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She Who Hesitates is Lost
By Lisa Countryman

 

Chapter 29: Dawn

"No," B’Elanna said as she turned to the Doctor. "You’re wrong. You said yourself the baby is fine, and Seven is strong. Her nanoprobes will help her hold on until she can regenerate."

"B’Elanna," the Doctor said as he pulled the Klingon away from Seven. "Maybe, if she could regenerate in the next hour, but the baby has been depleting Seven’s reserves and whatever she programmed the neonatal nanoprobes to do, the bottom line is that her system is failing. All of her energy, nutrients, even most of the oxygenated blood cells are being routed directly to the baby. I’ve been injecting her with triox compounds to increase the oxygen supply and with systemic electrolytes, which are helping too, but it’s not enough."

"Lana." Seven tried to sit up.

"What is it?" B’Elanna rushed back to Seven’s side.

"Take me to my alcove, now," Seven said. She pleaded with B’Elanna, certainty filling her blue eyes. "The Doctor should be able to keep my body alive for at least six hours. The metabolic spike will allow our baby to reach 24 weeks. She will be able to survive. I will hold on that long. I promise."

"No," B’Elanna said, pulling away. "You are not going to sacrifice yourself. No. Absolutely not."

"You promised," Seven reminded her.

"No, I promised that we wouldn’t let him abort our child. I never agreed to let you throw your life away." B’Elanna turned and went to the captain. "There has to be another way."

Janeway rubbed her chin, deep in thought, then her eyes locked on B’Elanna. "We can’t take Seven to her alcove, but maybe we can bring her alcove here."

"What do you have in mind?" the Doctor asked. "Can we bring the Borg alcove in here?"

"No," Janeway said, shaking her head. "But we can hook something up like Seven used on the planet… something portable."

"Of course," B’Elanna said. "I should have thought of that. Damn it." She spun, scanning the engine room. "Parsons, get over here."

A tall engineer turned and walked toward B’Elanna. "What is it, ma’am?" Parsons asked.

"I have a project. It’s top priority. We need to take one of the portable power converters and set it up so that Seven can regenerate with it. Take whoever you need, but you’ve only got an hour to finish," B’Elanna said. She was going through the list of things she needed, calculating that even with a full team, it would be difficult to set up in an hour.

Parsons moved closer. "I’ll get right on it, but it took us hours to prepare the portable regenerator we sent with you and Seven on your last mission."

"Get whoever worked on it last time," B’Elanna ordered. "They have the best chance of finishing on time."

Parsons glanced at Seven. "Is she gonna’ be okay?" he asked.

"Yes," B’Elanna said. "She’s going to get through this. Failure isn’t an option," she told him. "Bring the supplies in here and we’ll get started."

"Yes, ma’am." He turned and jogged across the engine room to the storage area.


The Doctor continued working on Seven using monitors and instruments from the portable medical kit. He had given Seven as much triox compound as he safely could, trying to keep her blood oxygenated enough for her and the baby. It was a difficult task considering that the neonatal nanoprobes were actively seeking out any resources Seven managed to manufacture. The accelerated growth had taken all of the nutrients from Seven and had even began striping her body of its fatty deposits, a limited resource the lean exdrone couldn’t afford to lose. Worse still, the neonatal nanoprobes began breaking down Seven’s muscle mass for energy.


Tuvok stood nearby, checking to make sure that the Doctor didn’t try to resort to his earlier plan. The hologram saw it as a personal affront to his integrity, arguing that he had already given his word to Seven and the captain that he would not try to end the pregnancy. Neelix was close by too, at Seven’s side whenever B’Elanna would step away to help with the construction of the portable regenerator. The captain went to the bridge to try to get through the gravitational river faster.


Chakotay turned when the doors to the bridge opened and stood when he saw Janeway enter. Her face was impassive, but her eyes were troubled. He could tell whatever Neelix had called her to sickbay for, it had been especially unpleasant.

"Captain?" he asked as he moved away from her chair and toward his own.

"At ease, Commander," she said as she waved her hand toward her ready room. "I’m not staying long." She came down to the command level and leaned next to Tom Paris. "Tom, I need you to go over the course and see if you can shave any time off of our trip through this gravitational river."

Tom smirked. Not only was Seven fighting with B’Elanna, it seemed she was also making mistakes. "Think Seven missed something, ma’am?" he asked a bit too happily.

"No," Janeway said sharply. "I think she plotted the safest course that would avoid any turbulence. I want you to get us through faster even if it’s a bumpy ride."

"Okay," Paris said slowly.

"Double-check any new heading, make sure it doesn’t put too much stress on the hull," Janeway said to Chakotay. "I’ll be in my ready room."

Chakotay nodded and raised both eyebrows, silently asking if she needed to talk. She shook her head, but he took it to mean that she didn’t want to, not that she didn’t need to. "All right," he finally said.

Tom turned around and smiled as soon as Janeway disappeared behind the ready room door. He looked up at Harry. "Guess there’s trouble in paradise if the captain had to go break up the argument. Hope B’Elanna didn’t bust Seven up as bad as she did me."

"I think you’re off base," Chakotay said dangerously. "Off base…and out of line."

"Oh, come on, Chakotay… Seven’s in sickbay… and there’s a fight… She and Lana were already arguing earlier. What else could it be?"

"Stow it, Paris," the commander said. He looked down at his command panel reading the latest report from the Doctor. Seven was not improving and the baby was still in danger. He had been monitoring the read outs, and wondered why the Doctor had enough time to add notes to the database. He hoped his theory was wrong, that the Doctor couldn’t do anything to help her so he was busying himself with updates. He decided to find out from the closest source. "Harry, you have the bridge. I’ll be in the captain’s ready room."

"Aye, sir," Ensign Kim said as he nodded to a crewman behind him to take over ops. He took the command chair and watched as Chakotay waited for the captain to answer the ready room door chime.

"Come in," Janeway said. She had been monitoring the Doctor’s reports and was as nervous as a Ferengi at a charity fund-raiser. "Chakotay? You leaving my bridge unattended?"

"Harry looks good in your chair," he joked as he came to her desk and sat without waiting for her permission. "How’s Seven? I can’t tell much from the updates. It’s all pretty clinical." He didn’t add that what he could understand didn’t sound promising and he was hoping Kathryn would have better news.

"I’m sure it’s worse than it sounds," she said. Kathryn leaned her weight onto her elbows on her desk and rested her head on her hands. She rubbed her closed eyes as if she could remove the images of Seven, pale, sweating, and trembling from the pain, out of her mind.

"Kathryn, is she going to… I mean… she will be okay, right?" He had never seen her so visibly upset about any member of the crew.

"I don’t know." Kathryn lifted her head and leaned back in her chair. "The Doctor…he thinks…" Kathryn sighed and then stood, too tense to sit still. "He thinks her only chance to…survive… is to abort the child."

"That’s going to break her heart," Chakotay said as he climbed to his feet and went to the captain’s side. "B’Elanna’s too."

Kathryn shook her head. "Seven refused." She turned and looked into his eyes. After all they had been through together, she did love him, but more like a brother than as a lover. "That’s why Neelix needed me in sickbay."

"You didn’t try to talk her into it, did you?" he asked. "I mean, I don’t want to lose her, but you can’t expect her to just…"

"No," Kathryn said. She put her hand on his shoulder silencing him instantly. "It’s her choice. Neelix needed me to…" she paused, her jaw clinching as she remembered beaming into sickbay seeing the Doctor ready to forcefully perform the abortion. "The Doctor didn’t agree with Seven’s decision. He was overriding her choice when I arrived."

"Did he?" Chakotay’s eyes darkened and he seemed to grow a few inches taller.

"No, Neelix and B’Elanna were able to hold him off until I got there." Kathryn almost smiled at her First Officer. She had seen him protective before, but now he seemed to take on a dangerous aura. For a Borg drone, Seven certainly inspired fierce protection. Kathryn carefully explained the entire situation to Chakotay, hoping he might have a different take on the situation. After telling Chakotay about her threat to delete the Doctor, she got some advice she hadn’t expected.

"Kathryn," he said gently. "I think you may have overreacted."

"What?" she demanded. "I made it clear when he treated B’Elanna against her wishes that this wouldn’t be tolerated. He tortured Seven on the Equinox. Now, he does this. At least with B’Elanna, he was saving her life, but he was going to kill Seven’s child. We all talk about Seven’s need to regain her humanity, but it’s the Doctor who needs humanity."

"I know it’s upsetting, Kathryn," he said softy. "But, it’s his humanity, not his lack of it, that is the problem."

Janeway looked at him, shocked, too confused to even ask him to clarify.

"Kathryn… if he were human… we would never expect him to treat someone he cared…no, loved." Chakotay rubbed his jaw and sighed. "He is in love with her. He didn’t make a cold decision to abort her child. He was panicking, seeing someone he loved about to die in horrible pain, and he needed to act. It’s a human reaction. And, even knowing that you might deactivate him after the incident with B’Elanna, he was willing to give up his existence."

"In love with her?" Janeway paused, wondering what she would do to save Seven. She would give her own life, that much was true, but force Seven to sacrifice her unborn child? No. Never. "He has a strange way of showing it."

"Seven is learning to accept her emotions, but she has an advantage." Chakotay took a deep breath. "Kathryn, she is human. Her body is built to feel. The Doctor is breaking new ground. He wasn’t designed to feel anything; we learned that when we lost Ensign Jetal. Plus, the Doctor doesn’t have someone like B’Elanna to help him adjust."

"Maybe," she said. His words made sense, but she wasn’t ready to forgive the hologram just yet. She would have to see how Seven recovered, if she recovered, before she could make that decision.


"Okay, that’s it," Samantha Wildman said as she connected the last of the fittings into place. She was kneeling next to the anti-gravity table that was resting on a stack of crates. Seven was completely still; she hadn’t moved in the last half an hour as the engineering crew hurried to complete the portable regeneration unit.

"Thank you, Sam," B’Elanna said. She was standing next to the stretcher holding Seven’s limp hand. "Doctor?"

"We should hurry," he said as he scanned Seven again. "We’ll need to reduce the energy output by forty percent. Her body can’t handle any more. With the energy this low, she may be able to remain conscious during the regeneration."

"Do it," B’Elanna said to Ensign Wildman. She leaned down next to her wife and kissed her temple. "Seven? We’re ready to start your regeneration. Can you open your eyes, love?"

Seven’s eyes didn’t move, and her breathing was ragged and labored. She had stopped sweating and her skin was cold and dry.

"Her heart is weakening," the Doctor explained. "When the neonatal nanoprobes depleted her body’s limited supply of fat cells, they broke down the muscles. Her heart was badly damaged."

"Seven?" B’Elanna asked again. She heard the Doctor, but didn’t want to acknowledge his words. It hurt too much. She glanced up when Ensign Wildman began connecting the regeneration cable to Seven’s back. "Here," B’Elanna whispered. "Let’s turn her." She rolled her wife toward her, biting her lip when Seven’s hand flopped limply over the side of the stretcher.

"Okay, she’s hooked up," Samantha said.

Seven’s eyes flickered and her hand twitched. "Lana," she said, the word more like a breath.

"I’m here, love." B’Elanna pulled the hair from Seven’s brow, the dried sweat caking it against her skin.

"Cold," Seven whispered as she shivered. "So slow," she added.

B’Elanna tugged the fur blanket up and over the regeneration cables. "There, is that better?"

"Slow…" Seven whispered.

B’Elanna was confused, and she looked up at the Doctor who was studying his tricorder with a frown. "What is slow?" she finally asked.

"The drum," Seven replied. "So slow."

B’Elanna’s eyes shot open wide and she stood up straight and pinned the Doctor in her gaze. "Is her heart slowing?" she demanded.

"Yes," he said, puzzled. "The regeneration is already helping the fetus, and helping with the damaged abdominal muscles, but…her heart, it’s not healing. I’ve seen similar damage described in the historical medical records. Victims of starvation often had heart damage when their bodies actually began feeding on their own muscle. Seven’s remaining heart tissue is dying, but her nanoprobes should be reviving them."

"Shouldn’t the nanoprobes repair the dead tissue? Like they did for me when Seven saved me?" Neelix stepped forward. He remembered the miracle the nanoprobes had done when he had…died.

"They should be," the Doctor said with shake of his head. "But they’re not."

"Sam, help me," B’Elanna ordered. She eased back the fur. "Roll her onto her side. I’m getting up here with her." Ensign Wildman immediately reached out to help her.

"Just a minute," the Doctor said in a huff. "This is completely out of the question."

"If I don’t get her heart rate up, she’ll die," B’Elanna said as she tossed off her jacket.

"And how do you plan on doing that?" the Doctor demanded. "I can’t give her any medication, just what can you do? Will her to get well?"

"She’ll hear my heart and match the rhythm." B’Elanna slid under the fur and eased Seven toward her. "Sam, get her head onto my chest… easy. Careful of her belly."

"This is insane," the Doctor said as he shook his head. "I had no idea you were such a romantic, Lieutenant. But as romantic as that seems to you, and contrary to Klingon belief… you can’t share a heartbeat with someone else… no matter what your myth says about the great Kahless," he added. He was familiar with the Klingon history, and the misguided belief that Kahless and his bride shared the same heartbeat once they were married.

"Actually, Doctor, I believe that you are the one who is mistaken," Tuvok said calmly. He moved over and easily lifted Seven and positioned her face over B’Elanna’s heart. "Vulcans in deep meditative states can alter their coronary rhythm to match their Sim’re katra… their vision master. It is possible that someone as mentally structured as Seven could alter her heart to a beat she hears. It is ni’var, the sacred duality of things. A unity of two becoming one."

"Poppycock," the Doctor declared. "Seven is not Vulcan, she is injured, and she needs medicine, not myth." The hologram rolled his eyes. "Vulcan romantic fairytales."

"She’s done it before," B’Elanna said quietly, trying to calm her own heart. "On the planet, during a vision quest. She would have died if she hadn’t used my heartbeat to come back."

"Fascinating," Tuvok said as one eyebrow shot up on his forehead.

"Yes, fascinating," the Doctor said mockingly. "It’s all just fascinating. Too bad we can’t…" he paused as he scanned Seven. "Her heart rate is stabilizing."

"Indeed," Tuvok said. His expression would have been smug, if Vulcans were prone to emotion. "It would seem in the absence of medicine, she chose myth. Perhaps she believes in Vulcan fairytales."


For the next six hours, B’Elanna held Seven to her chest, and with each minute that passed, she thanked Kahless. Every minute was more than the Doctor had expected, and every moment meant the regeneration had more time to help Seven’s body regain its strength.

The hologram continued his scans, amazed that Seven was alive, let alone seemed to be making progress. As Seven’s heart began to mend, he felt as if his matrix were stabilizing for the first time all day. Ever since Seven had been carried into sickbay, he had felt like his matrix was about to begin a cascade breakdown, he could barely access the necessary data, and he felt driven to do whatever was necessary to keep Seven alive. He also felt like ignoring any nonscientific measures, which made no sense. He would run a complete diagnostic as soon as Seven was safe. For now, he muddled through, going back to the familiar, scanning her and injecting her with triox compound; it was the only thing he had found that would cross the metabolic barrier between Seven and the baby. Even with the temporal differential reduced to a minuscule variant, the other medications were rendered inactive or altered to a toxic level. He theorized that it was because triox was only an altered oxygen molecule and it wasn’t seen as a foreign element to Seven or the child.

Unfortunately, the child’s neonatal nanoprobes were still superseding Seven’s needs in favor of the fetus’. Even with the added energy from the regeneration, Seven’s systems were still stressed to the very limit of survival.


"I’m telling you, Harry, B’Elanna and Seven are history." Tom Paris had turned his pilot’s chair around and was chatting with his friend.

"Tom, they were just having an argument." Harry checked the ship’s course and then looked up from the command console. "And I don’t think Seven is in sickbay because of a disagreement with B’Elanna."

"Yeah?" Tom asked as he crossed his arms over his chest. "Well… remember when Lana and I had our disagreement? Half the crew ended up in sickbay."

"No," Harry said, shaking his head. "Seven would never cheat on B’Elanna. No way."

"I didn’t cheat on her," Tom yelled. "It was a hologram."

"Whatever, Tom." Harry raised his hands to signal that he wasn’t starting a fight with the helmsman. "All I’m saying is that Seven doesn’t look at anyone else, real or hologram… and she would never touch anyone else. B’Elanna is the only one she wants or needs."

"Give her time." Tom turned back toward his helm controls.

"If she has time," Harry said quietly. He had been reading the command reports from the Doctor. He didn’t like the way the Doctor described her condition as gravely critical. Harry hadn’t heard adjective ever paired with the term ‘critical,’ and he decided that the imaginative Doctor must have decided merely using critical wasn’t sufficient.

"What’s that mean?" Tom turned back around and gave Harry his full attention.

"Nothing…" Harry stalled.

"What? What is it?" Paris demanded. "Are you getting something on the command console? Is Lana okay?"

Harry rolled his eyes. "B’Elanna is fine. Seven is… well, I don’t know how she is. I’ve never heard about half of this stuff, but whatever it is…it isn’t good."

"Like what?" As medical assistant, Paris had been somewhat surprised he hadn’t been called to assist, but decided if either of the women had been in danger, he would have been called to help.

"Tom, what is cardiac necrosis? And… what does it mean if a procedure has a high probability of two hundred percent mortality?" Harry asked. He knew he shouldn’t announce the reports from the command console, but what little understanding he had of medical terminology told him that Seven was in serious trouble.

Tom’s face lost all color and his eyes narrowed. "Harry, that isn’t funny."

"I’m not kidding, Tom. What does it mean?" Harry watched as his arrogant friend seemed to sink into his chair.

"Two hundred percent mortality is a term used only during a pregnancy. It refers to something that can kill the mother and child." Tom tried to swallow, but his mouth had gone dry. "Cardiac necrosis is when the tissue of the heart dies…it’s irreversible."

"Are you sure?" Harry asked, his voice squeaking as his own throat constricted.

"Harry, I may goof off and forget little things, but these are terms that scared me when I learned them. You don’t just forget them." He rubbed his face, hoping that his own antics hadn’t caused any of Seven’s problems. He wanted her upset, hell… he wanted her to explode and confront B’Elanna, but he never wanted her or her baby hurt.

Chakotay came onto the bridge, he took one look at Harry’s guilty expression and Tom’s look of complete shock, and glared at both men.

"Ensign Kim, the command reports are not for general crew distribution." Chakotay tried to give him a Janeway glare, but his brown eyes didn’t have the smoldering, dangerous quality the captain’s did. Still, it was enough to make Harry sit up straight and almost swallow his own tongue.

"Sir?" Ensign Kim asked.

"Give it up, Harry," Chakotay said as he nodded toward the command chair. "You got caught. Just be glad it was me, and not the captain."

"Yes, sir," Harry said as he stood and gave his seat to Chakotay.

"Sir?" Paris asked. "Should I be helping the Doc?"

Chakotay sat and took a deep breath, then slowly released it. "It won’t matter, Mister Paris, but thanks for offering. They’re doing everything they can. I just hope it’s enough."

 

Chapter 30: Hope

Seven groaned and her fully human hand move up to caressed B’Elanna’s neck. It took every ounce of concentration to force her muscles to do her bidding but she needed to feel B’Elanna’s skin, to feel the warmth of her body and the strength of the blood pulsing through her veins. Seven’s fingers were cold, but B’Elanna turned her face toward them anyway, needing the connection even in slumber. The Klingon was sleeping fitfully, having spent the last nine hours laying next to Seven, holding her and listening to every whimper or groan the exBorg made. Seven’s fingertips lingered on B’Elanna’s pulse point, the thrum of blood surging through her body tapping gently under her cool touch.

Neelix was sitting with his back propped against a nearby bulkhead. He caught Seven’s movement out of the corner of his golden eyes and stood up immediately. He paused long enough to twist his back, releasing a crackling cascade as he groaned in protest of the hours sitting on the hard deck plating.

"Seven?" he whispered as he made his way to her side. "Seven? Are you awake?" He rested his hand on her shoulder and studied her face looking for any sign that she was conscious.

"Umm…" B’Elanna blinked her eyes and then opened them completely as she looked over at Neelix. His furry yellow hair was sticking up on one side and pressed to his face on the other. "Neelix?" she whispered. "What are you doing?" She started to ease herself out from under Seven and then felt the exdrone’s grip intensify as Seven refused to let her go.

"She moved," Neelix said as he stroked Seven’s shoulder. It was an unconscious act on the Talaxian’s part, as if he were trying to draw her out of her dangerous sleep.

"Seven?" B’Elanna noticed the hand resting on her neck and the way Seven’s breathing wasn’t as labored as it had been. She looked over at Neelix. "Find the Doctor."

"Of course," Neelix said as he rushed off to get the Doctor from the next room. Tuvok had taken him into B’Elanna’s office for a discussion almost an hour earlier.

"Seven?" B’Elanna put her hand on Seven’s cheek.

"Hmm," Seven moaned and burrowed her face into B’Elanna’s chest. Her lips parted and she sighed, then she let her hand drift down to caress the Klingon’s breast. "Lana," she whispered. Her voice sounded like she was chewing gravel, deep and raspy, and her mouth would need a great deal of moisture to even be called dry.

"Oh, darling." B’Elanna shifted her weight and lowered Seven onto the stretcher and kissed her face, dozens of tiny kisses filled with affection, but placed gently on her skin so that she wouldn’t injure her recovering wife. "You scared me." Tears joined B’Elanna’s lips on Seven’s pale skin. "You scared me so much," B’Elanna said as her kisses slowed, her lips pressed a bit more firmly, lingering as she used the opportunity to test the temperature of Seven’s face. She was beginning to warm up.

"It hurts," Seven whispered, not quite awake yet.

"Where?" B’Elanna eased back and her hand moved down to Seven’s belly.

"There," Seven said. She inhaled sharply as B’Elanna’s hand touched her aching abdominal muscles.

"Doctor?" B’Elanna half-yelled as she turned to look for the hologram. She turned back to Seven and her sable eyes studied the deep blue eyes looking up at her. "What can I do?" B’Elanna asked. Her brave Klingon composure was crumbling.

"Hold me," Seven responded and tugged B’Elanna back down to her. She didn’t have to ask twice. B’Elanna molded to her body, careful to keep her weight off of Seven and instead settled along her side.

They embraced, and for the first time since the ordeal began B’Elanna felt like she could let her heart consider what the next day would bring. She had been focusing on the next minute, and avoiding what dawn would bring, because up until Seven opened her eyes again, B’Elanna was terrified that she would wake up without a wife, a child, or a life. She took a deep breath and let the tears come. She knew that she wouldn’t have faced the day alone; she wouldn’t have faced anything alone. She was ashamed that she had already taken steps to assure that she wouldn’t have had to face waking up alone ever again.

"You’re awake," the Doctor pointed out needlessly. "Come on, now, Lieutenant, up, up up. I need to scan her." He was in better spirits, relieved that he had been mistaken about Seven’s chances.

B’Elanna slid off of the stretcher but held Seven’s hand, refusing to lose contact for even a second. The engineering crew that was around didn’t give it a second look, having gotten used to seeing the tough Klingon offer her soul to the beautiful exBorg.

"Well," the Doctor said with a smile. "It’s about time those nanoprobes kicked in." He looked down at Seven, his eyes actually showing his fatigue. It was emotional exhaustion because his physical stamina was endless. "I take it your little nanoprobe vacation is over?"

"Emergency Medical Hologram," Seven said coldly, her eyes looking more Borg than human. "I am recovering…as is my child…no thanks to you."

"I…ahh, Seven?" He seemed lost, staring at his patient without any idea how to proceed.

"How is she?" B’Elanna asked. She felt Seven’s grip intensify so she rubbed her thumb over the back of the exdrone’s hand to calm her. Seven’s eyes never left the Doctor, never softened, and if anything, her glare became more intense.

"The fetus is doing well," the Doctor said as he focused on the familiar role of physician. "The nanoprobes have repaired the cardiac necrosis." He looked at Seven and flinched when he saw the anger radiating from her face. He quickly averted his eyes and looked at B’Elanna. "It’s a miracle… one that I can’t claim any credit for. If you…and the captain hadn’t thought of moving her in here…"

"Our child," Seven said. She had regained her voice, but it was hard and cold and trembling with emotion. "You will refer to her as our child…not ‘the fetus.’ You dismissed our child as expendable. I will not forget that…ever."

"Seven, please, try to understand," the Doctor asked as he closed his tricorder. "You can’t believe I wanted to hurt the… your child. I just didn’t want you to die."

"Leave," Seven said. She turned to B’Elanna. "Make him leave, or I will."

"Doctor, will Seven be okay without you for a while?" B’Elanna asked as she moved around the makeshift bed.

"Well, yes," he answered. "I just need to give her another dose of the triox compound, and then she should be fine for now. I need to repair the damaged muscles in her abdomen, but I can’t do that here. It will have to wait until we can take her sickbay."

"Then leave," B’Elanna said. Her eyes were not as intense as Seven’s, but the resentment just beneath the surface was obvious. "I’ll call you if there’s any change."

"I was trying to save her," the Doctor whined. "Doesn’t anyone see that?"

"Doctor, perhaps this is for the best," Tuvok said calmly. "It would be an excellent opportunity to investigate the matter we discussed."

The hologram glared at Tuvok. "Fine, but I want someone to monitor the medical tricorder at all times. Call me if there is any change."

"I’ll see to it," Neelix said as he reached out for the tricorder. He was still uncomfortable with the hologram even after the Doctor had healed the bruises from the scuffle in sickbay.

"Please don’t let your anger with me keep you from letting me help Seven." The Doctor gave Neelix the equipment and pointed out what he should look for. Neelix had some medical training and he nodded in understanding.

The captain chose that moment to enter Engineering. She stared at the Doctor as he left for sickbay and then went to B’Elanna.

"Captain," B’Elanna said with a half smile.

"Captain Janeway, may I help you?" Seven turned to Kathryn and smiled weakly.

"I think you should just stay right where you are," Kathryn said with a wry grin. "Glad to see you’re feeling better. You gave us all quite a scare," she said as she moved over to the stretcher and looked down at the blonde. "I am ordering you to get healthy and stay that way. Is that understood?" Kathryn gave Seven a stern glare tempered with genuine affection.

"Aye, Captain," Seven said, then smirked.

"That’s one order I will personally make sure she keeps," B’Elanna chimed in. She went to the other side of the stretcher and took Seven’s hand.

"Here, here," Neelix said.

*"Bridge to Janeway,"* Chakotay said over the comm badge.

"Go ahead," Janeway said as she straightened to her full height.

*"We’re clearing the gravitational river as expected…"*

"And?" the captain asked. She had just left the bridge, and knew he wouldn’t be calling to tell her what she already knew.

*"There’s a ship on long range scanners. I thought you might want to be here for first contact. We don’t recognize the configuration, but it’s a good sized freighter with phasers and a few antimatter charges."* Chakotay’s voice was calm, but had a hint of concern lacing through his rich tones. *"How’s Seven?"*

"Mother and child are doing well." Janeway smiled down at the blonde who was still much paler than usual. "I’m on my way." She shook her head and rolled her eyes. "Just couldn’t manage without me, could you, Commander?"

*"I know you hate it when I have all the fun,"* he said. Kathryn could hear the smile in his voice. *"Tell Seven and B’Elanna congratulations. Chakotay out."*

Janeway quirked her brow and frowned. "I’m the captain. I’m supposed to close the channel."

B’Elanna cleared her throat and wouldn’t look at the captain.

"Well, I’ll leave you two alone. I trust Mister Neelix will be an ample chaperone?" Kathryn’s eyes sparkled for the first time since the day had begun.

Seven raised her eyebrow in response. "I am sure we would tax Neelix’s ability to chaperone us, but we also have Lieutenant Tuvok… and I am not at my best. I believe Engineering is safe."

"Glad to hear it," Janeway said as she turned and left.


Kathryn Janeway sat in her command chair and watched the main viewscreen as they approached the damaged ship. It was twice the size of Voyager’s largest shuttle, but it was bulky and cumbersome, obviously designed for carrying cargo and not for speed. The ship was drifting, with severe damage to its main nacelle, and judging from that damage, it had come through the gravitational river with much more difficulty than Voyager had.

"Open hailing frequencies, Mister Kim," Janeway said quietly. "Looks like they’ve had a rough go of it. Let’s see if we can offer some assistance."

"Open," Kim responded.

"Alien vessel, this is Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Starship Voyager, can we be of assistance?"

"They’re responding," Harry said after a brief delay. "Audio only."

"Let’s hear it," Janeway ordered.

*"Starship Voyager, this is the freighter Galnor. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated."* His voice was deep and sounded extremely stressed. Static broke up the signal momentarily. *"Voyager… our engines are overloading. If you can grab us with a tractor beam, we can shut them down."*

The captain looked over to Ensign Kim and raised her eyebrows in silent question. She didn’t like the idea of having her shields down when there was a well-armed, unknown element just off of her bow.

"Weapons systems seem to still be intact," Harry said.

"Galnor, if you’ll take your weapons off line, we’ll bring you in with a tractor beam," Janeway said cautiously.

The static intensified and then the viewscreen flickered as the image came in from the freighter. The small bridge was in disarray and a woman was in the background pounding a console with what appeared to be a shovel. The small woman turned and yelled off screen. "Tach, you fool, they think we’re a couple of pirates. Shut down the phaser banks, you big goat."

The big goat in question walked into the screen and sat at the Conn. "Shutting down phaser banks," he said as he turned to look into the screen. His dark features were flushed and sweat beaded on his thick browridge. "Voyager, do you have a pair of crewmembers by the name of B’Elanna and Seven?" he asked hopefully. "Have you rescued them from Jusari Prime?"

Janeway stiffened. The last mention of Jusari Prime ended up with her in a firefight on her own ship. "Can I ask why you want to know?" the captain responded.

The small woman on the freighter laughed and tossed her makeshift hammer aside and stalked over to the man. "I can’t let you do anything, can I?" she asked playfully. "Captain Janeway, I am Nara, and this… brilliant conversationalist is Tach, my husband."

Janeway smiled, remembering B’Elanna’s descriptions of the couple. Tach was even more whipped than B’Elanna had claimed. "Nice to meet you," Janeway said. "I’ve got two crewmembers who will be very happy to see you."

Nara smiled. "You tell Seven that I haven’t been able to get Ty down for a nap since we last saw her, and tell B’Elanna that Tach’s been moping around like his best calf died since we left."

Tach glared at his wife and his heavy brow blushed.

"Any chance we can talk to them?" Nara asked.

"Actually, if you’d like, we can beam you over. I will need to have a security team escort you until we verify who you are," Janeway explained.

"That must be the ‘fiery redhead’ we heard about," Tach whispered. The comm system picked up his words and let the entire bridge hear the comment.

Kathryn felt her cheeks burn as she blushed bright red. Chakotay leaned over and smiled at her. "I think that proves they know who you are," he said.

"Keep it up, Commander… Tuvok would look quite nice in red," she told him as she eyed his tunic and the rank insignia on his collar. She turned back to the screen. "Nara, Tach, we would be honored to welcome you on board, and your son…umm, Ty?"

"Yes, Ty," Nara said. "Thank the great goddess he’s asleep. One mention of Seven and he looks around for her and just cries."

"How are our friends, Captain?" Tach asked.

"I’ll talk to you when you come on board," Janeway said. She hoped Seven was up to visitors. The two animated aliens on the screen seemed like they could offer Seven sincere support and love.

"Great," Nara said. "We’ll shut down all the systems on board and wait for beam over."

"Good enough," Janeway.


"Well?" B’Elanna stood next to Seven, looking over Neelix’s shoulder as he scanned her.

"Everything looks normal," the Talaxian said with a smile. "We must be far enough from the Gravity River that it’s not effecting her anymore."

The doors to Engineering opened and the Doctor hesitated in the entrance.

"I want to go home," Seven said wearily. She rested her forearm over her eyes and sighed. She was tired of being on display in main Engineering.

"Not so fast," the Doctor said as he came closer. "Now, I know I am the last person you want to see right now, but…you need to let me repair the damage to your muscles…please."

Seven lowered her arm and sat up. "Commander Tuvok will be there?" she asked, looking over at the Vulcan. B’Elanna edged closer, then leaned down and kissed Seven’s temple and began massaging the blonde’s neck.

"Yes." Tuvok nodded. "I will stay with you until you have recovered." Tuvok had been worried about Seven, but the displays of emotion were very trying. It seemed when Seven and B’Elanna were in the same room, they both became most illogical. It was as if the two were in a constant state of Pon Far. He cringed, remembering B’Elanna’s brief brush with the Pon Far when Vorik had initiated a bond with her. She was fierce, aggressive and passionate in her distaste of Vorik’s actions. He was suddenly glad that Klingon’s couldn’t initiate Pon Far because if Seven and B’Elanna had the added fire of the Pon Far in their veins, he was certain that even an ancient Earth firehose wouldn’t slow the pair down.

"I will comply," Seven said.

"I’ll be with you all the way." B’Elanna pulled back and trotted to a nearby crate to get her jacket. When she hurried back to the stretcher, she lost her grip and the jacket almost fell to the floor. The Klingon caught it, but not before something dropped from the inside pocket and bounced off of the deck platting with a loud clang.

Seven straightened on the stretcher and her eyes narrowed as she stared at the dagger she had made for B’Elanna. The Klingon reached out quickly, as soon as it quit bouncing, and tried to cover it with the jacket. She was too late.

"B’Elanna Torres," Seven said harshly. "What is that doing here?" Even as she asked the question the former Borg had a very good idea of the answer.

Neelix stepped forward in full ambassadorial mode. "I brought it to her," he said. "She wanted to have something near her that you made."

"She has the jacket," Seven responded. Her eyes were locked on B’Elanna who had the good sense to look guilty.

B’Elanna sighed and moved to the stretcher. "You know what it’s doing here…and before you blow up, answer me one question."

Seven nodded, too frightened and angry to speak.

"What would you have done? If I had been carrying our daughter and you lost us both?" B’Elanna rolled the jacket around the knife and set the bundle onto the edge of the stretcher.

Seven closed her eyes and bit her lip. She knew how much B’Elanna had been hurting through the ordeal, but the idea of her taking her own life was a tangible reminder of what her wife had been through. "The same," Seven whispered.

"What?" the Doctor demanded. He was livid. "Are you telling me that you would just kill yourself? Gut yourself right here in Engineering? What kind of great warrior’s death would that be?" He stalked closer and put his hands on his hips. "I will not have you wasting your life. I forbid it."

B’Elanna laughed and shook her head. "You just don’t get it, do you, Doctor? Without Seven and my daughter…I wouldn’t have a life."

"You did just fine before you two got together, and if this suicidal behavior is a sample of what your union has to offer, well, frankly, I’ve seen enough. First Seven refuses treatment and almost loses her life, then I find out that you were going to just ‘fall on your sword.’ You two shouldn’t be allowed in the same room… let alone to be married."

"Back off, Hologram." B’Elanna lunged at him and tossed in a growl for good measure.

Tuvok wished he were anywhere else at the moment. "Lieutenant, Doctor… there are other more pressing matters. We should get Seven to sickbay."

"Yes, of course," the Doctor agreed instantly. He was overwhelmed, he had resigned himself to the possibility that he might lose Seven and the child, but it hadn’t occurred to him that B’Elanna would choose death over life without Seven. He would have been the first doctor in Starfleet history to have a three-hundred percent mortality rate.

"B’Elanna," Seven whispered and pulled her wife closer. "If I ever lose you and our child… make them hold the barge. I will follow in the next heartbeat."

"Shh," B’Elanna said as she kissed Seven’s forehead. "You’re fine, the baby’s fine, and I’m fine. That Barge isn’t gonna’ be taking any of us for a very long time."

"Be’nal, I am sorry I hurt you." Seven wrapped her hand around B’Elanna’s neck holding her in place.

"Shh," B’Elanna murmured as she rested her forehead against Seven’s. "You didn’t do any such thing. You fought hard and came back to me…again. Now, let’s get you better so we can go home."

 

Chapter 31: Reunion and Retribution

*"Janeway to Torres."*

"Yes, Captain?" B’Elanna asked as she sat up. She was sitting in a chair next to Seven’s biobed in the sickbay. The exdrone had dozed off after the Doctor had finished repairing the damage to her stomach muscles.

*"Lieutenant, I need you in conference room one right away,"* Janeway said over the comm.

"On my way, ma’am," B’Elanna said as she stood.

*"Understood. Janeway out."*

Seven sat up and started to swing her legs off of the biobed.

"No," B’Elanna said. She reached out and gently gripped Seven’s legs. "You are staying right here. I’ll take care of whatever the problem is and be back before you know it."

"I am feeling much better," Seven insisted. "What would it hurt if I accompanied you?"

"Because…I would be worrying about you, and not the ship. We promised to put the ship first." B’Elanna stepped back and went to the next biobed where Neelix was sleeping. Tuvok had left, convinced that the Doctor would follow orders, but Neelix had insisted on staying with Seven. B’Elanna reached down and shook the Talaxian by the shoulder.

"What?" Neelix said as he sat up and looked around the room. "Seven? Is she okay?"

"I am fine, Mister Neelix," Seven said. She liked the Talaxian, and while many on the ship saw him as somewhat comical, Seven had a new appreciation for his bravery. "Thank you, for your concern."

"Oh, well…Seven…I was just doing what anyone would have done." Neelix blushed, his yellowish face shading to a bright orange. Even his spots darkened.

"No," B’Elanna said as she straightened her uniform jacket. "You acted with honor. I owe you more than I can ever say." She saw that he was embarrassed, so she changed the subject. "I have to go for now. Can you sit with Seven?"

"Of course," he said happily and hopped off of the biobed. His short nap had invigorated him. "I’ll keep her company until you get back." He patted B’Elanna’s shoulder. "Don’t you worry, Lieutenant."

"I’m sure she couldn’t be in better hands," B’Elanna said as she headed for the door.

"Thank you," Neelix choked out. He knew the reserved Klingon didn’t hand out compliments easily, and more importantly, she didn’t trust the welfare of her wife and child to just anyone.

The doors hissed shut behind B’Elanna, and Neelix turned to look at Seven. She raised an eyebrow and nodded.

"Thank you, Mister Neelix." Seven looked down. It was her turn to blush. "You protected my child when I could not. I will not forget that."

"Seven," Neelix whispered. He stood next to the biobed and studied Seven’s visibly larger belly and he smiled, imagining the tiny life being nurtured within her body. "I have seen too many lives cut short to stand by and watch one taken before it begins." He held out his hand, hesitating as if he was afraid to touch her, that she might disappear before his eyes. His furry yellow hand shook.

"I will not forget," Seven repeated. She took his hand in hers and pressed it to her stomach. He was still shaking, but seemed calmer.


B’Elanna hurried down the corridor to the conference room. She knew whatever the problem was, it must be important. Janeway wouldn’t have called her away from Seven if it hadn’t been an emergency. Both she and Seven were not even off of their leave yet, and if the gravitational river hadn’t called them away from their rest, they would both be in their quarters…probably making love. Except that they had needed to use the gravitational river…and now Seven was in sickbay. She paused for a brief instant to smooth her tunic and then went into the room.

Captain Janeway was sitting at the main table looking over a data padd when the door opened. She looked up and smiled. It wasn’t the reaction B’Elanna expected during an emergency.

"Captain? What can I do for you?" B’Elanna asked.

"Well, now," Nara said from her vantage point at the far side of the room. "Rrrrr," she growled as B’Elanna spun toward the sound of her voice. "If I’d known you looked this handsome in uniform, I would have given your wife some competition."

"Nara?" B’Elanna yelled as she ran to the densely muscled woman. "By Kahless, am I glad to see you." She grabbed Nara and lifted her up in fierce hug, making the Narian squeak

Janeway cleared her throat. "I take it she is who she says she is?" Kathryn was completely unprepared to see such an emotional display from the Klingon.

"This is Nara. She helped Seven and I on the planet," B’Elanna said once she finally released her friend. She turned back to Nara. "Where are Tach and Ty?"

Nara nodded toward the bathroom door that was attached to the conference room. "Ty wasn’t impressed by replicated…umm, what was that?" she asked the captain.

"Strained peas," Janeway said with a wry grin. "Can’t say that I blame him."

The bathroom door opened and Tach came out with Ty on his hip. Tach’s pale brown shirt had a large green blotch that was edged by a darkened area that was proof of the large amounts of water he had tried to rinse it out with.

"Ba!" Ty squealed. "My Ba! Now!" He wiggled in his father’s arms.

"Ty." B’Elanna went toward Tach, feeling her throat constrict. She didn’t even try to hold her emotions in check. "My little Tiger! I’ve missed you." She reached out for the child just as he was escaping his father’s grip. His little body was a sorely missed weight in her arms. She held him to her chest, inhaling the scent of his hair. She felt tears on her cheeks as she kissed his jet-black hair.

"My Ba back. Good Ba," he said as he enjoyed her hug. "Ba stay," he pleaded, then arched his back and looked around the room. He squirmed in her arms as he scanned the room. His eyes stopped on Janeway, who was in shock, a half smile on her face as she watched her Klingon chief engineer who was completely at home with the dark haired boy on her hip.

"Oh sweetie, I’m here now," B’Elanna said as she kissed his cheeks over and over again.

He arched away and looked at her. His eyebrows crinkled together on his thick ridgebrow. "Where Evan?" he demanded. His lip pulled down in a pout he had learned from the former Borg. "Go to my Evan, now?" His eyes held the internal hope that seemed reserved for childhood.

B’Elanna laughed and squeezed him to her. "Your Seven missed you, Tiger." She turned and looked at Tach who was waiting patiently to be noticed. "Hey," she said with a smile. "Get over here, you old goat." She held out one arm and gave him a half hug around his son who was not letting go anytime soon.

Tach smiled, letting his dear friend take her fill of the contact, knowing she had not seen him in months, not just the week he had been away from her. When she moved away, she smiled warmly at him.

"My little one missed you," Tach said. He nodded at the tyke who had his tiny fists buried in B’Elanna’s hair to make sure that she didn’t escape.

"Go to Evan, now?" Ty asked.

B’Elanna’s smile faded and Tach took her by the arm. He sensed something was wrong, but the captain hadn’t told him anything about Seven or B’Elanna.

"B’Elanna?" Nara moved over and tried to take Ty. "What is it?"

Ty squirmed and gripped his legs around B’Elanna’s chest. "No," he told his mother. "Stay with my Ba. Go find my Evan."

"Hey, little guy," B’Elanna whispered. "Seven isn’t feeling very good right now…but I think you are just the medicine she needs."

Ty crinkled his nose and lips at the mention of medicine. He knew that word from his bout with a nasty bug on Jusari Prime. He had been forced to sip bitter herbs every morning for over three weeks, and he hadn’t forgotten it.

"What happen?" Tach asked.

"It’s a long story," B’Elanna said as she moved to the table and leaned against it. She rubbed Ty’s back as she spoke. "Let me tell you about it."

"B’Elanna," Janeway said, "I’ll leave you and your friends to catch up." She turned to Nara, who seemed to be in charge. "If you’d like, we can get you quarters on board while we help repair your ship."

"That would be extremely generous," Nara said.

"Thank you," Tach said.

"Believe me," Janeway said. "After everything you helped Seven and B’Elanna with, it’s nothing." Kathryn smiled at Ty who was resting his head on B’Elanna’s shoulder and was playing with her comm badge. The child was completely content and looked like he wouldn’t leave her arms without a major battle. One glance at Nara and Kathryn realized that the child probably came by his stubbornness genetically.

Nara nodded. "I thank you for your kindness. We consider Seven and Lana to be gifts from the great goddess. We would welcome the chance to be with them."

"Evan?" Ty whipped his head around, then looked at B’Elanna expectantly. His tiny lip quivered. "Ba? Where my Evan?"

"Let’s go see your Seven, okay?" B’Elanna offered. She knew that lip quiver all to well. It generally proceeded a freeflowing torrent of tears.

"Evan!" he squealed happily and began bouncing on B’Elanna’s hip.


"So, you see," Neelix explained to Seven who was trying her best to seem interested, "the best way to prepare leela root is to let it simmer until the skin falls off."

"Indeed," Seven said slowly. "And have you considered using spices other than the… hot Talaxian peppers? Perhaps…something that does not stimulate the human tear duct?"

"Well… I… I never realized that the spices were too intense," he said honestly.

"They are… perhaps too flavorful for many on board," she said delicately.

"No wonder I always have so many leftovers," he mumbled.

The sickbay doors opened and B’Elanna walked halfway into the room. "Up for visitors?"

"I am always up for you, Be’nal," Seven said with a smile.

Before B’Elanna could comment, someone else announced his presence from around the corner.

"Evan! Evan! My Evan," Ty yelled as soon as he heard Seven’s voice.

"Ty?" Seven’s eyes widened and seemed to brighten instantly.

"Bring him in," B’Elanna said, shaking her head.

"Here I was worried about you and you’re off taking a nap," Nara said as she came around the corner trying to keep Ty still. He was climbing up her body and arching his back, trying to get loose so that he could find his precious Evan.

"Nara, I have missed you." Seven sat up but Neelix was there to stop her from standing. She saw Tach come in behind his wife and she sighed. "Tach, my wife missed you terribly. I was not as efficient a hunter as you were."

He looked at her belly as he and Nara moved over to her. "Looks like you gave B’Elanna something I never could have. Not without Nara leaving me out as bear bait," he added with a coy smirk. He cringed before Nara’s hand struck him in the chest, having known the blow was coming before he finished the off-color comment.

Nara rolled her eyes and moved next to the biobed so that Ty could see his Evan. "Are you okay?" Nara whispered as she leaned down to kiss Seven’s forehead. Neelix backed up out of the way, simply watching the interaction.

"Better now," Seven said honestly.

"Go to Evan. Evan no leave. Evan bad." Ty reached out and grabbed Seven’s long hair, refusing to let go when his mother tried to stand.

Seven took him from his mother. Nara was cautious, locking eyes with the exdrone to make sure she was up to holding the wiggling bundle.

"Come here," Seven said as she lifted Ty to her chest. He sighed happily and settled his weight onto her and played with her hair with one hand as he yawned.

"He missed you," Nara said quietly. "We missed you…especially at bedtime. He wouldn’t go to sleep without your singing."

"And my Nara is many things, but a singer is not one of them," Tach volunteered.

"Believe me, I remember," Seven said. She cringed and continued rubbing Ty’s back as he dozed off.

"I think I am insulted," Nara said indignantly.

"Feel free to be insulted…just don’t sing." B’Elanna laughed as she moved next to Seven and began stroking Ty’s back. Her hand brushed against Seven’s, causing both women to smile.


After a brief visit, the Doctor materialized and insisted that the visitors leave. Neelix took Tach and Nara on a tour of the ship while Ty stayed in sickbay, unwilling to leave Seven’s arms even while he was asleep. His tiny fists would tighten anytime Seven tried to move him away from her, so she cradled him, humming contentedly to soothe him.

"I hardly think having a child in sickbay is appropriate," the Doctor said as he shooed Neelix and Nara out the doors. He turned to see Seven smiling down at Ty. She kissed his forehead and hugged him to her chest and then her expression lost all its warmth.

"Perhaps you should terminate him," Seven said coldly. "Except on this occasion I am capable of stopping you myself." She climbed out of the bed, steadying herself on B’Elanna’s arm. "Killing children does seem to be your answer to everything."

"Seven, I didn’t want to harm your child. I didn’t think I had any other choice." His eyes wrinkled around the edges and sincere regret covered his face.

"I am going home," Seven stated as she shifted Ty onto her hip. She squeezed B’Elanna’s arm, and the Klingon nodded her support. Ty blinked and opened his eyes, sensing that his beloved Evan was upset. He tightened his grip as he stared at the strange man.

"Please, I know you’re upset with me, Seven," the Doctor pleaded. "But let me help you."

"Is it safe for her to go back to our quarters?" B’Elanna asked. Her eyes were cold, letting the hologram know that she hadn’t forgiven him either.

"Well, technically," he admitted. "But I would like to keep her here to rest."

"What makes you think I could ever rest in your presence again?" Seven asked.

Ty saw the anger in his beloved Evan’s eyes and turned toward the Doctor. "Bad man."

"Well, out of the mouths if babes," the Doctor said with a sigh. "Fine, go home. But… the moment you have any discomfort, I want you back here immediately."

Seven raised an eyebrow letting him know that she had no intention of returning to sickbay voluntarily. Her expression softened when Ty’s hand traced her lips.

"My Evan," he said possessively.

Seven smiled as kissed his tiny fingers.

"Let’s go home," B’Elanna said quietly.

"Home?" Ty asked excitedly. "Go back cabin, now?"

B’Elanna ruffled his dark, straight hair and then caressed his cheek. "No, Ty. We can’t go back to the cabin."

"Ba stay?" he asked.

"Yes, Ba stay," B’Elanna promised. "Come on, Be’nal." She guided Seven toward the door.


Neelix was showing his guests the mess hall, which was mostly deserted. Tuvok was having a cup of Vulcan tea off to one corner and Tom was having coffee while watching Harry Kim rummage through the large industrial refrigerator. Tom saw the newcomers and came over to them. He smiled warmly, curious about them; any new faces helped lessen the boredom.

"Hello," Tom said with a charming smile. "Who do we have here?"

"Tom, these are friends of B’Elanna and Seven’s. They helped them on the planet." Neelix smiled and then turned to his charges. "Nara, Tach, this is Tom Paris, our helmsman."

"Greetings," Nara said.

"You must be skilled to guide this vessel," Tach said.

"Well, I don’t like to brag, but it is challenging." Tom stood to his full height and pushed out his chest.

The mess hall doors opened and Seven came in with B’Elanna. Ty was wide-eyed, taking in all the new exotic scenery. Tom’s eyes narrowed and his face lost some its charm. Nara noticed it immediately, as did Tach. Tach also noticed the change in Tom’s scent. Ancient Narian males could distinguish mood changes in other males by the scent of the distinctive hormones put they off, but it was a skill mostly lost over the years. Strong emotional changes would still effect Narians. The scent the helmsman was putting off was a mixture aggression and desire.

"Over here." Nara smiled at her son who was deliriously happy with his two ‘aunts.’ "Seven, I thought you were supposed to be resting."

"I feel much better," Seven said. Her eyes stopped on Tom, who was doing his best to look innocent. "We returned to our quarters and I changed my attire."

"You look stunning, Seven," Neelix said. She was wearing dark charcoal slacks and a lavender blouse. It was loose fitting so that her newly enlarged belly wasn’t obvious and it was a perfect compliment to her ivory skin tone.

"Have you found them quarters yet?" B’Elanna asked Neelix. She had her arm wrapped around Seven and let her hand drift hand to the exdrone’s hip as they stopped in front of Neelix. "This little guy is ready for a nap," she added as she rubbed Ty’s back. The boy was fighting to stay awake, and despite his wide-open eyes, he was exhausted. He kept rubbing his eyes and cuddling against Seven, both signs that he needed his nap.

"It is well past his nap hour." Nara moved to take him.

"Evan," Ty whispered as he clutched her neck. "Evan stay. No go away."

Neelix stepped closer and studied Ty. "Seems like he’s taken quite a shine to you, Seven. I was going to put them in the VIP quarters on deck three, but if you’d like, I could see if someone in the crew quarters would let them stay near you."

"No, thank you," Tach said. He had been quiet, studying the helmsman to figure out why he wreaked of anger and hostility. "We don’t want to take anyone’s home. We’ll stay in the…what did you call it?…VIP quarters.

Tom shook his head and rolled his eyes. "Oh, I’ll bet that most of us would love sleeping in the VIP quarters for a while. It gets pretty crowded in the lower decks."

"Funny," Seven said as she pinned Tom in her gaze. "I find that I have plenty of room, in fact, Lana and I sleep so close together that we could manage with a bed half the size of ours." Seven turned to her wife. "Isn’t that right, Be’nal?"

"Absolutely." B’Elanna barely stopped herself from laughing.

Tom’s eyes darkened. "Well, I guess that’s fine if you spend all of your time together sleeping."

Nara burst out laughing, covering her mouth and struggling to breathe through her nose. Her eyes watered, and after a several more heartfelt fits of laughter she stood upright and shook her head at Tom.

"Mister Paris, if you think that, then this ship must have the best soundproofing of any starship I’ve ever seen," Nara said. She giggled and looked over at B’Elanna. "It’s a wonder we had any game in our valley. You make more noise than any of those bears."

"Bears?" Ty’s attention fixed on B’Elanna. "Bear got Evan," he reminded her gravely.

"Yes, it did," B’Elanna said. "Then what happened?" She didn’t see Tom’s neck turning bright red as anger and jealousy raged.

"Ba killed it," Ty proclaimed proudly.

Neelix’s eyes widened. "Really?"

"Yes," Seven confirmed. "The beast mauled me and B’Elanna… lost her temper." She glared at Tom. "It is exceedingly unwise to anger a skilled warrior such as my wife."

"B’Elanna, you fought a bear? That’s incredible," Neelix said. He was smiling at her with wonder in his eyes. "How did you kill it?"

Ty helped B’Elanna tell the story. "Bear was napping!" He squealed and began giggling. His eyes sparkled just like Nara’s had when she was giggling.

Tom snorted and looked over at B’Elanna. "Doesn’t sound like a very Klingon thing to do. In fact, not many warriors nap on the battlefield."

Seven handed Ty to a surprised Nara. She moved to Tom in a few swift steps and faced him, leaning down until her nose was almost touching his. "Warriors may not sleep…but Ensigns do."

The small group was suddenly quiet, and Ty decided it was time to explore. He wiggled and Nara let him down onto the floor. He crawled around seeing what he could get into.

Seven backed away from Tom who was momentarily speechless.

"Umm, well, yes," Neelix said. "Why don’t I go check on some lunch for the baby?"

"No peas," Nara and Tach said in unison. Neelix nodded and escaped the tense group.

Tom regained his misplaced bravery. "So, Seven, are you saying that B’Elanna would have to defend you from an ensign? Any particular ensign in mind? ‘Cause I’ll bet there’s at least one ensign she’d like to surprise late at night in his bed." Tom was too stupid to quit while he was ahead.

"On the contrary," Seven hissed as she quickly moved back into Tom’s face. "As any of the Dengari can tell you... I am the more dangerous spouse in our marriage."

"You’ve got that right," Nara added.

Tach was getting agitated, and he edged closer, but before he could act, his son did.

"Bad Man!" Ty yelled. He grabbed Tom’s leg and buried his teeth into the fleshy part of his calf. Ty was young, but his instinctual sense of smell told him that the nasty man wanted to hurt his Evan.

"Ouch! You little monkey!" Tom yelled as he jumped back. "Get that cavebaby away from me."

"Enough." Seven had her hand around Tom’s neck before the words had finished leaving his lips. "You will not call him that… You will not insult me, and you will NOT disparage my wife…ever again." Seven drove Tom back against a nearby bulkhead, but her grip was not yet cutting off his air supply. "And if you ever suggest that my wife is interested in you, I will make sure you never speak again."

The few people in the mess hall had turned to watch the display. No one came to Tom’s rescue. Even Harry felt that he had it coming to him.

"What are you talking about?" Tom squeaked. "Can’t you take a joke?" He thought his ‘boyish charm’ would eventually get him out of his predicament.

Seven lifted him off of the ground, leaving his feet to dangle helplessly. She ignored the twinge in her belly as she tightened her grip. "We know about the Vulcan Balm," Seven said slowly. Her eyes were flickering with dangerous energy and Tom realized that he had poked a very dangerous beast with a stick one too many times. This beast was about to strike back. He scanned the room looking for assistance. His eyes stopped on Tuvok, who was next to the door.

Tuvok raised an eyebrow, and nodded, then he turned without a word and left the mess hall.

 

Chapter 32: Disclosure

Tom watched the Vulcan security chief disappear and then looked back at Seven. He expected to see her eyes turned completely Borg with the blue entirely hidden. He had seen her face go blank on many occasions, and while it was unnerving, he was used to it. What he saw this time terrified him.

Seven tilted her head to one side and leaned into Tom’s chest, his legs swaying from side to side several inches from the ground. "You wanted me to think that my wife had been unfaithful," Seven said. "That will never happen, and I will kill you if you ever try to come between us again," she whispered in his ear, her voice shook, and her eyes were bright blue and full of rage. Her face was as wild and feral, and human as Tom had ever seen. Her Borg control was gone, leaving behind a human pushed past the edge, a human with the strength of five Vulcans, and her hand was wrapped around his throat.

"Seven, please," Tom begged. His body shook and he was sweating profusely. "Please, I…Please," tears rolled down his cheeks. Seven’s jaw quivered as she fought to stop from snapping his neck.


Tuvok entered the corridor and stood just outside the door listening. He knew that if he stepped in now, the animosity between Seven and Tom Paris would only continue. He had listened as Seven and B’Elanna had talked in Engineering. Seven had been the one convincing Lieutenant Torres to leave Paris alone. Tuvok had stood quietly, off to one end of the large engine room, his Vulcan ears easily picking up their whispered discussion. He had been appalled when he had heard Torres describe the use of Vulcan athletic balm in an attempt to make her appear unfaithful. He knew that Paris wasn’t intimidated by discipline or the brig. Perhaps he would be intimidated by a six-foot tall blonde Borg.

Tuvok stood with his hands behind his back listening to the sounds from the mess hall. He would intervene only if he felt it was absolutely necessary. It was an orthodox method, but as the captain liked to say, "desperate times called for desperate measures." He heard the turbolift open and turned to see the captain walking toward him. Times suddenly became more desperate.

"Tuvok?" Janeway asked with a faint smile as she came alongside him. "What are you doing out here?"

He paused before speaking. He once again wished that he didn’t have to deal with humans.

"What’s going on?" Janeway asked. She studied the dark, handsome Vulcan, and if she didn’t know better, she would say he looked like he had just been caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

"I am letting Seven of Nine and Mr. Paris…come to an understanding." He raised one eyebrow.

"Oh, god, Tuvok. She’ll kill him," Janeway said. She was also aware of Tom’s plot to frame B’Elanna.

"I do not believe she would take a life in front of the Narian child," he pointed out.

"I can’t believe you did this. We will talk about this later," she promised. "Now, let’s get in there."

They entered the mess hall to find Harry Kim standing next to Tom. Harry had one arm holding up Tom, and the other hand on Seven’s shoulder. The rest of the small group was sitting back watching.

"Everyone just calm down," Harry said. "Seven, I will make sure Tom backs off."

"Me? She’s the one who moved in on Lana," Tom whined.

"Tom, shut up," Harry ordered. He was having a hard enough time keeping Seven from grabbing Tom’s neck again.

"Excuse me," Janeway said sweetly. "I’m not interrupting, am I?" She walked over and let her eyes stop on Harry’s efforts to control the two combatants.

"Captain," Tom said happily. "Thank god you’re here. That Borg was just…"

Harry shoved Tom back into the wall. "Seven was just showing Tom a few…Tsunkatse moves," Harry said pointedly.

"I suspected that would be your explanation," Tuvok said as he stood beside the captain.

"Mister Paris?" Janeway asked. She noticed that Seven was strangely quiet, and that her face was flushed.

"Yes, ma’am…Tsunkatse," Tom said and then sighed and rolled his eyes.

"Seven?" Janeway asked turning to the exBorg.

Seven took a calming breath and released it. "I believe Mister Paris now has a rudimentary understanding of the…technique. I will however be…happy to instruct him further should it become necessary."

"See that it doesn’t," Janeway ordered. Her voice was deep and smoky and let everyone know that she wouldn’t tolerate any more from any of them.

"Yes, Captain," Seven said as she pulled free from Harry’s grip and went back to her wife.

Tom let out a long relieved sigh.

"Mister Paris, I won’t tolerate your childish behavior anymore," Janeway said, her voice rumbling. "You’ve used up all of your chances. Is that understood?"

"Sure," Tom said dismissively.

"Is that understood?" she asked again, letting some of her anger lace through her silky voice.

"Yes, ma’am," he said seriously.

"I suggest you go back to your quarters," Janeway said quietly. She reached out and stopped him as he moved past her. "And Mister Paris, I strongly suggest that you leave the use of Vulcan medical balms to Tuvok or Vorik. Is that understood?"

"Yes, ma’am," he said and then scurried away. As he passed Nara and Tach, Ty leaned into his mother and glared at the helmsman.

Janeway let her face return to her diplomatic benign interested look and then joined the small group. She noticed Harry sneak out as she stepped next to B’Elanna.

"Tach, Nara, how are you enjoying your tour?" the captain asked.

"You have a fine ship," Nara said. She shifted Ty to the opposite hip and looked at Seven who was still visibly upset. "A little more excitement than I prefer before a meal."

"Well," Janeway said, pinning first B’Elanna and then Seven with her command glare, "I think we’re through having excitement."

"I hope so," B’Elanna said quietly.

"Go to Ba." Ty held out his arms and the Klingon smiled and took him. His face lit up despite how tired he was. "Bad man," Ty said as he looked at the door.

"Shh, he’s gone, you little tiger." B’Elanna kissed his head and tickled him. He squirmed and giggled.

"Seven, I thought you were supposed to be resting," Janeway said.

"I knew that Mister Neelix would finish his tour in the mess hall. I wanted to see how Tach and Nara were," Seven explained. "I was unaware that Ensign Paris would be present."

"I see," the captain said. She had the same idea herself, figuring Neelix would end up in his mess hall so that he could get the visitors a late lunch since both shifts of Voyager’s midday meal had already passed. "Now that you’ve checked on them, perhaps you should rest."

"I tried to tell her that," B’Elanna said as she rubbed Seven’s waist with her free hand. "But did she listen?"

"Not likely," Nara said with a snort.

Janeway smiled despite herself.

"I assure you, I was well rested," Seven insisted.

"Bull," Janeway said. "Go back to your quarters and rest. That’s an order."

Seven was going to protest, but one look at the relief that covered B’Elanna’s face changed her mind. "Yes, Captain."


Several hours later, the Doctor and Harry Kim stood in holodeck one studying a series of complex algorithms and matrix designs. The Doctor was a hologram, and yet many of the computations left him scratching his holographic head.

"What’s the matter, Doc?" Harry asked. He stretched his back, tried from the six hours he had spent in the holodeck already. "I didn’t think you got tired."

"I don’t, Mister Kim, but I am…impressed by your ability to construct holograms." The Doctor cleared his throat and held out the data padd to Harry. "Can you integrate these files, or will that exceed the program’s capacity?"

Harry took the padd and checked several of the files. "Well, normally, I’d say yes, but the captain did say that we could use as much of the computer’s memory core as we need."

The Doctor crossed his arms over his chest. "Yes, well… I think that may have been a little indulgent on her part. I mean, if we used all of the memory available, this hologram would have more data than I do."

"Afraid of a little competition?" Harry asked.

"Hardly," the hologram responded a bit too quickly. "I just don’t see why we need this secondary hologram at all."

"Well, uh…" Harry didn’t know how to respond. He knew exactly why they needed the new hologram, but he didn’t know how to phrase it without insulting the Doctor.

"I know, Mister Kim…Seven will be more comfortable with the new program." The Doctor sighed and looked plaintively at Harry. "I just don’t know why the captain couldn’t wait until Seven had a chance to calm down. We might not even need this…this… replacement in a few days."

"Doc, no disrespect intended, but you did try to abort her…"

"I know what I did, Mister Kim," the Doctor yelled. "I had my reasons, and I wish the captain would trust that I will respect her wishes now."

"Doc," Harry said gently. "It’s a matter of Seven not trusting you anymore. She needs to trust her doctor. Don’t you want her to feel comfortable?"

"Of course I do," the hologram responded. "I just… well, I was looking forward to delivering the baby."

"Maybe Seven will let you be there," Harry suggested, though he doubted the exdrone would agree.

"Maybe," the Doctor said, but he also knew better. "Let’s bring this thing on line," he said with false cheer.

"Okay," Harry said as he accessed the files. "Hey, how did you decide who to model it after?"

"There were several doctors in the database, but this one stood out," the Doctor explained. "She was a midwife in the Cardassian labor camps. I figured I got into so much trouble with that Cardassian hologram, maybe I could make up for it by having a Bajorian specialist."

"So she isn’t a doctor?" Harry asked as he began materializing the hologram.

"Yes, she is," the Doctor corrected. "She got her degree after the occupation. She delivered thousands of children in the camps, and hundreds more after she completed her medical degree. She is considered the leading Federation expert on comparative birthing techniques."

"Yeah? Did she ever deliver a Borg?" Harry asked. He fine-tuned the data and the short, dark haired Bajorian hologram materialized in front of them. She was in her late forties, wearing traditional Bajorian garb, a forest green tunic and pants and a long dangling ear cuff on one side. She stood motionless, not yet having been programmed for any more than a physical matrix.

"Not likely, Mister Kim," the Doctor said, though he did smile. "She did however spend two years on the Klingon homeworld helping to train midwives there with some of the new advanced medical equipment. She also spent several years on Earth."

"Wow, that’ll come in handy," Harry said as he tapped a few more buttons and sent the first block of data to they new hologram’s matrix. The woman flickered and then stabilized. Harry sent another data block and smiled as the short woman’s blank expression shifted and she looked back at him curiously.

"Hello," she said politely. "Have we met?"

"Ah…no," Harry said.

"I am the Emergency Medical Hologram," the Doctor said formally. "We programmed you as a specialist."

"Well, given the data I can access," she said with a smile, "I’m guessing neither of you needs my help. I doubt that either of you is pregnant."

"No," Harry said. He decided that the Doctor’s sarcastic subroutine must have been incorporated into her matrix.

"The patient is carrying a one quarter Klingon, three quarter human child," the Doctor explained.

"What is the mother’s species?" she asked politely as she stepped closer.

Harry looked to the Doctor.

"She is primarily human… with…Borg implants," the Doctor said.

"Really? And she is no longer part of the Collective?" She asked excitedly. "And the father? He’s part Klingon?"

"Actually," the Doctor said. "The secondary mother is half Klingon, half human."

"Hmm, external ovum recombinant fertilization?" she asked, seeming to take mental notes as she listened.

"No," the Doctor said. "It was in inter-utero technique…of Borg design."

"Ah," she said as she nodded her head. She steepled her fingers under her chin and pursed her lips. "When do I meet them?"

"We need to finish programming you first," Harry said delicately.

"Yes, of course," she said. "I do have the Emergency Medical Hologram subroutines, so I understand my basic nature. I am curious though, why this personality subroutine?"

"You were the best qualified," the Doctor explained.

"Good," she said. Her deep brown eyes sparkled. "So, I guess you can call me… Doctor Opaca? Although I do personally prefer just Opaca."

"Sure," Harry said. He thought he had heard the name before but wasn’t sure.

"My sister would certainly have something to say about me." She laughed, an infectious, yet refined giggle.

"Sister?" Harry asked, confused.

"Well, not my sister…the doctor I was modeled after. Her sister was something of a philosopher. Perhaps you’ve heard of her… Kai Opaca?"

"The Kai?" Harry spun and gave the Doctor a dirty look. "We made a hologram of the Kai’s sister? What are the Bajorian crewmembers gonna’ say?"

"Former Kai," the Doctor corrected.

"If I am any judge of Bajorian reactions," Opaca said, "I would guess that they would say… hello."

"Great," Harry said. "Two smart-mouthed holograms. I can’t wait until B’Elanna meets you. She’ll probably kill me for creating you."

Opaca smiled. "Are you close to my patients? Tell me about them," she asked.

"Well, they, uh," Harry stammered. He suddenly remembered the request he had put in to the ship’s stores two days earlier…for extra soundproofing. His quarters were next to B’Elanna’s. She had already installed extra padding in the walls when she had been dating Tom. Harry had no idea what B’Elanna and Seven were doing every night, he just knew that he didn’t want to hear it all night long. He felt his cheeks blushing.

"A feisty pair, I take it," Opaca said.

"Um, yeah," Harry answered as he hoped he never had to witness exactly how feisty. He wasn’t sure he would survive that particular knowledge. As it was, he had way too much information about their lovelife. He had heard Seven screaming out something in Klingon one night, and his curiosity got the best of him. He repeated the phrase for the computer and asked for a translation. It offered two possible translations. The first was, "I need your Torpedoes, yes don’t be lazy," which he was pretty sure wasn’t what Seven had screamed. The second translation although most likely accurate, made him wish that he had just went back to sleep and ignored the comment completely. It hadn’t occurred to him that Seven would use profanity, certainly not the Klingon word for ‘fuck,’ and most certainly not combined with a string of other curses arranged in a rather randy set of descriptive instructions involving where and how to perform the expletives. He definitely had way too much information about the couple.

The new hologram waited patiently as she watched Harry turn an even deeper shade of red.

"Let’s get your matrix fixed and then answer questions later," Harry said. He wanted the topic changed quickly.

"As you wish," she said with a smile.


B’Elanna was sitting on one end of the in couch her quarters with Ty sleeping next her. Ty’s head was nestled on the Klingon’s lap and he was rubbing her knee while he slept. She had one hand resting on his small back and was watching Seven sitting at the opposite side of the couch. Seven was concentrating a small blanket she was attempting to knit. It was teal green and so far… it was about four inches long by two feet wide. She was frowning at the offending item. No matter how careful she was, she couldn’t get the blanket to be symmetrical.

Ty whimpered and smacked his lips in his sleep.

Seven looked down, noticing that he had dozed off, then let her eyes drift up to meet B’Elanna’s.

"He finally quick fighting and went to sleep," B’Elanna said quietly.

Seven raised eyebrow and stopped knitting. She wrapped the yarn carefully in the blanket and put it on the end table and then turned back to B’Elanna and looked down at Ty.

"Do you want me to move him to the sleeper?" Seven asked.

"Not just yet," B’Elanna said. "Let’s make sure he’s completely out." She looked over at the sleeper, a portable child’s bed with low sides. It was similar to a cradle combined with a playpen, but was designed so that the child would be kept safe from rolling around while sleeping but could easily climb out once they were awake.

"You do not fool me, Be’nal," Seven said that she reached out and put her hand over B’Elanna’s on Ty’s back. "You just want to steal a few more moments with him."

B’Elanna smiled, but didn’t deny the accusation.

"I have something to take care of," Seven said as she stood. "Enjoy your guest. I will be back shortly."

"Where are you going?" B’Elanna asked without looking up. She was staring down at Ty wondering what her daughter would look like. She hoped the baby was going to have Seven’s features.

"I will explain when I return," Seven said cryptically.

"Okay…" B’Elanna looked up and smiled at her wife. "I can’t wait to hold our daughter, my love."

Seven smiled and leaned down to kiss B’Elanna. She had intended to give her a quick, chaste kiss, but was pleasantly surprised when B’Elanna’s hand snaked around her neck and held her close while she kissed Seven deeply.

"I shall hurry." Seven caressed B’Elanna’s cheek.

"Are you sure you feel up to leaving?" B’Elanna asked.

"I am fine, love," Seven assured her. "I regenerated for many hours in Engineering as well as having a nap here."

"Hurry back…I miss you already," B’Elanna said. She blushed and looked away.

"Do not feel embarrassed for missing me, Be’nal." Seven lifted her wife’s chin and pressed her lips to B’Elanna’s in a searing kiss. "I will miss you as well. I have plans for you this evening."

"I’ll get Ty settled for the night," B’Elanna promised.

Seven walked into the corridor and paused after the door hissed shut behind her. "Computer, locate Ensign Tom Paris," she ordered.

*"Ensign Paris is in holodeck two,"* the computer responded.

Seven turned and moved quickly toward the holodeck. She was extremely unhappy with Tom Paris’ recent behavior and she knew that it had hurt B’Elanna deeply. Despite the fact that Tom and B’Elanna had broken up, she knew her wife cared for the boyish helmsman. As she had watched B’Elanna with Ty, she decided that she would try to mend the fences between Ensign Paris and herself. Being Borg, she did not believe in putting off anything. She decided that if Paris was in the holodeck, he shouldn’t object to her talking to him. It was, after all, a public location.


Opaca sighed and paced the grid in holodeck one. She was bored, tired of listening to Harry Kim and the Doctor discuss which features to give her as if she were the latest model on a shuttlecraft sales lot.

Harry shook his head. "No, that doesn’t make sense," he told the Doctor. "Why should we incorporate all of your medical training?"

"Because," the Doctor said sharply, "If we are going to have a second medical hologram, why not make it capable of helping during any emergency?"

"Oh, well, that makes sense." Harry turned to the new hologram. "Doctor Opaca? Do you have any preferences? Anything you’d like added?"

The short Bajorian turned and went over to Harry. "Actually, I’d like to meet my patients. If I’m going to deliver their child, I need to develop a relationship with them, let them grow to trust me." She looked over at the Doctor. "Especially after what happened with you," she added, though it was said with compassion, not reproach.

"Well, I…" the Doctor nodded. "I guess it is a good thing the captain agreed to this. It’s probably the best thing for everyone involved."

"From what you’ve told me," Opaca said, "Seven thinks of you as a mentor. You care deeply for her, so it is best that you have someone else to step in to take care of her."

"Hey, Doc?" Harry asked.

Both holograms turned.

"No, umm… I meant the Doc," he corrected as he pointed to Voyager’s doctor.

"Yes, Mister Kim," he asked.

"I have an idea how we can speed up the trust factor with Seven and Doctor Opaca," Harry explained.

"Really?" the Doctor asked.

"Yeah," Harry said enthusiastically. "It’s something Tom came up with when he created Fairhaven. He wanted the crew to interact on a more personal level with the characters, so he added some synthetic pheromones. He said if the holograms put off the signals that our subconscious recognized as human, we would feel closer to them."

"What?" the Doctor demanded. "Exactly which pheromones did he add to the program…and how did he get the computer to allow them to be used near the crew?"

"Well, pheromones are harmless, right?" Harry asked. "Tom just used the computer database to incorporate the different signals from the studies on human hormonal interaction. He was really excited about it. He said it would be a breakthrough in holographic design."

Opaca stepped up beside Harry. "If you’re talking about the Hamilton hormonal study of 2330, that was with strictly naturally occurring pheromones in human social interactions. It was not related to synthetic pheromones. They are quite different."

"I’ll say," the Doctor said grimly. "Prolonged exposure to some synthetic pheromones can cause emotional and psychological side effects."

"Side effects?" Harry asked, his voice cracking.

"Did he include any…sexual pheromones?" Opaca rested her hand on Harry’s shoulder.

"Ha," the Doctor said with a snort. "If you had ever met Mister Paris, I don’t think you’d have to ask that question."

"Why?" Harry asked.

"Because," Opaca explained, "Synthetic hormones…especially those involved in sexual attraction… have been found to have prolonged effects. They can make people become irrational, possessive, and even violent."

"That explains Mister Paris’ recent behavior," the Doctor said quietly. He turned to his new colleague. "Mister Paris has been exhibiting all of those behaviors."

"Anyone else?" Opaca asked.

"Well, the only characters that have the pheromonal interface are…Becca, Sullivan, and Geary, the town crier. We figured if we had too many of the characters putting off hormones it would get confusing," Harry said. He suddenly pictured Sullivan crying in his beer over the captain, and then thought about the fact that she had been ‘in love’ with the hologram. It was an irrational reaction, especially for the reserved Janeway. When she found out about the phenomenal interface, he and Tom were both going to be pulling extra duty for the rest of the flight home.

"I don’t think anyone else was effected," the Doctor said happily. "Mister Paris spent a great deal of time in the program, and most of that was with Becca, so he would have had a great deal of exposure."

"The captain," Harry said. "She was with Sullivan…a lot."

"Oh dear," the Doctor said as the ramifications hit him. The captain had known something was amiss in her relationship with the hologram, and he had counseled her to keep seeing him. "At least she broke up with him," he added, suddenly hopeful that she hadn’t been effected. "She couldn’t have done that if she was being bombarded by the pheromones."

Opaca nodded. "True, unless she had some type of extreme emotional shock that would have overrode the pheromones." She smiled at her holographic companion. "It’s in your databanks. The studies on synthetic hormones from the Jergenson case studies on Risa found that the artificial hormones could be drowned out by genuine emotional reactions."

"Of course," he said, brushing off imaginary dust from his tunic sleeve. "My databanks are extensive."

"Our databanks," she corrected.

"Umm…doctors?" Harry asked. "What are we gonna do about Tom?"

"Oh, yes," the Doctor responded. He looked over at Harry with a worried expression. "We should find him, of course, and make sure that no one else runs the Fairhaven program. Hopefully it requires massive amounts of exposure to have any effect."

"Ensign Kim?" Doctor Opaca asked. "Can you give us the specs on the pheromonal interface so that we can figure out how much the various crewmembers were exposed to?"

"Sure," Harry said as he went to the console to get the information. "I just hope Tom stays away from Seven and B’Elanna until we can get him back to normal."

"We’ll contact him as soon as we take a look at these specs. Even Mister Paris can’t get into any trouble in an hour or so," the Doctor said.

Part 33

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