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 Four

"Seven, it's good to see you. How are you?" Admiral Janeway stood to greet her former crewmember.

"It is good to see you too and I'm fine." Seven had long since stopped answering with `functioning within acceptable parameters'.

"You look as if you haven't slept well. Is everything alright?" The Admiral looked at her with concern.

"I slept on the couch last night. It was not really comfortable." Seven smiled a little bit and actually shrugged her shoulders.

"Oh, well, sometimes I fall asleep on my desk. If this happens to you, you will appreciate the next time you fall asleep on your couch." Janeway smiled and took Seven by her elbow to lead her over to a more comfortable place to sit.

"Can I offer you a cup of coffee or something else?" Janeway asked while turning to the replicator that was installed in her office.

"I do not share your preference for that particular beverage but I will gladly accept a tea. A cup of Darjeeling with some milk and one sugar."

Janeway smiled at that and gave the instruction to replicate a cup of tea and a cup of steaming hot coffee. Taking both, she joined Seven on the couch and handed her the tea.

"Served as ordered," she added with a smile.

"Thank you, Admiral." Seven smiled and nodded her head.

"Why so formal, Seven, you might as well call me Kathryn." Janeway slightly furrowed her brow, but kept smiling. She thought that she and Seven had developed a deeper relationship. One that went beyond rank and such things.

"I am here for official reasons. Therefore, I find it inappropriate to address you by your first name. If this was a private matter, it would be something else though." Seven was still reluctant to call her former Captain by her first name. Although she had done so on numerous occasions, she still regarded Admiral Janeway as her commanding officer. She felt a certain distance between herself and Janeway. If some things had turned out different, she might have even be able to regard Janeway as some sort of surrogate mother. But as it was, Admiral Janeway was her commanding officer and nothing more. Though, that might change in the future.

"Very well, it's your choice. Now, I take it you're here to discuss your future." Janeway felt slightly disappointed, but she knew Seven well enough to not push her further.

"Yes," was Seven's short reply.

"As you know, I never gave you an official rank while on Voyager. You were never a Starfleet officer. You've never even visited the Academy. However, considering that you know everything there is to know about Starfleet it was never necessary for you to go through any training or education. I was able to convince Starfleet Command as well and they are willing to appoint you rank. That is, if you want to stay and work for Starfleet. You have the choice to leave and work somewhere else. With your knowledge and skills that won't be a problem at all."

After her little speech, Janeway took a huge gulp from her hot coffee. Meanwhile Seven regarded her for a long moment. "The Daystrom Institute offered me a position. I am, so to speak, the leading scientist concerning all Borg matters. The Director of the Institute told me, that I would be considered a very valued Colleague and Advisor." "That sounds good," Janeway interrupted her.

"Indeed. I have thought about my future ever since Voyager returned to the Alpha Quadrant. I am glad that I am considered a Citizen of the Federation and that I am free to do whatever I want. I understand the scepticism directed towards me by Starfleet Command. After all I am… was Borg." Seven remembered what B'Elanna had told her about her not being Borg any longer and quickly corrected herself.

"Well, you've proven yourself on numerous occasions. Without you, Voyager probably wouldn't have returned. Starfleet Command knows that." Janeway nodded her head thoughtfully.

"Yes, and I am grateful for that. However, I rejected the offer of the Daystrom Institute. To be honest, I am too young to work in the position they offered me. As it is, I have only been free as an individual for the last four years. I do not feel that this was enough time.

The average human being usually has 18 years to find out what they want to do with the rest of their life. That would mean that I still have eight years left to become whatever I want." Seven was about to tell Janeway what that might entail, when the Admiral interrupted her yet again.

"Wait, eight years? I would have thought you still had 14 years left," Janeway said a little confused.

"You forget that I was a free individual before my assimilation. I was six years old when I was assimilated. Though I have little memory from that time, I have to add them to my years of freedom."

"Ah, well, I see. So, what do you have in mind then?"

"I would like to be reassigned to Voyager. I have still much to learn about individuality and I believe the experience that the relatively close environment of a starship offers is helping me in that endeavour. I know that several former crewmembers have asked to be reassigned to Voyager. They already know me and I know them. We know how to deal with each other and I think that knowledge will be helpful. But then again, there will certainly be enough new crewmen who will not know me. I will have sufficient opportunities to `make new friends' and to develop my social skills with them. I regard Voyager as my home. As it is, I have no desire to leave my home, yet."

Seven finished and took her first careful sip from her cup of tea, waiting for Janeway's reaction.

"You certainly have given this some thought. Well, I can relate to that. Voyager has been my home too. But instead of you, I and most of the others have always wanted to return. You on the other hand can't remember Earth or another home. Whoever will be the new Captain of Voyager will be lucky to have you in his or her crew. I am somehow responsible for you, and being an Admiral I should have no problem arranging your return to Voyager. Astrometrics is still officially your department. But with your new rank, that of Lieutenant, you'll also supervise the whole science department. That will make you Chief of Sciences, a position that fits you. That settled, tell me, what you will do next? After all, it will take at least another three weeks until Voyager's overhaul will be finished."

"It might be prudent, to return to Voyager as soon as possible. I am certain, B'Elanna could use my help."

After another half an hour, Seven left the Admiral, who was wondering, when Seven and B'Elanna began getting along well enough to work together, or when Seven began using B'Elanna's first name.

Seven on the other hand had been careful about how much she was willing to tell Janeway about her growing friendship with the half- Klingon. She had not mentioned the fact that B'Elanna and her daughter had stayed with her last night or that B'Elanna might have some serious problems in her marriage. If B'Elanna would like to let anyone know about it, she was quite capable of telling them herself. Though Seven cared a great deal for the woman, that was none of her business, until B'Elanna said anything else. For now she would be satisfied to just be a good friend, the best friend she could be.

B'Elanna had spent the morning in Seven's quarters. She had called in sick for at least two days. Though work might have been her saviour, a place to flee to and hide, she knew that she would've been too distracted to work properly. Therefore it was necessary to first solve her problems and deal with her husband.

She was still mad at Tom. Though one might be able to forgive his enthusiasm over his new job and the fact that he hadn't even thought about talking with her about it, it was unforgivable to B'Elanna, that he had practically ignored all of her wishes. She had always been her own person, able to make her own decisions and stand up for them. She had always led her life following her rules, even while on Voyager, though she couldn't deny that her time on Voyager had molded her into a less volatile being. But that was okay.

Now it seemed, Tom wanted to take control over her life, over her. That was unacceptable. B'Elanna couldn't quite remember when she had last been happy. Living with Tom's parents certainly didn't helped at all. Only when looking at Miral, she was able to smile. And only in Seven's company, she felt at ease.

B'Elanna shook her head, wondering why she suddenly thought about the ex-Borg. Considering that she was sitting and said Borg's couch it was not too far a stretch to think about her, but why did that thought follow unhappy thoughts of her husband and happy thoughts of her daughter?

Confused, she decided not to ponder on that matter right now.

It certainly didn't help that Seven choose that moment to enter her quarters. Startled, B'Elanna jumped up and almost fell over the little table, that stood in front of the sofa.

"Geez, Seven, couldn't you announce yourself?" She sounded more annoyed, than she intended.

"I apologize. But I was under the impression, that I am free to enter my quarters whenever I wish to do so." Seven stated with a raised ocular implant. Seeing the messy state B'Elanna was in, she couldn't help but smirk.

"Oh my, I'm the one who should be sorry. Of course you're right, I was just startled."

"Apology accepted. Now, are you ready to go?"

During their breakfast talk, they had decided to have lunch together. Afterwards, Seven would take care of Miral and B'Elanna would meet with her husband to have a long talk.

"Sure. Are you still up for the babysitting part?" B'Elanna inquired carefully, hoping that Seven hadn't changed her mind.

"Of course. I will enjoy my time with Miral." Seven now smiled.

Taken aback by the view, B'Elanna blurted out, "You're beautiful."

Realizing, what she had just said, B'Elanna blushed furiously, closely followed by a confused Seven, who merely asked, "What?"

"Oh… erm… I mean, when you smile. You're really beautiful, when you're smiling. You should do that more often." B'Elanna knew she couldn't take back, what she said the first time, as unintentional as it might have been. But that didn't mean, that she could simply flirt with Seven. Or could she?

Again she blushed furiously and again Seven followed her example, only managing a barely audible, "Thank you."

B'Elanna decided that they had both blushed enough for the moment and changed the topic, "How was your meeting with Janeway?"

"Good, better than I expected. She made me a Lieutenant and I am now the Chief Science Officer on Voyager, including Chief of Astrometrics. Oh, and I will be helping you with Voyager's overhaul in the upcoming weeks." Seven added the last sentence, as if she was telling B'Elanna that the sun would shine tomorrow too, knowing full well what effect it would have on the proud Chief engineer.

B'Elanna was too surprised to say anything. She was even more surprised that she was not shocked, but actually happy at the prospect of having Seven around for the next couple of weeks.

"Hey, darling" Tom Paris said jovially and attempted to kiss his wife. But B'Elanna moved out of his reach and glared at him.

"You must be kidding me. Darling? Where have you been? I wasn't home last night and the only thing you have to say is `hey, darling'?"

"And here I thought, you'd become less aggressive," Tom said facetiously He thought, he had the right on his side and therefore felt superior.

B'Elanna felt the urge to hit him, but restrained herself for now. She had promised Seven that she would try and talk at first, before becoming volatile. On the other hand, she didn't like to prove her soon-to-be ex-husband right.

"Stop the crap, Tom. I'm not aggressive, not yet. I came to have a serious talk with you, not to joke around. What you did yesterday was just irresponsible. I thought, that we're both partners in this marriage. But you walk around planning our life together without bothering to consult with me." B'Elanna managed to talk almost calmly.

"Oh, c'mon babe, it's not that bad. In the past we've talked a great deal about our future. How we'll work in the jobs we love, how we'll have children and raise them, how we'll live in a wonderful house and take our vacations in the most wonderful places, how we'll see our friends, like Harry and Chakotay, the Delaney twins and the Doc. And now that we're back home, we finally can start to fulfil our dreams." Tom smiled widely, completely

"Our dreams? How we'll work in the jobs we love? As it is, you'll be working in the job you love; a dangerous one to top it off, and like you told me yesterday, I'll have the wonderful opportunity to stay in our wonderful home and raise Miral and a dozen other children yet to be born. That's certainly not the job of my dreams. I love Miral and I love being her mother. I don't even mind having more children, but that is not your decision. It's mine in the first place, cuz I'm the one who has to carry the children, and you won't want to do that.

And by the way, until now I have been the one raising Miral. You're always out, doing other things; seemingly more important ones. You can be great, when you're with Miral. But as soon as you get bored, you walk off leaving her alone.

And I am not one, to live in a house. Voyager is my home.

"What wonderful places are ya talkin' about? Risa? Not for the life of me.

And I'm certainly not friends with the Delaney twins!"

B'Elanna had talked herself into rage and was screaming by the time she was finished. She was quite surprised by her own anger, but couldn't help herself. That was how she saw it. Tom was selfish and narrow-minded, irresponsible and childish. There was no way to deny that.

"But, I thought you would appreciate my efforts. Now we can have our own home, though we'll stay close to Mom and Dad so that they may be able to baby-sit Miral. You're always complaining about your job and those incompetent idiots you're working with. Voyager had been my home for the longest time. I loved that little ship. But I need to move on. There're new ships out there, fast ones. You, as an engineer, must appreciate that." Tom tried to be convincing, but he only managed to whine.

"Again, cut the crap. You're talkin' about your own dreams. You're talkin' about yourself. Well, you need to move on? I won't stand in your way. I've told you before, that your parents despise me and I would never let your Mother baby-sit my daughter.

I may complain about my job, but I love it anyway. I've always loved it, even when we were still in the Delta quadrant. Now, I'm almost in heaven with all the new technology and the shipyards at my hands."

"Well, Harry told me, that Seven of Nine has been reassigned to Voyager. She'll be Head of Sciences. You sure don't want to run into the ice queen. You hate her and you've always wanted to get rid of the bitch. You've no new assignment yet and so you sure won't ask for an assignment to Voyager now that she'll be there for sure." Tom thought, he got her with that, completely sure of his wife's hate for Seven of Nine.

But when B'Elanna jumped at him, rage distorting her face, he got the idea that he might have been wrong with his assumption.

Seven had just laid Miral into the new crib she had replicated for her, when a bleeping sound announced an incoming message. She walked into the living room and activated the communication panel.

When the tired face of a very tousled half-Klingon appeared, Seven was quite surprised and more than worried.

"B'Elanna? What has happened?"

"Can you come, please, Seven? I've been arrested. Tom's in the hospital…" B'Elanna didn't even get the chance to finish.

"I'm on my way," Seven said and an instant later, she picked up Miral and was out of her quarters.

Part Five

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