Title: What Matters
Author: Julie Evans
Series: VOY, "Endgame"
Part: 1/1
Codes: P/T
Rating: PG
Date posted: 5/28/01
Summary: I was disappointed that we didn't get to see Tom when he
saw his daughter for the first time. This is my version of that scene. A
very short vignette, set immediately after the conclusion of "Endgame."

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

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

What Matters
by Julie Evans

Just when she thinks she can stand it no more, it's over.

"Congratulations, Lieutenant, you have a healthy, beautiful little girl!"

B'Elanna falls back on the biobed, trying to catch her breath after that
final push. She's never considered herself particularly susceptible to
pain. Her earlier groans were mostly a method of expression, a way to
relieve the tension inside her. But during the past few minutes, she
meant it wholeheartedly when she screamed.

A loud wail erupts, and B'Elanna raises her head. She can't see her baby
past her raised knees, and at the moment she doesn't have the strength to
move them, but the doctor smiles.

"Your daughter certainly has a healthy set of lungs, Lieutenant. Not that
that's any surprise either."

"I want to see her."

"Just give me one minute to finish cleaning her up, and she'll be all

B'Elanna lets her head fall back again. She feels a little lightheaded, and
not just from the physical exertion. She has a daughter. She's a mother
now, and Tom is a father. He should be here--he wanted so much to be
here, but they'd needed him to fly the ship. He had to keep Voyager
safe, to keep her and their baby safe, and get them all home...

The doctor's voice brings her back to full awareness.

"Little one, I think it's time to introduce you to your mother. We should
also let your father know about your arrival, don't you think? Sickbay to
the bridge."

B'Elanna pushes herself into a sitting position, eager and immediately
impatient as she reaches for her baby. She stares in amazement at the
small swaddled form the doctor places gently in her arms. Her daughter
stares back, eyes wide and barely focusing, tiny hands fisted, fine dark
hair wispy above her faint forehead ridges. Her small red mouth opens
and she lets out a soft gurgle.

"Doctor to Lieutenant Paris. There's someone here who'd like to say

B'Elanna hears the doctor's announcement distractedly, and she knows
Tom is on his way. She brushes her fingers over her daughter's cheek.
It is softer than anything she's ever felt. Her daughter emits another soft
gurgle in response, and waves one fist, her eyes never leaving her

The feeling that hits B'Elanna is like a sucker punch to the gut. It isn't
painful at all, but the power of it steals her breath away. This tiny,
exquisite being came from her, and Tom. They made her. And she is
perfect, in every way.

B'Elanna looks at the doctor, who is beaming delightedly. Her
exhaustion is gone, and she feels exhilarated. It wasn't so bad at all.
She'd willingly go through tens times worse for this moment. Twenty

She smiles down at her daughter again, thoroughly enchanted and
hopelessly in love.

Moments later Tom Paris crashes into sickbay, literally. He smacks one
shoulder into the edge of the door that just slides open as he rushes
through, but he doesn't even notice the sting.

"Well, Lieutenant Paris, that's certainly the quickest you've ever
responded to a summons to sickbay."

Tom barely acknowledges the doctor's dry comment. His eyes are on
B'Elanna, and their baby cradled in her arms. He nearly knocks over the
tray at the end of the bed, but he makes it to his wife's side without
actually destroying anything.

B'Elanna smiles up at him, and it strikes Tom that she looks radiant,
despite the fact that her face is slicked with sweat, and her hair is damp
and matted. He smiles back. He smoothes a hand over her hair, and
kisses her quickly but soundly on the lips. Only then does he look at his
daughter--and his heart leaps immediately into his throat.

She is beautiful. Her deep blue eyes focus on him, and her tiny bow
mouth is slightly open, as if she is about to speak. He touches her silky
dark hair. Then he grazes his fingers gently over her brow ridges and
lets his fingertips rest against her cheek. Her skin is warm and velvety

"Hello, Miral," he says when he can finally speak. His voice is husky
with emotion. "You're gorgeous."

"She does make a good first impression, doesn't she?"

Tom nods at the doctor's pleased observation. He speaks again to his
daughter, "Welcome to Voyager. And welcome to the Alpha quadrant."
He glances at B'Elanna. "Sorry it was a rough ride."

B'Elanna shakes her head. "I barely noticed. I was otherwise occupied."

Her tone is light, and Tom thinks it must not have been too hard on her
after all. Damn, but he'd wanted to be here with her. "You okay?"

"Fine. The doctor was great."

Tom looks at the doctor, who shrugs with his usual easy acceptance of
praise. "Thanks, Doc."

"You're welcome, though it was your wife who did the hard part."

B'Elanna's arms tighten fractionally around their daughter. "Piece of

Tom smiles B'Elanna's protectiveness, and at her choice of words,
echoing one of his frequently used idiomatic phrases. Then he looks at
Miral again. She is staring fixedly at him. He strokes her cheek gently,
and as he does the ship's comm beeps.

"Attention everyone, this is the captain. In case you haven't noticed..."--
there is a hint of dry amusement in Janeway's voice--"we made it
through the transwarp aperture to the other side. I know you're all
feeling a little stunned at the moment. I certainly am. Welcome as this
development is, it happened so fast that it's hard to take in all at once.
But what you're seeing through the windows is true. We're in the Alpha
quadrant, and we're approaching Earth.

"You can relax for awhile yet. When we arrive at Earth we'll be
remaining on Voyager for a day or two, while the ship is examined and
we receive an initial debriefing. But we've waited seven years, so what's
another day or two? It will give us time to pack our things. Then, once
we're given our clearance, we'll all be reunited our families and friends

"In the meantime, enjoy the view, and..."--there is a brief pause, and a
slight catch in Janeway's voice as she finishes--"welcome home."

Tom can't hear the applause, but he is sure it is happening on every deck
of the ship.

"We'll have a lot to pack," B'Elanna murmurs.

And then some, considering everything they've collected for Miral's
arrival. But all that is secondary to Tom right now.

"You won't be doing it anytime soon," the doctor says sternly. "I'm not
releasing you to your quarters this evening. I want to monitor you and
your baby in sickbay overnight."

B'Elanna uncharacteristically doesn't utter a word of protest. She just
continues to smile at Miral.

"I'm staying here too, Doc."

Equally uncharacteristically, the doctor doesn't react to the resolve in
Tom's voice. He simply nods. "I assumed you would, Lieutenant.
Though you'll miss our arrival at Earth. No doubt it will be quite an
experience after seven years, to look upon Earth as we enter orbit, and to
see San Francisco up close again. I wonder if there will be any kind of
celebration to welcome us."

"Our arrival is unexpected, Doc," Tom reminds him. There won't be
time to arrange any fireworks, and though he knows he'll get a warm
welcome from his family--including his father--that expectation isn't
occupying his thoughts at the moment. He watches Miral's eyes close
sleepily as she nestles a little closer to her mother. One of her hands
twitches and he gently presses a fingertip against her open palm. Her
hand closes into a tiny fist over his finger. She has a surprisingly strong

"Besides, right now there's only one thing I want to look at," Tom says
unequivocally. Then he glances at B'Elanna's rapt face. "Two things."

The doctor squeezes Tom's shoulder briefly. "In that case, I'll leave you
three to bond. I'll be back shortly to check on B'Elanna, and on my

Tom nods absently, and the doctor's footsteps retreat. He immediately
settles himself on the bed next to B'Elanna and puts his arm around her
shoulders. "Happy?"

She looks at him, a smile still etched deeply on her face. "Completely.

"Are you kidding? This is hands down the best moment of my life."
And it has absolutely nothing to do with being in the Alpha quadrant;
that's just the side event of the day. It has everything to do with the two
people in this room with him. He doesn't care where he lives--on
Voyager or somewhere planetside, in the Alpha or the Delta quadrant--
or what job he does or position he holds, as long as B'Elanna and Miral
are with him. It has taken him nearly thirty-seven years to figure out
what really matters in his life, but his priorities have never been clearer
than they are right now.

After several moments, B'Elanna shifts next to him, and she gently
transfers Miral into his arms. "Lieutenant Paris, your daughter."

Tom cradles his daughter close to his chest. She is light as a feather.
He's waited so long for this moment, but the waiting has been worth
every second. Holding her feels more wonderful than he could have
imagined. She sleeps on undisturbed as he studies her. She is so like
her mother. He looks up, and Miral's beautiful mother smiles fondly
back at him. He brushes his lips over hers. "I love you."

B'Elanna's smile turns complacent, telling him she knows that very well
indeed. "Me, too," she returns, and then she rests her head on his

Together they watch their daughter as she sleeps. Soon enough the rest
of the universe will come into play, but for this moment nothing exists
except the three of them. Whatever does happen when they have to
acknowledge that universe around them again, and deal with all the
changes this day has brought to their lives, it will still--it will always--be
the three of them.

And that is what matters.


the end.