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
By Skye

Part Three

Seven stood in the darkness of her temporarily assigned quarters. Looking out of the window she watched as the moon was rising over the bay of San Francisco. It was a beautiful view. Everything was bathed in that pale, silvery light. The ocean looked as if it was made out of quicksilver. On the other side of the bay she could see the lights of Starfleet Headquarters along with Starfleet Academy.

Everything was quiet. Except for the occasional sigh, that escaped Seven's lips.

It was too quiet. There was no Voyager around her. No faint humming of the warp core. No view of Space outside of the windows. If she were to leave her quarters she wouldn't be running into any of her former crewmembers, none of the familiar faces she was used to seeing. She had never felt this alone. This lonely.

Four weeks ago they had finally reached earth. B'Elanna had been right. There had been big fireworks displays all over the bay area. There had been people waving and shouting, laughing and crying everywhere. It had been an overwhelming welcome.

The first to welcome the crew back had been Admiral Paris and Lt. Barkley. Later the families of every crewmember had been there to embrace their lost loved ones. Captain Janeway had been greeted by her sister and her mother. The whole Kim family had been there. Tom had introduced his wife and daughter to his father, while Tuvok had met his wife, children and grandchildren. Amongst all the shouting, crying and laughing of the other families, his group had been strangely quiet.

Chakotay had been welcomed by some of his people, occasionally glancing over at her, Seven. She had observed him and the others, wondering whether one of them would worry about her, considering that she would meet her aunt for the first time. Together with Icheb she had met with said aunt, who had taken the initiative and engulfed her niece in a warm embrace. While Seven had looked uncomfortably around her, searching for her friends and their familiar presence, her aunt had talked amiably about everything and nothing.

It had been B'Elanna, who had come to her rescue. While her aunt talked to Icheb, Seven had tried to retreat a little bit, and ran into B'Elanna.

"Hey, Sev. How was it?" She had asked, smiling up at the taller woman, while holding her daughter.

"Unexpected." Seven had answered. "My aunt seems to be genuinely fond of me. It doesn't matter to her, that I am Borg."

"You were Borg. You're not any longer. Don't forget that."

"I will remember it. Thank you. And how was your meeting with Admiral Paris?"

"Well considering my past with Starfleet, it feels a little strange to have an Admiral as a father-in-law. He seems to be a nice guy though. But he was more occupied with his son, than with Miral or me."

They had stood together until Tom had come for B'Elanna. All of Voyagers crew had been summoned to the grand reception at Starfleet Headquarters and grand it had been. Speeches had been given, compliments exchanged and tales had been told.

Only one day later the interviews had started. From the Captain down to the last crewman from the lowest deck, each and everyone had been required to give a report. The Maquis had been granted amnesty and Icheb as well as Seven herself had been ordered to the medical headquarters, where they had been examined, prodded, scanned and where samples had been taken. They had been given a complete physical and psychological examination, lasting all in all a whole week. After that they had been released under the supervision of the newly promoted Admiral Janeway. Though Seven was a Citizen of the Federation, Starfleet Command seemed not to be comfortable with her walking around on her own. And Icheb had just been included in that arrangement, considering his close relationship with Seven.

In these last four weeks Seven had only seen Admiral Janeway and Icheb of course. She knew however, that Tuvok was back on Vulcan undergoing treatment for his disease, Harry was spending some quality time with his extended family and that the Doctor was visiting his "father" Dr. Zimmermann.

As soon as Icheb had been released under Janeway's supervision, she had arranged everything for his entering of Starfleet Academy. With his formidable test results while still on Voyager, it had been quite easy to get him a place.

Seven smiled, when she thought about how she had accompanied him to his new quarters at the Academy and how they had said goodbye for the next coupple of weeks. They both knew, that they would have pretty much to do, before they would be able to meet again. At least she had no reason to worry about his future.

Admiral Janeway had told her, that Voyager would be receiving a major overhaul. Voyager might have been new seven years ago, but after all she'd been through in the Delta quadrant, the faithful little ship needed some upgrades. Taking into consideration all the alien technology that would be remaining as part of the ship, it was B'Elanna's task to supervise the work. After all, she had been the one, who had made all the different technologies work together properly.

After that, Voyager would get a new assignment, but another coupple of weeks will have to pass, until anyone will know, who'll become a part of the new crew. Though several former crewmembers, Starfleet as well as Maquis, had already asked to be reassigned to the ship. It seemed there were more people , besides B'Elanna and herself, who regarded the ship as their home.

Seven would gladly return to Astrometrics, though she had no desire to live in the Cargo Bay again. Now that she had her own quarters for the first time in her adult life she valued the comfortable privacy. She couldn't say that she felt at home, but at least she felt at ease. The portable regenerator was sufficient to recharge her borg systems and there was no need to use the alcoves any longer.

Home…that was Voyager.

"Honey, I'm home," Tom Paris yelled while entering the house. He and his young family were now living with his parents in their house. As long as B'Elanna was supervising Voyager's overhaul at Utopia Planetia, it seemed like the best arrangement. Later, when they both had new jobs, they would probably leave to setup their own quarters or house.

B'Elanna was tending to her daughter's needs when she heard Tom. Remembering some old movies and TV shows she had seen on her husband's television, she couldn't help but feel like a housewife from one of those old shows. It annoyed the hell out of her.

She hated it here, this house and Tom's ever-present mother, who constantly fussed over her son but completely disregarded her granddaughter and of course herself. B'Elanna was quite sure that Mrs. Paris had a problem with their being Klingon, half, quarter or whatever. This was nothing new to her. B'Elanna knew what discrimination looked like but Tom was oblivious and when she tried to approach him with the subject he would dismiss it.

As long as she was working on Utopia Planetia she was in her element. She was at home on Voyager. Miral would stay in the station's kindergarten and after her shift B'Elanna would pick her up to return to her husband, leaving her home.

After only one week, she found herself working longer than her duty shifts lasted. First one hour, then two. Yesterday it had been four hours. It was most unfortunate, that today was her day off.

"We're here, Tom," she shouted.

A second later Tom walked into the room, grinning as if he was up to something. B'Elanna had known him long enough to be sure about that.

"What do you have to tell me?" She asked, definitely not up for one of his guessing games he was likely to play.

"Guess what," he replied immediately.

B'Elanna rolled her eyes and sighed exasperated, "Why don't ya just tell me?"

"Oh, c'mon, what fun would that be? Don't be a spoil sport." Tom tried a little pout, which he thought was quite cute and irresistible.

"Tom, I have a headache. I don't wanna guess. Just tell me. I can see that you're almost unable to keep whatever-it-is to yourself."

"Well now, I'm goin' to be a test pilot." He now grinned widely.

Only some ancient maternal instincts prevented B'Elanna from dropping her daughter. She was shocked to say the least. B'Elanna knew her husband well enough, that he wouldn't be able to turn a job like that down. The problem was that he didn't make it an option, a suggestion, or even a question. Nothing up for a discussion, no asking for her opinion… he had just made a statement.

"They called me a week ago. Remember? I told ya about that great job offer. Today I met up with them and they just told me that they want me. Can you believe that? They had the contracts ready and everything, all I needed to do was to sign them. We will have everything. A house and unlimited credits. I'll have enough free days throughout the year so we can come here to visit my parents or for more fun go to Risa. Or Casperia Prime. Have you heard of it? They say it's the new Risa."

He rambled on and on, while B'Elanna still couldn't believe her ears. She had no idea what to say. She wanted to scream. To shout at him, `How dare he make such a decision without her'. She wanted to slap him in his smug face, but she couldn't do that, not with little Miral in her arms.

"What do you say? Isn't this great? We'll have no worries and you won't need to work. You can just bring up our daughter and give me a son or two. Well, I wouldn't mind another daughter though."

B'Elanna stared open mouthed at him. Taking some deep breaths, she managed to calm herself down enough to not just shout at him, slap him in the face, or simply kill him; which was quite the urge she had right now.

"Um…Tom, well, congrats. But I forgot that I need to see Admiral Janeway in a few minutes. I'll just beam over and take Miral with me. The Admiral hasn't seen her since we've been back. Err…yeah…I'd say, I'll see ya later." With that she turned around and just left the house, leaving a stunned Tom behind.

When the chime rang, Seven was actually startled for some seconds. She wasn't expecting any visitors that late in the evening. There weren't a lot of people, who knew where she was living. Besides Admiral Janeway, only the Doctor knew.

So with some curiosity she stood up and walked over to grant admittance to whoever it might be. The moment the door opened, Seven found her arms full of a sleeping baby with an enraged half Klingon passing her by, rambling about something she didn't quite understand.

"He is…oh…such a jerk. Why did I marry him? Was I insane? It must have been something like temporary insanity. Can you imagine it? Have you any idea, what he did? He just planed my life. No…no, he stole it from me. And I had no word in it. First off, he's dragging me into his family. His mother totally disregards Miral and me. Then he walks of, taking this job without asking me for my opinion. Now he says I can quit my job to bear him two sons and he wouldn't even mind another daughter. That…that…p'taq."

B'Elanna was pacing through Seven's quarters, rambling, swearing, and growling. Seven looked down at the child in her arms. Miral was sleeping now, obviously feeling very safe and comfortable in Seven's arms. It was the most adorable thing, she had ever seen. If it hadn't been for the upset half Klingon stalking around her quarters, she would have been content to just look at the little girl for the next couple of days.

"B'Elanna, would you please calm down? Sit and `shut up'. Your daughter is asleep. I will take her to my bedroom, where she can continue with her sleep undisturbed. You are welcome to make yourself comfortable and get something to drink. If you are hungry you can replicate something to eat. Then you can tell me what is wrong or what is going on in the right order and calmly, without shouting or rambling and without swearing."

That said, Seven turned around to put the girl safely onto her bed.

B'Elanna found she was speechless for the second time this day. Watching Seven as she left, she had to admit, that the other woman was right. She needed to calm down. Sighing, she stood and walked over to the replicator to get herself a glass of milk and some banana pancakes. Although these were usually reserved for her breakfast, she needed something sweet and tasty right now.

She then made her way over to Seven's couch, took her shoes off and made herself comfortable, just as Seven had suggested.

Returning, Seven replicated something to drink for herself and then settled on the other end of the couch, opposite to B'Elanna, putting her feet on the couch to be able to face the other woman.

"Are you feeling better now?" Seven inquired, not sure whether it was appropriate to show concern.

"Yeah. And thanks. Sorry. I mean, I'm quite the intruder, though you've nothing to do with what had happened. I mean, you don't deserve that…me rambling and intruding…oh…it's just…Tom really caught me by surprise. More than that. If I hadn't left him, I probably would have killed him, or at least severely injured him. But I couldn't quite do that now, could I?" B'Elanna smiled weakly, taking a bite from her pancake.

"No, that would not be advisable. And you are welcome. You are not intruding, though I did not expect a visit from you. How did you know where I was living?"

"I asked the Doc. I figured he would know and though he's quite curious, it's easier to shut him up than Janeway. Do you mind? I really didn't know where else to go." B'Elanna sounded apologetically. But there was a tinge of hope as well. She wasn't sure how she would take a `yes, I do mind' from Seven.

"No, I do not mind. I am actually glad, that you thought you could come to me. Although, I still do not have a clue as to why you are here? What has upset you so much?" Seven had concluded it was better to show concern instead of amusement, though B'Elanna looked really cute all flustered like that. Seven had shake her head, unsure where that thought had come from.

B'Elanna sighed and told her the story from the beginning. It was the first time, that she told anybody about how she felt living with Tom's parents. She left out nothing. And when she came to the last part about Tom's new job, she was barely able to restrain herself.

"I mean, it's as if I never knew him at all. He was the funny guy, the careless guy, the guy who wanted me. Yeah, sometimes his childish attitudes were damned annoying, but then he always managed to surprise me. He has shown responsibility on more than one occasion and after we married he tried very hard to change for the better. And he was so happy about the pregnancy. I mean, I couldn't hardly expect more of him. He only tried to find the best job possible so he would be able to take over the whole responsibility of caring for his family." B'Elanna felt a certain need to defend him, though she wasn't quite sure why.

"Yes. That might be true. But yet he made this important decision without conferring with you. He is completely disregarded your wishes. He is oblivious to your and your daughter's situation. He has planned your future without you. And it is obvious, that he does not know you at all. You are suffering." Seven stated without a doubt.

"No…I" B'Elanna was cut of by Seven.

"There is no way to deny it. I can see it. You are not happy, though you try really hard to be. You have done everything in your power to make everything work, your marriage, your life, being a mother, a family. Yet it seems you are working alone. We have been through a lot, back in the Delta quadrant and it has been as stressful in the last weeks. As I understand it, every human being needs time to adapt to new circumstances and that one sometimes needs help in that process. It would have helped, if you had not been on your own. Lt. Paris has the support of his parents. Harry has his family, the Doctor has his `father', Tuvok has his family as well. I have Admiral Janeway and my aunt. And Icheb has me and now he is going to be a cadet at Starfleet Academy, where he will be supported there as well.

"But you have been alone all the time, while you had to take care of your daughter and your job. That was not right. It still is not right. There should be someone, who supports you and is there for you under any circumstance. I…" Seven couldn't finish the sentence. By now she was pretty upset herself. She felt the unexpected urge to hit Tom Paris and to scream at his mother and at how she was able to disrespect such a wonderful person like B'Elanna.

"You deserve better," she finally whispered.

B'Elanna was speechless for the third time that day. At first she wanted to shout at Seven how dare she say such things, when she had no right to. But then she realized, that Seven was merely stating the facts as she saw them, without any prejudice. She never expected such insight from Seven, which surprised her even more. In the end she had to admit, that Seven was right about everything.

In the next moment she did something she never thought she would do. She threw herself at Seven and started to cry. B'Elanna hated to show any weakness and so she almost never cried, especially in front of other people. And a few weeks ago Seven would've been the last of all people she would've allowed herself to be comforted by. But here she was, crying in the arms of the woman she once thought she hated.

Seven on her part felt as awkward as she had felt when it had been the other way around and she had been comforted by B'Elanna or when B'Elanna had comforted her. Now she thought she had some idea of how B'Elanna must have felt, considering that they were quite alike in that matter, hiding feelings and all. But then again, it felt good to hold the other woman, to be there for her and comfort her. She knew she shouldn't enjoy the warmth that was radiating from the desperate half Klingon, but she couldn't help herself.

So it was up to her to do exactly, what should've been Tom's job.

Seven was wondering, how it was possible, that she now had two sleeping part Klingons in her quarters. She was not really equipped to deal with a baby-girl and her sleeping mother.

There was only one bed to sleep on and no crib for the baby. She didn't have many options, so she quickly calculated them and then decided on the best course of action.

Without any effort she gently picked B'Elanna up and carried her into her bedroom. There she disrobed B'Elanna down to the t-shirt and shorts she was wearing and lay her down in a comfortable position on the bed. Then she took little Miral and put her in her mothers arms, counting on the maternal instinct to prevent B'Elanna from letting her daughter fall or crushing her accidentally. Finally she covered them in a blanket and left the room with a pillow and another blanket to make herself comfortable on the couch.

B'Elanna woke to an unfamiliar feeling. There was a weight upon her chest and when she finally opened her eyes, she looked at a patch of dark hair. She wasn't sure, why her daughter was lying on top of her, but she loved having Miral close. At the moment she needed this closeness and so she closed her eyes to relish the feeling for a few unguarded moments.

B'Elanna was about to call Tom, when it hit her. She wasn't at home… well, the place she used to live. Yesterday had been a terrible day. Tom had ruined everything. And before she had decided to kill him, she had left.

"Seven," she suddenly exclaimed.

In the other room Seven heard her, turned around and fell off the couch, landing with a `thump'. She had no idea, why she was lying on the couch, and why B'Elanna was there to calling out to her. So she got up and walked over to her bedroom.

"I thought it might have been a dream. But it seems, as if you are really here?" Seven said, when she remembered last evening.

"Oh, yeah. You let us sleep here? Where did you sleep? I'm sorry. I didn't mean to intrude and steal your bed. We should leave. I don't want to bother you." B'Elanna was about to stand up, when Seven stopped her.

"B'Elanna, please stay. You are no bother to me, though my sleep was uncomfortable. But Miral was already asleep in my bed and when you fell asleep as well, I did not want to wake you up. So I did the logical thing and let you sleep in my bed. After what happened yesterday, I would suggest you try to figure out what you want to do now. You can stay here as long as you want, but I do not know how long I will be living in these quarters. I am meeting with Admiral Janeway in two hours and then hopefully I will get my new assignment." Seven looked thoughtful. She really wanted to be there for B'Elanna, but she wasn't sure this would be possible.

"Thank you Seven, but I can't. I mean…I…I…should…oh man. I don't know." B'Elanna felt like crying again. She sat up and cradled Miral in her arms.

"I would suggest a good breakfast. You may want to change your clothing and Miral might need new diapers. You go take a shower while I take care of your daughter. Then we will have breakfast. And after that you can decide what you want to do." To stop any further objections, Seven just took Miral out of her mother's arms and left the room.

B'Elanna was quite astonished, but eventually she rose from the bed and went to the bathroom to take the suggested shower.

Part Four

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