smug while presenting these facts.

"And this rendered the boosters ineffective?" Kathryn prompted him.

"Yes. Not only that, but these molecules interacted with the boosters to not only disable the contraceptive, but actually increased their fertility. It s truly an amazing treatment. I've documented the molecular structure in the medical database, it could prove to be more effective and less invasive than many of our current treatments for infertility."

"We'll discuss that later. Right now I want to know exactly how many crewmembers were affected by this." Janeway braced herself for the answer.

"47% of the males, 23% of the females on board." His voice held a quiet resignation. "I have modified the boosters to combat this substance and administered them to the affected crew members before this problem gets any farther out of hand."

She looked him straight in the eye. "How big of a problem is this doctor?"

"I have now checked every crewmember who's blood test showed that they were affected. There are four women who are expecting. All are due within eight weeks of each other. In short, Voyager is experiencing a baby boom."

Kathryn sighed. This was worse that she had imagined. The realization had grown with each day that they were out here that they would soon have to deal with families on a ship that was not equipped for them. She adored children, and little Naomi Wildman was a delight to her, but that didn't change the fact that Voyager was not designed as a family ship. But it would have to be. Janeway squared her shoulders and looked straight at the Doctor. "Besides B'Elanna who else? Why haven't I heard of any of this?" The tone of her voice left no room for discussion.

"Lt. Jenny Delaney, Ensign Natalie Brooks, and Ensign Daria MacKinney are the three others. Lt. Delaney and Ensign Brooks both expressed a desire to discuss it with their partners before speaking to you. Ensign MacKinney just found out a few hours ago. I have discussed their options with all of them. And all except Ensign MacKinney have decided to continue with their pregnancies. I'm waiting to hear back from her. She needed some time. I believe it is all of their intentions to discuss this with you in the future. I did not feel it was my place to inform you. I guess I was mistaken." The doctor's sarcastic tone was back in full force as he delivered this last statement.

Just then Tom popped his head around the corner. His face was pale and drawn in pain. "Doc.." his voice trailed off as he saw Janeway glaring at the EMH.

"Mr. Paris. I thought I told you to rest. Why are you up?" If Tom didn't know better he could have sworn that the doc looked relieved to see him.

"It's B'Elanna. She's not doing real well. She says she's dizzy and cold." The doctor brusquely left his office without a word. Tom followed behind, leaving Janeway alone in the office.

B'Elanna lay on her side, curled around the basin, ineffective spasms continuing to wrack her body.. She was shivering uncontrollably, while the room spun around her. The Doctor ran the scanner over her and administered a hypo. His voice was soothing as he spoke to her. "Okay B'Elanna. That should help with your dizziness. Sit up and I'll get you a blanket. Come on." As the hypo took effect, she sat up slowly.

"I'm so cold" She was still shivering as she grasped Tom's hand firmly.

"I know. That's the effects from your Klingon side. It will pass. Here. Wrap yourself up in this, it'll help warm you up." The doctor handed her a standard issue blanket and went to a workstation across the room. He returned with a small piece of equipment. He pressed a few buttons on it and moved to B'Elanna's side. "I don't think I can put this off any longer. You are becoming dehydrated and showing signs of malnutrition. This will rehydrate you and provide you with nutrients" He placed the curved device on her neck and activated it. "It will take about an hour to complete the cycle. You will need to come to sickbay four times a day until we can find someway to keep food in you."

"At this point Doc, I feel so bad I'm not even going to complain." B'Elanna leaned against Tom.

"Why don't you try to rest and I will reexamine you when the cycle is complete. If you are doing better I will release you to your quarters. Mr. Paris. Unless you want to remain here when I release her, I suggest you rest also." Tom reluctantly returned to his own biobed and lay down. The doctor looked at both of them and nodded his head. He returned to his office to continue his conversation with the captain.

B'Elanna tossed and turned on the bed. She was dead tired and felt like she could sleep forever. If she could just fall asleep. But something was wrong. She couldn't put her finger on it. Either the pillow or the mattress or... Her chain of thought was cut off by a chuckle from the next bed.

"I can't get to sleep either. You know what it is don't you?" Tom looked at her with a solemn expression on his face. She shook her head. "We are just not used to sleeping alone. I can't get to sleep without your cold feet on my leg." He flashed her a grin and she laughed.

"You know lieutenant, I think you're right." She swung her legs over the edge of the bed and stood up. "Well then scoot over and make some room. But be careful, if you dump me on the floor you'll be sleeping alone on a permanent basis." She climbed up into Tom's bed. He spread the blanket over both of them and pulled her close on the narrow bed. His arms encircled her and she snuggled her head below his chin. They were both asleep within minutes.


[End Part I]

 

 

 

Part II

 

There lived a handsome pilotÖ

 

 

Two hours later Tom and B'Elanna entered Tom's quarters. Tom sat heavily down on the couch, still feeling the effects of the concussion. B'Elanna, on the other hand, was ready to crawl out of her skin. Thanks to the doctor's treatment, she had more energy now than she had in weeks. She moved around Tom's quarters restlessly. "Twenty-four hours off? You have to be kidding me. The captain promised us three days off after the wedding as it is. I need to get back to Engineering."

 

"Feeling guilty about neglecting your engines Be?" Tom was watching her pace, an amused smile obvious on his face.

 

"Don't call me that. I don't like nicknames." She crossed her arms across her chest and stopped opposite the couch to glare at Tom. "Well at least there I can be doing something. For once I don't feel like I'm going to puke or pass out and where am I? 'Released to quarters' Exactly what I going to do here?"

 

"Do you really have to ask?" His smile turning almost instantaneously into a leer. "Come on B'Elanna, you said yourself that you are feeling better."

 

"Pig. Did anyone ever tell you that you have a one track mind?" She attempted to sound annoyed, but the grin that kept popping onto her face told him that she was not totally unappreciative of the idea. "So what do you want to do with the other 23 hours and 45 minutes?"

 

"Excuse me?" Tom launched himself at her, laughing. She dodged him, and he continued his pursuit. "I think you've forgotten. I know it's been a while. Maybe you need a refresher course. I'm sure I could take the time out of my busy schedule and- oof!" He cut off as a particularly daring maneuver on his part ended with him tumbling over the back of the couch, B'Elanna sprawled across him.

 

"Hmm. I think I remember this part." She murmured softly as she lowered her mouth down to his. Tom ran his tongue over her lips until they parted. Their tongues danced together as he ran his hands down B'Elanna's back, pulling her body ever closer to his. She gently took his bottom lip between her teeth as she felt him growing hard against her thigh. He moaned, a sound of desperate longing that turned into a yelp of pain as she suddenly rolled off of him and stood up. "I'm going to take a shower." And with that, she disappeared into the bathroom. Tom lay back against the couch and took a deep breath. He lay still for a few moments as he attempted to gather together the pieces of his desire addled brain. He could hear her moving around in the bedroom and debated going to join her in the shower. A towel flew out from somewhere behind him to fall haphazardly across his face. An invitation if he ever saw one.

 

Tom made his way to the bathroom, peeling off his clothes en route. He entered the bathroom and blinked. The lights had been lowered to nothing. There were a few freshly lit candles scattered across the tiny room. Tom recognized them as the ones that had been sitting on the dresser in his bedroom from a particularly romantic encounter the previous week. The shower was already running hot water, sending swirling clouds of steam to dance in the warm candlelight. Through the steamy shower door, he could see B'Elanna, standing under the spray. He wasted no time in joining her. She smiled at him, a look of utter contentment evident on her face. Tom just stared at her. Her pregnancy had made drastic changes to her body, but to Tom, she had never looked more beautiful. She bent her head back into the water, slightly arching her back, sending her breasts arching upwards into Tom's waiting hands. He could feel her ribs, grazing his fingertips, entirely too prominent under her warm skin. Her usually small breasts, had increased in size exponentially, now filling and over filling Tom's hands. He bent his head to take one into his mouth. B'Elanna drew a quick breath between her clenched teeth.

 

"Does that hurt? Do you want me to stop?" Tom looked up in concern.

 

"If you stop, I will kill you" Her body was screaming in a combination of pain and pleasure. The increased sensitivity of her body sped up her responses to Tom's actions. It usually took her a little longer to get to the snarling and threatening stage. Tom loved it. He pulled her in closer to him, running his hand up her back to bury in her hair. It was starting to feel thicker in his hands, just another of the differences he discovered. But they were both most intrigued with the tiny lump that his roving hands found. The swelling in B'Elanna's belly had already begun grow rapidly. Right now it perfectly filled the palm Tom's hand, and he cupped it protectively for moment, sending a flush of joy and warmth through both of them. He leaned in to kiss her, their water slicked bodies sliding together. Their desire surged and built in intensity to take possession of both of them.

 

********

 

Daria paced nervously in her quarters. Harry was going to be here within minutes. She had no idea how she was going to tell him. Hi Harry. I know that I haven't said one civil word to you since the night I got drunk and fucked you senseless, but guess what. You are going to be a father. Yeah. That should go over real big. The door chime rang and she called to open it. The door slid open with a quiet hiss to reveal Harry. He stood there, an uncertain smile plastered on his face. "Hi" she whispered.

 

He walked through the door and nodded curtly at her greeting. He looked nervous, shifting from one foot to another , not knowing where to put his hands. He opened his mouth as if to speak to her, but closed it when he realized he didn't know what to say. He questioned the wisdom of coming tonight, the hurt he still felt at the cold silence she had been subjecting him to still fresh in his mind. He had no idea why she would call him after completely blowing him off for the last month, but he would take any chance he could get to actually talk to her. The silence stretched out farther between them, growing almost tangible as they started at each other without saying a word. Harry finally cleared his throat and asked her "So what's going on?" He realized how cold the words sounded as soon as they left his mouth, the anger he was still feeling towards her evident in the tone of his voice.

 

Daria's head snapped up to glare at him. She was shocked by his anger. Why the hell would he care that she blew him off. She was just another complication in his relationship with Seven. He should be grateful that she had cut herself off from him, not angry. All of the hurt and anger that she had felt seeing him holding hands with the ex-borg in the mess hall came flooding back in full force. Her eyes narrowed as she slowly walked towards Harry. He swallowed nervously, and began inching in the direction of the wall, almost feeling the waves of emotion emanating from her tensely coiled body. "You want to know what's going on?" He nodded, afraid to speak. "Fine. I'm pregnant. Is that what you wanted to hear?" she spat the words at him, continuing her advance on him.

 

Harry stopped dead in his retreat. "You're what? Oh my God, Daria, how- I mean I know how but how?" He looked straight at her, the tender, confused look in his eyes beginning to melt her anger. Had she been wrong? He looked so caring, concerned at that moment. She flushed under his intense gaze. Suddenly his expression suddenly changed to one of understanding. "The boosters. The aliens. That's how this happened." She nodded, tears beginning to well up in her eyes again. Now that it was out in the open she felt exhausted. The tension she had been carrying all day evaporated, leaving her feeling like she could collapse and sleep for days. Harry noticed the change in her body carriage and quickly closed the distance between them, taking her in his arms. He pulled her close and held her tight, whispering in her ear "It's going to be okay. We are going to figure this out. I promise," He moved her to the couch and sat, pulling her in next to him. "What are you planning? I mean what are we going to do? How are we going to handle this?"

 

Daria could hear the uncertainty in his words. But she also heard his emphasis on the 'we' and felt a small bit of comfort knowing that he planned on helping her through this. "I don't know Harry. I'm not sure if I'm ready for this, if I even want to do this. I wonder how fair it is to the baby in the situation that Voyager is in right now."

 

He stiffened with her words. "What do you mean 'fair'?" He turned his head to look down at her.

 

She sat up and turned to face him straight on. "I mean here. Out here in the middle of the Delta quadrant. It will be so long before we get home. I mean the dangers that this ship is going through. We seem to piss off almost every race we come in contact with. We don't know if we are going to be killed tomorrow or if we'll see the Alpha quad next week. What kind of a life is that for a child?" Her eyes snapped as she poured out her fears. The long litany of concerns had been running through her mind all afternoon. To hear them all come out only made them seem more real. Her words hung over them, as Harry tried to gather his racing thoughts enough to answer.

 

He took a deep breath and tried to speak calmly, not letting the unease he felt come out in his comments. "I know our situation out here is tentative to say the least, but you know that at this point, after four years, we have to stop putting our lives on hold until we get back. We have to consider the very real possibility that you and I will live out the rest of our lives on this ship." Harry sighed. "I don't know what to tell you Daria, I don't know what I want, or what we are going to do. I do know that not having this baby just feels wrong. Please Daria, just take a few days to think this over. I won't pressure you, but I just thought you should know what I think."

 

"Okay, I'll give it a few days and then we'll talk again. I just think I need to be alone right now. Okay?" She raised her tear filled eyes to his equally teary brown ones.

 

"Okay. Call me if you need anything." He planted a soft kiss on her forehead and walked to the door. He paused just outside the range of the door sensors. "I do care about you Daria. I thought we had something special starting. I think we still might. Remember that. Good night." He turned and left. The tears in her eyes fell and she lay down on the couch and sobbed.

 

********

 

"Well according to Klingon text, the chills are normal." Tom attempted to reassure B'Elanna. They sat on the couch, cuddled up, reading from several padds scattered around them.

 

"Well this one says that some human women will feel hot during the last trimester." B'Elanna yawned as she scrolled through a different padd.

 

"Here, lie down." B'Elanna laid her head in his lap, and reached for another padd. "So does that mean that I'd better have winter clothes out for then?" He couldn't resist teasing her a little. The temperature in Tom's quarters was set several degrees higher than what Tom would have deemed comfortable, but B'Elanna still felt cold. He compensated by pulling out the shorts and shirt that he usually wore to the resort holoprogram. B'Elanna had laughed at him when he put them on. He in turn laughed at their divergent attire when she replicated a pair of heavy knit pants and pulled a sweatshirt out of his closet. They read in silence for a few minutes, and the next time Tom looked down, B'Elanna was asleep, shivering slightly, with her arms pulled tightly into her chest. He slowly rose from the couch, careful not to wake her, and retreated into the bedroom for a blanket. He still felt refreshed from the nap they had taken after their shower adventure, so he walked over to his desk to get a head start on his weekly conn report.

 

The door chime rang, and at Tom's command, Harry entered. He flashed a forced smile at Tom. "Where's B'Elanna? Are you actually on your own tonight?" Tom gestured towards the couch and Harry was startled to see her cuddled up on the couch, with the blankets off of Tom's bed. "My, my. Aren't we just so domestic?" he laughed. "Is she okay? I heard she collapsed today."

 

"She's okay. There is just so much going on right now, with the wedding and everything." Tom had debated telling Harry about the pregnancy, but wasn't ready to give up their secret yet. However, as fast as B'Elanna was growing, it would not remain a secret for much longer.

 

"Can we talk?" Harry's voice sounded tired. Tom looked at him in concern and nodded.

 

"Sure. Let me clear off the couch." He gently scooped B'Elanna into his arms and carried her to the bedroom. He tucked her in bed with a quick kiss to the forehead. She stirred a little, but he shushed her back to sleep with a whisper and a caress. As she snuggled into the pillows, he felt a rush of warmth. In a week she would be his wife. He had never in his life felt so contented and happy. He shook his head. No getting all sappy right now. Harry looked like he really needed too talk. He walked out to see Harry sitting tensely on the couch, his hands moving nervously in his lap. "So what's up Har?"

 

"Do you know Daria MacKinney?" He watched the look of surprise cross Tom's face.

 

"Not really. She works for B'Elanna. She looks real familiar to me, but I can't place where I know her from. Probably the Academy or something. Why?" He had a feeling that he knew why Harry was asking, but he couldn't say anything without it being a breech of confidence.

 

"She's pregnant."

 

"I know." He answered the question in Harry's eyes before he had a chance to ask it. "She came in during my shift in Sickbay today. The question is, how do you know? I didn't realize that the two of you were that good of friends."

 

"Friends? Not exactly. Today was the first time in a month that she even spoke to me." He stood and started to pace across the room. "Remember the night you and B'Elanna got engaged?"

 

"I assume that was a rhetorical question." Tom looked at Harry with an innocent look on his face, but his eyes were twinkling.

 

"Yeah. I guess you would remember that. Well, I had that 'date' with Seven that night."

 

"The date from hell."

 

"That's the one. After I left here I went to Sandrines. And Daria was there. We talked and drank all night and then..." His voice trailed off and he looked at Tom helplessly.

 

"Then what?" Realization his him then "You slept with her! Didn't you?" Harry nodded. "And the baby?"

 

"It's mine." Harry shifted uncomfortably under Tom's shocked gaze. "Anyways, she's hardly said two words to me since." He sat down heavily on the couch.

 

"Did she tell you why?" Tom could hardy believe what he was hearing. This was not what he had expected to hear from his best friend.

 

"She just said it was a mistake. It never should've happened. She's been avoiding me ever since. Then today she calls me and asks me to meet her. I don't know what I was expecting, but it sure wasn't this." His voice trailed off and his head rolled back to rest against the back of the couch. "Damn those aliens. Do you think they realize just how many lives they have screwed up?"

 

"Finding out you are going to be a father not on the top of your 'Things to Do Today' list?" Tom couldn't help but remember his own reaction when B'Elanna told him the same thing. "Shit Harry! A father. I can't believe that she is having your baby.

 

"If she is." Harry's frustration was evident in his voice. "She says that she's not sure she even wants to have this baby."

 

"Do you want to have it?" Tom's gaze met Harry's.

 

"I don't know. The thought of having a baby, especially with someone that I'm hardly even speaking to, scares the hell of me. I just wonder if we don't have it, will there always be something missing in my life? It probably doesn't matter. It's not my decision to make. It's hers."

 

"You do have some say in the matter Harry. You can not force her to carry the baby, but Federation law gives you some rights as the father. She can't abort it if you object. You can either find someone to carry the fetus or place it in stasis until you do find someone." As Tom ticked off these options, Harry's head began to swim.

 

"Do you mind if I ask exactly why you know this?" He shook his head. This was not a matter that he expected Tom Paris to have a lot of knowledge in.

 

"Yeah. I wouldn't mind knowing that myself." Both Tom and Harry's heads shot up to see B'Elanna standing in the doorway of Tom's bedroom.

 

"A cousin of mine married this girl who changed her mind about having kids after she got pregnant." Tom noticed Harry glancing nervously at the bedroom door and turned to face her. "Be, how long have you been awake?"

 

"Long enough to hear more than I wanted to. What are you going to do Starfleet?"

 

"I don't know." He admitted. "I never even thought about what I would do in a situation like this. I mean unplanned pregnancies are not exactly an everyday occurrence."

 

"Well they are on Voyager right now." Tom laughed.

 

"What do you mean?" Harry turned away from B'Elanna to face Tom.

 

"Oh shit. I shouldn't have said anything, but let's just say that if you do have this baby, it won't be lacking for playmates of it's own age." Tom felt B'Elanna's hands on his shoulders as she moved to stand behind the couch. "Our alien visitors were quite busy."

 

"Who else?"

 

"Harry, you know I can't tell you that. I've already said more than I should have." Tom again wished he could tell Harry. He looked at B'Elanna and raised an eyebrow questioningly. She gave an almost imperceptible shake of her head. Her eyes shot a glance at Harry and Tom bobbed his head in agreement. There was no telling how their happiness would go over considering the ensign's current mood. The three of them lapsed into an uncomfortable silence.

 

B'Elanna was the first to speak. "Hey, I'm going to get some dinner, either of you want anything?" She crossed to the replicator and waited for either to speak.

 

Harry shook his head. "No thanks. I think I'm going to head back to my own quarters and let the two of you have some time alone."

 

Tom jumped to his feet. "Har, you don't have to do that. Stay and have dinner with us. I've got those rations I owe you."

 

"Let me guess. If I don't use them now, you'll borrow them back tomorrow." Harry was beginning to relax a little, now that the subject matter had changed.

 

"Something like that. So what do you want?" Tom clapped Harry on the shoulder and the two of them moved to join B'Elanna at the replicator. They all got their food and headed back to the couch, pulling the coffee table closer. Tom stared at B'Elanna's plate. "What the hell is that?"

 

"Bregit lung." She speared a piece on her fork and ate it as the other two looked on in disgust.

 

Harry chimed in. "I thought you hated Klingon food."

 

"I usually do. But this just sounded good tonight." She looked at the expressions on the faces of the two men sitting on either side of her. "What?"

 

"Is it moving?" Tom continued to stare at her plate. She turned to glare at him so hard he visibly flinched. "Whatever. Just don't come to me in a half hour when you are throwing up."

 

"Excuse me? Might I remind you-"

 

"Uh guys?" Harry cut her off. They turned to look at him, having momentarily forgotten he was in the room. "Can we just eat? I'm not in the mood to play referee tonight."

 

"Sorry"

 

"Sorry." Tom took a bite of his sandwich. "So what do you want to talk about?"

 

"How's the wedding coming along?" Harry turned back to his own dinner.

 

Tom shook his head. "I will be so glad when this thing is over. I think Be had the right idea to begin with. We should have just kept it simple. As it is now we have this huge Starfleet extravaganza going on."

 

Harry laughed. "So it's the Starfleet traditional service is it?"

 

"Tom decided that would be the easiest. I mean, he has no strong traditional background and I refuse to perform Klingon rituals in my own wedding, so Starfleet it is." B'Elanna laughed.

 

Harry looked at Tom in disbelief. "Dress uniforms?"

 

"Dress uniforms." He confirmed.

 

"I hate my dress uniform. It is so tight around the neck. Is it too late to back out of this?"

 

"Back out of what? Standing up for us? You bet it is. We've only got a week left. That's not enough time to find a new best friend for the two of us." Tom's arm snaked around B'Elanna's waist as he spoke. "Who would we find to fill in?"

 

"Chakotay?" Harry took another bite of his pasta.

 

"No good. He's giving me away." B'Elanna shook her head. "What a stupid tradition. I mean, I don't need anyone to give me to anyone else."

 

"Oh come on Be, he asked. It means a lot to him. Plus you agreed.

 

"Don't call me Be." She tried to look angry as she scowled at him. He insisted on calling her by that ridiculous nickname. She objected to it when she remembered, but loved the rush of warmth it gave her when he called her that. "Anyways, I know I agreed, but I still think it's stupid. It could be worse though. I could have to wear that damn dress uniform too." She looked smugly at Tom.

 

"How fair is that?" Harry laughed. "Just what will you be wearing? Big white fluffy and lacy?"

 

"No chance in hell. The captain helped me pick out the dress. Very simple." She remembered the day spent looking through the database for the perfect dress. She hadn't found it, but the once they picked came close.

 

"Well, Neelix has certainly gone all out for this thing." Harry speared another piece of pasta and continued. "It's definitely turned into the social event of the year."

 

B'Elanna groaned. "Why did we let ourselves get talked into this?"

 

"Because neither one of you was willing to tell the Captain no."

 

Tom laughed. "He's right you know. We could have turned down Neelix, but there's no way I could refuse her. She's so excited about this."

 

"Like you're not Paris?" B'Elanna turned back to him. "You've spent more time on this whole wedding thing than anyone else. You can protest it all you want, but the truth is that you are enjoying all of the spectacle. You love being the center of attention."

 

He took the bait. "And you don't? You are enjoying this too."

 

"Maybe a little. But not like you. You have just gone nuts. Menus, reception, guest lists. For Gods sake Tom, you planned a rehearsal dinner."

 

Harry choked. "Rehearsal dinner?"

 

"Yes. It's the night before. No time for a bachelor party I'm afraid. And if I remember right, you thought it was a good idea Torres." At the emphasis on her name, she cast a curious glance his way. "What? I figured I only have a week left to call you that."

 

B'Elanna carefully set her fork down and folded her hands in her lap. With an air of barely restrained anger, she turned to Tom. "And why would that be?" But she already knew the answer before Tom started to speak.

 

"Well, I thought-"

 

The tenuous control she had held over her anger dissipated in a heartbeat. "Thought what? That I would take your name? Obviously you didn't think, because if you had, than you would have never made that kind of assumption."

 

"Be, I-" He barely got a sound out before she cut him off again.

 

"You won't even call me by my full name, and now you want me to take your name. What are you trying to do Tom? Haven't I given enough of myself to you?" She rose and began to pace, anger evident in her every move. Her voice rose as she continued to barrage him with questions she gave him no opportunity to answer. "What are you trying to do? Change me into someone else? What, is B'Elanna Torres not good enough for you? I have to take the illustrious Paris name?"

 

Harry rose from where he was watching the exchange. "I'm going to go. I'll talk to you tomorrow." He practically sprinted for the door.

 

Tom stood with the intention of walking Harry to the door. However Harry was almost there by the time Tom even reached his feet and the few steps it took him to reach the door gave Harry enough room to escape. Tom reached it just as it closed behind his friend. "Night Har," he called after him. He turned back to where B'Elanna had stopped pacing and now just stood glaring at him.

 

Tom sighed and held up his hands in a conciliatory gesture. "B'Elanna, I'm sorry. I had no right to even make that kind of assumption, let alone bring it up in front of Harry. I didn't realize that this was such a sensitive issue for you."

 

"Why does it even matter to you?"

 

"Because for the longest time, I thought it was the only thing of value I had to offer to a woman. The "illustrious Paris name" as you so accurately called it used to command respect. Respect that I neither earned nor deserved. It used to be that the only reason a lot of women would have anything to do with me was because of the name." His shoulders sagged.

 

"I can't hardly believe that." Her anger started to fade.

 

"I did. I believed that for a long time. I don't know if it was true or not, but from where I stood, that's how it looked."

 

"I never wanted to give up my last name. It was all I had left of my father." She spoke so quietly that Tom could barely hear her. "If I ever would for anyone, it would be for you. But Tom, why would you ever think that you think that you can make that decision for me." B'Elanna's voice began to rise again and she crossed her arms in front of her.

 

"I didn't think about it at all really. I was never even a question in my mind, but it should have been. If you don't want to change your name, that's fine with me. All I want is you. I love you. I'm not trying to change you into someone else. I wouldn't even want to. You are everything to me. I fell in love with B'Elanna Torres. Klingon temper, warp core obsession and all. I don't want to change anything about you. I don't want to do anything to hurt you or make you angry.."

 

"I know. I guess I just overreacted a little. I know that you didn't mean to be overbearing, but you need to think before you talk."

 

"Story of my life. I really am sorry."

 

"I know." She walked over to where Tom was still standing next to the door. "If it means that much to you, I'll do it."

 

"You don't have to if you don't want to. I mean it's not that big of a deal. One Paris on this ship is probably plenty. I mean we will have a few more in a couple of months anyways, but-"

 

"Tom."

 

"What?"

 

"Shut up." With that she grabbed him by the shoulders and kissed him. "I know it means a lot to you, no matter what you say. You want to constantly remind everyone that we are married that's fine with me, but just remember, it's my choice." She shook her head. "B'Elanna Paris. That's going to raise a few eyebrows.

 

I think it sounds wonderful." He smiled at her.

 

"It definitely has potential." With that, she kissed him again, so enthusiastically, that they lost their balance and crashed into the wall behind him.

 

"What is it with you and slamming me into walls?" He laughed as his arms snaked around her waist. "Some kind of kinky Klingon thing?"

 

"Like this?" She grinned as she roughly pulled him away from the wall and slammed him into it hard. Tom felt more than heard the crack as his right shoulder connected unexpectedly with the wall. At his moan of pain she looked into his face. "Oh shit. Not again."

 

"Son of a bitch Be, that hurt!" He looked at her guilt-stricken face and grinned at her through the pain. "I thought you were supposed to break my collarbone, not my shoulderblade."

 

"Got to save something for the wedding night." She returned his grin with a short lived smile. "I'm sorry"

 

"It's okay. You needed to go back to sickbay soon anyways. I think I'll join you." He looked at her. "Hey you didn't throw up!"

 

"My, aren't we observant." She laughed and gave him a quick kiss. "Let me clean this up real quick and we'll head out." She quickly dumped their plates into the reclamator and they walked hand in hand to sickbay.

 

********

 

Tom leaned against the wall and watched the scene around him. The wedding rehearsal had just wrapped up, and the participants were milling around the Resort, filling their plates from the dizzying array that Neelix had arranged on long tables alongside the pool. This week had passed in a blur of last minute activity. He engaged in one of his favorite pastimes. Watching B'Elanna. She had taken to wearing her clothing a little looser than was her custom. When in uniform with her beloved smock on, her pregnancy was undetectable. Even now, in the long skirt and shirt she was wearing, he could only see the bulge because he was looking for it. He hadn't seen much of her since they returned to duty. B'Elanna had prepared for her three day leave by spending every spare moment in engineering. Tom had teased her about trying to make up for neglecting her engines. Her reaction gave him another reason to add to his growing list of "Reasons not to tease a pregnant Klingon".

 

A body leaned on the wall next to him and sighed. "Ugh. Is it over yet?"

 

"The rehearsal or the wedding?" He turned to look at B'Elanna and chuckled. She looked tired.

 

"The whole damn thing. Tell me again why we are doing this?"

 

Tom slid his arm around her waist. "Right over there. That's why." She looked where he was pointing and saw Janeway and Neelix engaged in a very animated conversation as they gestured at decorations and furniture placement. Chakotay and Harry were crowded around them. Even Tuvok stood nearby.

 

"I know. But we are the ones actually getting married. Why does it have to involve all of them. Why can't it just be us?"

 

Tom laughed. "I don't know. Maybe they are just fulfilling their own fantasies through us, maybe they just want a party, maybe they are just happy for us. The least we could do is humor them."

 

"I know. I just want it to be over. Back to just us." She leaned back on the wall and closed her eyes.

 

"Long night?"

 

"You could say that. Want to sneak out and go get something to eat?" She looked again at the tables full of food, and felt her stomachs lurch at the sight.

 

"Not in the mood to eat Gagh in front of an audience?" Tom laughed.

 

She snorted. "Not particularly."

 

"Some of the stuff that Neelix made is actually pretty good. Are you sure you don't want to try something?"

 

"Want to hold my head over the toilet when I throw up?"

 

"Point taken." He shook his head. "Who would have thought that Klingon food would cure your morning sickness."

 

"Not me." They stood in silence for a moment, then she turned to him again. "So are we going or what?"

 

Tom slid his arm around her waist and pulled her close. "You bet. Maybe we could even get in a little pre-wedding celebration." He leaned over and began to nuzzle her neck. She moaned quietly as his lips grazed the sensitive area under her ear. Suddenly she pulled away, grabbed his hand and dragged him towards the entrance to the holodeck.

 

They were halfway to their destination when a hand clamped on Tom's shoulder. Harry grinned as he steered Tom away from B'Elanna. "Last night as a bachelor. Let's go."

 

"Where?"

 

"Sandrine's. Night B'Elanna." He drug the protesting pilot over to where Chakotay stood.

 

"Uh, guys? I appreciate this, but I don't think-" Tom craned his head to watch B'Elanna. She stood with her arms crossed and an amused expression on her face. Suddenly Janeway appeared behind her and led her from the holodeck. "Where are they going?"

 

Chakotay smiled. "They have their own party going in the mess hall."

 

Harry spoke to the computer and the holodeck grid shimmered briefly into view before Sandrine's appeared. Within moments, many of the male crewmembers began coming through the swinging doors. Harry turned to Tom. "Come on. When have you ever backed away from a party?"

 

Tom looked at Harry and briefly considered protesting again. But seeing the that the haunted expression his best friend had been wearing for the past week was absent from his face squelched his objections. "Okay. But just for a little while. If I show up to my own wedding late and hung over, B'Elanna will kill me."

 

The rapidly growing crowd laughed. Someone shoved a pool cue into Tom's hands and his face lit into a smile as he headed for the pool table. Soon the drinks were flowing and the noise level escalated.

 

An hour later, Tom's party was in full swing. The majority of the crowd were gathered around the pool table, watching Dalby challenge Foster for bragging rights and a small amount for replicator rations. Neelix, even in Sandrines, was still in host mode. He kept the drinks filled and jumped from group to group, happy to see everyone laughing and having a good time. It was satisfying to him to see the crewmembers enjoy themselves. As morale officer, their moods were a direct reflection on how well he did his job. And Neelix took his job very seriously. He gathered up another tray of drinks and started around the room again. He saw Tuvok standing ram-rod straight near the door. Neelix looked at him and wondered if he was up to his self-appointed challenge to help the Vulcan lighten up tonight. He glanced around the room again and decided that no, he was not up to it right now. Maybe after a few more drinks. At this moment, he needed to see if Tom needed a refill. This party was for him, but the groom-to-be seemed preoccupied. Neelix glanced around looking to see where the guest of honor had disappeared to. He found him sitting in the corner booth talking to Harry. They both refused his offer of another drink and Neelix left to continue his rounds of the bar.

 

Tom took another sip of his half-empty synthale. "So what? She won't even talk to you?"

 

"She just says that she needs more time to think about it." Harry was slumped in his seat.

 

"She's got a point. It's a big decision for her to make. It's going to be a huge change, a huge responsibility." Tom was trying hard not to project to many of his own fears and concerns into his conversation.

 

"I know. I just wish that she'd let me help her work through some of them. I want to help her, to be a part of this decision."

 

"Have you told her that?"

 

"I've tried. She just stays holed up in her quarters, refusing to answer my hails or let me in."

 

"Has she talked to anyone?" Tom felt a pang of sympathy for her.

 

"Not that I know of." Harry sighed. "She doesn't really have any close friends on board. Mostly just acquaintances. I know she gets along fairly well with Sam Wildman, even baby-sits occasionally, but that's it. People that she works with. And I don't think she's close to any of them."

 

"I wish I knew what to tell you Harry. It's hard enough with two people who know what they want. I can't even imagine going through what you are going through."

 

"Well just having someone to talk to helps. Thanks Tom."

 

"Hey, what are best friends for?"

 

"Well not for spending their bachelor party listening to me wallow in misery." Harry gave a forced sounding laugh. "What do you say we get back to the party?"

 

"Go ahead. I'll be there in a minute." Tom sat while Harry go up and left the booth. His hand reached for his combadge. "Paris to Torres."

 

"Torres here." Tom involuntarily smiled at the sound of her voice. "Having fun Tom?"

 

"Not really. I miss you." A sardonic snort over the link widened his smile. That was the woman he loved. "What? I just liked the plans we had better."

 

"Tell me about it. So do you think you could sneak out?"

 

"Sneak out? I haven't done that since I was 15 and snuck out when the Admiral was sleeping. Unfortunately I got caught."

 

B'Elanna laughed. "Tom, the whole idea is not to get caught."

 

"I know." He glanced around the holodeck. No one was paying any attention to him, the match at the pool table having reached a critical point. "I can get away. What about you?"

 

"Give me five minutes and I'll meet you in holodeck 2"

 

"Okay. I love you." He couldn't resist throwing that in.

 

"You better flyboy. Torres out."

 

They both managed to escape attention as they left their respective parties and met in the corridor outside of holodeck 2. Tom wrapped his arms around her, and looked into her upturned face. "Did you have a program in mind?"

 

"What was that one you were talking about a few weeks ago. That fishing one? Did you ever finish that?"

 

"Yeah. I forgot about it. I did get it finished, but never got the chance to try it out. Computer, activate program Paris delta-gamma-phi." The computer gave its response and Tom indicated the door with a sweeping motion of his arm. "Shall we?"

 

"With pleasure." B'Elanna looked around as they entered. The details were breathtaking. The holodeck was illuminated only by the stars and full moon overhead and the small lantern waiting inside the door with the rest of their gear. The silver glint of moonlight on water emanated from a small lake nestled in a dense grove of old cottonwood trees. A barely obvious path wound erratically through the thick, high grasses. The vegetation rustled around them, both from the slight sweet smelling breeze, and the hint of wildlife scuttling through the underbrush. Insects flitted around the light radiating from the lantern as Tom picked it up in one hand and took B'Elanna's in the other. She reached down to grab their gear and they easily traversed the path towards the lake. "Tom, this is beautiful."

 

They broke through the brush at the edge of a short dock. They walked out to the end and sat. "I'm glad you like it. I was thinking of you when I wrote it."

 

"Really? In that case I'm flattered. You did a great job on this." She slapped at a mosquito. "Very realistic. But I have to ask, did you really do a lot of fishing in the dark?"

 

"Well when I was young, my parents would sometimes take my sisters and I on these weekend outings where we would fish and camp. I hated it. But when I was older, a friend of mine used to take his girlfriend at night. I heard a lot of good stories."

 

"I'll bet. Did they actually ever even fish?"

 

"Occasionally. Mike used to refer to it as 'drowning worms'" They both laughed. Tom baited their hooks. "Did you ever go fishing?"

 

"Once. Before my father left. It was fun."

 

"Well this will probably be a little different."

 

"I'll bet." Once both lines were situated, they just sat, arms around each other's waists and watched the moonlight reflect off of the ripples in the pond. "This is much better." she leaned her head on his shoulder. "Did you actually program in fish?"

 

"Does it matter?" He leaned down to kiss her forehead.

 

"Probably not." B'Elanna tilted her head up to meet his lips. The poles clasped loosely in their hands were forgotten as their kisses intensified. Finally she broke away and rested her forehead on his shoulder. "Are you scared?"

 

"About what?"

 

"The babies, marriage, all of this!" She pulled back to look at him. "I don't usually admit when something scares me, but this does. I mean I can't help but wonder if we even realize what we are getting into."

 

"Be, it's not going to be easy. Not by a long shot. But you have never been one to give up on anything. And I will never give up on you. I am scared. I am terrified of ever treating one of our kids the way my father treated me. I am scared that one day you are going to look at me and wonder why in the world you ever married me. I'm scared that someday we will come across some anomaly or alien race that will wreak havoc on Voyager and I'll loose one of you. Or that something will happen to me and you will be raising two kids without a father."

 

She looked into his face and wrapped her arms tight around his neck. "I love you."

 

"I love you too." They sat for a long time, just wrapped up in each other, not talking just letting the emotions flow between them.

 

Tom broke the silence first. "You know, I've been thinking about what you said earlier. About wishing we could get married just the two of us. Without all the fuss and hassle."

 

She looked up at him, reading his intent in his eyes. "Tom! We agreed no Klingon rituals in the wedding."

 

"I know. But this isn't the wedding. What could it hurt to take the oath tonight? Just the two of us."

 

"And what about that huge spectacle we have going on tomorrow?"

 

"We'll still do it. We can have our legal Starfleet wedding, but tonight we could fulfil Klingon customs, and have something that is all ours." He flashed his brightest smile at her.

 

"Why do you care so much about Klingon customs?"

 

"Because whether you like it or not, it's a part of you. And I love all of you." He placed his hand on the side of her face. "What do you say?" She slowly turned her face to nuzzle his palm, lightly scraping her teeth against the base of his thumb. She growled.

 

A few moments before, a question was being posed in the mess hall. Seven had been convinced by the captain to attend the party being thrown for the female members of the crew. She stood on the outskirts of the gathering and observed. Puzzled, she approached Janeway. "What is the function of this 'party'?"

 

Janeway turned to her to explain. "Seven, we've discussed this before. Parties are not defined by 'function', they simply are a chance to let the crew interact on a social level, rather than a professional one. A chance to enjoy, to relax."

 

"I understand. But the complement for this occasion is different from the other social functions I have attended."

 

"Because it's only the female crewmembers?"

 

"Precisely." She looked expectantly at Janeway, truly curious to hear her explanation.

 

"That is an Earth custom. On the evening before a wedding the men traditionally got together for a 'Bachelor' or 'Stud' party. They could often become quite out-of-hand. The parties for the bride grew from that tradition. Essentially, they give the bride and groom one last party before their marriage. They were separated by gender to allow the couple a chance to blow off steam away from each other." After she finished her explanation, she was surprised to see that Seven still appeared puzzled.

 

"So then this party is in honor of Lt. Torres."

 

"Correct."

 

"I don't understand. Lt. Torres left 20 minutes ago."

 

"What?" Janeway quickly sized up the crowd in the mess hall. Sure enough, her chief engineer was nowhere to be found.

 

"She received a call on the com system and left soon after." Seven watched as Janeway first called for a location check for B'Elanna, and then identified the other occupant of the holodeck. She commed Chakotay, who realized that his own guest-of-honor was gone as well. Seven raised her one eyebrow to look at Janeway. "It would appear that Lt.s Paris and Torres would prefer to 'blow off steam' with each other."

 

'It would appear so." Soon afterwards she excused herself and went in search of the wayward couple. She was joined in her quest by her first officer. They approached the holodeck and noticed that the privacy lock was not engaged. They entered. They heard the low voices directly ahead of them, through the line of trees. The followed the same path that Tom and BíElanna had followed earlier and gasped as they rounded the last tree, leaving them an unobstructed view of the couple at the edge of the wooden dock.

 

They stood, illuminated by the moonlight. The silvery light caught the brilliant color of the thin line of blood dripping from between their clasped hands. Janeway could not distinguish the words spoken between them, but could hear them well enough to recognize them as Klingon. Tom stumbled slightly over the pronunciations, while B'Elanna spoke fluently. They did not notice the pair that watched as Tom finished speaking and gathered her into his arms. They stood in a breathtaking kiss for a few moments before breaking apart, smiling tenderly at each other. With their arms wrapped around each other's waists, they spoke softly to each other, the inaudible sounds of their voices carrying on the soft breeze. The unnoticed visitors in the holodeck began to feel extremely uncomfortable. Chakotay nudged Kathryn and motioned towards the path, indicating that they should return from where they came, when a laugh came from the couple on the dock. They looked up to see Tom and B'Elanna break apart and walk hand-in-hand towards the shore.

 

Then they noticed Janeway and Chakotay standing at the edge of the trees. Tom smiled. "Hey! Come to check up on us?"

 

"Actually, yes." Janeway shook her head. "Is it my imagination or did you two just finish one of those 'damned Klingon rituals' that you refused to have in the ceremony tomorrow?"

 

B'Elanna laughed. "This was for us. The ceremony tomorrow is as much for everyone else as it is for us, but this was ours."

 

"Congratulations." Chakotay leaned forward to hug her. "I'm sorry if we interrupted."

 

"Not at all. We were finished anyways." B'Elanna stepped back into Tom's embrace. He wrapped his arms securely around her waist and leaned down to rest his chin on her shoulder.

 

"Yeah. We were about to head home." Tom smiled. They had moved their things into the new quarters right before the rehearsal. They had joked then about christening the new bed that evening. These quarters were brand new, having only been remodeled within the past month, as the need for family housing became imminent. All of Deck 4 had been converted into multi-bedroom units. Tom and B'Elanna were the first to move in. He had joked earlier about not having any neighbors to wake.

 

Chakotay grinned at them. "Well don't let us stop you. Have a good night. We'll see you in the morning.

 

The junior officers bid goodnight and left the holodeck with their arms around the other's waists. B'Elanna was whispering to Tom her plans for the night.

 

Chakotay smiled as he overheard the words clavicle and sickbay. He turned to Kathryn. "Perhaps we should warn the doc to be expecting them." He laughed.

 

"I just hope they don't mark each other up too bad. They do have this little social outing tomorrow." Janeway chuckled. She looked around. "This is beautiful." Chakotay agreed and together they set out to explore Tom's richly detailed program.

 

********

 

Chakotay's prediction about the visit to the holodoc proved true. In fact they made not one but two trips to take advantage of the powerful osteoregenerator in sickbay, Tom's field med-kit was not equipped to do much more than temporary repairs to broken bones. Holding to Klingon custom, their marriage was very well blessed indeed. However, thanks to the excellent job done by the doctor, both appeared on the holodeck for the wedding with only their fresh mating bites obvious.

 

Tom could hardly believe his eyes when he had his first sight of B'Elanna walking down the aisle on Chakotay's arm. The flowing white dress she had on floated airily around her, emphasizing her graceful walk and manner. He forgot all about the too-tight collar of his dress uniform, he forgot all about the crowd around them. He had eyes for none but his beautiful bride.

 

Standing next to Tom, Harry noticed nothing but the crowd. In particular, the fact that the crowd did not include the one face he truly wanted to see. Not that he had expected Daria to come; B'Elanna had told him that she had volunteered to work on the skeleton crew in engineering. But he had still hoped that she would change her mind and take him up on his heartfelt invitation. He couldn't help but be happy for Tom and B'Elanna however. They were both sporting such expressions of sheer happiness that they practically glowed.

 

The ceremony proceeded smoothly. Janeway led the bride and groom through their traditional wedding vows, as well as the heartfelt statements they recited to each other. The extended family of Voyager watched as they exchanged rings and many emitted a sigh of happiness when Tom leaned in to kiss his bride. The second they broke apart, the family swarmed around them. Everyone wanted a chance to congratulate the happy couple before heading across to the mess hall where the reception was being held. The party that the Captain and Neelix had so painstakingly planned was a huge success. Cheers went up as the couple entered and Tuvok introduced them for the first time as Tom and B'Elanna Paris. The crowd was constantly changing, as opportunities were given for everyone who wanted to attend. Almost every member of the crew stopped by for a little while, to give Tom and B'Elanna their best wishes and join in the celebration. It had been a while since the crew had seemed this relaxed. They laughed, they joked and talked late into the night. Lt. Delaney stood up, flanked by a beaming Ensign Flannery and announced her pregnancy. Glasses raised in a toast to the impending addition to the family. Not to be outdone, a slightly intoxicated Freddie Bristow made a similar announcement much to the embarrassment of Natalie Brooks. The excitement level soared after that. Tom smiled at B'Elanna, both perfectly content to keep their secret as long as they could. Soon afterwards they left to the cheers and well wishes of the assembled crew. The wedding had been a complete success. The crew was happy. Janeway leaned against the counter in the mess hall, talking to Neelix who was standing behind it.

 

Neelix was beaming with pride. "Well Captain, one wedding, two pregnancies, I'd say this has been a good day for our family."

 

"That it has, Neelix. That it has."

 

[End Part II]

 

 

Part III

 

And a beautiful engineerÖ

 

 

Tears sprang unbidden to Daria's eyes as she realized that the EPS conduit she had been trying to align was still off. She slammed her fist into the adjacent panel, anger bubbling irrationally to the surface, then dissipating as quickly as it had arrived, making way for the almost overwhelming urge to curl up and cry. She took a deep breath and tried to calm down. She was thrown off guard by the sudden shifts In her moods, and her inability to control them. She tried again to align the conduit, unconsciously biting her lower lip in her palpable attempt to clear her mind of the question that had crept its way into every aspect of her existence.

 

She still had not made a decision as to the outcome of her pregnancy. Well that was not true, she had made her decision several times, only to find out that her determination shifted as often as her moods. So she still sat in limbo. Harry had finally backed off, realizing that the more he pushed her, the more withdrawn she became. After the night of Tom and BíElannaís wedding, where he had shown up at her door, begging her to have the baby, he had left her alone. The fact that she had burst into tears and asked him to let her decide in peace may have had something to do with it. He had to give one last parting shot, however, promising to stay with her and the baby forever.

 

But Harry's assurance had only served to confuse her further. How could he be so sure? How could he know without a doubt that having a baby was the right decision? Wasnít he scared of what could happen to a child on Voyager? How could he be willing to change his entire life based on one moment of knowledge?

 

Her mind wandered as she sat next to the open panel, unconsciously turning her hypospanner over in her hands. She had always thought that she would like to have children someday, and even when Voyager ended up stranded, she still believed that someday she would have a family, even if it was on board ship. When Naomi Wildman had been born, she had been warmed by the love and support that had poured forth from the rest of the crew, but the death of the newborn had resulted in doubt in Dariaís mind about the feasibility of having children on board Voyager. Even the joy that permeated the ship when Harry brought the baby over from the alternate Voyager couldnít erase that concern.

 

That had marked the first time that she wondered if having children while still in the Delta Quadrant was a good idea. But as Naomi grew, she watched the crew come to dote on the baby, herself included, and her doubts faded. Her casual friendship with Sam gave her many opportunities to spend time with the baby that she soon grew to love and adore. But when the Kazon stranded the crew on Hanon, Daria sat with Samantha when the baby got sick. The ordeal of watching the infant struggle just to survive had made a permanent impact on her hopes for a family. She promised herself, right there on that planet, that she would never have a child unless Voyager made it home.

 

So she had been careful, keeping up on her boosters, even though at times she had debated the necessity. And now this. Despite all of her precautions, she was pregnant. And she wasnít the only one. All the ship was abuzz with the news of the newest expectant crewmembers. And she ached to be able to share that joy with her unwitting counterparts. But the promise that she had made to herself was tearing her heart in two. She could compile a list of reasons not to have the baby, only to have them negated by the rush of warmth she felt when the realization that this was her child, not a medical problem hit her. So she consciously made an effort to push all thoughts of babies and pregnancy out of her mind.

 

Daria jumped as she felt a hand on her shoulder. She looked up from where she was sitting next to the open console B'Elanna standing next to her. Today was the chief engineer's first day back to work since the wedding. The staff had been teasing her gently all morning about her lighthearted mood. "Ensign, can we talk?" She indicated her tiny office with a slight jerk of her head. Daria nodded and reluctantly followed B'Elanna into her office. "I got a call from sickbay a few moments ago. The doctor requested that I send you down. He says that you have canceled two appointments in the last week. Ensign, it's important that you see him."

 

Daria was shocked. Of all people to know about this, why did it have to be her direct supervisor. Up until now, they had a good working relationship, but she wondered how it would hold up when events started to unfold. A realization of how BíElanna must have learned about her pregnancy hit suddenly, and the knowledge caused her to stand a little straighter. "Then can I assume you know why""

 

B'Elanna nodded. "Harry told us last week."

 

"He just couldnít wait to tell everyone that he got me knocked up could he?" Her voice was bitter, as a feeling of betrayal coursed through her.

 

"Thatís not fair. I donít think he has told anyone besides Tom and me. And Tom already knew." B'Elanna sat down, motioning for the woman across from her to do the same. Daria remained standing, her arms crossed defensively in front of her. "Look. He didnít even mean for me to hear. He just wanted to talk to Tom about all of this"

 

"He still had no right to do that." Daria's voice was shaky, as she tried to keep the fear out of it. She had hoped to carry through with her plans without anyone who was not directly involved knowing. She knew that her decision would not be a popular one on Voyager right now. Everyone was so excited about the upcoming arrivals that no one mentioned the problems that they could face. Looking BíElanna straight in the eye, she repeated. "He had no right to tell you."

 

"Excuse me? He had no *right*? In case you hadn't noticed, this does involve him too." B'Elanna's eyes opened wider in disbelief.

 

"It's my decision to make. Not his."

 

"It's his baby. I'd say that at least gives him the right to discuss it with his friends. He needs some support through this."

 

Daria's posture sank. "What about me? Don't I deserve any support?" Her knees felt shaky, and she willed herself not to sink to the floor.

 

"Well, you have completely shut out the one person willing to give you the most support. He told Tom that you have refused to talk to him at all." B'Elanna's was beginning to get angry. Although she could sympathize with the plight of the woman standing before her, Daria's treatment of Harry was beginning to grate on B'Elanna's nerves. "Is it any wonder that he comes and talks to us? I agree that he should be talking to you, but that's not an option right now is it?"

 

Daria's voice rose to match. "No it's not. I donít want to hurt him. I just needed a chance to think this through on my own. And I just can't bring my self to tell him that there are about a thousand reasons against doing this and not a single one for. He just can't see that. He is too wrapped up in what he wants."

 

"If you would just listen to what he wants instead of automatically dismissing it out of spite, you might just find that one reason that you are looking for."

 

"I am not going to break my promise to myself just because he *thinks* he wants a baby."

 

"ĎPromise to yourself?í What about the baby? Donít you think that you should be thinking more about promises to it rather than to yourself?" B'Elanna shook her head. "It's a baby, not a suicide mission. Yes things will be different, and you will both have to make some changes in your lifestyles, but--"

 

Daria cut her off. "Itís a moot point. I have put a lot of thought into this and I just donít see how there is any way that I can have this baby right now!" Her voice dropped. "Not that I see where it is really your concern."

 

"Because Harry is my friend and you seem bound and determined to hurt him. How can you do that when you haven't even taken the time to listen to what he had to say, to what he wants?"

 

"I canít talk to him. I just canít!" She paused for a moment and took a deep breath. "This is hard enough as it is, but I feel that this is the right decision. You want to know why I wonít talk to him? Fine. I'm afraid that if I talk to him, heís going to manipulate me into carrying this baby."

 

"Manipulate you? He just wants to talk to you. Let you know how much he is willing to do for you, how much he plans to be there for you and the baby."

 

Daria's voice grew cold and quiet, a small tremor the only evidence of the pain and fear she felt in every part of her. "Well he's just going to have to change those plans isn't he. Because by this time tomorrow, there will not even *be* a baby to be there for." Her last words hung in the silence while B'Elanna just stared at her in disbelief. Finally Daria straightened her back. "Was there anything else Lieutenant? I believe I'm supposed to be on my way to sickbay."

 

B'Elanna sat down. "Dismissed." She watched Daria storm out and waited for the doors to close behind her. "Computer, Location of Harry Kim?"

 

"Ensign Kim is on the bridge."

 

B'Elanna quickly made her way to the turbolift. She tapped her foot impatiently, chanting "hurry, hurry," under her breath. As soon as the doors opened, she made her way to Ops, ignoring the questioning looks from the bridge crew. Harry gave her a strange look as she leaned in close to him. "Harry, you need to get to sickbay. Daria..." She trailed off, trying to think of what to say to him.

 

A look of panic washed across his face. "Is she hurt? Is something wrong?"

 

"She's not hurt. She's about to do something stupid." She tried to keep her voice steady, but the anger she felt at the other woman's actions carried through to her voice. "Harry, I'm sorry. I know it's none of my business, but--"

 

Harry cut her off. "No, thank you. I appreciate someone letting me know what is going on." He glanced around the bridge, trying to gather his thoughts and decide on a plan of action. "Captain, can I speak with you in private for a moment?" She nodded and they headed for her ready room. Tom swiveled in his chair to give B'Elanna a questioning look. She shrugged her shoulders and moved to the engineering station. Within minutes, the doors to the ready room opened and Harry and Janeway emerged. Harry went to the turbolift without a word or even a glance to anyone. Janeway headed back to her chair and sat down.

 

Chakotay leaned over. "Is everything alright?"

 

"I don't know." she answered truthfully.

 

*********

 

Daria's head shot up as Harry burst into sickbay. His anger was evident in his walk as he headed straight for the biobed where she sat with the doc glaring at her. "The least you could have done was talked to me about this."

 

Dariaís anger rose to match his. Why did everyone feel the need to open up for discussion what should have been a private issue? "Well, I'm impressed. She waited an entire five minutes to tell you." Her somewhat cutting sense of humor was in full force.

 

"Leave B'Elanna out of this."

 

"What is it with her? She is so overprotective of you. Sort of like a misguided older sister." She knew that she was close to crossing the line. This was not only a superior officer that she was speaking of, but also her direct supervisor. But supervisor or not, Daria was angry with the chief engineer for interfering, and that came across in her voice.

 

"She is a friend. A good friend. And at least she had to courtesy to tell me what you were planning. That's more than I can say for you." He practically spat the words out at her. He couldn't remember ever feeling this angry towards another single person.

 

The doctor had been watching them volley back and forth, and now decided to reassert his presence in the room before things got even farther out of hand. "Mr. Kim, I must ask you to leave. I am in a private consultation with Ensign MacKinney."

 

"Yeah. I know. She's making plans to abort my child." Harry spoke to the doctor, but his eyes never left Daria.

 

"Your child?" The doctor sounded surprised as he scanned Daria's abdomen, and then turned the scanner on Harry. "Sure enough." Both ensigns turned to glare at him. "Well, I can assume from your conversation that the two of you have a few things to talk about."

 

Daria let out a sound that was a cross between a snort and a sob. "No. There is no reason for us to discuss anything, because I have made my decision. I am *not* having this baby, and that is final." Her voice was so quiet that Harry had to strain to hear her.

 

"Well what about what I want? Don't my feelings mean anything to you?" Harry's voice was pleading.

 

"I'm sorry that you don't understand why this is what I have to do."

 

"The only thing I understand is that you are too scared and stubborn to even consider another position on this."

 

"*Your* view? Why is it that what you want is right and what I want is wrong?" She was sitting on the edge of the bed, almost nose to nose with Harry. The doctor stood off to the side, debating on calling for security.

 

"Why? Because it is a baby. Our baby. Another person, or at least it will be soon. And you want to destroy that as if it meant nothing."

 

"How dare you? Don't you ever imply that this means nothing to me. This is one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make." Daria flinched. She had tried so hard not to think of it as their baby but his words felt like he was ripping her heart out.

 

"Then don't do it."

 

"I'm sorry Harry. I have to. I just can not have this baby. It has nothing to do with you. I'm sure you would have made a great father, but I just canít do this right now. I'm sorry."

 

"Stop apologizing. If you were that sorry, you wouldn't be having an abortion." His voice had grown cold. Being the optimist that he was, he had never really believed that she would choose to terminate this pregnancy. Truth be told, he has still harbored thoughts that the two of them could work through this together and possibly realize his hopes for a relationship. In his opinion, she was just completely detached from both the baby and him. He wondered if there was anyway to get through to her.

 

"That's not fair. I'm not sorry for my decision. I'm just sorry that my choice hurt you. But you have to see that I'm doing what I think is right. As of tomorrow morning, this entire nightmare will be over."

 

"Maybe for you." He continued to stare at her, tears plainly visible in his eyes. She turned her head, refusing to acknowledge his pain. He finally turned from her to face the EMH. "Doc, can you place the fetus in stasis until I can find someone willing to carry it to term?"

 

Daria jumped off of the biobed. "You can't do that!" Panic flowed through her. The thought of watching her child grow up on this ship, without her to protect it, caused her knees to buckle under her.

 

The Doctor helped be back on the biobed. "Actually under Federation law, he can. Mr. Kim does have rights as the father."

 

Daria ignored him as she continued to glare at Harry. "What about my rights not to have this child?"

 

He smiled sweetly, his hurt mingling with a flash of anger, wanting to strike out, to distribute the pain he was feeling. Harry laid his hand on her shoulder. "I'm sorry." He mocked her words of earlier, "but you are doing what you feel you have to do, and so am I."

 

She slapped his hand off. "Don't you dare be condescending to me you son of a bitch. Understand this. I do *not* want to have a child on board this ship."

 

Harry turned and walked a few steps away. He took a deep breath to collect his thoughts and turned back to her. "As soon as you undergo the procedure, you are not having this child. You will effectively waive all parental rights. It will be my baby. Not yours. You don't have to worry about anything." He turned, effectively shutting her out. "Now was there anything else you need from me right now Doctor?"

 

The doctor started as he realized that he was no longer being ignored. "There are a few things, we need to discuss, but if you must get back to the bridge right away, you can come back later."

 

"I spoke to Captain Janeway before I came down. I can--"

 

An anguished Daria cut him off. "You talked to the *Captain* about this? How could you do that?"

 

"I needed to be sure of my rights. And if it's any consolation to you, she already knew you were pregnant." He remembered her shocked reaction to his announcement that he was the father of Daria's baby. He turned back to the doctor. "Anyway, I can stay for a little while." Daria dropped her head, trying to hide the tears in her eyes.

 

"Very well. Ensign MacKinney, if you would lie back down for a few more moments, I need to run a few more tests."

 

She complied slowly. "What sort of tests?"

 

"I need to determine the health of the fetus and itís viability for transplant." He reached again for his tricorder.

 

Harry ignored her comment. The pain of her rejection cut into him deeply. "How is the baby Doc? Will it do all right in stasis?"

 

"Good sized for six weeks, the fetus shouldn't suffer any ill effects from a short time in stasis. I do stress short, Mr. Kim. You will only have two weeks at most to locate a surrogate before the stasis begins to interfere with the development process. And I don't need to remind you that confidentiality is necessary do I?" He turned from his instruments to look at Harry.

 

"No. I understand. The only one who will even know the identity of the mother is the one who will carry the baby. Can you tell if it is a boy or a girl?"

 

"It is a boy." He stated this and continued without even waiting for a response. "Do you have anyone in mind for a surrogate?" The doctor continued his scans.

 

Harry ignored his question, his mind still struggling to absorb the first statement. "A boy?" The doctor nodded absently. "I'm going to have a son." His voice was filled with wonder. He glanced around, wanting to share his budding emotions with someone. His searching gaze fell first upon the doctor, immersed in his medical equipment, and then upon Daria, who was wearing a heartbroken expression, tears evident in her eyes. That squelched his excitement instantly and the pain again became evident in his eyes.

 

She sat up, pulling her legs up and wrapping her arms around them, rocking slightly. "Can we not discuss this right now? I don't want to know about this, I don't want to hear about it, I just want it over. Then you," she looked at Harry, "can plan for *your* baby without me having to deal with it. Okay?" She wanted to run and hide, to curl up and pray that she could wake up and find it was all a nightmare. Panic started to well up in her as she watched all of her plans crumble around her. She took a deep breath and forced herself to sit, to ignore that urge to bolt.

 

Harry watched her, confused by her defensive reaction. "Fine. I'll talk to you later doctor. I should get back to the bridge." With one last hurt look at Daria, he left. Daria lay back on the bed, and began to cry.

 

"Ensign?" When no response was forthcoming, the doctor switched to her first name. "Daria? Are you all right?" He offered her a tissue.

 

She took it. "He just makes me so angry. Why couldn't he just leave well enough alone? Why couldnít he realize that I was just doing what is best for everyone?"

 

He didn't know how to answer her. "Why do you say that?." His voice became gentler. "Have you talked to anyone about this? I know that there is no counselor on board, but Commander Chakotay has dealt with many crewmembers on their personal problems. You might want to consider speaking with him. He will hold everything you tell him in confidence, and might be able to help you deal with some of your emotions."

 

"I donít want to talk about it, I donít want to think about it, I just want it over." She made an effort to stop crying and tried to compose herself. "Can I just go back to my quarters?"

 

The doctor nodded. "Iíll let Lt. Paris know."

 

"Thank you." It was barely a whisper. Without another word, she wiped the tears from her eyes left. The doctor watched her leave, his concentration affected by the pain of the two who had just left.

 

********

 

Harry paced in front of the couch in Tom and B'Elanna's quarters. "So now I have two weeks to find someone to have my baby." He shook his head. "How do you even approach someone with a question like that?"

 

B'Elanna regarded him. She and Tom had been sitting side by side for an hour, watching and listening as Harry recounted the confrontation in the sickbay. She had never seen her friend this visibly upset. His anger, fear and pain were overwhelming to watch. Her heart went out to him, and she ached to comfort him. This feeling was so different from her usual urge to hurt someone who caused pain to someone she loved that she was at a loss as to how to handle these feelings.

 

Tom however, proceeded in the manner in which he felt most comfortable. He laughed at Harry's question. "How? You just ask. 'Hi remember me? I'm Harry Kim. Would you carry my baby?'"

 

Harry sighed and collapsed into the chair facing the other two. "Sounds like a better way to get my face slapped. I don't want to ask someone I hardly know."

 

"As opposed to getting someone you hardly know pregnant?" Tom quipped. His voice got defensive. "What?" He asked when he noticed B'Elanna was staring at him with an odd mixture of disbelief and anger.

 

She shook her head and turned back to Harry. "You're right. You need to find a friend to do this for you. Someone with whom you share common interests, maybe someone you work with occasionally, spend off duty time with. Someone who likes kids but doesnít necessarily want one of their own." She grinned at him, her mind whirling and then focusing on one person.

 

He smiled back. "Do you have anyone in mind?" he asked hopefully.

 

She laughed as she relaxed back into Tomís embrace. "As a matter of fact I do."

 

Harryís face lit up as he leapt to his feet, his excitement obvious and overwhelming. "Really! You'd do this for me?" Both Tom and BíElanna stiffened as they realized that Harry had misunderstood BíElannaís teasing enthusiasm completely wrong. "I canít tell you how happy I am. I was hoping you'd offer, I didnít want to ask this soon after the wedding and everything."

 

BíElanna finally found her voice. "Me? Harry, I was thinking of Sue Nicholetti."

 

"Oh." His voice was flat as all of Harryís exuberance disappeared. He slumped back in the chair. BíElanna and Tom looked at each other, at a loss for tangible words as the silent communication flowed between them.

 

Tom recovered first. "Harry, itís not that we wouldnít love to do this for you, but..." He trailed off and looked at BíElanna helplessly.

 

She walked over to where Harry sat, deflated, and knelt in front of him, taking his hands in her own. "Harry, I wish I could do this for you, I really do. I would love to carry your baby for you, and any other time, I would, but physically, right now I canít"

 

Harry finally raised his head and looked BíElanna over with a critical eye. Without her bulky smock, her too-large uniform hung on her, emphasizing the thinness of her limbs. "Whatís wrong? Are you okay?"

 

"Iím fine. Really. Itís just..." Now it was BíElannaís turn to trail off and turn to her spouse, questions evident in her face.

 

Tom stood and walked over to place a hand on BíElannaís shoulder. "It'd be a bit crowded Harry."

 

Harry shot a puzzled look from one to the other, realization slowly dawning on him as the other two fought unsuccessfully to hide their excited smiles. He watched the emotions play between the two of them with a mixture of amazement and envy. "Youíre pregnant?"

 

Tom looked from BíElanna to Harry and grinned. "I told you our alien visitors were busy."

 

"I would guess so." He stared at the two of them as they stood, Tomís arms casually wrapping around her waist, hands splaying across her abdomen, emphasizing the small swell there. "You two are going to have a baby. Whoíd of thought. Wow. How did I miss this?" He gestured at her stomach, amazed that he hadnít noticed.

 

"Gee Harry, thanks for the vote of confidence." BíElannaís smiling face belied her sarcasm.

 

Harry dropped his head into his hands, rubbing them across his face, and then looking up again. "Itís all making sense now. The weird food youíve been eating, passing out in engineering, the wedding--"

 

"Hey!" Tom protested. "I proposed before I found out she was pregnant."

 

"Yeah. About five minutes." Her laughter floated around the room. "We did have rush the wedding a little bit before I outgrew the dress."

 

Harry seemed to still be shock. "That makes three. Four counting mine. This ship is turning into a floating baby factory."

 

Tom spoke up. "On the other hand, it also means that our kids wonít be lacking for other children to play with like Naomi Wildman. She had virtually no idea how to interact with other children because sheís never been around them. I was talking to Sam about it the other day."

 

Harry started to respond and then stopped. He stood up as the idea manifested itself. "Sam Wildman. I should ask her. Sheíd be perfect."

 

BíElanna shook her head. "I doubt it Harry. Iím sure she would be more than willing to do it, even with the complication of having to explain to Naomi what is going on, but do really think she would be able to give the baby up when it is all over? She'd take one look at that baby and her maternal instincts would kick in."

 

Tom snorted. "Well who wouldnít? Harry, you're not going to have an easy time finding someone who will be willing to carry that baby for seven months and then give it up without a second thought."

 

Realization was evident on Harry's face. "Youíre right. I am never going to find anyone to do this." He slumped back into his chair, his voice dropping to the point where it was barely audible. "What the hell am I going to do? I only have two weeks. I canít think of having to let him go." He exploded out of his chair, his desperation giving away to anger. "Damn her! Why is this so difficult for her? Why canít she just carry the baby? Iíll take him after he is born if she still doesnít want him. Why does she have to do this to me? To him?"

 

BíElanna froze momentarily, surprised by his outburst of anger. Throughout all of this, he had kept his anger at Daria from manifesting itself to his confidants. In BíElannaís eyes it was good to finally see it in the open rather than kept bottled up. "I donít know Harry. I agree it is a selfish decision on her part, but I donít think you are going to get her to change her mind."

 

Tom spoke up. "Thatís not fair. Itís no more selfish of her to abort this fetus than it is of you to insist that it be born." Tom ignored the angry look BíElanna threw at him and continued. "Sheís scared Harry, she doesnít want this baby and that's her choice to make. You have every right to be angry and hurt, but you donít have the right to decide whether she is right or wrong in making it."

 

BíElanna turned on him. "He has every right. He is the babyís father."

 

Harry agreed. "She wouldnít even listen to me, to what I wanted."

 

Tom sighed. "And exactly how much time did you spend listening to what she wanted? You march in there and declare that this baby will be born. Did she ever tell you why she didnít want to have a baby?"

 

Harry nodded, "Sort of. When she first told me she was pregnant, she said that she didnít think it was fair to bring a baby onto Voyager given the uncertainty of our situation."

 

Tom smirked. "Oh and Iíll bet you listened so well to what she was trying to say. Did you think about that? Did you remember when the Kazon stranded you all on Hanon? Do you remember telling me about how Naomi got so sick down there and how helpless you all felt? How scared you were that she would die?" His voice rose. "Think about that Harry. Think about what it is going to be like for you trying to raise this kid, juggling duty shifts and bridge time. Think about what will happen to this baby the next time you get transformed into some alien species, or killed. Think about all of that and then think again about what Daria said. Try and look at this from her point of view and see if you can remember why it is so damned important to you to have this kid. Then if you still feel that she was selfish in her decision, all the more power to you." With that Tom whirled and walked into the bedroom, wishing for all the world that this ship had come equipped with doors that would slam.

 

Harry looked up to where BíElanna stood alone, an unreadable expression on her face, unconsciously rubbing the swell of her stomach. "BíElanna, Iím sorry."

 

"Itís not your fault. Donít worry about it." Her face was frozen as she walked towards the door to the corridor. "Iíll talk to you later Harry."

 

He headed for the door. "Are you alright?"

 

She nodded. "I think Tom and I have a few things we need to talk about."

 

He stood awkwardly in the open door. "Well then goodnight. And congratulations."

 

BíElanna nodded again as he left. As the door slid shut, she sighed, took a deep breath and headed for the bedroom. As the door opened, she glared at her husband, laying fully clothed across the bed, reading a padd in the dim light. "What the hell was that all about?"

 

"What?"

 

"What? Your attacking Harry like that. Thatís what!" She stood at the foot of the bed, glaring at him. "You need to back off of him. This isn't all his fault. He doesn't need you picking at him."

 

"What, and you playing Ďmother targí to him is going to help. Harry's a big boy BíElanna, he is going to have to deal with this without you insulting Daria and babying him." Tom sighed.

 

"What? Your uncaring, condescending attitude will help him? Canít you show him a little compassion? Heís supposed to be your best friend."

 

"He is my best friend, and I do care about him, but I donít think he is seeing the big picture here. Heís mad at her, so he's going to do the exact opposite of what she wants, even if what she wants makes more sense than what he's doing." Tom was getting angry again.

 

BíElannaís anger rose with his. "So, what, you think sheís right? Do you think that we made a bad decision too?

 

"Be, our situation is completely different and you know that."

 

She folded her arms around herself. "How so? We're talking about bringing children into the same environment. Where they could have to endure the same situations you are so worried about in Harryís case. Donít be a hypocrite Tom. If it is such a bad idea for them to have a baby, why would it be a good idea for us to have two?"

 

Tom stood and headed for the bathroom. "Itís not them, itís him. This is a little different. There are two of us." He pulled his uniform jacket off and disappeared into the bathroom.

 

BíElanna followed him, standing in the open door watching him as he washed his face. "For right now, yes, but think about how quickly that could change. Look at what happened on the Mari homeworld. I could have come back from there as some sort of stranger or even worse. What would you have done then?" She took a deep breath, visibly shaken. Tom turned from the sink and pulled her into his arms, holding her tightly. "And that thing with Neelix in the shuttle. That could have been you killed just as easily as him."

 

"Well then I guess we would have seen how important Seven thought my role on this ship is." Tom smiled, trying to lighten the mood.

 

BíElanna pulled away from him as she cried out. "This is not a joke! Canít you take anything seriously? Did you even hear what I was trying to say?" She turned and walked back into the bedroom.

"BíElanna, hey, IÖ" He followed her and reached for her again only to have his hand slapped away.

 

"Donít touch me. I donít want you to comfort me, I want you to listen to me, to talk to me. I want to know what you are thinking, how you feel about all of this. You just about bit Harryís head off tonight. This is obviously something that had been on your mind for a while for it to set you off that easily, but you havenít said a word to me about it." She sat on the bed. "Tom, if you are scared or unsure about this, talk to me." She took his hand as she pleaded with him.

 

"Thereís nothing to talk about BíElanna. Iíll apologize to Harry in the morning. I just lost my temper for a moment, donít read too much into it." He knelt down in front of her, and reached out a hand to caress the side of her face.

 

She looked at him, his face shadowed in the dim light, making it impossible to read his expression. "Tom, are you sure? If you're having doubts about this, I need you to tell me. I need to know how you feel." She returned his caress, wanting nothing more than to believe him.

 

"Be, relax. If I was having second thoughts about all of this, you'd be the first one to know." He leaned forward and planted a quick kiss on her lips. She smiled back at him. Tom stood and glanced around the room. "Hey, do you mind if I head for the holodeck for a while, Iíve got time reserved in about five minutes?"

 

BíElanna looked at him in disbelief. "Youíre going to the holodeck now?"

 

"Is that all right?" Tom paused in pulling a shirt out of the dresser.

 

"You donít need my permission. I just canít believe that you are going now." She was hoping that they could've just crawled into bed and talked, but it didnít look like that was going to happen now.

 

Tom quickly shed his uniform pants and pulled on a pair of jeans. "I told you last night. I was planning on going skiing, do you want to tag along?"

 

BíElanna stared at him. "Not really. I just want to go to bed, itís been a long day and itís late. Iím just wondering why you are going now."

 

"Itís the only chance I had to get a reservation. Iíve just been sitting all day and need to work off some energy." He pulled a heavy sweater on over his shirt and continued digging in the dresser.

 

She flopped back on the bed and immediately regretted it as a sharp twinge of pain shot upward from the small of her back. She groaned and rolled onto her side, curling up. "Have fun" she muttered as she reached for a pillow, "But when you get back, we need to talk." A bounce in the bed as her husband sat down next to her caused her to wince as the pain reappeared.

 

"You okay?" Tom bent over to nuzzle the sensitive spot just behind her ear.

 

"Fine. My back just hurts a little." She shifted backwards slightly to give him better access.

 

"Anything to worry about? Do you want to go see the Doc?" Tom sat up and looked at her in genuine concern.

 

B'Elanna made a soft disappointed sound at the loss of contact. "No. It's probably just stress. I'll feel better after I get some sleep."

 

"Okay. I'm going to go then. Try and get something to eat okay? Don't just fall asleep in your uniform again." He kissed the top of her head softly and left. She indulged her irritation by throwing the pillow against the door as it closed after him.

 

After a few minutes she forced herself to get up off of the bed and change clothes. Feeling slightly neglected and lonely, she debated looking for company in the mess hall, but opted instead for a replicated dinner, curled up with her energy distribution reports. But as soon as she sat down, her combadge chirped at her. It was Joe Carey on the other end with a slight discrepancy in the readings from the warp coils that he wanted her input on. The problem was slight and easily corrected, but soon after Vorik contacted her with another slight problem caused by the adjustments that Carey had made.

 

She slapped her com-badge "Torres to Carey."

 

Expecting the voice of her second-in-command on the other end, she was startled when the cool voice of the computer answered. "Voice print not recognized. Please restate command."

 

Silently cursing her husband under her breath she tried again. "Paris to Carey"

 

"Carey here." She could hear the busy sounds of engineering in the background.

 

"I just spoke with Vorik. Apparently the adjustments you made affected the EPS flow regulator. Get with him and try to stabilize them together." No more than five minutes later, Carey called to report the reoccurrence of the fluctuation on the warp coil. In frustration she grabbed her smock and headed for engineering muttering about lack of communication between her staff members. Upon arriving, she pulled the on-duty engineers together to figure out a solution that they could all live with. They worked steadily for an hour, until B'Elanna was interrupted by a pair of strong arms coming around her to tightly circle her waist.

 

She snuggled back into the warm body behind her. "Hmm. How was the powder?" She could feel the energy still radiating from him. Apparently skiing hyped Tom up, making it impossible for him to be still. The mood he had returned in was in direct contrast to the one he had left their quarters in. It was contagious, this good mood of his. B'Elanna mentally corrected herself as his hands began to roam. Not just a good mood, an amorous mood. "Tom," she protested weakly. "We really need to talk."

 

His pliant body molded into hers, and a husky growl vibrated in her ear. "We can talk later. How soon can you leave?" His teeth grazed softly against the sensitive skin of her neck as his hands grazed softly along her spinal column.

 

Her staff later reflected that they had never seen the Chief disappear out of engineering that quickly.

 

The clothing started flying the second that the doors swished shut behind them. B'Elanna felt exhilarated. The heady, almost urgent need to feel their bodies come together in the intense heat of uncontrolled passion made her head spin. She leaned heavily against Tom as he struggled with the tight waistband on her pants. He slid them down her legs and she kicked them across the room to join their already discarded shirts. He slowly slid his hands up her bare flanks before tenderly grasping her face and lowering his lips to hers. She responded voraciously, her tongue brushing across his lower lip coaxing his lips open. Tom plunged his tongue deep into her mouth, the intensity of the kiss backing them across the floor. The wall connected unexpectedly with her back, forcing them even closer, their teeth clicking together.

 

B'Elanna did something Tom rarely saw her do. She burst into giggles, which intensified when Tom swooped her into his arms and carried her to the bedroom. Dropping her onto the bed, he regarded her. Her fit of laughter was beginning to subside as he slid onto the bed next to her and reached out to remove the few scraps of clothing still keeping her from him. Her giddiness was replaced with a quick intake of breath as he reached one hand to touch her golden skin. A moan erupted from her at the first touch and Tom rolled her to her back, again joining his lips to hers. She arched into the kiss and felt his hands go to work on her body. Every touch was fire, his sweeping moves to seek out her most sensitive areas left trails of molten heat to rapidly cool upon her body. And he knew exactly where to touch her to produce those delightful sounds she made when aroused. As he lightly caressed her ribs and flanks, he licked, nipped, and kissed his way down towards her breasts. As he began to suckle her rosy nipples, she suddenly lost the ability to distinguish the sensations coming from the various parts of her body. She didn't even notice the movement of his hand from her hip to the tangle of curls at the tops of her thighs until her toes began to curl.

 

His nimble fingers went to work on her. They caressed and rubbed, dipped inward and circled, flicked and thrust in a rapid flurry of movement. His other hand had moved to her torso, his thumb tracing the bottom edge of her ribcage. His mouth and tongue continued to lavish attention upon her breasts. The combination of activities upon her body was too much for her to resist. She exploded into orgasm. Small whimpers and inarticulate cries filled the room. Tom moved down her body, burying his face in her musky depths. His agile mouth picked up right where his fingers left off. He quickly brought her back to the edge of orgasm, and held her there for a long moment. She squirmed and pleaded with him to continue. He moved quickly, sucking the tiny nub of flesh with a vengeance. The effect upon B'Elanna was breathtaking. The white hot burning began in her clenched toes and fisted hands. Like a flame across a dry field it rushed through her body, enveloping her in an explosion of sensation. Her head fell back upon the bed, an indistinguishable sound torn from her throat.

 

Tom sat back and watched as she struggled to regain her bearings after one of the most intense orgasms of her life. Her body was shining with a thin sheen of sweat, arms and legs flung wide open, her breath coming in short gasps. Her eyes were closed, head thrown back, the expression on her face causing him to harden to a point close to pain. He moved up her body, the hair on his chest causing her to gasp and shudder as it brushed against her oversensitive skin. Stretching out next to her, her tried to ignore his throbbing erection as he laid a gentle hand on her cheek, waiting for her to recover. She lay still, her ragged breathing the only sound in the room. Just as he was beginning to worry about her prolonged reaction, a hand reached out and tangled itself in his hair, drawing him in for a kiss.

 

"Thank you." Her voice was ragged, but the glowing smile on her face was unmistakable. "That was incredible. I'm not sure if I've ever felt anything like that."

 

He inched closer to bury his face in her neck. "Itís probably the hormones." He began to kiss along her jaw.

 

"Maybe." She moaned as he moved to cover her body with his own. "Maybe you are just good."

 

"Could be." With that, he plunged deep into her, causing a gasp of pleasure. She rose up to meet him as he began to move into warmth. Quickly they found a rhythm, Tom reaching between their thrusting bodies to coax one more orgasm out of her. When she came, crying out his name, he gave into the sensations rushing through him and climaxed with a shout.

 

Collapsing to one side of her, he casually cradled her abdomen in his hand, nowhere near the perfect fit it was just a few weeks before. He cuddled up next to her heated body and felt the energy and tension evaporate from him. B'Elanna's sleepy voice cut across the silence in the room. "Tom? Can we talk about what happened earlier?" A soft grunt was her only answer. Rolling slowly over to her side, she looked at Tom. He was fast asleep, arms and legs sprawled everywhere. Sighing, she cuddled against him and fell asleep.

 

********

 

Alone in her quarters, Daria cried. This in it's self was not that unusual. She had been crying herself to sleep almost every night in recent memory. What was different this night was that sleep would not come. She rolled over to her right side, pulling her pillow tight against her body. She tried telling herself to just give up and go to sleep, that morning was going to come whether she slept or not. And with morning was going to come her appointment in sickbay. Rolling over to her left side, she tried to tell herself to quit over-dramatizing it. It was just a simple medical procedure. Before her confrontation with Harry in sickbay, it had been easier because she kept telling herself that it was the best choice. Now she didn't know what the best choice was any longer.

 

Turning so that she lay flat on her back, the tears continued, rolling down the side of her face. "I have to do this," she whispered softly into the darkness. Her mind screamed against itself. Why?

 

Finally giving up on sleep, she got out of bed and headed for the replicator. Daria replicated a cup of herbal tea and curled up in the chair in her living area. She idly wondered if Harry would have any luck in his quest. A shock of reality hit her hard. In less than five hours it would be over. Because of her choice, they would take her baby from her and give it to someone else. Someone else would carry him, hold him, love him and raise him. Not only would her fear of watching her child grow in this dangerous situation be realized, but she would not even have the opportunity to protect him from those dangers.

 

Him. Ever since the doctor had confirmed the sex of the baby for Harry earlier, Daria had been thinking about her son. For so long, she had refused to think about the baby in that personal of terms, but now she couldn't seem to stop. A moment of wandering thoughts overtook her as she allowed herself to wonder for the first time what this baby might grow to look like. A burning sensation pulled her back to reality as the heat from the mug of tea began to affect her hands.

 

She set the mug down and began to wonder, for the first time feeling the first flutters of excitement over her pregnancy. It looked like this baby was going to be born with or without her, and if that was the case it might as well be with her. It was if she was finally given permission to have this baby, the heartbreaking decision taken right out of her hands. She laughed out loud. She really ought to thank Harry for this. That thought stopped her momentarily. She headed for the bedroom, muttering under her breath. "Harry. Got to talk to Harry. What is he going to say." She quickly pulled on her clothes as she addressed the computer. "Computer, location of Harry Kim?"

"Ensign Kim is in his quarters." Daria was out the door almost before the computer had finished speaking.

 

Within moments she was ringing the doorchime on his quarters. There was no answer, so she rang again, to be rewarded this time with the sight of a just-woken Harry Kim. He regarded her blearily for a moment, opening and closing his mouth as if the power for speech had left him. Finally he managed to find his voice. "Daria, what are you doing here?"

 

She glanced around the corridor, and then back at Harry, who stepped back to let her enter. She spoke as soon as the doors closed behind her. "I need to talk to you."

 

Her simple statement caused a myriad of thoughts and emotions to rush through Harry's head. Not the least of which was the consuming anger he had been feeling for most of the day. "At 0130? It's the middle of the night. Didnít we have enough to say to each other earlier?"

 

Her heart sank. Of course he would be angry with her. The tears began to flow again from her already swollen eyes. "I'm sorry." Her voice was so soft he had to lean closer just to hear her. He bit back a caustic remark as she continued. "I Ė I can't do it."

 

He would not let himself hope that she was saying what he wanted to hear. His next words came out like ice. "Can't do what?

 

"The baby, I mean the procedure. I can't go through with it. I'm sorry." With that, the steady flow of tears evolved into full-fledged sobs. She couldn't blame him for being angry with her. The feelings of confusion tore through her. If she was so happy about her decision, than why was she still so upset? One look at the expression on the face of the man before her answered that question. He stood like stone, the expression on his face totally unreadable. "I want to have our baby."

 

Harry stared in disbelief. Did she really say what he thought she did, or was this some sleep-deprived hallucination on his part? But there she was, crying in his living room. She looked like she was about to collapse, her eyes red and swollen. His anger was rapidly replaced with concern and the need to console her, so without another thought, he stepped forward and took her into his arms. He was surprised not only didn't she pull away, but she actually clung to him. Stepping backwards to the couch he sat, with her sprawled across his lap, just holding her as she cried, gently stroking her hair. His mind flew back to the conversation he had with Tom and B'Elanna earlier in the night. Tom's words in particular coming back to haunt him. He was finally ready to listen to her reasons why. But that could wait. As her sobs started to lessen, Harry loosened his grip on her, allowing her to pull away if she wanted. When she didn't move away, he bent his head to kiss the top of hers.

 

"I'm the one who should be sorry." He could barely get the words out through the lump in his throat. "I never listened to what you wanted. I didn't care about your reasons why you didn't want the baby."

 

She raised her head to look at him. "I did want him, I just didn't think it was fair to have a baby on Voyager. Not in this situation. I thought it would be easier to never know him, to never love him. I don't know if I can handle ever watching a child of mine suffer or die. Harry, what if we have him and then lose him?''

 

"I don't know. I guess we deal with it in the only ways we can, just like every parent who has. It's not just Voyager, accidents and disease can happen anywhere. Daria, I think everyone has those kind of fears for their children. And everyone on board here especially. But it looks like we might be here for a very long time. We have to keep on living, not just putting everything on hold waiting to get back, cause we may never get there." His voice broke as he talked. "I'm scared too, but would you give up on your chance for happiness just because there might be some pain involved?"

 

She relaxed into his arms. "I'm still scared."

 

"Me too. But we can get through this together." She stiffened in his arms. He debated for a moment in his head and then decided to push on. "What about us?"

 

"Us?" She searched her mind for something to say. In all the time she had spent pondering her future, a relationship with Harry had never even come into question. At least in her mind. "Is there an 'us'?"

 

"I would like there to be. I know it is going to take some time, I still have to work out a lot of the anger I have been feeling towards you, but I thought you realized that's what I wanted." His voice was low, and he had to make an effort to keep it level.

 

She felt the tears and the insecurities welling up again. "I don't know if I am ready for that right now. I mean I want us to have a good relationship for the baby, but I'm just not sure if a romantic one is the best idea right now."

 

Harry's heart sank. "I'm willing to wait for as long as you need. Just promise me that you will keep an open mind on this."

 

"Just don't push me on this Harry. I need sometime to adjust to all of these changes in my life. I'm going to have to look at finding bigger quarters, changing my responsibilities in engineering, there is a lot to think about." She yawned.

 

He paused for a moment, considering his next words in his head. "About new quartersÖ there is a three bedroom open on deck four. We could share those, with one bedroom for each of us, and one for the baby when it comes." She started to interrupt him but he pushed on. "I'm not trying to push you, it's just when the baby comes, I want to be as much a part of his life as you are, and that would be so much easier to do if we were all living in the same place."

 

"It just seems like a big step to me. Moving in together?" She shook her head.

 

"It wouldn't really be moving in together. We would each have our own rooms, our own space, it's just our space would be closer together." He laughed. "That three deck distance may be a little much if you want me to get up and change diapers at two in the morning."

 

She shuddered. "We really are going to do this. We are going to have a baby. Together." He tightened his grip on her as she shivered again. "It just feels real all of a sudden."

 

"It is real." He moved his hand to her abdomen. "This is our son."

 

"Did the doctor show you the fetal scan? Did you see him?" Her voice was almost excited. Her conversation with Harry had helped to lessen some of her concerns, and she was starting to feel happier about her pregnancy.

 

"No, I left for the bridge before he finished it. I'm sure he can show it to us later." He smiled. In the space of an hour, his life had gone from the border of a living hell, to something to anticipate. Holding her in his arms, talking about their baby, he felt more at peace than he had since Voyager had arrived in the Delta quadrant. "We can ask him in the morning when you cancel your appointment."

 

Daria yawned. "Sounds good." She snuggled into Harry. "You don't mind do you? I just feel so safe right now."

 

"Not at all. Do you want to stay here tonight? You can have my bed, I'll stay on the couch." Her only response was a soft sound that could have been interpreted as an affirmative. He looked down to find that she had fallen asleep Gently carrying her to the bed, he laid her down and returned to his couch to sleep.

 

********

 

B'Elanna grunted as she tried again to fasten her uniform pants. Tom leaned against the doorframe with a look of amusement on his face. She had threatened him with serious bodily harm if he had given into temptation to utter the smart remark that was obviously bursting to get out. She lay back on the bed and tried again with no success. A muffled snort from the doorway drew her attention. "You think this is funny?"

 

"Not at all." Tom's face was the picture of innocence as he turned and headed for the living room. She could hear his low voice in the background and idly wondered who he was talking to as she once again sucked in her breath and attempted to fasten her pants. She failed and sank her head back onto the bed. Tom walked in and dropped a bundle of black and gold cloth on the bed next to her.

 

"What is this?" She sat up and reached for it.

 

"A uniform that fits." He could hardly keep the merriment out of his voice, anticipating her reaction.

 

"This is a maternity uniform." She glared at him.

 

"I know that. I just replicated it." He sighed as she started to get angry. "B'Elanna, what else are you planning on wearing? The ones you have been wearing are so tight around the waist that I am amazed you can even breathe. And they just hang on you everywhere else. At some point you have got to give up on them."

 

"But if I wear this, everyone is going to know that I'm pregnant." Tears sprang to her eyes and she wiped them away in disbelief. Why would this make her cry?

 

Tom moved to her and took her in his arms, resting his chin on the top of her head. She snuggled into his neck contentedly. "I hate to point this out to you, but you are pregnant." A sharp jab to his ribs caused him to wince. "Come on B'Elanna, you are almost four months along. If you were full Klingon you would be two-thirds of the way done."

 

"It's just that we've kept it a secret for so long. I don't want to lose that." She pulled back and picked up the uniform, eyeing it with distaste.

 

"I know, but I really don't think we can keep it a secret much longer. Although we did tell Harry. It might not be a secret anymore." Tom walked to the closet for a uniform of his own. "Speaking of which, why did you let Harry believe that we are having a 'baby', singular?"

 

Her voice was muffled as she pulled the gold and black top on. "We may not be able to keep the whole thing to ourselves, but we have to keep surprising people somehow." She looked up at Tom, a feral grin on her face. One that disappeared as she moved in front of the mirror. She sighed. "Who designed these things? This thing is cut like a tent."

 

Tom just stared. The clothing she had been wearing of late had been selected with the purpose of hiding her pregnancy. This seemed to be designed to emphasize it. She looked more pregnant wearing this uniform than she had 20 minutes earlier standing naked in the bathroom. "Well, that ought to raise a few eyebrows."

 

"You think so helmboy?" She laughed, imagining the reaction when she walked into engineering. There was no hiding anything in this. Designed to allow her to grow throughout her pregnancy, the swelling in her abdomen disrupted the flow of the shirt, pushing outwards in an unmistakable indication of what she had been trying to hide. "Where's my smock?" Tom handed it to her with a smirk.

 

He glanced at the chronometer and jumped. "We'd better hurry. Captain called a 0700 staff meeting. We don't even have time to go to the mess hall. I'll replicate something." With that he was gone, pausing on his way out the door to retrieve his one of his boots from under the dresser where it had been tossed during the previous night.

 

B'Elanna shook her head as she turned away from the mirror in search of her own shoes. Spying one peeking out from underneath the bed she bent down to retrieve it. As she started to stand up, she experienced another pain streaking across her lower back. She gasped in surprise and pain. She straightened and the pain dissipated. Attributing it to her changing posture, she headed out the door.

 

********

 

Daria woke up happier than she had in a long time. As she thought about it, she could identify the last time she woke up in this good of a mood. It was the night she woke up fresh from a night with the man she could now hear moving about in the next room. A soft knock on the door brought a smile to her face.

 

"Daria?" Harry poked his head inquisitively through the door. "The Doctor just commed me. He said he had been trying to get a hold of you. He wanted to move your appointment forward."

 

"I left my combadge in my quarters last night." She laughed. "So why did he call you?"

 

"I have no idea. Maybe he thought I had kidnapped you and was holding you hostage until you changed your mind." He walked over to the edge of the bed. "So do you just want to com the doc, or go down there?"

 

"Are you kidding? And miss seeing the look on his face?" She started to climb out of bed. "Plus maybe we can talk him into showing us the fetal scan." She paused for a second. "That is if you want to go with me."

 

"Of course. I'm off duty today, at least for the morning." He looked sheepish. "I had made arrangements afterÖ"

 

She walked over to him and put her arms around him. "I understand. And how's this for a coincidence, I'm off today as well."

 

"Hmm. Got any plans for the morning?" She shook her head. "How about a detour by sickbay and then breakfast?"

 

"Sounds good. Very good. I am so hungry. I'll get out of here and go back to my quartersó"

 

He cut her off. "Why don't you take a shower and I'll run down to your quarters and pick up some clothes if you want me to." She smiled. Twenty minutes later she stepped out of the shower to find her clothes laid out on the bed and a delicious smell wafting in from the other room. Dressing hurriedly, she entered to find Harry setting warm muffins and juice from the replicator on the table. "You said you were hungry. I thought you might like something to eat while I get showered and dressed."

 

She gave him a quick kiss on the cheek and watched as he blushed to a wonderful color. "Thank you." She reached for a muffin. "I don't deserve this." At his questioning look, she clarified "You treating me this well. Not after what I have put you through in the last few weeks."

 

"It's over now. We can work forward from here and as long as we talk to each other, we'll probably do alright." With that he disappeared into the bedroom.

 

********

B'Elanna tried to ignore the strange looks she was getting in the corridor as she and Tom headed for the bridge. Tom on the other hand not only took notice, but judging by the look on his face, found the entire situation quite amusing.

 

"Something funny Tommy?" Her voice was sharp, and the message was clear. He cringed. Tommy? This was not good. "Laugh and you die. As they entered the turbolift she leaned against the back wall as it ascended to the bridge. "I can't do this Tom. Did you see the way everyone stared at me? This was a bad idea. We should have made some sort of announcement, ease into this slowly."

 

"Do you really think it would have made a difference?" He looked at her, still amazed at how different the maternity uniform made her look.


"Not really." They rode in silence for a moment. Then B'Elanna turned to Tom. "How do you think Harry is doing this morning?"

 

"I donít know. He was pretty much a mess when he left last night. Us getting into it probably didn't help much." She looked at him reproachfully.

 

"I'm sorry. I know I was out of line. I will apologize to him later." The turbolift arrived at the bridge and the door slid open. He turned to her. "Ready?"

 

"I feel like I'm about to be fed to the wolves." She took Tom's outstretched hand and smiled when he squeezed it in reassurance. "Why am I so nervous. Captain already knows. After the walk here, the crew will know within an hour. It's only Neelix, Tuvok, and Chakotay."

 

"Don't forget Seven." Tom smiled at her.

 

"Believe me, I'm trying to forget about her." She frowned as they made the short walk from the turbolift to the briefing room. "Why is she going to be at the senior staff meeting anyways?"

 

"I guess she encountered some thrilling stellar phenomena in Astrometrics yesterday that she wants to show us." Tom released her hand as they approached the door.

 

B'Elanna stifled a yawn. "Good. I can take a nap." She turned to grin at him. "Ready?"

 

He indicated the opening door with a sweep of his arm. "After you."

 

It was an entrance that would be remembered and laughed over for a good long time. Janeway was grinning, having expected something like this for a while now, but nonetheless shocked at how very pregnant B'Elanna looked. But sitting next to her, Chakotay froze, trying to reconcile the fiercely protective, angry girl he had known for years with the glowing, happy woman before him now. He had reflected several times in the past few years on just how much she had changed since coming on board Voyager, the last time being just a few weeks ago at her wedding, but seeing her now, both her and Paris trying unsuccessfully to hide the grins on their faces just drive the point home.

 

The baby was a shock to him, not only that she was pregnant, but that her pregnancy had progressed as far as it had without his knowledge. There had been a point when he would have been one of the first to know, but obviously that time had past. He offered up a quick smile for both, and a reassuring hand on B'Elanna's shoulder as he passed her to take his seat. He sat quietly, trying to stop staring, and failing miserably. Chakotay was almost overwhelmed by the sense of loss that he felt as he looked at the couple. Trying to determine the source of these feelings was proving to be a bit much for him alone. He desperately needed a session with his spirit guide.

 

Tuvok had merely arched an eyebrow as he regarded them. Dryly he remarked "It would appear that congratulations are in order." The eyebrow returned to its usual position. "I was beginning to wonder how long you would wait before making your impending parenthood public knowledge."

 

Tom gaped. "You knew Tuvok?"

 

"I had observed the changes in Lt. Paris' body, as well as the increase in time spent in sickbay. With the recent situation on board ship, I felt it was a logical assumption."

 

Neelix finally recovered from his own shock enough to rush up and envelop both Tom and B'Elanna in a hug. "Well I have to tell you that this was a shock to me. This is so exciting. Another baby! We are going to have to look at putting in a daycare center. And a school! Why in another year or two, Naomi will be ready and then these three that are coming, and I'll bet within a year or two we will be seeing more andÖ"

Janeway cut off Neelix's excited chatter before it got too far out of hand. "Mr. Neelix, I assure you that that is something that we will discuss in the next few months. But now could we get on with this meeting? There are a few things I would like to discuss before Seven presents her findings to us."

 

As if on cue, the doors to the briefing room slid open and Seven of Nine walked in, padd in hand. She paused as she looked at B'Elanna. "You are pregnant."

 

B'Elanna squared her shoulders. "That's right."

 

Seven paused, searching for the word that she had observed others using in similar situations. "Congratulations." With the situation now taken care of in her mind, she continued on with her task. Walking over to where the captain sat, she handed over the padd. "Here are the numbers that you requested."

 

As everyone took their seats for the start of the meeting, Tom flashed a smile at his wife. The meaning behind it was clear. "That wasn't so bad."

 

********

 

At the same time that jaws were dropping in the briefing room on the bridge, a holographic one was dropping in sickbay. He pondered the implications of the two walking through the door together, with altogether too innocent expressions on their faces. Rather than make assumptions, he decided to stay neutral. "Mr. Kim. I see you managed to locate Ensign McKinney."

 

Harry turned to her and spoke softly. "It wasn't that difficult."

 

She smirked at him. "Are you saying I'm predictable?"

 

He laughed. "No, just locatable."

 

The doctor cleared his throat and the two of them turned to him. He waited for one of them to speak, to explain the strange situation to him. For a moment, there was silence in sickbay. Finally he gave up. Turning to his instruments, he picked up a stack of padds. "Okay then let's get started. Due to the legality of your situation, I need you both to look over and thumbprint these waivers."

 

Daria took the padds and started to giggle. "Um Doc.."

 

He continued. "When you are done, you can change out of your clothes and lie flat on the diagnostic bed."

 

Harry tried. "But DocÖ"

 

The EMH turned around. "What is it?"

 

Daria stared at the floor. "Um. I changed my mind."

 

"I'm sorry Ensign, I had trouble hearing that, could you repeat it?" Her head shot up to stare at him.

 

Harry moved next to her and put his arm around her waist. "We are going to have a baby." He grinned.

 

The doctor looked from one to the other in astonishment. Finally he took back the padds and carefully hit the delete commands on each. He looked back up at them. "You could have mentioned this to me sooner. Like sometime before I had set up and prepared the stasis unit. It was a time consuming process to calibrate it for a developing fetus." He turning his back on them, he headed for his office. "Well I suppose congratulations to both of you are in order." he said dryly.

 

"Thanks," they both echoed.

 

He turned and looked at them. They stood in their same positions, matching looks of expectation on their faces. "Was there anything else? Somehow I don't remember either one of you being so fond of sickbay that you want to spend extra time here." He efficiently turned back to his tray of instruments and began to sterilize them and put them away.

 

"Can we see the baby?" The hopefulness and joy in Daria's voice made the Doctor pause. "Please?"

 

He turned back to the couple standing in the middle of Sickbay and softened. "Of course you can." He motioned Daria towards the biobed and reached for the fetal scanner.

 

She got comfortable on the biobed and Harry took her hand. She gave him a strange look at the unexpected intimacy, but he just smiled at her. "I'm not rushing you, but I just thought you might like some support when we see our son for the first time." She returned his smile and squeezed her hand as they turned to the viewscreen.

 

As they stared, Daria pulled Harry's hand so he had to lean in close to her. "Your suggestion about the quarters?" He nodded. "I was going to tell you that I think it's a good idea."

 

"I'll talk to Commander Chakotay this afternoon. He'll be the one to assign them." Neither one of them had taken their eyes from the screen at any point during this exchange, both mesmerized by the tiny creature that could be seen moving on the screen

 

********

 

B'Elanna heard the echo of her scream as she collapsed onto Tom. At this point she was willing to admit that yes, this might be hormones. Why else would she attack her husband the second he walked through the door and drag him to bed for another night of mind-blowing sex. They hadn't had this much trouble keeping their hands off of each other since they had first gotten together. She lay on top of Tom, the two of them still intimately joined, both trying to recover and catch their breath. Soon though, the position became immensely uncomfortable for her. She rolled off to the side and lay on her back, only to find that just as uncomfortable. At a little under five months pregnant, she was already having trouble breathing when laying flat. She curled up on her side and stared at Tom sleepily.

 

One word escaped his lips. "Wow."

 

She laughed. "Like that, did you?" She reached out one hand to entangle it in the damp curls on his head.

 

"That was incredible. Exhausting, but wonderful. You never cease to amaze me." He sighed. "I might even be able to sleep tonight."

 

"I'm just so glad that this insomnia hasn't bothered me." She grinned, thinking of the past few nights since their alien encounter, where she slept like a log while Tom tossed and turned next to her, even resorting to challenging Harry at midnight hoverball.

 

B'Elanna propped herself up on an elbow and gazed at Tom. "What did you dream about?"

 

"I was in a shuttle and it went down. I couldn't contact Voyager to get me out and then I saw the alien and woke up." He looked at her. "Except for the alien, nothing that unusual. It's one I've had a time or two before." He reached an arm up and cupped her cheek. "What about you?"

 

"I dreamed I was here in our quarters and I could hear a baby crying. And I looked and looked, but couldn't find it anywhere. I looked everywhere, and the baby just kept crying and crying. I finally went into the other bedroom and there was a crib set up and the alien was standing over it. Then I woke up." She laughed. "Doc told me that it is a very common dream for pregnant women. He gave me some line of psychobabble about it being a manifestation of fears of a miscarriage."

 

Tom pulled her head down for a soft kiss. "Are you okay?"

 

B'Elanna returned his kiss before scooting closer to put her head on his shoulder. "It was just a dream." They lay quietly for a few minutes. Then she spoke again. "Did you ever get Harry to tell you about his dream?"

 

"Yeah. Apparently it had something to do with him and Daria and a jeffries tube. I didn't ask for anymore detail than that." Tom laughed as he wound his arms around her back.

 

B'Elanna snuggled in. "Poor Harry. He is so sexually frustrated."

 

Tom laughed. "What do you expect? They live in those quarters together and are all touchy-feely when they're off duty but then go to sleep in separate bedrooms. I think I would be frustrated too after a month of that."

 

"I think he is just so glad that she finally changed her mind about the baby. I have never seen him like this. He is just so happy." She smiled and then winced as a shooting pain ripped across her lower back.

 

Tom sat up, instantly alert. "What's wrong?" He reached out to help her as she struggled to a sitting position.

 

"I just had another one of those pains in my back. Like I was having last month." The sudden searing pain had taken her breath away, leaving her gasping for air.

 

His whole body clenched in fear and guilt. "I didnít hurt you when we made love did I?"

 

"No. you didnít do anything" She felt a strange sensation in her abdomen, and rubbed it as she usually did in response to one of the babies moving around.

 

"Well the doctor said those were just your ligaments stretching right?" Tom was starting to worry, she seemed to be in so much pain. "Does this feel different? Do you need to go to sickbay?"

 

"I don't know. This feels a little sharper. I think I just need some water." She climbed out of the bed and headed for the other room. She was a little shaky on her feet, feeling almost nauseous. She normally had a very high tolerance for pain, but both the suddenness and the intensity of this threw her for a loop. She was trying to remember the feeling of the pains that she had been having before to compare this last one to. Shaking off the feeling of unease, she padded back to the bedroom.

 

Tom couldn't help but stare as she walked naked back to the bed. She was still thinner than both Tom and the holodoc would have liked. However, the babies were growing well. Her stomach looked huge to Tom. She was beautiful. And obviously shaken. "Be, are you okay?

 

"Yeah. I'm just tired." She climbed in bed next to him and curled up next to him again. "Don't worry, I'll let you know if I think it is anything more." Laying her head on his shoulder, she was asleep within minutes.

 

Next to her Tom wished he could be so lucky. Shaken by her obvious pain he resigned himself to another sleepless night. But after a half hour of listening to her even breathing, his eyes began to drift close. When he awoke with a start, it seemed like he had barely closed his eyes, but the chronometer read 0247. He tried to figure out just what had woken him as he reached to pull B'Elanna into his arms. But instead of encountering his wife, his hand found nothing but air. Startled, he sat up "B'Elanna?"

 

She poked her head out of the bathroom door. "Tom? Are you awake?" She had obviously been awake for a while. She had pulled on a warm nightgown and the blue robe she had commandeered from Tom's wardrobe a few months earlier.

 

"What's wrong?" He called for lights.

 

"I'm not sure, I've had a few more of those pains. Not as strong, but uncomfortable." At his look of fear she began to feel a flicker of panic. Telling herself to calm, she headed back for the bed. Halfway there she stopped dead in her tracks as she felt a small trickle of warm fluid flow down her legs.

 

Her strange expression worried Tom. "Are you okay? What happened?"

 

She looked up at him, trying to force a smile from behind her fear. "Either my bladder control has really gone to hell, or my water broke." Tom stood stock still for a moment staring at her. Then with a curse he dove for the chest of drawers. She stared at him in disbelief, wondering what was going through his mind as he started tossing clothes out of the drawers. "What are you doing?"

 

"I'm not in the mood to be beamed into sickbay stark naked." He finally located and pulled on a pair of jeans then reached for the combadges that were sitting on the top of the dresser. Handing hers to her, he called for emergency transport to sickbay.

 

The holodoc looked up as they materialized, Tom's arms around an increasingly upset B'Elanna. As a stronger pain hit her, her tenuous grip on her fear and panic started to deteriorate. The doctor stared as B'Elanna began to cry, something he had never seen her do. Her voice rose as her fears found voice, her pleas echoing off of the walls in the empty room. "Please, I don't want to lose them."

 

He assisted Tom in moving her to the diagnostic bed. Activating the arch over her, he looked up sharply. "You are in labor, but you haven't progressed far enough for you to be experiencing as much pain as you are."

 

An anguished cry rose up from the bed. "No! It's too early."

 

Tom still had not spoken since he gave the order for transport. He had been looking back and forth between the doctor, the readouts on the screens around him and his wife, who was gripping his hand for dear life. His limited medical knowledge let him interpret the data on the screens just enough to scare him. His eyes were wide as his gaze visibly rotated between his three targets.

 

The EMH walked to the head of the bed and spoke softly to the terrified couple. "Calm down. I can stop your labor, but only if you calm down. Your blood pressure is through the roof." He administered a hypospray. "This should help bring it down, but you have to relax. Start taking deep breaths. Slower. It's not going to do any good if you hyperventilate." He reached for another hypo. "This will stop the contractions." He assured her as he administered it. He was shocked by her demeanor. He, like most people on the ship, had seen her lose control of her anger many times. But this total lack of emotional control was something he had never seen, or even expected to ever see.

 

Tom finally found his voice, he was deceptively calm. "Can you repair the rupture in the amniotic sac?" At the doctor's nod, he continued. "What do you want me to do?"

 

"Start replicating amniotic fluid to replace what was lost." His fingers flew over the control panel as he instructed the computer to begin more detailed scans. "Let's see if the diagnostic computer can figure out why your body decided that these two were ready to be born while I repair that membranic rupture. Mr. Paris, are you ready?"

 

"Not yet, give me another minute." Tom was having a hard time programming the replicator with his shaking hands.

 

"Hurry. I need that before I can repair the tear." Looking up at B'Elanna, he attempted to reassure her. "It's just a small rupture, easily repairable. Tell me what other problems you have been having."

 

"Um." She tried to pull her thoughts together. "I've been having some pains tonight. Kind of like those ones last month, but the first one hurt even more."

 

"Um-hmm. I see." At that moment Tom reappeared by the side of the biobed, and the two of them worked quickly to replace the fluid and repair the rupture. As they finished, the doctor turned to B'Elanna. "You need to rest. I'm going to give you a mild sedative, nothing that will affect the babies, but enough to let you get some sleep. I'm going to keep you here until we figure out exactly what is wrong." He administered the hypo, dimmed the lights and headed for his office with a strict warning to the two pairs of wide, frightened eyes to get some sleep.

 

Morning found the EMH humming opera in his office and B'Elanna still sleeping on the biobed, Tom asleep in the chair next to her. He had restricted communications to both of them , to be overridden only in the case of a red alert. The diagnostic computer had confirmed his suspicions. While the couple in the other room slept, he started working on a treatment, running projections and specifying schedules. When the effects of her sedative finally wore off, B'Elanna began to stir on the biobed, rousing Tom from his restless sleep next to her.

 

Still feeling groggy and slightly confused, she ran her hand over her abdomen, sighing with overwhelming relief when it encountered the now familiar bulge. A small, but recognizable movement pushed against her hand. She smiled and grabbed Tom's hand, guiding it to the right spot.

 

He let out an audible sigh of relief. The thought of a miscarriage this late in their pregnancy was heartbreaking. He grinned as he felt the baby kicking under his hand. He leaned in to kiss her softly. "How are you feeling?"

 

"A little sore, tired and groggy, but still pregnant. That's the important thing." She smiled and cupped his face in her other palm. As the doctor walked in he looked over the pair. If anything, Tom looked worse than he did when he had arrived early that morning, his restless night showing in his appearance. His hair was tousled from sleep and his face was pale, making the dark smudges under his eyes stand out. He was barefoot and barechested, his combadge pinned to the pair of faded jeans he had pulled on before transporting into sickbay. On the other hand, B'Elanna looked well rested and much calmer than she had.

Tom looked up as the doctor cleared his throat. He swallowed nervously. "So Doc. What's going on?"

 

He handed them a padd containing the results of the tests he had run. "It appears that on its own, B'Elanna's body is no longer capable of maintaining this pregnancy."

 

Even as she felt Tom tense up next to her, B'Elanna's head shot up to fix the holographic doctor with a level gaze. "Now don't try and sugar coat this or anything."

 

Tom felt like his heart was about to explode. "Why?" He forced himself to breathe calmly and listen to the doctor's explanation.

 

"The two biggest contributing factors are her mixed heritage and this being a multiple pregnancy. Now you know that Klingons and Humans can't reproduce naturally, don't you?"

 

B'Elanna nodded. Tom squeezed her hand and spoke up. "But her mother told her that some genetic engineering that was done when she was conceived allowed her reproduce with either Humans or Klingons."

 

The holodoc nodded. "That is true to an extent. You are capable of conceiving with each, although in analysis of your system, probably not as easily as you did this time."

 

B'Elanna snorted. "MeaningÖ?"

"Meaning, although you conceived easily enough this time, I am unsure if that was due to the substance implanted in you by the aliens. If the two of you ever decide to have another child, you may require assistance."

 

B'Elanna struggled to sit up. "I'm not concerned with 'next time' right now. I want to know what is going on with this pregnancy." She glared at him. "I don't care what all tests and conclusions you came up with. I want to know what you meant when you said that I can't carry the babies to term."

 

The subroutines for hurt feelings activated and the holodoctor assumed a slightly miffed expression. "Very well." He turned to the display on the wall. "The hormones required to maintain a healthy pregnancy are very different for Humans and Klingons. Up until this point, your body has maintained a fairly level balance of these hormones. However when they interact with each other, they can cause some rather nasty side effects including severe nausea and vomiting, as I'm sure you are aware of." Tom and B'Elanna nodded, remembering all to well. "However as your pregnancy progressed, the placenta took over producing the substances needed. Since the babies are three-quarters human, most of the hormones produces are what would be required to continue a pregnancy in a human."

 

Tom interrupted. "But B'Elanna is not all human."

 

The doctor nodded. "Precisely. And so her half-Klingon body is not receiving the proper mix needed to recognize this as a viable pregnancy. This would have actually been a more serious problem in a single pregnancy. The main reason that the pregnancy has progressed this far without this problem appearing is because of the larger placenta that your twins share. This has increased the hormone levels some, but not enough. B'Elanna's body therefore decided that it was time to terminate. The sharp pains you felt were the placenta tearing away from the uterine wall. You are lucky that you did not wait any longer before coming to sickbay, as any further delay might have resulted in damage or death to the fetus'." He turned back to face Tom and B'Elanna. Both of them were deathly pale, Tom's hand gripped so tightly in his wife's that the Doctor wondered how he could ignore it.

 

B'Elanna spoke first. "So what do we do now? I assume that you have some sort of plan to treat this."

 

The doctor nodded. "It's fairly simple. We just continue to treat you with the hormones necessary to keep your body convinced that it is still pregnant, as well as with a small dose of the drug I used to stop your labor. You will be able to return to work if you want, but I will make arrangements for you to either take medical leave until the birth, or for you to work partial shifts. I would urge you to consider lessening your work load when possible, and check with me if you think you will have to put in a longer day."

 

Tom gasped as B'Elanna finally released his hand. Shaking it to get the blood running again, he looked up at the doctor. "How often will she need to come to sickbay."

 

The doctor grinned as he looked at her. "You will need to receive a daily injection, but I feel confident that my assistant can administer those. Very convenient for you that he happens to share your quarters. I want you in for a checkup everyday for the next week as we get things regulated, but only once a week after that." He stepped forward and pressed the hypospray to her neck. "I have programmed the replicator to produce one of these on Mr. Paris' authorization every morning. I also took the liberty of contacting the captain and telling her that neither one of you would be on duty today. She expects Tom back tomorrow, but B'Elanna's return is at her own discretion, as long as it is not within the next 48 hours. Do either one of you have any questions?" In his usual brusque manner, he looked at them in anticipation.

 

The questions that they did have were quickly answered and soon they were enroute to their quarters, worried and overwhelmed.

 

********

 

Three days later, B'Elanna returned to duty in engineering. Arriving halfway through the morning due to an extended senior staff meeting and a stop in sickbay for a check on her hormone levels that took longer than expected. She was late, feeling a little worn down already, and was feeling particularly awkward and clumsy. So when her staff reacted with surprise at her appearance, her impending bad mood took an even steeper nose-dive.

 

In the past few months, she felt like she had almost spent more time off duty than on, a feeling that frustrated her to no end. And this time it seemed worse. The entire crew knew about her near-miscarriage, and had been treating her with kid gloves since her release from sickbay. While talking with Joe Carey the previous day, he had continually reassured her that all was under control in engineering and that she didn't need to rush back to work. Feeling slightly under appreciated and useless she had vowed to return as soon as possible, but walking back in to find Carey instead of herself issuing orders to her crew had thrown her for a loop. Brushing off his offer to have her look over the assignment schedule, a conciliatory gesture if she had ever seen one, she continued to her office with a feeble excuse about realigning the isolinear junctions in sickbay. The doctor had mentioned it to her that morning, stressing that it wasn't a priority, just whenever she could spare a crewmember. Walking to her office, B'Elanna, for the first time, felt out of place in engineering.

 

Discovering that the isolinear processor that she had left on her desk the last time she had been here was missing was the only catalyst that she needed to push her over the line between irritation and anger. Her crew knew better than to remove tools from her office, there was really only one person on board who would. A quick investigation confirmed her initial suspicion and sent the fuming chief engineer stalking towards Astrometrics. When she arrived and found the door locked, she lost the tight control that she had held on her anger. Without warning, her fists flew outwards and impacted with the closed doors. As pain exploded along through her hands and shot up her wrists, the doors opened to reveal Seven standing in front of her coolly.

 

"There was no need to knock Lieutenant, the door chime is functioning properly." She gazed down at B'Elanna's clenched fists. "Is something the matter?"

 

B'Elanna pushed by her and walked over to the center console which was opened up for repairs. The equipment in question sat innocuously on the top of the console. "Yes, something is the matter." She picked up the isolinear processor, wincing at the pain in her hands. "You need to ask permission before you remove tools from Engineering."

 

Seven blinked. "Permission is irrelevant. I was in need of the processor and it was not in use at the time." She moved back to the open console and held out her hand expectantly.

 

B'Elanna looked at her. "You may think it is 'irrelevant' but it is necessary. I planned on using this to recalibrate the secondary circuits in sickbay. Go check with Carey about finding another." She shook her head in frustration as she walked back out the door.

 

After satisfying the doctors requests and having the bruising on her knuckles healed, B'Elanna left sickbay. Spotting Chakotay rounding a corner in the corridor ahead of her, she hurried to catch up with him. "Chakotay!"

 

Hearing her call, he paused to let her catch up, grinning when she had to stop and catch her breath. "How are you feeling?"

 

"Pregnant." She answered dryly.

 

"That's good." He smiled at her and reached down to pat her swollen belly, a gesture that B'Elanna tolerated from few people on board. "What can I do for you B'Elanna?"

 

She started walking down the corridor again. "You have *got* to do something about Seven."

 

Chakotay fell into step with her. "What is it now." He sighed, having heard this line more times in the past few months than he could count.

 

"I'm so tired of her damn condescending demeanor. She's cold, patronizing, arrogantÖ"

 

Chakotay cut in, trying to calm her down. "I know she can be difficult."

 

It didn't work. "Difficult? She's impossible." B'Elanna tossed her head, smugly confident that Chakotay would intervene.

 

He sighed again, frustration starting to set in. "I'm getting tired of playing referee every time the two of you have a disagreement. If you have a problem, talk to her yourself."

 

B'Elanna *was* tired of dealing with Seven, and apparently Chakotay was tired of dealing with her. After thoroughly dressing her down on the issue and refusing to interfere in the problems between the two, he headed for Astrometrics. B'Elanna continued down the corridor, feeling about six inches tall. She hated this feeling that came over her every time that he called her bluff when she stood against him. And lately, it always seemed to concern Seven. She couldnít put her finger on one particular thing that caused the tension between her and the stately blond, but it was definitely there. Shaking her head, she headed for engineering.

 

No sooner had B'Elanna stepped off of the turbolift on deck eleven then her combadge chirped and summoned her to the bridge. She sighed, turned and headed back to the bridge. Within minutes, she was standing with the rest of the senior staff, hearing of Sevenís latest discovery, an ancient communications relay system that could possible put them in contact with the Alpha quadrant.

 

Several hours later B'Elanna could hardly keep still. Her foul mood of earlier replaced by a sense of hopeful euphoria. Her mind flew as she stepped off the turbolift on deck four. She had barely wasted a moment thought on Tom's odd request that she meet him in their quarters on her lunch break. Her mind was consumed with the question of what was going on onboard the other vessel, so very far away. The corners of her mouth turned up slightly at a vision of the doctor trying to explain his sudden appearance to a ship full of Starfleet personnel. She snorted in amusement at the thought as she walked through the door.

Tom sat silently in the middle of the couch. She grinned at him and dropped a kiss on his forehead as she headed for the replicator. "Hey! Waiting for me? I am so hungry, and I heard that Neelix is trying his hand with Terran recipes and I'm not sure of my stomachs could handle that today. Have you eaten yet? Do you want something too?" She glanced at him as he shook his head silently. Struck by his continued silence, she quickly ordered and moved to sit beside him. "What's wrong?"

 

Tom spoke quietly. "Did you have a good morning? "

Although puzzled by his almost overly calm demeanor in asking the simple question, the excitement she felt shone through in her answer. "It was great! I mean just think about it Tom, right now the doctor could be talking with Starfleet command."

"Or his program could have been lost anywhere along the way." He stood and stalked across the room. "Do you know how I spent the last two hours? In sickbay, treating refugees from the mess hall." His voice rose. "What if he doesn't come back?"

 

"Don't you think that just a little selfish on your part?" She stared at him in amazement. "We have the chance to communicate with home and you are sulking because it means that you have to spend a little bit of time in sickbay?"

Tom started to pace. "A little bit of time? What if he never comes back?" He paused and ran his fingers through his hair. "What the hell were you thinking?"

B'Elanna's anger rose to match his. "What was I thinking? I was thinking that this is the first chance that we have had to communicate with home since we got pulled out here. I was thinking of the 147 people on board this ship who have families and friends that think they are dead and might like to be able to tell them otherwise. I was thinking that perhaps if we could get through to Starfleet command, they might be able to help us get home."

Tom sat back down on the couch next to her, placing his hand on the swell of her abdomen. "And I can't help but think that had you pulled this stunt a month ago, chances are that you would not even be pregnant now."

 

B'Elanna looked at him for a moment in confusion and then started to laugh. As Tom stared at her incredulously, she began to explain. "Is that what you're worried about?" She reached toward him and took his hands between her own. "Tom, you could have stopped my labor."

"Initially yes but I would have not been able to find and correct the chemical imbalance. You would have gone into labor again and after a while I would not have been able to stop it." His voice was anguished and he gripped her hands tightly.

B'Elanna pulled their joined hands to her lips for a quick kiss. "But you are the one who monitors my biochemical levels right now. Surely--"

Tom cut her off. "Yes I monitor them now. And I can do that because I have a strict set of guidelines to follow. If at any point your hormone levels go outside of those guidelines, I take the readings straight to the EMH. But I can't do that now, because you recklessly sent him off through that damn network without stopping to think of what would happen to the people on board this ship if he doesn't come back. And I don't care what you tell me there is nothing that you can say that will make me believe that you are 100 percent sure that he will."

B'Elanna's face had slowly paled as she realized the implications of her decision. "Tom I'm sorry . I didn't realizeó"

 

Tom interrupted. "You just didn't think. You were so concerned with proving that you could do this, that you never stopped to consider the consequences. You never took the time to realize what the loss of the doctor would do to this ship." He walked over to the viewport and stood looking out at the silent stars hanging outside.

 

B'Elanna walked over to him and placed her hand on his shoulder, trying to ignore his flinch at her gesture. "Don't you think that you are being a little unfair to me? We were getting desperate for options. What? Do you think that we should have just let the opportunity slip through our fingers?"

 

"There had to be another alternative." He turned and paced back across the room.

 

"But there wasn't. And as much as you would like to blame this on me, this was not my decision. If you are this upset about this why didn't you say something?"

 

"I didnít think about it at the time." His head dropped.

 

"And neither did I." She looked down at her plate of food, and pushed it away. "I think I've lost my appetite. I'm going back to work." She moved towards the doorway.

 

Tom grabbed her arm. "B'Elanna, wait, I.. I'm--"

 

He was interrupted by the sound of his combadge chirping. "Neelix to Tom Paris."

 

Tom sighed. "Go ahead Neelix."

 

The Talaxian sounded almost embarrassed. "I'm sending a few more crewmembers down to sickbay. Can you meet them there?"

 

"On my way." He ran one hand through his hair. "B'Elanna, I've got to go.."

 

"I'm on my way to Astrometrics anyway." Without even another glance at Tom, she left.

 

Tom sighed and headed out the door. He raised his hand to his combadge. "Paris to KimÖ Can you meet me in sickbay?"

 

********

 

Tom collapsed on the couch in their quarters. B'Elanna was not home, and for that he was grateful. Ever since the successful return of the holodoc, things between them had been strained. And the letters received yesterday from the Alpha quadrant did not help matters. He had been on edge ever since the news of the letters came through. He knew that the doctor had mentioned him several times in his report to Starfleet. In fact the doctor went out of his way to make sure that Tom's father knew not only of Tom's accomplishements as an officer, but also about his marriage and impending fatherhood. However, knowing the circumstances on which he and his father had parted company, Tom did not know what kind of response to expect.

 

Yesterday, which had started out badly, had only grown worse as the day continued. He did not know how to feel about the loss of his letter, he had tried for most of the day to put the thing out of this mind. He had watched, and truth be told, harassed, Harry about his excitement on the incoming mail. Yet when it was all said and done, Tom felt the same excitement, mixed with a healthy amount of fear for the life they had built together. B'Elanna knew it. She had called him on it earlier in the Astrometrics Lab. She had seen right through the facade he had put up for the benefit of the rest of the crew. Coupled with her own grief over the loss of the Maquis, she had almost broken down in tears right there in the lab. Tom was glad that Seven was away in the shuttle with Tuvok while all of this was happening. Truth was, Tom would have hated to see B'Elanna's reaction had Seven seen her that close to a breakdown.

 

This night, Commander Chakotay had come through for his former crew, pulling them all together on the holodeck to grieve together. B'Elanna was still there, giving Tom the chance to sit alone and try to sort out his feelings on his almost contact with his father. He felt guilty admitting, even to himself, that he had checked the transmission logs just to be sure that his wife was not trying to hide his letter from him. It had just seemed so odd that other letters had come through after his, and his had not.

 

Finally, tired of waiting for her, he gave up and went to bed alone. He was sound asleep when he was awakened by the lights coming to full brightness. "For God's sake B'Elanna, turn the lights down, I'm trying to sleep"

 

"I don't care." She walked towards the bathroom, shedding her clothing.

 

"Be, what's wrong?" His voice was muffled as he buried his head in the pillow.

 

"Don't you trust me?" She sat down on the bed to remove her boots.

 

That got his attention. "What are you talking about?" He sat up and saw just how angry his wife was.

 

She started to remove her shirt, struggling a bit to pull it over her head. Tom reached out to help her, and she slapped his hand away. "You checked the transmission logs! You didn't believe me, you thought I lied to you!"

 

"I'm sorry, but I wasn't sure. You downloaded several after mine. After all of your talk about how much he could have changed, I figured I was right, and you didn't want to show it to me." He sat up, reaching out to touch her shoulder.

 

She jerked away, seething. "And when you looked, what did you find?"

 

He hung his head. "Nothing."

 

She got up and began to remove the rest of her clothing. "Have I ever lied to you?" He shook his head. "Have I ever done anything before that would make you not trust me?" Again, there was a slight movement of his head. "Then why in the world would you think this time I would deliberately deceive you?"

 

"I don't know. I'm sorry."

 

She pulled on a pair of pajamas. "You wanted that letter so badly. I don't get it. First you didn't want it, afraid that what he wrote was going to change things here, and then you go and do this, which will pull us apart faster than anything he could have ever written."

 

Tom reached out and took her hand. "B'Elanna, I'm sorry. I don't know what else to say. I screwed up again, and feel bad about it. I felt bad about it even before tonight, but it's done and over with."

 

She pulled her hand from his grasp and grabbed her pillow off of the bed. "I think I'm going to go sleep on the couch."

 

He stared at her in disbelief. "You can't do that."

 

"Watch me. I am *not* climbing in that bed with you." She was still furious.

 

"B'Elanna, please. I will go sleep on the couch if you really think it is necessary, you just get into bed. She put her hands on her hips and glared at him until he climbed out of bed and headed for the living area. "Good night." She snorted at him in response.

 

********

 

Daria sat back and watched B'Elanna pace back and forth across the tiny room. Every few minutes she would pause and slam her fists into the wall.

 

An irritated Jenny Delaney glared at her. "Would you stop that before you drive us all nuts?"

 

Daria looked over at Natalie Brooks-Bristow and they both sighed. It had been a long 19 days. When the Hirogen had taken over the ship, they had confined half the crew, including the only four pregnant women on board. What had ever possessed their captors to lock all four into one small room they would never know.

 

B'Elanna and Jenny had started sniping at each other within days. They were all frustrated and scared, the only information they were receiving was from Harry's midnight trips through the jeffries tubes every chance he could without being noticed, and B'Elanna's daily trips to sickbay. From Harry they had learned, much to Jenny and Natalie's relief that both Ian Flannery and Freddie Bristow were being held mostly unharmed in cargo bay 1. Daria had been so shocked to see Harry the first time he made it in, more than a week and a half after their imprisonment began. But that first trip had brought bad news for B'Elanna, Harry had not spared her the details of the holodeck simulations that Tom was trapped in.

 

B'Elanna had seen evidence of these simulations several times. During her daily visits to sickbay for the doctor's monitoring, several crew members had been brought in from the holodecks. She had been shocked at the amount of physical damage inflicted upon her friends and co-workers. She had caught a glimpse of Tom being transported in as she was being escorted out. The sight alone had terrified her and kept her on edge for days. But now something was going on. There had been an explosion that had rocked the entire ship, and now the guards that checked on them daily were several hours late.

 

The four of them had speculated several times on exactly why the Hirogen had treated them so well. Unlike the tidbits they had heard about the rest of the crew, they were well fed and well treated. The only true complaint they had was the indignity of being locked in a small room for almost three weeks.

 

The angry exchange between B'Elanna and Jenny escalated in volume until Natalie cut in. "Hey! Can you two please just stop? "

 

Both looked contrite and abandoned their argument. B'Elanna went back to pacing, this time restraining herself from using her fists as an outlet for her anger. She looked miserable. At just over six months pregnant, she was huge, almost as large as most human women at full term. Daria felt sorry for her, not only her uncertainty over Tom's safety, but the fact that the two of them were still at odds when the occupation began. For although B'Elanna and Tom had put up a brave front, those closest to them knew that they were having serious problems.

 

Daria had been in sickbay the day that B'Elanna had been attacked by the member of species of 8472. She had never seen anyone as upset and worried as Tom Paris was when he arrived in sickbay to check on his wife. He had been told on the bridge only that she had been injured in the melee and transported to sickbay unconscious. Daria had been touched by his concern and wondered if maybe her injuries could help then break through their problems. It was not in doubt that the two lieutenants loved each other, but the little things just kept getting in the way. Her hopes for a reconciliation between the two had faded as she had lain in bed that night and tried to tune out the sounds of fighting that continuously drifted through the walls between the Paris quarters and those shared by Harry and herself.

 

And in speaking with her, Daria knew that Tom and B'Elanna had never had a chance to talk about that, or any of the other instances that had threatened the happiness of their marriage. And now she was trapped, no way of contacting him, knowing that everyday he fought a fierce battle of life and death.

 

Without warning, the door slid open to reveal Tom himself standing there. He was bloodied and battered, dressed in an odd greenish outfit. He looked exhausted and worried, an expression that lifted at the first sign of his wife. She turned to see him, her face paling. Tom crossed the room in two strides and pulled her as closely into his arms as he could, one hand raising up to cradle her head as he whispered, "It's over."

 

********

 

Over, in this case being a relative term. At this point the ship was trashed. While the worst of the ordeal was over for some, in B'Elanna's case it was just beginning. The entire crew put in incredibly long hours repairing the ship. Tom spent 16 hour days in sickbay, while B'Elanna oversaw the repair teams from engineering. Within weeks, however the round the clock repairs had ended for most of the crew.

 

B'Elanna however was still putting in incredibly long hours, fine tuning and finishing up the last of the repairs. This particular night found her struggling to crawl through jeffries tubes in order to repair overloaded EPS conduits to the secondary systems. When the doctor finally tracked her down, he ordered her out of engineering and off duty. Only when he followed it up with the threat to remove her from duty, did she finally relent and head for home.

 

"Tom?" She looked around the darkened quarters. Surely he wouldn't be asleep yet, it was only 1900 hours. She walked through their quarters, only to discover that her husband was not there. Calling for a location check, she was not that surprised to find that he was on the holodeck. However when she inquired as to which program was running, it came back with one she had never heard of. She resisted the temptation to go an interrupt him, deciding instead to just take a shower and go to bed.

 

When Tom came home later, he was stunned to see her already in bed, asleep. Usually she would straggle in well after he was asleep. Giving in to the doctor's threats, B'Elanna cut back her working hours. However it seemed the more time she spent at home, the more time Tom spent in the holodeck. Soon it was to the point that the only time they saw each other was in the mornings, when they were too rushed to have much time to talk. Consequently, they still felt the strain in their relationship that was there before the Hirogen takeover.

 

********

 

Tom awoke to a series of sharp jabs in his back. B'Elanna lay spooned up behind him, and the babies seemed to feel it their duty to kick him awake. He rolled over and caressed the mound of her stomach with his hand, trying to quiet the restless movement within. He spoke softly, not wanting to disturb B'Elanna. "Hey, you two are going to wake up your mom."

 

"Too late." Tom looked up to see his wife grinning at him. "They've been doing that most of the night.

 

Tom gave her belly one last pat, then moved to kiss her forehead as he climbed out of bed. "So what are your plans for the day?"

 

She struggled to sit up. "Well," she grinned at him. "This is our first day off together in what seems like months. I was hoping we could work on getting the other room set up for the babies."

 

Tom sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. "I have holodeck time reserved this afternoon."

 

B'Elanna rolled her eyes. "Figures." She ignored the sharp look he gave her. "What about this morning?"

 

Tom hesitated. "Um, I guess so." He paced a bit within the confines of the room. "ButÖ Don't you think you might want to wait a little longer? I mean there's really no rush, we have a while."

 

She slowly and awkwardly made her way out of bed. "Not much longer, Doc says only about six to eight weeks." She walked up as close behind him as she could get and put her arms around to his chest. "Hmm. You could always cancel your holodeck time and we spend all day here, Maybe justÖ kill some time?" She finished seductively and felt him shudder as she placed a row of kisses down his bare back.

 

"Sickbay to Tom Paris."

 

Tom sighed and pulled away from B'Elanna's grasp. "Go ahead."

 

The doctor's voice sounded irritated. "Do you think you can make the time to meet with me this morning. You really need to set up a schedule to continue with your sickbay training."

 

"Sure Doc, I'll be there." He turned to B'Elanna and mouthed the word 'Sorry' at her. She shrugged and headed for the bathroom.

 

"And you have not yet uploaded B'Elanna's readings this morning. Please do so as soon as possible. Sickbay out."

 

 

Tom grabbed the tricorder and hypospray off of the dresser and followed her into the bathroom. As she prepared to take a shower, he took her readings and administered the hypospray. "Hey I'm sorry about this afternoon. Do you want to do it some other day?"

 

She shook her head. "I'll just work on it when I have the time. I will really only need help moving some of the surplus furniture into here. The rest I can do by myself, I just thought you might like to help."

 

"I do, and I'm sorry." He put away the tricorder and hypo.

 

"I just really thought we could spend some time together today. We hardly ever see each other these days, and I really think we need to talk." She stood in the doorway of the bathroom.

 

"Do you want to meet for dinner? Maybe 1800?" He reached a hand up to caress her cheek.

 

"Sounds good." She leaned her head into his palm. He had been very reluctant to touch her since her scare with her pregnancy, and she was craving the contact. But all too quickly he pulled away, and soon left for the holodeck. B'Elanna spent the morning cashing in some of her long hoarded replicator rations, getting a good start on the nursery.

 

By noon however, she had received enough calls from engineering that she decided to just pull on her uniform and head down there. She began to monitor the bridge when the odd spatial distortions began to appear and Tom was called to the bridge, She felt a flash of irritation when a location check for him showed him to be not in sickbay, but the holodeck instead, but she pushed it aside to concentrate on the strange readings. She listened in as Tom, working with the rest of the bridge crew managed to stabilize the tiny craft. She soon learned that Tom had gone over to the other ship to help. After several hours, she finally fixed the problem that had called her down to engineering in the first place, and realized that it was almost time to meet Tom for dinner. She finished picking up her tools and headed for the mess hall. Not surprised to find that he was running late, she sat down to wait. After a half hour, she called for a location check, only to find that he was not on board. After 45 minutes she finally gave up and got her dinner and began to eat. When Tom finally came rushing in, almost an hour and a half late, she had to fight to keep her anger under control.

When she abruptly ended their conversation by stalking out of the room, she was within inches of losing the fight to control her temper. As she returned to their quarters, she was seething. She could not believe it, could not believe he stood her up to putter around on Steth's ship, Early in their relationship, Tom would tease her about how hyped up working on the plasma manifolds would make her. Consequently, her invitations to work on them together, in private, usually ended in an interesting evening, with them exploring the physical side of their relationship with mutual pleasure.. But tonight he had opted to work with Steth instead, and if that was his choice, fine. In fact he could just stay over there all night because there was no way in hell he was climbing in bed with her tonight.

 

 

She burst into the quarters that they shared. Still angry, she tossed a pillow and blanket on the couch and headed off to bed, hoping that Tom would get the message. She never heard him come in, and he was gone when she awoke in the morning. When she tried to call him, she found him already on Steth's ship.

Her anger growing by the second, she made her way to sickbay for her daily scan and hypo. The EMH muttered under his breath a little about Tom's lack of responsibility as he completed the scan. B'Elanna was inclined to agree with him. She headed off to work, still irritated. When she arrived home after her shift to find Tom screwing around in the middle of the living room with a golf club, her irritation quickly made the turn towards anger.

 

Tom's breezy attitude didn't help her mood at all. Within minutes she found herself yelling at him about Steth, about his shutting her out, about his unwillingness to have anything to do with preparing for the babies. As she lay in bed later, next to a sleeping Tom, she reflected on just how quickly he managed to turn the conversation around. She knew that his apology was smooth, and tried to trust him enough not to question the sincerity of it. But when he was talking to her, his light kisses to her hands, his hand caressing her face had sent a jolt through her. For so long, it had seemed like he was almost afraid to touch her. They hadn't had sex since the night she had gone into labor, but judging from the look in his eyes when he apologized to her, he didn't plan on keeping it that way.

 

So now B'Elanna lay next to him, wondering just what had gotten into him. It was not that the sex was bad, just completely different than what she had come to expect from Tom. Although it had been quite a while for them between encounters, she had to admit that this was the first time that she had ever come away from making love with Tom feeling unfulfilled. She lay on her side and watched him. He had fallen asleep almost immediately, also unusual for him, since he usually liked to cuddle and talk for a while after sex. But not tonight. So she watched him and wondered just how many of his promises from earlier he intended to keep.

 

********

 

Tom pulled back from the kiss. They were sitting in the front seat of the Camaro in Tom's garage. B'Elanna raised a hand to his face, trying to reassure herself that this time it *was* her husband apologizing to her. She was still having a hard time grasping that the being who had been inhabiting Tom's body was not the man she loved. Looking back and taking into consideration his behavior over the past month, she felt bad that she could not even pinpoint exactly when the switch was made. But when Tom dropped a kiss in the exact spot on her forehead ridges that he knew made her shiver, she relaxed into his embrace. The front seat of his car was a little cramped for her, but the soul-searing kisses that they exchanged more than made up for the uncomfortable bench seat. Tom tried to move closer to her, but was brought up short by the gear shifter.

 

"Damn." He grinned at her, a smile that she returned. "Want to move to the back seat?"

 

She snorted. "Unless you want to make some big changes in your program, I don't think I would even fit in the backseat."

 

"Hmm. You have a point." He leaned in to kiss her again. "We could always run a different program."

 

She gasped as he took her earlobe gently between his teeth. "You keep that up and you are going to have to."

 

She ran her hands into the front opening of his coveralls and he moaned into her hair. "It has been way to long."

 

She laughed. "Yeah, like about 48 hours" All of a sudden, Tom pulled away from her, and pressed himself against the driver's side window. "What?"

 

Tom's voice was quiet. "Two days ago, I woke up on Steth's ship in his body." He ran his fingers through his hair and stared at her.

 

As she realized the implications of what he was saying, her eyes got bigger. "You mean IÖ" She trailed off, unwilling or unable to vocalize her thoughts.

 

Tom had no such problems. "That means you slept with Steth." B'Elanna's reaction to his words was dramatic. As the nausea rose up, she clasped her hand over her mouth, a panicked look on her face. He remembered that look and what resulted from it. "Oh God, B'Elanna! Not in my car!" He leaned across her belly and opened the door for her.

 

Five minutes later, they were walking down the corridor, Tom insistent that she visit sickbay. B'Elanna was irritated again. "It's only a holographic image. Itís not like it would have really done anything to your damn car."

 

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to have it come out like that." He rubbed the small of her back as they walked. "Why didn't you tell me you were still getting nauseous."

 

"It wasn't that often, and I talked to the Doctor about it." It amazed her how quickly he seemed to be switching back and forth between ignoring her and the babies and his overprotective daddy-to-be mode. She found herself wishing, not for the first time, that he would just find a middle ground and stay there.

 

Upon their arrivial in sickbay, Tom didn't bother calling for the doctor. He just grabbed a tricorder and began to scan B'Elanna himself. Still pale and a little shaky, she moved one hand out to still his. "Tom, I'm sorry."

 

He continued to stare at the tricorder, never even looking at her. "It's not your fault. You didn't know." He shook off her hand and continued his scan. "Although I don't know how. I'm pretty sure that I would have noticed if it wasn't you I was having sex with. And I think I would have realized it afterwards at least." He moved the tricorder close to her abdomen.

 

B'Elanna slapped it away. "Just what is the point of this? Did you bring me down here just to harass me? I said I was sorry. Don't you think that this is making me feel like shit too?"

 

"I just wanted to make sure that you did not injure the babies with your little extra-curricular activities." He ran the scanner over her again.

 

"What do you care if I did? Lately, it seems like you could care less about me or them." She glared at him.

 

His head snapped up to look her straight in the eyes. "How dare you say that. You know that isn't true."

 

"Isn't it? You have been avoiding me for weeks. You won't help me get the nursery ready, you won't even discuss names with me. And let's not even talk about the fact that you won't lay a hand on me. You wonder why I slept with him even though something didn't feel right? Because I was so relieved that you finally touched me. That you were willing to make love to me, something that you hadn't done in months!" She angrily wiped the tears off of her cheeks, silently daring him to retaliate.

 

Tom turned away in frustration. Laying down the tricorder, he whirled around to face her again. "I'm sorry! I'm sorry that I shut you out. I'm sorry that I was too worried about your health to make love to you. I'm sorry that I am too scared to death of losing them to set up cribs and pick out names for them. How many times do I need to apologize to you?" He took a deep breath and reached for her hand, only to have his anger flare again when she pulled it away. "Now who is shutting out who?"

 

The clearing of a throat startled both of them. They looked to the doorway of the office to see the Doctor standing there. "If the two of you are finished arguing, I would like to remind you that this is a sickbay, not your quarters. Please take this discussion to more appropriate location."

 

********

 

B'Elanna dropped the hypospanner and jumped at the clatter it made. She banged the back of her head on the underside of the console she was working under. This had been a very long day. The scheduled warp core maintenance had revealed microscopic stress fractures in some of the plasma injectors. Rerouting the plasma flow away from the damaged injectors and repairing the fractures had been an arduous job, requiring the engineering staff to spend long hours kneeling to gain access to low consoles or sitting in a cramped jeffries tube testing and resetting pressure levels. B'Elanna had refused to pass off the job on her staff, electing instead to log her hours sitting on the floor with her head in the low access panel. After a full duty shift spent on this one injector, however, her body was protesting. Her back ached, her legs were so stiff that they were painful. The babies had been protesting her undignified position by shifting and kicking all day. She pulled out of the console and leaned backwards to rest against the railing support. Her hand gently massaged the back of her neck, trying too ease out the cramps.

 

"Long day Lieutenant?" B'Elanna looked up to see her husband standing over her. "I'm not sure if you've noticed, but there are other crewmembers in here capable of doing this. You were under this panel when I was in here four hours ago, and from the looks of you, you haven't been out from under it since. We agreed that I would spend time at home rather than on the holodeck and now you are hardly ever there."

 

"Tom, I'm fine. I'll know if I've done too much." She struggled to her feet and stood with her arms crossed. "This had to be taken care of today."

 

"It's not that I don't believe you Be, but I worry about you. You were supposed to be in sickbay today for a checkup, but you cancelled." He put his hands on her shoulders and she promptly shrugged them off.

 

"You worry too much. I told the Doc I would reschedule when things let up as little down here." She retrieved her hypospanner and started to turn back to the warp core.

 

Tom's hand on her shoulder stopped her. "That's what you said last time. This appointment that you cancelled today was rescheduled from last week. When was the last time you actually had a checkup?"

 

"Just the other night. You were there, remember?"

 

"I meant a full checkup, with the doctor."

 

"Two weeks ago and everything was fine." She glared at him until the hand dropped off of her shoulder.

 

Tom took a step closer to her and lowered his voice so it didn't carry to the other engineers scattered around. "Everything was not fine. Your blood pressure is still too high, your hormone levels are erratic and you are still slightly underweight."

 

B'Elanna moved so close that her distended abdomen brushed against him. Her eyes were flashing with anger, but her voice was low and tightly controlled. "Just what I need. A lecture on my health from a field medic." His eyes began to grow bright with anger, but she continued. "But since you are so interested, maybe I should help you get a few of your facts straight. My blood pressure has come down so far it is now within the acceptable limits. Those hypos you pump into my shoulder every morning have regulated the hormones. Both babies are healthy and have a good growth rate. As for my weight, I'd say you have gained enough in the past few months for both of us." B'Elanna threw this last remark at him with enough venom in her voice to sting. It was true that he had put on some weight in the last few months and he was quite sensitive to this fact.

 

"Excuse me?" Tom shook his head. He was not going to do this in the middle of engineering. "Can we please finish this at home?"

 

"When I'm finished here. I'll be done in less than a half hour." A sudden jab drew her attention to her belly. Her hand automatically went to caress the moving child through the walls of her womb. Her angry demeanor vanishing as she looked away from Tom.

 

"Be." As her eyes snapped up to meet his, he realized that the softening in her mood didn't extend do him. He sighed. He was getting sick of fighting with her all the time. "Can we talk when you are done. Half hour?"

 

"Yes." Without as much as a goodbye she lowered herself to the floor and tucked her head back inside the access panel.

 

"I'll be waiting." He watched her for any sort of response to his words, but when none was forthcoming, he turned and headed for the turbolift.

 

B'Elanna worked steadily on the injector, concentrating on her work and ignoring her argument with Tom. Soon she was finished and turned over engineering to Carey and headed for her and Tom's quarters. The closer she got to their door, every step became more difficult. The exhaustion from her long day, combined with the stress of the almost non-stop arguing with Tom was taking its toll on her. She paused just outside the range of the door sensors and sighed. The music coming from inside signaled to her that Tom was waiting. Steeling herself for yet another confrontation, she entered.

 

"Hey. You do remember the way here. I was beginning to wonder." He looked from the report he was working on. He watched in a combination of concern and amusement as she collapsed onto the couch. "Did we overdo it a little today?"

 

"Tom, please. I'm too tired to fight with you right now. All I want to do is crawl into bed and go to sleep."

 

"Have you eaten?"

 

"I'll replicate something if you will just back off." She was not in the mood to deal with his overprotectiveness tonight.

 

"Back off? You spend eleven straight hours in engineering without a break and drag in here looking like you are about to collapse and I'm supposed to back off?" His voice rose as he stood and headed towards her.

 

"Yes. You are. I don't need you to monitor my every movement" Her head sank back against the couch and her eyes closed.

 

"If you would take a little better care of yourself I wouldn't have to." He sat down next to her and rested his hand on her stomach. "You have to think about these two."

 

"Don't you think I know that? I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself without you hovering around like some misguided mother hen." She pushed his hand off of her and stood up.

 

"Mother hen?"

 

"Do you have to keep repeating everything I say?"

 

"For gods sake B'Elanna. I'm their father and your husband. Don't you think I have the right to say something when I see you endangering their health and working yourself to death? You just about bit my head off a few weeks ago because you said I was never home, but I'm not allowed to have the same concerns?" He had wanted to discuss this rationally with her, but it appeared that an argument was inevitable.

 

"Not when you overreact like this you're not. The babies are healthy. I'm fine. This is different. I'm not escaping into the holodeck for hours on end to avoid having to talk about what ever is bothering me. I have responsibilities on this ship. And for some reason you expect me to change who I am Tom. I have a job that I love. You can't actually believe that I would give that up because you worry to much."

 

He sighed. "What I can't believe is that you would put more importance on your job than on the health of your own children."

 

"That's not fair. You know that they come first. If I though for a minute that I was putting them in danger, I would take leave. The doctor tells me that there is absolutely no reason for me to quit work. I don't think there is any reason. Captain Janeway thinks there is no reason. The only person who has a problem with this is you!"

 

"Damn right I have a problem. If you are not going to worry about the fact that you are to exhausted to function, then I am!"

 

"I don't need you to take care of me!"

 

"Well you obviously need something. I love you. I can't stand to see you like this."

 

"Like what?"

 

"B'Elanna, you are going to have to make some allowances for your pregnancy. You can not keep putting in these kind of hours." They were standing toe to toe, yelling in each other's faces.

 

'It's my call to make Tom. Not yours. Discussion over." She turned away and walked towards the bedroom. "I'm going to take a shower."

 

"Just like that? 'Discussion over'?"

 

"Yes." She walked through the doorway and stopped dead. The bed she had neatly made that morning was rumpled. Datapadds were strewn across it. Tom's uniform lay on the floor at the end of the bed. Next to the bathroom door, a towel sat in a soggy heap. She walked back out into the living area. Her angry voice was as cold as steel. "Why is it such a hardship for you to put things away when you are finished?"

 

"What?"

 

"The bedroom."

 

"What about the bedroom?" His voice was tired. This was an old argument that he was sick of fighting. "I'll pick it up. God knows I don't want to get into this again over a towel and a couple of padds."

 

"Well don't let me pressure you into anything Lieutenant. It's obviously a challenge for you or else you could have picked them up to start with." She leaned over to retrieve his discarded uniform only to have it snatched out of her hand.

 

"Don't treat me like a five year old."

 

"Why not. That's how you've been treating me."

 

"Explain to me again just how that went."

 

"You tell me when to eat, when to sleep, when to work."

 

Tom fumed as he bent to pick up the towel. He couldn't resist mumbling under his breath. "I guess 'Discussion over' was a bit premature." He jumped as he realized that she was directly behind him.

 

"I didn't quite catch that Tom. Want to run it by me again?"

 

"No."

 

"No?"

 

"No! Do you want to know why? Because whatever I say or do these days just seems to end in an argument. I'm sick of it! Just tell me what you want me to do and I'll do it. I'm tired of fighting all of the time."

 

She sat on the bed and sighed. "Me too."

 

He sat next to her and put his arm around her shoulders. "So why are we? We never used to fight like this."

 

She lay her head on his shoulder. "I'm not sure. I've been thinking about it. Maybe it just was too much too soon. I mean look at us. We've only really been together for eight months. And here we are. Married. Babies on the way. Don't you feel like we rushed this a little to much?"

 

"No I don't. You love me and I know I love you. We are going to work through this. There has to be some reason why we are fighting so much, we just have to figure out what it is and try and fix it."

 

"No Tom." At his shocked look, she continued. "I think that's part of our problem. We're trying too hard. We need to back off for a while."

 

"Back off." His voice grew cold as he removed his arm from her shoulders. "Fine. Yet once again you arbitrarily decide what is best and I'm forced to comply. Back off."

 

"Tom, I-"

 

He cut her off. "I really thought you were willing to work on this." He stood and faced her straight on, his voice growing louder as his anger built. "Whatever you want B'Elanna. You are just going to do it anyways." He turned away for a moment, took a deep breath and then faced her again, anger evident in his eyes. "So what? When things get a little rough you want to just push me away? Fine. You think we are trying to hard? Let's see just how well this works when we don't try at all." As she stared in disbelief, he headed for the door.

 

"Where are you going?" Her voice rose in panic.

 

"I'm backing off." With that he was gone. She heard the doors swish open and then closed. He was gone.

 

B'Elanna collapsed backwards onto the bed. What had gone wrong? She shook her head, sat up and forced herself to take a deep breath and relax. Tom would be home soon and they could talk this out. Her efforts to relax were for naught, however, the tears overwhelmed her as she lay down again.

 

[end of part III]