Beginnings

This is the fourth story in the 'Klingon Hearts' series. It is set about two months after Tom and B'Elanna's wedding. Childbirth, time paradoxes and Borg self-realizations abound. If Temporal Mechanics give you a headache, get the aspirin.

As always, Paramount and Viacom, Inc own Voyager and her crew. I am just playing with their toys. K'Leena Paris and Lucas Riker belong to me, as well as this story.

Boy, a lot of people get thanks for this one. PiCaRd, thanks for the time paradox idea. Wulf, thanks for the original plot. Even if I didn't use it, it inspired what I did. Without your ideas I couldn't have come up with this. PJ thanks for getting me into PTFever. Thanks to Marianne and especially D'Alaire for the help with the paradox. And finally to my beta readers, D'Alaire and Wulf.


Klingon Hearts

Beginnings--Birth, Death and Everything In Between

By: Tracy L. Sobieski

It ends....

She was dying.

Her daughter held her hand. She was a beautiful girl. No, she was a woman now, a Starfleet officer. She was so bright and full of life, so much like her father.   How proud she was of her.

The pain was worsening.  It wouldn't be long now. They had talked all night. There was so much that had to be said. She thought there would be more time for this. The accident had changed everything. She was grateful she'd been able to say it all. He would have wanted it that way.

A peaceful light gently flowed into the room from beyond the wall.  Its warmth engulfed her, taking away the pain, taking away the heartache.

He approached. As young and vital as the last time she saw him. He stood there, dressed in full Klingon battle armor, of all things.

She reached for him with a smile. He smiled back and grasped her hand.  She felt her body slip off of her and suddenly she was standing in his embrace, looking down at herself and their silently crying daughter.   

There was a moment, just a small one, when she wanted to linger.  The instinct was to stay and watch over her child.  To be there for her.  And he knew.  He understood.  He had been there as well.  

"Come, my love," he implored, gently leading her toward the light." Sto-Vo-Cor awaits."

With one last look of longing, she followed.  

Tears fell freely as she said goodbye.  It was the smile on her mother's face that finally did it. She had never seen her so peaceful, so happy. She felt an unreasonable anger at her father for abandoning them. It didn't matter that it wasn't his fault. If he had been there, things would have been different.

The strangled cry caught in the back of her throat, as a pair of strong arms turned her into a comforting embrace, holding her close as she sobbed.

She had only him now.

*****

It begins....

B'Elanna Torres impatiently fidgeted in her chair, trying to find a comfortable position. Captain Janeway had called a Senior Staff meeting. They were still waiting for Neelix and the Doctor. Tom Paris noticed his wife's discomfort as he took his seat next to her. Discreetly he reached behind her and placed a strong hand at the small of her back. Applying the steady pressure that he knew would ease the pain, if only temporally. She looked up at him, annoyed at her weakness, and ready to snap. His innocent gaze and half smile stopped her; he was just trying to help. Who would have thought pregnancy would be her downfall.

Unnoticed by the young couple, Commander Tuvok had witnessed the entire exchange. Had logic permitted a wry grin, Tuvok would have indulged in one. Envy. It had been a very long time since the Vulcan's logic had failed to block that emotion. But then, it had been a very long time since he had seen his family.

Neelix and the Doctor arrived, the Captain waited for them to take their seats before she began.

"Mr. Kim has come across a class M planet about 6 light years from here. It has heavy concentrations of dilithium. Normally I'd send B'Elanna with the away team, but circumstances being what they are.... Tom, get the Flyer flight ready. Chakotay, Harry and Neelix, you're on this as well. You leave at 13:00. Seven, they will need..."

*****

"I'll be back before you know it," Tom whispered in her ear as he embraced her.

"You better be, Flyboy."

The lighthearted words betrayed the anxiety they both felt. Routine missions had a way of turning on them. It was a fact of life on Voyager. Tom's hand trembled slightly as it rested on her stomach. They held their gaze for a long moment. Communicating without words.

*****

It begins again....

She ran the pre-fight for the second time. Double-checking everything. The excitement was palpable, so was the tension. He came on board and she felt his presence instantly. Her mind reached out and touched his.

I'll be back before you know it.

You better be.

She reached back with her hand. He took it, turned her chair around and pulled her into his arms. Once again, hating what she loved. Wishing, with all his heart, that she wasn't the best pilot Starfleet had.

*****

Now....

Seven watched as B'Elanna's hand pause over the console, shaking slightly as she took a deep breath. It was the third time in the last hour.

"Lieutenant, you are in labor." Seven lowered her voice so no one else in Engineering could hear her, but she wasn't going to ignore what was going on any longer.

B'Elanna looked up in surprise. She hadn't realized Seven had returned from Astrometrics.

"Yes, it started this afternoon. I'm all right. Klingon women labor for days, not hours. I've got plenty of time." B'Elanna said.

"Perhaps you should go to Sickbay."

"Not yet, this is the early stage. I want to finish here. It will help pass the time until Tom gets back."

"If you say so."  Seven's tone was far from confident.

*****

Later....

"Enterprise to Timeship Continuity. You are cleared for departure."

"Acknowledged Enterprise. Departing from shuttle bay two."

It never ceased to thrill her. That incredible rush she got from piloting. It satisfied some need in her to live on the edge. And this ship, with all the power of time at her fingertips, it was almost overwhelming.

What she could do.  What she could change? It was so tempting...

*****

Right now....

The mission was an uneventful success, a first for the Delta Flyer. In a couple of hours they would be back on Voyager. Which was just fine with Tom, B'Elanna needed him.

"B'Elanna's in labor." he said to no one in particular.

Chakotay was about to tell him he was worrying unnecessarily, but thought better of it. Tom seemed to have an uncanny ability to sense when B'Elanna needed him.

"Someday, you're going to have to tell me how you do that." Harry Kim said.

"Do what?" Tom was confused.

"Know things, about B'Elanna."

"I don't know -how- I do it, I just do." It was a hard thing to describe. This link he had with her. It was there all the time just under the surface. When she needed him, he knew it. He could feel it.

"You know, when I was researching Klingon traditions. Do you remember that time when B'Elanna was celebrating The Day of Honor? I came across an old legend that spoke of 'qa'nalq'. The empathic link sometimes shared by bonded Klingon mates. The word means 'spirit mate'. It is believed that when this happens, it means the pair is destined for all eternity to be together. I always thought it strange that a race such as the Klingons would have such romantic tales. Then again, they are such a passionate people, aren't they? Maybe it's not such a strange idea after all. I've often wondered if you and B'Elanna had this ability." Neelix told them.

"Just how much time do you people spend thinking about my marriage?"

"Hey, it's a small ship," Harry replied. "Sometimes your love life is all we have. You have to admit; it can be a lot more entertaining than the holodeck. If you ever heard what we hear coming from your quarters, you'd be wondering too."

"Don't let B'Elanna hear you say that, Harry. Or I'll be bunking in -your- quarters until we reach the Alpha Quadrant."

"Tom, I'm picking up some kind of temporal disturbance off the port side. It seems to be on a direct intercept course with us." Chakotay interrupted, concerned.

"I've got it, adjusting course. What the hell.... Is it tracking us?" Tom asked Harry.

"I don't know, maybe the warp core is attracting it."

"I can't out maneuver this thing, it's coming at us too fast." Tom was desperately trying to get more out of the ship.

"Brace for impact!" Chakotay yelled.

The edge of the disturbance reached them a microsecond later. Tom struggled with the controls, trying to keep the ship from being torn apart. As the anomaly engulfed them he saw another ship fighting the currents as well. It was on a direct course for the Flyer. Tom tried without success to get out of the way.

"Harry! I need more power!"

"Sorry! This is it, Tom. I can't give you any more."

Thinking quickly Tom saw a plasma discharge forming off the starboard bow. If he could get close enough it might pull them out of their current flight path.

The other pilot saw it too. Before Tom could try to alter his heading the other ship was riding the plasma charge. Even in alarm, Tom had to marvel at the skill of the other pilot. He was holding his own against some incredibly forceful currents. Finally the Flyer came to a stop in the center of the anomaly. All four of them watched as the other ship fought against the currents.

"Commander, that ship has a Federation signature." Harry announced somewhat shocked.

"Can we get close enough to tractor it out of there?" Neelix asked.

"Not without getting pulled in ourselves," replied Tom, grimly.

"We're caught in some type of sub-space rift. There is a temporal variance to it. It's almost as if we're caught outside time and space." Harry told them.

At that moment the other ship broke free of the plasma charge and was flung past the Flyer.

"This is the Delta Flyer to the Federation Ship, do you require our assistance?" Chakotay hailed the other ship.

"No response," Harry stated. "I'm reading a single lifesign, unconscious and injured."

"Tom get us to within tractor range, Harry get that ship." Chakotay ordered.

"Aye, sir."

Tom brought the Flyer to the disabled ship and Harry caught it with a tractor beam.

"Tom, you and I will beam over. The pilot might need medical attention." Chakotay ordered as he rose from his seat. Tom followed closely grabbing the med kit as the headed to the aft of the ship.

They materialized on the bridge of the small ship. Chakotay noted immediately it was Starfleet design. It looked somewhat different than Voyager, but the similarities were startling.

Tom knelt down next to the pilot, who was lying unconscious on the floor. It was a woman. Her uniform, like her ship, bore a strong resemblance to the one's they wore. It too was different enough to take note of, however.

"How is she?" Chakotay asked as he crouched down next to Tom.

"Mild concussion. Nothing serious. It's the thick Klingon skulls that save 'em every time." Tom jested, making Chakotay notice that the woman was indeed Klingon. Part Klingon, anyway.

"Can you wake her?"

"Sure," Tom took out a hypo-spray and applied it to her neck.
Her eyelids fluttered once then opened. Slowly taking in the two men who hovered over her.

"What happened?" She asked trying to sit up. Groaning as her head protested the movement.

"Easy, you have a concussion," Tom told her as he helped steady her.

"We were hoping you could help answer that question. Both our ships are caught in some type of sub-space tear. There's a temporal variance we can't account for either." Chakotay said.

"Well, Commander. Unfortunately, I think I can." Was the grim reply.

"I take it you're Starfleet." Tom said, noting she recognized the rank insignia on Chakotay's collar.

"From the cradle, Ensign, from the cradle." She paused and looked intently at the two men before continuing, "Lt. Commander Isobel Riker, welcome to the Federation Timeship Continuity, gentlemen."

"Timeship?" Tom asked with dread, he hated Temporal Mechanics.

"Yes, and if you two are who I think you are. I'm in big trouble." With a sigh, she brushed back the thick red hair that had come loose from the braid she wore.

"Who do you think we are?" Chakotay asked.

"Commander Chakotay and Ensign Tom Paris of the Federation Starship Voyager. What's the Stardate?"

"53846.2," Tom answered.

"Of course, I should have known," she muttered as she stood up on shaking legs.

*****

"I would like to know how you knew you were in love with Ensign Paris," Seven said, trying to find ways to take B'Elanna's mind off the situation as they continued to search for the away team. They were six hours over due, and there was no sign of them.

Taken aback at the question, B'Elanna thought for a few minutes. When did it happen?

"I'm not sure exactly when," B'Elanna paused with a grin. "It was a gradual thing, I hated him for a long time. Thought he was a pig, and that he had betrayed the Maquis to Starfleet."

B'Elanna's smile broadened at the memory and continued, "His behavior didn't help much. He chased every available woman on the ship the first few months after we were stranded. Or at least that's what he wanted everybody to think. I'm not so sure it's true anymore. I have the feeling he was putting on a good show, but it was just that, a show."

Seven listened with interest.

"I think I began to realize I was wrong about him when the Vidiians captured us and split me in two. One fully Klingon being and one fully human. They kept my Klingon half for experimentation and sent me, as a human, back to the cell. It was very hard for me. I was sick and worst of all, frightened. A new feeling for me. And Tom was right there. He understood. He listened to me.  He held me.  He protected me. He kept me going, without him I wouldn't have made it out of there."

She stopped and took a deep breath as another contraction began to build. Seven watched her stoically ride the pain out. Never giving in to it. It had become a battle to be won. A challenge to be concurred. She would not let it beat her.

"Continue." Seven demanded, ignoring the other woman's irked expression.

"Ummm...Tom. Things started to change for us after that. I started to see him for who he really was. It didn't take long before I realized he was attracted to me. I would catch him watching me when he thought I wasn't looking. He would get jealous if I was with anybody else. He tried to hide it behind the jokes, but I still saw it. I wasn't interested him in that way.... or so I kept telling myself." She smirked as she spoke.

"Although we became friends, I still kept him at arm's length. Not letting him too close.... but he was persistent. Constantly pushing me, never letting me be. He would go out of his way to make me angry with him!"

Seven raised her eyebrow, lifting the ocular implant in her best Tuvok imitation. Making B'Elanna mad was not a difficult task. Foolish, but not difficult. Then again, Ensign Paris had never been known for his common sense.

"We danced around each other for a -long- time. Flirting, teasing, fighting--generally providing great entertainment for the crew...then Vorik went through the Pon Farr. Things got a little more difficult for us after that. I guess we were both a little scared of what was happening. We played cat and mouse for a while. Advancing, retreating, advancing again. It took a crazy dead woman to make me see how much I had come to depend on him."

*****

Then....

B'Elanna followed Tom as he left the briefing room. She hadn't had a chance to talk to him yet. She wanted to make sure he was all right.

"Tom," she called out. He turned and looked at her in surprise.

"B'Elanna," he said guardedly. He never knew how to take an advance from her.

"I just...I just wanted to make sure you were all right, and everything."

Why did she stammer like a nervous schoolgirl when she was alone with him?

"I'm fine, the Doc fixed me up in no time." He smiled gently at her.

"I was worried about you," she admitted softly, almost embarrassed by it.

"It takes a lot more than a holodeck malfunction to take me out." He joked in his typical Tom Paris fashion.  But a half a smile later he turned serious. "I'm just glad you weren't there."

He reached up and touched her cheek with the tip of his fingers. Brushing them lightly across the smooth skin.

B'Elanna's eyes closed of their own accord and she felt his lips softly touch hers. It was just a feather light caress, almost hesitant as if he was scared she would disappear if he pressed too hard. Then he lifted his head and looked at her.

Her dark eyes shadowing the turmoil she felt. Tom had not kissed her since Sakari. It was shocking to know how intensely her body responded to him still. He gave her a knowing smile and left her standing alone in the corridor.

*****

Here in the now....

Both crews worked on the timeship, trying to repair its systems. Tom and Chakotay were fixing the helm controls. Harry was trying to get the shields back online and Neelix was helping with anything he could.   Which, being Neelix, wasn't much.

The ship's Captain was in the back working on the main computer. It was a good thing the Delta Flyer had not sustained any damage, for the timeship was in pretty bad shape. It would have to be repaired before any attempt could be made for the two ships to try and escape the sub-space rift.

"You and B'Elanna first met in the Commander's resistance cell?" Neelix asked Tom, trying to lighten the mood. They were long over due for their rendezvous with Voyager.

"Yes, she didn't like him very much. Mercenaries rubbed her the wrong way," Chakotay responded with mirth.

Tom laughed out loud. She certainly had a lot to say about that, back then. He had been the lowest form of life ever to crawl out from under a rock, as far as she was concerned. He used to go out of his way to upset her, just to see her hackles go up. She was magnificent when she was angry.

"Actually, Commander, B'Elanna and I met a few years before that. Although I doubt she remembers it," but Tom did...

*****

Before then....

Ensign Tom Paris.  He still couldn't believe it. He had made it through the academy, with honors. Even his father was impressed with it.
He walked in the darkness, taking in the academy. It would be a long time before he returned. His first posting was on the U.S.S. Argentina. Helmsman. Like he always wanted. His thoughts were interrupted by an angry shriek.

The small form of a young woman tore around the corner of the building and barreled right into him. Almost knocking him over.

"Easy, there. You're going to hurt someone," he said as he grabbed hold of her to prevent both of them from falling.

"Sorry, sir," she snapped to attention, drawing in a shaken breath. The heat of his hand seemed to burn right through the cloth of her uniform.

Shaking off his hand as soon as she had regained her balance, B'Elanna took a step back from him.

Way to go, Torres.  Right into Admiral Paris' son.

Tom gave her an appraising look.  She wore the uniform of a first year cadet. Long dark hair, dark eyes and if he wasn't mistaken, Klingon cranial ridges. He was intrigued.

"That's all right," Tom was loath to remind himself that he was her superior. "Is there something wrong..."

"Cadet Torres, sir. B'Elanna Torres. No, sir. Just a little misunderstanding."

B'Elanna looked up at the young officer before her. He was something to behold. Every blond haired blue eyed inch of him. No wonder all the cadets were enthralled with him. An admiral's son to top it off, she would bet his bed was never cold for long.

"Well, carry on then, Cadet." He watched her retreating form with a small twinge of regret. There was a nagging feeling that something important was slipping away.

It would be more than two years before he saw her again. By then, they were different people...

Tom leaned insolently against the door jam as he watched the engineer work. She was bent at the waist, the upper half of her body inside an access panel, providing him with a spectacular view of her backside.

B'Elanna crawled back out the access port and was startled by the man who was there. How long had he been watching? By the look in his eye, she didn't have to guess -what- he had been looking at. She felt her ire rise.

"What the hell do you want, Paris?"

"Chakotay sent me down to see if you needed any help with the Nav Array."

"Well I don't, so you can be on your way." She turned her back on him, hoping he would get the point.

He didn't.

The hairs on the back of her neck rose, when his hands came to rest lightly on her waist. His breath warmed her cheek as he bent down to whisper in her ear.

"How about you and I take a little break? Find something more...stimulating to do?" He all but purred in her ear.

B'Elanna slowly turned to face him. His hands stayed at her waist, tightening his hold and pulling her full length against him. He bent his head to take her mouth but she turned and his lips grazed her cheek, coming to rest next to her ear as she ran her tongue along his jaw.

"Well, Paris. If I ever feel the need to go slumming, I promise, you'll be the first one I call." She whispered in his ear.

His hands gripped her waist painfully for a moment, and then he released her with a chuckle and replied caustically:

"You do that, Torres."

B'Elanna never saw the flash of hurt in his eyes, and Tom never noticed just how shakily she drew in her next breath.

*****

Now and again....

Isobel had come to the bridge of her ship to work on the secondary computer interface. Helm control was still off-line, but Harry had managed to get the shields repaired. Things were, at least, looking up a little.

"You're young to have made Lt. Commander. Your parents must be very proud." Tom said to her.

She was a remarkable pilot and her grasp of Temporal Mechanics was far beyond his.

"I never knew my father. He died before I was born." She replied quietly, not looking at him.

"I'm sorry," he recognized the pain, B'Elanna was still haunted by her father's desertion. "Your mother must be very happy with your accomplishments."

She turned to him, now. There was a heart wrenching sadness about her as she spoke, "My mother loved me very much. She was proud of me in whatever I did, but.... I don't think I ever saw her truly happy until the day she died, Mr. Paris."

"Tell me.... how is it someone so young is test piloting a prototype?" Chakotay asked her.

"Hell, I'm the best pilot you could have." She flashed the Commander a brazen smile with the arrogant retort.

In the back of the ship Harry began to choke on the cup of coffee he was drinking.

Tom frowned. Why did that sound so familiar? Losing the thought, he turned to the sputtering Ensign.

"You okay, Har?" he asked. Harry didn't reply.  He was looking at Isobel as if she had sprouted wings.

"Harry! You, okay?" Tom tried again.

"Umm...yeah...I'm fine. I guess inhaling this stuff is the wrong way to go."

*****

"B'Elanna. I can give you a pain reliever, it will help relax you." The Doctor told her. After 30 hours of labor she was still nowhere near delivery.

"Klingon women do not take pain medication in childbirth, Doctor...." B'Elanna stopped momentarily to ride the contraction through, taking short breaths and squeezing Seven's hand to help her through it. "We are much stronger than that."

"Perhaps your human half could take the medication, then." Seven said in a pained voice as B'Elanna released her hand. When B'Elanna shot her a look of annoyance, Seven continued: "Or, maybe, I will just take it."

"You're just being stubborn about this Lieutenant," said the Doctor. "There is nothing shameful in getting pain relief in childbirth. You could be at this for another full day, you will exhaust yourself if you continue like this."

"I can handle this Doctor, thank you." She had made up her mind.

"Very well. You may continue to labor here in you quarters, if you like. As long as you wear the fetal monitor at all times. Understood?" He would rather she stayed here, she would be more comfortable and he would be out of her line of fire.

"I won't take it off, I promise. Is there any word from the shuttle?" She asked.

"No, not yet. I'm sure the Captain will let you know as soon as we hear from them." The Doctor's gaze met Seven's over B'Elanna's head. Seven interpreted the situation correctly.

"I have no doubt Ensign Paris will be here for the birth of his daughter. He has talked of nothing else for the last 2 months." Seven told her.

"You two are the -worst- liars on board this ship. You know that, don't you?" If B'Elanna weren't so worried, she would have laughed at their expressions.

Turning to Seven she said, "Get your Borg butt back down to Astrometrics and see if they've found anything."

*****

Harry walked into the aft of the timeship where Isobel was working once again; she was intent on her calculations. The others were still trying to get navigation and helm control back on line; it would give him the opportunity to talk to her. He saw a picture of a man holding Isobel in his arms fastened to her workstation.

"Is this your husband?" he saw the wedding band on her hand earlier.

"Yes, that's Lucas," she replied with a small smile.

Imzadi, her mind called, almost automatically.

There was no answer of course. He hadn't been born yet. He was a couple of months younger than her, and she hadn't been born yet. It was disconcerting though. Her head may have understood the silence, but her heart didn't.

"I see Will Riker finally married that Betazoid councilor of his."

Lucas Riker was the very image of his father.  The only visible genetic concessions to his mother were the piercing jet black eyes. They were a mark of his Betazoid heritage. Harry Kim was a smart man, she should have been more careful. The picture should have been put away.

"I really can't..."

"How long have you been married? Was B'Elanna still alive to see it? Did I give away the bride?" Harry pinned her with a sharp look, there was no getting around it. He had figured it out.

Breaking into a resigned smile that he knew all too well, she cocked her head to the side and spoke.

"When I was a little girl, I could fool my mother, I could fool the Captain, I could even fool Neelix, but I could -never- pull anything over on you, Uncle Harry." She shook her head laughing derisively.

"The others don't see it, you know. I can't figure out why not, you look just like the two of them. Tom doesn't even realize you're using his mother's name."

"It's my middle name. It was the first one that came to mind when I realized what had happened. I knew if I used my first name it would be recognized."

She was violating the Temporal Prime Directive more with each word, but she didn't know what else to do. From his expression, she didn't think he was going to drop this. With a sigh, she began to tell him.

"Uncle Harry, we're in big trouble. I'm not supposed to be here. I was only supposed to travel 10 years backward, not 28, not to the Delta Quadrant, and not to -this- date. It's my fault. Kahless, it's all my fault." She struck the edge of the panel in frustration. There were tears in her eyes as she looked up at him.

"What's your fault?" he was confused.

"My father...he died the day I was born," she told him, voice shaking. "This day, in a temporal anomaly. Voyager never figured out what happened. The rest of you barely made it back to the ship alive. I must be the cause of the anomaly. There's no other explanation. It's my fault. When I entered the temporal stream I was wishing I could go back and prevent my father's death. Thinking how wonderful it would have been to grow up with him and my mother still together. When the computer asked the destination date, I must have given this one. I don't remember doing it, but I must have."

"How did you end up in the Delta Quadrant?" Harry didn't believe a simple miss entered date could have created this paradox. Something more was at work here. There was definitely some type of intelligence here, too. Not just a coincidence.

"I don't know," she replied, thinking fast and furiously. "What if Crusher's Theory of Time and Space is correct? What if 'thought' is part of it? What if -my- thoughts created this paradox?" It was a stretch, but it was all she had. "You came to see me last night. It was late.  We were just finishing up the last of the temporal calculations. You weren't making a whole lot of sense. Talking about paradoxes and such. I thought you were just being over protective. I didn't understand what you were trying to tell me...."

*****

Before and after....

K'Leena and Lucas worked side by side in the small timeship, making sure all the last minute preparations were done properly.

She could feel his unease.

"I don't suppose I could get you to reconsider?" he asked quietly.

She chuckled.  "It's a little late for that, don't you think?"

"No, you don't have to do this, K'Leena."

Stopping her calculations, she glanced up at his concerned expression.

"I -want- to do this, Lucas," she stressed.  "I want to be the first.  Just like he was."

"Is that what this is?" he demanded.  "You proving yourself to a -dead- man?"

"No!  This is about -me- and what -I- want!"

Her eyes flashed dangerously.  He may be her husband, but this was her life and her career.

Lucas' jaw clenched with the effort to hold back his anger.

"Permission to come aboard, Commander?" a voice from the hatch interrupted.

"Uncle Harry!" K'Leena jumped up, relieved at the intrusion.  She hugged him fiercely. "I didn't expect to see you until tomorrow."

"I wanted to talk to you, alone." Harry tossed Lucas an apologetic look. "Nothing personal, Lucas. I just need to speak to K'Leena."

"No problem. We were just about done here anyway." Turning to his wife he continued, "I'll meet you back in our quarters, okay?"

"I'll be there as soon as Uncle Harry and I are done." She held on to his hand briefly as he passed by her.

I won't be long.

"What's the matter, Uncle Harry? Is Aunt Ani all right?"

"Yes, she's just fine. She sends her love. I needed to talk to you about tomorrow's time jump." He sat down in the co-pilot's chair as K'Leena took her seat.

"What about it?" she asked, he was so serious.

"I just want you to think about your actions tomorrow. Double check and make sure everything goes as planned, okay. Temporal Mechanics can be a messy thing to deal with. Small mistakes can result in huge consequences. Paradoxes can destroy lives, K'Leena."

"I know that, I'm not going to take any reckless chances. I'll be careful, I promise." She reassured him. He worried about her so much, especially since her mother's death.

Harry looked at her sadly. She didn't understand, and he couldn't tell her. It was all going to happen again.

"Remember one thing for me, okay?"

"Anything."

"A paradox can't exist outside its circle of time." He was so intense he was starting to frighten her. She nodded slowly. She would remember.

*****

K'Leena entered her quarters, the conversation with her uncle weighing heavily on her mind. Lucas looked up from the PADD he was reading. He sensed her thoughts immediately, feeling her distress.

Imzadi? His mind touched hers.

He stood up and she moved into his arms. She didn't want to think about it anymore. She just wanted to be with him.

"It's nothing," she reassured him.  "Just an overprotective uncle.  He worries too much since Momma died."

"He's got good reason to be worried," he reminded her.  "Jumping around in time is dangerous."

K'Leena groaned silently.  Not again.  He was like a dog with a bone lately.

"Lucas...."

"No!" he shouted.  "Don't tell me everything will be all right!  I have a bad feeling about this, K'Leena.  I don't think you know what you're getting into!"

"It's a simple time jump.  I'll return seconds after I leave.  What could go wrong?"

"Anything!  Everything!" he raged, pacing across the room.  "You don't -know- what could go wrong.  That's the problem!  I don't want to lose you, 'Leena!"

She walked over to where he was standing.  Placing a hand over his heart, she reached up to kiss him.

"You won't," she told him.  "Of one heart, remember?  Not even the gods...."

"Can stop the beat of a Klingon Heart," he whispered back.  "I remember."

"Not even across time and space.  You belong to me and I belong to you...for all eternity.  You -can't- lose me, Lucas."

Leaning down, he pressed his forehead to hers.

"Then why am I so scared?"

In a lithe move, he picked up her petite form, and carried her to their bed.

He made love to her slowly, sweetly, until their minds and bodies joined so completely he wasn't sure where he ended and she began.  It still had the power to take his breath away, this bond they shared, even after seven years of marriage.

He didn't think it would ever change. He hoped not, anyway. He didn't know what he would do without her. She was everything to him.

He lay awake long after she fell asleep, stroking her hair as she lay sprawled across him, praying to any gods that would listen for her safety.

*****

Now the end begins....

"Hey, guys. I think I know how to get us out of here." Tom poked he head through the doorway, interrupting Harry and Isobel.  He was grinning ear to ear.

*****

"No, it won't work. The Flyer will be severely damaged when we break free. If you lose helm control the ship will be drawn in by the gravimetric eddies." Isobel was adamant, they had been arguing about this for fifteen minutes.

"I can handle it. You're not the only pilot around here," Tom was just as stubborn.

"I know you can," *but you will die doing it* and she knew she couldn't let that happen.

"If we don't do it this way you'll never get back to your own time," Tom told her.

She knew that as well. That was the whole crux of the matter. Her time. It wasn't the timeline that was supposed to be. Her selfishness had altered history. She was at fault. It was she who needed to repair the damage that was done.

"Maybe I'm not supposed to."

The others stopped what they were doing to look at her. She faced Harry with a determined expression.

"Harry, how did this paradox occur?" I

It was almost a rhetorical question, but he answered anyway.
"An event in time was caused by the actions of a future event to prevent it from happening."

"When will it cease to exist?" she asked him.

"When it completes the cycle of time," understanding was dawning.

"What the hell are you talking about?" Tom never did have a good grasp of temporal mechanics. Chakotay and Neelix didn't look like they understood the conversation any more than he did.

Isobel and Harry stayed locked in the gaze, it was so clear now. This is what he had been trying to tell her, when he came to visit last night. He had known what was to come.  He had been trying to warn her. She turned to face her father. A sad smile pulled at the corners of her mouth.

"Computer. Recognize Authorization...K'Leena Paris-Riker: epsilon-alpha-0-1-0."

Tom's head snapped back in shock. Two pair of identical blue eyes met and held. Before he was able to get a word out she continued.

--Confirmed--

"Initiate Auto-destruct sequence, ten minute silent countdown.  Engage."

--Confirmed Auto-destruct engaged--

"What are you doing?" Tom stared at her in horror.

"What needs to be done. Go, you don't have much time."

Nobody moved. It was an almost comical tableau. Neelix and Chakotay exchanged shocked looks. Harry watched his friend as he tried to take in what had just happened.

Tom was reeling. K'Leena. His daughter. Looking at her with new eyes he wondered how he had missed it. She was B'Elanna and him from head to toe.

"You're doing this for me, aren't you? You said your father died before you were born. I must have died today," he realized.

Squaring his shoulder he faced K'Leena, "I won't let you do this. You are not going to sacrifice your life for mine. I'm already dead."

"You don't have a choice." Tom knew that look.  He'd seen it in the mirror a million times.

"Don't do this, K'Leena! I couldn't live with myself, knowing I was the cause of your death." he pleaded.

"Neither can I. You don't get it. I have to do this. I'm the one who created the paradox. I have to return the timeline to its proper destiny. It can only be this way. I know you don't understand it. I wish I had time to explain, but I don't. Go, please, all of you." She smiled at Chakotay and Neelix, gesturing to the open airlock.

They returned the sad grin and silently left. Harry paused before leaving. His heart constricted painfully for his best friend.

"Tom..." Harry said softly.

"I'm not leaving, Harry," he ground out between gritted teeth. Harry nodded and ducked through the airlock, then, leaving the pair.

"Shut off the auto-destruct." Tom demanded.

"No."

"I'm not moving. If the ship goes, you'll end up killing me." Tom dug his heels in.

"I don't have time to argue with you about Temporal Mechanics! You don't understand what's at stake here! This has to happen! I'm giving you a direct order, Ensign. Get off my ship! NOW!" the command tone of her voice startled him slightly.

Their eyes locked and battled as the computer silently ticked down. Tom knew he was losing the fight.

"You do a pretty good Janeway, you know," he said with a wry grin.

"Yeah," her voice softened with emotion, "I know. Aunt Kathryn taught me well. Go, daddy, we don't have time for this." She looked at him, her blue eyes pleading for understanding.

"Come with us then, destroy the ship but come with us." Tom was desperate.

"I can't. I'm already there. You have to believe me. I know what I'm doing. Please...trust me. It will all work out."

Tom looked at the woman who was his daughter. She had such strength and conviction in her voice, she sounded like B'Elanna. Folding her in arms he hugged her fiercely, tears gathering in his eyes.

"I hope so," was all he could manage. A second later he was heading through the airlock.

"Seal the hatch, Harry. Neelix, bring the engines online. Full power to the shields, we're going to need all the protection we can get." Chakotay commanded as Tom took his seat at the helm. He couldn't at any of them.  He was too caught up in his own misery.

"Wasn't sure you would leave," Harry said quietly.

"She ordered me off her ship," he replied laughing softly to himself.

K'Leena sealed the airlock and disengaged the timeship from the Delta Flyer. She maneuvered the small ship toward the edge of the Innerfold layer. The Flyer was pulling away as far as the gravimetric fields would allow. Tom was putting as much distance between the two ships as possible. They would need the force of the explosion to set them free, but if they were too close it could destroy them as well.

"Today is a good day to die," she announced to the empty ship.

Watching the auto-destruct count down the last few seconds, she thought of her father, her mother, Lucas, the children she would never have.

Surprisingly it brought her peace.

Imzadi...forgive me.

She didn't know if was the explosion, the resulting temporal displacement, or if her mind was just playing tricks on her, but she thought she heard him reply.

Across time and space the last thing she heard was his voice.

I will find you.

*****

After it ends....

K'Leena Paris stepped off the Timeship Continuity and was surrounded by her colleagues.

The time jump had been a complete success. There was lots of cheering and yelling going on. Champagne was being sprayed and toasts were being made all around her.

She was the first person in history to use Temporal Propulsion Drive.

"You didn't cause any paradoxes did you, Paris?"

K'Leena turned to face the source of the gibe. The tall, Tactical Officer was leaning against -her- ship. Kahless, he was so annoying.

"What the hell are you doing here, Riker? I didn't invite you."

"Like I need your permission." Lucas snorted. "I just wanted to be around in case you managed to screw up the timeline, and we ended up married or something."

"In your dreams, Lucas. You wouldn't know what to do with me if you had me."

Laughing, she glanced over at her parents. Arm and arm they stood, watching her with pride. It always amazed her how young they still looked.

The Paris name was going down in history once again. Tom Paris had been the first man in Starfleet to break the warp barrier.  It seemed fitting that his daughter should be the one to pioneer Temporal Drive.

Disengaging herself from the crowd, she walked over to her parents. There was a strange glittering in her father's eyes. Tears? Was he crying?

"Daddy?" What was it? Something wasn't right...or maybe something finally was? She couldn't quite grasp the feeling that skirted the edges of her mind. Questioningly she looked up at him.

"A paradox isn't a paradox...." Tom began, and then she knew.

The timeline that she used to know had almost completely left her, but for that instant, that span of a microsecond, she knew. With a gasp she looked into the blue eyes that were so familiar, so like her own, and said:

"Once the circle is complete."

*****

It begins once again....

"Come on, B'Elanna...you have to push. I know you're tired, but you can't stop now." Tom was worried.  This had gone on far too long. She was exhausted.

After more than two days of laboring she wasn't going to have the strength to finish it. Holding her upright he laced his fingers with hers as he saw the fetal monitor rise in prelude to the next contraction.

"I think I want that pain medication now," she told the Doctor in a weak voice.

"It's too late for that, the baby is almost here. Just a few more pushes, B'Elanna. You can do it." The Doctor was concerned as well, he wasn't sure she had anything left to push with.

"I can't.... I can't do it anymore," she was too tired, there was too much pain.

The contraction tore through her with devastating force.  She lost control of it rapidly. Her head fell back on Tom's shoulder, if he hadn't been sitting behind her, holding her up, she would have collapsed. An agonized moan escaped her lips. Tom felt tears prick the backs of his eyes. He couldn't watch her go through this anymore.

"Enough! She's too tired," he said to the Doctor in a tone that brooked no argument.

Nodding in agreement he replied, "Get the fetal transporter prepared."

Before he could leave his wife, Seven spoke.

"Weakling...what kind of a woman are you?" she demanded in her most cold-hearted Borg voice.

Tom looked at her incredulously. What the hell was she doing?

"You can't even give birth to your own child."

B'Elanna opened her eyes and looked at the other woman.

Seven saw the anger building. She continued to taunt the half-Klingon. Knowing B'Elanna would never forgive herself for not being able to do this.

"So much for your superior Klingon strength." That did it, B'Elanna surged forward ready to tear the Borg apart.

"Why you Borg b...aaahhhh..." she threw back her head and cried out as the contraction came hard.

Tom guided her hands to the backs of her knees, covered them with his own and helped her draw her legs closer to her body.

"One thing at a time, love. You can kick Seven's ass -after- you've had the baby, okay?" Tom looked up at Seven with silent thanks.

"Okay, as...soon...as I...have...this.... baby..." with every bit of strength she possessed, she pushed.

"That's it...you're doing great...come on, you can do this..."

"aaaahhhh...it hurts...."

"I know, it will be over soon...."

"this is all your fault...."

"I know...."

"no you don't...."

"Hold on, B'Elanna, stop pushing," the Doctor warned.

"don't push, sweetheart...breathe through it...dammit, B'Elanna, stop pushing or you'll tear...breathe...."

"you breathe...I...have...to...push...."

"stubborn Klingon...."

"One more time, now...PUSH!" The Doctor instructed.

A keening wail came from B'Elanna as she gave birth to her daughter. She felt an incredible rush of release as the child slipped from her. Then all the tension left her body and she sagged back against Tom. He let go of her legs and caught her as she fell in his arms.

"You did it," he whispered in her ear. B'Elanna turned her head and looked up at him.

She just nodded in response, too exhausted to say to speak.

Tom kissed her gently on the lips and whispered, "I love you."

He held her tenderly as they both watched the Doctor's assistant clamp and cut the umbilical cord. B'Elanna felt heavy in his arms. He knew she was rapidly drifting. She stiffened and cried out softly as the placenta was delivered.

"Congratulations, Tom and B'Elanna. She's beautiful," the Doctor said as his assistant placed the child in her mother's arms.

"K'Leena Isobel Paris, welcome to Voyager." Tom said, looking down on his daughter.

B'Elanna stroked the baby's cheek, tears falling from her eyes. Red hair, who ever heard of a red headed Klingon? And there was no denying she was a Klingon, she had B'Elanna's cranial ridges, maybe a little fainter but still there.

Seven quietly brushed the tears from her eyes as she viewed the three of them. She wondered if she would ever know what becoming a mother was like. Feeling something of a voyeur, she moved away from the new family and headed out of Sickbay.

Harry was waiting outside in the corridor, with the Captain, Chakotay, Neelix, and to Seven's surprise, Tuvok. She was tempted to ask who was on the bridge, but decided against it.

"I thought it was the expectant father that stood outside the delivery room doors?" She said to them with eyebrow raised.

As the Captain asked her how everything went and how the new family was, Harry took in Seven's appearance. She was dead on her feet. He didn't think he had ever seen her so worn out, and he had seen her go a week without regeneration. This was different. She was drained emotionally as well as physically.

Ignoring the Captain's indignant look, he interrupted the interrogation and put his arm around Seven's waist.

"I think Seven needs to get some rest, Captain. Perhaps the questions can wait for the Doctor to answer them." He led her away as the rest of the senior staff stood in stunned silence.

Seven turned to him as they entered the turbolift. How did he known what she needed?

"Thank you, Ensign."

"No problem. Deck 6," he instructed the computer.

"Ensign, the cargo bay is on deck 8," she reminded him.

"Yes, I know. You don't need to regenerate. You need to sleep, and you're not going to be able to do that in the cargo bay. The children are all playing in there right now, Samantha Wildman is with them. I'm taking you to my quarters, you'll be able to rest and no one will disturb you."

Once again he thought how inappropriate it was for Seven to be raising a family in a cargo bay. Tomorrow that would change. He was Chief of Ships Operations, and would see to it himself. For now, however, she would sleep in his bed. So he would know she was resting.

A short time later, dressed in a pair of Harry's pajamas Seven of Nine crawled into a bed for the first time in 22 years. As the mattress and pillow came up and comforted her, she decided that it was a pleasant feeling, however irrelevant. Harry turned out the light and took one last look at her.  She seemed a whole lot younger than him at this moment.

"Ensign Kim?" she called out sleepily.

"Seven, when you're in my bed, I think you can call me Harry."

"Harry?"

"What is it, Seven?"

"Don't forget to wake me. Lt. Torres still needs to...kick my ass," she told him.

Chuckling he left her to her dreams, not knowing that he was playing a starring role in them tonight.

*****

Before, after, then and now....

He watched the sleeping child. So innocent.  So full of promise. He would have to keep an eye on this one. It wasn't often one these mortal beings could best him.

"I saw that, you know," his mate said to him.

"Saw what?"

"Don't play the innocent omnipotent with me, you don't do it very well."