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She Who Hesitates is Lost
By Lisa Countryman
Chapter 33: The Boiling Point
Seven reached the holodeck and saw that the Fairhaven program was in use, but then noticed that there were security lockouts in effect. The Fairhaven program was supposed to be open to all of the crew, so Seven felt justified when she used her Borg algorithms to override the lockout. She walked into the program and went to the bar, the most likely place to find Ensign Paris. She expected to find him with the holographic bartender. She found him, and he was with a hologram, but it was not the bartender.
Seven reached out and steadied herself on the oak table near the door. Her Borg enhanced left hand crushed the wooden frame as she watched Tom Paris laying on top of a hologram on the bar. The hologram was a well designed replica of B'Elanna, and the holographic B'Elanna seemed to be enjoying the exchange.
"Tell me it's me you want," Tom told the hologram as he kissed her neck.
"It's you, Tom. It's always been you," the holo-B'Elanna said. "I was just killing time with that Borg."
"I knew it," Tom said smugly. "And that bastard child?" he asked. "Why?"
"It's you I want, Tom. She wanted the kid, not me," the fake B'Elanna said as she wrapped her legs around Tom's waist.
Seven decided that any fence mending with Tom Paris was a waste of time. Her time would be better spent constructing a casket for him, because she was going to kill him.
"Deactivate Torres hologram," Seven ordered. Her voice was shaking almost as much as her clenched fists were.
Tom's body dropped to the bar, having lost his artificial B'Elanna body pillow. "What the hell?" he asked as his face hit the oak bar.
Seven moved toward him in a slow, deliberate arch, taking note of the possible tactical uses of every chair, glass, and table. Her face was contorted with rage and indignation that he would copulate with a replica of her wife.
"You!" Tom yelled when he saw Seven coming toward him. "This is a private program. What the hell are you doing here?" He jumped down and stood to his full height. He felt his own rage growing as the woman who took B'Elanna from him now took his holographic Lana as well. He wasn't going to stand for it.
"A private program?" she asked. Her voice was now strangely calm as she watched his anger rippling to the surface. Every species she had assimilated gave her insight into humanoid behavior, and every one of those instincts told her that this man was about to snap. "You dare replicate my wife? Dishonor her by using her image as a concubine? You dare ask me what I am doing here?"
"Get out." Tom moved over to her and glared daggers at her. His jaw trembled as he tried to clamp down his hatred.
"No," Seven said defiantly. She linked her hands behind her back and tilted her head to the side.
"Fine by me," he responded. He leaned back and swung at her with his entire weight behind his punch.
Seven saw the blow coming and shifted her jaw to one side an instant before it hit. The minute adjustment took most of the force out of the hit, but he was still able to connect with her face. She felt her lip split and her warm blood trickled down her chin. She smiled.
Tom stared in disbelief. He had just hit Seven a woman a pregnant woman. He had hit B'Elanna's wife B'Elanna's pregnant wife. He was going to die. B'Elanna would rip his heart out of his chest and devour it in front of him. Then he saw the smile on Seven's face, a dangerous and primal smile, more like a snarl. B'Elanna wouldn't get a chance to kill him. Seven would rip him in half before B'Elanna ever knew what happened.
"Seven " Tom began. He looked at the blood dripping off her chin staining the pale purple blouse she was wearing.
"Thank you," Seven said coolly as she stepped toward him.
"Huh?" he asked, backing away from the exBorg.
"I am now completely justified in whatever action I take," she explained. She stalked him like the prey he had become, sliding chairs out of her way when he would duck behind them seeking refuge.
"Uh, Seven I didn't mean to hit you besides, what does it hurt if I have my own Lana?" Even in the face of a predatory Borg he didn't have enough sense to stop claiming B'Elanna.
"She is not yours," Seven stated as she grabbed a chair with one hand and tossed it completely across the bar. It landed almost five feet up the wall, shattering on impact. "She is not even mine. She is her own. No one has the right to replicate her for their depraved interests." She grabbed another chair and tossed it in the opposite direction. This chair hit the window and crashed through it.
"When I was with her, she was mine," Tom taunted. "She's just staying with you because of that," he yelled, pointing at her belly. "She thought she'd never get back to Voyager to me so she settled for you."
"That will no longer be an issue," Seven said calmly. "You will not be on board Voyager."
"Oh really, where will I be?" he asked.
Becca, the holographic bartender, came wandering in, curious about the chair that had come flying out of the tavern's front window. Seven was momentarily distracted.
Tom used the opportunity and shoved a chair at Seven and then moved along the wall to escape. The chair slammed into Seven's leg, causing her to spin back toward him. Tom ducked behind Becca, using her as an impromptu bodyguard.
"Now, lassie, what is the problem?" Becca asked.
Seven reached up and snapped the hologram's neck in almost the exact way B'Elanna had weeks earlier. Her body dropped to the floor and Tom was now facing Seven, with the wall at his back and nowhere to run. Then he made the worst mistake of the already disastrous night, he swung at Seven again.
She caught his fist in her hand and squeezed. She squeezed as he dropped to the floor screaming, she squeezed as she heard the bones in his hand shatter, and she continued squeezing until she heard him whimper like a whipped dog. She let his hand drop from hers and grabbed him by the collar of his shirt. He was trying to hold his shattered hand and let out a whelp as she lifted him into the air and pinned him to the wall.
"For as long as I can remember," Seven said in a whisper. "You have made distasteful remarks about me rude, sexually charged comments. Well, I am about to make one of your wishes come true."
"What?" he asked. I'm scared spitless, and now Seven is coming onto me?' he thought.
"When I came on board you frequently commented when I entered a room that you would, let her assimilate me any day,'" Seven said. "Well, any day is here." She reached up and held him in place with her right hand and eased back her left hand. She held it up in front of him as the assimilation tubules erupted from the back of her wrist and wriggled like tiny cobras looking for a victim.
"You're bluffing," he whispered, praying he was right.
"The Federation thought the Borg were bluffing at Wolf 359," Seven said as she moved her hand toward his throat. "Borg do not bluff," she said as the tubules danced across his skin.
"No," he whimpered. He vaguely felt a warmth spreading from the inside of his leg moving down to his thigh. He wondered if that was what assimilation felt like, then realized he had just lost control of his bladder.
The captain led Nara and Tach down the corridor toward the holodeck. The two Narians had joined her for dinner. It gave her a much-needed break from the daily grind of being Captain. After a light meal, Tach had asked to see the holodeck, something he had heard B'Elanna explain in detail. He understood the way it looked and the way it worked, but he was intrigued to see how holograms could seem to have substance.
"You can't be serious?" Kathryn asked Nara. The captain was laughing, trying to retain some composure as she almost snorted. It was difficult considering that she had heard a litany of stories about B'Elanna and Seven, many extremely humorous and all giving her insight into the love her two officers shared.
"Oh, I'm serious," Nara said with an evil grin. "Every morning, B'Elanna would make hot raspberry tea and bring it to Seven in bed. That woman is so spoiled. I swear, Seven couldn't wake up without it."
"Seven's never had any trouble getting up early. Not ever," Kathryn said.
Nara looked at the captain skeptically then smiled in understanding. "That was before she had her feisty wife keeping her up all night."
"Nara," Tach exclaimed.
"Oh, please," Nara said to him. "I know how much sleep we lost just living next to them. I can't even imagine how exhausting their late-night antics must be. It's a miracle they survived at all."
Janeway tried not to react, but she felt her cheeks warm as she blushed.
"You're embarrassing the captain," Tach said.
"Not at all," Kathryn said diplomatically. "I'm just not used to thinking about those two as a couple," she said honestly.
"Great goddess," Tach said. "I can't imagine those two not together. I've never seen a more fated bond."
"I'm beginning to see that," Janeway said as they neared the holodeck. "And I assure you, they won't be keeping you up on board Voyager. Our soundproofing is state-of-the-art," she added with a wry grin. She didn't add that the crewmembers on each side of B'Elanna's quarters had recently requisitioned extra soundproofing.
The doors to the turbolift opened and Samantha and Naomi Wildman rushed out, ready for an adventure with Flotter. The Captain's Bridge Assistant smiled when she saw Janeway and she looked at the newcomers with interest.
Samantha Wildman stood at attention, her instincts as an ensign overriding the fact that she was off duty. "Ma'am," she said formally.
"At ease," Janeway said warmly. "You're off duty."
Tach stared at the child and a huge grin covered his features. "Great goddess above and below," he said with a laugh. "You must be Naomi Wildman."
"Yes," Naomi answered.
"By the goddess, I thought Seven was exaggerating," Nara said as she knelt in front of the younger Wildman.
"Are you Seven and B'Elanna's friends from the planet?" Naomi asked.
The Captain cleared her throat. "May I introduce Tach and Nara." She smiled at the Narians. "This is indeed Naomi Wildman, my Bridge Assistant. I'm sure she can answer any questions that you have about my ship." She glanced over at Ensign Wildman who beamed proudly. "This is Ensign Samantha Wildman, a valued member of my crew."
"A supreme pleasure to meet you," Tach said as he looked up at Samantha Wildman.
"Yes," Nara added. "Tell me, little one, did Seven tell you about your namesake?"
"Uh huh," Naomi responded. "Do I really look like a cow?" she asked, scrunching her face up.
"No," Tach assured her. "It's just that the cutest little calf had the same color fur as your lovely hair." He reached out and smoothed her bangs out of her eyes. "And it had the same adorable spikes."
"I wish I could have seen it," Naomi said quietly. "I've never met
anyone else with spikes."
Nara looked at Janeway for an answer, but Samantha responded.
"Naomi's father is in the Alpha Quadrant. She's the only Katarian on board," Samantha said as she rubbed Naomi's back.
"Well," Nara said as she stood. "I wish I were lucky enough to have spikes. Maybe then Tach would listen to me," she added as she gave her spouse a gentle head butt.
The doors to holodeck one opened and Harry Kim rushed out followed closely by the Doctor. The dark haired Ensign almost knocked over his captain before he could stop.
"What's the hurry, Mister Kim?" Janeway asked with a bit of a smile. She rested her hand on his shoulder and moved slightly back.
"Uh, Tom Seven," he managed as he looked over at the door to holodeck two.
"What?" Janeway demanded. She had been very clear when she had ordered Seven to rest, and she had been equally clear that Paris was to stay away from Seven.
"Captain," the Doctor said hurriedly. "Can we discuss this later? Right now Ensign Paris is under the effects of his own misguided holo-programming and he is with Seven."
"Let's go," Janeway said as she stepped out of the way. She followed them to the other holodeck with Nara and Tach in tow. Samantha kept Naomi in the corridor, but waited to see what was happening.
The captain followed Harry and the Doctor into the Fairhaven program. She was surprised by the feeling of dread the once familiar setting now caused within her. She wondered how she could have ever spent time in this fantasy world when she had a real life on board Voyager. Her musings were interrupted by a terrified scream coming from the tavern.
They ran toward the sound and saw a broken chair on its side on top of the shattered glass that used to be the tavern's window. Janeway grabbed Harry's arm and pushed her way to the front of the caravan and she entered the bar first.
She saw Seven holding Tom pressed against the wall with his feet swinging underneath him.
Seven stared Tom in the eyes, then dropped him to the floor. He fell to his knees and looked down at his legs, quickly confirming that he had indeed wet his pants.
"Borg do not bluff," Seven repeated. "Be thankful that I am no longer Borg." She let her hands drop to her sides and turned to leave, surprised to see Harry, the Doctor, and most disturbing the captain, standing in the doorway. Nara and Tach joined the small group and stood behind them.
Janeway began to give Seven her most lethal force ten Janeway glare, but the exdrone didn't even flinch. Then captain noticed the blood on Seven chin and blouse, and Janeway flinched. "What happened?" she asked, concern filling her voice.
"Computer, activate Torres hologram," Seven said as she stopped in front of Janeway. She raised her eyebrow and the Borg eyepiece that framed it.
Janeway watched as a holographic B'Elanna appeared and instantly ran to Tom, who was curled into a ball on the floor. He hadn't even looked up when the captain and the others had entered.
"Tom, darling, what happened?" the holo-B'Elanna asked as she stroked his back soothingly. She looked over at Seven and frowned. "I can't believe I ever put up with you, Borg. Tom is the only one I want."
Janeway bit her lip and let out a disgusted sigh. "Computer, end program," she ordered. The Fairhaven program disappeared, leaving the room black with yellow grid lines. Tom remained huddled on the floor even as the Doctor rushed over and began scanning him.
"What did you do to him?" Janeway asked. She was thankful that Paris was still in relatively good condition. It was strictly against protocol and good taste to use holograms based on crewmembers. Using Seven's wife went beyond all rational thought considering the amount of devotion she had displayed.
"More than you would have preferred," Seven told Janeway, "less than he deserved."
"Did he do this?" Kathryn asked as she wiped the blood from Seven chin.
"He struck me. When he attempted to hit me again, I stopped him." Seven looked over at the Helmsman who had finally sat up.
"She tried to assimilate me," Tom said. He looked down at the puddle he was sitting in and blushed.
"Had I attempted to assimilate you, you would already be a drone," Seven pointed out.
"Doctor, how is he?" Harry asked as he moved closer to his friend.
"His brain chemistry is completely out of balance. I can't believe you two manipulated pheromones," the Doctor said as he shook his head.
"It wasn't my idea," Harry whined.
"Mister Paris," the Doctor said as he yanked Tom to his feet. "Your hand is broken. You should report directly to sickbay " he paused and looked down at Tom's trousers, "Have the replicator in sickbay make you some pants." He gave Tom a hypospray injection to ease the pain of his injury and then pushed him toward the door.
"What's wrong with him? Other than his hand?" Janeway asked as she moved over to the Doctor.
"It's a long story," the hologram stalled. He didn't want to explain that she had been slipped a hormonal mickey that had caused her to sleep with a hologram and think that she was in love with it.
"We're 35,000 light years from home I think I have time to hear it," Janeway replied.
Tach moved to Seven and placed his large, meaty hand on her shoulder, turning her toward him. "How are you?" he asked as he inspected her split lip.
"I am angry," Seven said carefully.
"Hey," Nara yelled at the Doctor. "She's bleeding over here. Aren't you gonna' do something?"
"Ah, yes," he said happily. "Duty calls," he told the captain and hurried off.
Tom Paris entered sickbay to find the Doctor waiting, and next to the hologram was the captain. He had decided to change in his quarters, too embarrassed to walk through the entire ship with soaked trousers. It was a decision he was regretting. The painkiller the Doctor had given him had dulled the pain, but when Tom had moved around to change clothes, it had aggravated the injury. All he wanted now was to get the thing healed.
"Uh ma'am," he said quietly. He suddenly wondered if changing his pants was such a good idea because the look the captain was giving him almost made him soil the clean pair he was wearing.
"Get over here, Mister Paris," the Doctor said as he pointed to the biobed. "We need to fix that hand of yours."
"It hurts like hell, Doc." Tom carefully jumped onto the biobed. "Why didn't you mend it in the holodeck?"
"Given the volatile nature of the company, I thought getting you out of the holodeck as quickly as possible seemed prudent," the Doctor explained. "I expected you to report directly here. You are a medical assistant. I thought you could administer your own analgesics." He scanned Tom's hand and then moved the medical tricorder up to scan his head. "Well, your brain chemistry has stabilized. Now we just have to get it back to normal."
"What are you talking about?" Tom asked.
"Your Fairhaven program," Janeway said as she moved closer. Her voice was like dry ice, just as cold and just as likely to burn. "Your little addition of pheromones seems to have created all kinds of problems your hitting Seven is just the latest symptom. If the Doctor hadn't explained to me that you are not acting under your own free will, you'd be in the brig right now."
"I can't believe I did that," Tom said quietly. "Hey?" He looked up at the Doctor. "What do you mean I'm not acting under my own free will?"
"The pheromones you exposed yourself to and the rest of the crew are dangerous. They stimulated your own baser reactions," the Doctor told him. "Let's just hope Lieutenant Torres thinks you should be shown leniency."
"How's Seven?" Tom asked. He looked down at his feet while the Doctor mended his broken hand.
"Fine," the Doctor said cheerfully. "Better than you. She broke almost every bone in your hand."
"You should leave it," Tom said, disgusted by his own behavior. "I can't believe she didn't kill me."
Janeway moved to the table and cleared her throat. "That's not in her nature. Even after you attacked her " The captain winced as she remembered the swollen and bloody wound on Seven's lip. "She wouldn't kill you." Janeway smiled, trying to lighten the moment. "Now, if you had hit B'Elanna I don't think any amount of security could have kept Seven from tossing you out an airlock."
"I'd never hit Lana," Tom said angrily, then realized that he wouldn't have expected himself to hit Seven. "But I see your point."
"There you are," the Doctor said with a smug smile. "Good as new. Now, all I have to do is get your brain chemistry back in order."
"Oh, I can't believe this," Tom groaned as he tested his freshly healed hand. "Was anyone else effected?"
"Apparently, yes," Janeway said with disgust.
"Who?" Tom asked, then he realized the captain wasn't hanging out in sickbay to comfort him. "Oh, Captain I'm sorry Sullivan "
"Until further notice, Mister Paris, you are restricted from any access to the holodeck controls," Janeway said. "I need to have an engineering team go through every program and make sure there's no bleed-through into any other characters."
"Yes, ma'am." Tom sighed. "I'm just glad you didn't have any of the problems I did. At least the Sullivan program didn't screw up your life."
"Yes," Janeway said as she went back to her own biobed. She almost laughed out loud. Hadn't screwed up her life? She made a fool of herself by swooning over a hologram and that foolish behavior drove Seven out of her life forever. True, she was happy for B'Elanna and Seven, but she couldn't stop wondering what if?
"If I hadn't messed up with this program," Tom said as he picked at the blanket under him, "I'd still be with B'Elanna."
"And she wouldn't be happy," Janeway said with complete conviction. "I know that you don't want to hear this, Tom " Hell, I don't want to hear it either,' she thought. "But B'Elanna and Seven are happy. Not only happy, they're right for each other. You and B'Elanna were always bickering over something. If it hadn't been your holographic transgression it would have been something else."
"Yeah, well " the comment died on Tom's lips as realized that he may still have a chance. If he went to B'Elanna and explained that he wasn't in control when he slept with Becca B'Elanna would be honor bound to forgive him. And if it hadn't been for that they would still be together. He could challenge her marriage to Seven.
"I don't like that look in your eyes," Janeway said dangerously. "I don't want you having any contact with B'Elanna or Seven until the Doctor says you are completely back to normal."
"Yes, ma'am," he said happily. He could wait after all, B'Elanna wasn't going anywhere. He glanced over at Janeway, wondering how she could tell with one look what he was thinking. She must be part Betazoid,' he finally decided.
Seven stood outside the door to her quarters. She had just walked Tach and Nara to their guest accommodations. Naomi Wildman had assisted her, telling the visitors all about Voyager's systems as they had walked to the VIP quarters. Afterwards, Seven had walked home alone, thinking about the pheromonal interface. Tom Paris wasn't responsible for his actions, at least not completely. The Doctor compared his condition to being under the influence of a strong mind altering drug that brought out all of his more animalistic actions. She wondered what B'Elanna would say. Would she forgive him? Would she be forced to reconsider breaking up with him? She knew B'Elanna loved her completely but she wondered if her wife would feel bound by honor to reconcile with Paris. She took a deep breath and then went to face her fate.
B'Elanna was leaning across the kitchenette counter trying to reach a candle from behind a stack of data padds. She stood and turned, smiling at her wife. "Welcome home, my darling."
Seven stared, her jaw dropping. No matter how may times she saw B'Elanna, each time she was amazed by her beauty. B'Elanna was wearing a floor length, blood red nightgown. It had thin straps that tended to slip off of her shoulders and it clung to the sensual curves of her nubile form, making Seven forget what she had been thinking about.
"Cat got your tongue?" B'Elanna asked as she moved closer. She had the lights down low to make it easier for Ty to sleep and to add to the mood. Ty was in his sleeper, content, and not going to wake anytime soon.
"You are " Seven blushed and looked down at the carpeting. "I do not have words to describe your beauty."
"Why don't you come to bed and show me?" B'Elanna suggested. She let her hand trail across Seven's neck, lingering on her spine and then moving down her arm and taking Seven by the hand. "Come with me, Be'nal."
Seven followed, still looking at the carpet. They reached the bed and B'Elanna lifted Seven's chin and leaned in to kiss her. Her Klingon nostrils flared as she took in the scent of fresh blood.
"What is it?" Seven asked as she leaned down to capture her wife's full lips.
"Where were you?" B'Elanna asked. She rubbed both of Seven's arms as she looked at the exdrone's face for any sign of injury.
Seven closed her eyes and sighed deeply.
B'Elanna's eyes moved down to Seven's blouse and she noticed a discolored area. She recognized it as a bloodstain that had been washed out. "What happened? Are you all right?" She touched Seven's face, inspecting her more intensely.
"I am fine," Seven said. She opened her eyes and smiled weakly. "I went to make things right' with Ensign Paris. It did not go well."
"Did he hurt you?" B'Elanna's eyes widened. "Pa'Tach! I'll kill him."
"No, love," Seven said as she held B'Elanna close to her. She could feel the Klingon's pulse increasing under her fingers so she slowly caressed her exposed skin to soothe her. "I am fine. He is not responsible for what happened."
B'Elanna studied Seven's expression. Her wife was deeply upset, the stress lines around her eyes proving that she was frightened as well. "Seven, did you did you hurt him? Is that his blood?" She pointed to the watermark on Seven's blouse, intentionally not asking if her wife had killed him. She knew Seven had a temper, but she would never kill a fellow crewmember.
"I cannot fool you. Your Klingon sense of smell is fine-tuned for blood," Seven stalled.
"Tell me," B'Elanna pleaded. She was getting worried.
"The holodeck program Fairhaven when Ensign Paris created it, he added synthetic pheromones to the matrix," Seven explained. She wanted to make sure that her wife knew Paris hadn't been in control before she mentioned being hit.
"What an ass," B'Elanna said as she shook her head. "Won't he ever grow up?"
"An ass indeed," Seven said. "The pheromones have been making him act irrationally, possessive, and aggressive."
"Does the Doctor know?" B'Elanna asked. She was concerned, Tom was an immature idiot, but she didn't want him to see him ill.
"Yes, he is treating the imbalance as we speak." Seven eased past B'Elanna and took her own Nightgown off of the bed. B'Elanna had carefully arranged a sapphire blue gown on the bed for the exdrone. "As well as other injuries."
"Seven, you're scaring me. Please tell me what happened." B'Elanna gently massaged Seven's shoulders and kissed her neck. She moved the thick blonde braid aside and let her lips linger beneath Seven's ear.
"I injured him," Seven whispered. "I did not know he was under the pheromonal effects."
"What happened?" B'Elanna gently prompted as she turned Seven around.
"He had a hologram of you, and then he he struck me." Seven bit her lip.
"I don't care what his excuse is I'm going to tear his heart out," B'Elanna said. Her eyes flashed and her body straightened and every muscle twitched with rage. "Where did he hit you? Are you sure you're okay?"
Seven nodded. "He split my lip but my retaliation was extreme."
B'Elanna felt her heart skip a beat. The thought of Seven being injured made her stomach clench.
"Oh, Be'nal," she whispered as she touched Seven's lip with her fingers. Her touch was impossibly gentle, testing the sensual flesh for any injury. She leaned forward and kissed her wife's lips. "Tell me," she whispered. She could feel the tension in Seven's body without even touching her. When she connected with her lips, she knew that Seven was struggling to hold herself together. "I'm here," B'Elanna promised as she gathered her wife into her arms.
"I broke his hand," Seven whispered. "Lana, I wanted to hurt him. I wanted to hurt him so much." She took in a shaking breath. "I wanted to make him pay for the hologram, for trying to break us up, and most of all for hurting you."
"I'm guessing this hologram was not just playing Kadis-Kot with him?" B'Elanna kissed Seven's temple.
"Not any variation of Kadis-kot that I have seen." Seven laughed.
"I would have broken more than his hand," B'Elanna admitted. She ran her hand down Seven's back, caressing the tense muscles she found. "I can't believe he did that. I want to see the Doctor's proof that he wasn't responsible for these things otherwise he has an appointment with my bat'tleth."
"I already spoke with the Doctor while he healed my lip." Seven eased back so that she could look into B'Elanna's eyes. "It was not his fault. I injured a man who was innocent."
"Not innocent," B'Elanna corrected. "He did all those things. And no matter what the Doctor says I will not forgive him for hitting you."
"You must. Honor demands it." Seven's lip trembled.
"What are you talking about?" B'Elanna asked. She was more concerned with the brokenhearted look on her wife's face than the question of honor.
"He was not in his right mind. You must forgive him just as you must forgive him for sleeping with the hologram before we left," Seven said. She was amazed that she had been able to say the words without her heart stopping inside her chest. "And if you forgive that there would be no reason to break up with him." Seven turned away, unable to look at her wife's face.
"Come back here," B'Elanna whispered. She turned Seven back to her and pressed their foreheads together. "First of all, I would gladly give up my honor before I would give up what we have." B'Elanna pulled back and lightly stroked Seven's cheek with the back of her fingers. "Second, Klingon honor wouldn't have me leave my Be'nal the love of my life, to go back to a bumbling idiot. If I were still single, I would have the option of taking him back, but only if I still wanted him. The Klingons don't have much respect for people who can't control their own actions," B'Elanna explained. She leaned forward and rubbed her nose across Seven's. "So you can't quit worrying, I can see it was bothering you."
Seven smiled shyly. "You know me so well, my wife," Seven whispered.
"Was anyone else effected?" B'Elanna asked.
"Just the captain, but she is being treated," Seven said. "Which explains why she fell in love' with a hologram."
"Oh," B'Elanna said. She suddenly felt her own irrational fears raise their heads. "So she didn't really want to "
"Shhh " Seven took B'Elanna's face in both hands and locked eyes with her. Lapis blue met sable brown, both sets of eyes overflowing with devotion. "I am with the woman I love. No one could ever make we want to stray." Seven leaned over and kissed each of her wife's cheeks and then she gave her a chaste kiss on the lips. "You are more than I could ever need, all that I have dreamed of, and I will spend my life trying to be worthy."
"You complete me," B'Elanna said as her hand came up play with Seven's thick braid. "I didn't know I could love anyone as deeply as I love you. I am yours."
"Ironic," Seven said with a smile. "I told Mister Paris that I did not own you, that you belonged only to yourself."
"Well, you were wrong," B'Elanna said with a mock growl. She leaned forward and caught Seven's lip gently between her teeth and quickly flicked her tongue over the captured lip before letting go. "You own me body and soul. I was always afraid to give myself over to anyone before, but with you I don't feel lessened by it. I like knowing that I belong to you and you to me. I feel like we're still individuals, but together we are so much stronger."
"So we are a collective?" Seven whispered as she covered B'Elanna's mouth with her own. They kissed slowly, reverently as if the earlier tension needed to be carefully washed away. B'Elanna was the first to escalate the kiss, letting her tongue ease out and request entry to Seven's mouth. Her tongue lathed across Seven's lips and teeth seeking entrance. The exdrone's mouth opened granting access and both women moaned as their tongues met.
After a few minutes of exploration, B'Elanna puled back, steadying herself against Seven's chest. "I like this collective," she said with a leer. "But I think I need more input to be certain."
"Indeed?" Seven smiled and pulled B'Elanna back to her. "Then I shall do my best to give you that input," Seven responded with a leer of her own. "I do not want your research to be incomplete."
"What about Ty?" B'Elanna asked as she began unbuttoning Seven's blouse.
"Let him do his own research," Seven said impatiently. She reached up and tugged her blouse over her head, sending one of the buttons flying off across the room.
B'Elanna laughed. "No, love I mean he's in the next room," she said as she ran her hands over Seven's bra. She was loved the way Seven's nipples jumped to attention when she touched them. Even through the fabric of her bra, the pink skin puckered instantly.
"Uuh," Seven moaned and tossed her head back, pressing her chest into B'Elanna's hands. "We made love many times with him in the next room at the cabin," Seven said as she slowly lifted her head back up. Her eyes had darkened to the color of the sky on Jusari Prime just before dawn, when the sky was black shading to blue as the light broke over the horizon. "You will just have to be quiet."
"Quiet?" B'Elanna asked incredulously as she dove forward and nipped Seven's throat. "I'm out of practice being quiet." She kissed along Seven's neck, up to her ear and began nibbling the tender lobe she found there.
Seven whimpered as she felt B'Elanna's tongue circling her earlobe. It was the exact motion Lana used on a much lower part of Seven's anatomy. She let her hands move down to the silk of B'Elanna's nightgown, loving the contrast of the cool fabric over B'Elanna's heated flesh. Klingons had a higher temperature than humans, something that Seven had found many enjoyable uses for. She loved the way B'Elanna felt pressed against her in the night, the way a single touch would fill her with heat, and especially how B'Elanna's mouth felt when pressed to her most intimate flesh.
"Close the door," Seven said with growl. "I want your mouth elsewhere."
"Yes, my love," B'Elanna said with a giggle. She trotted to the door, pausing to take a peak across the living room to where Ty was sound asleep, then closed the door. "Now what?" B'Elanna asked innocently as she turned back around. "Oh, sweet Kahless," B'Elanna said when she saw her wife. She had to lean against the wall, having gone literary weak in the knees.
Seven had managed to rip off her clothes and put on the deep blue nightgown in the few seconds it had taken B'Elanna to check on Ty. She was stretched across the fur blanket on her back, with her hands linked behind her head and had a decidedly devious smirk on her lips.
"You think I resemble an overweight Klingon in need of a tooth sharpening?" Seven asked as she sat up and arched her back.
B'Elanna shook her head as she watched Seven lick her lips, wetting every centimeter of the tender skin.
"Let me make love to you, Be'nal," Seven whispered.
B'Elanna could only nod as she sprinted to the bed.
Chapter 34: Family
Seven wasn't sure what had awakened her from a sound sleep, but she rolled over and opened her eyes anyway. She glanced around the room, noticing the candles on the nightstand and knew that she must have slept for a few hours. The last thing she remembered after making love with B'Elanna was drifting off to sleep while watching those same candles. They had now burned almost complete away. Seven shifted her weight and rolled onto her back, smiling when B'Elanna whined and tightened her grip around the blonde's waist.
An unfamiliar sensation made Seven pause and put her hand on her belly, then she grabbed B'Elanna's arm and gently squeezed it.
"Lana, wake up," Seven said. She turned her head and looked at her wife. B'Elanna's eyes fluttered but didn't open. "B'Elanna, wake up," Seven said a little louder.
"What?" B'Elanna asked as her eyes shot open. "What's wrong?" She sat up and stared down at Seven. "Are you okay? What's wrong?" Her hair was tussled from hours of lovemaking and her eyes were blurred, but she focused on Seven.
"Nothing is wrong," Seven said as she grabbed B'Elanna's hand and moved it to her stomach.
"Then why did you wake me up?" B'Elanna asked as she tried to slow her racing heart. She wasn't completely awake yet, and began settling down beside Seven. "What was that?" B'Elanna asked as she pressed her hand closer to Seven's belly.
"That is why I woke you," Seven answered. She moved B'Elanna's hand a few inches to the left and pressed it against her skin. "There," Seven said with a grin.
"She's kicking," B'Elanna said. Her eyes widened and she shifted onto her side and repositioned her hand. "Oh, my god, she's kicking in there."
"Yes, she is." Seven nodded and laced her fingers over B'Elanna's.
B'Elanna was overwhelmed and looked into Seven's eyes. "That's our daughter," she said quietly. "Thank you, for waking me," she added before she leaned over and quickly kissed Seven. "Do you think she's knows we're here?" B'Elanna looked back down toward Seven's belly.
"I doubt she has the cognitive ability at this point " Seven began, then smiled brightly. "But I feel yes, she does."
"I think so, too." B'Elanna laughed and crawled under the blankets and began placing fleeting kisses on Seven's stomach. Seven was wearing her blue nightgown, having put it on in case she needed to get up during the night to take care of Ty. B'Elanna's kisses tickled Seven's belly beneath the satiny fabric. "Hey, little one, what are you doing up so late?" B'Elanna asked the baby or rather, Seven's belly. "Don't you know it's the middle of the night, wa'machwI,'?" she asked, calling the child little one in Klingon.
"Be'nal," Seven said indulgently, "she cannot see anything from her present location. How could she know what time it is?"
"Oh, hush," B'Elanna said with a laugh and then growled at Seven. She gasped when the baby kicked again.
"Apparently, she likes hearing her mother growl," Seven pointed out.
B'Elanna raised an eyebrow and then began growling again. She put her mouth directly onto Seven's belly and continued growling. Seven squirmed.
"Hold still," B'Elanna ordered playfully and then growled onto Seven's belly again.
"It tickles," Seven said as she tried to pull B'Elanna's face away from her.
"Hey," B'Elanna said with mock harshness. "I'm bonding with my daughter." She grabbed the blankets and covered her head and went back to her growling. "There see? She likes it," B'Elanna said from under the blankets when the baby kicked again. She began tickling Seven's ribs. "Or maybe she likes to feel you squirm."
"Stop," Seven said, but she was giggling, taking away the effect of her complaint.
B'Elanna's growls became louder from underneath the blankets.
Seven heard a muted hiss and turned in time to see Ty crawling into the room. She gripped B'Elanna, trying to drag her out from under the covers.
"Bear?" Ty asked as he used the side of the bed to pull himself up. "Ba get bad bear?"
B'Elanna's head poked out from under the blankets. "Ty?"
"How did he know how to open the door?" Seven asked accusingly.
"Umm well we were playing hide and seek earlier and I may have showed him how to open the door," B'Elanna said sheepishly.
"Indeed," Seven said as she lifted Ty onto the bed. She smiled as he snuggled down between his two aunts. "And if he had happened to have come in several hours ago?" Seven asked.
"Well he didn't," B'Elanna pointed out.
"My Ba," Ty said as he tugged at B'Elanna's arm. He wanted her up on the pillow where she belonged. She moved up, wrapping her arm over Ty and resting her palm on Seven's belly.
"My Ba," Seven whispered as she stretched out and kissed B'Elanna's forehead.
"Evan, ing peaz," Ty asked.
"Yes," B'Elanna said. "Evan sing please."
Seven rolled her eyes and looked over at her wife. "What would you like me to sing?"
"Cowboy zong," Ty answered as he sat up.
B'Elanna groaned and covered her head with the pillow.
Janeway entered the mess hall, pausing to smile and wave hello to the crewmembers having breakfast. She saw Nara and Tach sitting with Neelix and headed over to them.
"Good morning," Nara said as the captain neared the table. "How are you feeling?"
"Much better, thank you," Janeway responded. "Mind if I join you?"
"Please," Tach said with a smile.
"Oh, yes, Captain," Neelix chimed in and then stood. "Let me get you some coffee."
"You're a lifesaver, Mister Neelix," Janeway said as she settled onto the low bench.
"I'm glad you joined us," Nara said as soon as Neelix disappeared. "There is something we need to ask you."
"Of course," Janeway said. "What can I do for you?"
Nara looked to Tach. He nodded and cleared his throat.
"We would like to ask B'Elanna and Seven something, but we thought we should ask you first," he explained.
"What is it?" Janeway asked. She had the distinct feeling she wasn't going to like the question.
"Well, you know we care very much for them both," Nara said as she leaned forward. "And Ty adores them."
"Yes " Janeway nodded.
"Well," Nara continued. "Tach's brother had a settlement next to ours, but he wasn't cut out for farming. He gave it to us. We would like to offer it to B'Elanna and Seven."
"I see," Janeway responded carefully. "That decision is up to them," she added, though she hoped they would choose to stay. Not only were both women valuable members of the crew, they were also close friends.
"Well, we thought we should clear it with you first," Tach said.
"I appreciate that," Janeway said. "But I would never keep them from something they want. I will, however, say that I hope they stay on board. I'd hate to lose them."
"Mama," Ty yelled as B'Elanna carried him into the mess hall.
Nara looked up and smiled. "Come here, you," she said as she held up her arms. B'Elanna moved toward her. A few moments later Seven came into the room holding Naomi Wildman's hand.
"Good morning," B'Elanna handed Ty to his mother.
"How did you sleep?" Tach asked his son.
"Ba and Evan played bear," Ty volunteered.
"Played bear?" Naomi asked as she sat next to Nara.
"How are you, Naomi?" Nara pulled Naomi closer.
"Ba got Evan," Ty said. He reached out grabbed a nearby fork and Nara struggled to take it away from him.
"Yes, my son," Nara said with a wicked grin. "Ba tends to do that."
"B'Elanna was feeling the baby move," Seven clarified. Her face was as red as Janeway had ever seen it.
"She kicked for the first time last night," B'Elanna added as she sat next to her wife and rested a hand on Seven's belly.
"You shouldn't kick your wife," Tach told Seven, his eyes sparkling mischievously.
"The baby kicked," Seven said.
"Of course it did," Nara said.
"Of course," Janeway added.
"Uh huh," Tach said.
"She was playing with the baby," Seven insisted.
"Of course she was," Nara said.
Seven was beginning to whither under the embarrassing scrutiny when the baby kicked as if on cue. She smiled and looked at B'Elanna who had also felt it.
"I think that's even harder than it was last night," B'Elanna said as she looked down at Seven's belly.
"Indeed," Seven said. "I believe she gets her temperament from you," she told B'Elanna.
"Hey," B'Elanna whined, but smiled.
"Can I feel?" Naomi asked.
"Of course," Seven said. "Come over here next to me." She guided Naomi's hand to her belly and pressed her tiny fingers against her stomach.
"I don't feel anything," Naomi said.
"Just wait a second, Squirt," B'Elanna said. She edged Naomi's hand toward her.
"Wow," Naomi said when she felt the flutter under her fingers.
Neelix returned with the captain's coffee and saw the commotion. He handed Janeway her mug and knelt next to Naomi. "May I?"
Seven nodded and leaned back to give the furry chef access to her belly. From there, a small crowd gathered, eager to feel the tiny kicks. Janeway stayed seated, not wanting to interfere, and also not quite ready to be that involved with the reality of the pregnancy. It was one thing to be happy for the couple, but it was something else all together to rest her hand on the belly of the woman she still had some unresolved feelings for.
Later that afternoon, B'Elanna insisted that Seven go for a check up with the Doctor. She wasn't taking any chances with her wife or daughter's health. She wanted Seven to have daily check ups until the Doctor assured her that Seven was out of danger.
"I do not wish to see him," Seven said coldly. She paused in the corridor, trying to convince B'Elanna to let her visit with Nara and Tach instead of seeing the hologram who had tried to terminate her pregnancy.
"I know, love," B'Elanna said as she took Seven's hand. "I'm not too thrilled with him either, but what choice do we have? You need medical attention. I'll be with you the whole time."
"All right." Seven nodded and gripped her wife's hand as they neared the door to sickbay.
The Doctor turned when the doors to sickbay opened. "Seven, are you ill?" he asked.
"No," she said coldly.
"I thought she should have a check up, just to make sure she's still okay," B'Elanna said.
"I take it you are not thrilled with the idea?" he asked Seven.
"Thrilled is the last thing I am," the exdrone stated. "But I have no other option."
"Actually," he said quietly. "Thanks to Mister Kim and I, you do have another option."
"Explain," Seven said. She pulled B'Elanna closer to her side.
Less than a half-hour later, Seven and B'Elanna were in the holodeck staring at Doctor Opaca.
"Seven, it's wonderful to meet you," Opaca said. "And you B'Elanna, I've heard a great deal about you." She motioned for Seven to move onto the biobed. Harry had programmed a medical bay into the holodeck because he didn't think Seven wanted to be anywhere near the Doctor for the time being. "Are you having any pain?" Opaca asked as Seven sat on the examination bed.
"No," Seven said. She glanced over at B'Elanna and smirked almost imperceptibly. "My wife wanted to be certain that I did not have a relapse."
"Not likely, given the nature of your problem," Opaca said. She looked over at B'Elanna and smiled. Her nose ridges crinkled and her eyes sparkled warmly. "But it is perfectly normal for a first time mother to be nervous."
"Excuse me," Seven said as she tilted her head to one side. "But how do I know that you will not make the same decisions as the Doctor?"
Opaca nodded and stepped back. "Because, my matrix is based on a Bajorian physician. They value the patient's beliefs and wishes above all else. I am also versed in Starfleet medical ethics, which prohibit me from taking any action you forbid, additionally, Mister Kim added a subroutine that will not allow me to ignore either of those qualifying factors."
"What do you think about that, Doctor?" B'Elanna asked. She stood next to Seven, her hand resting on the former Borg's knee.
"I don't think it is necessary, but it doesn't bother me," Opaca said. "I find the Doctor's actions reprehensible. You should never have been put in the situation to fight your doctor for the life of your child."
"Pleasant words," Seven said carefully. "But I will reserve judgment until I get to know you better."
"A wise choice," Opaca said with a smile. "I suggest that you examine the matrix parameters. It might help you feel more secure."
"I intend to," Seven responded.
"Now, let's have a look at you," Opaca said as she began scanning Seven. "Hmm, very good." She moved her tricorder to Seven's belly. "Yes, you are healing very nicely. Any pain from the muscle tears?"
"No," Seven said. "Not since last night."
B'Elanna's hand squeezed Seven's knee reassuringly.
"Good," Opaca said. "I don't see any problems. Do you have any questions?" She put the tricorder down and turned to Seven and waited patiently.
"The baby started kicking last night," B'Elanna volunteered.
"Yes," Opaca said. "With the temporal variance, the pregnancy has advanced to the equivalent of the fifth month. She should be moving quite a bit."
"I have a question," Seven said. She looked expectantly at Opaca. "I was not comfortable speaking with the Doctor about it, but I feel compelled to find out."
"Of course, what is it?" Opaca asked. She rested her hand on her chin and listened intently.
"I was uncertain as to how enthusiastic I could be when making love with B'Elanna," Seven explained. "Last night, given my injuries, we limited my activities to those of performing acts on my wife."
"Seven!" B'Elanna exclaimed.
Opaca laughed a deep and heartfelt sound. "My dear, a healthy sexual life is imperative to emotional health," she assured B'Elanna. "There's nothing about Seven's condition that should limit her love making."
"But," B'Elanna blushed deeply. "What about well you know the baby is getting bigger. I don't want to injure her."
"I assure you, B'Elanna, you won't poke out your daughter's eye with normal penetration," Opaca stated.
B'Elanna's eyes widened and her blush deepened.
"Normal?" Seven asked curiously. "What is considered normal?"
"Oh, geeze," B'Elanna said as she covered her face with her hands.
B'Elanna spent the next half-hour standing off to the side as Opaca and Seven had a detailed conversation about every aspect of sex. B'Elanna thought her skin's ability to blush was going to wear out. When Opaca told Seven that she should be careful when using toys, the exdrone was thoroughly confused. Opaca then asked if they utilized toys, Seven was still stymied, so she turned to her wife.
"B'Elanna, what are these toys?" she asked.
"You know what?" B'Elanna asked as she turned around and faced Seven. "This is not a conversation I want to be having with Opaca the sex therapist."
"B'Elanna," Opaca said with a smile, "There is nothing to be embarrassed about. Many women utilize toys during their lovemaking."
"What kind of toys?" Seven asked. She wondered how any of the toys she had seen could be used sexually. Certainly Samantha Wildman would not give Naomi sexual aids to play with.
B'Elanna seemed to read Seven's mind and she laughed. "Be'nal, not the toys you are thinking about. We're talking about artificial umm synthetic no, umm things for penetration."
"Oh," Seven said, suddenly understanding. "You mean dildoes? Why did you not just say so? I have researched various sexual aids, however I did not feel we needed them."
B'Elanna wanted to crawl into a hole and disappear. Her wife had no modesty. "Yes, dildoes," she said. "I personally find the idea of using some fake piece of technology to make love rather impersonal."
"What do you call this?" Seven asked as she held up her left hand to B'Elanna and wiggled her fingers.
"I umm." B'Elanna found out that she could blush a few shades deeper.
"I read in your medical files that the entire arm from the elbow down has been replaced," Opaca said as she moved closer to the exdrone. "What exactly can your prosthetic hand do?"
"None of your business." B'Elanna stepped in front of the small hologram. The Klingon suddenly wished the warp core would breech, something, anything to get her out of her current conversation.
"I'm a doctor...my interest is purely scientific," Opaca assured her.
"Well, go study some spores and leave my wife out of it!" B'Elanna turned and moved over to Seven. "Can we go home now, please," she asked her wife.
"Were you exposed to the pheromones?" Opaca asked as she began scanning B'Elanna. Seven smirked, but then covered her mouth to avoid laughing.
"No," Seven explained. "Lana is Klingon. Passion, possessiveness, and aggressive behavior are all standard for her species That is why I married her."
"That's it," B'Elanna said. "We're leaving. Now." She took Seven's hand and pulled her toward the exit.
"I am familiar with Klingons," Opaca said with a smirk as they moved toward the exit. "If you have anymore questions, just ask."
"End program," B'Elanna said. She released a long sigh when the black and yellow grid appeared.
"That was rude," Seven pointed out. "She was still talking."
"I just wish I had thought of it a half hour ago." B'Elanna stopped and turned to look up at Seven. "I think you enjoyed embarrassing me."
"Why does the topic of sex embarrass you?" Seven asked, genuinely confused.
B'Elanna stopped and took both of Seven's hands in hers. "It doesn't, with you. Our sex life is our business, and no one else's. And yes, I get embarrassed when you talk in such graphic detail with someone."
"But, I did not discuss what we do," Seven said as she tilted her head to the side. "I only asked hypothetical questions, so that I would know what we can and cannot do." Seven squeezed B'Elanna's hands and then brought them up to her lips and kissed her knuckles. "I want to make love to you, my Lana but I don't want to endanger our child."
"I know," B'Elanna said as she leaned forward and rested her forehead onto Seven's chest. She wrapped her arms around Seven and squeezed her gently. "I just don't like sharing that aspect of our life with anyone."
"I will gladly refrain from discussing these matters," Seven said quietly, "If you will promise me that you will ask the relevant questions of our physician."
"Oh I." B'Elanna closed her eyes and sighed. "Okay, but don't you dare give me a list of interesting questions to ask that little doctor," B'Elanna said.
"Very well," Seven said as she pulled away and guided B'Elanna toward the door. "I believe she already answered most of my questions."
"Be'nal," B'Elanna said quietly as she stopped. "You can always ask me if you're curious."
Seven blushed, which confused B'Elanna, given the exdrone's earlier candor. "My questions to you generally involve actions I wish to experience. My questions to Opaca were as to the safety of our activities."
"Good point," B'Elanna said as she kissed Seven.
Seven moaned, and completely forgot about the Bajorian hologram.
Chapter 35: Changes
B'Elanna inhaled deeply, taking in the scent of Seven's unique aroma, the lingering smell of candles long since burned out, and the musky reminders of the many hours of lovemaking the night before. Once Opaca had cleared Seven for most types of pleasure, the exBorg was quite eager to try them all. B'Elanna sighed. Life was good.
She opened one eye and saw that the lights were up, signifying the beginning of the dayshift, but B'Elanna had no desire to move from her present location. She was sprawled over Seven, her face nestled on the lanky blonde's shoulder, her arm resting over her wife's abundant cleavage and she had her leg resting on top of Seven's thigh. B'Elanna could tell by Seven's even breathing that her Be'nal was still deep in the arms of Morpheus.
She smiled, completely content, and let her hand make the journey down Seven's long torso. B'Elanna's caramel colored hand was a stark contrast to Seven's alabaster skin. B'Elanna's hand lingered as she traced the metal Borg bands under her wife's ribs, then continued her journey until her hand rested on Seven' bulging belly.
Seven didn't move or acknowledge the touch, the former drone was exhausted, and B'Elanna felt a smile tug at her lips. She was feeling rather smug, quite the lover, and more than a little proud of the thorough ravishing she had given her wife the night before. Of course, Seven had done her own share of ravishing, as B'Elanna's muscle were reminding her at the moment. The Klingon's compact body felt like her muscles had been replaced with one of the ship's the gel packs. Even if she had wanted to climb off of her wife, she wasn't sure that she could. Plus, it just felt so damn good to be with Seven.
She stayed there, smiling in the early morning hours, and tried to absorb the feelings and sensations. She didn't ever want to take her life with Seven for granted. As she was beginning to drift back off to sleep, she heard the chime in the outer room signaling that someone was at the door. She briefly considered phasering whoever was it was from her present location, but decided that it would take too much effort. She would have to get up to retrieve a phaser from the small weapons locker at the back of her closet, and then there was the fact that she would have to shoot through the bedroom wall and the door to hit the offending party. Besides, she would have to wake Seven. Only her wife's Borg enhanced optical implant could make that shot.
The chime sounded again, and B'Elanna carefully extracted herself from her wife's embrace. At least Seven hadn't woken up. B'Elanna grabbed her thick robe from its peg on the wall and pulled it snugly around her athletic body and closed the bedroom door before trotting out to the living room. She smiled as she stepped over her crumpled uniform. Seven had ripped it off her body as soon as the door had hissed shut the night before. A quick glance confirmed B'Elanna's suspicion that the seams had been completely ripped out. She lost many tunics that way.
The chime sounded again as B'Elanna reached the door, and it was beginning to irritate her. She punched the locking mechanism and put her hands on her hips as the door opened. Her good mood suddenly disappeared.
"Hi, B'Elanna," Tom Paris said sheepishly. He was shifting his weight back and forth from one foot to the other.
"You," B'Elanna growled as she shoved him out into the corridor. "What are you doing here?" she demanded quietly. She turned back and closed the door then gave Tom her complete attention.
"I came by to talk to you about well, you know," he said as he tugged at his collar.
"I should kill you," B'Elanna said, her voice far too calm for Tom's liking. "You hit my wife, you bastard."
"B'Elanna, I wasn't it wasn't my fault," he whined. "I came to apologize." Despite his good intentions, his eyes lingered on B'Elanna. Her robe was open at the top revealing her coffee colored skin.
"Keep looking at me like that and I'll rip your eyes out and give them to Seven for earrings." B'Elanna pulled the robe tightly closed around her neck.
"Sorry," he stammered and looked at the carpeting.
"Just leave, Paris," she said. "And maybe I won't have to kill you."
"That sounds almost like you forgive me." He lifted his head and gave her his most suave smile.
B'Elanna growled and her eyes narrowed. "Look, the Doctor said you weren't responsible so I am trying to cut you some slack " She could feel her pulse pounding as she fought to keep her hands from wrapping around his throat. "But you don't have any excuse now, so I am giving you fair warning anymore crap from you and I will take action. Klingon action."
"Okay," he said quietly then decided to push his luck, after all, no guts no glory. He just forgot that you have to keep your guts to get any glory. "Lana," he said as he stepped closer. "I never would have betrayed you with that hologram if I'd been in my right mind. You know that. You and Seven got married, and I accept that," he said and reached for her hand. "But, I have prior rights."
He got a right, a right hook.
"Hey!" he yelled as he stumbled back and grabbed his jaw. "What the hell was that for?"
"That was for all the crap you keep putting me through," B'Elanna said through clenched teeth. "That was because if I did what I really want to do, what Klingon honor demands I'd be court martialed." She backed away from him and leaned against the wall, glad to see that no one else was in the long hallway. "You never could leave well enough alone, could you, Tom?"
"B'Elanna, I know you can't really be in love with her," Tom said as he stood just outside of her attack zone. "You love me."
She rolled her eyes and let out a long sigh, then rubbed her temples.
"You do love me, don't you?" he asked, taking her silence for an admission of love.
"Tom, you are so clueless," she finally said. She looked at him, and actually felt sorry for him.
"Help me understand," he asked sincerely. "You couldn't stand her before you left on that mission. Now, I'm supposed to just accept that you left me for a Borg?"
B'Elanna fought the urge choke him. "She is not a Borg," B'Elanna said with dangerous calm. "As for me leaving you? Geeze, Tom. I broke up with you a month before I left. We were never right for each other. You spent more time in the holodeck than you ever did with me, and frankly, we were never in love."
"Don't say that." Tom moved closer, then stopped as she narrowed her eyes when he reached out to touch her. "Lana, we had have something."
"Tom, I thought I loved you," she said gently. "I really did. Hell, maybe on some level I did love you. You aren't always a complete ass. Just most of the time."
"It's part of my charm," he said with a crooked grin.
"I don't want charm," B'Elanna said as she pushed off of the wall. "I love Seven. More than I ever thought possible. She is my life, Tom. You and I had a distraction for a while, we passed time together, and you'll always have a place inside my heart because of that. You helped me when we were both lost."
"But, I love you," he whined.
B'Elanna covered her eyes and sighed, then let her hand rub roughly down her face until she bit her knuckle. She looked up at him and shook her head. "Tom, I didn't even know what love was when I was with you. Seven taught me what love is. She and I are soulmates; my heart only beats because she wills it to. If I lost her, I would die."
"And the baby? Was that her idea?" he asked. He was beginning to understand that he wasn't going to win this fight.
B'Elanna's whole face lit up, and Tom took a step back, shocked by the metamorphosis he had just witnessed.
"It was your idea?" he asked.
"Our idea," she corrected. "And I have never been happier." She looked over her shoulder, remembering the gorgeous blonde she had left sprawled naked in her bed.
"I'm really sorry I hit her," Tom said sincerely.
"I know," B'Elanna said as she turned back to him. "That's why you're still breathing," she added with a tiny grin.
"And the Vulcan salve " Tom added.
"And the smart ass remarks?" B'Elanna asked.
Tom covered his face and shook his head. "Thank you, for not killing me," he mumbled between his fingers.
"You should thank Seven," B'Elanna pointed out. "She's much more Klingon than I'll ever be."
"Really?" he asked as he looked up at her.
Two crewmen stepped out of the turbolift and walked toward them. B'Elanna moved out of their path and pulled her robe tighter.
"Really," she said when they passed. "I had to keep her from well, you really don't want to know what I kept her from doing. I don't want you having nightmares."
"I already am," he said quietly as he remembered the rage-filled look Seven had in her eyes as she had threatened to assimilate him. "Are you telling me she gets worse than she did in the holodeck?"
B'Elanna frowned. "She's really upset about that, Tom. She didn't know why you were acting the way you did, and when she found out, it almost broke her heart," B'Elanna explained. "If you give her any grief about it, you'll answer to me."
"She felt bad?" Tom asked incredulously. "Why? I was a complete ass."
"Because, Tom, she would never hurt an innocent person," B'Elanna explained. "Once she found out that you were holo-drugged, she felt awful. She has more honor than any person I have ever met."
"Guess that's one of the reasons you love her," he admitted.
"One of many," she said with a smile and looked back over her shoulder.
"Go," Tom said. "She's probably wondering where you are."
"Thanks, Tom," B'Elanna said as she turned to go back inside her quarters. "Oh, and Tom?"
"Yeah?" He stopped and ran his hands through his hair.
"Don't ever call on us this early again on our day off." She motioned to her robe.
"B'Elanna, it's after 11:00," he pointed out.
"Yeah, well we need our rest," B'Elanna said with an evil grin. "We didn't get any sleep last night."
He looked confused, then blushed. "I really didn't need to know that," he said as he sighed.
"Consider it partial payment for your asinine behavior," B'Elanna said as she went into her quarters and locked the door. She smiled, happy with the way the conversation had went, and turned to see a very naked Borg standing at the bedroom door naked and more than a little agitated.
"B'Elanna Torres," Seven said as she crossed her arms over her naked chest. "I awoke to find you gone. Then I heard you in the corridor with Tom Paris. I did not expect to have you return dressed only in a robe."
"But I Seven," B'Elanna stuttered. She turned and pointed at the door and then looked back at her wife. "I didn't want to wake you," she finally managed to say.
"Indeed?" Seven asked as she raised her Borg eyepiece.
B'Elanna felt panic rising inside her and then she noticed that Seven's eyes were sparkling and there was a hint of a smirk at the edge of the former Borg's full lips.
"Yes," B'Elanna said as she moved closer. "Besides, I didn't think you'd mind Tom looking at me." She opened her robe and let it fall to the floor. "Looking never hurt anyone, did it?"
Seven smiled and lunged forward, grabbing B'Elanna around the waist and pulling their naked bodies together. "If he looks at you, it will hurt him." She kissed B'Elanna briefly then pulled back. "I am glad you have come to an understanding with him," Seven said. "And that he was not seriously injured by me."
"I should spank you for scaring me when I came back in here," B'Elanna said as she reached behind Seven and gave her a gentle swat on her bare skin. "How did you know what we said?"
Seven raised both eyebrows in unison, not believing that her wife had even asked the question.
"Oh," B'Elanna said with a smile. "Borg enhanced hearing."
"I will expect my earrings the next time he leers at you," Seven said as she moved them both toward the bedroom.
"I was kinda' hopping you hadn't heard that part," B'Elanna said as she remembered her interesting suggestion for an alternate use of the helmsman's eyes.
"Enough talk about him," Seven said. "Come back to bed. I have plans for you."
"All right," B'Elanna said with an exaggerated sigh. "But after last night you've got a tough act to follow."
"Indeed?" Seven enjoyed a good challenge. "I shall endeavor to better my performance from last night."
"Kahless, help me," B'Elanna said with a laugh, only half joking.
Kathryn Janeway walked into the arboretum and stared at the activity in front of her. Tach had rounded up most of the off duty science officers with any experience in botany or biology and had them working like a well-oiled army. They were all on their hands and knees, crawling around in a field of what appeared to be wheat, waving dermal regenerators over the tiny stalks.
"If I hadn't seen it for myself, I wouldn't have believed it," Janeway said as she walked up behind Tach.
"Captain," he said with a huge smile as he turned around. "What do you think?" he asked as he pointed to the huge expanse of wheat.
"Remarkable," she said. "How did you manage this?" Janeway tugged at a stalk of wheat and rolled it between her fingers. Years on an agricultural park gave her the experience to know that the crop was at least three months into its growth season. As the captain of Voyager, she knew the crop hadn't existed the previous day.
"Dermal regenerators," he said. He held up a regenerator from one of the dozens of emergency medical packs. "If you alter the polarity and adjust the setting to cause new growth instead of healing old tissue, it increases the growth of the plantlife exponentially."
Tuvok came over to the Captain. "At this rate, we will have a full compliment of wheat in two days," he said succinctly. He had wheat sticking to his hair and his trousers were wrinkled and had wheat protruding from every pocket. It was a very unusual combination for the always perfect Vulcan whose close-cropped hair and neatly pressed trousers usually looked like the pictures from a Starfleet manual. The explanation came crawling up behind him.
"Tu-vee!" Ty yelled as he gripped the Vulcan's legs from behind. "Tu-vee, up!" the Narian boy demanded.
"The methods employed can be transferred to almost any vegetation," Tuvok said as he scooped up Ty and settled the boy onto one hip. "We need only supply extra nutrients for the faster growth requirements." As Tuvok spoke, he intercepted Ty's hands, which kept grabbing the Vulcan's neatly trimmed hair.
"Ty," Tach said sternly. "Leave the nice man alone." He reached for his son but Tuvok pivoted away. Janeway watched with a faint smile kissing her lips.
"The child is merely exhibiting a healthy instinct for curiosity," Tuvok said. He finally managed to pin one of Ty's hands down. The other hand shot up and traced the Vulcan's pointed ear.
"Bunny," Ty said as he pinched Tuvok's ear. "Tu-vee is a bunny."
"Indeed?" Tuvok said to the child. "I believe your conclusion is faulty."
Ty giggled and tugged harder. It was too much for Janeway and she laughed and held her sides.
"I don't think he's quite old enough for Vulcan logic Tu-vee," Janeway said when she finally quit laughing.
"It is never too soon to begin a regimen of logic." Tuvok looked into Ty's dark eyes, his expression serious. "I have no fur, I do not hop, and my bipedal stance is humanoid, therefore I cannot be a bunny," he told Ty.
"Bunny." Ty scrunched his face and then hugged Tuvok.
"Not a bunny," the Vulcan whispered and surprised Janeway when he moved his hand up behind the child and rubbed his back.
"Tach," Janeway said as she turned her attention back to the adult Narian. "This is wonderful, but why?"
"You're transporting my family and I a great distance," Tach explained. "We pull our own weight."
"Thank you," Janeway said sincerely. "This is more than enough payment. The expenditure of dermal regenerator energy is minuscule compared to the amount of replicator rations it would take to create this much wheat. And, all of these plants will give us some well needed fresh oxygen."
"I am glad my experience is helpful," Tach said. "But the dermal regenerator was Seven's idea. She's quite a farmer."
"Evan!" Ty yelled and he pulled away from Tuvok. "Where Evan?"
"Seven of Nine is not here. We are merely discussing her achievements," Tuvok said as he shifted Ty to the opposite side. He sensed from Ty's abundant amount of squirming that he wanted down. As soon as Ty was on the decking, he crawled off toward his father with incredible speed.
Ty paused and looked up with questioning eyes at his father, wondering if Seven was somewhere nearby. Tach shook his head and Ty scrambled off toward the wheat when he saw Samantha Wildman crawl out of the growing field.
"Seven came up with this?" Janeway asked. "I never pictured her as being agriculturally inclined." Kathryn began to wonder if she understood the former drone at all. She had never pictured Seven with children or in a non-technological setting. Maybe Seven's growing family would be happy living on a farming planet with Tach, Nara and Ty.
"Seven of Nine is a resourceful individual," Tuvok said as he attempted to pick the wheat out of his uniform. Most of the offending grain had been shoved into his trousers by Ty; he saw the dark skinned officer as his own personal play toy.
"Yes, she is," Janeway agreed. "Tu-vee."
Tuvok looked unaffected, but Janeway saw a slight darkening of the skin around his ears. It was subtle, but Janeway caught it. It was the Vulcan version of a blush.
"I must check on the progress," Tach said and excused himself and went into the wheat field.
"You're very good with him," Janeway said to Tuvok as she nodded toward Ty. "Isn't he about the same age as your grandson?"
"My grandchild is almost one year older." Tuvok looked at the dark haired child. "Despite his lack of logic, Tyralanar is incredibly intelligent. His features are similar to early Vulcans."
"Tyralanar?" Janeway asked, then smiled. "Oh, you mean Ty. Yes, he is a bright boy, and he's taken quite a shine to Seven and B'Elanna."
"Further proof of his intelligence," Tuvok said as he gave up trying to get the wheat off of his trousers.
"Why Tuvok, that's down right...sentimental of you," Janeway teased. "I've never heard such glowing comments coming from you."
"I see no reason to insult me," Tuvok said as he tried unsuccessfully to smooth his hair. Janeway smiled and picked a stalk of wheat from the top of his head.
B'Elanna was laying on her back with her arms beside her head and her breathing came in deep gasps. She was shaking from head to toe, unable to move beyond the muscular twitches racking her body, but there was a lazy smile plastered across her face.
"Wow," B'Elanna said. "Wow... Seven, wow."
Seven crawled out from under the blankets and kissed B'Elanna's stomach as she moved up and rested her face on her wife's chest, listening to the out of control pounding.
"Wow..." B'Elanna repeated without opening her eyes.
"You all already said that," Seven pointed out with a smug grin. "Be'nal, have you lost the power of speech?"
"Uh huh," B'Elanna responded, still unable to lift her arms. Her body was covered with a thin sheen of sweat and she was certain that her bones had melted.
"You are shaking," Seven observed. "Are you cold?"
"Nuh uh," B'Elanna grunted.
"Be'nal, are you all right?" Seven sat up and studied her wife.
"Uh huh," B'Elanna said as her smile widened. "Wow."
"Did I better my performance from last night?" Seven asked unnecessarily. She reached over her wife and grabbed a glass of water from the nightstand.
"Wow," B'Elanna responded, drawing the word out into several syllables.
"I think you are dehydrated," Seven observed. "Drink some of this."
"Can't move," B'Elanna said with a happy sigh.
Seven shifted her weight and lifted B'Elanna's head from the pillow. The Klingon seemed to have lost her spine and her head flopped over Seven's arm. After some maneuvering on the exBorg's part she managed to get the glass to B'Elanna's lips.
"Mmm," B'Elanna mumbled after she took several long gulps. "Wow." B'Elanna's eyes had yet to open.
"I believe that I may have burned out some of your synaptic relays," Seven said cautiously. "Should I call Opaca?"
"Nuh uh," B'Elanna mumbled. One eye opened with extreme effort and B'Elanna's smile brightened when she saw Seven. The exdrone's hair was down, out of its braid and flowing wildly around her bare shoulders. "You... I... wow," B'Elanna said and then flopped back onto the pillow and began giggling.
"This is a new reaction," Seven said as she settled next to her wife. "I am... concerned."
"Don't be," B'Elanna said as she finally raised one hand and flopped her arm over Seven's back. "I feel... wonderful." She took a deep breath as her body had a strong aftershock. "Sweet Kahless," B'Elanna added with a sigh.
"Kahless had nothing to do with it," Seven said in Borg monotone.
B'Elanna giggled and tried to squeeze her wife but her arm didn't have any strength.
"Wow?" Seven asked as she kissed B'Elanna's cheek.
"Wow," B'Elanna confirmed with a wicked smile.
Captain Janeway headed toward the mess hall, still smiling as she pictured Tuvok holding the Narian boy. For a supposedly emotionless man, he managed to show a great deal of caring for the child. Kathryn thought about the wheat and hoped that Neelix would be able to make some bread that wasn't too...Talaxian. She wanted good old-fashioned yeast bread, warm from the oven, not some bizarre creation with leela root or hot peppers that hid the flavor of the grain.
The doors to the mess hall opened and Janeway was surprised to see the entire room packed. Everyone was clamoring to get to the kitchen area. Usually, crewmembers were all too willing to let others cut in front of them...anything to delay trying Neelix's latest delicacy. She inhaled deeply and understood why they were fighting for the meal in question. Whatever in was, it smelled divine.
"Captain," Chakotay called from a table off to one side.
She made her way to him through the cramped room and smiled at him. "Quite a crowd. Usually more of the crew decides to use their replicator rations."
"Not if they tasted this," he said as he poked his fork into a tender piece of meat surrounded by vegetables and a thin broth.
"Is that corned beef?" Janeway asked. Her mouth began to water. She hadn't had decent corned beef since she was back on Earth in her mother's kitchen.
"Well," Chakotay said. "It's not actually corned beef, but it's close. Nara chased Neelix out of his kitchen this afternoon and whipped up a Narian herbed beef recipe." He took a bite, savoring the flavor, then spoke with his mouth full. "It's a lot like corned beef, only a little more garlicky."
"I think I'll go grab a plate," Janeway said. She stared at the commander's plate, noticing the way the potatoes and carrots looked just like her mother's.
"I'd use your captain's privilege to cut to the front of the line," he said with a smile. "There might not be any left when you get up there."
"Then I'll come back and commandeer yours," she said with a smirk. She reached down and took one of his carrots and headed off to get her own meal.
Seven and B'Elanna walked hand in hand into the mass hall. They paused when they saw the crowded room.
"Perhaps Mister Neelix's cooking finally killed someone," Seven said.
B'Elanna laughed and tugged Seven closer. She wrapped her arms around the willowy blonde and kissed Seven's neck under her ear. "I love you, my Be'nal."
"You are still under the effects of the wow' phenomenon," Seven whispered.
B'Elanna blushed and nodded her head. "Oh, yeah," the Klingon said.
"B'Elanna, over here," Tach yelled from a table at the back of the room.
Seven led her wife through the crowd until they found their friend. "Good evening," Seven said formally.
"Have a seat," Tach said. "Nara and Ty will be right over."
Janeway came over with her tray and smiled at the couple. "Lieutenant, Seven, nice to see you could join us." She sat down and dug into her meal with gusto. "Oh my," Janeway exclaimed. "I didn't know replicated meat could taste this good."
B'Elanna inhaled, and looked curiously at the captain. "Did Neelix talk Nara out of her recipe?"
"Doubtful," Seven said. She smiled as she felt B'Elanna move around behind her and then felt her Klingon wife's hands wrap around her from behind. The familiar warmth on her belly made her sigh and lean back into her shorter spouse.
Janeway was eating as fast as she could and still be considered an elegant Starfleet captain. "Apparently Nara took over the kitchen. If this is the result, I may kidnap your wife for good," the captain told Tach.
B'Elanna kissed Seven's neck, still reeling from her earlier lovemaking session. "Sit, love. I'll go get you a plate." B'Elanna guided Seven onto the bench and then paused long enough to give her a lingering kiss. "Don't go anywhere, Be'nal," she added as she caressed Seven's cheek.
Seven smiled and glanced down at the table. When she did look up, Tach was grinning at her with his eyes sparkling. It did not bode well for Seven.
"Finally decided to get out of bed?" Tach asked.
Janeway choked on her herbed beef.
"I believe Nara would enjoy a little more time in that particular location," Seven shot back. "You might ask the captain if you can borrow a uniform. Nara finds B'Elanna quite handsome in hers."
Janeway took a gulp of her coffee and felt her cheeks burning bright red.
"If memory serves," Tach said as he stirred his coffee, "You find her quite handsome out of uniform."
"Your memory is flawless," Seven said with a smirk. "Captain, are you all right?" She turned to Janeway who was a having a coughing fit.
"Yes," Janeway said as she managed to stop coughing. "Fine. Seven, you are looking well."
"I am feeling much better. Thank you, for noticing," Seven said. She smiled when she saw B'Elanna coming back balancing two trays. "Thank you, Be'nal," she said as she took a tray from her wife.
"You're welcome." B'Elanna put her tray next to Seven's and then straddled the bench next to Seven and sat facing her. She pulled something out of her jacket pocket and held it hidden in her hand. "Close your eyes," B'Elanna ordered as she lifted it toward her wife's mouth.
Seven raised her eyebrow, but did as she was told and took a bite of the treat. Her eyes opened wide and she moaned. "Honey nut cakes," Seven mumbled around the cookie. She took another bite. Her eyes were locked with B'Elanna's the entire time.
"Thought you'd like that," B'Elanna whispered. She reached down and rubbed the former drone's belly. "I know the little one craves sweets."
Nara came out of the kitchen carrying Ty. The small boy saw his aunts and squealed.
"Ba! Evan!" He held his arms out and almost leaped into B'Elanna's hands. She settled him into front of her, almost on top of Seven, and ran her hand through his hair.
"Have you had dinner, Ty?" Seven asked the child.
He nodded but reached for her plate. "Bicket," he requested.
"Chew it well." Seven smiled and broke off a corner of her biscuit and handed it to him. He stuffed the entire piece into his mouth and put his hand out for more.
"Hey, Tiger, let my wife get some dinner. She needs her energy," B'Elanna said as she kissed the top of Ty's head.
"I'm betting you burned up quite bit of her energy already," Nara said as she sat next to Tach.
Janeway pushed her plate away. If she continued trying to eat around the Narian's and her crewmembers, she would certainly choke to death.
"B'Elanna, don't you get hot wearing that jacket all of the time?" Janeway asked, trying to change the subject to something that didn't involve B'Elanna and Seven's very active sex life.
"I only wear a tank top under it," B'Elanna said as she spun to sit facing the table. Ty wiggled, content on her lap. "I guess I like feeling the weight of it. I feel naked without it."
Tach started to comment, but a well placed elbow from Nara made him change his mind. Nara leaned forward. "B'Elanna, Seven, we've been thinking about something."
"And?" Seven looked over at her friend and put her fork down. Ty grabbed it, but B'Elanna disarmed him before he could do any real damage.
"Tach's brother left us his homestead. There are only 10,000 settlers on our planet. It's a solitary life and he wasn't cut out for it," Nara explained. "His land backs up to ours. It's yours if you want it."
B'Elanna and Seven said nothing, then looked at each other. They exchanged glances for a moment as if speaking telepathically. Janeway held her breath as she waited for them to answer.
Chapter 36: Home
Seven took B'Elanna's hand and squeezed it as she looked at Ty. Her eyes were full of emotion, and she nodded at her wife, letting B'Elanna take the lead.
"Nara, we love you more than we can say," B'Elanna began. She looked over at Janeway, seeing the older woman's eyes locked on her. "But, Voyager is our home. We will miss you, and our hearts will always feel your loss, even when we get back to the Alpha Quadrant, but we can't leave this ship, this crew. This is our family Our collective." B'Elanna smiled at Seven.
"Tach told me you'd say that," Nara said with a sad smile. "But we had to ask."
Neelix came over to the table and shook his head. "Nara, your cooking is quite a success. I've never seen anything like it," he said as he stood at the end of the table. "The crew begged me to ask you for the recipe."
"I'll give you all of my recipes, Mister Neelix. It will be nice for Seven and B'Elanna to have some reminder of us," Nara said.
"We will always remember you," Seven said as she squeezed B'Elanna's hand. The exdrone had tears in her eyes and she couldn't look at the Narian.
B'Elanna cleared her throat and reached around Ty to eat her meal. She silently broke off a piece of her biscuit and gave it to the boy. He happily chewed it, unaware of the topic being discussed.
The next three weeks passed too quickly for Seven but she was happy to have the time with Tach, Nara, and especially Ty. She enjoyed as much time as she could with her friends, but she had started up her regular duty schedule after taking only one week off.
Narian children generally walked by the time they were one year old yet Ty didn't bother with walking. He went from crawling to sprinting, not wanting to waste his time moving slowly. He dashed from one thing to the next. His two favorite targets were B'Elanna and Seven, followed closely by Naomi Wildman and Tuvok. Many nights B'Elanna would end her shift and meet Seven in the holodeck with Naomi and Ty running the Flotter program. That wasn't too surprising, but finding Tuvok there the majority of the time had taken some getting used to. Tuvok explained by saying that he wanted to make sure that Seven didn't have a relapse of her metabolic spike. That didn't explain why he was usually on the forest floor with Ty using him for a ladder.
B'Elanna was on the same work schedule as Seven, and she too was not looking forward to losing her Narian friends. B'Elanna tried to keep Seven's mind off of the impending loss of her friends, but it was an impossible task.
Kathryn Janeway found herself spending many hours with Nara, the spunky woman reminded the captain of a younger version of her own mother, and it was comforting to have someone on board who wasn't a member of her crew to confide in. She understood how B'Elanna and Seven had bonded with Nara and her family, and she found herself feeling a sense of loss as they approached the system where Tach and Nara lived.
Kathryn sat at her desk busily working on the latest energy consumption rates. With Tach's wheat replacing replicated food, Voyager had an amazing amount of surplus energy. Add to that the fact that Tach was currently helping to plant twelve fruit trees, and the energy totals would only be getting better. Kathryn's door chime sounded and she leaned back, glad for an excuse to take a break.
"Come in," the captain said as she pushed away the data padd.
"Good afternoon, Kathryn. Don't you ever take a break?" Nara came through the door carrying a stasis tray.
"Time just got away from me," Kathryn said as she stood. "What's that?" She pointed to the tray.
"A snack," Nara said as she came up the step to Janeway's desk. "I know you haven't eaten all day and I spent two days figuring out this recipe. I need you to tell me if I got it right." Nara lifted the cover off of the tray revealing a steaming loaf of bread.
Kathryn inhaled deeply, a smile covering her lips as her mouth watered. "It smells wonderful," Kathryn said. "Where did you get the recipe?" She reached out and took a slice from the end of the loaf and began covering it with butter.
"The recipe was easy," Nara said. "Tell me, who was this Betty Crocker? She was quite prolific."
"She was fictional character used for advertising campaigns." Kathryn laughed as she let the bread melt on her tongue. Her own mother would have been proud of the baked delicacy.
"The recipes are well written, and precise." Nara took a slice of bread for herself. "The hard part was coming up with yeast. Mister Neelix didn't want me to have it in his kitchen."
"We had a bad experience with cheese. It was contaminated with bacteria and infected the gel packs It did quite a bit of damage. I guess Neelix didn't want to risk a repeat, so he got rid of all the food cultures including yeast," Kathryn explained.
"Well, I can't imagine giving up on bread over a mishap," Nara said as she flopped into the chair across from Janeway.
"I can't imagine you giving up for any reason," Kathryn said with a sincere smile. "Is that a trait with all Narian women, or just you?"
Nara's eyes lost their spark and she suddenly looked very sad. "No, I wish it were," she said after a moment of reflection.
"I didn't mean to upset you, Nara," Kathryn said. She pushed the bread aside and leaned forward. Her slate blue eyes darkened with concern.
"I am lucky," Nara said as she leaned back and crossed her arms over her chest. "As are most of the women on Nador Omega. We are the descendants of first terra-formers. Our ancestors were atypical, strong women who were allowed to speak their minds. It is not so on Sha'Lar."
"Sha'Lar?" Kathryn asked quietly.
"The Narian home world. Sha'Lar means sacred land," Nara explained. "Ours is a culture that has many contradictions. We worship the great goddess, yet women are subjugated to the role of servants. If we lived on Sha'Lar, Tach would be mocked, or worse for letting me have a voice in our home."
"I had no idea," Kathryn said. "It's a way of thinking my people thankfully outgrew centuries ago."
"Well, I'm lucky enough to live as a post terra-former. With only ten thousand settlers, many of them are descendants of the original three hundred terra-formers. We don't waste our time with silly gender roles. We all do whatever needs doing."
"What about the rest of your people?" Kathryn asked. She was intrigued by the history unfolding with Nara's tale and impressed by the strength her friend showed in the face of societal oppression.
"Sha'Lar is approximately three years away at warp five, but the journey took much longer when my grandparents made the trip. My grandmother was only fifteen when she left with my grandfather. They were both top graduates from the Academy of Sciences," Nara smiled, her pride showing. "Grandmother was the first woman to graduate. It took ten years to reach Nador Omega, and they helped set up the initial planetary meteor nets." She looked up at Kathryn and put her feet up on the desk, smiling when Janeway's only response was to pull the bread out of her way. "Tach's grandfather invented the laser targeting mechanism. There's a large continent named after him," Nara said.
"So he's famous?" Kathryn asked, and she shook her head. Nara was entirely too comfortable with her feet on the captain's desk, but she didn't want to ask her move. "What does the targeting mechanism do?" Kathryn asked as she sat and leaned back and rested her own feet on the desk.
"Nador Omega orbits through seventeen asteroid belts. Before the planet could be terra-formed, they had to stop the impacts. The targeting mechanism aims and fires the orbiting phaser cannons up to thirty-three hundred times per second. It's the backbone to the defense system."
"That's pretty impressive." Kathryn sat up, her mind trying to wrap around the necessary programming to fire that many times on a regular basis. "And here I thought Tach was just a farmer."
"No," Nara shook her head. "He's a brilliant programmer, and a damn good pilot too. He was decorated when he served in the Stellar Guard. All of the men are drafted when they turn seventeen and they serve at least five years. Tach served eight."
"I look forward to seeing the meteor net. It sounds fascinating," Kathryn said. "Although I don't look forward to losing you or your family."
"Your crew has been incredible." Nara stood and put the stasis lid over the bread. "I'll ask Tach to call the Second Commander of the Stellar Guard. He went to the academy with Tach. I'll get you a first class tour of the facilities."
"I love having connections," Kathryn said with a smirk.
B'Elanna collapsed onto the couch in her quarters and let her head fall against the headrest. She was exhausted. A blown out plasma coil had meant that she had to spend an extra five hours working after her regular shift. She had spent four of those extra hours on her back, crammed into a crawl space that a Ferengi wouldn't have fit into. It had been hot and uncomfortable and she had banged most of the skin off of her knuckles as she used a spanner to remove the burned out coil. All she wanted to do was take to a hot bath and crawl into bed with her wife, but since her wife wasn't home, she knew the second half of her wish would have to wait.
She kicked off her boots, then stood and peeled off her sweat-stained uniform and left a trail of clothes to the bathroom. "Oh yeah," she said when she saw the fresh apple blossoms in a bowl near the tub. Seven must have left them for her. Her wife knew how much she liked to use them to add fragrance to her bath. She filled the tub with steaming water and was just about to step into it when she heard the door to her quarters open. She debated whether or not to climb into the beckoning oasis, but then remembered when Ty had dove headfirst in after her on a previous occasion. She grabbed her robe with a sigh and headed out to make sure Seven hadn't brought home company. She leaned around the door and saw Seven collapsed on the couch just like B'Elanna had been only minutes earlier.
"Hey, are you just getting off duty?" B'Elanna asked from the door. She noticed that Seven was wearing her adapted biosuit. It was blue and grey but had a smock that she wore to cover her growing stomach. She had almost finished her sixth month and her tall, lean frame could not hide her obviously pregnant belly.
"Yes," Seven said as she leaned back into the couch and sighed. "We will be reaching the Nador system tomorrow and the aft sensor array chose this time to go off-line." Seven closed her eyes and sighed again as exhaustion settled into every pore of her body.
"What was wrong?" B'Elanna moved closer, amazed by how much Seven had mirrored her earlier actions. She sat next to her wife and kissed her temple. Seven didn't even open her eyes but she did smile.
"There was a gamma radiation leak that corroded the wiring to the array. It took a great deal of time to find the damaged circuitry," Seven explained as she rolled over and rested her head on B'Elanna's shoulder. She nuzzled the fuzzy robe and sighed again, but this time it was a sound of contentment.
"Radiation?" Concern filled B'Elanna's voice.
"Be'nal, I had Ensign Harris handle the decontamination. I am aware of the protocol forbidding pregnant crewmembers from knowingly exposing themselves to any radiation." Seven groaned and rolled away from her wife. She tried to lean forward to remove her boots but her center of gravity had her pinned to the couch. "Lana, I am as big as a shuttle," Seven whined.
"I don't even like you on the same deck with a radiation leak," B'Elanna grumbled. "You should have been evacuated." She caressed Seven's cheek and then left a lingering kiss where her fingers had been. "And you are not as big as a shuttle maybe a class four probe, but not a shuttle."
"Do you enjoy our couch?" Seven asked as she tilted her head and studied B'Elanna.
"Yes, why?" B'Elanna scooted closer to her wife.
"Because if you continue to tease me, you shall sleep on it," Seven announced.
"How about if I help you out of that smelly uniform and we take a hot bath?" B'Elanna offered.
"Smelly?" Seven asked as she watched B'Elanna stand and then kneel in front of her.
"Kidding," B'Elanna said with a laugh.
"Couch," Seven responded. She smirked and lifted her foot.
"You'll forgive me once we slide into that hot bath," the Klingon said. She knew the water would have cooled enough to be comfortable for Seven. B'Elanna's higher temperature allowed her to tolerate much hotter water.
"We shall see," Seven said as she let B'Elanna pull her to her feet.
"Yes, we shall." B'Elanna leered at her wife.
Seven stood on the bridge at the auxiliary science station as Voyager entered the Nador system. Tach and Nara stood at the back of the bridge ready to speak to any of the Stellar Guard who might meet the Federation Starship at the border.
"We're dropping out of warp," Tom Paris said as the forward viewscreen changed from streaks of stars to a beautiful solar system with a huge gas giant in the distance and a scattering of planets throughout the area. The most dominating features of the system were the many meteor fields. The closest meteor belt was right off of Voyager's aft side and extended out of the scanners' range.
"Oh my," Janeway said as she studied the massive expanse of meteors and planetoids. "I've never seen so many meteors."
Tach moved forward from his position at the back of the bridge. "The field is wide, it covers hundreds of thousands of kilometers, but it isn't very deep," Tach explained. "We can fly over most of it."
"Mister Paris?" Janeway asked.
"He's right," Tom said as he adjusted the course.
"This is odd." Tach rubbed his jaw.
"What?" Janeway turned and faced him.
"The Stellar Guard usually keeps ships out here on maneuvers for eight months of the year. The new recruits spend days out here using these meteors for target practice," Tach said.
"I remember," Nara said as she took her husband by the arm. "You'd be out of contact for weeks."
"Why would they cancel the maneuvers?" Chakotay asked.
"That's just it," Tach said. "They wouldn't. This is one of the largest meteor fields and the Stellar Guard tries to destroy as many of them out here as possible. The recruits shoot at them for the eight months that Nador Omega is out of orbital range of this field. The remaining four months we must rely on the meteor net targeting system."
"The meteor field is immense. How can your people hope to make a difference?" Tuvok tilted his head to one side.
Nara let out a bark of laughter. "Mister Tuvok, in the last eight decades, the meteor fields have been reduced by over twenty percent. Hope is an endless well, and we drink from it often."
"Impressive," the Vulcan responded.
"Harry," Janeway said as she sat in her command chair. "Send a greeting on subspace to Nador Omega. Ask for an escort or at least permission to enter the system."
"Aye ma'am," he said.
"Captain," Seven said quietly.
"Yes?" Janeway turned. Something in the tone of the former drone's voice alarmed her.
"I believe I know why the Narians would abandon their target practice," Seven said. She had been using her long-range scanners to reach across the solar system. "The forth planet from the Nador sun is displaying massive amounts of radiation. There are also unusual heat readings."
"That's Nador Omega," Nara said. She moved closer to Seven and looked at the comm panel. "What does it mean?"
"I believe," Seven said slowly," That given the amount of sedimentary material in the atmosphere the meteor net has failed."
"That's not possible," Tach said, but his voice was full of genuine fear.
"I believe Seven is correct," Tuvok said as he checked the readings. He had routed Seven's scans through his terminal. "The level of radiation and heat would suggest at least four perhaps five Extinction Level Events."
"No," Nara said as she saw the data. "Can you get more precise readings?"
"We are still a great distance away," Seven said gently. "Only the Borg enhancements to the sensors allowed us to get this much information."
"Mister Kim," Tach said quickly. "Can you hail them using frequency 160.95? It's the channel of the Stellar Guard."
"Harry, do it. Use a general greeting. Tom, set a course for Nador Omega, maximum impulse," Janeway said. "Let's get a closer look."
"Already on it," Tom said as he finished his calculations. "Course set."
"Engage," Janeway said.
"How long before we get there?" Nara asked. She moved to Tach and linked her arm through his.
"Seven?" Janeway asked.
"Three hours and seventeen minutes," the former Borg responded.
"Harry?" Janeway said, "Any response on that frequency?"
"No, Ma'am," Harry said grimly.
Tach squeezed Nara's arm, suddenly glad that Ty was in the mess hall with Samantha and Naomi Wildman. "Try 94.25," Tach said. "It's a private channel."
Harry nodded and than then gave Tach a startled glance. "I'm getting something," Harry said.
"On screen," Janeway said as she faced the viewscreen.
"This is Commander Betoc. Who am I addressing?" A Narian man filled the screen. His straight black hair was streaked throughout with grey. His eyes were dark, and deep, and his thick eyebrows were bushy and had almost grown together in the middle. He looked at the screen, then his eyes widened. "Tach?"
"This is Captain Kathryn Janeway, and yes Tach is a guest on my ship," she said. She looked back at Tach and motioned for him to come down to the command level.
"Betoc, what's going on?" Tach asked immediately as he came down and stood next to Commander Chakotay. His years in the Stellar Guard had taught him that even with an invitation to join the captain on the command deck, that didn't mean he should stand in her personal space.
"Tach, thank the goddess you are safe." Betoc ran both hands through his hair. "We had listed you and Nara as lost."
"What happened?" Janeway asked gently.
"Captain Janeway, I did not mean to be impolite," Betoc said. "We are dealing with a planetary catastrophe. We have had multiple meteor strikes and are busy evacuating our people."
"How bad?" Tach asked.
"Level five," Betoc said as his eyes drifted down. "A freighter lost control and struck the laser cannon at Astgar. We lost the link."
"The other cannons should have compensated," Tach said as he calculated the damage to the system in question.
"It is Spring Solstice," Betoc said sadly. "There were already three cannons down for barrel changing."
Janeway turned to Tach, dozens of questions in her blue grey eyes.
"Spring Solstice is the most dangerous time of the year," Tach explained. "There are more meteors per minute than at any other time. The cannons overheat. The system can only handle losing any three at one time. If there was a catastrophic starship impact at one of the net's key stations that shut it down, meteors could get through."
Betoc nodded. "And with the electromagnetic pulses from the impacts, we lost long range communications. We couldn't call in help from the Stellar Guard. By the time they returned, it was too late."
Tach's expression grew dark, and for the first time since Seven had known him, she
saw true pain in his features.
"What does this level of damage suggest?" Seven asked as she moved toward her friend.
"The carbon dioxide as well as ash and debris in the atmosphere are at levels intolerable to habitation," Tach explained grimly. "With levels this high, it will take decades to repair the damage...and that's using the most modern terra-forming techniques."
"We have an even greater problem," Betoc said on the screen. "The primary targeting array that was damaged... we can't get it back online because of the structural damage. The fission reactor is off-line and we don't have anyone who can fix it."
"How can that be?" Janeway asked, thinking that if the Narians built it, they should be able to repair it.
"There was an engineering conference at Caldori," Betoc said with a grimace. "It is, or rather was, one of our coastal communities on the Tacarad continent. One of the larger meteors hit two kilometers off of the coast. The impact caused a sonic wave that toppled most of the structures even as the steam and vapor cloud came inland. It vaporized all organic material for 200 kilometers, and then a tidal wave over 300 meters high hit the coast." He looked away from the screen and sighed, then turned back. "The wave struck the shore and continued inland over 700 kilometers until it hit the coastal range. There were no survivors."
"None?" Tach asked as Nara buried her face into his chest.
"None," Betoc confirmed.
Tach looked over at Janeway. "We are from the Caldori province. I can make the repairs," Tach said.
"No," Nara said as she pulled away from her husband. "With the cannons down, it won't be safe. You're not in the Guard anymore."
"Nara," Tach said gently. "You know it's the right thing to do." He turned to the viewscreen. "Have any of the orbital cannons been hit?"
"Yes," Betoc said. "The array at Lesander three. One of the meteors got through and hit it. The cannon station was pushed into the planet's atmosphere and was vaporized. The remaining cannons are focusing on the larger meteors, but dozens of smaller meteorites are getting through and impacting the planet." He rubbed his temples and looked at the viewscreen. "Tach. If you're going to help, you must hurry. We haven't been able to shut down the remaining cannons for maintenance and they are overheating. We'll start losing them within the day."
"What can we do to help?" Janeway asked.
"It would be most helpful if you could provide cover for the repair crew," Betoc said. "Our planet will enter the densest meteor belt in just under 9 hours. With the trajectory we've plotted, we expect to lose the station in the first volley. The cannons have to be online before we reach the belt."
"I will assist him," Seven said. "I have engineering skills that will be useful."
"You're not going with him," Nara snapped. "My bull-headed husband may fly off into harm's way, but you two are not going with him." She pointed at Seven's belly. "Don't make me call B'Elanna down in Engineering."
"Let's not jump the gun," Janeway said. "We have three hours before we reach Nador Omega. I'm calling a staff meeting. Betoc, by the time we reach your location, we will have everything ready."
"Thank you, Captain Janeway," Betoc said. "I look forward to meeting you in person. May the goddess guide your journey."
"Thank you" Janeway said.
Kathryn Janeway sat at the table in the conference room and watched her First Officer pace. They were having a last minute discussion before the rest of the staff arrived.
"We can't interfere," Chakotay said as he crossed his arms over his chest. This is a clear violation of the Prime Directive."
"They are a space fairing race who we've already had first contact with," she countered.
"Contact, yes," he said as he walked over and stared out the window. "But that doesn't mean we should go flying in there and solve all of their problems. We can't change the course of their natural history."
"We've done it before," she said without getting up.
"That doesn't make it right, Kathryn," he said as he rubbed a smudge on the transparent aluminum. "And you know it."
"They asked for our help," Janeway said as she stood and went to where he was standing. "That makes us a part of their history."
Chakotay smiled and turned toward her. "Good point," he said. It was his job to play Devil's advocate, but at the moment, he didn't like it and was happy to be wrong.
The rest of the command staff arrived and sat around the table. Tach and Nara sat at the far end of the table and helped explain the situation. After thirty minutes, they had a working plan. Unfortunately, Tach insisted on going to the station alone.
"That's insane!" B'Elanna said. "You can't even do the repairs by yourself. I'm going with you."
Seven's eyes widened. "No," she said firmly. "I am the logical choice. I am stronger and have more experience with alien technology."
"No way in hell are you going," B'Elanna said. "I forbid it."
The room went dead quiet as the entire senior staff waited for the explosion. Seven turned to B'Elanna and folded her willowy arms across her bosom, then raised one eyebrow and tilted her head to the side.
"I am going," Seven said, not even addressing the fact that her wife had forbid her action.
B'Elanna saw the edge of Seven's lip twitch, letting her know that the matter
was not closed.
Janeway cleared her throat. "The last time I checked, I made the crew assignments on this ship."
Chakotay smirked, not mentioning that he was in charge of assignments. He figured it was not the time to cut her off.
"Captain," Tach said quietly. "I am touched by your concern, but this is my planet's problem. It is too dangerous to allow any of your crew to assist. I will fly my ship over and dock with the station and do the repairs."
"I can't force you to let us help you," Janeway said as she leaned forward. "But your chances would be a lot better if you let us."
"Tach, you are a stubborn ass." B'Elanna stood and went to where he was sitting and spun him in his chair. "I'm going with you. You need help, and I am the most qualified. It's my right."
"Your right?" Tach leaned back wondering if the Klingon was about to knock some sense into him.
"Yes, you old goat," B'Elanna said. "You are like a brother to me... a pain in the ass, obnoxious, condensing, teasing and annoying brother...but a brother none the less." She smiled down at him. "So I'm going."
Tach was touched, and looked over at Nara who was trying not to cry, then looked at Seven who was torn between the touching display and her anger at being overlooked.
"Seven," Tach said as he took her by the arm. "I'll borrow your wife, but I'll bring her back. You have my word. I'd take you...but that station is gonna' be full of radiation. That's no place for a baby...even an unborn one."
"That all right with you, Captain?" B'Elanna asked.
"Let's get to work," Janeway said as she stood. "We've got a lot to do before we get there."
The staff began to file out of the room, but Janeway stayed behind.
"B'Elanna, Tach, can I talk to you?"
"Of course," Tach said as he stopped. Nara stopped and waited with him.
"Ma'am?" B'Elanna asked. She looked over at Seven, who had stopped near the door waiting as well.
Janeway looked at the two couples, knowing that the spouses had just as much right to be in the meeting as did Tach and B'Elanna.
"Why don't we all have a seat," Janeway said as she pointed at the long table. "Tach, I want some more information about these meteor storms. Just how many meteors are we talking about?"
Tach sighed as he sat. "More than I can count," he said.
"I pulled up the sensor scans," Seven said. "There are hundreds of meteors that would be impacting if not for the phaser cannons." She accessed her data padd and put the projections onto the screen for the others to see.
"Kahless," B'Elanna said as she leaned forward and studied the image. There were hundreds of streaks slamming toward the planet, most being destroyed by the remaining phaser cannons. "It's gonna' be like flying into a machine gun barrel! That's not a meteor shower, it's a sandstorm with sixty-ton grains of sand."
"Perhaps you should stay behind," Tach suggested. "I can try to handle it myself."
"That's not an option," B'Elanna said.
"She's right," Janeway said. "Going alone would guarantee your failure. What if you took the Delta Flyer? It's a lot more maneuverable than your freighter."
"No," Tach said as he pointed to the many meteors. "My ship has complex programs that let the phasers self-target. If we take your shuttle, we will have to focus on firing and not the repairs. It would take days to convert my program to your systems."
"All right," the captain said. "I don't like it, but all right. What if I had someone else fly you in there? Keep a transporter lock on you from the ship? Tom Paris is the best pilot I've got."
Seven looked over at B'Elanna. "He is skilled. He would be the logical choice," Seven admitted.
"No," Tach said. "The ship is only set up for two in an emergency, and once we beam onto the station, we'll need all of the ship's energy focused on us."
"Why can't Voyager beam you over?" Seven asked. "That would be safer."
"That won't work," Janeway said. "We need to keep away from the atmosphere, and we need room to maneuver. The farther we are from the station, the better chance we have of shooting the meteors."
"Looks like it's you and me...brother," B'Elanna said with a smile.
"We will succeed, Fas'na," Tach said.
"Fas'na?" Seven asked.
"It means sister," Nara explained. "And since you are family... I guess Ty will have to get used to calling you Nana. That's Narian for aunt."
"Oh no," B'Elanna said as she shook her head. "No way in Hell I am going to be called... Nana B'Elanna. Forget it. It's not gonna' happen."
Seven smiled, but the captain actually laughed. "Well, Lieutenant, how about Nana Lana?" Janeway asked. She was glad the mood had lightened.
"No," B'Elanna said. "I'll be aunt B'Elanna. That's final."
"Nana Ba?" Nara asked.
"Oh, yeah," B'Elanna said with a snarl. "Why not just call me Ba Nana."
Janeway covered her mouth and her eyes sparkled.
"What is wrong with that?" Tach asked.
"A Banana is a terrain fruit," Seven explained.
"So?" Tach asked.
"Hey, brother," B'Elanna asked him. "Did I ever tell you what Tach means in Klingonasse?"
"No," he said slowly.
"It means a tavern, a place to get falling down, stupid drunk." B'Elanna smirked. "And generally, it means a tavern that isn't known for its cleanliness."
"Sounds perfect to me," Nara said.
"Well," Janeway said, "Nana B'Elanna, why don't you and Tach go do a last minute check of his freighter." She stood and looked at the two couples, hoping they would all be together when the mission at hand was finished. "I'll be on the bridge making sure Voyager is ready for our part in this."
"Thank you, Captain," Tach said sincerely. "I will do everything in my power to return B'Elanna safely. You have my word."
Janeway nodded as she left, her expression confident and full of trust. Inside she was going over the thousands of the ways that the mission could go wrong. She knew all too well from personal experience that one's intentions to keep someone safe didn't mean anything to the universe. A meteor hurling through space didn't know or care about vows of honor, and faced with a meteor, Tach's promise was worthless.
B'Elanna and Seven said their good-byes in the shuttle bay while Nara and Ty did
the same with Tach. Seven was angry with her wife for taking the dangerous mission, but
she understood it, and she wasn't about to part on negative terms.
"You will be careful?" Seven asked as she wrapped her arms around B'Elanna.
"Of course, Be'nal," B'Elanna responded. "I have too much to come back to. I don't want you worrying. It's not good for the little one." She rested her hand on Seven's belly and smiled warmly when she felt the child stir. She bent down and lifted Seven's shirt and then pressed her lips onto her belly. After planting a lingering kiss, she eased back and growled onto Seven's rounded stomach. The baby began moving immediately in response.
"I will keep us safe, my wife," Seven said. "You focus on returning. That is an order."
"Yes, ma'am," B'Elanna said. She smiled and leaned against Seven, wanting nothing more than to go back to their quarters. "Kiss me?" she asked.
"Always," Seven replied. She kissed B'Elanna gently, letting her love envelop the shorter woman and then pulled her tightly against her chest. They continued the sensual exchange as each woman let her fear fuel the passion. They broke apart, their breathing raged. "Come back to me and I will finish what we just started," Seven promised.
"Nothing will stop me," B'Elanna swore.
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