Summary: This is a companion piece to "Two B'Elannas," the first fanfiction I had ever posted. The four people who read it wanted to know what was happening on the real Voyager with the other B'Elanna. This story is for them. Disclaimer: Paramount owns the characters but I love to play with them. Thanks again, BR, I wouldn't have even tried it without your encouragement.
Date: May, 2001
The crew of Voyager had encountered a small m-class planet. Their scans showed no advanced life forms but it was rich with a variety of plant life. Lt. Tom Paris was in charge of the mission to gather the edible plants and replenish Voyager's dwindling supply of fresh food. It had been a successful but uneventful mission. In fact the last couple of weeks had been uneventful, at least for the rest of the crew.
Tom and his wife B'Elanna, Chief Engineer, had just found out that they were expecting a baby, their first. They were thrilled, but B'Elanna's Klingon/Human physiology was moody at best. With the addition of pregnancy her moods had become highly unpredictable. This morning's replicator malfunction had led to Tom's peanut butter toast being plastered to the wall, while last night's choice of music (Brahms - one of the doctor's recommendations) had precipitated a night of passion. Not the usual reaction to Brahms. Tom had considered asking the captain to take B'Elanna off the away team but there were ore samples there that Engineering needed to analyze and B'Elanna was the best person for the job.
The crew had almost filled the cargo hold of Tom's shuttle when B'Elanna called him on her communicator.
"Tom, I'm taking the shuttle to investigate the debris field we passed by on our way down here. There were some signs of trilithium and we could use all that we can get."
B'Elanna was a competent pilot so Tom wasn't worried, but he still reacted as a mission commander should. "Okay, who do you have with you?"
"No one." B'Elanna was laughing now, "I don't need anyone else. All I am going to do is scan the debris and collect anything that looks useful. Even a green ensign could accomplish that."
"Yes," Tom answered patiently, "but wouldn't it be more fun if we did it together? Why don't you wait until I'm finished here and I'll go with you."
But B'Elanna was already in the shuttle and on her way. "Sorry, Flyboy, you have to finish with the vegetable brigade. Stop worrying so much, I'll see you in the shuttle bay in an hour." Vegetable brigade, she'll pay for that later, Tom mused as he watched his wife fly off. A brief frown crossed his handsome features but he shook it off. She'll be fine.
Tom and Neelix returned to Voyager after the "fruitful" away mission. The Delta Flyer was loaded down with fresh food, all of which Neelix had assured him was edible. Tom was doubtful about some of it but with Neelix you just had to hope for the best sometimes. They were busy unloading in the cargo bay when Tom realized that the small shuttle craft his wife had been flying was not there. He contacted Harry Kim on the bridge to ask the location of the shuttle. Harry had been unaware that the shuttle was missing and immediately began a scan but he found no trace. Hails from his station received no response from the shuttle either.
Tom was worried now and quickly made his way to the bridge of Voyager. Captain Janeway ordered a search and Tom took over his seat at the conn to begin the standard search pattern. Seven of Nine had assumed the astrometrics station on the bridge and was conducting intensive scans of the surrounding space. Tom told them that B'Elanna had seen a debris field on the way down to the planet. She had taken the smaller shuttle to investigate. "I asked her to wait for me but she insisted it was just a routine search, a green ensign could handle it."
Captain Janeway nodded in understanding; B'Elanna was headstrong but a capable pilot, and the best engineer in the Delta Quadrant. There would have been no reason to doubt that she could complete the mission without incident. But she wasn't here and her shuttle did not appear on the screen.
Finally Seven was able to identify a warp trail. Tom laid in a course for the area of space where Seven had found the trail but there was no sign of the shuttle. He had begun another search pattern, concentrating on this area, when, seemingly out of nowhere, a tiny blip appeared on Seven's screen. Harry was able to scan it and, after a few moments, affirm that it was the missing shuttle with one life form on board, alive but unconscious. Tom steered Voyager close enough for a tractor beam to grab the shuttle. Captain Janeway ordered B'Elanna transported to sickbay immediately while Chakotay touched Tom's shoulder and slid into the rapidly vacated pilot's seat. Tom ran to the lift, ordering it to take him to sickbay.
Rushing into sickbay Tom found the doctor scanning his wife with a medical tricorder, "How is she, Doc? What's wrong?"
The Doctor faced Tom and said "B'Elanna seems fine, Tom, and should regain consciousness soon but there is a problem with the baby."
"What kind of problem?" Tom asked, his voice laced with fear.
"The baby isn't there" The doctor answered.
"Did B'Elanna have a miscarriage?" Tom looked again at his wife, a shadow of pain on his face.
"No, not exactly, according to my medical scans, it was never there." The Doctor answered.
"How can that be? We saw the pictures of her, she was there, B'Elanna was pregnant."
"I know, Lieutenant, I can't explain it. The baby just isn't there now." The Doctor was studying his tricorder with a concerned look, concern mixed with confusion.
Tom was standing next to B'Elanna now, holding her hand. It felt small and fragile and cold. Something else was wrong but he couldn't pinpoint it. Something just felt wrong.
Harry had just been relieved at his bridge station, his shift over, and concern for B'Elanna propelled him to sickbay. He came over to stand next to his closest friends. "How is she?" he asked.
"The baby isn't there anymore." Tom reply was soft and full of pain.
"I'm sorry, Tom. What happened?" Harry answered, his hand now on B'Elanna's shoulder.
"I'm not sure. There doesn't seem to be any trace of the baby at all." The doctor answered Harry's question as Tom looked down at his wife, his face reflecting both love and sorrow. At a word from the doctor, Tom turned to look at the scans more closely.
B'Elanna began to stir and opened her eyes. Seeing Harry standing next to her, she reached up and took his hand. "Tom, she's coming around." Harry called out softly.
Tom moved to stand next to his wife, gently pressing her back down on the biobed as she started to sit up. "Take it easy, B'Elanna, just rest a minute."
B'Elanna nodded and continued to hold onto Harry's hand. She opened her eyes again and smiled at Harry and then at Tom. "What happened?" she asked.
"We don't know, we found your shuttle floating in space and you were unconscious. What do you remember?" Tom answered.
"I was investigating a debris field, picking up samples, and saw a spatial distortion so I went to investigate. I felt like I was being pulled in ... I don't remember any more, I must have passed out." B'Elanna said this as she was sitting up on the biobed. She looked at Harry affectionately and said, "I must really have had you worried, you even forgot to put on your second pip."
Harry looked at Tom and back to in confusion. "B'Elanna, what are you talking about? I'm still Starfleet's oldest living ensign. Where would I have gotten another pip?"
"The captain promoted you to lieutenant ten months ago. I pinned it on for you. Don't you remember that?" B'Elanna questioned Harry with a worried look. "And where is your ring?" she asked.
Before Harry could ask her what ring she meant, Captain Janeway and Chakotay walked into sickbay. B'Elanna released Harry's hand and swung off the biobed backing up against the wall. "How did you get here? Where are we? How long was I unconscious?" she stared at the startled command team. Confusion and fear were evident on her face.
Janeway looked concerned, "B'Elanna, we were just on the bridge, what do you mean, how did we get here?" She turned to look at the Doctor and Tom. "What's wrong?"
The doctor began to tell the captain that he had been running scans and had some unanswered questions while Chakotay moved closer to talk to B'Elanna. "What is it, B'Elanna? What happened out there? Why are you surprised to see us?"
But B'Elanna was backing further away from Chakotay as he moved slowly toward her. Tom realized that something was terribly wrong. He could sense that B'Elanna was afraid, and fear was something he hadn't seen in B'Elanna since the Vidiians had captured them six years ago.
"Chakotay, wait." Tom called out. He must have spoken louder than he thought because the captain and the doctor gave him their undivided attention also. "Could you leave us alone, please?" Tom continued, never taking his eyes off B'Elanna. "We need to get some things figured out. I'll come to the bridge and give you a report as soon as I can but right now, would you and the captain just leave?" No matter what else happened he wanted to get the fear out of B'Elanna's eyes.
"All right, Tom," the captain agreed, "but I will want your report within the hour."
"Yes, ma'am." Tom replied. "Thank you." Janeway nodded and left looking worried. Chakotay followed her out.
"Tell me what's wrong, B'Elanna." Tom gently asked. "Why are you so afraid of the captain and Chakotay?"
"They're gone, we left them on a planet four years ago. They are supposed to be thousands of light years from here." B'Elanna looked as if she had seen a ghost.
"Don't you remember rescuing them? Doc's friend, Denara Pel, helped us with a cure for the virus that they had contracted." Tom answered her.
"No, we didn't rescue them. Captain Janeway had given us strict orders to keep on our path to the Alpha Quadrant. Captain Tuvok wouldn't even consider a rescue and certainly not one that involved the Vidiians." B'Elanna seemed very sure of her memories.
"B'Elanna, what did you mean about my forgetting my ring?" Harry finally asked.
"Your wedding ring. You haven't taken it off since we were married..." B'Elanna was looking steadily at Harry as she said this and Harry was turning some of the brightest shades of red Tom had ever seen.
And then Tom realized what was different, what had been bothering him. The ring B'Elanna now wore was a wide gold band, much wider than the one he wore. He had thought wider rings would be nicer but B'Elanna had insisted on the matching narrow gold bands. She had been afraid that a wider band would get in the way in Engineering and she didn't want to have to take it off and risk losing it.
B'Elanna seemed to sense something was wrong too, and she looked from Harry's bare left hand to Tom's where the third finger was circled in a narrow gold wedding band. A look of horror swept her face as she asked again "Where am I?"
Grasping at straws, Tom asked "What's the star date, B'Elanna?"
"54472," she replied in a shaky voice.
"Tell me everything you remember about this morning." He questioned her quietly.
"We were on a foraging mission. You and Neelix were filling the Delta Flyer with a cargo load of fruits and vegetables. I wanted to check out a debris field and see if it had any trilithium. We're not exactly low but a little more in the reserves wouldn't hurt." Tom nodded and B'Elanna continued. "I saw some kind of anomaly and went to investigate. Something must have pulled me into the anomaly. I remember hearing a high pitched noise and then I must have passed out. I woke up here but I don't seem to belong here."
"What else is different?" Tom's manner was calm, polished, professional.
"I don't know, Tuvok should be the captain, you're the exec, Harry is a lieutenant. The doctor's bedside manner doesn't seem to have changed much, I guess. I haven't seen much else yet." B'Elanna answered, starting to sound fearful again.
"We'll get this figured out, B'Elanna. Somehow we'll make sense of it." Harry was trying to be assuring but he was confused, and Tom's quiet acceptance of the situation wasn't helping. Tom should have been scared or angry or something, but he was just calm.
Tom was still in charge of the situation. "B'Elanna, let the doctor continue his scans. Look for anything right down to quantum signature, whatever you can scan. Harry, let's go look at the shuttle and check out the debris, see if there are any signs of radiation." Harry moved away from B'Elanna who was looking at him anxiously, hoping for some sign of recognition from him which wasn't forthcoming. She sighed and agreed to the scans, resuming her seat on the biobed.
Harry smiled on his way to the door. "Don't worry, Maquis, we'll get this figured out."
B'Elanna looked startled. "He hasn't called me that in years," she said softly.
Tom followed Harry to the door, turning to look one more time before he left. The doctor chose that moment to glance up and they shared a look of concern, confusion, and some sorrow. Tom just shook his head at the doctor and left.
Harry was waiting for Tom outside sickbay, stopping him as he tried to push past. "Tom, stop. Talk to me."
"What do you want me to say?" Tom asked as he tried desperately to pull the "Paris mask" out of retirement. Harry knew that look. It was the one that Tom put on when he went into his defensive mode, his "I don't give a damn!" look. Harry hadn't seen it in a couple of years but he still recognized it.
"Tell me what you're thinking; what you're going to do." Harry hadn't released his hold on Tom's arm. He needed to know how his friend was coping with this bizarre situation.
Tom's façade of calm collapsed. The mask was stripped away leaving only anguish, pain and fear; an almost paralyzing fear. "I'm scared, Harry, I feel like my guts have been ripped out. I can't find B'Elanna and nothing has ever scared me this much in my whole life." Tom was shaking now and making an effort to remain calm and in control.
Harry wanted to say *She's just on the other side of this door* but something stopped him. "Tom, who is that, if it isn't B'Elanna?"
"I don't know how or why but that isn't B'Elanna. She's still out there somewhere." Tom was staring off over Harry's shoulder now, his voice eerily quiet. Harry looked at Tom and again at the door of sickbay thinking about Tom's words, and what he had seen and heard inside. Harry had to accept that, no matter how preposterous it seemed, the woman in sickbay was someone neither of them knew, and who didn't seem to know them.
"We'll get this figured out," he assured Tom. "There has to be an answer."
Tom nodded and tried to bring some semblance of order to his features. He had to talk to the captain and try to explain what had just happened.
On the bridge Tom asked for admittance to the captain's ready room.
"Enter", she called and he did, finding the captain and Chakotay both wearing worried looks.
"Captain, I'm sorry if I was rude, but B'Elanna was afraid and I needed to figure out what was going on. I haven't seen her really afraid in years."
Chakotay and Captain Janeway nodded their understanding. "What have you found out?" Janeway asked.
Tom hesitated and began to pace a little before he answered. "Captain, that isn't B'Elanna. She may look like B'Elanna and she may sound like B'Elanna, but she isn't B'Elanna."
"Tom..." Janeway began skeptically.
"Captain, there are physical indications, not just the emotional ones that I can feel." Tom was adamant and Captain Janeway was listening but she gave Chakotay a sideling look, expressing her doubts. Tom didn't even notice. He was busy trying to sort out the riot of thoughts and emotions that were going through his mind and make sense of the facts that he knew.
"The baby is gone," he began.
"Tom, I am so sorry," her sympathy was genuine and heartfelt.
"Captain, according to the Doc's scans, there never was a baby. That's one of the reasons that I don't think this is B'Elanna. Another one is her ring. She's wearing a wide gold band, wider than mine. When she left here our rings matched. B'Elanna wanted the narrower rings so she would never have to take it off, even when she was working. I didn't ask her to take this ring off, but I'm pretty sure Harry's name is inside it, not mine." There was pain in Tom's voice.
Chakotay was the first to recover, "What are you talking about, Tom?" he asked incredulously.
"In the world B'Elanna knows Tuvok is Captain, I'm Exec and she's married to Lt. Harry Kim. The two of you are still on that planet where we left you four years ago." Tom answered flatly. "I know it sounds like an hallucination but the physical differences are there too."
"Could it be an alien that has assumed B'Elanna's shape?" The captain was considering calling an intruder alert.
"The Doc's preliminary scans show no sign of an alien, all the medical evidence shows that it is B'Elanna, just a little different." Tom was quiet and thoughtful.
"What are you suggesting?" Janeway asked.
"I'd like some time to let the Doc finish his scans. I need to ask Seven to scan the area for any type of spatial anomalies or temporal distortions. Harry and I will check out the debris to see if we can discover anything strange, radiation, quantum fluxes, something that might explain some of this." Tom had already been thinking of the best method of conducting this investigation.
"All right, use whatever resources you need. I will want a report as soon as possible and I am going to need to talk to B'Elanna myself." Captain Janeway stated firmly.
"Captain, there's one more thing. I'd like Harry to stick with me on this. B'Elanna is more comfortable with him right now." Tom was looking out into space through the viewport. Janeway noticed that his concern was for B'Elanna's feelings, not his own.
"Of course, Tom. Keep me posted." She answered him.
Chakotay stopped Tom on his way out the door, "We'll get through this, Tom."
Tom nodded his thanks and left.
Harry and Tom were taking the shuttle apart, analyzing every piece of debris and closely scrutinizing the sensor logs when the Doctor paged Tom. "Mr. Paris, please report to sickbay."
"On our way, Doc." Tom answered.
In sickbay, they found B'Elanna no longer afraid but looking anxious and pacing like a caged lioness. "Have you found anything out?" she asked as soon as they walked in. Her eyes were for Harry but the question seemed to be addressed to both of them.
"The debris field is definitely unstable but we haven't pinned down exactly why. We are starting to work on the sensor logs." Tom answered her question and asked one of his own. "What have you found?"
The Doctor answered, "Physically, this is the same Lt. Torres that I have been patching up for six years." He paused and added with a meaningful look "I do excellent work, I might add." At what could only be interpreted as a glare from Tom the doctor returned to the subject at hand. "However, at your suggestion Lt. Paris, I did a quantum resonance scan and the quantum signature is different. This Lt. Torres comes from a different but probably parallel universe."
"Any idea how she got here?" Harry asked, not oblivious to the fact that B'Elanna was standing right there as they discussed her, but not really sure how to handle the situation.
"I suggest we begin with that piece of information and check the database for similar incidences, I know someone must have encountered this before." Harry nodded his agreement with the suggestion and moved to take a seat at the doctor's console to begin the research. The doctor followed him into the sickbay office leaving Tom and B'Elanna alone.
"The Doctor told me about the baby, Tom. I'm sorry." B'Elanna began.
Tom smiled a little, "This has to be really difficult for you, B'Elanna. I wish I knew what else I could do to help."
"It all feels so strange and yet so normal. I feel like I've stepped through the 'looking glass' and nothing is quite as it should be. I need to do something, or throw something, anything to relieve the tension." She was sounding more like her own self, confident, angry and frustrated. That was the B'Elanna they all knew and loved. The thought caused Tom to regain a hint of his optimism.
Tom echoed Chakotay's words as he assured her "We'll get through this. Don't worry." B'Elanna nodded and looked again at Harry obviously drawing her strength from him.
Harry called Tom and B'Elanna into the office to show the results of his search. The three of them agreed that it looked like B'Elanna's shuttle had slipped through a quantum fissure, leaving her universe behind and joining theirs. Their research soon revealed that an inverse warp field deployed at the moment of re-entering the fissure should allow her to return to her universe and seal the fissure. Getting the other B'Elanna back to this universe had to be taken into consideration also, and that was going to take more planning than the three friends could do on their own. This was going to take a little larger team, so Tom hailed the captain and asked for a senior staff meeting.
B'Elanna no longer seemed afraid of the captain and Chakotay as she accompanied Tom and Harry into the briefing room. She was anxious to help develop the plan that would take her home. Once in the briefing room she noticed that Tuvok still wore the rank of lieutenant commander. She was startled, however, to see a woman with Borg implants sitting next to Tuvok. Harry saw the question on her face first and introduced Seven of Nine.
"A Borg?" B'Elanna asked.
"Yes," Seven answered haughtily.
"I take it there is no Seven of Nine in your universe, B.., uh, B'Elanna?" the captain asked.
"No, we captured a female Borg three years ago but we were unable to stabilize her condition, so we released her in an escape pod once we were clear of Borg space," B'Elanna answered. "We sent her back to the Borg."
Janeway nodded at B'Elanna's words and broke the uncomfortable silence. "Mr. Paris, report?"
Tom nodded and began to tell the captain what the doctor's scan had shown, the difference in B'Elanna's quantum signature and the theory that B'Elanna had slipped through the fissure in the spatial anomaly from a different universe. Harry and the doctor offered their opinions of the validity of this theory.
"It sounds like a logical theory," the captain assented. "Suggestions?" she asked.
B'Elanna had a few. "The deflector beam can be reprogrammed to emit a resonance beam with the same quantum signature. That will give us an idea of where we are headed. Sending the shuttle through with an inverse warp field should seal the fissure and put everyone back in the right place. At least according to the research that we were able to do in sickbay." B'Elanna sounded more optimistic that she really felt.
"Communication is the next hurdle we have to jump. In order for this to work both ways we are going to have to time this perfectly so we are going to have to be able to communicate with the other Voyager somehow." Tom added.
"All right, Harry, make that your priority. And Seven, find us the right fissure." Seven and Harry nodded. "Tom," Janeway continued, "go over that shuttle with a fine tooth comb, we don't want anything not in perfect alignment there." Tom nodded as the captain added "Dismissed."
As all of the officers rose to leave the captain spoke again, "B'Elanna, I would like to talk to you for a few minutes. Could you stay please?"
After a hesitant look, first at Harry, then at Tom, B'Elanna nodded and resumed her seat. Both men smiled their reassurance at her as they left, Tom heading for the shuttle bay and Harry for his operations station on the bridge to figure out how to hail a ship that existed in a parallel universe.
The Captain and B'Elanna discussed the path Voyager had taken in the last few years in B'Elanna's universe. The two ships seemed to have been similar in their encounters and at the same point in their journeys. When questioned about the status of the remaining crew members, B'Elanna became more reticent. Losing Janeway and Chakotay had been hard on all of them. Tuvok seemed to be wearing the role of Captain well, B'Elanna confessed but added with a smile, "his sense of humor hasn't improved any." Tom and Harry had cut back on their ritual torture though. Tom had really settled down and was filling his role as exec very well. And Harry, well, she and Harry were just getting used to the idea of being married and exploring their hopes for the future. B'Elanna's voice trailed off as she spoke of Harry, her Harry. This one seemed like a stranger.
After an hour or so Captain Janeway asked Chakotay to return to the briefing room. He could tell that B'Elanna had been crying, but was making every effort to hide her tears. The captain patted her hand reassuringly as she rose to greet Chakotay. "Why don't you and B'Elanna head for Engineering and start the work on the deflector array. Let's have everything in place so that when Harry gets communications figured out we will be ready to go." Chakotay moved aside so that B'Elanna could precede him. B'Elanna turned as she reached the door, "Thank you, Captain. It's been great talking to you again even if it has been a little strange." Captain Janeway just smiled.
As they made their way to engineering, B'Elanna began questioning Chakotay. "Okay, Chakotay, since we are talking parallel universe or something, would it be breaking any type of prime directive to ask you a few questions?"
"I don't see where it would hurt to answer a few questions, depending on what they are," he answered.
"Well, let's start with how did you and the Captain get off of that planet?"
"It seems the crew persuaded Tuvok to disobey a direct order and risk the welfare of everyone on Voyager to get the cure for our disease from Denara Pel and come back for us." Chakotay answered matter of factly.
"You don't sound all that thrilled, were you disappointed?" B'Elanna asked
"It was dangerous, and put Voyager at risk but they were determined to get us back on board. It showed a lot of loyalty." Chakotay's voice lacked something and B'Elanna realized after a moment that it was enthusiasm. He didn't seem to view the rescue as anything to get excited about.
"You didn't answer my question. Were you disappointed?" she asked again.
"You know, B'Elanna, one of the privileges of rank is that you don't have to answer all the questions that are asked of you," Chakotay answered evenly.
B'Elanna moved on to another subject. "Do you mind if I ask another question?" At Chakotay's nod she asked, "How did I wind up married to Tom? It just doesn't seem to fit."
This really did make Chakotay laugh. "Don't ask me, you two worked that out. I certainly didn't have anything to do with it." He immediately regretted his laughter when he saw the hurt on B'Elanna's face.
"I'm sorry, B'Elanna." He paused for a few seconds before breaking the awkward silence, "Tell me about you and Harry."
B'Elanna smiled and said "I guess we were always friends, buddies really. It just took a near death experience before I realized that we were more than that."
"What kind of near-death experience?" Chakotay asked.
"The Klingon Day of Honor," she groaned. "It was awful, nothing went right from the very beginning and I ended up having screwed things up so badly that we ejected the warp core. Tom and I took a shuttle to retrieve it and found ourselves in a battle with a salvage crew. They destroyed our shuttle and we were floating in space in environmental suits with almost no air left. Tom was trying to keep my spirits up but I told him that I knew I was dying with no honor and he could just can his optimism. I did admit to having one regret though, never having told Harry that I loved him. Tom is a good friend. He made me promise to tell Harry the minute that we got back to Voyager. He didn't want us to make the same mistake that he had made by waiting so long to tell Kes how he felt. They had so little time together. She had left us a few weeks before and Tom was still missing her terribly. I think he still does, even now," B'Elanna finished her story quietly.
They had reached Engineering and B'Elanna felt at home enough to start barking orders to the crew, who all looked very familiar and right in place. At Chakotay's nod they began to carry out the modifications that were needed on the deflector array.
After several hours Chakotay came back to check on the progress. B'Elanna was pleased with what her crew had accomplished but she still had her doubts. "Chakotay, in order for this to work the other shuttle has to come back through at the same time as mine. I know Harry is working on communications but they have to be looking for us too. What if they aren't? What if they don't know anything is wrong?" B'Elanna added anxiously.
Chakotay reassured her "B'Elanna, they know that something is wrong, just like we do, and they have the best engineer in the Delta Quadrant working on the problem, just like we do. As long as we keep doing exactly what you would do in a situation like this we'll be fine."
B'Elanna actually laughed at the absurdity of it. She still had an enigmatic smile on her face when Harry and Tom entered Engineering a minute or so later. They were both relieved to see her a little more relaxed and she was relieved just to see them. It had been nearly eight hours since any of them had eaten so Chakotay insisted that Tom and Harry take B'Elanna to the mess hall for a late supper.
They were just finishing the leftovers of one of Neelix's more interesting concoctions when Harry received a call from Seven of Nine, "Ensign Kim, I require your assistance, please report to the Astrometrics lab."
Kim answered immediately "On my way."
B'Elanna looked surprised at his response while Tom snickered. "Okay, so she has a little problem with chain of command," Harry spit out while Tom continued to smile and shake his head.
"A little problem?" Tom scoffed.
Harry just shook his head, wishing them good-night as he moved toward the door, making a great effort not to appear to be in a hurry.
As Harry strode out Tom turned to B'Elanna. "The Doc has fixed up a place for you to sleep in sickbay. He, we... thought you might be more comfortable there than anywhere else."
"That's fine, thank you," B'Elanna answered not meeting his eyes.
Tom grabbed their trays to put them in the recycler and walked with B'Elanna to sickbay. They didn't seem to have much to say, each lost in their own thoughts. When they arrived at their destination, they smiled to see a privacy field erected around one of the beds and a surgical gown laid out for B'Elanna to sleep in with a toothbrush sitting on top of it. The doctor had thought of everything.
"I'll see you in the morning, B'Elanna. Harry and I will pick you up for breakfast, okay?" Tom offered.
B'Elanna looked a little lost but she nodded to Tom and said "Yeah, see you in the morning."
Tom paused to look at her again and went over to put his arms around her in the kind of reassuring hug that one friend offers to another. B'Elanna responded by circling him with her arms. No matter what came of their plans the next day she knew she was among friends here. "Thanks, Tom," she said as she pushed away from him, "now go get some rest yourself."
Later, after working with Seven of Nine for an hour or so, it seemed like more, Harry was on his way to his quarters when instinct told him to ask the computer to locate Lt. Paris. "Lt. Paris is in the messhall," the computer replied. Harry nodded and changed his destination to find Tom.
He found his friend sitting at his usual table staring out into space. Harry joined Tom and they sat together for a minute or two before Harry finally broke the silence, "You look like hell, Tom. You need to get some sleep."
Tom offered half of a smile that went no further than his mouth. His eyes were bright with unshed tears. "You know, Har, when I woke up this morning I looked at B'Elanna sleeping next to me, and thought, I am married to the most beautiful woman in the universe and we are having a baby. I felt like the luckiest guy in the whole world. I was even looking forward to the shuttle mission, getting off the ship for a while and just flying. And then, when I got back, I had lost it all. My whole world came crashing down."
Harry searched for the words to comfort his friend. "We've got a good plan, Tom. This is going to work. We'll get B'Elanna back."
Tom gave a bitter laugh. "Do you know how many variables there are in that plan, Harry? The risks involved in trying to pull two shuttles through the same rift in space at the same time?"
"We can do this, Tom; just think of all of the other scrapes we have managed to get through. We can do this too." Harry sounded a lot like a green ensign Tom once knew who wanted to believe everything he heard. But Tom wasn't about to be comforted. He leaned forward with his elbows on the table and put his head in his hands.
"Come on, Tom. You need sleep."
"No, I'll just stay here for a while, I'm fine."
"You're not fine," Harry said as he stood and hauled his friend to his feet. "Come on, my couch is your couch. I've got a lumpy pillow that's been missing you terribly, I'll even turn down the environmental controls for you."
Tom looked at his friend and nodded. "Thanks, Harry." That was all, just "thanks" but Harry knew what Tom meant. Harry put his hand on Tom's shoulder as they left the mess hall together.
Together, Tom and Harry invaded sickbay at 0600, after a very brief night. They found B'Elanna fully dressed and pulling on her second boot, ready to begin the day that she hoped would take her back to her own world.
They ate a hurried breakfast in the messhall and took the lift to their stations on the bridge, an hour early for their shifts. However, they found when they arrived that the rest of the senior officers had started their shifts a little earlier yet. The Captain and Chakotay had already taken their seats and Tuvok was at the Tactical station. Even Seven had arrived early enough to begin scanning the area where the original rift had been detected.
Harry took Ops, Tom went to the conn, and B'Elanna sat down at the bridge Engineering station to monitor the deflector readings. Harry began broadcasting their signal on a wide band frequency and they all began the anxious wait for a response. After more than an hour of broadcast they heard a familiar voice coming through the static, Tuvok's. Everyone on the bridge involuntarily turned to look at the Vulcan who remained stoic, not a trace of expression on his face.
Janeway rose from her seat and instructed Harry, "Route the signal to my ready room, Ensign."
Harry looked a little startled but he answered "Yes, Ma'am," and began the process of rerouting the signal.
In her ready room Captain Janeway cleared up the signal enough to see the face of her old friend who looked a little discomfited. "Captain, I am... pleased to see you." Tuvok began.
"And I, you, Captain Tuvok," Janeway replied with an enigmatic smile. "I hope you're looking for me to tell me you have my chief engineer."
"Yes, Lt. Torres is here."
"Is she all right, Tuvok, and is the baby all right?" Her concern for her crew member put a catch in her voice.
"Yes, Captain. Lt. Torres and her baby are fine, although her husband was a little disconcerted to discover that it wasn't his child."
That thought had not occurred to Janeway and in spite of herself she had to smile. "I'm sure he was." She tried to sound light but there was certainly relief in her voice. "I assume we both have the same plan to exchange officers."
"We have identified the fissure, and Lt. Torres believes that sending the shuttles through at precisely the same time with an inverse warp field should return both officers to their appropriate timelines and seal the fissure that allowed them to be exchanged." Tuvok quickly highlighted the plan that B'Elanna had formulated.
"Yes, that's the plan that B'Elanna has developed here too." Janeway affirmed but she noticed a reticence in her old friend as if he were pondering a dilemma. "What is it, Tuvok? You seem uncomfortable. Are you afraid that the plan won't work?"
"It is disconcerting to talk to you after all these years. Lt. Torres told me of your rescue and cure. I am pleased." He didn't sound all that pleased, just neutral.
Janeway leaned closer to the view screen. "Tuvok, please don't feel any regret for your actions. You had to leave us on that planet."
"Captain, I have reason to question that decision when I see you at the helm of Voyager in an alternate universe where obviously my counterpart had the courage to rescue you." Kathryn noted the remorse even in his carefully modulated Vulcan voice. "My friend, you did the right thing. Your captain and first officer are safe and... happy in their new world. I promise you." Janeway was embarrassed to admit it even to her old friend but she knew in her heart that 'New Earth' had been a place where she and Chakotay would be content to grow old together, and have no regrets.
Janeway cleared her throat and became all business again. "I suggest we synchronize our efforts and make this exchange before my pilot and your operations officer stage an all out rebellion." "I agree. Can you be ready by 0900 hours?"
"Yes, we are almost ready now."
Kathryn Janeway returned to the bridge and this time all eyes were on her, but her eyes were only for Tom. "She's fine, Tom, and so is the baby."
Tom closed his eyes and softly voiced his relief, "Thank God."
Harry let out a resounding "Yes! All right!" B'Elanna was a little insulted at Harry's excitement but she smiled at her own sense of relief.
The captain redirected her look to B'Elanna and asked "Are you ready? We've scheduled the swap for 0900."
"I'm ready, Captain" B'Elanna replied but she was surprised at how nervous she was. She actually had to discretely wipe her hands on her uniform because her palms were sweating. Great, she thought, this close and I'm going to lose my Klingon courage and start to blubber again like a human. The pep talk seemed to help and B'Elanna was able to move away from her station and look around at the faces on the bridge.
"Tom," she began, "I hope you get your B'Elanna back, and your baby. Thank you for everything." She held out her hand but Tom engulfed her in a hug instead.
"Good Luck," he whispered.
Moving away from Tom, B'Elanna turned to the Captain, "It was wonderful seeing you again, Captain. I hope your journey takes you home." The Captain too embraced B'Elanna.
Chakotay followed B'Elanna towards the upper section of the bridge as she said her good-byes to Tuvok. That wasn't quite as emotional, she was planning on seeing him again fairly quickly. Seven warranted a brief nod. That woman is strange, was B'Elanna's thought as she moved towards Harry. "Take care of yourself, Starfleet," she said and then added, in a stage whisper, "and work on getting that second pip, it would look good on your collar."
Harry, of course, turned red as he too embraced B'Elanna, adding only "You too, Maquis, take care of yourself. And tell your lieutenant he's a lucky guy." Harry grinned at her.
Tears were very close to the surface again as B'Elanna turned and entered the lift with Chakotay. She nodded to all of them, pretending to be all business again but she didn't have any of them fooled.
Chakotay accompanied B'Elanna to the shuttle bay where Tom had her small shuttle in perfect condition for a flight into what was, hopefully, her own universe. The doctor was there and gave her an injection to help her stay oriented during the flight. He wished her luck too and headed back to sickbay. Now, alone with Chakotay, B'Elanna did feel a certain amount of sadness. She had missed her commander, her mentor, her friend, these last four years. Saying good- bye the first time had been hard, this seemed even a little harder. Her Chakotay was stranded on a planet, alone with the captain, while this one was still an active, valued member of the crew.
"B'Elanna," Chakotay was reading her thoughts, he'd always been able to do that, "they are safe and happy on their planet, trust me. There was no wrong decision there, both decisions were right, just different."
She trusted him but she missed him too. Chakotay embraced her warmly and wished her a safe journey. He watched her enter the shuttle, close the door and exit the shuttle bay before returning to his chair on the bridge.
"All set?" the captain asked.
"All set" he replied giving her a sideling glance as he thought, yes, Kathryn, we would have been happy there. Her answering smile made him wonder if she really could read his thoughts like she periodically teased.
Harry opened a link to the shuttlecraft so that the captain could give another small measure of encouragement to B'Elanna as she moved towards the now familiar anomaly.
Every eye was on the shuttlecraft as it neared the target area and at precisely 0900 it disappeared into the rift. It seemed like an eternity before they saw a shuttle emerge from the rift and head erratically towards the ship. Harry called out in barely controlled excitement, "One shuttlecraft, B'Elanna's on board, unconscious."
Tom's insides lurched at the déjà vu he was feeling. Janeway ordered Harry to tractor the shuttle on board and transport B'Elanna directly to sickbay. Chakotay touched Tom on the shoulder and took the seat Tom vacated as he ran towards the turbolift.
When he reached sickbay the doctor was scanning B'Elanna just like the last time and Tom was afraid to allow himself any hope as he again moved to stand next to the bed where she lay, unconscious. But this time the doctor wore a wide grin as he turned to Tom and said, "Well, the plan seems to have worked. B'Elanna has the same quantum signature that she had when she left here yesterday and she is still nine weeks pregnant with a healthy baby girl. Congratulations, Lieutenant, you have your wife back. I'll go warn Deck 9, section 12 so they can be prepared for the reunion."
The doctor regretted his levity when he saw the drawn look on the young lieutenant's face. Worry, fear, relief and lack of sleep had wreaked their havoc on his features. "Tom," he assured him, "she's okay and she should regain consciousness soon. Try to wake her."
Tom nodded but his eyes never left B'Elanna's face as he held her hand and stroked the ring that matched his own so perfectly, knowing that his name was the one engraved on the inside. "B'Elanna" he called softly. And again, "B'Elanna, open your eyes, look at me."
He was rewarded shortly with a flutter of her eyelids as she opened them, then closed them quickly to escape the blinding light. She tested them again and saw Tom hovering over her. With a cry of joy she raised her arms to embrace him, an embrace which he fiercely returned. B'Elanna pushed away from him to ask anxiously "The baby?"
"She's fine, she's fine and so are you." Tom answered as he gently cupped her face and kissed her before returning her to his embrace.
Captain Janeway had been watching quietly from the door of sickbay. As soon as she was assured of the safety of her chief Engineer and the peace of mind of her chief pilot she turned to go, touching her Executive Officer on the arm. Chakotay understood her signal immediately and followed her out of sickbay.
As they left sickbay Captain Janeway and Chakotay met Harry, lurking in the corridor. The Captain assured him that this was the right B'Elanna and she and the baby were both fine. Harry breathed out a sigh of relief and sagged against the wall.
"Not even a little disappointed, ensign?" the captain asked with a smile.
"No, Ma'am!" Harry sounded certain of his feelings. "I love B'Elanna but not the way Tom does."
The Captain nodded in understanding while Chakotay stopped and glanced back at the door to Sickbay pondering what Harry had said. Janeway interrupted his reverie with an invitation. "Let's play hooky from the bridge a little while longer, I think Captain Tuvok can handle it, don't you?" She looked to the two men for affirmation before she added, "I'd like to buy the world's oldest living ensign and my executive officer a cup of coffee."
Harry blushed bright red at the captain's words but she just laughed and grabbed his arm with one hand while taking Chakotay's arm with her other hand. Walking arm in arm they headed for the mess hall to try whatever Neelix was offering for coffee today.