DISCLAIMER: All characters are owned and copyrighted by Paramount. No profit is intended.
SPOILERS/AUTHOR'S NOTE: Since it's playing after 'Endgame' the whole show could be declared as the spoiler. However most importantly I have to thank my beta-reader Elizabeth Crusade - blame her for any remaining mistakes :-P
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
After All We've Been Through
Ever since Admiral Janeway had told her that her death would cause other people to suffer, Seven felt apprehensive towards her crewmembers, above all Commander Chakotay. She had no wish to cause them any pain and so she thought that the best course of action would be to retreat into her old Borg mannerisms.
And, if she was honest with herself, she felt no real commitment to her relationship with Chakotay. Seven thought it might have been worth a try, now she wasn't so sure anymore. Considering what the older Janeway had told her, she decided to end what was just at its beginning.
When Chakotay approached her, Seven remained cool, telling him that their relationship wouldn't have a future. He pleaded with her, demanding an explanation, but she remained adamant. Seven explained as much as she felt she owed him, then she turned away and resumed her duties.
Defeated, Chakotay left wondering whether Seven would change her mind or whether there might have been another reason for her rejection. However, now was not the time to find out. Considering the situation they were in, he had to be on the bridge at his Captain's side to do his duty.
Seven stayed where she was, looking down on her console without actually seeing anything. Her heart was broken. Not because of Chakotay, though she felt slightly sorry for him. No, her heart was broken because there would never be another chance for her to be with someone. To love and be loved. She just was not able to give of herself as much as would be required in a relationship. At least, this was what she thought. What was she afraid of? Even after Chakotay had offered his heart willingly, Seven had shied away because of what Admiral Janeway had told her.
Seven felt she had caused more than enough pain.
"Go!" B'Elanna shouted at her husband.
"But B'Elanna, you've gone into labor " Tom tried to be insistent, but it was to no avail. He knew his wife well enough. Moreover, if he was honest, he knew that he couldn't stay with her. At least he would've liked to accompany her to sickbay, just to make sure she got there safely.
"I know that, damn it, but you're needed on the bridge. So go! I can give birth to my child without your help. But the Captain can't fly the ship without you." B'Elanna was almost screaming, suffering from a lot more pain than she ever thought she would be able to bear. She didn't really want to be alone, but this wasn't important at the moment. She couldn't be selfish for the sake of the crew.
"You okay?" Tom asked one last time.
"Yeah," she managed through clenched teeth, quite unconvinced of that fact, and said unconvincingly for that matter.
With that, he gave her a small kiss on her forehead and ran off to be on the bridge. B'Elanna climbed to her feet to make her way to sickbay, where the Doctor was expecting her.
Seven of Nine, please report to the bridge. Captain Janeway's voice sounded over the comm system.
"Understood Captain. Seven out." Seven saved the data she had been working on and made her way to the bridge.
While she was on her way to the next turbolift, the ship shook slightly, because it had been hit by the Borg. Fortunately, the newly installed armour protected the ship. Seven had little difficulty remaining steady and resumed her way almost undisturbed.
When she arrived at the lift, the door opened immediately to reveal a certain half-Klingon, who tried to keep herself upright.
"Lieutenant, you do not look well." Seven stated the obvious.
"Oh really, Sev" B'Elanna replied sarcastically. Seven merely looked at her. "Damn it, Seven, come in. I won't be able to stand around here much longer."
"I am sorry." Seven said and then entered the lift, turned around to face the closing doors, and stood in her usual ramrod straight stance with her hands clasped behind her back.
Meanwhile, B'Elanna was panting heavily. The lift seemed to spin around her and she felt her legs give way.
Upon hearing her name, or the shorter version of it, Seven spun around to see B'Elanna sliding down on the floor. Beneath her spread a wet spot.
"B'Elanna" Seven exclaimed, rushing to her side.
"My water broke. I went into labor some minutes ago and was on my way to sickbay, I'm not sure I'll make it." B'Elanna felt sweat gather on her forehead ridges, streams of it were slowly running down the sides of her face. "Sev, I " Another wave of pain shot through her lower abdomen and she clung onto Seven's shoulders, who desperately tried to steady the helpless woman.
Seven tapped her comm badge, "Seven of Nine to the "
Another hit, this time far stronger, shook the ship. To her dismay, the turbolift came to a halt. As Seven attempted to stand up to have a look at the turbolift controls, B'Elanna stopped her.
"Sev, please, don't leave me alone."
"I will not leave you, but I have to take a look at the controls." Seven again tried to stand up but B'Elanna clung heavily to her. She didn't want to cause the woman any further distress, so Seven stayed where she was. Nevertheless, she could still call for help.
"Seven of Nine to the Doctor."
Sickbay here, how can I help you Seven?
"I am in the turbolift with Lt. Torres. Her water just broke. She said she went into labor a few minutes ago and is suffering from great pain."
Well, then I suggest you bring her to sickbay.
"I would gladly do that, but the turbolift is malfunctioning and the Lt. is not willing to let me go so that I might repair it." Seven sounded slightly frustrated, but helpless as well.
I understand. Unfortunately, I cannot beam the two of you out of there, it might cause problems for mother and child. I would beam down to you, but as you know yourself, there is little room. With all three of us in the turbolift, the place would be rather cramped. So, either the two of us exchange places and I help B'Elanna with the birth, or you stay where you are and do it yourself. You should inform Lt. Torres and let her make the decision. But Seven, you should know, that Klingon labor sometimes lasts several days.
"What?" B'Elanna shouted upon hearing that.
Of course, I'm sure that won't be the case here.
"Doctor, I would appreciate it, if you would refrain from causing any more distress to the Lt." Seven interjected and cast a worried glance over to B'Elanna.
I'm sorry, Seven. Well, I suggest, you make your decision, considering that the child might come any minute now. The Doctor sounded far too cheerful.
Seven felt panic arise in her chest. She had absolutely no intention of staying and helping to bring a child into the world. The fact that she had been called to the bridge was not an issue at all. Sure, the ship and the well-being of the crew were usually her first duty. Now B'Elanna needed her more and Seven knew that the crew was capable of dealing with the situation without her. The Captain would call her again, if it were necessary.
"B'Elanna, did you hear the Doctor?"
"Hm the Doc? Where is he? I " again, she was interrupted by a contraction. Obviously, B'Elanna hadn't paid any real attention to the whole conversation.
"Listen, the Doctor and I will exchange our positions. He will beam in and I will beam out, then he will help you through the birth of your daughter."
"No I " B'Elanna cried. The contractions were coming in rather short intervals now.
"Please, Sev. I don't want you to go. Please stay," she pressed through clenched teeth. She wasn't really able to form a clear thought, but she understood the situation she was in. Facing the choice of either the Doctor or Seven helping her, she couldn't help but want Seven. She had no idea why that was, but she was not willing to let her go.
Seven was calculating her options. The present situation was not one she ever expected to find herself in. When it came to her own well being or that of a fellow crewmember, she would always choose the other over herself. B'Elanna was no exception, especially after the two of them had started to get along quite well. A faint thought in the back of her mind reminded her that she was needed on the bridge, but that was not important right now. B'Elanna needed her and she wouldn't let her down.
"Doctor, I will stay. Can you beam the necessary equipment in?"
Of course Seven. Do you know what you have to do?
"Yes, my database provides me with a vast knowledge of birthing techniques. I am certainly capable of handling the situation."
"Very well, let me gather what you need, I will beam the items to you right now."
Some seconds later, a blue light shimmered inside of the turbolift. Seven took one of the hyposprays and applied it to B'Elanna, who instantly felt relief.
"Thank you." She sighed.
The Doctor had been wise enough to send some pillows along to make B'Elanna more comfortable. Seven took them and draped them against the wall of the turbolift. She then helped the Lieutenant make herself comfortable.
"Again, thank you, Sev. I really appreciate your being here. I wouldn't know what to do without you."
Seven blinked a few times and found herself blushing slightly. "There is no need to thank me. You would do the same for me if I were in this situation, unlikely as that might be."
"No Seven, really, thank you." B'Elanna took her mesh-encased hand without hesitation and squeezed it gently, smiling up at her. Seven had no idea why this was, but the warm feeling she was experiencing was quite pleasant. A little bit distracted she took the medical tricorder and scanned B'Elanna. According to the information stored in her cortical node, everything seemed quite normal. Nevertheless, she couldn't help the frown that was crossing her face. She was thinking about the next steps.
"Is everything okay?" B'Elanna felt a little uneasy upon seeing Seven's frown.
"Oh, yes. No need to worry. It was just "
"What is it?"
"Well, I you I need to help you to disrobe. You cannot give birth with your pants on." Seven blushed again, which caused B'Elanna to smile.
"Sure thing Sev, it doesn't matter whether you see me or the Doc. At least you're a woman."
Seven couldn't believe her ears. B'Elanna had just called her a woman. A woman! She saw her as a woman, a human being. Not a mindless, cold machine.
"Sev? You're staring at me? Is everything okay?"
"You you just called me a woman." Seven felt stupid somehow, but she needed to say this, no matter that it was not the best time to bring this particular issue up.
"What else would I call you?" B'Elanna wondered.
"Borg, drone, machine, ice princess, bitch and other names " Seven's voice faltered.
B'Elanna felt a pang of guilt in her chest. Hesitantly she took Seven's hand again. "Look, I know I've said all of those things and worse. There is no way I can change that, but I owe you an apology. It's heartfelt, believe me. I promise I will make it better from now on."
Seven looked at her, not able to hold a grudge against the woman before her. "You are forgiven. Anyway, now I think there is a little girl that needs help on her way into this world."
B'Elanna smiled at her. She still felt her contractions, but thanks to the hypospray, the pain was almost gone. She leaned back again and helped Seven to disrobe her. Among the things the Doctor had beamed in to them was a medical gown, which she put on.
"Lieutenant, you might want to stand up and walk around a little." Seven suggested, mentally checking everything she knew about birthing techniques.
"Oh, no, thanks, I'm not really up for a walk. And it's not as if there's any place to do so." B'Elanna was a little bit confused and she was quite exhausted, so walking around was not an option for her anyway.
Seven looked through the things the Doctor has beamed in and discovered a bottle with water. She opened it and handed it over to her patient.
"Geez, thanks Seven," B'Elanna grinned and took several gulps of fresh water. She hadn't even realized how thirsty she had been.
"Very well, if you do not want to walk around, I suggest, that you change your position. In this place it would be best, if you were on your hands and knees when giving birth to your child." Seven looked at her calmly, trying not to betray the inner turmoil she was in.
"Have you gone mad? I will not crawl around in the turbolift, waiting for my daughter to fall out of me. No, my dear, no way," B'Elanna shouted at her. "See, we have all those comfy pillows, I'll just lean back, and everything will be fine."
"But Lieutenant, it is not advisable for you to lay on your back. It might not seem comfortable to you, but it would make the birth easier. At least you might want to stand. You can support yourself on the wall and I will help you as much as I can." Seven actually sounded compassionate. Not cold or logical like usual.
"I'm not sure I can do that " B'Elanna trailed off.
"I know you can. It might be hard, but you are a strong person, one of the strongest I know. And, you are intelligent enough to see the reason behind this. Gravity will help you and certainly will make it easier for you. And I am sure, you want `to get this over with' as fast as possible." Seven smirked at her, which caused B'Elanna to laugh out loud. She couldn't remember ever having seen Seven smirking. It looked cute somehow B'Elanna shook her head, not sure where that thought had come from.
"Will you help me at least to stand up?"
"Of course." Seven lay the tricorder down and helped B'Elanna to stand up. She then arranged the other woman into the best position for giving birth. It looked rather ridiculous, when B'Elanna stood there against the wall, legs spread, panting heavily. B'Elanna was glad that it was Seven who was with her and not the Doctor, who might have used the opportunity to take a holopicture of her.
"Oh, and Sev, cut the Lieutenant. You've already called me by my first name. Considering our current situation, I would appreciate it if you would go with that."
"As you wish, B'Elanna."
With everything settled, Seven took the tricorder again and scanned the half Klingon. The birth canal was fully dilated and the child had already turned around and was on her way out, head first.
"B'Elanna, you will now have to press as hard as you can. The child will soon be here."
Seven positioned herself on her knees between B'Elanna's open legs and kept scanning her constantly. She felt uncomfortable with actually looking at what was going on. B'Elanna tried to breathe as the Doctor had shown her earlier and kept on pressing every time Seven told her to do so.
"Damn it, Seven, put that thing down and come closer. Look at what you're doin'. I need you here." She then took Seven's hand and urged her closer, despite the fact that she needed both her hands to support herself.
Seven had no choice but to do as B'Elanna told her. She found herself in the oddest position she could ever think of, but there was nothing she could do about it. And finally, for the first time, she actually looked under the gown and between B'Elanna's legs.
Seven couldn't believe her eyes when she saw the top of a small head, covered with dark, wet hair. Her eyes grew wide and she gasped.
"I can see the head." She exclaimed. Instinct took over and she reached up. Again, she told B'Elanna to press. When the head was out, Seven took hold of it, pulling slightly, though with the help of gravity it wasn't really necessary. B'Elanna pressed one last time and with Seven's help the new life rushed out of her.
A cry could be heard.
B'Elanna allowed herself to slump down on the pillows, not caring whether it was advisable or not. She was too overwhelmed by everything to give it any clear thought. Tired, she found herself satisfied with observing the other woman, who was holding her daughter. A view utterly adorable.
Seven looked down at the small, breathing bundle she held in her arms. All she could feel was amazement. Something unbelievable had happened. Seven only knew how to end a life. She had never experienced what it was like to bring a new life into being. Though she hadn't been the one to give birth, she had at least participated in the delivering of the child. And, that was enough.
"Welcome" she said, tears streaming down her face. Almost reluctantly, she wrapped the little girl into a blanket and gave her to her mother. Overjoyed B'Elanna took her. For some seconds, while observing Seven, she almost feared that the other woman would keep her. But, seeing her openly smiling and even crying, B'Elanna felt her heart fly out to Seven. This was something about her B'Elanna had never seen before and she liked it.
Now, that she was holding her daughter in her arms, she almost forgot about Seven. It was her turn to cry as she looked at the perfection that was her child. She never knew that she could feel so much love for a single being. However, she knew that from then on, her daughter would be her everything.
"She is beautiful" Seven said, overwhelmed by her feelings. "You both are beautiful. Congratulations, B'Elanna."
B'Elanna looked at her and smiled. "Thank you. For everything."
It was at that moment that the lift decided to resume operating. Seven suddenly felt very sober. The moment of happiness was gone. While B'Elanna concentrated on her daughter again, Seven hailed the Doctor to inform him that everything was okay and that they were on their way. She would bring B'Elanna to the sickbay and would then go finally to the bridge.
"Seven, where have you been?" Janeway exclaimed when Seven left the turbolift.
"B'Elanna needed me to help deliver her child. Congratulations Lt. Paris, you are now the father of a healthy daughter. Captain, you will be informed of everything in my report and the Doctor's report as well." Seven walked over to the science station and began her work, only to realize that there was nothing left to do for her.
Voyager had already passed through the transwarp conduit and was now in the Alpha quadrant.
"Set a course for home," Captain Janeway said.
Seven looked up at the viewscreen in front of her and felt her chest constricting painfully.
Home... just what was that?
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