DISCLAIMER: This fan fiction story was written solely for the entertainment of the readers and is not for profit. All characters, including the Starship Voyager, are property of Paramount Pictures Corporation. The sole intent of this story is to enjoy the characters created by the Star Trek Franchise and to expand the program's fanbase. The producers have given me a great deal of enjoyment with their programs and I hope that my stories can add something back to the Star Trek universe. I write stories borrowing their characters for the enjoyment of the fans and in turn hope to offer them a larger viewing audience. No copyright infringement is intended and this is not for profit of any kind. Please read the Disclaimer before continuing to remain in the site or reading the stories.
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She Who Hesitates is Lost
By Lisa Countryman


Chapter 41: Together

Seven awoke to the familiar sensation of B'Elanna's breath warming her belly. She smiled and moved her hand under the blanket and onto B'Elanna's head. "Come out of there," Seven said without opening her eyes. "You are going to suffocate."

B'Elanna growled onto Seven's belly one last time and then crawled up her wife's body. Her face peeked out from under the covers just as Seven opened her eyes. "I was talking to my daughter… and I will not suffocate," B'Elanna said as she stretched and kissed Seven's chin.

"I do not want to risk it." Seven wrapped her arms around B'Elanna's bare shoulders. "Perhaps you should use a triox compound before you attempt this again." Seven moved her hand and gently caressed B'Elanna's cheek. "I am sure Opaca would give me a hypospray if I explained your preoccupation with crawling under the blankets."

"Very funny," B'Elanna said and shifted her weight onto her elbow. "You never seem to mind me crawling under there when I'm seeing to your needs." Her hand drifted down and brushed across the tightly curled blonde hairs at the junction of Seven's leg. "Maybe I should stop that too?"

"You have not suffocated yet," Seven said logically. "Perhaps I was overreacting." She held B'Elanna's hand in place over her most intimate region.

"Oh really?" B'Elanna raised both eyebrows almost to her hairline. "So, do you think I should test this new theory of yours?"

Seven reached out and tangled her fingers in B'Elanna's hair. It was down, loose, and full of static from her time under the blankets. "I love you," she whispered, her voice suddenly trembling. She pulled B'Elanna toward her, cradling her on her chest. Even with Seven's swelling stomach, they were a perfect fit. B'Elanna's body naturally molded around Seven's, her leg finding its perfect spot on the former drone's thigh below her belly. Seven squeezed her eyes shut and clung to B'Elanna.

"Are you okay?" B'Elanna asked. She rubbed her wife's ribs and then down to her belly, and finally circled her navel.

"Yes. I am just happy." Seven reached down and held B'Elanna's hand and kissed the top of her head.

B'Elanna moaned happily and nuzzled Seven's chest. She loved the creamy smoothness of her wife's skin, the way it looked like cream with a hint of strawberries tinting it. Sometimes she could swear that the strawberry color of her beloved's skin had also flavored her as well. B'Elanna kissed the skin she was studying, letting her lips linger as her tongue reached out to taste the softness.

"Mmm," B'Elanna murmured. "You taste delicious." Her mouth migrated over to the sweet bud of Seven's nipple. It hardened instantly and B'Elanna drew the tender flesh between her lips so that her tongue could flicker across it.

Seven tried to answer but could only manage a very unBorg-like squeak. B'Elanna laughed as she moved to the other side so that neither breast would be neglected.

"Lana," Seven managed to whisper. "Please…"

"Shall I test your blanket theory?" B'Elanna whispered as she kissed Seven. "Right now?" she mumbled between kisses.

"Yes," Seven answered. Her body cried out for her wife's caress.

B'Elanna's eyes lit up as she began crawling under the blankets, carefully easing past Seven's belly. She inhaled deeply, savoring the aroma of her wife's arousal just as the door chime sounded.

"No," Seven said as she held B'Elanna under the blanket. "They will leave."

The door chime sounded again and B'Elanna rested her forehead on Seven's hip and then she laughed. "They're not leaving," she said from under the blankets. The door chimed again and the Klingon began giggling.

"This is not funny," Seven said with a growl. She yanked the blankets off of her naked wife.

"No," B'Elanna said as she climbed up Seven's body. "But if I don't laugh… I will take my bat'tleth to whoever is at that door." She kissed Seven, her lips lingered, and she tried to absorb as much of her sweetness as she could.

"Make them leave," Seven whined when the door chime sounded insistently.

"I'll do my best," B'Elanna promised as she tossed the sheet over her wife's gloriously naked body. She grabbed a robe and went to the living area.

"Take your bat'tleth," Seven yelled from the bedroom.

B'Elanna paused next to the door, but decided that arming herself was probably not the best course of action. "Yes?" she demanded as the door hissed open.

"Come with me," Tach said as he grabbed B'Elanna's robe and yanked her into the corridor. He pulled her out of the way as Nara rushed into her quarters.

"Hey!" B'Elanna yelled and pulled her robe closed.

"It is time." Tach continued down the corridor with B'Elanna in tow.

"Ouch," the Klingon said as she stubbed her toe. "Damn it, Tach, what the hell are you doing?" she asked, hopping on one foot.

"You have agreed to the sacred bond. It is the time of the rising sun," he said as if that explained everything.

"And it couldn't wait until I finished making love to my wife?" B'Elanna demanded, yanking him to a stop. She reached down and rubbed her toe, happily noticing that she had not drawn blood.

Tach stared at her for a moment and then shook his head and laughed. "Didn't you get enough of her yesterday afternoon…or last night?"

"As a matter of fact, no. I didn't." She crossed her arms over her chest. "Hey…how do you know what or when we…"

"Oh please, all the sound proofing in the universe couldn't keep that a secret," he said. He yanked her down the corridor. "Besides, there's a pool going on as we speak."

"What kind of pool?" B'Elanna jogged to keep up with her taller friend.

Tach stopped and pinned her in his gaze, his eyes sparkling with mischief. "They're betting on the first night you two don't…have…intimate relations," he said. "Nara put twenty of her rations on a year and a half from now."

"You let her bet on my… uh, my…"

"Your sex life," he said with a smile. "I put my rations on two years from now."

"Paris," B'Elanna said with a growl. "I'll bet he started this damn thing. I'll kill him."

"Wouldn't it be easier to just be a little more…quiet?" he asked as he took her arm and moved her toward his destination.

"I don't think that's really an option," she said. Her face blushed bright red and a wicked grin covered her features. She cleared her throat and tugged her robe closed as they entered the turbolift. "Where exactly are you taking me? I mean, I am half naked."

"So I noticed," he said as he rolled his eyes.

"B'Elanna?" Seven called out. She rolled onto her side and tried to look out of the door into the living room. "Did you kill them, my Be'nal?" she asked with a smile.

"No, darling," Nara said sweetly as she barged into the bedroom. She scanned the room and then went to the closet and rifled through the clothing.

"Where is my wife?" Seven demanded, struggling to get out of the bed. Her huge belly had completely shifted her center of gravity and she still hadn't been able to master simple tasks like sitting up.

"It's time," Nara said as she found a robe. She turned around and laughed at Seven. She was trying to get off of her back but looked like a sickly turtle wrapped in a rumpled sheet.

"Time for what?" Seven grunted as she fought to sit up.

"Come on," Nara ordered. She took Seven's hand and pulled her to her feet. The sheet fell away and Nara stared at her friend, her eyes taking a complete inventory of the lanky blonde's attributes. "How can anyone with a belly that big look so incredible?"

"What have you done with my wife?" Seven asked as she took her robe. She shoved her arm into one sleeve, and in her haste, almost ripped out the seams. Her second arm didn't have as much luck, and she ended up struggling to find the opening.

"It's time for your bonding, my clumsy oaf," Nara said with a laugh. She grabbed the robe and guided it onto Seven's arm. "Now, let's go."

Seven raised an eyebrow, but followed her short friend. When they reached the door, Seven paused.

"What?" Nara asked.

"B'Elanna was…displeased the last time I left our quarters dressed only in a robe." Seven pulled the belt tighter. "She was quite unhinged, and I do not like to intentionally upset her."

"Yes, Seven," Nara covered her mouth to hide her wicked smile. "But I don't think that this robe would have upset her. I heard the other robe was silk…see through…very short, and left nothing to the imagination." She had heard about the ill-fated journey from Neelix. Apparently Seven had a craving for fresh fruit in the early morning hours and went to the mess hall. She grabbed one of the robes that B'Elanna had given her as a romantic gift, not worrying that it was mostly see though. B'Elanna did not appreciate the fact that half of the late night shift ended up escorting Seven back to her quarters, clamoring for the right to her carry her tray of sliced fruit.

"A valid point," Seven said. "I have never understood why humanoids have such an aversion to nudity."

Nara opened the door and took Seven's arm. "It wasn't any aversion that upset B'Elanna. It was the line of men following you back to your quarters."

"There were several women as well," Seven pointed out.

"No doubt." Nara smiled and guided Seven toward the turbolift. "How would you feel if B'Elanna paraded through the ship half naked…with the crew following to get a good look?"

Seven's features darkened. "I am beginning to see my wife's point," Seven said.

"I thought you might." Nara shoved Seven into the lift. "Now, you and I have some work to do."

"I do not think I like the sound of that," Seven said slowly.

"That's probably because you are a very intelligent woman." She turned to the comm panel. "Deck six." Nara smirked and leaned against the wall of the lift and watched the decks flicker past.

"What do you mean ‘take my robe off?'" B'Elanna asked as she glared at Tach. She was in the orchard standing next to a small hut made with furs and she didn't like where the conversation was heading.

"I mean…take off the robe," he said as he pointed at the hut. "But for goddess sake, do it inside the hut. I don't need Seven breaking all the bones in my hand like she did Tom Paris." He went to the hut and flipped back the hanging fur that worked as a door. "Now, move it before Nara gets here with Seven. You can't see her until the ceremony."

B'Elanna grumbled but moved toward the door. "What am I supposed to do once I go in here and take off my robe?"

"Great goddess above and below…are all Klingons this dense?" Tach pointed inside the hut. There was a steaming bath filled with rose petals and apple blossoms and a long cotton robe hanging on the wall of the hut. "You…naked… bath…robe…Any questions?"

"A ritual bath." B'Elanna nodded her head and then smacked his stomach with the back of her hand. "Why didn't you just say so?"

"I thought it was pretty self-explanatory." He shoved her into the hut. "Oh… you're supposed to wait in reflective meditation until I come for you," he added as he flipped the fur door closed.

"Gee thanks," she mumbled and looked around the hut. She dipped her fingers into the steaming water. "Well, at least the water is nice and hot."

"Explain again," Seven ordered as she and Nara climbed off of the turbolift. Several passing crewmembers watched as she passed, wondering if the Borg Collective had an affinity for wearing robes.

"First you take the ritual bath, then you put on the sacred robes. You then have to spend some time in quiet reflection about your feelings for B'Elanna," Nara explained.

"B'Elanna does not do quiet reflection," Seven pointed out. "Is Tach explaining all of this to her?"

"Yes," Nara said, but then paused. "But I'll check on her as soon as I get you settled. My husband isn't known for his ability to explain sacred rites."

"Why must we do this in the orchard?" Seven asked when they neared the doors to the new arboretum.

"Well, we're supposed to do it outdoors with the goddess and her creations around us. This is the most natural setting on board." Nara stopped in front of the door. "Let me make sure B'Elanna is in her hut. You two can't see each other until the ceremony."

"Very well," Seven said slowly. "But do not leave me standing out here too long. This robe allows an uncomfortable breeze up my legs."

"You'll live," Nara said with a smirk and she went into the arboretum.

"If my Be'nal finds out that you left me standing out here dressed like this, you may not," Seven called out as Nara disappeared behind the closing doors.

Several minutes later Nara finally had Seven prepared.

"Well?" Tach asked when Nara came out of Seven's hut. "Did you irritate her sufficiently?"

"Yes." She tucked her arm under his. "How come I had to piss off the one who's capable of bending duranium deck plating?" She led him toward a larger hut set up at the back of the small orchard.

"Because, my wife, you run faster than I do." Tach opened the flap and entered the hut. It was large, and had a bath big enough for two. Nara began undressing as Tach lit the candles around the room and brought a container of scented soaps to her.

"We'll give them an hour while we prepare and then I'll go dress them both." She climbed into the tub, pausing to dip her fingers into the water and then she wet her forehead as she said a silently blessing.

Tach stepped into the bath beside her and began lathering her back. She turned and wet his forehead and he closed his eyes and thanked the goddess.

"Quiet contemplation," B'Elanna whispered as she paced the tiny hut. She had finished bathing and was wearing the cotton robe but she was getting tired of waiting. She wondered what Seven was doing, then smiled and thought about the love she had already been blessed to share with her wife. Perhaps the idea of contemplation wasn't so bad after all. She closed her eyes and pictured Seven on Jusari Prime, holding her hand as they walked through the forest and watched the animals. In some ways she missed the planet and the solitude it provided. Still, it was good to be back home on Voyager. B'Elanna stopped and her smiled widened. Voyager truly was a home now that she lived with Seven, and when the baby arrived, it would be even more special.

"B'Elanna?" Nara folded back the flap. "Ah, you're ready." She came into the hut carrying a bundle of clothing.

"How's Seven?" she asked.

"She is doing fine." Nara smiled. "I need to get you ready for the ceremony, then I can go dress her as well."

"Do we get to know the meaning behind all of this?" B'Elanna waved her arm indicating the hut and bath.

"You have been cleansed of all worldly concerns," Nara began. "Which is why my husband and I tried our best to aggravate you on the way here. You came in full of outside thoughts. When your thoughts are only of your beloved, the bonding can take place."

"Well, tell Tach he did a great job." B'Elanna smiled as she studied the bundle in Nara's arms. It was a natural fiber, deep green and it looked soft. "I was about to toss Tach into the tub if he didn't give me some information."

"Well, he just had his own bath. We just finished our own sacred cleansing." Nara smiled and unfolded the emerald green fabric. It was a simple dress, and once it was open, it looked like silk. "Tell me about the first time you knew you loved Seven." Nara put the dress on a stand nearby.

B'Elanna's face seemed to glow from some internal source. "Well, I wasn't exactly thrilled about it at the time." B'Elanna let Nara remove her robe. The hut was warm from the tub's steam, but the air was still cool against her bare skin. She felt goosebumps erupt on her arms and legs. "Seven and I had been on the planet for a few weeks, and she was really making me angry. Then I looked over at her as she was stirring the rocks in the fire pit, she didn't want me to get cold, and it hit me. I'm falling in love with that irritating woman… irritating, beautiful, and brilliant…but still, irritating."

"And do you still think she's irritating?" Nara asked with a smile. She lifted the silk dress over B'Elanna's head and smoothed it into place. It was a good fit, Nara had sewn it the night before, and she had worried that her memory of B'Elanna's size might not have been accurate. The rich color complimented B'Elanna's coloring and brought out a hint of hazel in her brown eyes.

"Yes, she is," B'Elanna said. She had a goofy grin covering her face. "And I thank Kahless every day that she's irritating me. I don't now how I got so lucky." B'Elanna ran her hands over the fabric. It reminded her of an ancient Earth kimono except it wasn't as elaborate. "This is beautiful. Where did you get it?"

"Well, while you and your wife were up all night... entertaining each other… I was sewing this." Nara pointed to the dress. "I don't know if I got Seven's right. I swear her belly grows more every second."

"Thank you," B'Elanna said. "I know I was a little grouchy earlier, but we both appreciate this."

"It is my honor to sponsor you both," Nara said. "Now, I have to go dress Seven. There's a hairbrush over there, and some fragrant oils. Go make yourself beautiful for that wife of yours."

"Yes, ma'am," B'Elanna said with a smile.

Getting Seven ready took a little more effort. When Nara had gone back to her hut, Seven had still been in the tub. She was going into her eighth month of the pregnancy, and was already huge. Nara wondered just how big her belly would get. She helped Seven out of the tub and dried her, then helped her into her silk gown. It was the same style as B'Elanna's but was sapphire blue. The color accentuated her fair skin and pale eyes.

Nara asked Seven the same questions that she had asked B'Elanna, and was not surprise when Seven revealed that she had first discovered she was falling in love B'Elanna several weeks after they arrived on Jusari Prime…late one night while stirring rocks in the fire pit.

Once Seven was ready, Nara went out into the orchard and spoke with Tach. He had a small metal fire pit with flames burning down to leave red coals. He smiled as he saw his wife and hugged her when she came to him.

"Are they ready?" he asked.

"Yes," she answered. She picked up a small container and opened it, carefully making sure that everything was in its proper place. Satisfied, she put it next to the fire and went to get Seven while Tach got B'Elanna. They led the two women out of the huts blindfolded and stood them in front of the fire pit facing each other.

"As it has always been," Nara said solemnly. "We come to our bonding blind to the wisdom of the great goddess. She sees our mate long before we ever do. Those of us who are lucky enough to see through the eyes of true love find the other half of our soul." She stepped behind B'Elanna as Tach stood behind Seven and they removed the blindfolds.

"See with the eyes of the goddess," Tach said.

B'Elanna and Seven both smiled like children on Christmas morning, both looking at the greatest gift anyone could ever dream of receiving.

Nara took Seven's hand and placed it in B'Elanna's. "Your hearts are bound already, but it is now time to link your souls."

Tach handed Nara a pair of scissors and she snipped a strand of each woman's hair.

"This hair grows like the trees in the forest and the grass in the fields and it links your souls in the name of the sacred earth. It grows every day, in tiny amounts that the eye cannot see, but over time it is revealed to all. Let your love be like that; let each day add to the love you share." She tossed the hair into a tiny metal bowl that Tach held out. It was only an inch tall, squatty, and had a blackened finish as if it had been scorched many times. "Do you swear by the sacred earth to give your soul to your mate?" Nara asked as she gave Tach the scissors and he put them away and retrieved a tiny knife with a razor-sharp blade.

"I do," B'Elanna and Seven said in unison.

"Your blood flows with the power of raging rivers and the pounding sea. It also carries the fire of your soul." Nara took B'Elanna's and then Seven's hand and pricked a finger, collecting a drop of blood in Tach's bowl. "Do you swear by the sacred seas and the fire of the goddess to protect each other with all the passion of these elements?"

"I swear," Seven said. She was looking into B'Elanna's eyes, seeing all the love she felt mirrored back to her in her wife's gaze.

"I do," B'Elanna said. The proud Klingon ignored the tears trailing down her cheeks. She didn't want to let go of Seven's hands even long enough to wipe them away.

Tach stepped forward and took the knife from Nara and gave her two small vials.

"Take a deep breath, and as you do, draw in all of the love you feel for each other," Nara instructed. She handed each woman a vial. "Look into your mate's eyes and then release that breath and the air it represents into these vials."

B'Elanna and Seven blew into the vials, then smiled at each other as they waited for Nara to continue.

Nara held up the vials. "Let this represent the sacred element of the air we breathe and our spirits, also of the air."

Tach took the bowl and placed it on a small table next to the glowing embers. He took two tiny ingots and put them into the bowl, then added another much smaller ingot.

"Gold is the sign of purity on many worlds," Nara said. She smiled at B'Elanna and Seven. "I was happy to see that Earth is one of them. Tach will melt these pure ingots with the elements from each of you. Your essence will become part of the metal."

They watched as Tach put the cup on the end of a long metal arm and then plunged it into the fire pit that served as a kiln. The coals quickly heated the tiny cup and began melting the ingots.

"We added a smaller ingot for the child you carry," Nara said to Seven. "When I became pregnant, we renewed our vows and recast our own medallions so that Ty would have his own. Tach will cast two medallions for each of you. One will be your bonding necklace and you should wear it forever. The second smaller one you will wear for your daughter. You will bless it with your love each day that it lays next to your heart. When your child reaches the age of consent, you will melt down the smaller necklaces into one. She will wear it as sign to all that she was born of a sacred bond."

Tach lifted the cup out of the coals and placed it on a stone in front of B'Elanna and Seven. He carefully positioned four molds next to the cup before picking up the vials and connecting them to a device similar to a hypospray.

"We're almost done," Nara whispered with a smile. She cleared her throat. "Tach will now use your own breath to cool the gold for pouring," she said as Tach injected the vials of air into the red-hot gold. Tiny bubbles appeared and then he poured the metal into each of the molds. He filled the larger ones first, pausing to say a silent blessing before pouring the two smaller ones.

"B'Elanna, do you swear by all that is sacred to you that you will give your heart, soul, spirit and even blood to Seven?"

"Yes, gladly," she said as she looked into Seven's cobalt blue eyes.

"Seven, do you swear by all that is sacred to you that you will give your heart, soul, spirit and even blood to B'Elanna?" Nara repeated.

"Yes, forever," Seven said.

Nara took a bowl of water and held it out to the couple. "Hold this," she whispered. Tach took the molds one by one and tapped them on the edge of the bowl. Each medallion fell into the water with hiss and a flash of steam. Tach brought over a small case and opened it. It held two golden chains.

"Seven," Tach said as he took the bowl. "Reach in and remove one of each medallion and put it on a chain.

She reached into the water. She could tell it had been cold, but the heat of the gold had warmed it. She lifted out two of the pieces, happy when she was able to grab one of each size on the first try, and threaded them onto the chain with shaking hands.

"Put this onto your wife," Nara instructed. "You are the only person who can remove it. It she wants to take it off, only you may unhook this clasp."

Seven put the necklace around B'Elanna's neck. It took her a moment because she couldn't get her shaking hands to work. Finally it latched and she smiled. "I love you, Be'nal," she whispered as she leaned back.

"B'Elanna?" Nara motioned to the bowl.

B'Elanna repeated the process, but had an easier time with the chain. Her hands were rock steady, but inside she was trembling. After putting on Seven's necklace, she paused to caress her wife's cheek. "Forever, my wife," she whispered.

Tach took the bowl of water and poured it onto the coals. It sent up a cloud of steam with a hiss. He turned to his friends and smiled.

"You are bound," Nara said as she looked at her friends. "You may perform this ritual for couples you deem worthy. And, if you have another child, you should repeat it while you are pregnant so that the blood that nourishes the child will be cast into the medallions."

"Another child?" Seven asked. Her eyes widened and a look of terror covered her features. "You want me to endure nine additional months of looking like a shuttle?"

"You are beautiful," B'Elanna insisted. She wrapped her arm around Seven's waist. "I think you look very sexy."

"Was I also sexy during my morning sickness?" Seven asked.

"How do I answer that?" B'Elanna asked Tach. Her expression revealed that the Klingon knew that no answer would be the right one.

"You don't," he said. "You take your wife back to your quarters and celebrate your bonding in private."

"Smart man," B'Elanna said before tugging Seven toward the exit.

"Indeed." Seven smiled. She happily let her wife lead her out of the arboretum.

"Very smart man," Nara said as she hugged him. "I knew I married you for a reason."


Chapter 42: waiting impatiently

Seven and B'Elanna spent their fist day as a joined couple locked away in their quarters, but despite what most on board thought, they didn't spent all of their time making love. They used the time to fix up a small area in the living room to use as a nursery. Even after they had used the rations to repair the ready room, they had enough left over between them to replicate a crib and some other furniture for the baby. It was a happy time for them, full of laughter, as the two women trained as engineers found it almost impossible to put the crib together. At one point, Seven had threatened to simply assimilate the parts before she broke into a fit of laughter. After a few hours, the crib was completed, and they had made love late into the night to celebrate.

The rest of the night was spent curled around each other talking and laughing. Seven listened while B'Elanna remembered her childhood and the things that she missed most about the Alpha Quadrant. Seven told B'Elanna what she could remember about her own youth, but most of that part of her life was lost to her. It was something that left Seven with a profound sense of loss, but having B'Elanna's loving touch helped soothe wounds the former drone had thought would never heal. She went to sleep knowing that they would.

Seven shifted her weight and opened her eyes. She was having Braxton Hicks contractions, false labor pains. She had already been to sickbay twice for the annoying prelabor spasms and Opaca had explained that they were a normal part of the birthing process and that the best thing to do was to get a massage or take a hot shower. Seven didn't want to wake B'Elanna to rub her back because the Klingon would have insisted that they go to sickbay, just like she had the first two times. She smiled as she looked down at B'Elanna.

The Klingon was sound asleep, flat on her back, content to spend the night acting as Seven's personal body pillow. With the pregnancy advancing, Seven found it almost impossible to find a comfortable sleeping position. Using her wife as pillow helped her sleep through the night.

She leaned onto one elbow and studied B'Elanna. Her head was turned toward Seven, her mouth was relaxed, and Seven had a perfect view of the tiny mole on her cheek. It was a small speck, but any time see looked at B'Elanna, she noticed it. It was one of her favorite things about her wife's appearance. Seven loved watching her sleep. It was a time she could stare openly at her beautiful wife without B'Elanna getting embarrassed. When Seven tried to study her features while B'Elanna was awake, the Klingon would look away. Years of being criticized for her appearance had left B'Elanna self-conscious. Seven wished B'Elanna could see herself like she did, beautiful, elegant, and the personification of perfection.

Seven climbed out of the bed, instantly missing the warmth of B'Elanna's body, but she needed to stretch. Her back was aching and she didn't want to wake her wife. She felt another twinge, and sighed. She hated taking a shower alone. It was so much more enjoyable when B'Elanna joined her.

She climbed into the shower and let the water soothe her aching back. As she bent her head forward, she saw her necklace and smiled, then picked it up and studied it. The main medallion was round, with two circles interconnected. The circle was the Narian symbol for the goddess as well as the representation of the romantic heart. She turned it over and smiled at the smaller medallion. It was a perfect triangle, representing her, B'Elanna, and their daughter. It had the same two interwoven circles but there was a smaller circle inside them. She hissed as one of the contractions made her twist her back. It was just like humans to come up with such a useless process. True, the Braxton Hicks contractions helped to prepare her uterus for the actual birth, but it was annoying to have so many "dry runs" as Opaca called them.

B'Elanna opened her eyes, sensing that something wasn't right. She looked at the crumpled sheets where her wife should have been and sighed. She assumed she was in the bathroom, then noticed a small red spot on the sheets.

"Seven?" she called out. She climbed out of bed in a daze and headed toward the bathroom and opened the door. Steamed rolled out of the room, tumbling in slow motion. B'Elanna froze in the doorway as she saw her wife sprawled on the floor next to the shower. Seven's eyes were open but vacant, and her face was the color of death. The entire floor was covered in red-black blood.

"No!" B'Elanna screamed as she sat up in bed. She grabbed her chest, clutching to her bonding necklace as she realized that she had been dreaming. She looked over at the empty bed beside her and almost panicked. "It was a dream," she whispered to herself as she headed toward the bathroom. "Stupid Klingon," she said under her breath before she opened the door. "Seven?" she called out over the noise of the shower.

There was a pause and then the shower door opened and Seven leaned out. "Be'nal, why are you up? It is not even 08:00."

"Then what are you doing up?" B'Elanna asked as she climbed into the shower and hugged her wife. "Umm, you feel good," she said over the pounding water.

"As do you." Seven turned to face her wife. She cringed and squinted her eyes.

"What?" B'Elanna moved her hand to Seven's belly.

"Nothing," Seven assured her. "It is just another Braxton Hicks contraction."

"You're having contractions? Come on, we're going to sickbay," B'Elanna said as she shut off the water.

"But… They are stopping…and I wasn't finished with my shower," Seven whined.

"Too bad," B'Elanna said, rubbing a large white towel over Seven's back. "That's what you get for not waking me."

B'Elanna escorted Seven to the sickbay, studying her every move during the turbolift ride. Seven was not amused.

"B'Elanna, I am fine. There was no reason for us to come to sickbay this early." Seven had her arms crossed defiantly and she was pouting. Her lower lip was sticking out and she looked like she had just been sent to her room without supper.

"You are having contractions." B'Elanna moved closer to her wife and rested her hand on Seven's shoulder. "I will not risk anything happening. You aren't due for another month. What if you're having another temporal spike?"

"It isn't like that," Seven said as she wrapped her arms around B'Elanna's shoulders. "Do not worry. This is just like the other false labor pains."

"But what if it isn't?" B'Elanna sighed and rested her forehead on Seven's chest. "I don't want you or the baby hurt," she whispered.

"Very well," Seven said when the lift stopped. "But the next time I tell you it is nothing, you had better believe me."

"There better not be a next time," B'Elanna said as she led Seven toward the sickbay. They entered and B'Elanna looked for Opaca. She had called before she left her quarters, so the hologram was already activated and waiting next to a biobed.

"Well, good morning," Opaca said as she turned to face them. "Seven, how are you?"

"I am fine," Seven insisted. "Please inform B'Elanna that I am capable of determining whether or not I am in labor."

Opaca helped Seven onto the biobed. "Actually, the Braxton Hicks contractions feel identical to real labor contractions, so you can only tell once they've stopped or I've confirmed it with a tricorder." Opaca scanned Seven's belly.

"See," B'Elanna said. "I told you we should come down here."

"Well?" Seven asked Opaca.

"You're fine, Seven. False labor, go home and take a hot shower and get some rest," Opaca said. She turned toward B'Elanna and pulled her aside as Seven began climbing off of the biobed. "B'Elanna, are you having nightmares again? You look awfully worried," she asked quietly.

"Yeah," she said in a whisper. She was embarrassed by the nightmares and the fact that Opaca had seen through her so easily.

"I see," Opaca said as she scanned B'Elanna. She shook her head and smiled. "Hold still, I almost forgot something." She went and took a hypospray out of a medical cabinet.

"Seven," B'Elanna asked as she went back to her. "What would it hurt if you came down each morning and let Opaca check you? Just to be sure?"

"I am fine," Seven insisted. "I do not like it here," she added and then let her eyes drift toward the office where the Doctor was trying to look busy.

Opaca returned and stopped in front of B'Elanna. "Actually, after that last scan of you, B'Elanna…I think you need to stop by each morning." She injected B'Elanna's throat with the hypospray.

B'Elanna flinched and stepped back. "Hey! She's the one who was having symptoms." B'Elanna stared at Opaca incredulously.

"What is wrong with her?" Seven demanded as she wrapped her arm around B'Elanna's waist.

"It's about time for B'Elanna to start getting ready for the baby," Opaca explained. "I just started her hormone series. She'll need an injection each morning to get her body ready to nurse when the baby arrives."

"You scared me," Seven accused.

"Yeah?" Opaca stood toe to toe with the much taller former drone. "And what exactly would you do to get rid of that fear?"

"Anything," Seven said menacingly.

"So, I guess you won't mind letting me check you once a day to get rid of your wife's fear?" Opaca smiled and crossed her arms. She knew she had Seven cornered.

"That would be acceptable," Seven said. She looked at B'Elanna. "I did not mean to worry you."

"I know, love. Now, let's go home." B'Elanna took Seven's hand and kissed her knuckles.

"Oh, B'Elanna," Opaca called out. "You might notice a little tenderness in your breasts but it's nothing to worry about."

"Thanks, I think," B'Elanna said as the doors hissed shut behind them.

The next three weeks passed quickly, and with each day B'Elanna and Seven became more excited. B'Elanna also became more hormonal, caught in the throws of the daily injections. Seven grew more frustrated as her belly continued to expand. She swore it was so huge that it would leave warp four point two seconds before she did.

As time passed, Seven made certain to include Naomi whenever possible. With Ty on board and a baby on the way, the former only-child was feeling worried that she would be replaced in Seven's heart. Seven and B'Elanna had her spend the night occasionally, just the three of them. Naomi and B'Elanna had bonded during these slumber parties and Seven looked forward to the day when their daughter would be old enough to join them.

The last week before the baby was due, B'Elanna and Seven began their maternity leave. On the first day of their leave, Seven and B'Elanna went for breakfast in the mess hall and then spent the afternoon with Naomi and Ty in the holodeck while Nara and Tach helped the captain go over the star charts. It was a busy afternoon that left Seven more than a little tired and when they dropped off the two children, the former Borg was in need of a nap. Surprisingly, B'Elanna seemed eager for a midday rest as well. Since both women had the day off, they decided to take advantage of it.

Seven awoke alone, but that wasn't unusual. Often, when B'Elanna would join her for a nap, she would often be well rested after only an hour or two. Seven needed extra sleep with the pregnancy progressing. Even with an extra hour of regeneration each morning, Seven seemed to get tired and cranky when she had been up for several hours. A nap seemed like the best solution.

Seven climbed out of the bed and headed toward the bathroom and the sound of the pounding water. She smiled, thinking that perhaps she could join her wife for more than just a shower. They had found the most wonderful uses for the small shower stall that had nothing to do with getting clean.

As she opened the door, Seven heard a loud moan coming from the shower and went to investigate. "Lana?" she called out as she opened the shower door. The Klingon was facing the wall, her forehead resting against the cool tile with the water beating down on her back.

"I'm going to kill Opaca," B'Elanna said and then moaned even louder. "I swear to Kahless… I'm going to delete her matrix."

"What is it?" Seven asked, concern making her throat constrict. She stepped into the water and massaged her wife's tense shoulders.

"I think I'm dying," B'Elanna whined, still resting her head on the tile.

"What?" Seven squeezed B'Elanna's shoulders. "Should we call sickbay?"

"No," B'Elanna whined as she turned around. She looked down at her chest. Her breasts were swelling even more than they had in the past. The artificial hormones had kicked in, and after three weeks, her mammary glands were working overtime. "I think my breasts are going to explode," the Klingon warrior whined.

Seven smirked, relief flooding her features. "Opaca did say there would be some discomfort." Seven gently examined her wife's breasts. "I thought you were having a negative reaction to the injections, but I believe this is normal."

"Ouch." B'Elanna pulled back as Seven tried to lift one breast. "I think this is a pretty negative reaction." She pointed toward her tender breasts. "This is before I even have milk. Just how big are these things gonna' get?"

"You will adapt," Seven said with a smile. She took B'Elanna's hand, kissed her knuckles, and then placed the Klingon's hand on her belly. The baby kicked and B'Elanna sighed.

"Okay, so I'm being a baby," B'Elanna said as she turned off the water. "But it hurts," she whined.

Seven guided B'Elanna out of the shower and began drying her with a large towel from the counter. "Your hormones are undergoing changes as well. It will make you more irritable," Seven explained gently.

"More irritable? What does that mean?" B'Elanna asked angrily. She turned and faced her wife and put her hands on her hips defiantly. "Do you think that I'm irritable?"

Seven stood there not knowing what to say. She suddenly had a great deal of respect for B'Elanna's patience. Seven had gone through months of these mood swings and B'Elanna had seemed able to adapt with ease, always finding the right thing to say or do.

"You do, don't you?" B'Elanna asked again. "You think I'm irritable!" Her eyes shined and her lip trembled and the strong, brave warrior burst into tears and ran out of the bathroom.

Seven decided that perhaps she should kill Opaca. She heard her wife's muffled cries from the other room and quietly went to find her. Seven was still wet from the shower, and left a trail of water across the carpet.

"Lana?" Seven asked from the side of the bed. "I did not mean to imply that you are irritable." She sat next to her wife, trying to remember what B'Elanna had said to her when she had been hormonal. "Be'nal?"

B'Elanna sniffled. She was on her side, unable to rest on her stomach because of her aching breasts. "You don't think I'm irritable?" B'Elanna wiped her eyes with the sheet.

"No," Seven said as she rubbed B'Elanna's back. "You put up with my mood swings all these months. Could an irritable person do that?"

"No," B'Elanna agreed and sat up. "Oh god," B'Elanna said as she turned to Seven and scooted over to her. She rested her head on Seven's shoulder and hugged her. "What are we gonna' do if you and I are both hormonal at the same time, my Be'nal?"

Seven shuddered at that thought. "I hope we never have to find out," she said sincerely. B'Elanna chuckled and squeezed her a bit closer.

"Well, at least my breasts are getting bigger," B'Elanna said when she finally eased back.

"I love your breasts exactly how they are. Why would you want them any bigger?" Seven asked. She couldn't understand why B'Elanna would want to change a single thing about her compact body. Every single millimeter was perfection, perfectly proportional, toned, and incredibly sexy. B'Elanna's breasts seemed divinely designed, perfect mounds of tender yet responsive flesh that fit perfectly in Seven's hands, and of course her nipples seem tailor made to fill Seven's mouth. She wouldn't change them even if she could.

"Well," B'Elanna said as she stared openly at Seven's much fuller cleavage. "Mine are kinda'… small compared to yours."

"Yours are perfect." Seven reached up and cupped B'Elanna's chin in her fingers. "We fit perfectly together. Our differences make us the perfect match." She leaned over and playfully kissed B'Elanna's nose. "And they filled my hands. Any more would be wasteful." Seven covered both of B'Elanna's breasts with her hands.

B'Elanna inhaled sharply and closed her eyes. "Well, right now, they're pretty sore." She tried to relax into her wife's touch.

"Am I hurting you?" Seven asked as she pulled away.

"Don't go," B'Elanna whispered. She brought her own hands up to hold Seven's soothing touch in place. "Your hands feel nice. I don't want you to move."

"Then I shall not." Seven cradled the tender mounds in her hands with incredible care. She leaned forward and kissed B'Elanna's forehead. "I shall hold you as long as you need me…although I think it may cause a scene if I have to accompany you to Engineering or the bridge."

"I'd like to see that," B'Elanna said. She smiled as Seven continued to place feather-light kisses on the ridges of her forehead.

"Perhaps you should rest some more?" Seven suggested. She eased B'Elanna toward the bed.

"You're soaking wet," B'Elanna pointed out. Seven stretched out beside her, ignoring the water.

Seven shifted her weight until she settled her belly into comfortable position. "I believe that I have spent many nights in this bed…soaking wet," she pointed out.

"Very funny." B'Elanna turned over and then scooted her back up against Seven's chest. It was a difficult position to pull off with Seven's huge stomach in the way, but they managed. Seven brought her hand around in front of B'Elanna and cradled one breast with infinite tenderness.

"Get some sleep," Seven whispered into B'Elanna's hair.

"You feel good." B'Elanna covered Seven's hand with her fingers, not wanting to her pull away. She yawned. "I love you, Seven," she said as her eyes drifted shut.

"I love you, my wife," Seven whispered. She snuggled against her and then joined her beloved in a restful sleep.

Seven awoke a short while later and watched B'Elanna sleep. The Klingon had rolled onto her back and her mouth was open, a hint of drool was threatening to fall from her lips, and her hair was matted to the side of her face. Seven thought she was the most beautiful creature she had ever seen. She smiled, content to just watch for the moment, and then B'Elanna's eyes opened.

"Do you watch me sleep often?" B'Elanna asked as she rolled onto her side.

Seven blushed.

"I watch you too," B'Elanna admitted. She reached out and tucked a stray strand of hair behind Seven's ear. "You look so relaxed when you sleep." B'Elanna smiled and traced her wife's lips with her fingers. "Sometimes when you're really tired, you stick just the tip of your tongue out. It's always right in the middle."

Seven frowned, not liking the sound of that and then nipped her wife's fingers.

"It's adorable," B'Elanna assured her.

"Do you still hurt?" Seven reached out and rubbed B'Elanna's chest.

"Not as much. Sorry I was so emotional earlier." She lifted Seven's hand and kissed her palm. "You were really great."

"I love you," Seven said as if that explained everything, and perhaps it did.

"Shall we get up?" B'Elanna asked. "Maybe have a late lunch?"

"More like an early dinner," Seven said as she checked the clock. "I'll cook. You rest on the couch."

"That sounds nice." B'Elanna stood and came around the bed and helped Seven sit up, then pulled her to her feet. "You sure you feel up it?"

"I am used to these hormones," Seven pointed out as she found a loose fitting dress to put on. She dug through the closet until she found another loose dress and handed it to B'Elanna. "Put this on," she ordered.

"I don't think so." B'Elanna scrunched up her face at the plain blue sundress.

"Anything tight on your breasts will be uncomfortable." Seven tilted her head to one side as B'Elanna shook her head and continued scrunching her face. "Are you sure?" Seven asked skeptically.

"Yep," B'Elanna said. She went to her dresser and retrieved a pair of sweatpants and an oversized tee shirt. "See? Nice and loose," she said after she lowered the shirt over her head. "Now, where's my dinner, woman?" she asked playfully.

"Go wait on the couch. I will prepare it, wife." Seven swatted B'Elanna on the behind.

Ten minutes later B'Elanna was stretched out on the couch feeling quite spoiled. Her pregnant wife had almost finished replicating her something that smelled wonderful, she had a cold glass of apple cider in her hand and her feet were perched on the arm of the couch.

The door chime sounded and B'Elanna started to stand.

"Stay," Seven ordered as she came out of the small kitchenette. She opened the door and was surprised to see Ty standing in the corridor alone…alone and completely naked with his face and chest covered in chocolate.

"Evan!" He beamed happily, holding out his chocolate covered hands.

"Tyralanar, where are your parents?" Seven asked as she knelt next to him. "And where are your clothes?" She picked up the naked bundle and settled him onto her hip as she looked up and down the empty corridor.

"Ty?" B'Elanna sat up and stared at the messy bundle in her wife's arms.

"Ba! My Ba!" He squirmed until Seven put him down and then he sprinted to the Klingon.

"This is most unusual." Seven went to the closet to retrieve some clothing for Ty. She and B'Elanna kept some of his outfits in their closet because they kept him on many nights when they didn't have duty the next day. It gave his parents a chance to be alone and she and B'Elanna loved having him. "How did he get here?" Seven asked.

"Isn't it your nap time?" B'Elanna asked. She lifted him onto her lap. "And what happened to your clothes, little tiger?"

"Clothes off," he informed her and grabbed for her cider. She helped him take a gulp and then put the glass back on the coffee table.

"That much I can see for myself," B'Elanna told him. "Where are you parents?"

"Ty fix the door," he said proudly.

"I think we need to check the security locks on our door as well," B'Elanna said. "If he figured out theirs, he'll figure out ours." B'Elanna looked up at Seven who had brought the clothes over along with a wet washcloth.

"Evan's baby." Ty pointed to her belly.

"And Ba's baby too," Seven said as she picked him up.

"I should call Tach and let him know the little rascal is here." B'Elanna stood. She looked at Seven trying to wash Ty's face. He was making a game of avoiding the washcloth. "Seven, I think you might as well just give him a bath." She shook her head and smiled. Ty avoided the cloth like a Da'har master avoiding a bat'tleth strike.

"Bath!" Ty yelled and bounced on Seven's hip.

"Perhaps that would be best." Seven looked down at her chocolate covered dress. She carried him into the bathroom while B'Elanna went to the nearest console.

B'Elanna tapped the console. "Torres to Tach," she said as she waited for the image to appear on screen. She waited another moment, listening to the water filling the tub in the bathroom. Ty was squealing, obviously having a wonderful time after his naked adventure through the corridor. Tach had made arrangements to swap Quarters with Ensign Miller and Enzati who had shared a room on one side of B'Elanna's quarters. The Narians wanted to be close B'Elanna and Seven. The two ensigns had jumped at the chance because it meant they would get to share a larger doubles quarters in the VIP area. Voyager was running out of places to put its growing crew.

"Tyralanar, this water is to clean you, not to be used as a projectile," Seven said over the sound of the filling tub.

B'Elanna smiled and tapped the console. "Torres to Tach," she said again.

*"What?"* Tach said over the console. There was no image because the privacy code was in place.

"Tach," B'Elanna asked sweetly. "What are you doing?"

*"I was in the shower,"* he said impatiently.

"And what is Nara doing?" B'Elanna asked with an evil grin.

*"She was in the shower with me,"* he said pointedly. Obviously they had been doing more than getting clean.

"And what is Ty doing?" B'Elanna asked sweetly, pushing her luck.

*"He's taking a nap,"* Tach said. He was breathing heavily. *"Why?"*

"I don't think he is," B'Elanna said as her smile widened. "I think he's enjoying his own naked time."

*"What are you talking about?"* His voice drifted off as he walked away from the console in his quarters. *"Tyralanar!"* he yelled. B'Elanna heard his footsteps as he jogged back to the console. *"He's gone. Ty's gone. Do you know where he is?"*

"Well, right now, my wife is giving him a bath," B'Elanna said.

*"I'll be right there,"* he said and then the console channel closed.

B'Elanna laughed and went to the bathroom door and looked in on Ty. He was in heaven, and who could blame him. He had a gorgeous blonde Borg tending to his every need. Seven was kneeling next to the tub handing him each toy as he would launch it across the small room. It was his version of fetch, with Seven filling the role of the pet targh.

"I spoke with Tach," B'Elanna said as she watched her wife with Ty. She smiled, feeling her heart fill until it threatened to burst. She imagined Seven with their daughter and it was almost too much. "He's on his way over."

"Fa?" Ty looked up from drowning a rubber ducky. Harry Kim had given it him. Nara thought it was the ugliest thing she had every seen, so Seven offered to keep it for Ty. It was one of his favorite bath toys.

"Yes," B'Elanna said. "Your Fa is on his way over and he didn't sound very happy."

"Ty fix Fa's door," he informed her once again.

"I'll just bet you did," B'Elanna said. She wondered how many repair teams it would take to "unfix" the door. "I think Ty's little adventure interrupted something," she added with a smirk.

"Lana…" Seven rinsed Ty's hair. "Why don't we keep him? Let them have some alone time without worrying about Ty fixing anything else?"

"Sure," B'Elanna said as the door chime sounded. She went to the door and opened it. Tach was in a robe, still dripping wet. "Well, hello Fas'fa," she said with a laugh. Tach's hair was dripping shampoo down one side and he didn't look pleased. "How's my big brother?" B'Elanna asked with a wicked smile.

"I am about to spank your nephew," Tach said as he came into her quarters. "He dismantled the replicator again, and managed to open the door locking mechanism. All in less than ten minutes while we were in the shower."

"Go back home and relax. Seven and I will keep him for the night." B'Elanna pushed him back out the door.

"Are you sure?" he asked.

"Yes, now go home and have a nice night with your wife." B'Elanna sighed and shook her head. "If he's doing this much damage and he's not even a year and a half old…just think what he's gonna' be doing in another year or two."

"Great goddess above and below," he said. "I'm never going to survive this."

"Poor thing." B'Elanna laughed.

"Just wait, that child of yours will be even worse," Tach said, pausing in the corridor.

"Not a chance," B'Elanna said. "With Seven and I as her mothers, she's going to be a perfect little angel who won't even know how to get into trouble. I guarantee it."

Tach burst out laughing as he walked away and continued howling with laughter even as he went into his quarters.

"It wasn't that funny," B'Elanna said as she stared down the empty corridor.


Chapter 43: Surprises

Seven woke up when she heard the faint sound of metal on metal. Her eyes shot open and she climbed quickly out of bed and made her way into the living room. The lights were on and Ty was sitting with a pile of data padds using them as building blocks.

"Ty, you should be sleeping," she said as she scooped him up into her arms. She carried him back to his sleeper and settled him down under the blankets.

"Evan zing." He rubbed his eyes. "Hold Ty." He lifted his arms to her and his lip quivered.

"All right," she said with a sweet smile. She lifted him up she went to the couch and sat down, cradling him in her lap. "But no singing," she whispered. "We don't want to wake your Nana B'Elanna."

"My Ba," he said as he rested his head on her shoulder and rubbed the soft fabric of her deep blue nightgown.

"Yes, she is," Seven whispered and kissed his head. She hummed softly.

She looked over at the clock. It was almost time for the morning watch to start, but Seven and B'Elanna both had plenty of time now that their maternity leave had begun, which was why Seven had offered to keep Ty. She figured he would get into less trouble if his parents had some time alone. Perhaps they would be less angry given time to deal with the fixed replicator. Opaca had suggested that Seven and B'Elanna take at least a week to get everything ready for the baby, and had B'Elanna insisted that they follow her orders to the letter.

Seven waited until Ty's breathing evened out and then carried him to his sleeper. She made sure he was covered, then stood to go back to bed. "Not again," she whispered as she felt the Braxton Hicks contractions begin again. She had been to sickbay two more times in the last three weeks. She didn't want to wake B'Elanna, so she went directly to the shower and let the water wash away some of the tension. Forty-five minutes later her back was aching even more so she decided to try going back to bed.

"Seven?" B'Elanna asked as the former Borg climbed into bed. "Ya' okay?" B'Elanna mumbled. She crawled over and draped her arm over Seven's waist and kissed her shoulder.

"Fine." Seven rolled over. "Rub my back," she asked.

"Umm," B'Elanna said and then yawned. "Sure, love." Her hands moved down and worked the muscles gently. Even though B'Elanna was only half awake, her touch was tender and she immediately found the muscles that seemed to need her touch. "You're tied in knots," B'Elanna said as she began waking up.

"False labor." Seven felt her body relaxing.

"What?" B'Elanna sat up, fully awake.

"It's nothing." Seven pulled her pillow over her head. "I am tired. Let me sleep."

"Come on, we're getting up," B'Elanna said as she lifted the pillow away from her wife's head.

"Lana," Seven whined. "We can go to sickbay in a few hours."

"Seven, we need to get you checked." B'Elanna sat next to her wife and brushed the hair off of her face. "Come on."

"B'Elanna, I am not in labor," Seven insisted. "I am tired of going to sickbay every time I have some minor contractions."

"You can come back here and sleep as late as you want. I'll even bring you breakfast in bed," B'Elanna said as she helped Seven stand.

"I am not in labor," Seven said angrily, then another contraction made her wince. "Damn it," she said. "I would know if I was in labor."

"And just how often do you use profanity?" B'Elanna asked. "This is worse than the other times. Come on, let's go."

"We cannot go." Seven pulled B'Elanna to a stop. "We have to watch Ty."

"Why are you so stubborn?" B'Elanna asked. "If it is false labor, we'll just come right back home."

"I am not in labor," Seven insisted again. Her eyes widened and she looked down just as a splash of clear liquid covered her feet. She looked at B'Elanna, shocked.

"Well, since you're not in labor," B'Elanna yelled. "That would be your water not breaking." The Klingon was heading toward panic at warp ten.

"Lana?" Seven whispered, her voice full of fear.

"Oh, god, Be'nal… I'm sorry." She wrapped her arms around Seven. "Let's get you to sickbay. I'll grab Ty and bring him with us."

"I do not know if I can walk," Seven said as she lowered herself to the bed, gritting her teeth.

"Oh no, you can walk. You are not having this baby in our quarters. Do you hear me?" B'Elanna began pacing, her heart racing, then she finally ran to the console. "Torres to Opaca… medical emergency in my quarters."

*"Lieutenant, what is it?"* the Doctor asked over the comm system.

"I need Opaca and I need her now," B'Elanna said. "Seven's in labor and she can't walk. Now you send that damn hologram down here right now," she ordered as she ran her hands through her hair. It was down and she tucked it behind her ears and she bit her lip.

*"B'Elanna,"* Opaca said over the comm. *"We'll beam her to sickbay."*

"Wait," B'Elanna yelled. She sprinted to the other room and snatched up Ty and ran back to Seven. "Three to beam to sickbay," she said as she knelt next to Seven. The former drone was breathing in deep gulps and holding her belly.

They materialized in sickbay. Seven ended up sitting on the floor, with B'Elanna at her side holding Ty who was rubbing his eyes and yawning.

"Ba?" Ty yawned again.

"Shh, honey. It's okay." B'Elanna stood and looked at Opaca. The hologram was walking toward her, but she wasn't moving fast enough for the protective Klingon. "Come on! There's a baby coming out here."

"Calm down." Opaca came closer. "This is a natural process." She scanned Seven and smiled. "Well, it looks like the little one is about to make her grand entrance."

"She is already in," Seven snapped. "I want her to make an exit… Now." Her eyes widened even more and she groaned.

"Do something," B'Elanna yelled. "I don't want my daughter just squirting out onto the damn floor!"

"Just breathe," Opaca said as she knelt next to Seven. "The contraction will pass, and then we can move you to the delivery table."

The Doctor stepped out of his office but paused, then cleared his throat. "Lieutenant, I could take Ty…and call his parents," he offered.

"Okay," B'Elanna said as she handed Ty to the Doctor. She rushed back to Seven even as Ty began to fuss.

"Lana." Seven reached out and grabbed her wife's hand. "This child is coming out…right now."

"Do something!" B'Elanna yelled.

Opaca sighed. "It's not coming out just yet. Keep breathing."

"I am breathing!" Seven yelled.

"She is breathing!" B'Elanna yelled a split second later.

Ty looked at his two aunts and began crying at the top of his lungs. The Doctor held him away from his body, not knowing what to do.

"It's all right," the Doctor said in his most soothing voice.

"Bad man hurt Evan!" Ty screamed as he tried to squirm away from the Doctor.

"I am a hologram," the Doctor whined. "And a very nice one at that… and I didn't do this to her."

"Ba!" Ty howled and tears streamed down his cheeks.

"B'Elanna!" Seven cried out as the contraction increased.

The Klingon turned her head back and forth between her two screaming family members like a spectator at a tennis match. She finally decided that Ty would just have to deal with the Doctor. "I'm right here, Seven," she said as she squeezed her wife's hand.

"Ba!" Ty began kicking at the Doctor.

Opaca rolled her eyes and went to the Doctor and snatched Ty.

"Where are you going?" B'Elanna yelled.

"Everyone just calm down." Opaca carried Ty back to B'Elanna and sat him next to her on the floor.

"Ba," he whispered as he leaped onto her chest and whimpered. He reached out and touched Seven's hand. "Evan hurt."

"Shh, Seven's fine," B'Elanna said and kissed his head.

"Seven is not fine!" The former Borg gave her wife a deadly glare, then her expression relaxed. She took a deep breath and sighed. "Is it over?" she asked Opaca.

"No," Opaca said. "That was just one of many contractions."

"Many?" Seven demanded. "How many?"

"Let's get you onto the delivery table," Opaca said. She knelt beside Seven who was looking at her like she was insane.

"You expect me to move?" Seven asked.

"She can't move," B'Elanna said. "My kid's gonna' come shooting out of there and go bouncing across the floor."

"Oh, for the love of the prophets," Opaca said. She scooped Seven up and carried her to the table. Seven's eyes widened, and then she realized that despite her size, Opaca was as powerful as she chose to be. Her holographic matrix could be instantly adjusted.

"Doctor?" Seven looked to her one time mentor. "Is it safe to move me?" she asked as Opaca was settling her onto the table.

"Of course, Seven," he said with a smile, happy that she was speaking to him.

"Evan sick," Ty said as B'Elanna moved next to the table.

"Could someone please get Tach and Nara down here?" B'Elanna took Seven's hand.

"Of course." The Doctor rushed into his office.

"All right," Opaca said. "Let's see what's going on with you." She pressed a button and the table began tilting until Seven's back was at a forty-five degree angle. Opaca knelt in front of her and guided her feet to the stirrups. "Oh my goodness," Opaca said.

"What?" B'Elanna and Seven asked in unison.

"Relax," Opaca told them as she shook her head. "It won't be much longer at all. Seven is dilated to ten centimeters."

"Is that good?" B'Elanna asked. She tried to see what the hologram was looking at. Ty squirmed in her arms and Seven had her wrist in a death grip.

"It's very good. Ten centimeters is fully dilated. She can have the baby any time now," Opaca explained. She scanned Seven's belly.

"What do you mean ten centimeters if fully dilated?" Seven demanded. "How is our child going to fit out of an opening ten centimeters?" Seven struggled to lean forward. "You told us last week that our daughter would be at least seven and a half pounds. She will not fit."

"She'll fit," Opaca assured her. She checked her readings and smiled. "The baby has turned and is in perfect position. She'll be with us any time now."

"Can't you beam her out?" Seven asked.

Opaca stared at Seven for a moment and then sighed. "No. You will do just fine."

"You are not the one trying to pass a seven and a half pound child through a ten centimeter opening," Seven whined.

"I'm here," B'Elanna said as she caressed Seven's hand.

"But I am here," Seven said, pointing at the table. "And the baby is coming out…of…down there!" She pointed to her waist. "I did not adequately research this. I have changed my mind. You have the child."

"It's a little late for that," Opaca said. "Uh oh…" She looked at her tricorder.

"What?" Seven and B'Elanna asked.

"You're about to start another…" Opaca began.

"Oh, my god!" Seven yelled as she squeezed B'Elanna's hand.

"…contraction," Opaca said.

"Evan!" Ty began to cry.

"Seven!" B'Elanna screamed as her hand was being squeezed tightly.

The doors to sickbay hissed open and a sleepy Nara wandered in with Tach at her side. Tach yawned and took in the unfolding scene.

"Well, good morning," Tach said happily.

"Fa!" Ty yelled at the top of his lungs. "Evan sick!"

"Seven," B'Elanna said, trying to hold onto Ty as he squirmed. "Let go of my hand."

"You are not going anywhere," Seven said through clenched teeth, but she did loosen her grip. "You got me into this. You are staying right here."

Nara laughed and she went to B'Elanna and took Ty.

"This is not funny," B'Elanna said to Nara and then growled.

"Oh, yes it is," Nara said. She bent down and lifted Seven's nightgown. "Oh dear. Won't be much longer now."

"Hey!" B'Elanna slapped Nara's hand away.

"Every one who is not married to Seven…out," Opaca commanded.

Nara hugged Ty to her chest and rubbed his back. He had stopped crying. "But we want to see the baby born," she whined.

"Out," Opaca ordered. "When I get these two settled down, maybe you can come back in." She turned back to Seven. "Take deep breaths."

"You take deep breaths." Seven grunted as she gave Opaca an icy glare.

"Out," Opaca ordered.

"Come on," Tach said as he guided Nara out of the room. "We'll wait right outside and she can call us as soon as it's okay."

"B'Elanna," Opaca said gently. "Stand behind her and help her lean forward. She's going to need to start pushing soon."

"I am already pushing," Seven said. "I have no choice. This damn human body is pushing of its own accord."

B'Elanna moved behind Seven and gently wrapped her arm around her waist and leaned her forward. "Okay, Be'nal. We can get through this."

Seven spun her head toward B'Elanna. "We?"

"Yes, we." B'Elanna leaned into Seven and bumped her forehead against her wife's. "You may be having our daughter, but I am here with you…and I will be here no matter what."

Seven closed her eyes and nodded. She took deep breaths as the contraction ended. "Okay," she whispered and she relaxed.

"It's just like the Lamaze simulator," B'Elanna said as she rubbed Seven's shoulders. They had spent hours in the holodeck practicing so that Seven would know how to breathe properly.

"It is nothing like the simulator." Seven glared at B'Elanna. "That training exercise was inadequate." She glared at Opaca. "You sent us to a useless program that did nothing to prepare us."

"Just breathe and you'll get through this, Seven," Opaca said as she shook her head.

"This Lamaze is a human delusional construct. It was created to fool prospective mothers into believing birth is tolerable," Seven stated. She was panting and leaning against B'Elanna. "It is all your fault, B'Elanna."

"Me?" B'Elanna asked.

"You got me pregnant," Seven accused.

"But…" B'Elanna looked back and forth between Seven and Opaca. "I didn't…you…"

"Don't argue with a woman in labor," Opaca advised.

"You're right, Seven," B'Elanna said. "It is my fault."

"It was my Borg technology that allowed the pregnancy," Seven snapped.

"Well, I…" B'Elanna stammered.

"B'Elanna, I love you," Seven said when the contraction ended. She smiled at her wife. Her hormones were taking one last shot at the former drone's emotions.

"I love you too," B'Elanna said. She caressed Seven's cheek wondering when the next mood swing would hit.

"Well," Opaca said as she scanned Seven again. "This little one is in a hurry. She is positioned at the top of the birthing canal and we should be seeing her after a few more contractions."

"Can you give her something for the pain?" B'Elanna asked.

"The nanoprobes are working overtime right now," Opaca said. "They're sending her extra endorphins as we speak. I think we should avoid adding anything else to the mix if you can handle it, Seven."

"Will the drugs harm the baby?" Seven asked. She was breathing evenly and seemed much calmer now that Ty wasn't in the room crying.

"Normally, I'd say no," Opaca explained. "But your physiology is unique. I can't be sure."

"No drugs," Seven said. "I can tolerate the discomfort. It is much less that when the temporal spike occurred."

"Thank Kahless," B'Elanna said as she leaned over and kissed Seven's temple. "What can I do?"

"You are doing it," Seven said.

B'Elanna wiped the moisture from Seven's forehead. Her nanoprobes were occupied and weren't bothering with her sweat glands.

The doors to sickbay opened and Ensign Samantha Wildman entered. She hurried in, reaching up to tuck her hair behind her ears. "Opaca, I got here as fast as I could," she said. "Seven, how are you feeling?"

"She's doing well, Ensign," Opaca said. "Now, I need you to monitor the fetal heart rate while B'Elanna changes into a sterile gown. You can help me get Seven changed."

"Of course," Samantha said as she moved to the table. "Hi Seven. Naomi's outside. I told her it was time."

"Thank you," Seven said. "I appreciate your willingness to assist in this matter." She shifted her weight and rubbed her back.

"Yeah," B'Elanna said. "Thanks. We didn't really want Tom helping out…if you know what I mean, and you've got training as a medic...plus…well…you have had a baby."

"I'm glad to help," Samantha said. "I've been working with Opaca in the holodeck practicing with birth simulations." She grabbed a gown out of the cabinet and quickly changed into it and put on gloves before handing a sterile set to B'Elanna. "Here," she said, glancing at B'Elanna's floor length nightgown.

"Oh, thanks," B'Elanna said. She didn't quite know why she needed a medical gown, but it was better than wearing her nightgown, especially if they had any more visitors. She changed quickly as Opaca and Samantha helped get Seven out of her sleepwear and into a sterile gown.

"The baby's doing fine, Seven." Samantha watched the tricorder, smiling at the readings. "Her heart rate is perfect and she's in position. Do you have a name picked out yet?"

"Actually," B'Elanna said as she went back to Seven's side. "It's considered bad luck to mention the child's name before it's born."

"It's part of a Klingon myth," Opaca said as she checked Seven again, pressing her hand on her belly to feel the baby's position. "If you say the child's name, they will come out, and could be born before their time."

"Perhaps we should call her." Seven sighed.

"Pressure's rising," Samantha said as she monitored the readings. "There's a contraction coming."

"B'Elanna," Seven said when the contraction hit. It was stronger than the others had been. "Oh," she screamed and grabbed the table with her Borg enhanced hand. She crushed the metal as she panted.

"I'm here," B'Elanna said, rubbing Seven's back.

"You need to push," Opaca said patiently.

"Ahh," Seven cried. "I am pushing." Sweat beaded on her forehead and B'Elanna held onto her as the contraction continued.

"The baby's shifting," Samantha said. "She turned."

"It's okay," Opaca said, her hands still on Seven's belly. "Some movement is normal, especially with Klingons."

"B'Elanna Torres, make your child stop moving," Seven said as the baby twisted inside.

"She's back where she started," Samantha said. She moved the tricorder closer and smiled. "The contraction's almost over."

"Easy," Opaca said. "Keep pushing…nice and steady."

"I am," Seven whined. "Ahh," she collapsed against B'Elanna as the contraction stopped. "Be'nal," she whispered.

"I'm here." B'Elanna turned to Opaca. "What's taking so long?"

"Labor usually takes hours." Opaca gently pressed Seven's belly. "As it is, Seven is progressing nicely."

"Hours?" Seven asked. She looked at B'Elanna, her eyes pleading. "I am exhausted. I cannot do this for hours."

"You're doing great," Samantha said. "It took me three hours of hard labor to get this far along."

"How much longer?" B'Elanna asked.

"Not long," Opaca said.

The Doctor stepped out of his office. "Do you need anything?" he asked carefully from the doorway.

B'Elanna looked at Seven and raised her eyebrows.

"Not at the moment," Seven said to him. "But when the baby comes, we may need your assistance," she said.

"I'll be waiting in my office," he said cheerfully. "Just say the word."

"Thanks," B'Elanna said.

"It's my pleasure," he said sincerely. He paused, looking at the scene and then turned and went to his office. He sat at his desk, not knowing what to do. He considered sending an announcement about Seven's labor over the command system but decided that he didn't want to push his luck. Seven was Opaca's patient and he wasn't going to do anything to anger the former drone, not when she seemed to be letting him back into her life.

"I need to reposition the table." Opaca began tilting the table even further until Seven was sitting completely upright.

"Won't the baby fall onto the floor?" B'Elanna looked at the way the table now resembled a chair with a giant hole in the seat.

"That's what we're here for," Opaca said.

"We're?" B'Elanna asked.

"Yes," Opaca said with a smile. "You are going to bring your daughter into this world."

"What?" B'Elanna asked. The Klingon's face paled. "I thought you were gonna' do it…What about Samantha? She's a mother…she knows about babies."

"Who do you want the first person to hold your child to be?" Opaca asked. "A hologram, Samantha…or her mother?"

"Please, Be'nal," Seven asked. "I know you can do it."

"I'll do everything right up until you step in and catch her," Opaca promised.

"But…" B'Elanna looked at Seven.

"Come here." Opaca held out her hand to the frightened Klingon. B'Elanna took her hand and moved down between Seven's legs.

"Oh, sweet Kahless," B'Elanna said as she saw how dilated Seven was.

"Shh," Opaca said as she poked B'Elanna. "You'll make her nervous. She looks perfectly normal."

B'Elanna nodded.

"Now," Opaca said gently. "When the baby crowns, we'll see the top of her head coming out. We'll need to keep gentle pressure on her head so that she doesn't come out too fast, otherwise Seven might tear."

B'Elanna looked at Seven and then Opaca, and then her eyes rolled back in her head and she collapsed toward the floor face first. Samantha grabbed the Klingon's arm as she went down.

"Oh dear," Opaca said with a frown. "Doctor, we need you." She looked down at the unconscious Klingon and shook her head.

"What did you do to her?" Seven demanded. She leaned over to get a better look at her wife. "Is she injured?"

"Just her pride," Opaca said with a smirk. "Uh oh, here comes another contraction."


Chapter 44: new arrival

Kathryn Janeway came out of her ready room and took her place on the bridge.

"Good morning," Chakotay said as she sat.

"Commander," she said with a smile. "Anything exciting to report?"

"Smooth sailing." He leaned back into his chair. "We can do that overhaul of the warp coils we've been putting off."

"I think B'Elanna planned her maternity leave with just that in mind," Janeway said with a smirk.

"She and Seven are probably both sleeping in while Vorik is dealing with the overhaul." Chakotay shook his head. "Some people have all the luck."

Samantha settled B'Elanna onto her back. "Should I give her a stimulant?"

"No," Opaca said. "She's fine. She just fainted. No need to mess up her chemistry." Opaca smiled at Samantha. "A screaming Borg, and fainting Klingon, and this is still smoother than your delivery."

Samantha nodded, amazed that the hologram was so knowledgeable about Naomi's birth.

"Wake her up," Seven yelled. The contraction was the most painful yet.

"B'Elanna," Samantha said forcefully. "Lieutenant Torres, wake up."

B'Elanna's eyes fluttered and she groaned.

"Come on," Samantha said gently. She started lifting B'Elanna from the floor.

The Doctor came out of his office, then saw B'Elanna on the floor and rushed to her.

He knelt next to the ensign. "Fainted?" he asked Samantha.

"Yep," she said with a smirk.

"Wake her up," Seven said through clenched teeth. She panted as the contraction gripped her.

"Seven?" B'Elanna eyes opened.

"Welcome back, Lieutenant," the Doctor said smugly. "Your wife is doing all the work while you are taking a nap."

"Seven," she said again as she struggled to her feet. The Doctor guided her to the bed, ready to catch her if she fainted again.

"She turned again," Samantha said as she scanned Seven's belly. "It looks like her shoulder is stuck."

"Do something," Seven ordered B'Elanna. "Make your child move."

B'Elanna looked back and forth between Opaca and the Doctor.

Opaca sighed. "Doctor, you monitor the baby. Ensign, you help Seven push, and B'Elanna, you get back down here and catch your daughter…and I forbid you to faint."

"Klingons do not faint," B'Elanna muttered as she did what she was told.

"Well, this one does." Opaca yanked B'Elanna into position.

Seven looked down at her wife, too far to touch, then over at Samantha, who she liked, but didn't feel close a connection with like she did with others.

"I want Nara," Seven said to Samantha and then groaned as she bared down against the contraction.

"Okay, I'll get her," she said as she jogged out to the corridor.

"The shoulder is pressing on the pelvis," the Doctor said grimly.

"What does that mean?" B'Elanna asked.

"Right now, it's fine," Opaca assured her. "We'll see if she turns on her own, if not, I'll turn her."

B'Elanna rubbed Seven's leg, trying to offer support. Nara rushed in with Samantha and went to Seven's side.

"I thought I was going to miss the big event," Nara said, taking Seven's hand.

"I wish I were missing it." Seven panted as the contraction ended.

"I'm sorry, love." B'Elanna squeezed Seven's knee, guilt filling her heart.

Seven looked down at her wife, seeing fear and concern, and shook her head. "I am not sorry that I am here, Be'nal. I am just…uncomfortable. I love you."

"I love you," B'Elanna said with a smile.

"Yes, everyone loves everyone," the Doctor said. "Now can we get back to having this child," he said.

Seven glared at him, then let her eyes drift to the office where he had been exiled.

"I…I'm sorry. Please, continue the lovefest. Seven, B'Elanna…I love you both," he said stiffly. His eyes widened. "The child isn't shifting."

"Oh," Seven groaned and Nara helped her lean forward while Samantha went around the table to help from the other side.

"What the hell is that?" B'Elanna yelled.

"That's your daughter head," Opaca said gently. "She's crowning." Opaca was standing beside B'Elanna, ready to take over if anything went wrong, and she had her hands over B'Elanna's guiding them into place.

"I see her head!" B'Elanna yelled to Seven. "She's got hair… a lot." She looked at the head forcing its way into the world, the tiny hairs wet and curly and dark.

"What color?" Seven asked even as she pushed.

"Dark," B'Elanna said excitedly. Her earlier lightheadedness was gone as soon as she saw her child coming into the world.

"Put your hand here, on her head. We don't want her coming too fast," Opaca placed B'Elanna's hand onto the baby's head. While B'Elanna gently held pressure on the baby, Opaca tested Seven's skin, deciding she didn't like what she found. "Doctor, two ccs of dirsoraline," she said without looking up.

"What's that?" B'Elanna asked.

"It will help relax her even more… make a bit more room for the little one," Opaca explained as the Doctor handed her the hypospray. She injected it directly into the over-stretched skin and the change was immediate as the tightness lessened.

"Wow," B'Elanna said.

"What is happening?" Seven asked as she leaned against Nara when the contraction ended.

The Doctor moved up next to Seven and explained how the drug worked. She listened halfheartedly as she waited for the next contraction.

"Here comes another one," the Doctor said after a few minutes.

"Seven, I need you to push as hard as you can," Opaca said.

"Umm, Opaca," B'Elanna said. "That may not be a good idea…Borg strength."

"Seven, I need you to push… like you have been," Opaca corrected.

The contraction hit and Seven pushed, but the child refused to move. "It hurts," Seven said as she kept pushing.

Opaca looked up at the Doctor and he shook his head, frowning. She turned back to B'Elanna and put her hand over the Klingon's. "Let me take over," she said as she eased B'Elanna out of the way. "Seven, stop pushing."

"I would love to," Seven said. "Try telling my body that."

"The contraction is almost over," the Doctor said. "Try not to push, Seven."

"I'm right here," B'Elanna said as she moved beside Seven and took her hand. Nara stepped back, but put her hand on the Klingon's waist.

"Is the baby all right?" Seven asked when the contraction ended.

"She fine," Opaca said. "I just have to move her a little to the side so that she can come out." Opaca explained. "Just try to relax, it will make it easier."

"You are going to put your hand….inside me?" Seven asked. "The baby won't even fit out of there and now you intend to put your hand up there too?"

"Just take a deep breath and it will be fine," Opaca assured her.

"It will not be fine," Seven said in a panic. "That is a one way canal. It is intended for beings to leave it…not to crawl up inside there."

"I am not crawling up inside there. It's just my hand." Opaca took a deep breath.

"Seven," B'Elanna said as she rubbed her leg. "She has to turn the baby. She can't come out the way she is."

"Very well," Seven said, fear lacing her tone. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. Nara squeezed her hand.

"Anything on long range sensors, Mister Kim?" Janeway asked as she stared at the viewscreen. There were times when space travel was extremely boring. Stars all looked the same when they flew past at warp speed, beautiful streaks of white sparkling like rainbows stretching into eternity, but after a few hours of watching, it tended to lose its charm.

"Nothing out of the ordinary," Harry said from his console.

"Perfect day to sleep in." Chakotay yawned.

"Wonder if B'Elanna would agree to take the bridge and let me sleep in today?" Janeway asked. "I'll bet Seven is going crazy being off duty. She never did like just sitting around doing nothing."

"I'm sure she'll find something to do," Chakotay said.

"She's probably coming up with a more efficient diaper as we speak," Janeway added.

"Borg efficiency takes on motherhood." Chakotay laughed. "Parenting may never be the same."

"Seven may never be the same," Janeway said as she checked her comm panel for any interesting reports from the various departments. There were none.

Opaca reached up and pushed the baby's head. "This is going to feel a little uncomfortable. I need you to relax."

Seven's eyes widened, and B'Elanna caressed her cheek, calming her instantly. "I am ready," Seven said.

Opaca took a deep breath and her matrix flickered as she readjusted her image output, making her hands smaller before she tried to move the child. "I'm putting my hand inside, try to relax."

Seven closed her eyes and inhaled sharply.

"Okay, I've got the shoulder," Opaca said. "I'm moving her… there. Now, just breathe as I come back out. One more contraction should do it."

Seven opened her eyes and looked up at B'Elanna. "I want you to do it," Seven said. She glanced down at Opaca, locking eyes with her. The hologram smiled and dipped her head.

B'Elanna nodded and went back to her position between Seven's legs. Opaca was there, encouraging her while Nara took Seven's hand.

"It's time," the Doctor said, watching the tricorder.

"Nice and steady," Opaca said. "Keep pushing, Seven." She moved her hands and let B'Elanna take over. "Gentle pressure on the head," she explained. "That's it."

Seven leaned forward and squeezed her eyes shut as she pushed.

"She's coming out," B'Elanna said. "Her head's out!"

"Hold her head. Guide her as she comes out. Just let it happen," Opaca said with a smile. Her voice was lyrical, and full of reverence. She moved B'Elanna's hands to support the tiny head and then used a bulb syringe to clean her mouth and nose. The baby coughed and her eyes squeezed shut but she didn't cry.

"She's got ridges…on her forehead," B'Elanna said, her voice full of wonder.

Seven groaned as she fought to keep pushing. Her face was covered with sweat and she was trembling. "How many?" Seven asked through clinched teeth.

"Four of them…like me." B'Elanna laughed.

"Ease her out," Opaca said even as she put her hands over B'Elanna's and they pulled the baby gently. "The shoulders are clear. Seven, you're doing great."

"She's out," B'Elanna said as she held her daughter for the first time. Opaca made sure that B'Elanna wasn't going to drop the baby and then leaned away to grab a cleansing towel.

"Let me see her," Seven said as she collapsed onto Nara. "Why isn't she crying? Babies cry when they are born."

"Just a moment," Opaca said. She helped B'Elanna wrap her snugly in a blanket. "Seven, Klingon babies do not cry when they are born. In battle, a crying baby would give away your position," she added as she looked down at the baby. The tiny girl was looking up at B'Elanna with wide eyes, and her spindly arms were waving in the air.

"She's beautiful," B'Elanna said as Opaca untangled the cord. She moved beside the bed, easing past Nara who was trying to get a good look at the baby as B'Elanna tried to hand her to Seven without stressing the uncut cord. "Our daughter is beautiful," B'Elanna said as she held the baby out to her wife.

"Be'nal." Seven took the baby and studied her tiny features. She laughed. "She has a mole just like yours." Seven lifted the squirming bundle and kissed her cheek. "And her eyes look so blue."

"Seven, you're not quite done yet," Opaca said from between Seven's legs. She reached up and massaged the former drone's belly. "You still have to deliver the placenta. One more contraction and then you'll be done."

"I will comply," she whispered and handed the baby to B'Elanna. The Klingon couldn't take her eyes off of the tiny, quiet bundle.

"The contraction is coming," the Doctor said. He turned to B'Elanna and scanned the baby. "I should examine her…if that's all right?"

"Can I hold her?" B'Elanna asked without looking up.

"Of course," he said as he continued scanning. "She's in excellent health." He smiled and looked at B'Elanna. "She's beautiful…just like her mothers." He continued scanning, then frowned but quickly changed his expression before anyone else noticed.

"Keep pushing," Opaca said as the contraction hit. "That's it…nice and firm. Good…"

Seven nodded as she leaned back and sighed.

"There," Opaca said. "Now, you're done." She turned to the Doctor. "What about the nanoprobes?"

"They seem to be migrating down the cord and deactivating," he said, studying the readings. "Now, I need to weigh her… you'll have to put her on the pediatric scale over here as soon as we cut the cord," he told B'Elanna.

"Seven?" B'Elanna asked as she looked at her wife.

Seven nodded

Opaca reached up and clamped off the cord and then cut it.

"Well, hello there." The Doctor took the baby and she immediately squirmed and began to fuss. "Just a moment," he said. The baby clinched both of her hands and let out a cry and began screaming at a level that left no doubt as to the impressive strength of her lungs. The Doctor frowned and held her at arms' length as she continued crying. "Lieutenant?"

"Oh… sweet… Kahless!" B'Elanna's eyes widened.

"I didn't do anything," the Doctor whined.

"What the hell is happening?" B'Elanna asked as she looked down at her chest. Two dark spots began forming, one on each side of her chest. Opaca leaned over and looked.

"Your milk just came down," Opaca informed her. "Klingon's have an instant response to a crying child."

"It's leaking like a warp core breach," she yelled as she stared at the growing stains. She looked over at the Doctor and her screaming child.

"I didn't do anything. Why do these children keep crying?" He was holding her as far away from his body as possible as her screams became more like howls.

"Give her to me." B'Elanna took the baby and held her to her chest. The baby quieted down instantly and B'Elanna went back to Seven.

"Lana," Seven whispered as the Klingon leaned against the bed. "She is hungry." She wrapped her arm around B'Elanna's waist and looked up expectantly.

"I… well…I don't know…how," B'Elanna admitted. She looked down at her daughter who was smacking her lips and sucking on her fist.

"I'll show you." Nara moved alongside the Klingon.

The Doctor looked on expectantly.

"You, out," B'Elanna said to the Doctor and she pointed to his office. "And I want a privacy screen up too."

"I am a Doctor, not a voyeur," he said indignantly.

"Out," B'Elanna said. The stains on her gown expanded and she felt milk running down her belly.

"Fine," the Doctor said as he headed toward his office. "Opaca, may I have a word with you?" he asked, pausing to pick up the medical tricorder.

"Of course," she said. "Seven, I don't want you getting up until I clear you, is that understood?"

"Yes," Seven said without turning around. She was staring at her wife and daughter and barely heard the hologram's comment.

Kathryn Janeway caught her chin before it hit her chest. It wouldn't do for the captain to fall asleep on her own bridge. She casually glanced over at Chakotay; he was fighting to keep his eyelids open. She cleared her throat, and her First Officer sat up a little straighter.

"Commander, I'll be in my ready room if you need me," she said as she began to stand.

*"Torres to the bridge…"* B'Elanna said over the comm

Janeway leaned back into her chair and tapped her comm panel. "Lieutenant?" she asked. "I thought you were off duty?" Janeway smiled.

*"Yes, ma'am,"* B'Elanna said. *"Permission to add a name to the ship's manifest?"* she asked.

"Who did you have in mind?" Janeway asked. She was curious since Tach and his family had already been officially added to the ship's manifest.

*"With your permission… I'd like to add Kayla Erin Torres to our manifest,"* B'Elanna said proudly.

"I think I'm going to need at least a visual inspection before I can approve that." Kathryn's eyes sparkled. "Are you near a comm panel?"

*"Yes, ma'am,"* B'Elanna said.

"On screen," Janeway said as she spun toward Harry Kim.

"Coming in now," Harry said with a huge grin.

"Captain," B'Elanna said as her image filled the screen. She was in the Doctor's office, leaning against his desk. "This is Kayla Erin Torres." She held up the tiny bundle toward the screen. Kayla was sleeping and her fist was planted firmly in her mouth. Her hair was not as dark as it had first looked when wet, and B'Elanna stared down at it. It was light brown with red highlights. She shifted Kayla in her arms and the baby yawned and crinkled her ridged brow. "Kayla, this is your Captain," she whispered.

"Permission granted," Janeway said, her voice thick with emotion. "But, I think I need a personal inspection," she added with a smirk.

"Of course," B'Elanna said without looking up.

"How's Seven?" Janeway asked.

"She's fine." B'Elanna looked up and smiled. "She's tired, but fine."

"Is she up for visitors?" Chakotay asked. He was leaning forward, trying to get a better look at the newest arrival.

"I think Kayla would be thrilled to have some visitors," B'Elanna said. "But don't expect Seven to be awake."

"Congratulation, B'Elanna," Kathryn said sincerely.

"B'Elanna," Tom said from the helm, "She's beautiful. Tell Seven congratulations."

"Thanks," B'Elanna said, looking over her shoulder toward sickbay. "Now, I have to go. Seven's ready to go home and I don't think Opaca understands exactly how… insistent my wife can be."

"Oh dear," Kathryn said. "Tell Opaca that unless absolutely necessary… she should not keep Seven in sickbay against her will.

"Gladly," B'Elanna said as she closed the channel.

Part 45

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