Title:  For Granted
Author:  Julie Evans
Series:  VOY
Rating:  PG13
Codes:  P/T
Summary:  A coda to "Lineage."  Also part of the "Scenes
From a Marriage" series.

Disclaimer:  Star Trek and its characters are the property
of Viacom/Paramount.  I am borrowing them for fun only not

Archiving:  Okay to archive to ASC, PT Collective archive,
and BLTS.  All others please ask author for permission.

Acknowledgments:  Thanks to PTF and Rdmflt for a lot of
interesting discussion on this episode that crystallized a
few thoughts for me.  Thanks also to Maud for her
invaluable assistance in providing Klingon translation.

For Granted
by Julie Evans

The day after she'd almost made the worst mistake of her
life B'Elanna resumed her regular schedule, with a few
alterations.  At six thirty hours, just as Tom and she
were waking, the captain called and ordered B'Elanna to
report to her ready room at seven hundred hours.  B'Elanna
hurried to get ready for the meeting and her shift
afterwards, trying to ignore her anxiety about what the
captain would say, which she knew would be well deserved.
She had little time to talk to Tom beyond a few quickly
exchanged words, but before she rushed out he gave her a
brief, supportive hug.  At the door she glanced back at
her husband, who stood still in his boxers and t-shirt,
giving her a reassuring smile.  She managed a small smile
in return before she left.

The captain's rebuke was sharp and to the point, and
B'Elanna considered herself lucky to get off with no more
than a formal reprimand in her file and a standing order
to follow the doctor's medical instructions to the letter.
That included whatever drug, nutritional and activity
regimens he prescribed to regulate her body chemistry and
to maintain a healthy pregnancy, as well as any counseling
he deemed appropriate--once she restored the subroutine
she'd altered.  At least the captain still trusted her
that much.

After she'd dispensed with her official duties, the
captain ordered breakfast for both of them, and then she
invited B'Elanna to speak freely.

The rest of the day was uneventful, though B'Elanna felt
curious eyes on her several times, both in engineering and
in the mess hall when she stopped there for lunch.  Only
those who'd been directly involved knew the facts, but
word had gotten around that *something* had happened in
sickbay the previous evening, and that security measures
had been taken.  She reined in her usual hostile reaction
to the speculative looks, knowing they would be trained
somewhere else in a day or two, and that she'd brought
them on herself.

Chakotay joined her in the mess hall during lunch, and his
only reference to the situation was to ask if she was
okay.  His gaze was penetrating, but when she responded in
the affirmative, he accepted her assurance and didn't
address the subject again.

Tom had started his bridge shift later than usual to
accommodate the final diagnostics on the Delta Flyer's
navigational refit, a job he'd been working on for several
days, so their lunch breaks didn't coincide.  But he
stopped by engineering early in the afternoon, ostensibly
to return some tools he'd been using in the Flyer, though
she knew he also wanted to check on her and to reassure
himself that she was okay.  Though it usually annoyed her
when Tom hovered, this time she understood his concern and
didn't mind it.  Unfortunately Shaun Mulcahy had a problem
with the warp relays that couldn't wait, so she had no
chance to have a real conversation with Tom.

Later in the afternoon she visited the doctor in sickbay
to apologize for her actions.  She'd restored the
subroutine in his program after her breakfast with the
captain, so he was back within his normal parameters, and
surprisingly forgiving.  In a moment of mixed curiosity
and sentiment she asked to see the projection of her baby
again.  This time she felt no foreboding, and no churning
of dark emotions inside her as she looked at the softly
defined ridges on her daughter's forehead.  She felt only
amazement at how beautiful she was, how perfect in every
way--and the emotion that welled up as she stared at her
daughter was yearning.

At the end of the day B'Elanna returned home, reflective
on the difference her feelings had undergone in twenty-
four hours.  She knew it wasn't just the medication the
doctor had prescribed to counteract the emotional effects
of her body's biochemical fluctuations, or the immense
relief she felt that it was all over and she hadn't done
something she'd regret forever, or even the sure knowledge
that her daughter really was perfect exactly the way she
was.  She was genuinely delighted with her pregnancy, and
felt a joy at her good fortune that she hadn't been able
to feel for the past few days--that she hadn't let herself

She'd always been a little ambivalent about having a baby,
not sure if she had it in her to be a mother.  Certainly
she hadn't expected that she would feel this kind of love
already for a tiny little life that had just started
growing inside her.  She wanted to celebrate that feeling,
and she wanted to celebrate Tom's happiness, the happiness
she'd denied him over the past few days.

When Tom walked into their quarters at nineteen twelve
hours she was waiting for him.  He came to a halt just
inside the door, and his eyes widened as he caught sight
of the dining table with its red china settings and lit
candles, looking much as he'd arranged it three nights
earlier when their first attempt at celebrating had been
interrupted by the doctor's call.  When they'd returned
from sickbay that evening they'd been too subdued by their
visit with the doctor to continue their celebration.  By
the next day things had become tense between them, and
celebration had been the last thing on either of their
minds.   B'Elanna intended to make up for what they'd

Tom stared, nonplused for several seconds, and then a slow
smile lit his face as he slowly walked across the room
toward her.

B'Elanna was surprised that she felt a tiny bit nervous.
She knew Tom wasn't angry with her anymore.  They'd
resolved things in sickbay last night--to a point--though
there'd been few words between them afterwards.  There was
more she needed to say, and she knew what she'd done--had
almost done--was still there between them.

Tom remained silent as he stopped in front of her, so
B'Elanna spoke first.  "Since we were interrupted last
time, I thought we should try again.  I know it's old news
now, but we didn't have a chance to do it right--" She
paused, and corrected herself.  "I didn't give us a chance
to do it right--"

The pressure of Tom's mouth on hers stopped her words.  He
brushed his lips over hers, then lifted his head and
smiled again.  "This is a great idea."

B'Elanna waved her hand toward the nearest chair.  "Then
sit," she demanded lightly, and walked around the table to
the opposite chair.

Tom sat quickly and rested his arms on the table, watching
as she pulled out her chair.  "You look beautiful in that

She was wearing her little black dress, the one she'd
replicated for Neelix's first New Year's party on Voyager
and had worn dozens of times since.  Even though she'd had
it long before they'd become a couple, it remained one of
Tom's favorites, and he never failed to compliment her
when she wore it.  "I'm not sure how much longer I'll be
able to wear it," she said as she took her own seat.
"It's pretty snug."

Tom grinned meaningfully.  "It's always been pretty snug."

B'Elanna smiled.  "It's *more* snug."  In fact the
material was pulled taut across her belly.  She'd noticed
a couple of weeks ago that her clothes were getting a
little tight.  Her appetite had increased, and she'd
gained a kilo or two.  She'd been considering having the
computer devise a restricted diet before her clothes
didn't fit anymore.  She had never even entertained the
thought that she could be pregnant.  Her lips quirked and
she shook her head.  "It never occurred to me that *this*
could be why I was gaining weight."

"Now we know," Tom said softly, his tone complacent.

B'Elanna nodded.  She picked up the bottle of Ktaran
Merlot she'd already uncorked and poured some into Tom's
glass.  "My uniforms still fit for the moment, but they
won't for much longer."

"Starfleet's uniform code provides for maternity
uniforms," Tom said.  "And I'm sure the captain will allow
us some extra replicator rations for the other clothes
you'll need."

B'Elanna watched Tom swirl the wine in his glass and then
sniff it once before he took a sip.  It was one of those
quirky habits of his, and she found the unconscious
repetition of it both amusing and oddly comforting.  She
poured wine into her own glass.  "I'm sure she will, even
though she's not very happy with me at the moment."

"I'm sorry you got a formal reprimand," Tom said.

B'Elanna shook her head.  "I probably deserved more.  I
broke eight different Starfleet regulations, which the
captain outlined for me in detail.  She let me off easy."

"Because weren't completely responsible, B'Elanna."

"Right, because of a biochemical imbalance," B'Elanna said
dryly, sipping her wine.

"Yes," Tom said evenly.  "Because of your genetically
mixed physiology the biochemical fluctuations in your body
are more extreme and unpredictable.  That contributed to
your state of mind.  The doctor told us it might happen."

"I don't think this was quite what he expected when he
mentioned behavioral volatility," B'Elanna said ruefully.
"But he did prescribe something to compensate for the
shifting levels of my Klingon and human hormones, so I
will experience fewer emotional side-effects."  Her lips
twitched a little.  "That should be a relief to you."

Tom frowned at her attempted humor.  "I'm only concerned
that it's a relief to you, B'Elanna," he said gently.

"I do feel...steadier," B'Elanna admitted.  Though that
wasn't only because of the doctor's prescription.

Tom nodded, satisfied.  "Good.  Did the doctor say
anything else?"

"He said the baby and I are both healthy, and he expects
me to have a normal pregnancy from here on."

Tom smiled.  "That's all that matters."

B'Elanna smiled back.  It was all that mattered.  "He's
scheduled me for a series of regular appointments every
two weeks."  Which she thought was too often, but she'd
accepted his judgment.  "He also gave me prenatal
nutritional supplements, dietary guidelines, and a
selection of music to play for the baby as part of a
prenatal enrichment program, which he specified should not
include any of your 'rock and roll'."

Tom snorted.  "*That's* the doctor we all know and love
all right."

"He's also planning childbirth and parenting classes,
which he expects both of us to attend."

"I can't wait," Tom said with complete sincerity.

B'Elanna paused for a moment before she spoke again.
"There was one other thing I discussed with the doctor.
When I was in sickbay this afternoon I asked him to be the
baby's godfather."

Tom's eyebrows rose.  "You did?"

Several people, including Chakotay and Neelix, had
expressed interest in the role, though Tom and she hadn't
seriously considered the subject yet.  B'Elanna said
apologetically, "I know I should have discussed it with
you first, but after what I did, I thought I owed him.
And whatever his faults, he loves kids.  He's been great
with Naomi.  He's going to be with us through all of this,
and he's going to deliver her.  But if you'd rather
someone else--"

"B'Elanna," Tom interrupted her.  "It's fine.  In fact, I
think it's a good idea.  It does mean we'll have to listen
to his continual unsolicited advice on child rearing, but
he'd annoy us with that anyway.  And I can't think of
anyone more qualified to take care of our baby if
something--if we're busy on an away mission or having a
private evening on the holodeck."

B'Elanna was sure he'd been about to say "if something
happens to us."  That was the traditional role of a
godfather, or godmother, after all.  Life in the Delta
quadrant was uncertain, but they'd survived this far
against pretty horrendous odds.  Whatever blind luck
followed Voyager, it was to hard to imagine it ever
leaving them now.  "You're sure you don't mind the doctor
being the godfather?"

"I'm sure," Tom said.  "But does this mean I get to pick
the godmother?"

"Fair enough," B'Elanna replied.

Tom looked thoughtful.  "Hmm, I wonder if Seven would be

B'Elanna gave Tom a sharp look.  She now managed to
maintain a cordial working relationship with Seven--most
of the time--but that rarely extended to any social
interaction.  She didn't actively dislike Seven anymore,
but the idea of entrusting her daughter--

"I'm kidding, B'Elanna," Tom told her lightly.  He smiled
at her narrow look.  "I actually thought of Sam Wildman
first, but she's got enough responsibility with Naomi.  I
think I'd like to ask the captain to do the honors."

The captain was a certainly a strong role model.  She was
also very fond of children and surprisingly good with
them.  B'Elanna nodded.  "I think she's a perfect choice."

"I'll ask her first chance I get," Tom said, sipping the
last of his wine.

B'Elanna picked up the bottle of wine.  "More?"

Tom looked at his empty glass and shook his head.  "Maybe

B'Elanna set the bottle aside without refilling her glass.
Though the wine was syntheholic, the doctor had told her
to limit her synthehol intake since it had little
nutritional value.  "Are you hungry?"

Tom smiled.  "Starving."

B'Elanna stood and moved over to the replicator.
"Computer, two chopped salads with grilled chicken, and a
basket of whole wheat rolls."

Tom was right behind her as the meal appeared.  "Salads?"
he asked as retrieved one of the bowls and the basket of
rolls from the replicator pad.  "I take it we're done with
pizza and hot dogs."

"This conforms a little closer to the doctor's nutrition
guidelines," B'Elanna told him dryly as she picked up her
salad.  "With the baby coming I have to make sure I eat a
balanced diet."  And regular meals.  The doctor had warned
her that there would be no more skipping meals because she
was too busy with an engineering project to bother eating.
She patted Tom's stomach with her free hand as they walked
back to the table.  "Besides it won't hurt you to eat a
little healthier too."

Tom pursed his lips at her arch smile.  "I suppose I'll
adjust," he grumbled as he took his seat again.  "If I go
through withdrawals, I can always cajole Neelix into
making me a pizza for lunch."

B'Elanna rolled her eyes at Tom's unrepentant grin.  "No

"But don't expect me to join you if you get a cravings for
pickles and ice cream," Tom added teasingly.

"Klingons don't get food cravings," B'Elanna said as she
forked a bite of her salad.

"You're half human," Tom reminded her.  "I guess we can
expect anything."  He tore open a roll.  "But we'll handle

B'Elanna appreciated Tom's confident tone.  It was all so
new to her, she was still caught by surprise every time
she remembered she was pregnant, even after feeling the
baby kick inside her today.  Before she could say
something about that Tom spoke again.

"The first thing we have to do is set aside a place for
the nursery," he said.  He popped a bit of roll into his
mouth and surveyed the room critically for several
moments.  "I was thinking this area might be a good place.
We could move the dining table to the other side of the
room, closer to the window."

B'Elanna frowned.  "She'll be so far away from us..."

Tom paused with his fork in mid-air, and looked at her

"I mean, for those two am feedings," B'Elanna reminded him
quickly.  "You'd have to walk so far to get her."

Tom's lips quirked at her allusion to their previous
conversation on that subject.  "We live in pretty close
quarters, B'Elanna," he pointed out.  He gave her a shrewd
look and added mildly, "For the first couple of months we
can keep her in a bassinet right by our bed."

B'Elanna liked that plan.

"We can move her to the crib later," Tom said.  His eyes
narrowed reflectively.  "Besides a crib we'll also need a
dressing table and a chest to store her things.  Plus
blankets, diapers, washcloths, lotions, bottles, and all
the clothes she'll need...sleepers, singlets, jumpers,
sweaters, dresses, bonnets, little baby booties--"

"That much?" B'Elanna asked dubiously.

"More," Tom said wryly.  "I have a few cousins who had
babies.  The baby bags they carried around weighed more
than a macro tool kit, believe me."

B'Elanna hadn't been around babies at all as a child, and
though she'd seen Naomi with Sam from time to time during
her first year, she'd never really considered the amount
of paraphernalia a baby required.

"We'll have a lot of things to get," Tom said, not
sounding concerned at all about it.  "I remember one of my
cousins telling my sister that Union Square in San
Francisco has several nice baby boutiques.  Maybe we can
recreate one of them on the holodeck and go shopping."

B'Elanna swallowed before she spit out her salad.  "You
want to go *shopping*?  In a baby boutique?"

Tom grinned.  "I know it's not my usual thing, but we have
to replicate the stuff from some source.  And it might be

It was also far from B'Elanna's usual thing.  Whenever
Voyager docked at trading stations she generally went
straight to the engine shops in the bowels of the station.
She preferred rummaging for parts to shopping in the more
frivolous tourist-oriented promenade shops, just as Tom
generally headed straight for the shuttle bays, or to the
holographic center to look for the latest gadgets.  Now,
here she was thinking it might be fun to browse in a shop
filled with all kinds of frilly, lacy baby stuff...

"Unless you'd rather not use the holodeck," Tom said.

Though there was no hint of accusation in his voice,
B'Elanna understood his reference immediately.  "I'm
sorry.  I know that was a cheap shot, when you just wanted
to find a place for us to talk."

Tom shrugged.  "I had actually been thinking about that
shore path on Lake Como."

They'd been there several times.  It was a quiet and
idyllic spot, with just the trees, the sand, and the water
with little boats bobbing in the distance.  It was
beautiful and serene, and B'Elanna knew it wouldn't have
had the least effect on her mood at the time.  She
addressed the current topic instead.  "I always liked San
Francisco's old Union Square."

"So it's a date?" Tom asked.

B'Elanna smiled.  "Sure."

Tom smiled back, satisfied.  "Now, what do you think about
going with an antique crib?  Unless you have something
else in mind..."

As they finished their salads they continued to discuss
ideas on how to furnish the nursery.  Actually Tom came up
with most of the ideas.  B'Elanna nodded or shook her head
in response, and threw in an occasional suggestion or two.
Mostly she just watched Tom's animated expression as he
talked about preparing a place for the baby in their
quarters, and silently reveled in the easy, companionable
mood between them.  It felt good, this open, warm
communication after the tenseness of the past few days,
even though she knew they'd never completely finished
addressing the rift she'd caused between them.  But for
the moment she was enjoying the fact that they were both
sitting here, talking contentedly about their future.  The
future she'd almost thrown away--


B'Elanna realized that her attention had drifted.  "Sorry,
what did you say?"

"I was asking you when we should start considering names,
but you were obviously thinking about something else."

There was no annoyance in his voice, just curiosity.  "I
was just thinking that this feels..." she searched for the
right word, "Good.  Being relaxed, and sitting here
talking about how to prepare for the baby.  I guess I was
just enjoying the mood.  I know that sounds strange--"

"No, it doesn't," Tom said softly.  The look in his eyes
told her he understood exactly what she was saying.  "It's
been a rough few days.  And we have plenty of time to make
decisions.  Right now we don't have to decide any further
than what to do with the rest of our evening."

"Let's go to bed," B'Elanna said promptly.

Tom's eyebrows rose.  "It's a little early."

"It's been four days," B'Elanna reminded him softly.
Which was in fact the longest period so far in their
marriage.  "I've missed you."

Tom understood her meaning and his gaze on her
intensified.  "I've missed you too," he said, his voice
husky.  "But I need to take a shower first."

B'Elanna rose from her chair.  "You go take a shower and
I'll put the dishes in the recycler.  Then I'll meet you
in bed."

Tom smiled.  "Deal."  He stood and started to move toward
the bathroom.  Then he turned and strode around the table.
"Thanks for dinner," he said as he grasped her shoulders
lightly and kissed her soundly on the lips.  "See you in a
few minutes."

B'Elanna watched him walk into the bedroom, and then she
started to clear the dishes away, quickly.  It only took
her a few minutes to finish that task and change into her
black satin nightgown.  She heard Tom turn off the shower
as she slipped between the sheets.  As she settled herself
she noticed the hand she'd inadvertently placed over her
abdomen.  Today in engineering she'd caught herself
resting her hand there twice, and had stared at it in
surprise.  It hadn't been intentional on her part.  Her
hand had simply drifted to where her baby was growing
inside her, as if unconsciously moving to protect her
child.  The child she'd almost changed into someone

Her hand tensed over her belly at that unwelcome thought,
and she felt the almost imperceptible roundness that she'd
barely noticed a few days ago.  Her body had been
protecting and nurturing her baby for almost eight weeks
now, though she hadn't known it.  But her body had known
what to do all along, even if she'd almost violated that
safety and trust.  She would have violated it if Tom
hadn't stopped her.  And she had no idea how she would
have lived with herself afterwards, once she realized what
she'd done, or how her marriage could have survived that
kind of betrayal--

"Hey.  You okay?"

B'Elanna looked up at Tom, who was standing by the other
side of the bed in his black silk boxers, his skin still
flushed from his shower.  He'd spoken lightly, but she saw
the concern in his eyes.  She rubbed her hand across her
belly.  "Fine.  We're both fine."

"Good," Tom said, slipping into bed next to her.  "You

She heard the wariness in his tone.  "I'm still getting
used to all this," she said quickly.

"I know."  Tom's expression was serious.  "A lot happened
at once and it was pretty overwhelming at first."  He
smiled wryly.  "We should have been more prepared, even
though we didn't expect it could happen so soon..."

"Or so easily," B'Elanna murmured.  Even though they'd
both discontinued their contraceptive boosters when they'd
married, they'd known that her hybrid genetic makeup made
conception a long shot for them.  They'd talked briefly
about having kids at some intangible point in the future,
assuming it might happen sometime down the road if they
were lucky, or, more likely, that one day when the urge
became too strong to ignore they'd obtain medical
assistance to conceive.

"You don't have any more regrets, do you?"

B'Elanna shook her head at Tom's soft question.  "No, none
at all," she said honestly.  "I'm still adjusting, but I
am happy about it.  Very happy."

Tom smiled and reached over to squeeze her hand.  "So am
I.  And I'm really glad that it happened sooner rather
than later.  We may have been caught by surprise, but it's
a good surprise, and we'll figure it all out as we go."

B'Elanna nodded, and returned his smile with a faint one
of her own.  "I'll have to since I don't have any
experience at parenting."

"Neither do I," Tom said easily.  "But we'll learn.  And
we do have the doctor to guide us."

B'Elanna smiled at Tom's sardonic tone.  "Maybe I should
talk to Samantha."

"That's a good idea," Tom said.  "We should pick
everybody's brain we can.  I've already told Tuvok I'll
probably be offering to work with him a lot."

B'Elanna arched an eyebrow.  "Did he faint?"

Tom chuckled.  "Very funny."  Then he sobered a little.
"We may not have a lot of experience, but we will be good
at this, B'Elanna.  I promise."

"I hope so," B'Elanna murmured.

Tom shifted sideways so he was facing her.  "Now you
promise me something."

"What?" B'Elanna asked.

"Next time something's wrong, you'll tell me what's really
bothering you."

B'Elanna met Tom's serious look and nodded silently.  He
turned her hand over in his and rubbed her wrist gently
with his thumb.  She swallowed a little.  It was the
opening she knew she had to take.  She'd never been very
good at apologizing, but he deserved that and more.

"I know," Tom interrupted her softly.  His gaze on her was
direct and astute.  "It's over, B'Elanna.  We resolved
this last night."

"Last night..." B'Elanna shook her head.  After she'd
broken down in tears during their confrontation in
sickbay, Tom had simply held her for ten minutes until
Tuvok had returned.  Soon after Tom and she had left to
return to their quarters, both emotionally numbed and
drained.  The mild relaxant the doctor had administered to
perform the genetic alterations on the baby had finally
hit her system with a vengeance, and she'd practically
stumbled into their quarters.  She barely remembered
undressing and getting into bed, but she knew Tom had done
most of it, practically holding her upright in her
exhaustion, helping her put on her gown, and guiding her
to the bed.  He'd joined her there almost immediately, and
she'd fallen asleep with his arms wrapped around her, and
with his voice murmuring in her ear, urging her to go to
sleep, and telling her that everything was okay.

"We didn't exactly talk last night," she reminded him now.

"We were both exhausted," Tom said.

B'Elanna nodded.  "Thank you."

Tom looked confused.  "For what?"

"For...taking care of me," B'Elanna said softly.  It
wasn't really so hard to say.

Tom smiled a little.  "I didn't mind taking care of you,

She knew that, and she realized it was a nice thing to
know.  "We still haven't finished this--"

"B'Elanna."  Tom squeezed her hand tighter.  "It's over.
We just go on from here."

She knew that wasn't quite good enough.  Tom wouldn't make
her say it for him, but she had to say it for herself.
"I'm sorry, Tom."  She shook her head when he started to
speak.  "I can't just ignore what I did--what I almost
did.  I was...distraught, and maybe part of my
irrationality was because of my biochemical imbalance--"

"It was," Tom said firmly.  "Your judgment was impaired,

"Maybe," B'Elanna said.  The captain had let her off easy
with that excuse, as had the doctor.  And she knew Tom was
willing to do the same.  "Despite that, I did know what I
was doing.  I ignored your feelings and I lied to you, and
I would have--" she broke off that thought.  "I wronged
you, and I am sorry."

"I've wronged you a time or two, B'Elanna," Tom returned

She knew he was being generous.  It wasn't quite the same.
He'd unintentionally hurt her on occasion--they'd both
hurt each other that way--but he'd never deceived her so
deliberately.  "I nearly harmed our baby, and you

"But you didn't harm our baby."

No, she hadn't.  But only because he'd figured out what
was going on soon enough to stop her.  "I need to thank
you for that too," B'Elanna said.  "You stopped me from
doing something I would have regretted forever."

Tom was silent for several moments as their gazes held.
"You're welcome," he finally said softly.  "And I do
understand that weren't trying to harm her.  You were
trying to protect her from the pain you experienced as a
child.  But it really won't be like that for her.  She'll
be as happy here as Naomi is, and as adored."  His lips
quirked.  "I've already got a list of people who've
volunteered to babysit her after she's born.  We just
might have to institute a lottery to deal with it."

B'Elanna smiled.  She knew their daughter would be
accepted, even loved on Voyager.  But they wouldn't be on
Voyager forever.  She said reluctantly, "We will get back
to the Alpha quadrant someday."

Tom shrugged.  "I can't promise that she'll never run into
the kind of narrow-minded people who judge others based on
their appearance or race.  But most people will judge her
for who she is.  She'll also have the support of her
family from Voyager.  And my family--the Parises may have
their faults, but they will love our daughter."  He
smiled.  "They'll be thrilled when they receive my next

B'Elanna hadn't thought about that.  She'd be sending a
letter too.  "So will my mother," she said.  Whatever her
mother's faults, she wouldn't reject her granddaughter.
The rest of her Klingon family would probably welcome her
baby too, if she gave them the opportunity.

"So whether we're here or in the Alpha quadrant, she'll be
surrounded by plenty of family, and friends," Tom said.
"But that's all secondary, because most of all she'll have

B'Elanna was surprised when Tom unexpectedly shifted and
placed a hand on her shoulder, his gaze suddenly intent.
"I meant what I said in sickbay, B'Elanna.  I'm not going
anywhere.  And I'm not your father.  Whatever his reasons,
there wasn't any excuse good enough for walking away from
his own child.  I'm sorrier than I can say that he did
that to you, but I won't do that to our daughter."

His eyes flashed a little, and though he tried to control
it, B'Elanna heard the edge of anger that had crept into
his voice.  "Tom, I didn't mean you would--"

"Yes, you did," Tom said quietly.  "But she's *my*
daughter too.  She's a part of me as much as she's a part
of you.  I won't just love her for awhile and then quit
because it gets too hard."  He gave her a wistful smile
that didn't reach his eyes.  "I know I have my faults, but
I have to admit I hoped you knew me better than that."

B'Elanna saw the hurt in his eyes, and heard it in his
voice.  She looked away and pressed her lips together
tightly for a moment, and the pressure of Tom's hand on
her shoulder decreased, though she doubted he'd even
realized how tightly he was gripping her.

"I shouldn't have said--"

"Yes, you should have."  B'Elanna looked at him.  "You're
right.  I did prejudge you."  She shook her head, angry
with herself for her unfair indictment of him, but wanting
to explain.  "I don't know if you can understand, Tom, but
it wasn't *you* I was really seeing.  It was my father."
She sighed.  "When we first saw our daughter in sickbay it
was like I was looking at myself, and all those memories
I'd buried for years and had tried to forget came to the
surface.  I felt like history was repeating itself all
over again, and I had to stop that from happening.  I know
it was irrational, and it sounds like I'm making

"It was irrational," Tom agreed softly.  "But maybe it was

"I let my past override my judgment, but I do know you
better than that, Tom," B'Elanna said quietly.  "I know
you're not my father.  I had no reason to doubt you."

Tom looked at her for several moments, his expression
pensive.  "Do you remember when you told me that I took
you for granted?"

B'Elanna was surprised by the question, but she did recall
that evening a few months before they were married.  He'd
shown up at her quarters over an hour late, though that
particular time he'd actually been tied up with a helm
problem.  She'd been irritated about several things
including his tardiness, and she'd deflected his attempted
apology by accusing him of taking her for granted.

"You were right," Tom said before she could answer.
"Sometimes I didn't appreciate you as much as I should
have.  I always assumed you'd be there even when I didn't
take our relationship seriously enough, or I got involved
in some project and forgot a date, or I did something else

"You didn't do so many things wrong, Tom," B'Elanna said
softly, because it was true.  And since they'd married he
hadn't taken their relationship lightly at all.  He'd
taken his vows to heart, and had honored his promises to
her.  "Certainly no more than I did," she added ruefully.

Tom nodded and his fingers kneaded her shoulder gently.
"There is another interpretation of that phrase, you know-
-to take someone or something for granted.  It also means
that you trust it to always be there because you know that
it's yours unconditionally, and you don't have to think
about ever losing it.  The way children take their
parent's love for granted, for instance."  He paused and
added, "Or *should* be able to take it for granted."

B'Elanna wasn't sure if Tom's regretful tone was just for
her broken relationship with her father, or as much for
his strained one with his father.

"Our daughter will be able to take my love for granted,
B'Elanna," Tom said earnestly.  "It doesn't matter to me
how beautiful she is, or how successful, or how many
mistakes she makes.  Whoever she is, and whatever she
does, I'll still be there for her.  And she'll always know
that I love her, no matter what."

B'Elanna touched his cheek.  "I know she will."

He shifted on the bed until he was positioned over her,
his hands braced on either side of her.  "I also know I
don't say it enough, but I love you, B'Elanna, and that's
not going to change either.  I hope someday you will trust
me enough to finally take *that* for granted too."

B'Elanna met his solemn gaze and brushed her fingers
lightly along his jaw.  "I do trust you, Tom.  I know
there's a part of me deep inside that still gets beset by
doubt."  She couldn't deny that.  "But it's me, not you.
And I know my progress has been...slow, but I will do
better, if you're still willing to forgive me after what I
did and trust me again."

"I forgive you, B'Elanna," Tom said.  "I've made some
pretty serious misjudgments in my life."  His lips twisted
wryly.  "And I know that fear is a hell of a motivator."

B'Elanna nodded.  "I'm not going to let it control me
again.  And I won't shut you out that way again either.  I
know saying it doesn't mean much--"

"It's enough, B'Elanna," Tom said gently.  "I trust you to
try your best."

She couldn't ask more than that.  If he'd chosen not to
trust her anymore, she would have deserved his doubt far
more than he had deserved hers.

"Now it's my turn to apologize."

B'Elanna looked at Tom, nonplused.  "For what?"

"For the other night," Tom said.  "I should have stayed."

B'Elanna knew he meant the night she'd slept here alone.
The night she hadn't slept at all.  He'd come back to
their quarters earlier in the evening and had asked point
blank if she wanted him to leave, giving her the
opportunity to make the decision.  And she'd said yes.  "I
told you to go," she reminded him.

Tom shook his head.  "I shouldn't have left with things so
unsettled between us.  Especially when I knew how upset
you were."

"It wouldn't have changed anything if you'd stayed, Tom,"
B'Elanna said softly.  She'd been single-minded in her
pursuit by that point.

"Maybe, maybe not," Tom said.  "But from now on, no more
leaving.  Whatever's between us we work it out, even if it
takes all night."

"Okay," B'Elanna agreed.  She stroked the soft hair at the
nape his neck.  "I really hated sleeping alone."

"You won't have to again," Tom assured her.

B'Elanna slipped her arms around Tom's neck and pulled him
down on her.  "I think we were about to start something,"
she murmured right before their lips met.  She kissed him
with relief and happiness, with the whole spectrum of
emotions she felt.  When she let him go again they were
both practically gasping for breath.

"That's a good start," Tom said between deep breaths.
Then he reached down and closed his fingers over the hem
of her nightgown where it was bunched around her thighs
and pulled it upward.  When his hands found her breasts
B'Elanna moaned softly.  Her breasts had been more
sensitive than usual the past couple of weeks, and now she
knew why.  It was one of the physical changes the doctor
had said she'd experience, and this one she liked.

Tom replaced his hands with his mouth, and she felt a rush
of heat spread through her as she closed one hand in his
hair.  It never took much for Tom to arouse her, but the
desire that coursed through her now was more intense than
usual, maybe because of the emotional turmoil they'd been
through together, or because this was the first time

B'Elanna felt something besides the surge of her arousal,
and she stiffened.  Tom felt her tension, and he rose up
immediately and looked down at her.  "What's wrong?"

B'Elanna shook her head and smiled.  "Nothing.  Nothing at
all."  She took Tom's right hand in hers and guided it
down.  Then she pressed his palm to her belly where she'd
felt the movement inside her.

Tom looked at his hand flattened against her skin, and
then at her, his expression bewildered.  "B'Elanna,

Tom's voice trailed off and his eyes widened.  He stared
at her in astonishment as the small, barely perceptible
sensation rippled beneath her skin where his palm was
pressed.  "Is that..."

"The baby," B'Elanna finished for him, smiling again at
his stunned expression.  "She's kicking.  She did it for
the first time in sickbay this afternoon."

"Isn't it a little soon?" Tom asked.  His fingers were
stroking her belly now in gentle motions, as if he was
trying to caress the baby through her skin.

B'Elanna nodded.  "But she is part Klingon."

A small satisfied smile touched Tom's lips.  "Yes, she

B'Elanna felt the baby move inside her again, and Tom's
hand stilled.  The smile on his face widened into one of
pure delight, and she wondered if she'd had that same look
of blissful wonder on her face in sickbay when she'd first
felt the baby kicking.  Then Tom shifted and moved his
hand so he could press a soft kiss to that very spot on
her belly.  And she wondered how she could have doubted,
even in the deepest recesses of her mind, that he would
love his daughter with all his might.  He shifted position
again and kissed her gently on the lips.  "Do you think
she'll mind if her mommy and daddy make love right now?"

B'Elanna's lips quirked.  "She'd better get used to it."

Tom grinned back and moved to kiss her again but she
stopped him.  "Tom..."

He looked at her questioningly.

"I just wanted to tell you that--"

"We're fine, B'Elanna," Tom said before she could finish.
"We're better than fine.  It's in the past now and we're
moving forward, all three of us."  He smiled.  "We have a
lot to look forward to."

She accepted his statement.  Even more, she realized that
she believed it.  But she'd had something else on her
mind.  "I was just going to tell you that I love you."


B'Elanna smiled at the appealingly disconcerted look on
Tom's face, and then she pulled his mouth back down to
hers before he could speak again

They'd made love countless times before and some of those
times it had been gentle, some fierce, some tender, some
reckless.  But this time it was different than ever
before, almost like the first time.  In fact it was the
first time since they'd found out about the baby, since
the course of their lives had been irrevocably altered.
Maybe it was different because they were different,
already changed and made stronger by the trials of the
past few days, and bonded even more deeply by the life
they'd created together.

Whatever the reason, it was very good.

Almost two hours later B'Elanna set down the padd she'd
been reading and looked at her husband.  He was sprawled
on his side facing her, one knee bent and brushing her
thigh, one hand splayed over her abdomen, sound asleep.
They'd made love--twice--then had lounged here, too sated
and comfortable to get out of bed.  Tom had made a brief
effort to read a novel on his padd, but he'd given up and
had settled himself next to her, resting one hand on her
belly, hoping to feel the baby move again.  He'd fallen
asleep that way while she'd kept reading through several
more engineering reports, wanting to catch up after the
interruptions of the past few days.  One thing she didn't
plan to do was let her pregnancy interfere with her job.
She could have a baby and run engineering the same as
ever, and if anyone else doubted that she would set them
straight soon enough.

"Computer, dim lights."

B'Elanna settled a little more comfortably against her
pillow as the computer complied and the room went dark,
being careful not to dislodge Tom's hand.  He didn't
respond at all to her movement, and she smiled.  She
figured that if she slugged him in the arm right now it
wouldn't wake him.  Which was too bad, since she wouldn't
mind making love one more time.  She wasn't very tired,
but last night she'd slept the hard, sound sleep of
complete exhaustion.  She realized that she had no idea
how Tom had slept last night, or if he'd slept after all
she'd put them both through.

B'Elanna placed her hand gently over Tom's, feeling the
warmth of his skin permeate hers, and stared at the dark
ceiling.  The image of her father and of the camping trip,
that had surfaced after so long and had haunted her for
two days, didn't spontaneously appear in her mind.  The
memory was still there inside her, but it wasn't buried
anymore, waiting to pop up like a sneak attack.  Now it
was just another memory--a painful one that would be with
her forever, but one that no longer had the power to
overwhelm her with an insurmountable feeling of despair
and loss.  Instead her thoughts were focused on her own
daughter.  Her daughter, and Tom's....

Though she had known now for over three days, the reality
of her pregnancy hit her squarely once again, as it seemed
apt to do periodically.  There was a small life--a baby--
growing inside her.  She intertwined her fingers with
Tom's so she could touch her fingertips to her belly.  A
thrill went through her, a shiver of excitement and
anticipation at the thought of holding her daughter in her
arms in just a few months.


B'Elanna's voice was no more than a soft whisper
punctuating the silence of the room.

"The doctor thinks you can already benefit from sounds
like music and oration.  He has an enrichment program
planned for you which I'm sorry to say includes him

B'Elanna's lips curved wryly.  She was talking to her
fetus.  Well, why not?  She'd done far more irrational
things over the past couple of days.  Besides, the doctor
might be right.  "If the doctor can sing to you, then I
suppose there's no reason I can't talk to you.  Even if
you can't quite process what I'm saying yet, maybe you can
understand in some sense..."

She sighed.  "I'll just say it right away.  I don't have
any excuse for what I almost did.  I wanted to spare you
the things that happened to me as a child, and the pain I
felt.  I thought I could make your life easier, and
better.  I know I was wrong to make those assumptions.
But I hope if you find out about this some day, you'll
understand why I did it.  I wasn't trying to erase *you*,
or deny you..."

B'Elanna winced on a sharp intake of breath, and closed
her eyes for a moment.  She suddenly remembered the times
she'd accused her mother of wanting to make her a Klingon,
of denying her human side.  She was still angry with her
father for not accepting her or loving her for the person
she was, Klingon, *and* human like him.  They'd both
devalued part of her and had denied her individuality in
their own ways.  And now she'd tried to do the same to her
daughter.  She wasn't any better than her father, or her
mother, or all the people she'd condemned for rejecting
her because she was different, for treating her as less
worthy, for making her feel like a monster...

"I'm sorry," B'Elanna said, her voice breaking a little.
She took a deep, shaky breath.  "Gods, I'm so sorry.
You're not a monster.  You're perfect exactly the way you

She blinked away the moisture in her eyes.  "The doctor
showed me the projection of you again today.  You're going
to be beautiful.  You are."  Her lips curved.  "Your
father thought so from the first second he saw you.  I
heard it in his voice then, and I didn't even pay

B'Elanna curled her fingers into her husband's palm and
his grip tightened reflexively.  "He knew you were already
perfect the way you were.  I doubted him, but he never
doubted you.

"He certainly can't wait to see you.  He's already
planning your nursery, if we can call it that within the
limited confines of our quarters.  Knowing him you'll have
everything you could possibly need, and a lot that you
won't need for that matter."  Her lips quirked.  "He tends
to go overboard that way.  But I didn't marry him for his
practicality.  I married him because he's a good man."

B'Elanna looked at her sleeping husband, his features just
visible in the darkness.  "He's loyal, and honest.  He
doesn't lie to me, and he's never cheated on me.  I know
he never will, because he has too much integrity.  Your
father is..." she searched for the term, then smiled at
the truth of it, "an honorable man."

She snorted with faint amusement.  "Oh, I don't mean to
imply that he's perfect."  She rubbed her knuckles lightly
over her belly.  "*You* may be perfect, but you're parents
certainly aren't.  Your father has his faults.  He
constantly leaves his towel on the bathroom floor, and he
makes a mess with that toaster when he could just use the
replicator.  He's late more often than he's on time, and
he snores even though he insists he doesn't."

B'Elanna glanced at her husband again.  At the moment his
mouth was slightly parted and a low rumbling sound
accompanied his breathing.  Well, at least he wasn't loud
about it.  She smiled a little, and refocused her
attention.  "About those gadgets, like the toaster, your
father has a weakness for them, the more impractical the
better.  Especially if they're from the twentieth century.
I have to just about hit him over the head sometimes to
get his attention when he gets too enthralled with his
gadgets and hobbies.  Not to mention his holoprograms.
And his choice of holoprograms can be a little

B'Elanna smirked.  "Well, maybe not *all* of them.  There
are some I enjoy, but most of those ones I can't really
tell you about."  She cleared her throat slightly.  "But
Captain Proton is definitely not a favorite of mine,
though your father loves it.  I'm sure he, and your Uncle
Harry, will introduce you to that one at their first
opportunity.  And you'll probably love it too."

B'Elanna smiled at the sudden image of her daughter going
on Captain Proton adventures with Tom and Harry.  Well,
what child wouldn't love facing down the melodramatically
evil Doctor Chaotica with her father--Captain Proton
himself--there to protect her?  She glanced at Tom again.
With his face relaxed in sleep he looked like a little
boy.  And that inner little boy was definitely a part of
his personality.

B'Elanna stroked her belly lightly with her fingertips.
"I can guarantee you'll have fun with your father, since
he does understand and appreciate that concept."  He'd
taught her to appreciate it a little more too.  "He
doesn't take much seriously, not on the outside.  He'd
rather dismiss a tense moment with a joke, which can be
annoying sometimes.  But he doesn't take every little
irritation *too* seriously either.  We're different in
that way, but I guess we compliment each other.

"We're different in a lot of ways.  You'll find out your
parents don't agree on a lot of things.  But that doesn't
mean anything.  We argue quite a bit, but we always make
up quickly."  Except recently.  But she didn't ever plan
on repeating the past few days again.  "We've actually
fought less since we've been married, though I guess that
isn't saying much.  It's just the mix of our
personalities.  I have a quick temper, and your father can
be as stubborn as I am..."

B'Elanna paused.  Her own mother's temper and stubbornness
had been unsurpassable, as her father had once noted.  And
she was just like her mother, as her father had also
reminded her.  Unlike Tom, who gave as good as he got, her
father had rarely fired back when her mother had unleashed
her temper.  He'd backed down instead of standing up to
her mother, until he finally backed down for good by
leaving.  He'd had little stomach or passion for asserting
himself, or for living with someone as strong-willed as a
Klingon.  She was finally beginning to understand that her
father had taken the easy way out because he'd been a weak
man, something Tom wasn't.

"You'll probably be as stubborn and strong-willed as your
parents," B'Elanna said, stroking her belly again.  "And
your grandmother."  Her lips curved a little.  "How can
you miss?  But I won't hold it against you, and neither
will your father.  He's not the type to leave just because
things get rough, like my father was.  He's already proven
that.  He's stuck it out through everything I've thrown at

And it had been a lot--all her withdrawals, and her
insecurities, and even her outright rejections.  She'd
given him numerous opportunities to leave for good, from
all but telling him to get out of her life during her
depression, to denying his rights as the father of their
child.  But no matter how much she'd pushed him away, he
always waited her out.  And even though he had his own
tendency to emotionally withdraw, when she'd pressed him
to prove his feelings, he'd asked her to marry him.
Despite everything they'd been through--and everything
they had put each other through--he was still here,
sleeping beside her, refusing to give up on her.  Maybe it
was time she started trusting that constancy he'd shown

"You don't have to worry that you'll ever chase him away,"
B'Elanna said softly.  "And if you make mistakes, he won't
love you any less.  You're father is very forgiving, maybe
because he's made some pretty bad mistakes of his own.  So
have I.  But we've learned from them."  And were still

"I'm sure we'll make more mistakes, especially when it
comes to you.  You are a bit of a surprise to us, but a
wonderful surprise.  I wasn't even sure I wanted to be a
mother..."  B'Elanna shook her head in amazement.  "Now I
can't imagine why I doubted it, even though I'm still a
little scared at the thought.  But I'm looking forward to
it too.  I can't promise that I won't make mistakes--I'll
probably make a lot of them--but I can promise that I'll
love you.  And I'll accept you for who you are, not
Klingon, or human, or one-quarter Klingon, but just

She looked affectionately at her husband.  "You're part of
both of us after all.  You're going to look like me, but
you'll have some of your father in you too.  Maybe his
easygoing nature--"

She paused as the baby picked that moment to deliver a
small kick, and then she chuckled low in her throat.  "Or
not.  Maybe you'll have his heart instead.  Or his sense
of humor.  In any case, you're going to have a good life.
A happy life.  I don't know if or when we'll get back to
the Alpha quadrant, or where we'll end up eventually.  But
whatever happens, you won't be alone.  We'll always be
there with you."  She caressed her belly one more time
with her fingertips.  "And we'll always love you," she
added softly.  "You can take that for granted."

B'Elanna let out a huge yawn, and smiled faintly.  "But
right now I think we both need some sleep.  All three of
us," she added as she kissed her husband lightly on the
forehead and then turned on her side, keeping his hand in
hers.  Her movement stirred him, and he automatically
shifted his position, spooning himself around her back.
She felt his warm, even breath against her hair, and his
arm was draped over her waist, his hand still caught
loosely in hers.

B'Elanna yawned again.  "Goodnight..."

Her voice trailed off, and she realized they'd have to
think of a name for their daughter soon.  Then she
remembered what her mother had called her when she was
small, as she was being tucked into bed, freshly bathed
and ready to go to sleep once her father had read her a
story.  Funny that she'd rarely recalled the endearment
her mother had often used, yet she'd always remembered
every endearment and pet name her father had given her,
even though he'd quit using them long before he left.
Though they'd probably lost their significance to him, his
departure had rendered them in equal parts more cherished
and more painful in her youthful memory.  But now, as she
drifted toward sleep, she was thinking of none of those
hollow endearments of his.

"Goodnight, tIqoywI'," B'Elanna murmured, her voice warm
with affection, and softly slurred with drowsiness.

Moments later she was sound asleep, her hand still over
Tom's, and his hand pressed to her belly where their baby
was safely nestled.


The end.

Author's note:  "tIqoywI'" translates roughly to "my
little heart" in Federation Standard/English.