This is the third story in the 'Klingon Hearts' series. Set in the 6th season of the show, a couple of months after Pathfinder. B'Elanna has kept a secret from Tom and the rest of her shipmates.
While I own the story--these characters and Voyager are owned by Paramount and Viacom, Inc. It should be noted that this story was written for fun and not profit. However, after posting this story on a friends egroup writing list, I was -overwhelmed- by the response of the people at the Star Trek Voyager Newsgroup. After repeated requests I decided to convert the story to tele-play format and submit the script to Voyager. That slightly altered story was written in hopes the show would use it.
I would also like to thank several people who pointed out typo's and other errors: Wulf, Kevin, Sebastian, Jodi, Jim, Greg, and anyone else I may have forgotten.
Wulf, I am dedicating this story to you. I would never have let -anyone- read it, much less post it on the web without your support and encouragement. Your proof-reading and suggestions made this a story I can be proud of. It is my pleasure to call you 'friend'.
Secrets--What We Choose to Hide
by: Tracy L. Sobieski
Tom Paris rolled over in bed and spied the empty pillow next to him. It still bore the indentation of her head. He grimaced and sat up. The quarters were quiet.
"Computer, time, he requested.
"Time is 04:38 hours and :29 seconds."
"Computer, locate B'Elanna Torres. There was a touch of anger and exasperation in his voice.
"B'Elanna Torres is in engineering." Tom echoed the computer simultaneously. "As if I needed to ask."
Tom couldn't remember the last time they had awakened together. Even though they worked the same duty shifts, B'Elanna was up and in engineering before 05:00 every day.
He knew he was just feeling sorry for himself, but sometimes he felt her devotion to the ship rivaled her love for him.
He pulled himself out of bed and jumped into the sonic shower. Maybe he could earn some brownie points with Chakotay if he showed up an hour early for his shift.
Twenty minutes later Tom walked onto the bridge. Captain Janeway and Chakotay were quietly discussing some repair and maintenance schedules. They looked up in surprise.
"I see some of our Chief Engineer's better habits are rubbing off on you," the Captain said with a grin.
"Yes, ma'am, replied the ship's pilot with eyes flashing and a devilish smile.
Tom took his seat at the helm, as the two senior officers chuckled behind him.
In engineering, B'Elanna and Seven of Nine worked together on the plasma vent for the warp core.
"Seven, reroute vent control through the secondary conduit while I repair this micro-fracture, the Chief Engineer instructed.
"Rerouting systems. The secondary conduit will not close. Attempting to override. Unsuccessful."
Seven's hands moved almost frantically, trying to diffuse the rapidly worsening situation.
"Forget it, route it back through the primary system!" B'Elanna yelled. The plasma was building up and could cause a rupture at any minute.
Alarm klaxons blared.
"Warning. Plasma temperature at 2.2 million degrees Kelvin and rising, the computer cautioned.
"Routing through primary system." Seven replied.
"Warning. Plasma temperature at 2.8 million degrees Kelvin and rising."
"The fracture is widening from the pressure. I'm going to try to reinforce the conduit with a force field." B'Elanna worked side by side with Seven, attempting to avoid disaster.
"Warning. Plasma temperature at 3.2 million degrees Kelvin and rising."
"It's not working, I'm shutting down the warp core. Seven, get away from that console!"
"Warning. Plasma temperature has exceeded the acceptable tolerance level."
"EVERYBODY OUT, NOW!" yelled B'Elanna. She knew the explosion would be severe. "NOW, SEVEN!"
B'Elanna grabbed the borg's arm and pulled her away from the console just as the vent conduit exploded. Bearing the brunt of the explosion, B'Elanna was thrown directly into the bulkhead. Seven and several other crew members were tossed in various directions.
"Report!" Captain Janeway looked to Ensign Kim.
"Engineering is reporting an explosion and numerous injuries, was his reply.
"Tom, get down to Sick-Bay, the Doctor will need help, Chakotay ordered.
Ensign Paris was in the turbolift before the order was finished.
"Janeway to Torres. What happened?"
"Lt. Torres is in Sick-Bay, came Seven's reply. "We had a plasma conduit fracture. The explosion injured Lt. Torres and several others. She was able to shut down the warp core before the breach. Damage is limited to the venting system. We are making repairs."
"I'm sending Ensign Kim to assist you with the repairs. Janeway out."
Tom arrived in Sick-Bay and was stunned at the scene. At least 8 people were scattered about. Some on bio-beds and some just standing around waiting to be helped.
"Mr. Paris, if you please. I need help triaging these patients."
"Sorry Doc, Tom said as he grabbed a medical tricorder. He noticed B'Elanna helping Ensign Dimato to a bio-bed and headed towards her.
She held up her hand and said, "I'm fine. Help the others."
Tom wasn't so sure it was true, but knew better than to argue with her.
As he proceeded to treat the various broken bones and concussions of the other crew members, B'Elanna assisted him with some of the more minor injuries. The Doctor was busy working on Lt. Carey, who was the most seriously injured. A severe skull fracture that was going to require surgery. Ensign Wildman had arrived to assist him, as Tom was needed to treat the others.
Some time later, Tom was just about to use the dermal regenerator to heal the plasma burns on the last of B'Elanna's ensigns when he glanced over to find her leaning against a bio-bed. One of her arms cradled her abdomen and the other clung to the bed for support. He caught her just as she lost consciousness.
"Stubborn Klingon, he cursed as he laid her back on the bed.
Grabbing his dropped tricorder he began scanning her vital signs.
"Doc!" When he saw her blood pressure he started to panic.
"I'm a little busy at the moment, Mr. Paris. Read the scan aloud, I will assist you verbally, was his reply.
"Her blood pressure is really low."
"Please assess her injuries, Mr. Paris." He was starting to get impatient with Tom.
Tom started the tricorder reading, holding the device over her head.
"Moderate concussion, his hand moved over her chest.
"Fractured left clavicle, he moved lower.
"Fractured 3rd, 4th, and 5th left ribs, lower he went.
"Hairline fracture to pelvis, his hand stopped and shook. He stared at the reading in total disbelief.
"Dear God, he whispered in shock, this wasn't possible. "She's pregnant, the Doctor's eyes met his own. "There's a Placental Abruption."
When the placenta separated from the uterine wall it was life threatening to the mother and child. He wasn't qualified to treat this. Fear began rising like a tide in his chest.
"Mr. Paris, take over here. You can handle the rest of Mr. Carrey's injuries." The Doctor ordered as he hurried away from the main bio-bed, headed toward B'Elanna.
"This can't be happening, whispered Tom.
Ensign Wildman followed the Doctor over with the cart of instruments. The Doctor assessed the damage quickly, knowing time was a precious commodity. He hoped it wasn't already too late. Tom steadfastly stood beside his mate.
"Mr. Paris, please, Lt. Carey needs you." The Doctor reminded him gently.
Reluctantly Tom left her and moved to the main bio-bed.
The Doctor worked furiously. Not even taking the time to ask for instruments, instead just grabbing them from the cart himself. Sick-Bay was eerily quiet. It was quite some time before he spoke.
"I take it you did not know of the pregnancy, Mr. Paris," the Doctor asked, grimly.
"She didn't tell me anything, replied Tom, vacantly. He used the knitter to heal Lt. Carey's broken bones as the Doctor worked on B'Elanna. He was in a state of shock. Not really aware of what he was doing.
"Well I wish I had known. I am the Chief Medical Officer. I need to be informed of these things. She should have been treated immediately. She is lucky I am the accomplished physician that I am." Even though he sounded furious, Tom suspected it was concern that made him so angry.
"Maybe she didn't know, said Tom, desperately wanting to believe it.
"Lt. Torres is 19 weeks pregnant. Well into her second trimester. It would be almost impossible for her not to know, stated the Doctor.
Tom reeled at the information. Four and 1/2 months, and she didn't tell him! They lived in the same quarters, shared the same bed. How could she not say anything? *How could you not notice* a little voice berated him.
"How is this possible? I didn't miss a contraceptive booster. She doesn't even look pregnant, for crying out loud! How can she be 4 1/2 months along?" He asked the Doctor.
"I'm not sure about the booster, Mr. Paris, the Doctor spoke calmly to try and settle down the agitated man, but I remember a damaged hypo-spray a couple of months ago. It is possible it was used to administer your booster before the malfunction was noticed. The fact that she doesn't look pregnant is hardly surprising. Klingon women carry their children deep within their pelvis, that, and their exceptionally strong musculature serve as protection to the baby. Remember, this species has adapted over the ages to thrive on combat. Keeping a pregnancy hidden and protected would be vital to their survival. Since she is half-human I would expect she will start showing later in her pregnancy."
Tom laid a blanket over Joe after he had finished repairing his broken bones. He walked over to B'Elanna's bed as the doctor was activating the fetal monitor. He was relieved to see the baby's strong heartbeat.
"How are they?" he asked quietly.
"Both the baby and Ms. Torres will be just fine. I am going to keep her here overnight..." he answered but Tom had stalked out of Sick-Bay before he finished.
Tom exited the turbo lift and took his seat at the conn with out a word to any of the bridge crew. Captain Janeway viewed him with curiosity.
"Is everything under control in Sick-Bay, Mr. Paris?" Chakotay inquired.
"Yes, sir, came the terse reply, as he tapped the controls of the helm punctuating each word.
Even Tuvok raised an eyebrow at the barely concealed rage in the young pilot's voice. The Captain got up from her chair:
"I'll be in Sick-Bay, if anyone needs me."
"Trying to find out what's going on, she murmured to Chakotay, who had also risen from his chair.
By the time the Captain reached the Doctor's office, most of the injured crew had been released to recover in their own quarters. Only Lt. Carrey and B'Elanna remained in Sick-Bay. The Doctor, working at his desk, looked up as she walked in.
"Captain, I was just preparing my report."
But she wasn't even listening to him. Her eyes were focused on B'Elanna's unconscious form. The fact that her helmsman was on the bridge when her engineer was lying in Sick-Bay, threw her for a loop. It was an accepted fact that when either one of them was seriously injured, the other would not leave their side. It had become a standing joke among the crew, considering how often one or the both of them ended up under the Doctor's care, that they were able to get any work done at all.
"Is she all right?" Asked the Captain.
"Lt. Torres will recover completely. I am merely keeping her here as a precaution, stated the Doctor.
"Would you happen to know why my Chief Helmsman is on the bridge abusing the conn panel, instead of holding vigil at her bedside as usual?"
"I have a pretty good idea, he said as he rose from his chair and rounded the desk.
The Captain followed him out of the office as he went to check on Lt. Carey who had just awakened.
"How are you feeling, Mr. Carey?" The Doctor asked as he checked his vitals.
"All right. What happened?"
"There was an explosion in engineering, you suffered a skull fracture. I had to operate to repair the damage. You will need to remain under observation in Sick-Bay for the next 24 hours."
"Captain, was anyone else injured?" Joe asked.
"Not seriously, Lieutenant. Get some rest, she replied with a smile as she noticed how fatigued he was getting.
"Yes, Captain, and with that he fell back to sleep.
"He won't be able to return to duty for at least 96 hours, maybe longer."
The Captain nodded in agreement. Their voices awakened B'Elanna. They approached her bed as she began to stir. The Doctor ran the tricorder over her to check her vital signs. Her eyelids fluttered then snapped open.
"What happened?" She asked, trying to sit up. The Doctor placed a firm hand on the center of her chest and pushed her back. The Captain saw sheer panic race across the face of her Chief Engineer. B'Elanna frantically grabbed at her abdomen. She closed her eyes and moaned in agony, a bone chilling half-human, half-klingon cry of pain.
"Nooooooooooo, the baby!" Her eyes pleaded with the Doctor, "I lost the baby didn't I?"
Captain Janeway looked at the Doctor in surprise.
"Lieutenant, stop upsetting yourself so. The baby is just fine. Here, see for yourself." He handed the tricorder to her. B'Elanna carefully read over the readings.
"Thank, Kahless, she breathed.
"However, Lt. Torres, I should have been notified -immediately- of your condition. Your delay of treatment could have resulted in a miscarriage. By the time the Placental Abruption was diagnosed it was almost too late." The Doctor lectured her.
B'Elanna lost all color in her face as he spoke. "I didn't think I was hurt that bad, she said quietly, still focusing on the tricorder.
"Even minor injuries can harm a developing fetus, his voice softened as he spoke. She nodded her bent head in understanding.
"Mr. Paris was extremely worried about you, he said gently.
"He knows, she stated more than asked, looking up once again to face the Doctor.
"Yes, I was in surgery when you collapsed. He diagnosed your condition, the Doctor replied.
B'Elanna closed her eyes and fell back onto the pillow. How could he forgive her? She couldn't even begin to guess at his pain. The sheer horror at how he learned of the pregnancy ate away at her. Tears trickled from the corners of her eyes. Her breath caught in a sob.
"B'Elanna, the Captain said her name softly.
"Captain, I didn't know you were here, she said.
Kathryn opened her arms and B'Elanna gratefully accepted the embrace. Dissolving into heart-rending sobs as her friend held her.
Later that day, Tom sat at the conn, his mind in turmoil. Pregnant. Why hadn't she told him? Wasn't she going to keep the baby? If she was going to have any abortion, why had she waited so long? Was she angry with him, did she blame him? Did she think he would be angry with her? Only more questions, no answers.
"Tom....Tom Paris....Ensign Kim to Ensign Paris." Harry was standing next to the turbo-lift doors, trying to get his attention.
"What...oh, uh sorry, Harry. What did you say?"
"I said, 'It's time for lunch', what's the matter with you?" Harry was concerned.
"Nothing. Let's go." Tom replied as he stood up and headed for the turbo-lift.
Harry followed, glancing quickly at Chakotay who wore the same perplexed expression as the rest of the bridge crew. Something was definitely going on. Captain Janeway had said nothing when she had returned from Sick-Bay, she had only given Tom a rather enigmatic look before heading for her ready room. She hadn't emerged since.
The mess hall buzzed with the lunchtime crowd when Tom and Harry arrived.
"Tom, Harry, come in, I have fixed a scrumptious meal today." Neelix greeted them with a smile.
"An old Bajoran dish, Hasperat it's called. Just wonderful with the leeola root pudding and fresh fruit. Come, come, let me fix you some plates." Neelix busied himself dishing up the food.
Harry and Tom accepted the plates, thanked Neelix, and sat down at a vacant table. The food didn't look too bad, considering what Neelix usually cooked up. Harry cautiously lifted the fork to his mouth.
"Hey, it's pretty good. Don't you think?" He asked Tom
"What?..Um, yeah it's all right, he replied, even though he hadn't tasted anything.
Harry looked at him, getting more worried by the minute.
"Tom, what's going on?" He demanded to know.
Tom looked up from his plate. The pain in his eyes took Harry off guard. Something was seriously wrong.
"Is B'Elanna going to be okay? Was she hurt worse than we were told?" Harry asked with a sinking feeling in his stomach.
"No, nothing that the Doc couldn't fix." Tom wasn't being exactly forthcoming today.
"WHAT is it, then?" Harrys patience had run out and his voice rose as he spoke.
"She's pregnant, Harry, who had to strain to hear the soft spoken response.
Harry was shocked. He knew his friends were close, but he hadn't realized they were quite this serious.
"I didn't know you and B'Elanna wanted a family."
"We hadn't really discussed it yet. Tom stared out the window as he spoke, more to himself than to Harry. I was still trying to get up the nerve to ask her to take "The Oath" with me. Klingons mate for life, you know. I wasn't sure if she wanted to spend the rest of her life tied to me. My past doesn't actually qualify as 'honorable'. You know how serious they are about that."
"I don't understand, how did she get pregnant? You didn't stop your boosters as a way to force her into marriage, did you?" Harry wasn't sure he wanted to know the answer to his question, but it was out before he could stop himself.
"Of course not!" Tom replied angrily. "What kind of a man do you think I am?"
"I'm sorry, I wasn't thinking. Shock and all, he apologized.
"The Doc said there was a damaged hypo-spray a while back, he thinks it was used to administer my booster. Do you think B'Elanna would believe I had got her pregnant on purpose?" He asked Harry.
"What do you mean? Haven't you talked about it?" Harry was confused.
"I just found out today, Harry. After she was injured in the explosion. I almost lost her and the baby, and I didn't even know." Tom's voice broke slightly.
"I'm sorry, Tom. Are they going to be okay?"
"Yeah, the Doc's going to release them tomorrow. I don't know what to say to her. I was so mad, I left Sick-Bay before she woke up. I don't understand how this happened. How could I not have noticed. How could she have kept this from me?" There was anger now in his voice, along with the hurt.
"You're acting as if she deliberately hid this from you. She probably didn't even know herself, give her a chance to explain." Harry wondered how his friend could be so selfish.
"She did, what?" Harry asked tiredly.
"Hid it from me. She's 4 1/2 months pregnant, Harry." All his friend's pain and anger came out in those few, quiet words.
Harry, who had been rocking his chair on its back two legs, was so shocked that he forgot his precarious position.
As a result, Tuvok's daily injury report would list an emergency Sick-Bay beam out at 13:17 hours. Ensign Harry Kim, mild concussion with loss of consciousness.
Harry slowly opened his eyes, his head felt like it was going to explode. He was in Sick-Bay. The Doctor stood over him with a stern expression.
"What happened?" Harry winced as he spoke, the pain in his head throbbing with each word.
"It would seem, Mr. Kim, that you do not possess the common sense of a six year old. Even the young Miss Wildman knows better than to lean back on her chair. You fell over and hit your head. Mr. Paris had to call for an emergency beam out. You have a mild concussion." The Doctor was in rare form today.
Harry groaned silently at the thought of how fast this little piece of gossip would spread through out the ship. The mess hall had been full of people.
"Do you need me to stay here?" Harry didn't know how much more of the Doctor he could take right now.
"I'm a doctor, not a baby sitter. I have informed the Captain you will be taking the rest of your duty shift off. She requested you attend the senior staff meeting at 14:00 before you end your shift."
The Doctor didn't so much as spare him an extra glance as he turned and went into his office.
Harry shrugged, the Doc's bedside manner was legendary. Hopping off the bio-bed, he headed over to where B'Elanna was resting.
"Hi there, Starfleet, she said. Harry was surprised at how weak her voice was.
"How's my favorite engineer?" The concern in his voice was evident.
"Tom told you, didn't he?"
"Yeah, that's how I ended up here. The news knocked me right over." A grin tugged at the corners of his mouth.
B'Elanna had to laugh. Harry was such a good friend, he could make almost anything bearable.
"He must be furious with me." There was despair in the statement.
"He's angry, but mostly he's hurt and confused. He doesn't know what to think, B'Elanna. He's wondering if you might be angry with him." He hoped Tom wouldn't be too upset with him for telling her.
"Why would I be mad at him?" She wanted to know.
"He's worried you might be thinking he did this to you on purpose."
"I never thought that, I just figured he forgot a booster. The Doctor told me about the hypo-spray, it's nice to know Tom was being responsible about his boosters, she replied.
"You need to talk to him, B'Elanna."
"I know, I just don't know what to say, she was scared.
"Neither does he, maybe you can figure it out together. Harry leaned down and kissed her on the forehead.
"I'll see you later, get some rest, and with that, he left.
The senior officers sat around the conference room table. Harry looked a little green around the gills. He had hoped to go back to his quarters and sleep off the headache he had, but the Captain was the Captain and when she said 'jump', you asked 'how high'.
"The Doctor has informed me that Lt. Torres will be unable to return to duty for the next 2 weeks." Tom's head snapped up from the PADD he was reading at the Captain's statement.
"I am placing Seven of Nine in charge of Engineering, temporarily, as Mr. Carey will also be unable to return to duty for at least four more days. Her main duty will be to oversee the repairs of the warp core and venting system. By the time Mr. Carrey returns, I want the warp core back on line. Mr. Kim you will be assisting Seven in Engineering until the repairs are done. Any questions?"
When no one spoke up, Janeway dismissed them. Everybody got up and left, with the exception of Chakotay. She had known she couldn't avoid him all day. He was going to have to be told what was going on.
"All right, Kathryn. Out with it, he demanded as soon as the door had closed.
"B'Elanna's pregnant, she told him bluntly.
"How bad was she injured?" He asked in concern.
"Severely, but the Doctor was able to repair the damage. She almost lost the baby."
"So that's why Paris is so upset, thinking he had figured it out.
"Tom didn't know she was pregnant, until today. He found out when he was diagnosing her injuries. That's why he's upset." Kathryn told him.
"Not the best way to find out, but he'll get over it. As long as they're both doing fine now." Chakotay said.
"You don't understand. She's been keeping the pregnancy from him, she's 4 1/2 months along." Kathryn sighed, she didn't like this. She felt like she was betraying B'Elanna by telling Chakotay.
"Why would she do that? Didn't they make the decision to have the child together?" None of this made sense.
"It's complicated, Chakotay. The pregnancy was an accident, she had her reasons I'm sure. I don't really know more than that." She hoped this was the end of this discussion.
Chakotay viewed her with a thoughtful eye. He was pretty sure she knew more than she was telling him. He was also just as sure he wasn't going to get anything else out of her. With a nod of his head he left the conference room.
It was well past the late dinner shift. Neelix had finished cleaning up and was about to retire for the night when he noticed Tom Paris sitting alone staring out the window.
"Hello, Tom. Mind if I sit down?"
"Not at all, replied Tom as he gestured to the seat across from him.
"I stopped by Sick-Bay earlier. I took B'Elanna some of her things. I know how much she hates to be there, I thought her own night clothes might help, began Neelix.
"You're a good friend, Neelix." Tom said, thinking how compassionate the little guy was.
"I hope you don't mind me saying this, but she looks fragile. The Doctor told me she would be confined to her bed for the next two weeks. She's going to need someone to take care of her."
He looked pointedly at Tom.
"I know things aren't always as they appear. People can be very 'illogical', as our friend Mr. Tuvok would say. But there comes a time in every man's life when he needs to take responsibility for his actions. It all comes down to this: it's not the events in our lives that define us, it's how we deal with them. Anger can sometimes blind us to the needs of others, as well as ourselves."
Neelix stood up, patted Tom on the shoulder, and left the mess hall.
Tom shook his head and laughed ruefully. Leave it to Neelix to cut to the chase. You're being an ass, Tom Paris. She needs you and you're sitting here feeling sorry for yourself.
He had a smile on his face as he headed toward Sick-Bay.
The lights were dimmed and all was quiet when Tom reached his destination. The Doctor was in the lab working on one of his experiments.
"Can I help you Mr. Paris?" He came out to greet the pilot.
"I just wanted to check up on B'Elanna. How is she?" Tom asked as he walked over to her bed.
"Doing quite well actually. I gave her a mild sedative to help her sleep. I was considering releasing her earlier, but I didn't want her to be alone in her quarters." Tom didn't miss the fact that the Doctor was a little perturbed with him.
"B'Elanna's not alone, Doc, he said as he stroked her cheek. "Give me 20 minutes and then beam her to her quarters, okay?"
The Doctor nodded his head and went on, "I'll be by in the morning to check on her. I know you two have a lot to discuss, just remember, stress is not good for her or the baby right now, he admonished.
"Don't worry Doc. I'll take good care of them both." Tom promised as he strode out of Sick-Bay.
A short time later he carefully crawled into bed next to B'Elanna. Gently he took her into his arms and drew her close. A small sigh escaped her lips as she snuggled back into his embrace, her back pressing against his chest.
He was asleep moments later.
B'Elanna woke to the familiar churning of her stomachs. Cursing her Klingon heritage for the hundredth time that month she threw back the blankets and raced to the bathroom. Morning sickness and a redundant Klingon stomach did not mix.
The nausea rose in waves. Her recently broken ribs exploded with pain each time she retched. Tears coursed down her face as she was struck by wave after wave of misery.
And then Tom was there. Supporting her with a strong arm across her abdomen. Holding her hair back. Pressing his face to the back of her neck, comforting her. Washing her face when she was done. Carrying her back to bed and holding her as she fell into an exhausted sleep.
Tom grimly realized this was not the first time this had happened. All those mornings he woke up alone, came back to haunt him. She had gone to great lengths to hide it from him. He just wished he could figure out why.
With a sigh he headed toward the shower, the Doc would be there soon.
The door chime sounded as Tom was tucking his turtleneck into the waistband of his pants.
"Come in," he called out.
"Good morning, Mr. Paris. The Doctor greeted him as he entered the room.
"Mornin' Doc. B'Elanna's still sleeping. I have to report for duty, will she be all right if she's alone today?" He wished he could stay with her.
"I'll check in on her periodically, I would prefer someone be close to help her if necessary. Did she sleep well?" The Doctor was all business.
"Yeah, but she was sick this morning. It wore her out." Tom replied.
"She told me she has been suffering severe bouts of morning sickness. There's not a whole lot I can do about it. Hopefully it will subside soon. There are some human and Klingon folk remedies she could try. I will leave them with her today. Now, if you will excuse me, I have a patient to see."
"Sorry to keep you." Tom muttered under his breath as he left.
Tom arrived on the bridge early for the second day in a row. But the playful smirk and laughing eyes he usually sported were glaringly absent.
"Captain, I need to request some time off, he offered no apologies or explanations. Even though the whole ship knew what was going on, until he spoke to B'Elanna he wasn't about to confirm anything.
The Captain looked at him thoughtfully. "In my ready room, Mr. Paris. Commander, you have the bridge."
He followed her lead, and took a seat on the sofa as she indicated.
"How is she?" The Captain didn't waste any time getting to the point. It wasn't her style.
"Tired, weak and very sick to her stomachs, he told her with a touch of a grin.
Kathryn smiled back. At least his sense of humor was intact. She was still worried about him, about them both actually. They needed to be together to work this out, there was no question about that. She always tried to accommodate a crew member's request for personal time off. Being stranded in the Delta Quadrant, didn't allow for anyone to really 'get away', but they did what they could.
"I had Chakotay remove you from the duty roster, this morning. You have the next two weeks off. You should know, the Doctor requested this, but I had decided to give you the time off after I spoke with B'Elanna yesterday."
"The Doctor has also ordered B'Elanna's replicator rations increased, he feels Mr. Neelix's cooking is not in her best interest right now. Just don't let this get around, or half the women on this ship will want to get pregnant." The Captain struggled vainly to hold back the laughter.
Tom's lips twitched with a repressed grin.
"You're dismissed. Oh, and Tom, congratulations."
"Thank you, Captain," he said with a sardonic smile.
Two things were apparent as Tom approached his quarters. First, the doctor had not left; and second, B'Elanna was angry. He was pretty sure the one was a direct result of the other. She must be feeling better, he thought.
"I can't stay in this bed for 2 weeks! I'll go insane, I need to work!"
"I have spoken to Captain Janeway. Seven of Nine will be updating you daily on the progress in Engineering. She will also be bringing you the daily duty rosters and repair schedules. Mr. Paris has been relieved of duty for the next 2 weeks, as well. I'm sure the two of you can find some way to occupy your time. Just make sure you avoid any strenuous activity. And that includes the throwing of 'heavy objects', do I make my self clear, Lieutenant? Because I will confine you to Sick-Bay if you can't follow my orders. And we all know how much you enjoy my constant companionship."
"I understand," B'Elanna ground out between clenched teeth.
"Good. I will be by to check up on you again tomorrow. Enjoy your 'vacation.' I'll let myself out." The Doctor spotted Tom sitting on the arm of the sofa as he exited the bedroom.
"Mr. Paris, I see you have returned. I have left my instructions over there." He gestured toward a pile of PADDS stacked on the dining room table. "I have also left some information regarding prenatal care, child birth and the care of newborns as well. I recommend you both start reading. Klingon pregnancies usually last only 32 weeks, and even though your child is 3/4 human it's development is more closely following Klingon physiology than human. I am expecting a delivery around 34 weeks. That leaves you only 3 months to prepare."
"Three months, huh? I'd better requisition family quarters now, he said smiling ear to ear.
"From what I hear, anyone on Deck 9, Section 12 would be happy to help you move." With that parting shot the Doctor left.
Laughing out loud, Tom headed toward the bedroom. B'Elanna sat cross legged at the head of the bed, pillows stacked up behind her. She was nibbling on a small square cracker and holding a glass of clear bubbling liquid.
"An old earth morning sickness remedy, saltine crackers and white soda. The Doctor said I should try it. I have to say, it seems to be helping." She avoided his eyes as she spoke. Her hand trembled slightly as she lifted her drink to her lips. The tension in the air was almost tangible.
Tom sat on the bed, facing her. He took the glass from her hand and set it on the night table. She still couldn't bring herself to look at him. Instead, choosing to stare at her hands as she twisted the bed spread. Placing a finger under her chin he gently lifted her head until she had no choice but to face him.
Pain and regret radiated from her. Eyes, glassy from unshed tears, pleaded for understanding. Shaking, she brought her hand up to his face, cupping his cheek.
"I'm so sorry, she didn't know what else to say. It felt so inadequate. She didn't deserve forgiveness, but she hoped he could find it in his heart to give it to her.
"Why didn't you tell me?" She would have prefered yelling to this soft spoken, pain filled, question.
"I tried to, so many times. But I didn't know how you would react. We had never discussed children. We're not married. I didn't want to force you into anything. Then we heard from Starfleet, and everything changed. Suddenly the Alpha Quadrant seemed so much closer and our futures so uncertain. What if we weren't going to be together once we reached home? I wasn't thinking clearly, I know, but I didn't know what else to do. I knew I could never abort your child, if we weren't going to be together at least I would have this small part of you."
Tom's heart twisted at her anguish. At the fact that she didnt know how much he loved her.
"Oh, B'Ela," he sighed. "Don't you know I would brave the fires of hell for you? I love you. I will always be right there next to you. You are my soul mate, my imzadi, jIH bang." He took her hand and placed it over his heart, covering it with his own. "Two hearts that beat as one. I don't exist without you, and you don't exist without me. I wanted to take "The Oath" with you since the first time we made love. But I didn't want to dishonor you." Now, after all this time he was finally able to tell her how much she meant to him.
"Dishonor me? How?" She couldn't figure out what he meant.
"I haven't exactly lead the most noble of lives. I didn't want you to suffer from the mistakes of my past." Dropping her hand he got up and walked to the other side of the room.
The realization of what he was saying dawned on her. He felt he wasn't good enough to be her husband.
"You've made such a point of denying the Klingon traditions, Tom didn't face her as he spoke. Saying they didn't mean anything to you. Working so hard to convince me that you didn't feel bound to take 'The Oath' just because we had become lovers. Did you really think I didn't -know- I was the first? I am your chosen mate, from the moment we first made love. Regardless of whether the actual words have been spoken, we are bonded. That's why I knew you would take 'The Oath" with me, and that's why I couldn't ask."
B'Elanna studied his back as his shoulders slumped in defeat. It was amazing how much someone could underestimate this man. Now, more than ever, she was convinced that the only reason he hadn't figured out she was carrying his child, was because his father's recent communication affected him so profoundly. Anger coursed through her with the thought that this man considered himself undeserving of her.
"Thomas Eugene Paris. You are the most honorable man I have ever known. You are strong when met with adversity, courageous in the face of fear, and dauntless in the heat of battle, your heart is truly Klingon. And I would be -honored- to call you 'husband'."
Tom was surprised at the fierceness in her voice. Turning to face her, he saw that she had risen to her knees on the bed. Her hand was outstretched, beckoning him.
He approached the bed and drew her into his arms. His lips met hers with a gentle passion. Carefully lowering her back on the bed, using his arm to support his weight, as the kiss deepened. His hand tenderly moved over her body, stopping when he reached her abdomen. Pulling back, shocked blue eyes met brown. Now that he knew what to look for, he realized there was, in fact, a slight swell to her stomach. B'Elanna chuckled softly as he untied the drawstring of the pajama bottoms to expose her pregnant belly. His hand caressed the small swelling that was their child.
"How could I not have noticed this?" His voiced was filled with awe.
"Tom, your thoughts have been so preoccupied since we heard from Starfleet. I doubt I would have been able to hide this from you otherwise." She didn't want him blaming any of this on himself.
"Still, I should have..."
"Seven of Nine to Lt. Torres." The Comm-System interrupted them.
B'Elanna groaned and tapped the comm-badge on Tom's chest.
"The Doctor has told me that I am to check with you before I come to your quarters with the duty schedules. Would now be a good time?" Seven asked.
"Now would be fine, Seven. Torres out, she replied. B'Elanna smiled apologetically at Tom.
Seven of Nine exited the turbo-lift on deck 9, to find the ship's youngest crew member was waiting for her.
"Naomi Wildman. What is your purpose here?" She greeted the child.
"I was waiting for you. Guess what?" The girl asked in a conspiratorial whisper.
"Guessing would be an inefficient use of my time, since you obviously want to tell me." Naomi fell in step with her as she headed toward Lt. Torres quarters.
"I heard that Tom and B'Elanna are going to have a baby!" Her excitement was apparent.
"I am already aware of that fact." Seven said with a touch of amusement in her voice.
"I'm going to baby sit for them, the child proclaimed proudly.
"You still require 'baby sitting' yourself. I do not think Lt. Torres and Ensign Paris will allow you to take care of their child." Seven told her, gently.
"I know. I meant when I'm older." She answered, shaking her head, sometimes Seven could be so dense.
They came to a stop at the door to Lt. Torres quarters. Seven reached forward and rang the door chime. A moment later the door swished open to reveal Tom Paris.
"Come in, ladies, he said as he made a grand sweeping gesture with his arm.
Naomi, needing no more invitation than that, bound into the room. Seven followed, walking past Tom then turning around to face him. She was about to speak when B'Elanna's voice could be heard from the other room.
"I'm in here, Seven. Bring that stuff in."
"Ensign, she said to Tom with a nod of her head and then proceeded into the sleeping area.
"So, Naomi, what brings you here?" He addressed the little girl, who was waiting so patiently.
Seven entered the bedroom to find B'Elanna sitting in the middle of the bed. She was shocked at her appearance. The normally strong, feisty half-Klingon looked fragile enough to break. The Doctor's stern warnings about upsetting B'Elanna suddenly made much more sense to her.
"Lt. Torres. I hope you are feeling better." Seven was slightly surprised to realize that she truly meant this.
"I am doing much better, thank you, Seven."
"Here are the duty rosters and repair schedules I have prepared for your approval." Seven told her as she handed the PADD to her.
B'Elanna started to read the information then stopped and looked up at the other woman.
"Sit down, for pete's sake. I can't concentrate with you hovering over me like that."
"There are no chairs in this room, she replied stating the obvious.
With a groan of impatience, B'Elanna scooted further back on the bed and indicated to the space in front of her.
"Sit here with me. There's room enough for the two of us. It will be like a p.j. party."
"A p.j. party?" Seven was confused.
"A pajama party, a sleep-over, didn't you have any of those before you were assimilated?" B'Elanna wanted to know.
"I do not recall anything of that nature, she said with a furrowed brow, trying desperately to remember.
"Oh well, never mind. Just sit here on the bed." B'Elanna told her as she went back to her reading.
Seven sat down on the edge of the bed, feeling awkward and slightly foolish.
Suddenly a muffled thud, a masculine yelp of pain followed by a shriek and gales of laughter came from the outer room. It was clear that Naomi and Tom were rough-housing in the next room.
"It appears that Ensign Paris will make a capable parent." Seven remarked at the noise.
B'Elanna looked up in shock. Then realized that Seven probably wasn't the only one who knew of her condition.
"I suppose the whole ship knows about it." There was resignation in B'Elanna's voice.
"Yes. Ensign Dimato took great enjoyment in regaling us all with the events in Sick-Bay yesterday. He seemed to take special pleasure in telling us that Ensign Paris was unaware of your condition. I found his behavior distasteful."
The corners of B'Elanna's mouth began to twitch as she read where Seven had assigned the ensign for the next two weeks.
"Cleaning out the manifolds in Deuterium Maintenance, huh?"
"Mr. Neelix once mentioned how unpleasant the job was. It occurred to me that Ensign Dimato would be well suited to the task."
Anyone listening to the exchange would have assumed Seven had simply assigned the job to a capable worker. If you paid close attention, however, you would notice the mischievous glint in her eye.
B'Elanna looked at her in shocked silence for a moment then burst into laughter. Maybe there was hope for Seven yet.
Things settled into a quiet routine over the next few days. The young couple had many visitors to keep them company and the time they were spending together alone was only strengthening their relationship. Tom was amazed at the tentative friendship forming between B'Elanna and Seven. She arrived every morning at precisely 09:00 with the repair updates, but they rarely were even discussed. Seven was having a problem with interacting with the crew in Engineering. She began asking B'Elanna for advice. Which in itself-was rather funny, considering B'Elanna's volatile relationship with her crew. Maybe it was the shared difficulties that was helping the women understand each other better. Whatever it was, B'Elanna looked forward to the morning meetings. She didn't even get angry when Seven had some minor warp core modifications listed on the repair schedule. Well, not too angry. It was on the fifth day after the accident that everything changed...
They were snuggled up together on the bed reading one of the child care books the Doctor had left for them when the ship was rocked by a mighty explosion. Tom's lightening quick reflexes were the only thing that kept them from being thrown violently out of the bed.
"Janeway to Paris, the Captain's voice came over the comm-system.
"Paris here. What's going on?"
"I need you on the bridge, Mr. Paris. Janeway out."
Tom looked at B'Elanna, something was definitely wrong.
"I want you to go to Sick-Bay. You'll be safer there," there was a steel edge to his voice.
"Okay." Normally B'Elanna would have bristled at his tone, but there was more than just herself to worry about now. She knew he was right.
"Torres to Sick-Bay. Request emergency beam out, one to Sick-Bay."
Tom watched as she disappeared then quickly headed to the bridge.
"Initiate a full spectral analysis. I want to know where each and every one of them are," Captain Janeway was ordering Tuvok as Tom exited the turbo-lift.
"What's going on?" He asked as soon a he took his place at the helm.
"We've entered some kind of mine field. It didn't show up on any of the sensors, they're slightly out of phase, replied Harry from his station.
"Why not just back the ship out?" Tom wanted to know.
"The mines are not stationary. As soon as we entered the field they started to close in around us." This time Tuvok supplied the requested information. "We're attempting to align the phasers to the same phase variance as the mines." Tuvok continued as he worked on the realignment.
"Shields up. Target the nearest mine, and fire." The Captain took her seat as she spoke.
"Shields up. Target locked...firing weapons, stated Tuvok.
The phaser shot from the hull, hitting it's target. The mine exploded and set off a chain reaction. Mines began exploding one right after the other, impacting the ship with incredible force.
"Shields down to 50%, reported Tuvok.
Explosion after explosion buffeted the ship.
"Shields down to 10%."
"Shields are down!"
"Brace for impact!" Warned Captain Janeway.
The next few blasts rocked the ship with devastating force. Blowing out several computer consoles on the bridge and throwing the crew to the floor. Then, it was over as fast as it started.
"Report!" Janeway demanded.
"Numerous injuries reporting in from all over the ship, the warp core is off-line, shields are non-functional, weapons are off-line, Astrometrics is off-line..." Harry was interrupted by the Captain:
"What -does- work on this ship?" She asked impatiently.
"We have life support, impulse engines and I believe the holo-decks are operational." Harry's little attempt at humor was met with one of the Captains famous 'don't go there' looks.
"Status of the mine field?" She asked Tuvok.
"All of the mines in the immediate vicinity were detonated by our phaser blast. The remaining mines are changing position and closing in on us again. I estimate we will be trapped again in less than 10 minutes."
"Mr. Paris, can you navigate this mine field?" she asked the Chief Helmsman.
"Yes, Ma'am. But at the rate the mines are closing the distance we're not going to get out of here before the passage is blocked, he replied doing some quick calculations at the conn.
"Mr. Kim, get those shields back on line, we're going to need them," the Captain ordered. "Mr. Paris, get us out of here."
"Aye, Captain." Turning around to face the conn he began to lay in the flight path.
Then he felt it, deep within himself:
"B'Elanna, her name passed his lips like a whispered prayer. Something was very wrong.
In Sick-Bay the Doctor was helping B'Elanna up off the floor, when she doubled over in pain letting out a cry of agony.
Quickly altering his sub-routines to allow him the strength to pick her up he place her on the main bio-bed. The bio-scan confirmed his suspicions. She had suffered another abruption, much worse than the last time.
Injured crewmen from all over the ship began entering Sick-Bay. He was going to need help.
"Sick-Bay to the bridge."
"What is it, Doctor?" The Captain asked.
"I have a critically injured crewman down here and I have to operate. I need some assistance to help with the other injuries, he told her.
"I'm sending Chakotay, anything else?" The ship's first officer got up and headed to the turbo-lift when she nodded her head.
"Yes, I need to know if we are going to be encountering anymore mines while I'm operating. The surgery is delicate and I could do considerable harm if we do." He readied his instruments as he spoke.
"We haven't cleared the mine field yet. We may still set some off as we plot our course out of here. No promises Doctor. Janeway out."
"Harry, open a comm-link between me and the Doc." Tom had an idea. "Doc, I will keep an open comm-link to you and give you advance warning as to our proximity to the mines. That way you will know what is coming."
"I don't think that is a wise idea, Mr. Paris. Perhaps you could give the information to Commander Chakotay and he could relay it to me, the Doctor suggested.
"Doc, I -know- who's on that bed down there. I can feel her slipping further away from me with each heartbeat. We don't have time to argue about this. Just do your job and I'll do mine!" It was a rare occurrence when Tom Paris raised his voice to someone.
"Very well, Mr. Paris, proceed."
"Were approaching the mines." Tom focused on the conn readouts flying by instrumentation.
The space between the mines was rapidly decreasing. Voyager would be too large to fit through the openings within a few minutes. Skirting around one, he increased speed to 1/2 inpulse. Blocking out the sounds of Sick-Bay he maneuvered around the next one. Sweat broke out on his brow, things were getting tight.
"Doc, I've got a mine coming up in 30 seconds." He banked sharply narrowly missing the mine, but still detonating it. The ship rattled from the shock wave but stayed on course.
"Twenty seconds to the next impact, he warned the Doctor. Coming up underneath the next mine he dipped and swerved, the mine impacting the starboard warp nacelle.
He could see the edge of the mine field. Just a few more minutes. He could hear the Doctor struggling to save B'Elanna and the baby. Calling for neurozine and a cortical stimulator.
Bringing the ship into a sharp dive and then banking to the left he finally cleared the mine field.
"Were out, he announced.
"I've got to stop the bleeding, we're losing her." The Doctor's voice came over the comm-link.
"Mr. Kim, shut that off, the Captain said.
"Go, Tom." Kathryn dismissed him quietly with tears in her eyes.
Tom arrived at Sick-Bay to find Chakotay outside the doors waiting for him.
"Let me in, Chakotay, he said with deadly quiet.
"The Doctor needs to work. You won't be helping her if you're in there." There was compassion in his voice, but he didn't move.
Tom grabbed the older man by the edges of his jacket, spun him around, and shoved him up against the wall.
"You can court marshal me for this later. Not even you can keep me from her now." He let go of Chakotay and walked into Sick-Bay.
The Doctor was just removing the surgical field when Tom entered. He smiled at the pilot.
"She's going to be just fine, Mr. Paris. Her presence here in Sick-Bay when the injury occurred probably saved her life." Tom approached the bed as the Doctor spoke to him.
He desperately wanted to take her in his arms and never let her go. He settled for just holding her hand. Her eyes fluttered and opened, meeting his gaze.
"Oh, Tom, his heart broke at her pain. Tears fell from the corners of her eyes.
"Shhh....it's okay. There'll be other babies, I promise. Just as soon as the Doctor says it's safe for you. It will give us a chance to get married first, the way it should be." Tom willed himself to be strong for her.
"Yes, that's an excellent idea. I am sure your daughter will appreciate the fact that her parents were married before she was born." They both looked at the Doctor in confusion.
"How do you know it will be a girl?" Tom asked, with a furrowed brow.
"I am a doctor. I can read a bio-scan, came the haughty reply.
B'Elanna's hand moved over her abdomen. She could feel the swell of their child under her hand.
"I'm still pregnant?" There was a wealth of hope in the simple question.
"Of course you are, have I indicated otherwise?" The Doctor seemed put out at the question.
"We just assumed she lost the baby." Tom told him.
"Why would you assume that?" The Doctor wanted to know.
"It doesn't matter, Doc." Tom said as he looked down at the woman he loved, smiling at the joy radiating from her. "It doesn't matter."
Three weeks later as their friends gathered in the ancient Klingon temple Tom had recreated on the holo-deck. They stood on the dais in front of Captain Janeway. Dressed in the traditional wedding attire of the Klingon house B'Elanna hailed from. B'Elanna in a navy blue velvet gown, long tight-fitting sleeves and a neckline scooped so low Tom's mouth went dry at the sight of her. Tom in gray leather, feeling every bit the medieval warlord he looked like. They both wore 1/2 inch bands of silver around their heads in a crown-like fashion, B'Elanna's only visible on her forehead as her hair covered the rest. Resting on her hips was a chain mail girdle in which a small jeweled dagger was kept.
"It is said that the gods themselves could not stop the beating of two Klingon hearts. We are here today in celebration of the joining of two Klingon hearts, the Captain began the ceremony.
"B'Elanna, daughter of Miral, and Thomas, son of Owen; come before us in this purpose."
B'Elanna took the dagger from her waist and drew it across the palm of her right hand. She looked up at him with all her love shining in her eyes, as she held her hand up with fingers splayed, and said:
Tom took the blade from her and drew it across the palm of his left hand. Placing his bleeding palm against hers and intertwining their fingers, he felt his heart swell with love as he said:
Tom's right arm slid around her waist and drew her body to his, their eyes never leaving each other, and together they spoke the final phrase:
"In keeping with human tradition, Tom and B'Elanna have decided to exchange wedding rings," the Captain continued.
This being Naomi's cue, she got up from her front row seat and brought forth a small white pillow with two platinum rings on it. The couple smiled at the child as they picked up the bands.
"be'nal, said Tom as he placed the ring on B'Elanna's hand.
"loDnal, B'Elanna followed as she did the same to him.
Deep within her, B'Elanna felt their child move for the very first time.