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
"Do you know where she is?" Tom had regained his composure and felt ready to face his wife.
"Yes" Janeway said.
"Good, I want to see her so we can talk." Obviously Tom had made a decision.
"Er are you sure." Janeway herself wasn't. Of course she wanted those two to resolve their problems. But she also knew that B'Elanna was with Seven. It certainly was not a good idea to bring the three of them together.
"Yes Admiral, I'm sure. This needs to be resolved." Tom stood and was already halfway to the door.
"Okay then. But I'll accompany you." Janeway sighed and headed out after Tom.
They were moving closer still, until their breaths were mingling. Seven's eyes fluttered close as did B'Elanna's.
There were no doubts left. No second thoughts. There was nothing but the feeling of an incredible closeness.
At the same moment their lips would have met, the door chimed to Seven's quarters announcing an intruder.
The spell was broken.
B'Elanna groaned as she reluctantly lifted herself off of Seven who's heart was racing at an alarming rate. Her nanoprobes must be malfunctioning to allow such a heartbeat.
Seven had some difficulty getting herself together. B'Elanna retreated to her corner of the couch sporting an annoyed scowl and a cute pout on her face. It was most distracting to Seven, who hastened to answer the chime when it rang again.
"Yes?" Seven asked as she opened the door.
She stood in a ramrod straight stance which seemed quite out of character for her nowadays. B'Elanna had thought Seven was over her old Borg mannerisms.
In front of the door stood a rather impatient Admiral Janeway accompanied by a rather baffled Tom Paris.
"What took you so long?" Janeway asked, but upon seeing a flustered Seven she got a pretty good idea what the reason might be. A glance over at B'Elanna told her that they had arrived just in time.
Even if B'Elanna and Tom had no future together, Janeway doubted that B'Elanna wanted Seven to be accused of splitting them up. B'Elanna should be smarter than this. Seven was still an innocent and to Janeway it was highly unlikely that she could resist B'Elanna's raging Klingon hormones. She would have a talk with the two of them, but especially with Seven.
Janeway suddenly realized the major mistake she had made. She had forgotten to tell Tom that B'Elanna was with Seven and that they were on friendly terms. Though she wouldn't have been able to tell him how friendly, it was enough to say they were far from being enemies.
"What are you doing here?" Tom demanded, as if reading Janeway's thoughts. He rushed inside to B'Elanna's side, who was still looking quite out of sorts.
"B'Elanna, are you okay? Why is she here? What did she do to you?"
B'Elanna frowned and pushed her husband away as he attempted to pull her into an embrace.
"I'm fine Tom, really. And these are Seven's quarters. We're the guests here. And just for your information, Seven is my friend. She was there for me when I needed her. That's more than I can say about you."
Tom was taken aback. "Your friend? Since when are you and the Ice Princess friends?"
B'Elanna launched herself at her husband, but Seven was faster and wrapped an arm around the other woman's waist. Glaring at her husband, B'Elanna managed to relax nevertheless and let herself be held by Seven.
Tom had no idea why he had said that. Although it had taken some time, he had been able to develop at least a functioning working relationship with Seven on board Voyager. Even so, he still seemed to have some problems when it came to a personal relationship with the beautiful ex-Borg. It wasn't a dislike or something like that he felt, somehow the feeling was more like jealousy? But why would he be jealous of Seven?
"Tom, you better think twice before calling her that again." Janeway said icily. She looked over at B'Elanna who was leaning into Seven with an expression of contentment on her face.
Janeway sighed. This was not good. Even a blind man could see what was going on between the two of them. As unconscious as their actions might be, it was obvious what they meant. Tom might be a fool but he was not blind.
"What the hell is going on here?" This was the reason he was jealous of Seven. He was about to step towards Seven and B'Elanna, his fists slightly raised, when a hand on his shoulders managed to hold him back,
"Again, Mr. Paris, you better think twice." He couldn't see her face but he sure could hear the patent force ten glare in her voice.
The situation was slightly bizarre with Seven holding B'Elanna back and Janeway doing the same with Tom. The atmosphere was loaded and one wrong move could cause an explosion.
"I suggest that we all calm down now and take a seat. I want you both to talk. I'm here to mediate." Janeway made it clear that this was not just a suggestion but also an order.
"I want Seven to leave." Tom said through clenched teeth.
"And I want her to stay." B'Elanna growled.
"Why? She has nothing to do with us." Tom was very angry though he wasn't sure whether his anger was directed at Seven or B'Elanna. Or maybe it was at both of them or even at himself.
"She's important to me." B'Elanna stated.
Tom went pale. That's what not what he had hoped for and it was decidedly not what he wanted to hear.
Seven had no idea, how to react to that revelation. One part of her wanted to hug B'Elanna and hold her close forever. But the other part was quite scared. She didn't want to be responsible for the end of a marriage. True, she didn't want B'Elanna to be married to Tom either. That scared her more than anything else did. This whole messed up situation was beyond her usually logically thinking mind.
Seven felt trapped with no idea how to escape. She was trapped between her feelings and her logical mind. Between friendship and love. Between holding and letting go. Between running and staying.
Nevertheless, she knew without a doubt where she belonged and that she would stay. It was not her decision to make but B'Elanna and Tom's.
For several long moments nobody dared say a word. They didn't even dare to move. Tom was glaring at Seven. B'Elanna was glaring at Tom. Janeway glared at B'Elanna. Seven glared at no one but stared down at her hands caught up in replaying the moment when she had almost kissed B'Elanna.
Tom wanted to grab his wife and flee from this place. But he knew that this was not an option. It was the safest way to loose her forever as his wife and as his friend too.
"Is it over?" He asked barely audible. His anger was gone now leaving him confused, sad, and downcast.
"I don't know, Tom." B'Elanna admitted, now feeling just as confused, sad, and downcast.
"Well, there's an easy way to find out?" Tom said, slightly resolved now. He dreaded the question he was about to ask maybe even more than the answer. But he knew that they needed a resolution to this situation. He had no idea how this situation had come to be and how it was even possible that they were sitting here now.
With a heavy sigh, he looked his wife straight in the eye.
"Who would you choose ? " He began without being specific.
"Seven." B'Elanna blurted out without missing a beat.
It was picture to behold. Tom's shoulders slumped. Janeway's jaw hit the floor. Seven blushed furiously and B'Elanna was stunned into silence, her eyes open wide.
"D d did I said that out loud?" B'Elanna stuttered.
"Yes." Seven whispered.
The following silence was deafening, pregnant with unspoken words, admissions and feelings.
The decision had been made.
"When a Captain has the wonderful opportunity to marry a couple, he or she never expects to have to see that couple's divorce as well." Janeway didn't hide her disappointment. But she was well aware of the inevitable.
"Honestly, Admiral, I have no idea what happened. Ever since your older self arrived on Voyager everything changed. Nobody can say whether those changes were meant to be or not. As far as I can see, things might have been different if we were still on Voyager and in the Delta Quadrant." B'Elanna eventually said.
"Indeed. If it weren't for your older self I might still be together with Chakotay and looking forward to marrying him one day. But instead I choose to end our relationship and I do not regret it. I sincerely doubt that we were ever meant for each other, not even in that other time line. But there was a certain lack of alternatives." Seven stated calmly and then flinched internally about her last sentence, well aware of the implications.
"Does this mean we married just because of a lack of alternatives?" Tom anxiously asked.
"No. No, I would never say that. At one point I did love you. And I'm glad that we had our time together. I wouldn't have wanted to miss out on our daughter. But yes, there weren't too many options. And sometimes one is blind to others " B'Elanna trailed off.
"I am sorry, Mr. Paris. I I never expected something like this to happen. We only recently became friends. My life changed for the better. I just wished it could be the same for all of us." Seven wanted to apologize, but for what?
Tom was lost. How could he have not known that things had changed this dramatically? Seven obviously cared about his wife and there was no question about B'Elanna's feelings. How could he have known? But then again, he should have. He was B'Elanna's husband after all. If he had been the husband he was supposed to be he would have known.
"I assumed that our life had changed for the better. We were finally home and everything was going so well. Perfect even. But you're not happy, are you?"
B'Elanna silently shook her head. She felt sorry for Tom. Nevertheless she reached for Seven's hand. It was not a conscious action. She wasn't even aware that she had done it. But the others were.
"Admiral, I want to be reassigned to Voyager." B'Elanna said, finally voicing her desire. Everybody was stunned into silence.
"Tom, I'm sorry. Back on Voyager we had no other place to go, no choices. And so we planned our lives around what we would do when we got back home. I was happy and I could've continued like that for a long time. But I doubt that it would've lasted forever. Now that we are back `home' we are forced to realize that we want different things in life. Too different. I wish for you to be happy. And I don't think that I deserve any less. But as it stands, there is just no way we could be happy together with each other."
"I you're probably right. But " Tom had no idea what to say. B'Elanna was the first woman he had ever come to love. And it had lasted for a long time, longer than he deserved.
"Yeah, everything has changed. We can't go back now can we?"
"And if I were to " Tom spoke up one last time. But he couldn't say it. His time as Voyager's helmsman was over once and for all. As a pilot he needed new challenges and even with her overhaul he doubted that Voyager would be able to provide that for him.
"I think I've found my job. The one I really want to do. I'm a pilot at heart. I never really realized that you're an engineer at heart. God, I was really self-centred wasn't I?"
It was the first time that anyone of them smiled.
"Hey, I really wouldn't mind if somebody would like to protest that." Again the others smiled.
"Well, Tom you're not always completely self-centred." And what a protest it was. B'Elanna now grinned openly and leaned a little more into Seven, who shifted somewhat to make it more comfortable for the both of them.
Tom narrowed his eyes suspiciously, "You really are close, aren't ya?"
B'Elanna's eyes narrowed dangerously, scowling at the helmrat."And what do mean exactly?"
"Oh, nothing. Never mind."Tom raised his hands in submission and shrugged his shoulders.
Janeway was the only one who saw Seven blush.
"Okay, let's return to the matter at hand. B'Elanna, as it stands, Tom is not going to press charges against you. But the incident was noticed. Before we came here I got a message from Admiral Paris. I had problems calming him down to say the least."
"I don't see the problem. I will talk to him and tell him that everything is alright again." Tom interrupted.
"Do that, but I doubt it will be enough. This is a little more severe than a harmless lover's quarrel. B'Elanna, you seriously injured Tom. This behaviour is considered conduct unbecoming of a Starfleet officer. Admiral Paris is seriously considering Court Marshalling you." Janeway explained.
B'Elanna flinched and clutched at Seven's hand that she was stilling holding. For mere seconds she considered just running away. She still had family in the Klingon Empire who might welcome her. But she knew that this was not an option. She wouldn't be able to do that to Miral and she wouldn't leave Seven, nor could she expect Seven to follow her. Since when couldn't she be without the other woman?
"Is there a way to prevent this?" Seven asked.
"Well, the easiest way would be for B'Elanna to step down from her position and leave Starfleet once and for all. And Tom would have to ask for a divorce. I don't know how Tom's parents feel about Miral as their grand-child, but considering Tom is her father they could demand he take full custody of her. This way Miral wouldn't remain with her volatile mother and grow up to hate her father and grandparents. But " Janeway said raising her hands to stop the forthcoming protest from the others, " that is a worst case scenario."
"What do you suggest instead?" Again it was Seven who spoke up.
"Sir, wait" Tom shouted running after his father.
"Tom, you're out of the hospital?" Admiral Paris looked his son sceptically up and down.
"Yeah, Dad. It wasn't too bad. Really. I'm fine. And you know our Doc is pretty skilled. Though, I would never tell him that. His ego's big enough as it is." Tom stopped as he realized he was starting to ramble.
"However, I'd like to talk to you. Admiral Janeway told me that you are thinking of Court Marshalling my wife." Tom stressed the fact that B'Elanna was still his wife and to show his father that he would be far from being pleased with anything that his father would do against her.
"Well, her behaviour was unbecoming of an officer. I read your medical file. She's violent. Don't you want to press charges against her?" Admiral Paris glared at his son with an angry scowl on his face.
"No. We talked and cleared the air between us. I have made many mistakes. And don't forget that she's part Klingon. I questioned her honour and she was within her rights to do what she did. I learned my lesson. Dad, really I neglected her. I even went so far as to disregard her wishes. It was my fault and I should've realized this much earlier and none of this would've happened." Tom explained sincerely. His little lie was close enough to the truth, so it didn't matter too much.
"I thought you had grown up?" The Admiral questioned.
"Well, yeah, in some ways. But I believe I still have to work to do on me." Tom shrugged and grinned one of his boyish smiles.
Admiral Paris frowned at his only son not completely convinced.
"Be that as it may, she's a Starfleet officer. Remember, she was Maquis and we granted her amnesty. Then we welcomed her to Starfleet though she never finished the Academy. She's a Lieutenant who's supervising Voyager's overhaul. And I know that Admiral Janeway wants to offer her the position of the Chief Engineer. I cannot question Lt. Torres' skills. But she cannot go on a rampage when someone insults her honour."
"And what do you want? You can't end her career. We will all stand up for her if you try to Court Martial her. You won't be able to find anyone who'll say anything bad against her. I might have come a long way since we got lost in the Delta Quadrant, but I assure you, she's come the longer way." Tom was about to threaten his own father for the sake of his soon-to-be ex-wife. He meant every word as he said it. And this time, he was convincing enough for his father.
"I see." The Admiral said, now slightly smiling. "She must be an amazing woman if you're willing to go to such length. Maybe I should take some time to get to know her better. After all, she is my daughter-in-law."
Tom flinched, though his father didn't realize it. It was not yet time to tell him that they would be getting a divorce.
"Nevertheless, Tom I want her to go through a psychological examination. There are some good counsellors around. As long as Voyager is in the space docks she'll have to take counselling session at least twice a week. She needs to restrain her volatile tendencies. Oh, and she won't get a commission for at least the next two years."
"I think she'll agree to that. Anything else?" Tom nodded his head thoughtfully, relieved that he had been able to help B'Elanna.
"I want to have dinner tonight with your wife, your daughter and of course yourself."
Tom went slightly pale. This was certainly not a good idea. How was he supposed to keep up a façade of a happy family, when they were about to divorce?
"Sure." He said with a hoarse voice, turned around, and almost made a run to meet up with B'Elanna, Admiral Janeway, and Seven.
"Okay, I can live with some counselling sessions and two years without a commission, but dinner?" B'Elanna sounded more than sceptical. She was holding her daughter after she had fed her and sung her to sleep.
Seven sat beside them thinking through their options. As it was, she herself needed to have a talk with B'Elanna. After they had planned their strategy of getting B'Elanna out of the mess she was in, Janeway left to prepare some things.
She and B'Elanna had stayed in her quarters, but before they were able to talk about their almost-kiss, Miral announced herself and B'Elanna had to stop and take care of her daughter. She bathed her, changed her diapers, fed her, and sang her lullabies. Soon after that Tom had returned, excited and exhausted as well.
"B'Elanna, you need to go." Seven finally said.
"But yeah, I know. Okay, dinner it is. But Miral will stay here. She's still a baby and I don't want to run around with her. She'll sleep anyway. Call him and tell him, that we'll be there without Miral. If he wants to get to know his grand-daughter, we can talk about it at dinner." B'Elanna was not one to forget about the recent disrespect she been subjected to by her in-laws.
"Err B'Elanna I " Tom was writhing under B'Elanna's gaze.
"Spill it Tom." She told him.
"He doesn't know that we're going to have a divorce yet that is."
"Tom!" B'Elanna growled. With her sleeping daughter in her arms, her husband was safe for now. But she was angry with him nevertheless.
"How was I supposed to stand up for you convincingly? I couldn't tell him that we are getting divorced. He wouldn't have believed one word I said." Tom tried to defend himself. It worked.
"Okay okay you're right." B'Elanna admitted reluctantly.
Tom sighed in relief and looked over at Seven. "And you'll take care of our daughter?"
"Yes. Not for the first time, Mr. Paris. Your wife trusts me with Miral and I hope you will do the same." Seven said with her ocular implant raised.
"Sure, Seven. Why not? After all, you delivered her. Well, I think I should thank you for everything you've done for B'Elanna and Miral." Tom was still not able to shake off that feeling of jealousy but he could see that Seven was good for his wife. As hard as it was to admit that.
"You are welcome. I was glad to be of help." Seven nodded her head, smiling in B'Elanna's direction. B'Elanna smiled back and took the hand, which she seemed to have claimed as hers.
"I " `love you'. B'Elanna couldn't believe that she almost said that out loud. But it was what she felt. When was the last time that she had felt like saying that? She couldn't remember.
With a sad smile on her face she looked over at Tom. He knew it. And he accepted it with a sad smile of his own. They might not be happy together as a married couple, but after all they had been through they at least would be able to remain friends who just happened to have a daughter together.
"We should prepare for the dinner." B'Elanna said, handing Miral over to Seven. She raised and replicated some clothes for herself to wear for the evening. It was amazing. She really felt at home and just because these quarters belonged to Seven.
"Don't make the same mistakes I made." Tom said when he was alone with Seven. Her head shot up and she threw him a surprised look.
"Never." Seven promised sincerely.
"I know I'm not strong enough to threaten you. But you should know that I'll always care about her and if necessary I'll threaten you anyway. She deserves happiness. So make her happy." Tom wanted to burst out into tears, but he would never do that. He would pity himself later. He meant what he said. But saying it to Seven in regards to his wife hurt nevertheless.
"Forever." Seven said, quite aware of Tom's inner turmoil. She would feel the same in his place.
"What is forever?" B'Elanna questioned returning from Seven's bedroom.
"Wow" Tom said distractedly upon seeing her.
"Indeed. You look beautiful." Seven agreed.
"Oh, thank you." B'Elanna said blushing and totally forgetting about her question. She was wearing a pair of black tight fitting pants and deep red silky blouse. She looked positively stunning. Unfortunately she wouldn't get the chance to wear this for Seven, though she was the one B'Elanna had thought of while choosing the outfit.
"Okay, let's get this over with." She sighed referring to the upcoming dinner.
"Yeah," Tom agreed rising and heading for the door.
B'Elanna walked over to Seven who rose as well. She dropped a kiss on her daughter's forehead. Then cupping Seven's cheek she pulled the other woman down to her to kiss her too. It was a short but lingering kiss on the lips. Reluctantly pulling away B'Elanna followed Tom out of the door before Seven had a chance to regain her equilibrium.
Completely stunned, Seven remained glued to the spot for at least another ten minutes. Her eidetic memory kept replaying the kiss repeatedly in her head. Only when Miral squirmed in her arms was she able to pull herself out of her frozen daze.
"Your mother kissed me?!" She said looking down at Miral who was looking up at her with deep blue and understanding eyes.
A little more than two hours later B'Elanna returned from a dinner that she had no desire to repeat ever again. It hadn't been as bad as she had expected. But now she had a clearer understanding as to why Tom had had so many difficulties dealing with his father when he had been younger. Admiral Paris was not easily satisfied and very demanding. He had high expectations of anyone around him.
He had interrogated her for the better part of one hour. Tom had tried to interrupt him every now and then, but it had been difficult to even utter a word.
B'Elanna had given her best to answer his question and she had made some promises concerning her future behaviour. It had been quite exhausting.
Of course Tom's mother had been there too. She had put on a mask of false friendliness but otherwise she hadn't attempted to talk to her even once. This time Tom had realized it too and by the end of the dinner he had told his mother it was `absolutely' unacceptable that she had disrespected his wife in such a way. Then he had told his father that he had no right to interrogate B'Elanna and that he would not accept that conduct either.
Then he had held out his hand to her and they had left announcing that they wouldn't be returning but taking quarters outside of the house.
It was the first time that B'Elanna had been truly impressed with her husband. Not that she would change her mind about their divorce. But he had shown that he was able to be a good friend.
They decided to let Admiral Janeway take care of the divorce. And after another two weeks, they would tell Tom's parents about it. That would be soon enough.
B'Elanna was finally able to relax when she entered Seven's quarters. She was at home. Not that it was the quarters that made her feel that way. It was Seven and of course her daughter's presence that meant home to her.
She discovered the two on the couch. Seven had fallen asleep and Miral was laying on top of her. It was one of the cutest things, B'Elanna had ever seen. For several long minutes she just behold the view infront of her. They looked so peaceful together. Well, they looked like mother and daughter.
Unfortunately B'Elanna couldn't leave them there. First she picked Miral up and carried her over to the bedroom and put her into her crib. She returned and without much effort she picked Seven up, being careful not to wake her and carried her too over to the bedroom. B'Elanna got undressed and put on a nightshirt. Then she disrobed Seven down to her underwear and managed to throw a nightgown over the other woman as well. Finally she pulled Seven's bra off underneath the gown.
That done she settled Seven into a comfortable position and lay down beside her. For some moments B'Elanna pondered whether she should just lay there but then she turned around and pulled Seven into an embrace. Of course Seven threw an arm around B'Elanna and nestled into the embrace. B'Elanna sighed extremely content and closed her eyes.
Yes, this was home.
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