Valentine Rules of Engagement
**Old Earth calendar 13th February**
As soon as the doors to their quarters opened to reveal the preoccupied form of his wife, Tom Paris started in on his rehearsed speech of disapproval.
"Oh so you finally decided to come home then. I thought maybe you'd given up all pretence of an outside life and just moved in to engineering."
"What are you talking about Tom?"
"Oh well that's progress, at least you seem to remember my name."
"I'm not really in the mood for this." Ignoring her husband B'Elanna went straight to their bedroom to check on Anna, the three month old baby was sleeping soundly, oblivious to her parents brewing row.
"You're not in the mood?" Tom's voice rose in both volume and pitch. "Well that's not exactly new is it? You're never in the mood for anything, except work or playing with the baby."
"Keep your voice down!" B'Elanna urged, emerging from the bedroom she closed the door to allow her daughter some peace while Tom had another of his customary rants. If only she could curl up in the cot next to her little girl and not have to listen to his constant complaints, then she'd be happy.
"Okay, so where have you been?" Tom demanded, the lowered tone not hiding his anger.
"You know where I've been, Seven and I were modifying the sensor array."
"You and Seven? I should have known you'd be with the Borg."
"Don't call her that." B'Elanna was starting to get angry now, she'd been surviving on four hours sleep a night for the past three months, and the last thing she needed was Mr 'high and mighty' Paris questioning her movements or insulting her friends.
"I'm so sorry, I forgot she's your new best friend." His sarcastic comment was accompanied by a sneer, the way Seven and B'Elanna appeared to have bonded over the last six months was an almost reverse copy of his own disintegrating relationship with his wife, and so to be scorned.
"Just what is your problem flyboy?"
"You. You're my problem."
"Oh what now?" B'Elanna pushed by him to the couch. "Did I forget to curtsey low enough when you entered? Or maybe I failed to have your dinner replicated for when you got in from your hard day of sitting about watching while the ship ran on autopilot?"
"Lanna come on, lets not fight okay?" Knowing that when B'Elanna started attacking his piloting skills that he'd gone too far, Tom decided to try a different approach. "I'm just on edge because I miss you, we never seem to spend anytime together."
"And that's my fault?"
"No, of course not." Sitting by B'Elanna on the couch Tom tried putting his arm around her, but the irritated woman simply moved to the farthest end of the seat out of his way. "Come on Lanna, even you have to admit you spend a lot of time down in engineering."
"I'm the Chief Engineer, so of course I spend a lot of time down there." She gave him a look that questioned not only his intelligence but also his sanity. "Besides I've halved my hours since the baby came, which is more than I can say for you. You act like some primitive ape man who expects me to look after the baby just because I'm a woman."
"That's not fair, I look after her while you're on duty."
"Oh wow yeah, I forgot those gruelling four hours a day you put in while she's asleep."
"I've offered to get us a baby-sitter so we can go out one night." Tom's tone took on a hurt quality, his usefulness as a father having been questioned.
"I'm too tired to go out."
"You weren't too tired to spend all day with Seven playing around with the sensors."
"We were working!" Getting up B'Elanna turned her back on Tom with the pretext of replicating a drink, the real reason was that she could no-longer bring herself to look at the man.
"Well what about last night then?" Tom followed B'Elanna to the replicator blocking her exit. "The two of you sat in here for hours playing with the kid and going over reports. You weren't too tired for that were you?"
"Her name is Anna, not the kid, and in case you've forgotten she happens to by our child, and so yes I like to spend time with her." B'Elanna looked at him with disgust. "Maybe you should try it sometime."
"Well maybe if Seven wasn't here all the time I would."
"Aren't you forgetting something?" B'Elanna questioned.
"You were the one who asked me to come home early and look after Anna so you could go play in the holodeck with Harry." A strong Klingon finger bashed into his chest with increasing force. "Seven was simply kind enough to change the venue of our meeting to here so that YOU could go have fun."
"But what about all the other times? That Borg is always round here." Trying to be inconspicuous Tom massaged the now very sore, and no doubt bruising, spot on his chest. "Even when she's not here you're out someplace together, taking the kid, I mean Anna, to the holodeck or the hydroponics bay."
"Seven happens to be my friend, and I like spending time with her." B'Elanna thought about mentioning she'd rather spend time with the ex-drone than Tom any day, but decided for the sake of her dwindling energy reserves to try and put a stop to the argument and get some sleep. "If I could I'd spend more time with you, but with the baby and our schedules it's difficult."
"But don't you see, that's why we have to make more of an effort to be with one another." Tom granted his wife a condescending smile, having presumed he'd won the argument. "Tomorrow's Valentines Day, how about I get us a baby-sitter and we go to the party the Captain's hosting? It'll give us time to ourselves as a couple."
"That's great." Leaning forward Tom placed a chaste kiss on B'Elanna's lips. "I'll see if they can keep the baby until the morning, give us time to really be ourselves." His wink was met with a look of boredom.
"Okay, that's settled." Moving towards the doors Tom heard the distinctive sounds of Anna waking up. "I think the baby needs you, I'm meeting Harry for a few hours in Sandrines, see you later." With that he was gone.
**Old Earth calendar 14th February**
Icheb absentmindedly drummed his fingers against the astrometrics console, his uncharacteristic behaviour earning him a raised ocular implant from his mentor and friend.
"Is there something bothering you?" Seven enquired, having learnt that particular gesture was often a sign of nervousness.
"No." He looked down at his still tapping fingers and ceased their activity. "I was unaware of my actions, I shall desist in future." Seven just nodded and continued with her work. The young boy also attempted to continue with his work but the excitement he was no-longer able to express through his drumming fingers found an outlet in some very un-Borglike rambling. "Non-conscious muscular movement is an interesting phenomenon, messages transported through the nervous system to.."
"Are you sure there is nothing wrong?" Seven interrupted, it was so unusual for the boy to say more than three consecutive words.
"I believe I am experiencing excitement due to the upcoming Valentines party." Icheb admitted.
"I see." Uninterested Seven turned back to her work.
"Will you be attending?"
"I had not planned on doing so, although the Captain has suggested that it would be beneficial if I were to attend." A slight frown crossed her face, "However I fail to see the benefit of the occasion."
"It is a celebration of romance." Icheb supplied, he had been given a quick description of the event from Naomi Wildman, who had been unusually moody due to being denied access to the party by her mother. "The Captain probably assumes it would be to your advantage to interact on a more informal basis with possible future romantic partners."
The ocular implant jumped alarmingly high on Seven's brow. "She expects me to find a partner at this event?"
"Not necessarily today." Icheb reassured.
"All of the senior staff and most of the Alpha and Beta shifts will be in attendance, you would be conspicuous by your absence." In truth the boy was too nervous to go by himself and the only person he felt really comfortable with was Seven.
"All of the senior staff?" Seven double checked.
"Yes, Ensign More agreed to baby-sit for Naomi Wildman and Anna Torres-Paris so both of their parents could attend. Mr Kim has also relinquished the command of the Gamma shift in order to attend the event."
"I see." Waiting a moment Seven appeared to rethink her earlier decision, in truth the moment she'd heard that B'Elanna would be in attendance she'd decided to go. "In that case you may be correct, my absence would be conspicuous, therefore I believe it would be prudent for me to attend."
"If you are agreeable I will accompany you, as I believe we are meant to arrive in pairs."
"Acceptable." Seven turned back to her console for a moment. "Why are we expected in twos?"
"I am unsure." He stood motionless while accessing his Borg acquired memory, but it would seem the Collective didn't judge knowledge about Valentines Day worthy of assimilation. "I could search the Federation database for information on the celebration."
"We do not have the time." The blonde wasn't really interested in even more human customs, besides they were still on duty. "Besides I'm sure the Captain will inform us of any special regulations."
Having dutifully arrived at the Valentines party with her husband, B'Elanna wasted no time in ditching Tom and finding someone a bit more interesting to talk to, in this case Chakotay and Mr Neelix. This left Tom free to chat with Harry and start a running commentary on all the good looking women at the gathering.
"Look at that dress Nicoletti's wearing, you can tell she bought it with the single minded intention of some lucky soul taking it off of her tonight."
"What makes you think that Tom?" Harry quickly looked around to make sure no-one could overhear his friend.
"It's obvious." Tom unconsciously licked his lips as he imagined the dresses removal. "I mean just look at the thing, it's only held up by that clasp at the shoulder, one tiny movement and the whole things a discarded mound on the floor."
"I guess." Harry just thought the dress looked nice, and the colour suited Susan.
"I'll bet you a months replicator rations she's wearing sexy black lingerie underneath."
"No bet." The younger man was getting more and more embarrassed by his friends comments.
"Come on Harry don't be a spoil sport."
"I said no, besides there's no way we'd be able to find out even if she was."
"Sure there is." A lecherous gleam entered Tom's eyes as he began planning a series of manoeuvres to part Susan Nicoletti from her clothing. His thoughts were interrupted by an elbow to the ribs, "Hey!"
"The Captain." Harry whispered before looking up to smile at the approaching woman. "Lovely party Captain."
"I'm glad you're enjoying it Harry."
"Yeah, great party." Tom agreed.
Janeway smiled at the helmsman before inclining her head to indicate B'Elanna on the other side of the room. "It's good to see you persuaded B'Elanna to attend, I know she's been rather snowed under, what with a new baby and work to worry about."
"Well you know B'Elanna, trying to get her to slow down isn't easy." Tom smiled over at his wife, she in turn pretended she hadn't seen him smirking at her. "I do as much as I can to help with the baby, but even so she's never satisfied until she's double checked everything herself."
"She probably thinks you'll put the babies nappy on the wrong end." Harry added, earning a laugh from Janeway and a frown from Tom.
"She knows full well how responsible I am with my child." Tom said stiffly.
Harry was about to say that was why she would worry, when the Captain interrupted them both to call over a newly arrived Icheb and Seven.
"It's good to see you could both make it." Kathryn bestowed a warm smile on the two former Borg, although her attention was firmly fixed on the female of the pair. They both merely nodded in agreement while surveying the large room.
"So Seven, did you get any Valentines cards?" Harry asked hopefully, having left one for her himself earlier that day.
"What are they?" The blonde inquired. "Was I suppose to bring them this evening?"
Tom laughed at Seven's lack of knowledge while both the Captain and Harry just smiled indulgently. "No they're not something you bring, they're something you're given." Harry tried to explain, but from the frowns forming on both the ex-Borg's brows he knew his attempt was failing. "It's a piece of card with a greeting written inside, and Valentines ones usually have cute pictures on the front, like hearts and flowers or something."
"What is the purpose of the card?"
"Well it's a way of declaring your love to someone." Harry blushed. "On Valentines you get to tell the person you love how you feel."
"Is it mandatory that you declare your love?" Seven tried to clarify, it seemed a strange ritual but then no stranger than some of the others she had witnessed.
"Yeah Seven, it's a Valentine rule." Tom smirked.
"Indeed." Seven looked rather pensive at this news.
"So is there someone you should be declaring yourself to?" Tom pushed, he smelled a juicy bit of gossip and wasn't above tricking the young woman to get it.
"Yes." Kathryn and Harry just stood there, both knew they should intervene and explain to Seven that the declaration wasn't infact compulsory, but each secretly hoped the young Borg would proclaim her love for them. "Although I had not thought it appropriate to mention who."
"Why not?" Tom dug further.
"Because she is already married to you." Seven answered truthfully.
Tom just looked at her in open mouthed shock, unable to process the notion of the blonde in love with his wife. Kathryn and Harry shared a look of unrequited love before their faces took on an 'uh oh!' expression as they realised the possible implications of what they had conspired to get Seven to admit.
"You mean you're in love with B'Elanna?" Tom had to hear the words spoken before he could truly believe them.
"Yes I am."
Face turning a dark crimson Tom turned from the group and stormed over to where B'Elanna was laughing with Chakotay and Neelix. Seven followed his progress with a look of utter confusion, while Janeway and Harry began inching forward ready to mount damage control.
"You bitch!" Tom screamed at his wife, grabbing her arm he forced her to turn and face him. "I knew something was wrong, you haven't let me come near you in months, but I never thought even you would go so low as to fuck the Borg." All eyes in the room focused on the couple as B'Elanna wrenched her arm from Tom's bruising grip.
"What the hell are you talking about?" Anger and confusion laced B'Elanna's voice, "Are you drunk or something?"
"Don't try and act all innocent, the Borg's already admitted it." Tom seethed.
"That she's in love with you." Tom made another grab for B'Elanna's arm. "So come on then how long have you been fucking her? Was it before our wedding night or after?"
"I have no idea what you're talking about." Through the confusion and anger B'Elanna experienced a moment of joy when Tom mentioned Seven saying she was in love with her, but it didn't last long, it was probably just another drunken fantasy on her husbands behalf, just like the idea of them having an affair.
Harry came over to try and calm his friend down, but just received a shove to the ground for his troubles. "God! I was so dense, you were practically doing her in front of me and I never even noticed. Did it make you feel good? Parading your little mechanical play toy infront of me, did you both have a good laugh at my expense?"
"I don't know what you thinks been going on but whatever it is you're wrong."
"Don't lie to me." Tom's screams reached to the far end of the room, spittle flying from his mouth as he gestured forcefully towards a dumbstruck Seven. "You and that bitch have made a fool of me for the last time. I want out of this sham of a marriage, lets see if the ice queen over there can satisfy you." With that he turned and stormed out of the now silent room.
All eyes in the room focused on B'Elanna, the young woman was just standing there in shock, she couldn't understand what had just happened, one moment she'd been happily listening to Neelix describe a scouting mission to some far off Delta Quadrant pleasure spot, the next Tom was ending their marriage. Finally looking up she locked glances with Seven, her supposed lover, who was looking just as baffled as she was, albeit in a Borg way.
Seven made her way to the half Klingon. "I am sorry B'Elanna." Looking over her shoulder she followed the now deserted path left by Tom Paris. "I do not know what happened, I never said we were involved."
"It's not your fault." B'Elanna didn't really know who's fault it was, or if it was anybody's, but she knew Seven wouldn't spread untruths about them. "I erm, excuse me Seven, Captain." Needing some time on her own B'Elanna left the room.
"Okay the shows over, lets all get back to the party." Janeaway instructed the gawking audience.
Seven waited a few minutes then left for her alcove.
**Old Earth calendar 15th February**
For the third time that morning B'Elanna read through the data pad Harry had regretfully dropped off for her only an hour ago. It was a brief document stating a petition by Thomas Eugene Paris for the dissolution of his marriage to B'Elanna Torres, and equal visitation rites to his daughter Anna P'nar Torres-Paris. The reason for the divorce had been given as irreconcilable differences, unknown to B'Elanna it had taken half a night of persuasion from Harry to change Tom's original reason, which had been adultery. What Harry didn't realise is that if he'd allowed Tom to site adultery then B'Elanna would have refused the divorce, as she had never been unfaithful. As it was the term irreconcilable differences seemed to sum up the last five or six months of their marriage perfectly. So with a heavy heart and tears cascading down her cheeks B'Elanna pressed the button on the pad that would agree to the terms and so end her marriage.
Picking up her baby B'Elanna hugged the little girl, crying softly into her hair and taking comfort from the feel of the baby soft skin. "I'm so sorry Annie, I'm so sorry." The loss of her husband was something B'Elanna had taken with ease, she'd know the marriage was over for a long while, but the loss of Anna's father was a blow, even though she knew he would still be around, and would visit the child, it just wasn't the same. So for that she cried.
B'Elanna looked towards the door, she didn't really want to talk with anyone but knew that if she refused whoever it was entry she would only end up with a string of concerned friends on her door.
Cautiously Seven of Nine entered the room, her eyes immediately picking up the traces of recently shed tears. "Are you damaged?" In two long strides she was by the mother and child examining them both. "Is Anna unwell?"
"No she's fine, we're both fine." Freeing an arm B'Elanna tried to wipe the tears from her cheek, her erratic swipes were soon pushed aside as Seven gently stroked her face with a surprisingly warm hand, clearing all signs of tears.
"If you are both well why were you crying?" Seven's voice was soft, the sight of B'Elanna in tears had disturbed and pained her.
"Here." B'Elanna handed her the data pad.
After reading the contents Seven's look of concern doubled in intensity. "I am sorry Lieutenant, I was wrong, it is my fault." Starting to pace she turned to regard mother and child. "I could speak with Mr Paris, properly explain my comments from yesterday."
"There's no need Seven." Looking down at Anna B'Elanna admitted the truth. "It's for the best this way."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes." That decided it was like a weight had been lifted from B'Elanna's shoulders, but with it she began to again wonder what had transpired yesterday to make Tom act in this way. "Seven, what exactly did you say to Tom?"
"I said that I thought it inappropriate for me to mention with whom I was in love as you were already married to him." Seven replayed the conversation in her mind to best describe the events to the other woman. "Then he asked me to confirm that I was in love with you and so I did."
"You... Why?" The blood seemed to have vacated B'Elanna's brain, making coherent thought very difficult.
"Because it is a Valentine rule."
"Lieutenant Paris stated that on Valentines Day you are expected to divulge who you are in love with." Seven was beginning to realise that the rules were perhaps a figment of Tom's imagination. "I would not have said anything but I thought it was mandatory."
"And you said me?"
"Oh." B'Elanna blushed an interesting shade of red. "Is that true?"
"Oh." B'Elanna just looked at the young blonde in confusion, too much had happened already today for her to take it all in.
Feeling awkward Seven stepped back from the others. "If you will excuse me Lieutenant I am scheduled to begin my duty shift."
"Yeah, sure Seven."
With that the lanky ex-Borg made her escape from the now totally overwhelmed engineer.
**Old Earth calendar 16th February**
Neelix spotted B'Elanna with the baby patiently waiting in line by the kitchen counter for her evening meal. The young mother and child seemed oblivious to those around them, which was fortunate as most of the people surrounding the two couldn't keep their eyes off them. News of the events at the Valentine party had spread rapidly throughout the crew, and most if not all were anxious for any sign of further gossip.
"Good evening B'Elanna," he greeted warmly, "and how's my little Anniekins doing today?"
"She's being a good little girl today, aren't you Annie?" B'Elanna cooed at her daughter. "She managed to sleep for nearly six hours straight last night." She confided in Neelix. "I think it's the first six full hours of sleep I've gotten since time began."
The Talaxian laughed at B'Elanna's weary but proud sigh. "I remember when my sister was a baby, she kept the whole house up for a month with her night time crying, in the end mother and father took it in turns to take us to a friends to sleep over." His own smile of remembrance was slightly marred by the knowledge he would never again see his sister, as she'd died some time ago. "I still think of her every time I hear a baby cry."
Seeing the sad look enter his eyes B'Elanna held out the baby for him to hold, not something she allowed many people to do. "Can you hold her for me a minute, I think my arms going to sleep."
"Yes, yes of course." A smile the size of a dinner plate consumed Neelix's face as he looked down at the tiny bundle. "Why don't you sit down and I'll fetch you something to eat."
"Thank you." B'Elanna made to retake the baby. "Do you want me to take her?"
"No, no I'm fine." Neelix skipped towards the kitchen talking nonsense to the baby until he noticed B'Elanna hadn't moved. "You go and sit, we'll be with you in a minute."
Her eyes still following the pair B'Elanna sat at the closest table.
"Here you go, Malarni casserole and boiled potato, one of your favourites." Neelix deposited the plate and took his place across the table, keeping hold of the baby.
"Mmm it looks nice." B'Elanna took a welcome bite of the tasty dish, but her eyes constantly returned to her sleeping daughter. "Are you okay, or would you like me to hold her?"
"I'm fine, you eat." Neelix urged. "Oh, unless you'd rather take charge of her?"
B'Elanna noticed his disappointed tone and realised she was being over protective. "No that's okay you hold her." With a smile she once again began demolishing her food.
"I can imagine it's hard to pass them over to someone else when they're so little." The Talaxian began blowing raspberries at the little girl, much to her delight.
"Yeah, I didn't think I'd be so protective, I mean I've known and worked with most of the people on this ship for nearly seven years, but there are only a few I'd trust to hold my baby."
"Well she is a lot more precious than a warp core." Neelix added understandingly.
"Yeah, and I'm sure when she gets a bit older I won't worry so much, but for now her list of pickers up is restricted to me, you, Seven, Sam Wildman, Harry, Tuvok, oh and Tom." B'Elanna thought for a second. "Maybe Eliza More, I mean she did baby-sit that once, but I was a wreck when it came to leaving Annie there, fortunately Naomi was there too so it seemed all right. So I guess it should really be Naomi's name I add, after all she's picked her up a few times when we were both visiting Seven, and after the first time I didn't worry at all."
"She's a responsible girl." Neelix concurred. "I noticed neither the Captain or Commander Chakotay made it onto your list."
"Oh, you noticed that." B'Elanna seemed a little embarrassed. "It's not that I don't trust them, I mean when she's a few months older I'd gladly let them look after her for a while, but well, neither of them has much experience of kids."
"Ah, I understand." Neelix debated whether to ask his next question but he was concerned about his friend and wanted to make sure she was really okay. "How are things going with you and Tom? You don't have to say anything if you'd rather not."
B'Elanna considered his question and whether or not she wanted to answer it, of all the people on the ship Neelix was one of the few she'd trust with her daughter, and she realised also one of the few she'd trust with her secrets. "You heard about the divorce?" Neelix nodded. "Well I can't say I like the circumstances under which it happened, but I'm glad it's finally over. I just hope the crew doesn't believe all that stuff Tom was raving about, not so much for my sake, but Seven has enough prejudice to deal with just being a former Borg, she doesn't need the crew believing she broke up a marriage too."
"Unfortunately there are some people on board who are more than ready to blame either a former Borg or member of the Maquis for practically anything. For them it would just be a case of the outsiders interfering in a Starfleet officers marriage." His uncharacteristic pessimism displayed just how much this troubled the normally cheerful Talaxian. It wasn't only the thought of other peoples narrow minded views that bothered him, but the idea that it might form a barrier between B'Elanna and Seven. "Have you spoken to Seven since the party?"
"Yes, she came to see me the next day." Having finished her meal B'Elanna reached over for Anna, somehow finding comfort in holding her child. "I'd not long received the divorce document and wasn't exactly at my best."
"What happened?" Neelix feared they had an argument.
"She offered to talk with Tom, but I told her not to bother."
"You know Seven is extremely fond of you and the baby, it would be a shame if this put a barrier between you."
Looking round B'Elanna leaned across the table to whisper to Neelix. "She said she was in love with me."
Neelix wasn't surprised the signs had been there for anyone to see. "How do you feel about her?" Again he believed he knew the answer but it would require B'Elanna admitting the truth to herself first.
Sitting back in her chair B'Elanna thought seriously about the question for a moment before reaching a decision. Leaning back across the table she was about to give her answer when..
"Hi Lanna." Tom said rather loudly, making the two conspirators jump.
"For Christ's sake Tom don't sneak up on people like that." B'Elanna snapped.
"Sorry." Giving Neelix a meaningful look he continued. "Look can we talk, in private?"
"I thought you like talking in public." She accused. "If you have something to say then say it."
"All right." Tom held up his arms in a sign of surrender before taking the seat Neelix had just decided to vacate. "I spoke with Seven this morning, she convinced me that nothing had been going on between you and that all the feelings were strictly on her side only. I was wrong Lanna and I wanted to apologise."
"You.. " B'Elanna cut off the name she was going to call him in deference to the child now sleeping in her arms. "You dishonoured both me and Seven infront of nearly the entire crew with your wild accusations." The raised voice was beginning to attract the attention of other diners, not to mention disturbing the child.
"I know and I'm truly sorry."
"That's not good enough!" B'Elanna's temper was getting out of hand so she took a calming breath to regain her focus. "I want an apology infront of everyone, the Captain, the rest of the senior staff, and not just for me, I want you to apologise to Seven too, she did nothing wrong."
"She admitted being in love with you." He protested.
"So? That's not a crime, she never would have said anything if you hadn't tricked her into it."
"Okay, I'll apologise."
"What?" Tom looked round him at the nearly full mess-hall. "I can't do it here."
"I'll give you ten minutes to arrange for the senior staff to be here." With that B'Elanna turned her back on her ex-husband.
Eight and a half minutes later a baffled senior staff and intrigued population of the mess-hall all quietened down to listen to Lieutenant Tom Paris.
"I'm here now to make an official apology." He smiled down at a non-responsive B'Elanna. "Two nights ago at the Valentines party I made some rash, and I now know incorrect accusations against my then wife B'Elanna Torres and Seven of Nine. I wish to apologise to both of these women for my behaviour and comments on that occasion, and I want to state for the record that I do not believe either of them would carry out the sort of underhanded act of which I condemned them." Tom again looked towards B'Elanna to gauge if he'd said enough, and this time he received a tiny nod in acknowledgement. "So basically that's it, I'm sorry B'Elanna and you too Seven, and I hope you can both forgive me." At the last part he couldn't resist giving the room one of his most boyish smiles.
"Fine." B'Elanna muttered as she prepared to leave.
"Before everyone goes there is one more thing I'd like to add." Tom's raised voice managed to recapture his audience. "I made a terrible mistake two nights ago, but it pales into insignificance next to the mistake I made the following morning. That mistake was to ask my lovely wife for a divorce, it is a mistake I would very much like to correct." Here Tom turned to focus on B'Elanna. "I was a fool Lanna, please take me back."
There were sighs from a few women in the audience but B'Elanna was oblivious to them as her eyes sought out the ocean blue of Seven of Nine's. The tall blonde looked to be in a state of shock, her hands trembling in agitation as she waited for the reply to the last part of Tom's speech. "I'm sorry Tom but I don't think so."
"What? Why?" He blurted having been so sure she would welcome him back.
Looking straight into Seven's eyes B'Elanna smiled warmly, "Because I'm in love with Seven."
Passing a shocked and stuttering Tom B'Elanna stopped infront of Seven and held out her hand not occupied in holding the baby. "Can we go somewhere and talk?"
Nodding Seven's placed her hand in B'Elanna's and followed her out of the room.
Having entered her quarters B'Elanna went straight to the cot in the bedroom and lay Anna down to sleep. Seven followed her and watched enchanted as the tiny child curled up in slumber. "She is beautiful." Seven commented, her eyes feasting on the light brown hair and slight forehead ridges so like her mothers. "She looks like you."
"Thank you." Still looking down at her daughter B'Elanna asked. "Do you know why I called her Anna?"
"She was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen so I decided to name her after the most beautiful and precious person I knew."
"And her name is Anna?" Seven asked, wondering exactly what this woman's relationship was to B'Elanna.
"Well actually her names Seven, but when she was a child it was Annika, I just kind of shortened it so no-one would know." B'Elanna turned away at the last part in an attempt to hide her blush.
"You named her after me?" The joy in Seven's voice pulled B'Elanna around to look into the radiantly smiling face. With her nod of affirmation a lone tear made its way down Seven's cheek. "Thank you B'Elanna, I.. Thank you."
Feeling her hearts constrict with the sight B'Elanna moved forward to engulf the taller woman in an embrace. The hug was warm and friendly a sign of family not desire. After a few minutes they released their hold and with a shyness neither had experienced in years they made their way out into the living area.
"Would you like a drink?" B'Elanna suddenly thought to ask as the silence became uncomfortable.
"I do not require, I mean I am not thirsty at the moment." Seven corrected herself. "Thank you." She added on the end as her lessons on politeness resurfaced.
They sat next to one another on the couch, their hands firmly placed on their knees, and at least six inches of space between them. They sat like that for almost five minutes without a sound, "Kahless! This is ridiculous." B'Elanna stormed and turned on the couch to face Seven, the action having the added pleasure of placing her leg into contact with Seven's hip. "We're sitting here like two teenagers on their first blind date."
"I am unsure of how to behave." Seven admitted. "I have never been in this position before."
"Well me either really." Reaching over B'Elanna captured Seven's hands between her own. "What I said in the mess-hall, I just want you to know that I meant it. I love you Seven."
A smile captured Seven's face. "I love you too."
For a few moments the two just sat there staring at each other, both overwhelmed by what they had finally been able to declare and receive, love.
"Can I kiss you?" Seven's voice was tentative, not through fear of rejection but the excitement of being given permission to finally feel B'Elanna's lips against her own.
Leaning towards one another their lips met, gently at first but with growing passion as arms took their place holding onto each other, fingers caressing the others skin. Words of love were exchanged as two friends became lovers, and their household became a family.
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