Author’s Note (11/00): This story takes place three weeks after the events of "Scientific Method," thus well before Voyager’s run-in with the Hirogen. It outlines a possible P/T scenario that concludes in the sequel "B’Elanna’s Choice 2: The Bittersweet Smile." Written in June, 1999. Rated R for some strong language and mildly-descriptive sex.

Big thanks to J.A. Toner and YCD for their invaluable help.

Disclaimer: Paramount owns it all. Always has, always will. I accept this.

B’Elanna’s Choice
by Diane Bellomo

"God fucking damn!" B’Elanna spat in Spanish – about the only words she could remember from her long gone father – along with the contents of her stomach into the toilet over which she was draped.

This could not be. This could not be.

Hanging there, puking for the second time that morning, she recalled vividly the moment when this very well could have been.

* * *

She heard the sound of the transporter and looked up to see an arm materialize in the hatchway above her, clutching a big bunch of flowers. The flowers were new, the arm was not.

"Are those supposed to make up for canceling on me last night?"

He clamored down the access ladder to where she was. "I got stuck with an extra shift on the Bridge. What could I say? ‘Sorry, Captain, I’ve got a date with B’Elanna?’"

Sometime after that, Tom kissed her, but she broke it off, thinking she had heard something.

"I must be completely paranoid about getting caught in a compromising position."

"Kind of exciting, isn’t it?" Tom teased, moving in to kiss her again.

And then, despite her feeling that someone was watching them, she suddenly couldn’t resist him, couldn’t stop him, and didn’t want to. The urge for sex was so consuming, so fevered, she had no thought to anything but getting him inside her. The feeling was an order of magnitude stronger than anything she had felt during her bout with the blood fever.

She yanked viciously at his uniform, desperate to consummate this overpowering need.

Tom seemed to be at the same urgent moment as she, for he had her pinned against the wall, delivering bruising kisses, the swell of his groin pressing into her belly. His hands struggled to remove her uniform just as frantically as she was struggling to remove his.

By the time they were sufficiently naked to do the deed, B’Elanna’s blood was boiling and a red haze of lust blinded her. Uttering a deep-throated moan, she crushed herself to him.

She snarled without preamble, "Fuck me now, Tom!"

He lifted her roughly and impaled her, shoving her against the wall again. There was no question that this was, indeed, fucking. No stretch of the imagination could include any sense of love to the act at all.

But there was a sense of consent from the couple involved, and the stroking, thrusting motions quickly accelerated to release.

Tom stiffened and came first, with B’Elanna not far behind.

The whole thing had lasted less than five minutes and no words had been exchanged.

Sweating, satiated, and aware of her surroundings once again, B’Elanna slid off him and continued sliding down against the wall until her damp bare ass hit the floor. She wiped at her bruised lips, covered her eyes with her hand.

Sometime during their frenzied activity, the bouquet had been destroyed. Pieces of flowers were scattered everywhere.

"My god, Tom, what was that?"

Still standing, Tom had leaned over and put his hands on his thighs, trying to catch his breath. The smell of sex filled the tiny space, and it was clear he had no more an idea of what that was than she had.

* * *

Heaving herself up from her kneeling position, she threw off her nightshirt and stepped into the shower, turning it on full force and letting the hot water pummel her, wishing she could just dissolve down the drain. Instead, she finished her shower, dressed, and did something she knew would start the rumor mill grinding and probably give Tom a heart attack. But it could not be avoided or delayed.

She called Engineering and told Joe Carey she would be late. Then she went to Sickbay.

* * *

"Congratulations, Lieutenant Torres, you are pregnant. Exactly three weeks." The Doctor stopped waving his tricorder wand over her, clicked the instrument shut, and looked at her, eyebrow arched in question. "Why do I feel as though ‘congratulations’ was too hasty a sentiment?"

She sat up on the bed and sighed, not at all surprised by his news.

"Because, Doc, you’re not thinking. You tell me I’m three weeks’ pregnant. Three weeks ago, if you recall, those aliens were conducting their so-called scientific experiments on us. Tom and I talked later about whether or not they had been messing around with our hormones as part of their experiments, but we never gave one thought to whether or not they were also messing with our birth control." She leveled a dark Klingon glare at the Doctor. "I don’t want this child."

In perfect hologram control, the Doctor never flinched. "Well, I appreciate your honesty, Lieutenant, but tell me, have you considered speaking with Lieutenant Paris? I should think he might be able to help you with any decision you make."

She sighed again. "Yes, I suppose you’re right."

She slid off the biobed, but the movement was more than at least one of her stomachs wanted to handle. She gagged and slapped her hand to her mouth.

The Doctor, never missing a beat, smoothly swung around, grabbed a small stainless steel container from a nearby shelf, and handed it to her. "Perhaps you might like to see if Neelix has some plain crackers on hand. That’s really the best thing I could prescribe for your nausea, although some women experience nausea throughout their entire pregnancy, no matter what they do."

Unfortunately – or fortunately, as the case may be – Tom Paris chose just this moment to come flying into Sickbay.

"B’Elanna! Oh my god, B’Elanna! What’s wrong?" He braked just outside her personal space and stood there, bouncing on his heels, clearly wanting to comfort her but wary about getting any closer while she was engaged in this activity.

She stretched one arm out towards him, palm facing out, and turned the rest of her body from him, clutching the silver container and continuing to retch.

Tom turned a puzzled look to the Doctor. "Lieutenant Paris, Lieutenant Torres should be through in another moment or two, as I doubt there could be much left in either of her stomachs. Then, I believe, she has something to share with you."

* * *

B’Elanna never did figure out how they had gotten back to her quarters without her telling him what was wrong. But they had arrived and she knew she could not keep this from him.

Not that she wanted to keep it from him. Or anything like that. But still she did not speak.

While on their walk back to her quarters, B’Elanna considered her options. At this point she really only saw one, even though she knew in all honesty there were at least two available to her. If she were in the Alpha Quadrant, (although, she reflected, if she were in the Alpha Quadrant, she was quite sure she wouldn’t be in this condition) she would have a few other options to choose from. An artificial womb, perhaps, or stasis for the fetus until she could be sure of what she wanted to do – possibly a surrogate, or even putting the baby up for adoption. But out here in the middle of nowhere, on a relatively small ship that was never meant to be out in the middle of nowhere, these options were not available and a couple were just plain laughable.

Sitting on the couch beside Tom, she released a low sound of Klingon frustration, in part to gain some relief from the headache that was building behind her eyes, but also to cover deeper feelings she could not quite identify.

"Bella, angel, please."

The pleading endearments grated her, but she knew he had resorted to begging only because she hadn’t said a word to him yet. The only words to say were the words she had to say, and she finally mustered the courage to do so.

"I’m pregnant."

She saw Tom freeze. She couldn’t imagine what he might have been thinking about what could have caused her ailment, but it was clear in his rounded blue eyes that this was not on his list.

"Say something." God, déjà vu. If he said ‘You picked a great time to tell me,’ she would kill him.

He rolled his shoulders and scooted closer to her on the couch. He already had her hand, so he squeezed it gently, caressing the back of it with his thumb.

"Well, uh, that’s great…great news. Uh, isn’t it?"

She felt anger rise in her throat and mix itself with the confusion already there. Determined not to display any sort of emotional weakness, she allowed the anger to consume the confusion and turned on Tom, fire in her eyes.

At her look, he threw her hand down and reared back, unsure of what he had done wrong.

"No, Tom, it’s not ‘great news!’ I’m exactly three weeks’ pregnant, Tom, three weeks. Do you remember what we did three weeks ago, in junction 47, in front of God and everybody, without any thought whatsoever to anything but screwing our brains out?"

She saw Tom’s eyes light with recollection. "But wha…er, I thought we had all the necessary precautions covered, like we always…" He let the sentence trail off as B’Elanna rose from the couch and strode across the room, pivoting to face him.

"But that’s just it, don’t you see? Those aliens were not only fooling around with our hormones, Tom, they were fooling around with our birth control and our judgment. Don’t we always, always check everything before we make love, even though we know everything’s fine? And why the hell would we do it in a junction like animals?"

Tom frowned slightly, as the full realization of what she was saying hit him, and then relief spread across his face. B’Elanna noticed his eyes lost their focus as well.


"Huh? Oh, I’m sorry, B’Elanna. I was just thinking how grateful I am that the Doc and Seven were able to flush out those aliens before they could take their experiments any further."

She absorbed what he had said, the meaning behind it, her engineer’s brain clicking rapidly through several possible scenarios, all pretty bad. "Uh, yeah, me too."

Silence filled the room. She looked away, only to turn her gaze back to him, bringing her focus back to the subject at hand.

"I’m not sure I want this baby, Tom. We were used by those…those…people. This baby was conceived without our knowledge as part…part of an experiment! I know the Doc said the baby was okay, but…but how do we really know they didn’t affect it somehow?"

She switched tracks abruptly, her voice rising. "And what if it is all right, what if everything is okay? What about that, Tom? You wanna be a daddy? God, do I want to be somebody’s mother?" She huffed and cast her eyes to the ceiling, bright with unshed tears. "Christ, what a joke that is!"

She dropped her head to glare right into his face. "And besides, besides, what kind of life would a kid have on board this crummy starship?" Her voice had taken on hysteria.

Tom spoke, but he did not say any of the things she was expecting him to say. B’Elanna knew she had challenged him to respond, and it looked to her like he really wanted to, but he did not. He didn’t express his opinion, nor did he argue or, thank god, crack a joke. Instead he made a small request.

"B’Elanna, come here."

Her tightly-held control, slipping already, began to disintegrate at this, but she could not move to him. She folded her arms across her chest and turned her back to him, biting on her bottom lip. She did not want him to see the tears that had begun to slide down her cheeks.

But it was too late. "Oh, Bella." He rose and walked to her. She allowed him to take her in his arms because she could not think of a way to stop him and wasn’t sure she wanted to.

Standing in the circle of his arms, with her head against his uniformed chest, she wept like her heart was breaking.

* * *

In her ready room, Captain Janeway was being briefed by the Holodoctor on the health status of her chief engineer.

As soon as Tom learned that B’Elanna had gone to Sickbay that morning instead of Engineering, his immediate request for permission to go to Sickbay had been so stunningly heartfelt that Janeway granted it without hesitation. After all, B’Elanna never went voluntarily to Sickbay.

But after almost an hour had passed without word, she began to get a little worried. If B’Elanna’s illness was something serious, she wondered why she had not been contacted. The very fact that she had not been contacted after all this time was cause for concern in itself. These were her people, her family, if you will, and she did not like it when one of them became ill, anymore than she had ever liked it when her sister, Phoebe, got sick. She left the Bridge to Chakotay and entered her ready room, intent on finding out what was going on.

Signally Sickbay, Janeway waited for the Doctor to answer her. "Yes, Captain?" he smiled at her.

"How’s B’Elanna?" she asked abruptly.

"As well as can be expected," he answered. "Considering her condition."

"Her condition?" Janeway’s eyebrows raised slightly. "You don’t mean…?"

"Yes, Captain, I do." He nodded.

"Well, that’s a relief," Janeway sighed, leaning back in her chair. "I was afraid she was sick."

"Not exactly," he shook his head. "She is exactly three weeks pregnant."

"Three weeks?" Her eyebrows raised again in sudden comprehension. "You mean during…"

"Yes. During those little experiments that were practiced on us."

"Is the baby…?"

"The baby is a perfectly normal blend of Klingon and Human genes, and nothing else," he quickly assured her. "The aliens were just experimenting with their hormones and birth control to get them to perform unprotected sexual intercourse in order to gather data on their response to a pregnancy."

"I see," Janeway sighed again.

"It is entirely possible, had the aliens remained on board, that they intended to follow through on B’Elanna’s pregnancy, right through birth and child-rearing." He paused just long enough for Janeway to realize there was a "but" coming. She leaned forward, waiting for it.

"But there is one catch, Captain, and it has nothing to do with any alien experiment."

* * *

Twenty minutes later, Tom Paris returned to his station on the Bridge, looking pale and preoccupied, and Kathryn Janeway arrived in the corridor outside B’Elanna Torres’ quarters. She signaled for entry.


The door hissed open and Janeway stepped into the slightly overheated room. She remained standing just inside the door. B’Elanna was sitting on the couch, her knees drawn up to her chest.

"B’Elanna. I am so sorry to have to invade your privacy so quickly and so thoroughly."

B’Elanna looked up and smiled tiredly, her eyes red-rimmed and puffy. "It’s all right, Captain. I know this ship’s a fish bowl. I knew when I told Joe this morning that I’d be late that this wouldn’t be a secret for very long. Tom looked like hell when he left here, and I’m sure Harry won’t stop bothering him until he tells all." She realized belatedly that the captain was still standing by the door.

"Oh, Captain, I’m sorry. Please sit down." She gestured to the couch. Can I get you a cup of coffee?"

Janeway settled herself next to B’Elanna. "No thanks, I’m already over my limit for the morning." There was a short pause before the captain continued.

"I know I’m a poor excuse for a ship’s counselor, B’Elanna, but I got the feeling you might need someone besides Tom to talk to about this.

"You know there are people distinctly on one side of the fence or the other on this issue, and I won’t kid you that there is probably opposition to one of the choices right here on Voyager, but it is still your choice. I hope you understand you are free to make it, and I will support you no matter what your final decision is."

B’Elanna snorted softly, picking at a loose thread in the blanket covering her legs. "Have you been talking to Tom?"

"No. Why?"

"I think that’s exactly what he said."

Janeway smiled warmly and placed her hand on B’Elanna’s knee, in her customary need to touch her people. "Well, then, the amount of support has just doubled." She leaned back on the couch.

"I can’t pretend to know personally what you’re going through right now, B’Elanna, but I do know this decision is not an easy one. The Doctor told me the fetus is healthy and shows no evidence of the genetic tags that were imbedded in the crew during the experiments."

B’Elanna nodded.

"While I’d be the first to admit that the idea of a new baby on Voyager sounds delightful, there is a certain amount of reality that must be taken into consideration. As you well know, this is not the greatest environment in which to bring up a child.

"I’m not saying for one minute that you would not be a good mother, B’Elanna, or that you and Tom wouldn’t be absolutely wonderful parents, I’m only saying that it would not be the same here on Voyager. We’re not a family ship, like the Enterprise-D, nor was the ship designed or equipped to be a generational one." B’Elanna nodded again. "Naomi Wildman, sweet as she is, has not had an easy time of it. She spends her days with a sitter while her mother works, and sometimes she spends nights with a sitter as well, if Samantha has to take an extra shift.

"I realize it would be a little different with your child, in that you’d have Tom helping you, but how would you feel the first time you both pulled double shifts and had to leave the baby with a sitter for several days? And what about the second time, or the third? And what if we’re boarded by hostile aliens again?" She removed her hand from B’Elanna’s knee to use it as a gesturing tool.

"Do you know what Tuvok did with Naomi to keep her from being displaced by the Nyrians?"

In all honesty, B’Elanna gave very little thought to the child in general. She had certainly not thought of her during the incident with the Nyrians, that so-called "peaceful" bunch who tried to take over the ship by trans-locating Voyager’s crew one by one into a self-contained biosphere prison on their huge habitat ship, replacing them with their own people.

When they were all returned safely to Voyager, she had been so absorbed with putting ship’s systems to right again after Chakotay’s calculated sabotage that she had barely taken care of herself, let alone consider someone else.

"No, Captain, I don’t."

"Even though Naomi was frightened and her mother hysterical, Tuvok convinced Samantha that this would be the best course of action to guarantee her daughter’s safety. He put her inside a torpedo casing, along with rations and water, and told her just to stay there until he returned for her. Samantha was a wreck until she was able to put her hands on her daughter again."

In all the thinking B’Elanna had done over the past couple of hours, this scenario never crossed her mind. In the warm room, she felt goosebumps rise on her arms and along the backs of her thighs.

Janeway sighed. "And that’s not even the hardest…" She stopped mid-sentence, turned her head to look at B’Elanna, and swiveled back to look blankly across the room. "Oh my god, B’Elanna, listen to me. I sound like I’m telling you to terminate your pregnancy. That was not my intention." She had moved forward on the couch and rested her elbows on her thighs, letting her hands dangle between her knees, shaking her head in disbelief at her own words.

But B’Elanna came to her rescue. "No, Captain, that’s not what it sounds like to me. It sounds to me like you’re trying to determine the best thing for your ship and your crew and you want to make sure I understand the realities of having a baby on Voyager. I need to hear this. Go on."

Janeway continued to sit mutely until B’Elanna fixed her with the Klingon version of Janeway’s own Look. Under that stare, puffy red eyes and all, Kathryn Janeway could no more remain silent than she could exist without breathing.

"I was…saying that the hardest part of Naomi’s life is her being unable to do all the things a child her age living on Earth or in any colony on any planet would have gotten to do a hundred times already."

B’Elanna knew the next part. After she had cried herself out, she and Tom had begun to talk about the baby. Among many other things, they had talked about this very subject. She knew all the words.

"I know, Captain. She has never had the opportunity to feel real sunlight, has never gone swimming in a real lake or run down a cool forest path. She’s never had a playmate her age, aside from the ones Harry created for her on the holodeck, never had a little girlfriend ‘sleep over.’ She’s never made a snowman or jumped into a pile of crisp, dry leaves. She’s never played tag with schoolmates on the playground, or had a big fight with any of them, or sat around a campfire singing songs and telling ghost stories.

"She’s never going to be able to go anywhere but this starship, and when we all finally begin to grow old and feeble, she may well be the only one left to get us home."

Janeway nodded and took up the conversation. "While this may be the very argument for deciding that all of us, right now, should begin pairing off and attempt to start ‘growing our own’ replacement crew, it is clear this argument is not a very rational one, even if you’ve already gotten started on that." She smiled, and B’Elanna was reminded that there was still room for humor even in the midst of a tough situation.

Janeway patted B’Elanna’s knee and brought her blue-gray eyes to bear on B’Elanna’s puffy black ones.

"B’Elanna, if you want, I’m ready to turn a corner of hydroponics into a day care facility, but if not, I’ll support that decision as well. We must all follow our hearts on this issue, and I can no more dictate to your heart than you can to mine."

After having talked at length about Naomi Wildman, before she left to return to the Bridge, Janeway asked if it would be all right if she shared this news with Samantha. B’Elanna agreed, noting somewhere in the back corner of her mind how Janeway could be so very maternal at times.

This thought did not necessarily upset her.

* * *

A half-hour after her shift ended, B’Elanna stood before the door to Sickbay, just outside sensor range.

Once she had finally gotten herself to Engineering, the afternoon had turned out to be both a blessing and a curse.

She had spent the majority of her time behind her desk in her office, completing various and sundry reports, mainly because she didn’t trust her queasy stomachs. No one questioned her, since it was not at all unusual for her to do this. She had been absorbed in one such report when she heard someone softly clearing their throat at the open entrance to her office. She looked up into the uncertain face of Samantha Wildman.

* * *

"Lieutenant, I’m sorry if I’m disturbing you. I can come back…"

"No, no, Ensign. Please come in. Sit down." She gestured to the chair opposite her desk and watched as the blonde science officer settled into it, dropping a bag at her feet.

"The Captain told me about your…condition. When I asked if I could take a moment right away to come and talk to you, she seemed relieved. She said she was afraid she had been too harsh when she talked to you this morning and asked if I would convey her apology." Samantha smiled and tilted her head as if sharing an in-joke.

"Yeah, you and I both know it’s the captain’s job to be harsh. Besides, she wasn’t, so when you go back to the Bridge, you can just tell her she can save her apology for some time when it really counts, like when I make a repair she swears can’t be done." The words came out rough, but B’Elanna’s smile belied her tone.


"Please, call me B’Elanna."

"Um, well, B’Elanna, I don’t mean to invade your privacy or anything, I just wanted to tell you how…how happy I am that I have Naomi. But it sure didn’t start out that way.

"When the Doc told me I was pregnant, I was scared to death! Here I was, out in the middle of nowhere, without my husband, without anyone but this crew of people I hardly knew. I felt certain I could not go through with it."

She dropped her head. "And I was afraid of you."

B’Elanna started.

Samantha raised her head in time to catch the look on B’Elanna’s face. "Oh, no, Lieuten…B’Elanna, not you, specifically, but the Maquis, you know? I was Starfleet, well I guess I still am, but we were sent to the Badlands to find you and bring you in. It was supposed to be a two-week tour. And here I was, pregnant and alone on a ship that had been cast to the ends of the universe with a whole bunch of you, trying to get behind the captain’s orders that you would be integrated into the crew.

"I told the Doc I didn’t want the baby. Even though I thought I might never see my husband again, I was certain I didn’t want to bring his child into the world in which I was now living. It would have been too hard, and I felt too alone and scared.

"But Kes helped me, you know? I think we spent something like two days talking. She told me how brief and precious Ocampan life was, how precious she thought all life was, particularly the interesting new humans she had met.

"When I told her my husband was not human, she was even more thrilled. Aside from you, B’Elanna, there are no others of mixed heritage on board, at least not mixed species. Kes thought it was the greatest thing in the galaxy. She saw my pregnancy and the birth of my baby as the way to begin turning Voyager into a sort of extended family, rather than a starship full of strangers and enemies. She was big on harmony, you know?" She shook her head. "Gosh, I miss her an awful lot."

B’Elanna had not realized until then that she missed Kes, too. It would have been nice to have her to talk to now, as Samantha had then. Clearly the tiny Ocampan had been able to do something perhaps no one else could have. She convinced a frightened young woman that keeping her baby was her best option -- and not only that, but that her infant would be a welcome gift to everyone. B’Elanna wondered absently how Kes would do with an angry young woman.

Samantha continued. "Of course, I didn’t see her point of view at first, but at the end of the two days, I realized she was exactly right. That’s when I went to tell the captain."

As B’Elanna watched, an expression crossed Samantha’s face that B’Elanna could not identify except to say it looked like loss.

"I went into labor just before we went through that subspace divergent field and all the ship’s matter was duplicated.

"Because there were complications during birth, I was scared all over again, and this time even Kes couldn’t help me. When the proton bursts from the other Voyager damaged our medical systems and my baby girl died, I wanted to die, too. The Doc had to sedate me, I was so hysterical.

"I named her Ruth."

B’Elanna was confused for a moment, and then it hit her. She had watched Harry die, shot out into the vacuum of space. He had been replaced by the other Harry – and so had Samantha’s baby. "Naomi…Naomi is from the duplicate Voyager, the same as Harry."

Samantha nodded. "Yes. And when Harry put her into my arms, I thought my heart would explode with joy. She was perfect. Healthy. Wailing. Completely and exactly the same as the little baby I had just given birth to.

"But I couldn’t call her Ruth, B’Elanna, and I’m not sure you can understand about that."

Suddenly, B’Elanna could understand, though she had no idea how she had come to that understanding.

"So I named her Naomi, from the story of two women in a holy book from Earth called the Bible. Ruth and Naomi.

"She’s such a joy, B’Elanna. She was an easy infant, and she’s grown into a pleasant, happy child, even considering how limiting her life is here on Voyager.

"And with those darn horns, she looks just like Gres. When she was still tiny, I cried when I thought about whether or not she would grow to resemble him. And now that she does, I think it’s one of the greatest things about her. She’s a little piece of my husband, right here, warm and alive. And even though my work sometimes keeps me from her for days at a time, I always know she’ll be there when I get back to my quarters."

B’Elanna thought about her own mother, about all the times she had screamed at B’Elanna to stop being so much like her father, so weak, so human.

Samantha’s voice had taken on excitement. "Naomi and I have a ball together. She reads to me, or sometimes she allows me to read to her. We take bubble baths together and watch videos and play tons of games.

"And every time it’s okay, she’s allowed to go planetside with me, and we get to explore and run around as much as we can. Neelix accompanies us on many of these occasions. She adores Neelix. He’s her godfather, you know, and her number one sitter, has been from the start."

She dropped her voice, narrowed her eyes, and looked around conspiratorily. "And sometimes, well, sometimes we have races down the corridor outside our quarters, or I’ll sit her in my desk chair and wheel her down the corridor at warp six. I know it’s not safe, and Tuvok would have Vulcan kittens if he knew, but, boy, do we have a lot of fun!" She started laughing so heartily that B’Elanna could do nothing else but join her.

Samantha caught her breath and glanced at the time. "Oh! I gotta go! I told the captain I’d only be gone a few minutes, and here it’s been almost an hour." She jumped up. B’Elanna rose from her chair and came out from behind her desk.

"Samantha, thanks for telling me all this." Although she had made no motions to hug the woman, Samantha had other ideas. She brought B’Elanna into a fierce embrace.

"Hey, no problem." She broke the hug but kept her arms loosely around B’Elanna, bringing one hand up to smooth out a stray lock of hair on B’Elanna’s dark head.

"Listen, it’s still your choice, you know? I made my decision and I’m happy with it, but I know my choice is not someone else’s. I’ve always been of the opinion that every woman should be free to decide on her own, no matter the final outcome.

"But since we don’t have Kes anymore, I felt like I had to come talk to you, to tell you that even though it can be frustrating and sometimes frightening, it’s not all messy diapers, spilled milk, and cut fingers. She winked. "Nor is it as horrible being a kid on Voyager as the captain may have led you to believe.

"Certainly, we’re all at risk out here, with no back-up from Starfleet, but we’ve also had a whole lot of great times, haven’t we?"

B’Elanna smiled at the thought of the luaus and the talent shows. "Yeah, we sure have."

"Plus, if anything or anyone should threaten us again, I know with absolute certainty that my little girl has the best protection in the world. Tuvok may be an easy mark for teasing, but he’d walk through fire before he’d let anyone harm a hair on her horny little head. Whoa, gotta go! Bye!" She spun on her heels and flew out.

B’Elanna glanced down and noticed the bag beside the chair Samantha had been sitting in. She bent over and looked inside. Inside was a handmade baby blanket, done in a tightly-knit stitch in shades of pastel green and yellow. There was a note pinned to it.

Dear B’Elanna,

This is the blanket Captain Janeway made for Naomi. I don’t mean to get all mushy on you, but my daughter and I would like you to have it, no matter what you decide. The captain doesn’t skimp when it comes to making baby blankets. This one has worn like dilithium crystals.

Samantha and Naomi

B’Elanna nearly started to bawl right there in her office, but she managed to swallow it back, going out into the engine room and distracting herself with her warp core.

* * *

Time continued to pass quietly in Engineering, but it seemed to B’Elanna that every time she’d venture out into the engine room, she’d immediately become conscious of the actions of one ensign, who would glare darkly at her and make a great show of purposely avoiding her.

B’Elanna endured this treatment for about an hour before deciding she had had enough. She cornered Ensign Cellini, one of her own, a former Maquis, and demanded she explain her behavior. Cellini did not waste words.

"I saw what was in the bag Sam brought to your office, and I noticed she didn’t leave with it. I’ve seen the way you’ve been acting today, holing up in your office and not saying much. What do you think I am, stupid? You’re pregnant." Anna stated this bitterly and continued without waiting for confirmation from B’Elanna. "I heard you and Sam laughing and I heard the word choice." She snorted. "There is no choice. If you terminate this pregnancy, you terminate a baby, and to me, that’s murder." She stood defiant, eyes blazing, daring B’Elanna to respond.

Although B’Elanna’s foremost thought was to write the woman up for insubordination and to bark this intention at her in volumes that would make a Klingon warrior proud, she let this protocol slide in lieu of her next thought, which was more a feeling than anything else. It was sorrow, a heavy, building ache that this issue could divide people so viciously, even people who had been friends.

Oh Anna, you must never have been in my situation, or even known anyone who was, or you would not have spoken so righteously to me.

Heart hammering in her chest, she spoke in dangerously soft tones. "Your viewpoint has been noted, Ensign. Dismissed," and could only hope the woman had enough sense to realize how close she had come to being out on her ear.

She had retreated, then, to the relative safety of her office, her heartbeat returning to normal only after she received a call of support from Harry on the Bridge.

Ensign Cellini’s request for transfer was on her desk at the end of the day.

It would be hard to escape on Voyager, but clearly the ensign wished to try. B’Elanna did not care to think about what Anna might do if she chose to terminate, although she did recognize it as a bridge she might have to cross in the future.

Even in the 24th Century, no matter how enlightened everyone claimed to be, some things did not change.

* * *

And now, B’Elanna stood here, knowing the Doctor and Tom were waiting for her on the other side of the door.

In the end, it was what it had been in the beginning: her choice.

She stepped into sensor range and the doors slid open.