|Primary Characters:||B’Elanna Torres, Harry Kim, Tom Paris, Janeway|
|Warning:||Adult themes, violence, bdsm|
|Description:||Tom Paris can’t get over the events that occurred durng the 9 1/2 days. He leaves B’Elanna and takes his daughter with him. B’Elanna and Harry ask Chakotay to enlist Janeway’s help. THat might have been a mistake.|
Harry Kim’s shift ended and with relief he left the Bridge. He entered the turbo lift and was about to tell the computer which deck he wanted, when he became aware of the fact that the two people who were inside seemed unusually quiet. Not that Seven of Nine ever seemed to be much for small talk. Surreptitiously, he kept glancing at Seven and Corey out of the corner of his eye, without seeming too obvious about it. It was a while until the realization hit him. They had been kissing, or something. The two former Borgs – That was something Harry had never expected.
For a moment, he had completely forgotten that he’d been dying to date Seven himself not too long ago. The idea that two Borgs – former Borgs, naturally – would be making out, left him stunned. Was it his imagination or was Seven blushing? Surely not. Still, if it had been any other female member of the crew, that would have been the only conclusion he could come to. Seven’s pale Nordic complexion didn’t leave much to the imagination.
Chuckling inside, Harry couldn’t wait to tell B’Elanna of what he’d just almost stumbled across. With a mental sigh, he recalled just how much his lover needed cheering up. It was only about six weeks since she and Tom Paris had broken up, but it was as if the passionate half-Klingon girl just couldn’t get over her loss.
His amusement turned to concern, and as he walked along the corridor towards his and Lanna’s cabin, he was wondering what, if anything, he could do to help. It wasn’t that he didn’t think Lanna loved him. During their time together, he’d finally been able to trust in their feelings for each other. He just had a feeling B’Elanna couldn’t forget the love she and Tom had shared. For a while, their relationship had been the most sizzling aboard the Voyager, except possibly the one between Captain Janeway and her First Officer Chakotay.
Harry entered the cabin, glancing around anxiously for his lover. He couldn’t see her or the children anywhere.
Could she have gone out again, taking the children with her? He would have thought she would have left him a message, if something had come up. Just to make sure, he asked the computer for any stored messages. Nothing. Usually, no one in the crew would be so busy they couldn’t receive a brief personal message anyway.
Harry looked into their bathroom but no one was there. That left their bedroom.
There were only a few ‘family’ crew quarters aboard the Voyager. He and B’Elanna and Tom had been delighted when they’d been allowed to settle in one of them. The more spacious ‘suites’ were highly coveted, but not even the members of the crew who were in relationships were allowed to use them, unless they had at least one child. Samantha Wildman still shared her single cabin with her daughter Naomi, even if the child was shooting up faster than any full-blooded Terran child.
Of course, Naomi was half Ktarean. Harry had no recollection of the growth rates of Ktarean children if he’d ever been required to learn them at the Academy.
He looked inside and caught sight of B’Elanna’s hunched over form, sitting on the bed. Harry felt a stab of pain, wondering if she was sick or if something had happened to one of the children. B’Elanna was holding one of the babies in her arms and Harry couldn’t see which one it was. A cold hand seemed to be clutching his heart.
He sank down on the bed and placed a gentle hand on Lanna’s shoulder. At first she didn’t even seem to notice, then she looked up, her eyes filled with tears.
By now, Harry had had time to determine that the baby was his son and secondly, that the baby seemed to be fine. Catching sight of his father, the baby made a noise that Harry had no trouble identifying as a happy one. He fondled the child’s cheek, but felt unable to focus completely on his offspring, now that his lover was in such distress.
“Lanna? What’s wrong? Where’s little Lanna?”
“Tom’s taken her. He says -“
B’Elanna was overcome with a fit of sobbing alarming Harry so he instinctively reached for his lover and pulled her into his arms. She pressed her face into his shoulder and kept sobbing so quietly he had a hard time recognizing her. This was more typical of her Terran half than the Klingon part of her.
It was a while until he could get anything else out of her. By then, he’d been able to pry his son out of her arms and was able to change, wash and feed the boy, then put him to bed, while still listening to Lanna’s account.
“He – says he wants custody of her. After what I did, he doesn’t want me in his life anymore. After what I did? What about him? Tell me honestly what you think, Harry?”
“He’s out of his mind. You’re her mother. It’s bad enough that he’s blaming you for what happened down on that planet. This – I can’t believe he’s changed this much.”
“I don’t know.”
B’Elanna still looked devastated and crushed, but somehow, she had a look of desperate clarity on her face.
“I think – I mean – looking back, doesn’t it seem as if he wanted to change me? To turn me into one of those little 20 century housewives. He always loved that century. Can’t see why. It was primitive, intolerant, violent – you know what I mean. Maybe – I was fooled into thinking this was more than it really was. On his part anyway. I know what I felt – what I’m still feeling – but what if I was wrong about his feelings for me? Would you like me to change?”
Harry didn’t even have to think about that one. He couldn’t help grinning happily, despite the gravity of the situation, as he recalled how he’d felt the night he’d been allowed into Lanna’s arms for the first time. It was exactly the way he was still feeling, every time he caught sight of her, even across the Bridge, or far off in one of the corridors of the ship.
“No. Never. I love you exactly the way you are. If Tom can’t handle that, it’s his problem.”
Even now, B’Elanna couldn’t help smiling briefly, even if the look in her eyes never changed.
“Anyway, I wasn’t just asking about this – oh, by the way, is he asleep?”
She pointed towards the baby, who was now lying on his side, breathing peacefully. Harry bent over his son and listened carefully.
“Yes. He’s out like a light.”
“Good. I was talking about that thing – you know – what happened after – you know what I mean.”
Harry thought he knew where this was going and he realized he didn’t really want to speculate on what his friend had been up to in the Captain’s quarters, especially since Chakotay had been there too. That in itself wasn’t surprising. After all, Chakotay had had a relationship with Captain Janeway for years. It was common knowledge among the crew, even if no one ever referred to it in so many words. Tom was the one who didn’t belong there. That is, if anything happened. In any case, he couldn’t help stalling a little.
“Lanna – are you hungry?”
B’Elanna’s mind hadn’t been on anything as mundane as meals.
“Have you eaten?”
She realized that she hadn’t had anything all day, since Tom had showed up, out of the blue, fixing her with an icy stare. It was as if he didn’t even know her anymore. Where had this come from? The day before the strange change had come over her, they had been perfectly happy. Or had they? Something like this couldn’t hit them out of the blue, could it? Suddenly, she felt dizzy and had to sit down.
Harry gently touched her face, an expression of deep concern on his face.
“Are you ok?”
“Yes. I’m fine. To answer your question, no. I haven’t had anything all day.”
“I’ll replicate you something. What do you want?”
“Oh, anything. Whatever you’re having.”
Harry gave the order to the replicator and brought the steaming dishes over to the bed, where B’Elanna was still sitting, looking wretched.
For a while, they ate in silence, but soon B’Elanna pushed her plate away. Harry hurriedly swallowed the last mouthfuls and returned the plates to the replicator.
“Harry? What do you think happened?”
It was no use putting it off any longer. They might as well have the discussion. Still, Harry couldn’t help wondering why Lanna wanted to talk about this, when they had more important matters to deal with. Maybe it was her way of putting it off. The prospect of not being allowed to care for her own daughter had to be terrifying. Already, Harry, too, missed the little girl, who was so like her mother.
“I don’t know.”
“Why would he be in there if -“
He wasn’t a kid anymore. What they were discussing might be embarrassing, but he had to deal with it like an adult.
“I know she’s always been partial to him.”
Harry nodded. He thought so too. Their Captain was partial to a sexy male, there was no doubt about that. In this case, Harry didn’t envy Tom, but usually, the fact that most women found Tom more attractive stung Harry a little.
“They might have – I mean, if this thing that happened worked on our subconscious at some level – then isn’t it possible that they would have wanted to – get together. Again.”
“You mean iike that time -“
“Tom told me they’d had offspring.”
“When he and Janeway were transformed into those – lifeforms. They had three – I think it was three – young. Some kind of lizard.”
Harry found this totally unbelievable.
“Are you sure?”
“That’s what Tom told me.”
“I had no idea.”
“The question is, why was Chakotay there too?”
“He’s always there. They’re – you know about that, right? Everyone knows.”
“Yes, but – well, I guess you’re right. There’s no need to imagine they were – all together.”
“If they were, it wouldn’t be surprising. I mean – let’s face it – until recently the three of us were -“
“Yes, but I didn’t mean it like that. I was – never mind. it doesn’t matter. He’s gone.”
“I’m sorry about that, Lanna. I know how much you love him.”
“Yes. I guess I’ll have to find a way of getting over it. Somehow. At least I have you. I just – little Lanna’s my daughter. He can’t just take her.”
“No. Do you think it would help if I went to talk to him?”
“Maybe. I’ll try.”
“I mean, you’re his best friend.”
Harry’s face darkened.
“Not anymore. We were all changed. In my case, it might not have been very much, but still – it’s so unfair of him to blame you.”
“Exactly. But, Harry – don’t turn your back on him just because of me. You guys were friends long before I entered the picture.”
“It’s not just because of you. You were saying that he was trying to change you. Well, I’ve never really thought much about it, but – he’s always teasing me and joking around. Sometimes – I mean, I don’t want to be a sissy, but sometimes -“
“Really? I had no idea. You guys always seemed to be so close. Are you saying he was bullying you?”
“No. It was just that sometimes I felt that the jokes were at my expense. You know?”
“I guess we were both wrong about him.”
“This time he’s really done it. According to Federation law – what does it say again, about custody after a relationship is broken off?”
“I don’t know. That wasn’t my first priority back at the Academy. As you know, I was kicked out almost right away.”
“We’ll find out. I could talk to Chakotay.”
“Ok. Thanks. You do that.”
It was as if the conversation had finally brought B’Elanna some peace. The look in her eyes was less intensely distressed, and she seemed to relax a little.
She got up, went into the bathroom, then changed into her nightdress and stretched out on the bed. Hurriedly, Harry did the same. After one last anxious glance at his son, he lay down beside his lover, put his arms around her and pulled her close. They snuggled up together, and after a while, they were both able to release some of the tension. It was another twenty minutes or so until they dozed off, but by then, even B’Elanna felt a little better.
By the time their next work shift began, Harry had made up his mind that he would not only go and talk to Chakotay, he would also consider officially petitioning the Captain. After all, it was ship procedure, to let the Captain mediate in any conflict between the crew members. On the other hand, Harry knew he had to tread lightly. B’Elanna might not appreciate his interference, or at least not approve of his taking initiatives without consulting her first.
With a sigh, Harry decided to wait until their lunch break and try to catch Lanna on her own. If they could find the time to discuss the matter, they might be able to come to a decision.
However, though he managed to get hold of his lover, B’Elanna just wasn’t in a mood to sit down in the cafeteria. Instead, she chose to return to her quarters to look in on Harry Junior. Normally, her and Harry Sr’s shifts wouldn’t coincide, but today, they were understaffed in Engineering, and she’d promised to take an extra shift.
Harry followed her back to their quarters, deciding to skip lunch too.
She looked up, leaving one hand on the baby, to make sure he didn’t fall off the changing table, mind seemingly still occupied with the work at hand.
“If we petitioned the Captain -“
“After all, it is our right.”
“I know. On the other hand, if she’s always had her eye on Tom, she wouldn’t be exactly impartial, now would she?”
Harry hadn’t thought about that. In his mind, the Captain was about as infallible as the deities many Terrans had believed in a few centuries ago, or as exalted as the Bajorans’ believed their deities to be. Surely, the Captain – he always thought of her as Captain Janeway, with two capital letters – would be able to rise above such personal concerns?
“You’d hope so, wouldn’t you? But who knows? I’d really rather try to handle this on my own, for as long as there seems to be some chance.”
“Ok. What about Chakotay?”
B’Elanna bit her lower lip as she considered the question. In a way, she knew she’d always had more faith in Chakotay, than the Captain, but in this case, he was too intimately wrapped up in the whole problem. Still, she had to get someone’s advice and if she had to choose one of them, she’d much rather it was Chakotay.
“I’ll talk to him myself. Or we both can.”
“Right. How about now?”
“If he’s not too busy.”
“Let’s find out. Computer, where is Lieutenant Commander Chakotay?”
“Lieutenant Commander Chakotay is on the bridge.”
“Harry Kim to Chakotay.”
“Go ahead, Ensign.”
“Sir, could Lieutenant Torres and I have a word with you?”
“Is this a personal matter, mr Kim?”
“In a way. We’d like to discuss a certain matter with you.”
“Very well. Where are you?”
“In our quarters, sir. And – thank you.”
“Don’t thank me yet, Harry. We’ll see what I can do.”
A few minutes later, Chakotay walked in.
The second she saw his face, B’Elanna regretted making the decision to consult him. He was right in the middle of the whole problem. She didn’t know of any way to discuss the matter without referring to the curious incident nearly two months earlier.
However, despite her doubts and hesitation, her Klingon half began to reassert itself. If Chakotay was right in the middle of it, so what? It was hard to find anything that happened aboard the Voyager that didn’t concern all or most members of the crew. They’d all just have to bear the embarrassment.
“Is anything wrong, B’Elanna?”
“Yes. Tom has taken little Lanna from me.”
“What? I thought you two were in agreement about the children?”
“Yes. We were. Until – that incident.”
Was it her imagination, or did Chakotay’s face darken at the mention of the odd occurrance? It wouldn’t be surprising. In any case, there was no further reaction, unless you counted a slight tightening of his jaw.
“He accuses me – After what happened between me and mr Tuvok – he doesn’t want anything to do with me anymore. I suppose taking Lanna is supposed to be my punishment.”
Chakotay frowned. That didn’t sound like the Tom he knew. Besides, judging by his own confused memories of those days, Tom was in no way innocent himself.
“I’m sorry. This is absolutely unacceptable. He can’t just take your daughter away from you. There are regulations concerning custody of minor children. Anyway, he can’t be serious about blaming you for that incident. The EMH found at least three different hallucinogenic particles in the atmosphere of that planet. All of them had left trace elements in your bloodstream. If we’d been back on Earth, no court of law would have accepted Tom’s argument.”
“It’s not like he’s so squeaky clean himself, when it comes to that whole thing.”
Chakotay coughed awkwardly, then nodded.
Too late, B’Elanna realized how her words could be interpreted and despite the knowledge that any further elaboration could only make matters worse, still couldn’t help apologizing.
“Not that I blame you in any way -“
This time it was more than obvious. B’Elanna could have kicked herself for stumbling into that minefield. Her words had just made it sound as if she was convinced her ex and Chakotay had had sex.
For a while, it was as if Chakotay’s current rank was forgotten. Once again, he spoke to B’Elanna as an equal, a fellow brother-in-arms, from the Maquis.
“B’Elanna – nothing happened. I mean, between me and Tom. I swear.”
“I didn’t mean – I mean – if – the harm was already done in any case.”
Chakotay’s sense of humor reasserted itself and he smiled wryly.
“From your point of view maybe. From mine, it would have been considerably worse. I can only conclude that there must have been a similar lack of motivation on both our parts.”
“Life with the Captain seems to have turned you into a real bureaucrat. You never used to talk like that.”
Again, talking to a former fellow Maquis seemed to make Chakotay relax slightly. The smile appeared to come more naturally t his time.
“Ok. I’ll rephrase. I’m glad neither of us seems to have felt any urge to – deepen our – friendship.”
“Not on my account. He can do as he likes.”
Recalling that his own free will was a little curtailed when dealing with the Captain, even in private, Chakotay wisely decided to change the subject, before his crew members learned more than necessary about his and Kathryn’s relationship.
“In any case, Lieutenant, I’ll submit your problem to the Captain. Officially. Tom really doesn’t have the right to treat you this way.”
“Wait. Considering the – uh – circumstances – are you sure that the Captain will be able to – treat this matter with impartiality?”
B’Elanna glanced at her lover, a look of disbelief on her face. It seemed that bureaucratic talk was contagious.
Chakotay’s face stiffened, but he didn’t reprimand Harry.
“I can promise you she will.”
“Shit, Starfleet. Don’t you start too. It’s bad enough that they got Chakotay. I don’t want to lose you too.”
“To whom, B’Elanna?”
The corners of Chakotay’s mouth were twitching a little, but B’Elanna was too tense to notice.
“Those bureaucrats at Starfleet headquarters.”
“Don’t worry about that. There’s still a lot of Maquis left in me. Unlike Harry here.”
“That doesn’t mean I want him talking like those guys.”
“I’m sorry, Lanna.”
“No, I’m sorry. This whole thing has just left me in a sh – in a bad mood.”
Chakotay got up to leave. In the doorway, he turned to face B’Elanna and Harry, smiling reassuringly.
“Why don’t you take the rest of your shift off, both of you? Try to cheer B’Elanna up a little.”
“But, sir, Chakotay, we’re understaffed in Engineering and -“
“Not that understaffed. I’m sure they’ll manage without you, just for today.”
“Don’t worry about it, B’Elanna. I’ll see what I can do about getting little Lanna back. If you’re really breaking up, you’ll have to have joint custody of her.”
“Yeah, tell that to Tom.”
“I will. Now try to cheer up.”
“Is that an order?”
“No, but this is: Harry, try to distract B’Elanna a little.”
After the doors swished shut behind Chakotay, B’Elanna sank down on the bed. She didn’t feel quite as hopeful as Chakotay would have her do. Still, it was reassuring to have him on her side.
“Let’s take little Harry and go to the HoloDeck. I have a program I know you’ll enjoy.”
“Not one of Tom’s?”
“No, this one’s new. I made it especially for you and me and junior.”
“Oh. Ok. Let’s go pick him up then.”
“Yes, you wouldn’t want me to disobey a direct order, now would you, Maquis?”
B’Elanna smiled and pulled Harry into a hard embrace. At least she had him. She didn’t know what she’d do without him.
Janeway put away her coffee cup and leaned back in her comfortable chair behind her desk.
“I see. Tom can’t handle what B’Elanna did, but he seems to be less hard on himself. That’s nonsense. We all did things we might not have done under normal circumstances, but to hold someone personally responsible -“
“That’s what I thought.”
“On the other hand, B’Elanna Torres has had more than her fair share of men, in this small community. There are other crew members who might never have a chance to form a meaningful relationship. Maybe it’s for the best.”
“That the relationship is over? I don’t know.”
Chakotay shook his head, recalling just have devastated B’Elanna had been. She and Tom must have had something special, something like what Chakotay himself shared with Kathryn.
“You should have seen her, Kathryn. She was -“
“Mm. Yes. I can imagine.”
“Besides, that’s not the issue. Tom is claiming full custody of their daughter. Against all StarFleet regulations. Civil law too -“
“Yes, yes. I know. That’s something that needs to be dealt with, I suppose. Very well. I’ll have a word with Tom. I’m sure we can work things out.”
“Thank you, Kathryn. I know B’Elanna will appreciate that.”
“Yes, well, in the meantime I have a ship to run.”
She stared commandingly at her First Officer and lover. Chakotay took the hint. He knew Kathryn believed in strictly dividing business and pleasure. After one brief pause, during which he allowed his eyes to rest on his lover’s lustrous hair – she’d already returned to her work and was scrolling through her report on the padd in front of her – he backed out and resumed his duties on the Bridge.
Later that day, Janeway sent for Tom Paris. She rather liked the idea of making him come to her. It was always a good idea to maintain her authority. That headstrong young man mustn’t be allowed to get above himself.
“Captain – you wanted to speak to me -?”
“Yes. Sit down. I’ve been told you and B’Elanna have had some – difficulties.”
Tom’s face hardened. He should have known. The Voyager was nothing but a village. Some day he was going to have the computer calculate the speed with which news or rumors spread throughout a population or crew of this size. Nothing would amaze him.
“With all due respect, Captain – did you send for me to discuss my personal life?”
She fixed him with an icy stare, silencing him.
“I sent for you to ask you what you mean by keeping B’Elanna from seeing her daughter.”
“She’s my daughter too.”
“Exactly. Your daughter too. Yours and B’Elanna’s. You have no right to keep the child’s mother from seeing her.”
Tom studied the Captain’s face, through partially closed eyes. How dared she interfere in their personal affairs? After what B’Elanna had done to him –
It was as if the Captain had read his mind. Without warning, she blurted out the last thing Tom wanted to hear.
“You blame her for what happened?”
Tom didn’t reply, but his lips thinned and his eyes narrowed further. Janeway studied his reaction with interest.
“You blame her, but what about what you did? I suppose you’re aware of what you did?”
“That’s not -“
“Not the same? Oh. How do you mean? Would you care to explain that to me? Are you saying – I really hope you’re not saying – that men have a right to cheat on their lovers, but women don’t?”
“That’s not what -“
“Then what are you saying?”
“She’s always been attracted to him.”
Janeway sounded genuinely surprised.
“What about you?”
Tom stared mutely at his Captain, not sure he had understood her correctly.
“Are you asking me if I have ever felt attracted to Tuvok?”
“No. Haven’t you been attracted to others?”
Tom felt his cheeks heating up uncomfortably. He had a feeling Janeway was enjoying herself by causing him embarrassment. Having a joke at his expense. Part of him was furious, but another, deep down, felt a growing confusion. At some level, the meeting was turning him on. He hadn’t thought so, but the situation was beginning to excite him. There he was, sitting in front of the Captain, in her ready room, like a kid sent to the principal’s office, awaiting punishment.
“Because you know – it might be said that you have been guilty of exactly the same, in the past, or, if you remember correctly, of having gone beyond just feeling attracted and acted on that attraction.”
“That was -“
More confused than ever now, Tom fell silent. He knew the Captain was right, but somehow, knowing that B’Elanna had had sex with Tuvok – of all people – made it impossible to continue the relationship. There was something so deeply, fundamentally wrong about her being involved with the same man he’d once –
“I guess not.”
“So, in other words, you taking little Lanna away from her mother was nothing but petty revenge.”
“With all due respect -“
“No. Not another word. You will return the child to her mother, immediately, and you will come to an agreement about how to share custody – or -“
Traces of the old Tom rose to the surface, and just for the hell of it, he answered back.
“I could throw you in the brig.”
Her tone hinted that she might do more, and that was really why Tom had spoken up in the first place. He didn’t reply and allowed himself to stare into her eyes. His Captain – about to mete out some kind of punishment. The air between them seemed charged. He licked his lips in anticipation. For a second, he almost thought the Captain was going to order him to stretch out across the desktop and –
“I’ll do my best.”
Almost like turning off a switch, the atmosphere in the room returned to normal. Janeway appeared to have lost interest.
“Very well. Dismissed. I will expect this matter to be dealt with by the end of the next work shift tomorrow.”
Tom couldn’t believe that was all. Dumbly, he waited, hoping the Captain would have more to say to him.
“Well? Was there anything else?”
Her tone didn’t encourage any dawdling. With a sigh, Tom got up, turned and made for the door. By the doorway, he was frozen in his steps by a word from his Captain.
He turned and faced her, face lit up by hope.
“I will expect a full report – tomorrow night?”
“Let me know later. I have work to do.”
Tom returned to his position, head filled with confused thoughts. Had Janeway promised him anything? Had her voice held any hope of a reptition of what had happened during their 9 1/ 2 days of madness? Suddenly, his quarrel with B’Elanna didn’t feel quite as all-important as it had only an hour ago. Half an hour ago.
Tom couldn’t focus on his daughter or his disagreement with B’Elanna. Until the following evening, all he could think about was the Captain. Kathryn. He had no reason to expect anything from her, but – the memories of the time he’d spent with her still haunted him. B’Elanna was forceful, but – her ferocity was less controlled, less directed than Janeway’s. Somehow, the strict formality of her dealings with him, turned him on more.
In the end, no formal report was required. Janeway seemed to take it for granted that he’d come to an agreement with B’Elanna. The matter didn’t seem to interest the Captain particularly. To Tom’s relief, Chakotay was nowhere to be seen.
Samantha and Gerron who were out, having a drink after work, found their First Officer staring into his beer, rather gloomily, but since they mainly had eyes for each other, they weren’t paying much attention.
Janeway hadn’t told him what her intentions with Tom Paris were, but Chakotay had a feeling he knew exactly what was about to happen. He tried to ignore his misgivings and continued drinking, rather more than was advisable under the circumstances, even the watered-down synthohol Voyager’s replicators could offer. Members of the crew came and went, as he sat brooding, but none of his close friends, and in any case, the look on his face didn’t inspire any confidences.
Had Neelix still been around, he might have made it his business to sit down and console him. Neelix had taken his duties as Morale Officer seriously. It was just as well, though, since being in this mood, Chakotay knew he would have raised his voice to the Talaxian.
In the meantime, Janeway received Tom Paris in her quarters. She studied him intently, as if she had half-expected him to have brought the baby along. As she took in Tom’s appearance, her face relaxed into a smile. There was still a glint of steel there, but all in all, she had a feeling the evening would prove interesting.
“Have you returned your daughter to her mother?”
“Uh – no. I asked Corey and Seven to babysit.”
Janeway’s eyes widened. Borg babysitters? Clearly Tom was still feeling hostile towards his ex-girlfriend. A look of dismay flew across her features. This was why she’d decided to have a talk with Tom in the first place, personal aspirations aside.
“I thought we were in agreement about this.”
“To return the baby to B’Elanna, naturally.”
She more or less spat out the words. Discussing babies definitely wasn’t Janeway’s idea of a pleasant evening.
“Oh. Yes, I suppose so. I’ll – do it in the morning.”
“Discuss the arrangements with her. Make sure you’re both in agreement.”
“Excellent. I hope this is the last I’ll hear of it, mr Paris.”
“Yes, of course, Captain.”
“Now, I’ve just replicated this bottle of Chardonnay. I was just about to sit down and have a drink. Will you join me?”
“I’d love to.”
Without waiting to see Tom sit down, Janeway opened the bottle and poured herself a generous amount, then filled Tom’s glass as well. While she drank, she considered the continuation of the evening. Tom Paris was far too undisciplined. It was time someone taught him some manners.
“Tom – I’ve been thinking.”
He smiled, entranced by her lips, by the highlights in her hair, by the way she kept crossing and uncrossing her legs as she spoke.
“You’re far too undisciplined. It won’t do. Someone needs to – rein you in.”
Tom opened his mouth to reply, but Janeway raised a hand to stop him.
“No. Not a word. From now on, you’ll only speak unless you’re spoken to, is that clear?”
Again, he was about to reply, but at the last moment, he held back. He merely nodded. This would be interesting. As he intently listened to Janeway listing his transgressions and his new set of rules, he had to force down the smile that threatened to spread across his face. He’d never imagined he’d end up in obedience training, like a dog, but he couldn’t think of anything he’d rather do. B’Elanna could have little Lanna back. He loved his daughter, but in all fairness so did B’Elanna. Besides, Janeway had told him to return the child. Naturally, he would.
In the morning, Tom rather sheepishly made his way to B’Elanna’s and Harry’s quarters – his old quarters too – carrying little Lanna. She was whimpering fretfully, not used to being wakened so early. Tom knew he was lucky she hadn’t launched herself into a full-scale Klingon tantrum.
Harry opened the door, only wearing his shorts, looking as if he was barely awake. He blinked in confusion.
“Hey. Uh – well – actually – I decided -“
In the end, he couldn’t quite bring himself to say the words out loud, so he merely placed little Lanna in Harry’s arms and was about to turn and leave, without another word.
“Hold on. Would you like to come in?”
“My workshift -“
“Harry? Who’s there? Is anything wrong?”
“No. It’s just Tom and little Lanna.”
“Well, what are you waiting for? Come in. Would you like the entire ship to listen to us airing our dirty laundry?”
Without thinking, Tom stepped inside. Harry went over to the bed and put Lanna in her mother’s arms. Amazingly, the child quieted down and snuggled up to her mother. Harry Jr opened his mouth to air his dismay at being left out, but B’Elanna pulled him closer as well.
She didn’t take her eyes off Tom. There was something decidedly odd about the look on his face. Naturally, having to give in and turn Lanna over wouldn’t please him, but there was something else – something she couldn’t quite put her finger on. He looked – stunned and satisfied at the same time. Was he involved with someone, so soon? Involuntarily, her thoughts turned to the Captain and Chakotay. What if –
“Ok. What are you so happy about?”
Tom’s eyes narrowed and he spat out a sharp reply.
“Happy? Don’t be absurd. You’re the one who’s happy, aren’t you? Gloating and -“
Tom and B’Elanna ignored Harry, who stood helplessly watching his friend and his lover, wondering if they were about to start fighting. He hoped not, now that the children had settled down so well. Besides, he always dreaded conflicts.
“Ok. Whatever. You’ve delivered her. There’s nothing to keep you here, so why don’t you just go back to her?”
“Do you think I’m an idiot? Her or them. Go on. I’m not going to try to hold you back.”
“Fine. You don’t know what you’re talking about, but I’ll go. Just take good care of little Lanna. I’ll be back in three days time and then I’ll keep her for three days. Ok?”
Harry walked Tom to the door, but he might as well have been invisible. Tom stalked outside and never turned back.
“Did you see that?”
Harry glanced wonderingly at B’Elanna.
“The look on his face. He’s seeing someone. What am I saying? He’s involved with someone. And we know who that is, don’t we?”
“Don’t be so naive. It’s her. It has to be. The question is, is Chakotay in on it, or is it just the two of them?”
“You think she’s dumped Chakotay for Tom?”
“No. She’d never let him go. Hm. Oh, what the he- It’s none of our business anyway. Let him play whatever it is they’re playing. Why should I care?”
“I have you. Come here.”
“We’ll be late for work.”
“I know. Can’t be helped. Come on.”
They did get to work in time, with plenty of seconds to spare. One or two kisses don’t really take that long. What really took time was getting the children ready to be dropped off in the makeshift kindergarten, some of the junior officers had started.
At least little Lanna was home, where she belonged. B’Elanna knew she’d get over her hurt and humiliation and move on, it was just so frustrating, to be accused of being unfaithful, when Tom clearly couldn’t wait to throw himself into another relationship. And a weird one too, if the odd expression on his face was anything to go by. It was hard to recall how it had felt at the beginning of their relationship. B’Elanna knew she couldn’t even allow herself to remember, or the pain would start again. She just had to focus on that it was over. No matter how good it had been while it lasted.