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 Five

Seven chastised herself. With little Miral in her arms, she walked at a high speed. She knew she should have made B'Elanna promise not to beat her husband up. It had been more than probable for something like that to happen. And now B'Elanna had been arrested.

This was not good.

Seven was really worried. Tom Paris might have deserved to be beaten up, but not at the expanse of B'Elanna's freedom. Because of that, Seven hoped that Paris' injuries weren't too bad.

"I should have gone with her. I might have been able to prevent the worst." Seven was more talking to herself than to anyone else. Fortunately Miral was still asleep.

"Or maybe I should have done the beating."

"You cannot see her," the Security Chief said.

"Why not? She called me to come and take her out," Seven said. She was determined not to leave without B'Elanna.

"You can only visit her if you're a member of her family. You don't look as if this is the case." The Security Chief looked her up and down and turned around dismissively.

"I'm her wife," Seven blurted out. She had never lied before. She was Borg after all and Borg do not lie. But now, for her friend's sake, she was lying. And what a lie it was.

"In that case… although, I was informed that she had been beaten up her husband?" The Chief looked very sceptical.

"Ex…her ex-husband" Seven lied again, not believing what she was doing.

"Oh, well then, you may see her. Your wife might be in trouble, but she's a lucky woman." He smiled almost appreciatively and showed her the way to the cells. Seven managed to blush only slightly.

"Lt. Torres, your wife is here." The Security Chief announced Seven's arrival with a stronger emphasis on `wife'. It was clear, that he didn't quite believe Seven, but he let her in anyway, somehow he had a feeling that their marital status might change one day.

"My…?" B'Elanna was too shocked to finish her question. When Seven strolled into the room, she was relieved, though still wondering why she had been announced as her wife.

"I'm sorry, BangwI" Seven said loud enough for the Security Chief to hear. He smiled and left the two alone, knowing that they were being observed.

B'Elanna stared at her with wide eyes. No one had ever called her `BangwI'. Never. This was the first time. And hearing it from Seven seemed right somehow. It felt right.

"Are you `okay', B'Elanna? I was worried about you. The Security Chief was not willing at first to let me see you, so I had to… exaggerate the status of our relationship a little bit." Seven shrugged her shoulders, as much as an ex-Borg is capable of doing so, and smiled shyly.

"Well, that's certainly the understatement of the year" B'Elanna heard herself saying. Inwardly she was screaming at said self. She wanted to tell Seven, what she was feeling about that word and how it felt to hear it from the other woman. A woman she would never have thought of as a friend only weeks ago. And now she thought, that it sounded right, when the same woman called her `BangwI'. B'Elanna sighed exasperatedly. She was far from ready to allow such thoughts. Considering the place they were and the reason for that, she decided to let it go for now.

"I did not mean to cause you any distress. I know, I have no right to call you `BangwI' or tell the Chief that I am your wife. But you called me and I needed to make sure that you are well."

Seven sounded apologetic. She felt uncomfortable. She didn't want to apologize for what she had said or claimed to be. Seven was well aware, that she could have claimed to be B'Elanna's half-sister or a cousin. But it had been `wife', that had first come to her mind. And she didn't regret it one second that she had called B'Elanna `BangwI'.

"No…no, it's okay actually. No need to apologize." B'Elanna hastened to assure the other woman. "You're right, I called you. And I'm glad you lied. I'm certainly the most envied woman here," she now grinned widely. Some bantering always helped to lighten the mood.

Seven blushed and smiled as well. "The Security Chief said as much."

"Oh, he did? Well, see? By the way, BangwI" she said teasingly, immensely enjoying herself right now, "I thought, Borg do not lie?"

"Indeed, they do not. It is not logical to lie. But as you said on more then one occasion, I am not Borg any longer. Let's say, I'm just expanding my humanity." Seven actually drawled with a raised ocular implant and a grin that reached from ear to ear.

"My girl, you're learning fast. I almost doubt my ability to hear." B'Elanna couldn't restrain herself any longer and burst out laughing.

"I'm glad you find that amusing, Lt. Torres." Admiral Janeway said, sounding decidedly un-amused.

Seven immediately wiped the smile off of her own face and pretended to concentrate on the squirming bundle in her arms. Miral had been woken by B'Elanna's laughter.

"Three broken ribs, a broken jaw, two broken fingers, countless bruises, scratches, and bumps. Need I say more? What in hell were you thinking? He is your husband. What did he do to you? As far as I can see, you are not injured; besides some scratches and probably sore knuckles." Janeway glared angrily at B'Elanna, pacing in front of the cell.

"I…I don't know. I was so mad at him. I know that doesn't justify what I did. I tried to talk with him, to be reasonable. But he was so…and then he said something about…" B'Elanna trailed off, looking desperate and avoiding eye contact with Seven. She couldn't possibly tell the two of them, that she had lost control because her so- called husband had insulted Seven and their friendship.

"What? What did he do? What did he say?" Janeway was not one to let things go. She knew there was more to all this and she would make B'Elanna speak.

And B'Elanna knew as much. She had to tell the truth. That was the honourable thing to do. She cast a glance over at Seven, who looked back at her, though much of her (attention) was occupied with Miral. Sighing, B'Elanna began.

"Yesterday evening he confronted me with his new job. He just told me, that he was going to become a test pilot. We were going to have a beautiful house, have a dozen children and that I would never have to work again, being too occupied with carrying and rising children. I was so angry, disappointed, and hurt even then, but instead of killing him instantly, I left him and stayed with a…no…my best friend. I needed to think. He had planned our lives without consulting with me. I have been unhappy ever since we moved in with his parents. He was always away and left Miral and me alone with his mother, who completely disregarded the two of us. He was playing happy family with his parents and I was happy for him, but he ignored me too and didn't believe me when I told him how his mother treated us.

And today I attempted to clear the air between us, to make him understand what I was feeling and what my wishes were. He practically laughed at me. He wouldn't even listen. He was daydreaming about our wonderful life, with the wonderful house and our wonderful friends, including the Delaney twins of all people, and a vacation on Risa. But, that isn't the life I imagined for my daughter and me. I want different things and I thought, I could tell him about them. When I met with him, I wasn't too angry, merely disappointed. I know and knew then, that Tom hasn't always been one of the most reliable people. But he had proven some times, that he was able to be a responsible person. I would've liked to plan our future together, but I was never given the chance to say anything at all.

He didn't even try to understand me and suddenly he changed his tactics. He became plainly mean. I couldn't let him insult Se…my best friend. He insulted my intelligence and my honour. And then I just lost control…I didn't mean to, but I couldn't help it either." B'Elanna wanted to cry. She wanted to fall in Seven's arms and let herself be consoled by her. Only, that was impossible. She would not cry and Seven was behind a forcefield.

Admiral Janeway's face had softened during B'Elanna's lengthy explanation. She knew, that the younger woman was telling the truth. Janeway was confused about the `best friend' part, but B'Elanna would never become violent without a good reason, at least good enough for a half-Klingon.

Seeing the distressed woman, she gave a command for the forcefield to drop. It was her intention, to console her former Chief engineer. But she hadn't even stepped into her general direction, before she found her arms full with a bundle of a sweet baby-Klingon. Speechless looking down at Miral, she almost missed the lightning fast Seven of Nine, who rushed into the cell, pulling B'Elanna close to her.

"I'm sorry. You defended my honour. I should be here, not you. I should have been with you, I am so sorry," Seven murmured into B'Elanna's dark hair. She now felt even more responsible for what had happened.

B'Elanna clung to Seven, barely managing not to cry. Her hearts swelled at the younger woman's words. "No, Seven, it's okay. It's not your fault. I couldn't let him insult you and our friendship. Maybe I wouldn't have messed up with you by my side. But we can't change that anymore. As long as you'll stay by my side through this, I'll be as grateful as I can be."

Seven smiled at that, suddenly feeling very warm and happy, though she had no real idea why that was. But she knew for sure, that it had never felt that good to embrace Chakotay. If it weren't for the situation, she would have gladly stayed like that forever.

"Best friends, huh?" Admiral Janeway said smiling knowingly, while she adjusted the position of the little girl in her arms.

"Ladies…" Janeway said, clearing her throat audibly.

Seven let go of B'Elanna and they both turned around to face Janeway, looking rather awkward. Well, the situation was odd.

"Though I'm glad you two finally became friends, we have to deal with the matter at hand. Our good old Doctor is taking care of Tom. I think, we all want to keep this in the family, but I have to say that I don't know whether this will be possible. It's a good thing, that you turned yourself over to the Security Guards and that you called for the Doctor. Nevertheless, Tom would be well within his rights, to press charges against you. This might even end your career in Starfleet. But this…"

"You will not let that happen." Seven interrupted the Admiral, almost sounding as if she was giving her an order.

Janeway shot a force ten glare at her and continued, "…is not an option, as I was about to say. You're probably one of the best engineers in Starfleet, maybe even in the Quadrant. We can't afford to loose you. I will have a talk with Tom to see what he wants to do about this mess. And you will have to apologize. A lot. I don't know how Admiral Paris will react to all this, but he certainly will have a say in the matter too." Janeway looked down at Miral, hoping that everything would turn out good; otherwise, it would be quite possible that the child would loose her mother one way, or the other.

Seven wrapped one arm around B'Elanna upon hearing that. She had never been this worried. For some inexplicable reason she still thought that she had failed B'Elanna and their friendship. But she knew very well that B'Elanna was her own woman and that she had to deal with her husband by herself. Seven's presence might have been appreciated, but B'Elanna certainly wouldn't have been grateful for any intervention on her part.

"I never meant to hurt him," B'Elanna whispered.

"I know and that gives you the benefit of the doubt. You never planned on doing such a thing. And it is well known how Klingons react when it comes to their honour. Considering what you've told me, you lost control when he started to dishonour your `best friend'. It seems that you underestimated your strength a little bit." `As well as the feelings you have for your best friend' Janeway added in her mind. It was most unfortunate, that B'Elanna had married Tom at all. The only good thing that had come out of this marriage was the girl she was holding. But now that she saw Seven and B'Elanna so close together, she knew that Tom and B'Elanna were never meant to be. So it was even more unfortunate that those two stubborn women hadn't realized earlier what they could be for each other. As it was, Janeway doubted that they were aware of their feeling now. Hopefully that would change. Still, first they had to deal with the matters at hand.

"How are you, Tom?" Admiral Janeway inquired when entering his room. The Doctor had called her earlier to tell her about Tom's condition. Though he had gotten a tough beating, he would survive without having any further problems.

"It seems, I am as good as new, thanks to the Doc" Tom replied and actually smiled one of his more cheerful smiles.

"Care to tell me what happened?" Janeway inquired.

"To be honest, I don't really know. You have to ask B'Elanna. For some reason she got mad at me and then she jumped at me and broke some of my ribs. It damned well hurt." Tom frowned a little bit, not able to put two and two together.

"You know, Captain…err, I mean, Admiral, I had all those cool plans for us, but it seems B'Elanna's not too pleased with them. I have no idea what she wants instead. I thought we were happy. I tried to build a new life for us now that we're home again. You can't believe how happy I am. Everything is just right. And I even get along pretty well with my Dad. Mom is the sweetest of all, fussing around me like I was five again." Tom smiled, obviously truly happy with everything.

To Janeway it seemed as if he was a blind man. Blind from some kind of happiness the reason for which excluded his ability to see the truth.

"I'm glad, that you're doing so well. I talked to B'Elanna. She was arrested. But, I managed to get her free; she's now with a good friend."

"What? Arrested? Oh. Poor B'Elanna. Do you think I deserve what she did?" Tom looked at her, as if he really was only a five-year-old boy.

"No. But I can understand B'Elanna's reaction." Janeway sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose. "Tom, have you ever talked with her about your plans?"

"Well, no. Not really. I mean, it was meant to be a surprise. I planned everything. I was even looking for a house to live in. B'Elanna is so good with Miral. She'll raise her and we'll have a wonderful child, along with three sons and two more daughters, or four boys and one girl. Who knows?" He shrugged his shoulders and got a dreamy expression on his face.

"Do you (even) know your wife? Have you any idea what her wishes are? What would your plans have been if we were still on Voyager?"

"But…but…I love her?" It was more a question than a statement.

Janeway more and more developed an understanding as to why B'Elanna had beaten him. Tom was a good pilot. He could be reasonable and responsible. But he had still a long way to go to become the man he could be. He was almost unbelievably self-centered. He didn't even know if he loved his wife.

His time on Voyager had helped a lot to make a more mature man out of him. But back in the lap of his family, where he had not been for a very long time, he obviously had some things to make up for.

Janeway knew, that he had been the black sheep ever since his teenage years. He missed a great deal of his family life in those years and now, that he finally had made his peace with his father, it was only natural that he enjoyed their time as much as possible.

"You care about B'Elanna, don't you?" Janeway asked, though she already knew the answer.

"Yes, of course." Tom blurted out immediately.

"You know, that I never wanted to interfere with the personal lives of my crew. But I am no longer your Captain and you are my friend. Hell, we are family," Janeway exclaimed, throwing her hands in the air, "and as your friend I want you, all of you, to be happy. And that means that I have to interfere. So I have a question for you. Why did you ask B'Elanna to marry you?"

Tom got a lost expression on his face. He didn't know what to answer. So he said what came to his mind first.

"I didn't want to loose her. When we were on that race in the Flyer she was about to break up with me. I couldn't let her leave me. She's just a beautiful and intelligent, talented woman. How could I've been so stupid to disregard her? I've made a lot of mistakes…" Tom trailed of burying his head in his hands. He was about to cry. "Oh, I'm such a jerk. I've made the same mistakes all over again."

Janeway put a hand around his shoulders and squeezed him gently. Now she knew that her lost sheep was not at all lost.

"Is she okay?" Tom asked referring to B'Elanna.

"Yes. She regrets what she did to you. She lost control and is very sorry now." Janeway furrowed her brow when she thought about her former Chief Engineer who was with Seven again.

B'Elanna and Seven. Who would've thought?

She sighed. This was a real mess.

"What do you want to do now?"

"I don't know. I have to apologize. And we need to talk. And…and…" Tom was at a loss. He still didn't want to loose his wife. But he had the feeling that he might have already lost her.

"What do you want to do now?" Seven asked B'Elanna.

B'Elanna leaned back on Seven's couch and looked at her. She was tired. While she had been alone in her cell, she had asked herself the same question. It was enough to imagine Tom's smug face and she wanted to run away… into Seven's waiting arms.

She groaned. It had been way too often that such thoughts had sprung to her mind as of late. Seven was so different from Tom. She was responsible and reasonable. So damn intelligent and even more beautiful. Seven was there, when B'Elanna needed her. She didn't ask twice why she was doing this or that. Seven was just there and caring. And she was even wonderful with Miral.

Tom on the other hand was nothing of the kind. He could be a great guy, funny, and all. But that just wasn't enough. B'Elanna wanted more. She had wanted more when she had been ready to break up with Tom during the race. And then he had asked her to marry him, without warning. B'Elanna had thought that this might be her one chance and so she had said yes.

"Why do women always think they can change their men?"

Seven had no idea what to reply. So she merely raised her patent ocular implant and left it at that. She was worried about B'Elanna. The other woman looked so lost and all Seven could think to do was pull her in an embrace and hold her… forever.

But that was impossible. B'Elanna was a married woman and an honourable Klingon. They just became friends. How could she ask for more? Seven wondered when her feelings had shifted from friendship to… to what? Was it actually… love? Or was she just about to fall in love? Or was it something in between? Was it stoppable?


She might have a lot of questions. But of that she was sure. There was no way back. And even if there might have been one, she wouldn't have searched for it or taken it for that matter.

"I can't leave him. Or can I? Has he failed me? So that I would be well within my rights to divorce him? Is there a chance left for us? Do I want another chance? What do I want? Who is it, I want?" B'Elanna's voice was barely above a whisper and only Seven's enhanced hearing allowed her to hear B'Elanna at all. She couldn't believe her ears though.

Without a word, she opened her arms and B'Elanna crawled over to her and let herself be embraced. Seven adjusted her position until she was almost lying beneath B'Elanna, who almost lay atop of her, with her head resting on Seven's chest.

B'Elanna had never felt the need to snuggle up with Tom and she couldn't quite remember if they had ever been in a similar position. Seven was lazily drawing circles on her back, while B'Elanna had loosened Seven's hair and was now playing with some strands of blonde hair.

"I could stay like this forever," they both suddenly said in unison.

In a mix of shock and disbelief, B'Elanna raised her head and looked in Seven's deep blue eyes. She felt herself been drawn into them and without any intention to resist, she let it happen.

Seven felt the same pull into B'Elanna's beautiful brown orbs. For as long as 0.00045 seconds she contemplated to run away and never come back. But she knew that this was ridiculous and … well, it was futile. She might have been able to escape B'Elanna, but never herself.

And so, she let it happen.

Part Six

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