DISCLAIMER: I don’t own these characters, Paramount does. The premise to the story is mine though. Not Beta’ed.
WARNING: allusions to both heterosexual and homosexual unions. Angst alert. Can follow If Only or it can stand-alone.

Another Year
By Cirroco DeSade


This has been one hell of a day. I had promised Miral that I would make sure Phoebe's first day in engineering was as easy as possible. Yet, I can't help it that a series of EPS relays on Deck 8 decided to blow. It was hard work made all the harder by Janeway's demands that we get the replacements done in an hour. Poor Phoebe. She was standing right next to me when she heard the Captain being such a bitch.

Miral told me that Phoebe had long ago formed opinions about her redheaded mom, but I saw how she flinched. She walked a few steps away while I finished off my 'discussion' with Janeway. Once I was done, I looked up to find her facing the other way at rigid attention… well… I think maybe that's parade rest. Anyway, if she only knew how much she resembled both her moms right then, but especially Seven in her early years, in that stance. Was that truly two decades ago? Damn I'm getting old. When I walked up to her, I found a spooky replication of the Janeway force ten glare. I'm surprised the bulkhead didn't melt where she was staring at it.

I love her like she's my own daughter you know? I know Seven feels the same about Miral. How could we not?

Anyway, I gave her my best smile and it's a fact of life in space and on Voyager speech. Then I call up my team leaders and divide everyone up into teams. A small one to stay in the engine room, another small one to run the part replications, the rest of us dividing into small teams to disperse over Deck 8, rip out all the old EPS relay networks, and install the new stuff when the replication team gets it to us.

Well, I took Phoebe with Nicoletti and me to Cargo Bay 2. It has some sensitive areas, but I had trained Nicoletti over a decade ago to be able handle the EPS to Borg networks. Someone needed to know it beyond Harry, Seven and me. Someone who wasn't an officer in charge; Susan's good, so she became my backup.

It gave me a chance to send Susan to the other end of the bay and train Phoebe myself on the Borg stuff. I couldn't slow down too much, but she has both her moms' intelligence, which makes her very smart, so slowing down wasn't necessary. Besides, she told me she had grilled Seven a few years back about it all and Seven is a good teacher really. Apparently I now have another Borg component worker on my hands. That's nice to know.

So instead of training her in Borg materials, I ended up reminiscing. I didn't mean to, really, but there you go. I guess it's only natural, as you get older. I wonder 'Another year older, another year wiser'?

I told her about how Seven looked here. How for so long only Seven lived here. How scary it was when Seven first came and how her other mom always thought there was a chance to save the former-drone. I told her how she practically raised Icheb, Azan, Rebi, and Mizoti at first. At eighteen she had a lot more patience than I did at thirty. She was attentive and only spoke occasionally… mostly to ask another leading question. She seemed to like to hear my side of things.

The job was done throughout the Deck in 59 minutes. I managed to run a diagnostic of it all in under four minutes. It was space worthy, although I would probably have teams running adjustments to it for months because it wasn't nearly as efficient as it should be, but it was done.

Janeway of course grumbled at me about how I was slowing down over the years. I was three minutes late after all. I expected it; I had walked into my office to report to her. Over the years I learned what situations I should let my staff hear the Captain over my badge… and when to hear it myself in private. There was no reason for her to fuck with my staff's morale. Yeah, I know that they all know why I go in there… but they don't know exactly what she says, and that's the point. I don't give a damn about how the people on the bridge hear it… she can deal with their morale… well Chakotay does anyway.

I figured out during our tenure in the Delta quadrant why human Captain's were almost always made into Admiral's by a certain age.

Hopefully nobody will tell Phoebe why I go in here. Hopefully they don't treat her as Janeway's daughter, because she really is nicer, more like Seven.

I sigh and sit down at my desk. Another thing I learned over the years: to take my time and use everything I am given. I use this office to organize my staff and myself; and to keep from going insane while knowing it all depends on me. I have a small headache. I always do after dealing with Janeway nowadays. I rub my ridges with my fingertips, up over each flare, then up to the next, all the way to the top and then back down.

My comm. badge comes to life and it's the Doc requesting assistance. I tell him I'll send someone down. He stops me before I can close the channel.

"Please, B'Elanna. I need you," he tells me.

Kahless' armpits! What now? I do my little 'you do this and she's in charge' speech to my staff and head out with my toolkit. It's a little thing I put together especially for working on the Doc and sickbay years ago. The tools are a bit specialized and really hardly ever needed elsewhere, so it's handy.

When I get to the Sickbay I'm a bit surprised by the Doc. He's pacing up a storm in his office and obviously talking to himself. I mean this is 'Mr.-happy-go-lucky-listen-to-me-brag-and-come-to-my-next-opera.'

I feel a real sense of dread run over me. Something skitters up my spine and all the hairs on my arms stand on end. I get the feeling that my day is about to get a lot worse.

He sees me, rushes out and then drags me back into his office.

"B'Elanna, she can't get past Seven's fail-safes can she? I mean nobody on Voyager is a better encrypter than Seven, right?" he asks, his eyes pleading with me.

"Slow down Doc," I say, hands out. I force him to sit before he makes me dizzy. "Who threatened your program?"

His mouth opens like he's about to spill his guts then he freezes. "I really can't say. And it's not because she threatened me. I couldn't have said anything anyway. My ethical subroutines, my Hippocratic oath prevents it!" he whines and buries his faces into his hands. I think if he had holographic hair he would be pulling it. He is starting to really freak me out. I sit back, letting him decide what to tell me or not tell me.

"I had a patient today. A procedure I've only done a few times in the 28 years we've been out here… I have never passed judgment before… I never thought I would!" he was hysterical again. He bound up and started pacing again.

"This just wouldn't happen in the Alpha quadrant. No doctor should have to work on those close to him or her. Or even those married to those close to him. I just can't believe she would…" he looked at me with panic in his eyes. "I can't stand knowing this B'Elanna. I can't know and not tell her, but I can't tell her. I want you to erase my memories between 77208.73 and 77208.81. Everything that has to be known is in the patient's records. I just don't want to know it anymore."

Ho-boy. This is way out of my league.

"Doc. You know, really I would have to get Seven to help me for one thing… she did put some pretty tight locks on your program. Starfleet Intelligence would spend years trying to get through them!" I laughed, trying to break the pall of angst in the room. Yet he didn't even smirk. The only expression change was his eyes widening when I said Seven. I wonder what the hell that's about. "And second, this sounds like a thing you need to speak to a counselor about. Maybe Chakotay could..."

"No!" he screamed and walked away. "I can't talk to him. I can't. He may be… I just can't talk to him."

I sigh and rub my head again: full-blown headache now. I would wish for my day to end but what good is that? Well, I am in sickbay… "Doc, could you give me something for a headache? It's been building for hours."

He doesn't even look at me, just paces away for a hypospray. No exam? Okay. Odd. Not that I mind, since he gives me enough drugs just now to kill the ache completely.

"You have to talk to someone Doc. And no I can't erase it… not if you really want to be a sentient being. You have to deal with life like the rest of us… in all of its ugliness."

"Fine B'Elanna. I know you. Swear on your honor you won't share this with anyone," he demands of me, staring me in the eye. Then he insists, "And that you will not do anything about it."

"On my honor as a member of the house of Prasba," I finally respond. Is that the sound of my doom?

"Captain Janeway had an abortion this morning. She ordered me not to follow protocols. I could not determine who the father was before I performed the procedure, or inform him after it was done," he put his bald head in his hands again looking down on the floor. "She ordered me not to! She said she would scramble my program if I talked with anyone."

I was beyond shocked. Only for a moment did my feelings freeze. Then I was filled with a rage, the likes of which I had never known before this point. My hands flexed into fists and it was only the sweet pain of my fingernails cutting my skin, the blood dripping out of my closed palms, that was keeping me sane. I was rather proud of myself. I said nothing inflammatory… actually for a while, nothing at all. Then he looked at me with such agony and I was reminded how much he loved Seven too... how he must have felt to have to go through this because of an order and feel like he was betraying Seven every step of the way.

"I… I had to…" he said and I opened my arms to him. He gladly fell into them and let me comfort him. I gave him what I could… even though I felt a maelstrom of emotions.

"So you have no way of knowing who the father is?" I finally ask. I'm not sure why… or what it would accomplish. He's damned by her orders. I'm damned by my oath to him just now.

"She ordered me not to investigate the heritage," he said sadly. "But I haven't disposed of …him yet."

What am I doing? I am staring down at something that should have been… human. That should have been at least properly buried hours ago since his mother…

Doc can't know who it was, but I can. I take a small blood sample and run it through the sickbay computer. Only thirty seconds to change so many lives forever. Only thirty seconds before the answer is displayed. I stand there stupidly staring at the screen. Only a very small part of me doesn't believe it.

It only takes him fifteen minutes to fix my hand and arm where I put my fist through the screen. He doesn't ask me what it said, but his facial expression when he came out to stop me told me he knew the answer. All he said was maybe he should have talked to Chakotay.

It takes me much longer to fix the screen and console. Afterwards, we stare at each other in mutual pity… for this awful shared knowledge; a secret between the Doc and me. Who would have thought?

I wander back into engineering for the last hour of my shift. I try to put it all behind me. I go over everything that has happened while I was away. At the end of the shift I tell Phoebe she did great and I expect her to get better every day. I put on my best fake smile and tell her I expect arguments out of her like her mom used to give me. She smiles at me, but cants her head and looks at me odd. Kahless' left nut, she has Seven's perception! The way she stares into my eyes hurts, and I turn away, head towards my office making excuses that I have paperwork, telling her to tell Miral I love her without turning back.

I don't know what Phoebe will say to Miral when she returns to the quarters they share. Thank god they have each other. Best friends, inseparable and nothing will ever defeat them while they have each other like that. I haven't got the energy to care what Phoebe tells my daughter right now. I wait until the alpha shift is all gone then I log out.

I walk to my quarters like a zombie.

Tom has been and gone. Only a mess and a PADD to let me know he has been here.

"Lanna, Working on a project on the flyer. Be home late. Tom."

I throw it so hard into the wall that it not only shatters the padd, but also leaves a considerable dent.

I throw off my clothes on the way to my shower. Fuck neat. I only toss on my comfortable black silk robe, and then head back into the living room. I replicate an entire bottle of bloodwine and skip the nice crystal. I'll drink out of the bottle.

I sit down on the couch and stare at that ugly TV. I get out Seven's little stress reliever that she gave me years ago. I set it to maximum and toss it in front of the TV and just imagine that roaring fire destroying it all.

I drink to not feel, to forget… even for just a moment. I reach to the arm of the couch, snag his dirty tunic and toss it on top of the TV… add it to my wishful bonfire.

I'm halfway through my bottle when the chime rings. I ignore it. I can't. I can't.

I just can't.

Well, nothing's changed has it? She just bypasses the lockouts and waltzes in. I ignore her and stare at my bonfire… my Gre'thor. She sets some packages down on the table next to my propped-up feet. She takes my bottle away from me and puts it near the packages.

I only stare. I don't want to see those sweet blue eyes filled with compassion.

She doesn't know what I know. She probably thinks she knows why I'm unhappy.

Oh Kahless, if only it was that.

She picks me up as if I am a rag-doll… holds me in her arms and lap, hugging me, comforting me.

Oh god, don't Seven. You just don't know… and I…

Oh Doc, why did you make me swear!?

"I surmised you would be alone and unhappy Lanna. Kate left a note to inform me she would be working late on a project with Tom to upgrade the Delta Flyer," she says softly in her loving tones. That soft contralto is my undoing and I begin to bawl on her shoulder.

"I'm sorry he forgot your birthday again."

The End

Sequel I Know Too Much

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