This is a sequel to "Beginnings" that takes place 28 years after the birth of Tom and B'Elanna's daughter, K'Leena, this is her story. This story does not stand alone, if you haven't read "Beginnings" you will not know what's going on.
I never realized how compelling it would be to write this, and I certainly never anticipated the number of requests I would receive to do it. I hope you all enjoy.
I blatantly stole the idea for the "Alpha Team" from TPTB. It is one of the concepts being tossed around for Series V. It just seemed like a fun idea to work with. A Special Forces/Mission Impossible team in the Star Trek universe. What possibilities.
Star Trek belongs, lock, stock and barrel, to Paramount. I make no claim on it. This is just for fun and the enjoyment of my friends. Lucas Riker and K'Leena Paris belong to me, as well as this story.
This version is rated PG-13.
Timeless--I Will Find You
by: Tracy L. Sobieski
"You're kidding, right?" Lucas Riker asked his father in angry disbelief. "You didn't really send her out alone!"
"She's the best pilot I have, Lucas. You know that." Admiral Will Riker told his son with quiet calm, in an attempt to diffuse the oncoming explosion. It didn't work.
"That's right! She's a pilot! Not an operative!" Lucas paced the room, furious with his father. "What the hell is the matter with you?! A lone woman on an intel extraction? Since when does Starfleet go in for all the cloak and dagger stuff anyway? I thought that's what I'm for." An uneasy thought came to him. He stopped pacing and pinned his father with a hard stare. "Tell me you didn't do what I think you did."
Will Riker knew there was no point in denying it. Lucas could read his mind if he choose to.
"She was the best person for the job."
"That's why she left the "Time Bound" project right after the first jump. You offered her Special Ops, didn't you? She would have leapt at the chance for covert operations. It's her dream assignment." Lucas sat down in the chair across from his father. "Jesus, Dad, what the hell were you thinking? You know how Tom feels about Special Ops. If he doesn't kill you for this, I'm sure B'Elanna will."
"Please, allow me." Commander B'Elanna Torres growled as she and her husband burst into the Admiral's office.
"B'Elanna....let me handle this." Tom Paris placed a restraining hand on her arm. "Lucas, could you and B'Elanna leave us alone for a minute?"
As much as he didn't want to, Lucas escorted the Captain's unwilling wife from the office. He knew the look in Tom Paris' eyes. He almost felt sorry for his father ........almost.
Tom waited for the door to close behind them before facing the other man.
"How long have we been friends, Will?" Tom asked expressionless. The "Paris mask" firmly in place. It was a look that could intimidate the most fierce opponent. And the scariest thing about it was that Will Riker knew what lurked behind that facade. Tom Paris was a hard man. It was hidden behind charm and humor, but if you crossed him you saw it. Will had seen it on many occasions, in battle, in negotiations, in dealings with Command, but never directed at himself. It was disconcerting to say the least.
"Almost twenty-five years."
"And in all that time, have I ever done something that has gone against your beliefs?"
"Then, could you please explain to me, how this happened?"
"I'm sorry, Tom. It wasn't supposed to be this way. She was just going to shuttle an agent out of Breen territory."
"But it wouldn't have ended there. It never does. Dammit, Will! You know that as well as I do! Section 31 almost cost you Deanna. It almost cost me the lives of my two best friends!"
"Tom, this isn't Section 31. It's Starfleet Special Ops."
"There's not much difference, as far as I'm concerned."
"She wanted it, Tom. K'Leena came to me and asked me for this. She's your daughter, you know what she's like. After the time jump was a success, she felt she needed a new challenge. What was I supposed to do? Tell her no, because you have a problem with covet operations? She's a Starfleet Officer, she makes her own decisions."
"You should have at least let me know what was going on. I could have talked to her."
"She made me promise not to tell you. K'Leena knew you would try and talk her out of it. She didn't want to fight with you over this. Besides, it wouldn't have worked. Don't you think I tried to talk her out of it? Deanna and I both tried. She finally told me if I didn't want her, she was sure Admiral LaForge could use a good pilot. It's bad enough Geordi has Lucas. Deanna and I don't hear from him for months on end. I never know what hazardous mission he's been assigned to and I can't tell you the number of times he's been brought back from one in a stasis tube, too injured to be treated in the field. I thought if I kept her, I would be able to keep an eye on her better. Of course, I should have remembered whose daughter I was dealing with. If there's a way to get into trouble, she'll find it."
Tom couldn't deny that. He couldn't deny that Will was right, either. It didn't help though, it was still -his- daughter that was in danger.
Admiral Riker watched his son walk back into his office. There was a meaningful look that passed between him and Tom as the Captain left them alone.
"I'm assigning your team to the Enterprise." Will informed him emotionlessly. "You're going after K'Leena. Captain Paris requested you himself. He seems to think you'll be able to find her because of the link you two share."
Not going after her had never been an option as far as Lucas was concerned. He was so angry at his father, however, that he wasn't going to make this easy on him.
"We haven't done that since we were kids. I don't think it's there anymore." Lucas told him.
It wasn't the truth, but he wasn't comfortable telling his father that. He wasn't comfortable admitting to -himself-, much less anyone else, that he could still sense her. That late at night, when silence reigned, he could touch her mind with his thoughts. That right now he knew they were hurting her.
"Well it doesn't matter, you're still the best choice for the job. This is what Alpha Team was designed for." Will replied, not believing his son was telling him the truth for a second. Lucas was the one who had stormed into his office less than an hour ago, demanding to know where K'Leena was. So agitated that when Will had tried to avoid his questions Lucas almost took a swing at him. Her disappearance was still classified, but his son knew she was in trouble. If Will Riker had not been worried about her before, he was now.
He had tried to talk Tom out of using Lucas. He was too close to it.
"I think he's too upset...."
"Wouldn't you be, if it was Deanna?" Tom interrupted, "I can remember pulling B'Elanna's tail out of the fire on more than one occasion with my heart firmly lodged in my throat." God......when they were on Voyager it had been a weekly event. A small shudder raced up his spine at the thought of how many times he almost lost her. Time doesn't heal all wounds.
"I still don't....."
"Do you think you can -stop- him from going after her?" Tom asked incredulously. "I seem to recall the one and only time, in my tour as your First Officer, that you and I went head to head was when Deanna had been kidnapped and you insisted on going after her. In a war zone, on an unknown planet, without a security officer. Until that day I thought no one in the galaxy could out stubborn my wife."
"This is different, they're not....." Will gave up when Tom cut him off yet again.
"What? Married? Mates?" Tom almost snorted at this. "You've got to be kidding me. They've been connected since they were three years old. It's only a matter of time before they realize what they have, you know it as well as I do. I'm surprised it's taken this long."
Tom Paris stood in the back of the Enterprise's briefing room and watched Lucas fill his officers in on their mission. Lucas' ship was holding course off the Enterprise's starboard bow. It was small, but very impressive. Tom knew he had a crew of over 20 on it, not including the strike team that was assembled in this room. They respected him, that much was obvious. He was their Captain, they deferred to him. Tom hadn't realized Lucas commanded the team. The Captain's bars on his Special Forces uniform had been a surprise. He probably should have been expecting it, though. Lucas was his father's son.
"Captain, are you sure this is where she's being held?" The team's tactical officer, Lt. Burns, asked. "It's not the most protected area. I would think they have her here," he touched the map.
"I know it doesn't make sense, but she's here. Trust me." That was all it took, no one else questioned on that again.
"Cruthers." Lucas turned to his medic. "Make sure the medical bay is fully operational. We may need it." He ignored Tom's sharp intake of air.
"We leave at 05:00. Get some rest. You're dismissed."
Tom waited for the other six officers to leave before he spoke.
"She's hurt, isn't she?"
"Yes." Damn, was the man psychic?
"Take the Doctor with you."
"I can't. The Valiant is a classified ship. No unauthorized personnel allowed on board. We have a fully trained medic."
"A medic isn't a doctor. Take him in the mobile emitter. You won't even have to turn him on if she's okay, but he'll be available if you need him."
"All right, you win." Lucas gave in with a sigh. "I'll take your holodoc. Just keep this between you and me, Admiral LaForge will have my ass if he finds out."
Lucas lay on the bed, arms crossed behind his head. It would be a long time before sleep came, if it did at all. Dammit, K'Leena. I can't lose you again.
Slowly he lowered the barriers in his mind. The ones his grandmother had taught him how to use to keep out all the stray thoughts of others, to protect himself. Unlike his mother, Lucas was a full telepath. He shouldn't have been, being only one quarter Betazoid, but for some unknown reason, he was. His grandmother told him once that he was even a stronger telepath than she was. He was 14 and having a difficult time dealing with the telepathy. His mother was only able to help him so much. Lwaxana offered to take him over the school break and teach him on Betazed, help him learn to use the mental powers instead of fighting them. It was the same summer that K'Leena was going to spend with her Grandma Miral on the Klingon homeworld. He decided that spending those months with his grandmother was definitely preferable to staying on the Enterprise without K'Leena. He learned a great deal about mental discipline in those months, and he learned a great deal about his grandmother. Both things he never regretted doing.
As his mind opened he focused his thoughts on K'Leena. They were closer to her. The link was stronger. She was hurt, he could feel it. She was scared too, but she was hiding it well. And she was mad, she wasn't bothering to hide that at all. With a grin he closed his eyes and reached out with his mind....
After a while he got up, threw on his uniform and left the quarters. The still of the night was letting him think too much. He needed to get out of there.
"Computer, locate Lucas Riker." The Captain asked, surprised that the man was not asleep in his quarters.
Starfleet had just sent them updated intelligence that would require a course correction. He needed to let Lucas know they would be delayed almost three hours in reaching their destination.
--Lucas Riker is on holo-deck 2.--
Tom headed to the holo-deck. What the heck is he doing there at 02:00?
He should have known. Captain Proton......it had been a -long- time since Tom was in here. Lucas sat on the step of the simulation. Just watching him as he surveyed the room, somewhat lost in the old memories. It seemed like another lifetime ago. In many ways, it was.
"Do you remember when you first found out K'Leena and I were playing in here?" Lucas asked him after a few moments.
Tom laughed out loud.
"I doubt B'Elanna will -ever- let me forget that......"
"You're not really going to do the overprotective father thing, are you?" His wife asked in amusement.
"My fifteen year old daughter is sneaking out in the middle of the night to meet a boy and you have to ask me that?"
"Don't you trust her?"
"It's not her I don't trust, it's him. I remember the stories about his father's 'conquests' at the academy. I don't want my daughter alone with him."
"Right." B'Elanna drawled with a grin and debated reminding him just who, at the academy, was a bigger womanizer than Will Riker.
"That's different," he told her as he left their quarters.
Tom Paris could hear his wife's laughter all the way down the corridor.
"You thought we were meeting in here for -that-?" Lucas was more than a little surprised and very amused.
"Yeah, well, I listened to some of the ship's gossip. I should have known better. Imagine my chagrin to discover the two of you 'saving the universe' instead of what I expected."
"Don't you remember?!" Lucas was laughing at him outright now.
"That was right after K'Leena spent the summer with Miral on Kronos. She was so wrapped up in 'Klingon Honor' she wouldn't have let -anyone- touch her, much less me." Lucas grimaced at the memory. "Klingon women don't have sex outside of a mated relationship, Captain, it's not honorable. I certainly wasn't a Klingon, so she couldn't possibly mate with me."
Tom -had- forgotten that. Blocked it out was more like it. K'Leena didn't just learn the Klingon traditions and beliefs that summer, she embraced them. When she returned home B'Elanna swore it was like living with her mother again. K'Leena asked him to teach her how to use a bat'leth. She wanted to participate in the Klingon holidays B'Elanna avoided. Learn the language. All of it. It made life in his house very volatile. Mother--daughter battles with out of control Klingon tempers. It's a wonder they didn't kill each other. The whole time he was caught in the middle. He wanted K'Leena to learn what being Klingon was. He also knew the struggles his wife endured as she wrestled with her Klingon half. A rock and a hard place had nothing over his wife and daughter. Tom almost shuddered at the memory.
"I guess I forgot that. I should have trusted her ......and you. I know you would never hurt her."
"No, I wouldn't." Lucas grew quiet.
"You love her." Tom stated with certainty.
The Captain watched the younger man stand to face him. Lucas was so much like his father. There were subtle differences though. He was as tall as Will but much leaner, his face longer, narrower and the Betaziod black eyes seemed to reach into your soul when he looked at you. Still, Tom saw much of his friend in him.
"Yes, I love her." Lucas admitted and met the other man's gaze unflinchingly. "I've always loved her. Across time and space, in this life........ and in another."
It was like a blow to the solar plexus. The air sucked from his lungs. This possibility never occurred to him. Tom stared at Lucas, stunned.
"Some." Lucas acknowledged with forced composure. "In dreams, for the most part. Faint glimpses. Images. Feelings. It's elusive, but it's there."
"I'm sorry Lucas......damn.........she did it for me. I couldn't stop her." He must hate me.
"I know. It's not your fault."
"When did you....."
"The dreams started about three months ago, just after the time jump. It took me a while to figure out what happened."
"Why didn't you go to K'Leena then?"
"And tell her what? She's not the same person now. Having you around while she grew up changed her. She didn't need me. She doesn't love me."
"Are you sure?"
"No........I'm not sure about anything." Lucas was bitter. "I wake up every morning, still expecting to find her in my arms. So angry that she choose you over me. When I'm with her, half the time I want to make love to her and the other half I want to strangle her."
Huddled on the floor in the corner of the cell, K'Leena fought sleep. She focused on the pain to keep her alert. There was enough of it. She hoped he'd get there soon. She didn't know how much longer she could hold out.
Two more hours...... Lucas thought he was going to go insane. He couldn't reach her anymore, all he got was her pain.
He heard her angry shriek and followed it. Finding her had not been as difficult as he thought it would be. Probably because the Breen thought they were keeping her in the last place anybody would look. She wasn't even being guarded heavily. His team took down the outer perimeter in minutes. Lucas had free run of the small building after dealing with the guard at the door.
Another angry cry. He unlocked the cell door and burst in. The guard had K'Leena by the arm, forced down on her knees with his hand was raised to strike her. Lucas dove at him, rolled him to the ground away from her. He rendered him unconscious in a matter of moments.
K'Leena scrambled up and went for the dropped weapon. Pain shot through her arm when she picked it up. A Starfleet phaser rifle?
Lucas stood over her attacker fighting the urge to finish the job and kill him.
"Who the hell are you?" K'Leena asked as she forced the fear and exhaustion from her voice and pressed the weapon into his back. Darkness closed in around her, she pushed it back and shook her head to clear it. Pain exploded behind her eyes.
"Captain Proton..... who else would be saving your ass?" Came the irritated reply. He pulled the mask from his head.
"Lucas!" K'Leena breathed in relief and lowered the gun. She had never been so happy to see him in her life, sarcasm and all.
He turned around and hid his shock at her appearance. The anger in him ignited into full blown fury as he took inventory of her injuries. There was a large gash on her forehead that had turned the surrounding tissue an ugly purple. Her lip was split from what had been a vicious blow to her face and she was holding her left arm close to her chest at an awkward angle. It must be broken. All in all, she looked like hell, and Lucas didn't think he had ever seen a more beautiful thing.
"Come on...... let's get you out of here." He reached forward and gently pulled her to him, wrapping his arm around her waist to support her weight, surprised and worried at the same time when she let him do it. He led her down the corridor, moving as quickly as she was able. For the first time since they were children, K'Leena didn't argue with him. That worried him even more.
By the time they reached the beam out point, she was barely able to stand. With a curse he swung her into his arms and signaled his ship for transport. He felt her slip into unconsciousness as the beam grabbed them.
"I've got her. Beam the rest of the team up and get us out of here." Lucas told his second in command while he carried K'Leena to the medical bay. She felt far too small and fragile in his arms. Once there he placed her on the bed and activated the holodoctor.
"Please state the nature of the medical emergency."
"Got a patient for you, Doc."
"Ah, Ms. Paris. There's a surprise," the Doctor said in a tone that made it clear it was anything but. "What have you done to yourself now?" He mumbled in exasperation.
"They beat her." Lucas said with quiet rage. His hand gently brushed the flame colored hair from her face. He grimaced at the damage done to her delicate features.
"Yes, I can see that, Captain. Now if you don't mind I have some work to do. I believe you're needed on the bridge?" Subtly was not one of the Doctor's strong points. Lucas got the hint.
"I'll be back later."
"I'm sure you will."
K'Leena opened her eyes to see the Doctor standing over her.
"Hey, Doc. What are you doing here?"
"Doing your father a favor. One that could get a lot of people in trouble, so as far as anyone knows: I was never here. Okay?"
"Okay. Where is 'here', by the way?"
"On board a Special Forces ship, they sent in the Alpha Team to rescue you."
"No they didn't. Lucas got me out of there."
"Yes. Captain Riker led the team."
"Captain Riker?" K'Leena snorted. "I don't think so. Lucas is a Lieutenant."
"Lucas is a Starfleet Lieutenant, but he is Captain of the Alpha Team, K'Leena. He ran the rescue mission. This is his ship."
Lucas had his own command? Special Forces, no less. K'Leena was impressed, not that she'd ever let him know it though.
"How long have I been out?" She asked.
"About four hours. I had a great deal of damage to repair. Broken ribs, concussion, fractured skull, internal injuries....."
"Four hours. Are we still in orbit?" K'Leena didn't need a laundry list of what they did to her, she had been there.
"No. We left once everyone was back on board. The mission was completed. There was no reason to stay any longer."
"I have to get to the bridge, it's not too late." She sat up and swung her legs over the edge of the bed.
"You're not going anywhere except back to quarters for a hot shower and a good nights sleep." The Doctor told her sternly.
"Not another word. Doctor's orders. You need to rest. There's a guard right outside the door with instructions to show you to your quarters when you're ready. You will need to deactivate me and take the mobile emitter with you."
"All right, give me your arm."
After pocketing the Doc's emitter she left the medical bay. The guard walked her to her quarters and told her he would be right outside if she needed anything. Getting to the bridge was going to be a problem.
It took her about a micro-second to realize who's quarters she was in. His scent was everywhere. She walked over to the desk and picked up the PADD that was sitting on it.
You can stay in my room until we reach
the Enterprise. It's the only private
one on board. I'll stay in the crew
quarters. Feel free to use the
replicator for a new set of clothes,
and I'm sure you're hungry. I only
have a sonic shower, sorry, I know
you like real water. I'll be by to
check up on you a little later. Try
to get some rest.
She did need a bath. Walking over to the replicator she ordered up a new uniform and some personal items. She certainly didn't want to go to the bridge looking like she did.
A half hour later she felt a little more like herself and very hungry. She replicated some tomato soup and sat at Lucas' desk to eat it. The spoon stopped half way to her mouth when she saw it. Why would he keep that on his desk?
She put the spoon back in the bowl and picked up the picture. Lucas' mother had taken it about six months ago, at the last Voyager reunion. Deanna sent her a copy of it. K'Leena wasn't fond of the likeness. It really was a nice picture, it just made her so uncomfortable when she looked at it. The reunion had been held at Grandpa Paris' estate. They were on the beach for the party. It had gone on all day and late into the night. Everybody ended up around a huge open fire, sharing stories of their days on Voyager. K'Leena loved to listen to those stories.
The picture had been taken then. Lucas was sitting behind her, she was leaning against him. His chin rested on her shoulder and his arms were around her waist. It was so intimate. And that was why it bothered her, if she was completely honest. When this picture was taken she hadn't been thinking about the stories that were being told. She had been thinking about how much she wanted to stay in those arms for the rest of the night.....and maybe even longer. Something happened between them that weekend, something she didn't really want to acknowledge.........yet.
His mother must have sent a copy of the picture to Lucas as well as her. She placed it back on the desk and went back to her dinner, still wondering why he kept it out in the open.
"Burns, you have the bridge. I'm going to check on our passenger. Then get some sleep." Lucas nodded to his second in command then headed to the turbo-lift. They were on schedule to rendezvous with the Enterprise in eighteen hours, he wouldn't be needed on the bridge.
K'Leena sat on the edge of the desk. She wondered if the guard outside the door would take her to Lucas if she asked him to. It couldn't hurt to try the direct approach. The door chime sounded just as she stood up.
Lucas strode through the door a moment later. He was wearing a Special Forces uniform. The midnight blue jumpsuit looked good on him. So did the silver Captain's bars.
"How are you feeling?" He asked her, concerned. She was still a little pale. Her red hair seemed almost too bright against the ashen skin. She had lost weight, too. Something she really couldn't afford to do. She was too thin to begin with, in his opinion.
"Better, I still have a headache, but it's not too bad." K'Leena ran an unconscious hand over her cranial ridges.
"They were pretty rough on you. What did they want?"
"The name of the contact I was picking up." K'Leena grimaced. "The drugs they had didn't work with my hybrid physiology, so they resorted to violence."
She spoke lightly, but Lucas wasn't fooled. The Doctor sent him a report. He knew just how much violence they resorted to. He should have killed the bastard.
"Lucas, we need to go back."
"No." Absolutely not.
"I said no."
"My contact. I still need to get him out, I need to complete my mission."
"No way," his voice was hard. "Your mission ended the minute they captured you. You are officially relieved of duty until we return to Command."
"By who's authority?" She pulled out the Paris arrogance in full force.
"By -my- authority."
"Who do you think you are?" K'Leena threw a PADD at him, annoyed when he ducked effortlessly and avoided being struck in the head with it.
"Right now, your commanding officer." That felt so good to say, too good. He wasn't sure he wanted to analyze why, however.
"Like hell! I outrank you -Lieutenant- and I say we go back." She advanced on him in anger.
"I don't care if you're a God-damned Admiral." He grabbed both her upper arms and lowered his voice. It was like velvet clad steel when he continued. "I'm in command on this ship. You take your orders from me. Understand?"
Something changed the instant he touched her. The air around them charged with electricity. K'Leena became aware of his closeness. She could feel the tension in him. She could -smell- him. Kahless, she could almost taste him.
"You don't own me," she growled slightly and bared her teeth.
Lucas' eyes became impenetrable obsidian chips. He moved with such swiftness, she didn't have time to react. Before she knew it, her back was up against the wall and he was pressed full length against her. A hand came up and roughly grabbed her by the hair, yanking her head to the side in a sharp tug. She cried out in surprise and pain when his teeth sank into her jaw. He drew blood. His head came up to take in her gaze and K'Leena saw in him something she had never seen before. Possessiveness.
"I do now."
Her sky blue eyes widened in shock. Lucas had claimed her as a Klingon would do. He couldn't know that. He didn't understand what he had just done, he wasn't Klingon. There was no way for him to know the significance of a mating bite.
She drew in a deep breath. Inhaling his scent. Suddenly, it didn't matter. She didn't care if he understood what he was doing or not. She wanted him, and he wanted her. Right now, that was enough.
She reached up and touched the smear of blood on his lip with her fingertip. His eyes closed at the contact. She thought she heard a small groan deep within him. Her hand went to the back of his head and pulled him down to her. Blue eyes in black eyes. She turned with a growl and bit him, duplicating the wound he'd given her.
That was all the encouragement Lucas needed. With a soft growl of his own he hiked her further up the wall. Bringing his knee to part her legs so he could press himself closer to her. Then his mouth found hers. She could taste her blood as it mingled with his, disconcerted at the hunger it brought in her. She hadn't expected the frightening intensity of it. He parted her lips with his tongue to deepen the kiss. She returned it, tentatively at first, then grew bolder. He let her take the lead, find her own way.
It felt so right, it was almost familiar. Like everything in the universe was finally where it was supposed to be. She relaxed against him in complete surrender. There was no going back. K'Leena needed to be close to him. The horror of the past six days dissolved any lingering resistance. She loved him and right now was the only thing that mattered.
More than lovers, more than friends, two hearts that beat as one......
K'Leena felt him settle her on the bed and draw the blanket over them, as sleep took her. She was exhausted. Her head throbbed slightly. She knew they should talk but she couldn't stay awake. For the first time in almost a week she was safe and could sleep. With a sigh she moved closer to him. She never heard what he said when he pulled her into his arms and wrapped his body around hers.
"My love.....my life."
Lucas lay awake long after, scared that if he fell asleep he would discover this was all a dream......again.
K'Leena awoke with a scream and sat straight up in the bed, disorientated. Breathing heavily, she looked wildly around the darkened room. Where was she? A pair of strong arms engulfed her in a comforting embrace.
"Lucas?" What was Lucas doing in her bed? Kahless, her head hurt. Why was everything so fuzzy? He brought her down to lay next to him, she didn't resist. It felt so safe.
"Shhhh.....go back to sleep. I'm here."
Why did that make everything all right?
B'Elanna stared with unseeing eyes at the stationary stars. The Enterprise was holding position to rendezvous with the Valiant. Ten Forward was almost empty. It was late.
"Has there been any news?" A familiar voice asked.
"Come and sit with me." Seven placed a hand on her friend's arm. They had been through a lot over the years, but this seemed to be harder on B'Elanna than anything she could remember. She put her arm around the smaller woman's shoulders and led her to one of the sofas.
Seven of Nine, the 'Borg Queen', as B'Elanna used to call her, held her friend as she sobbed. All the while fighting the tears that threatened to fall from her own eyes.
Lucas slipped out of bed, taking great care not to wake K'Leena. She had slept restlessly. Plagued by nightmares and an unrelenting headache. After she woke up screaming for the third time, he got a sedative from his medkit and gave it to her. The last thing he wanted was to disturb her.
They would be dealing with the after effects of her capture for quite some time. He experienced the dreams with her. To call them disturbing was an understatement. It took a great deal of self control to keep his rage in check. He would have to talk with his mother when they returned to Earth. She would be able to help. Both of them, he hoped.
He grabbed a fresh uniform and headed into the bathroom. The bite on his face stood out angrily against his skin. He passed the dermal regenerator over it once to close the wound, but left the faint scar alone.
K'Leena checked the mirror one last time. Her hair was pinned up and out of her face and the mating bite Lucas gave her healed, but not completely erased. She looked normal enough, even if she didn't quite feel it.
She was just zipping up the jacket to her uniform when the door chime rang.
A security officer entered and stood at attention.
"Commander Paris, Captain Riker asked me to escort you to the bridge."
She followed him, wondering what was going on now.
It all made sense now. That nagging feeling something just wasn't right, the ease of her rescue, even the brutality of her imprisonment. He should have paid more attention to all of it. Damn......they played him for a fool.
"What's wrong?" K'Leena asked when she entered the bridge, his tension hitting her the moment they were together.
"Tactical, on screen," he commanded.
The tetryon sensor net was displayed. It stretched over 12 parsecs and covered the only navigable path out of Breen space available to them. They couldn't go through the thing, it would light them up like a Christmas tree. A cloaked Federation ship in Breen space would be considered an act of war.
"Kahless," K'Leena breathed.
"How did you end up on this assignment, Commander?" Lucas asked, expressionless.
"Admiral Riker put me on it. The contact I was to shuttle out had requested the best pilot available to......." She drew in a sharp breath. Their eyes met in understanding.
"It was all a set up. There was no contact. They got me out here to trap you!" How could she have been so blind? It was so clear, it had to have......
"...come from the inside." Lucas finished the thought for her.
"They were taking a big chance that you would be the one to come after me."
"Were they? I don't think so. Your father is the Captain of the Federation's Flag ship. You are under my father's command. It doesn't take a genius to follow the chain of command in this thing." What bothered him the most was the fact they hurt her, to get at him. Only people very close to the Paris and Riker families knew about their childhood connection. It made for a short and dangerous list of suspects.
"Why would someone go to all this trouble?" she asked.
"To start a war," came the grim reply.
--Bridge to Captain Paris.--
"What is it Harry?" Tom looked up from the desk of his ready room and responded to the hail.
--Tom, you better get up here. We've got trouble."
Commander Kim was standing next to his wife at the Tactical station when the Captain came out of the ready room.
"What's wrong?" Tom asked with dread.
"Long range scans have picked up a tetryon sensor net deployed across the Valiant's flight path, it was just activated. They cannot go around it." Seven told him.
Tom stared at the tactical readout. Everything fell into place. Somebody orchestrated the whole thing.
"Son of a......." Tom bit off the rest of the expletive. "Get me Starfleet Command! Secure the channel. I want to speak to Admiral Riker immediately. Route it to my ready room." He turned to his First Officer. "I want the Enterprise at the edge of Breen space by the time I'm done with talking with Will."
"Aye, sir." Harry replied. "Helm, set a course, warp 2."
"Can they get the Valiant out of there without being detected?" Admiral Riker asked.
"I don't know how. This was planned well. It would take them months to go around and who knows what lays in wait for them if they do."
"Well planned." Riker said menacingly. "Too well planned. Someone knew just which buttons to push."
"Do you have any idea who?"
"No, and that's what's got me concerned the most. It's someone close Tom, very close. They used K'Leena and Lucas. They knew -how- to use them."
"I know." He had come to the same conclusion himself.
"It's going to be hard to find the leak." Will said. "I could use some help here. Are you ready to accept the Admiralty they've offered?"
"As soon as we get them out of there. Whoever did this has access to the top of Starfleet Command. Maybe even the President himself."
"Are you insane!?" K'Leena raised her voice in disbelief.
"Do you have a better idea? I'd love to hear it, because I'm trying to avoid an intersteller war." His mate's eyes narrowed at the sarcasm and he was sure he heard her growl.
"Lucas, you can't navigate a trans-warp conduit through a tetryon field. The hull stresses will implode the ship!"
"Our shields and hull plating are stronger than standard Federation design. We'll use the deflector to enhance them."
"You're going to do this, aren't you?"
"K'Leena, we don't have a choice. Even if we use the auto-destruct there will be enough debris to identify us as a Federation vessel. The trans-warp conduit won't set off the sensor net."
She looked at him for a moment, feeling all the desperation and anger with him, then turned to the helmsman.
"Get up," she commanded.
"K'Leena, Pren is a good pilot, he....." Lucas began.
"I know he's good, but he's not me. Dammit, Lucas, if you insist on going through with this suicidal plan you need me at the helm." She was right and he knew it. With a nod of his head Pren relinquished his post.
Can you do this?
Hell if I know.
"Captain, we're receiving a transmission on an encoded Starfleet phased carrier wave. It's from the Valiant." Seven informed Tom.
"What does it say?" he asked, concerned at her sudden intake of breath.
"They are going to try and use a trans-warp conduit to pass through the tetryon field."
"For the love of Kahless!" B'Elanna unconsciously reached for her husband's hand.
"Red Alert! All hands to battle stations. Have sickbay prepare for casualties. If they make it through they're going to be in bad shape. Commander put us a safe distance from that sensor net."
"Aye, Captain." Harry glanced up at the face of his best friend. It seemed to be cut of stone. No emotion, no fear, no nothing. Except for the death grip he had on his mate's hand.
"Are the deflector modifications completed?" Lucas asked his tactical officer.
"You ready, K'Leena?"
"As ready as I'll ever be," she muttered.
"Do it." Lucas ordered.
K'Leena took a deep breath and engaged the trans-warp drive.
"We're approaching the tetryon field. We'll hit the edge of it in twenty seconds.......fifteen.....ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one........
It was like nothing K'Leena had ever flown before. It took everything she had, and some she didn't, to control the ship.
--Hull stresses exceeding acceptable tolerances.-- The computer informed them.
"How are we doing?" Lucas looked to his Ops officer.
"We've got hull buckles forming on all the outer levels. Shields are holding, barely. We'll clear the tetryon grid in two minutes. The Enterprise is holding position just inside Federation space."
How about you?
"Lucas! Get out of my head!" Was he trying to get them all killed?
"Captain, there's a trans-warp conduit opening directly in front of us."
"On screen." Commander Kim said.
The entire bridge crew held their breath as the conduit opened and the ship emerged.
"They have taken heavy damage to the outer hull, but all the other systems appear to be operating within normal parameters."
"They're hailing us."
"Open a channel."
A collective sigh of relief was heard when the crew of the Valiant, plus one well known pilot, appeared on the viewscreen all in one piece.
"Captain Riker, do you require our assistance?" Tom asked, his eyes never leaving his daughter's face.
"Permission to transfer my crew to your ship, Captain. We are in need of some repairs over here."
"Granted. Welcome home, Captain."
"Daddy, it was like nothing I've even flown in. You wouldn't believe it. I still don't know how I held it together." Tom was just grateful she had. B'Elanna's hand came to rest on his shoulder, she understood.
"Tom, I think K'Leena should get back to her quarters and get some sleep. We can talk more tomorrow."
"I won't be here tomorrow. I'm leaving with the Hood tonight." She told her parents, hoping they didn't question her on it. They had joined up with the Hood to transfer some personnel since the Enterprise was going to stay with the Valiant while she was being repaired.
"Really?" Tom asked, uninterested. "Well I suppose you want to get back home. Your mother and I will be back on Earth in a couple of weeks anyway. I have an Admiral's office to decorate."
B'Elanna looked at her husband like he'd lost his mind.
"You still need to get some rest, I'll walk you back to your quarters."
"K'Leena, what's going on?" B'Elanna asked as soon as they were alone in her quarters.
"You've been avoiding Lucas since you beamed on board this morning. And you seem to be in an awful big hurry to get off this ship."
"I'm not avoiding Lucas."
"Your behavior isn't very honorable." B'Elanna knew she was pushing it with her daughter.
"You're lecturing -me- on Klingon honor?" K'Leena was in no mood to be charitable, her voice was harsh.
"Why are you running away?" B'Elanna asked.
"I'm not running anywhere. I'm returning to duty."
"There are many ways to run, K'Leena. Trust me, I've used them all."
"I have nothing I want to run from, Mother. You're imagining things."
"Then you didn't take Lucas as your mate? That wasn't your bite on his face?" B'Elanna asked with false innocence.
"It was nothing. A single night. I am old enough to have sex. I needed someone, it was a difficult week. Okay?"
"So it was just sex. Nothing more?"
"Nothing more. Now if you don't mind........"
"Does Lucas know?"
"Does Lucas know what?" K'Leena asked tiredly.
"That it was just sex."
"Of course he does. Men like Lucas know the score. It's -never- more than that for them."
"You might be surprised what 'men like Lucas' know."
"I doubt it. I've watched the endless parade of women in his life."
"Appearances can be deceiving."
"Look, even if everything happened the way you think it did. It still doesn't mean anything. We didn't perform the ritual. The words were not spoken. We are not mated."
An echo from the past whispered to B'Elanna. <<I am your chosen mate, from the moment we first made love. Regardless of whether the actual words have been spoken, we are bonded.>>
"The rituals are -meaningless-! Being Klingon isn't about pain sticks and blood wine. It's not about what's here," B'Elanna touched her cranial ridges. "It's about what's here." A hand over her heart. "You underestimate him, K'Leena."
"Lucas isn't Klingon, mother, he's human."
"So are you." B'Elanna reminded her then walked to the door, she turned to face her daughter as it slid open. "By the way, the most honorable Klingon I know doesn't bleed pink when you cut him."
K'Leena stared blankly at the closed door. Well, she had convinced her mother. Now all she had to do was convince Lucas.
B'Elanna stormed into their quarters. Tom looked up from where he was sitting on the couch. A small smile pulled at his lips while he watched his wife prowl the room in anger, looking for something to throw.
"Damn stubborn fool! She can't see what's she doing!"
"Yes, K'Leena. Who else would I be talking about?"
"Can't imagine," Tom said dryly.
B'Elanna's eyes narrowed, she stopped pacing and looked at her husband.
"You don't seem too worried about this."
"They'll work it out."
"How can you be so sure?"
"Because I am. I've had plenty of experience dealing with stubborn Klingons. Lucas can handle her."
"Uh huh. You know something."
B'Elanna advanced on him. Predatory. She came to stand in front of him.
"Care to share this inside information?" She straddled his hips and lowered herself onto his lap. He held her by the waist.
"Sorry, it's privileged."
She brought her hands up to the edges of his uniform jacket. With a practiced ease she slipped it off him, then his turtleneck. He did the same to her.
"You can trust me." She traced patterns through the hair on his chest with her fingernail.
"You don't trust me?" B'Elanna asked guilelessly. All the while grinding her hips in small circles against him.
"Not for a second." Tom growled as he crushed his mouth to hers. She tasted blood when he cut her lip against her teeth. Maybe this conversation could wait until later.
"Going somewhere?" Lucas asked with deceptive calm.
"Ye...yes. I'm transporting over to the Hood. They're on their way back to Earth." She stepped back into the room as he walked toward her. The door hissed closed behind him.
"You were going to leave without telling me?" Again, calm and collected. He was making her very nervous.
"Sure," she shrugged. "I've got to get back to Command."
"What?" That surprised her.
"I said you're a coward."
"Really? How so?"
"Why wouldn't you meet me tonight?" No emotion.
"I was busy. I had to file my report with Starfleet Command before I left and have dinner with my parents."
"Don't you think this is a little more important than a report?"
"I'm not sure what you mean." She put her bag down and walked behind the table.
"Why are you leaving?" That damn calm voice again, it was really starting to annoy her.
"I told you, I'm returning to duty. What's the big deal?"
"The 'big deal' is you're running out on me. You are my -mate-, K'Leena! Or had you forgotten that?" Lucas' self control slipped. K'Leena looked into his eyes for the first time since he arrived. It wasn't calm indifference she found there, but blind fury. A cold shiver raced down her spine.
"Your mate?" Kahless, it hurt to hear him say that. "We had one night together, Lucas. It was nice, but it doesn't make us mates." She was getting good at this.
She started when the word touched her mind.
Can you hear my thoughts, Imzadi? I can hear yours.
Her eyes went wide. Damn telepaths. He didn't know.
I do know.
"Lucas you don't....."
"Yes, I do!" His self control snapped. How could one woman be so stubborn? "You're the one who doesn't understand! I knew what I was doing from the start. I claimed you as my mate. When you bit me back, you accepted that claim. You became mine and I became yours. Tlqwlq--of one heart. How does the legend go? When Kahless took his mate they became more powerful than the gods that created them, they were able to destroy them. Nothing can stop the beating of two Klingon hearts, not the gods themselves, not even you, K'Leena."
She closed her eyes, wondering how to convince him he was wrong. She couldn't allow anyone to get to him through her again. She couldn't let him love her.
Lucas' expression softened, finally the truth. He walked over to where she was standing.
"It's too late for that, Imzadi. I already do."
"No," she sobbed. "I won't be a liability to you, I won't put you at risk."
His arms were around her before she was done. She loved him so much, it was killing her to push him away.
"Never. You could never be a liability to me."
"I don't want them to use me again, Lucas."
"Then don't let them win," he said fiercely. "We are stronger together than we could ever be apart. Remember? Two hearts that beat as one. Everything I am is for you. I am your mate, your husband, father to your children. Through all eternity." Lucas felt her resistance weaken.
"Lucas......," she tried to pull away but he tightened his embrace.
"You can't leave me. We are timeless, no matter where you are, I will find you."
There was a long silence before she spoke. A million reasons for not listening to him ran through her mind, and were all dismissed for one thought. She loved him, it was as simple and as complicated as that. Lifting her head K'Leena looked into his eyes. Kahless, she hoped he was right.
"You know........I've always had my heart set on a traditional Betazoid wedding." Lucas said straight faced as his finger drew circles on the small of her back.
K'Leena pulled herself up onto her elbows and looked at him with an eyebrow raised so high it would have done her Aunt Ani proud. He couldn't be serious.
"It'll never happen," she told him after a moment of silent contemplation. "Daddy doesn't take his shirt off in public for -anything-."
"I have no idea."
"Have you ever asked him?" Lucas wondered.
"Only when I need a good laugh," she chuckled.
"The -last- time I asked him he told me it was because he was once attacked in Sandrine's after someone spilled a drink on him and he took off the wet shirt. According to him a bunch of sex starved women threw him to the ground and had their way with him. Even stole his chest hair so they could clone him. My father has a very twisted sense of humor."
"You're just too soft hearted. I don't know -what- you see in these tiny beings."
"They amuse me."
"They must, you spend a great deal of time playing with their lives."