Disclaimer: Voyager and all her crew belong to Paramount/Viacom. No copyright infringement is intended. No profit will be made, as this story is just for fun.
BíElanna watched Seven thoughtfully, as she ate her dinner. Leaning across to Chakotay, she said quietly, "Is it my imagination or Ms. Borgette changing? Becoming more human?"
Chakotay looked over towards Seven as well. She was sitting with Sue Nicolletti and Joe Carey and they were all talking quite animatedly.
"She does seem to be a little more approachable. The crew certainly seems to think so. Everyoneís quite friendly to her these days. It could have something to do with her new look. She looks softer, more human. The crew donít seem to be so intimidated by her anymore."
BíElanna nodded. "Her attitude isnít quite so formal either. And she was really very nice this morning."
"Yeah. I know I havenít been at work for the past six weeks, but I donít remember her being so thoughtful. She was actually very helpful and even asked me how the twins are."
Chakotay smiled. "Speaking of them, how did you go today? You didnít comm me all afternoon. I was a little surprised."
"I contacted poor Ensign Simmons four times this morning and she sounded a little harassed the last time, so I decided to leave you alone. I knew youíd contact me if you had any trouble."
"I was feeling a little harassed myself at times. Those boys can run you ragged. They both wanted changing or burping or feeding at the same time and neither of them know the meaning of the word patience. Maybe Iíll work it in future that someone stays with me."
BíElanna laughed. They had had a never-ending flood of offers to help with the twins. They had worried at first, knowing that they were both key members of the senior staff, about how they could spend time with the twins and still carry out their duties, but everyone had been eager to help.
They had both decided to delegate a lot of their duties and the Captain had had no objection. The more people that could take responsibility the better, she felt. It could only benefit the ship as a whole.
BíElanna looked up as Tom entered the mess hall. He spoke to Neelix for a few minutes and then went over to the table Seven and the others were sitting at. Whatever he said must have been funny as BíElanna saw both Sue and Joe laugh and to her amazement it almost looked as if Seven was smiling.
She frowned a little as she realized that although Sevenís mouth was only turned up slightly, her eyes shone. Turning away she saw that Chakotay was watching her carefully.
"Are you all right?"
"Of course. Why wouldnít I be?"
"Itís the first time youíve seen him since the twins were born."
"How has he been? He looks all right."
"He pretends a little in front of everyone. Heís still very quiet and withdrawn on the bridge, but Tuvok seems to be helping him."
"He and Seven seem to be getting along all right."
"Yes. Their friendship seems to have strengthened over the past few weeks. Sheís really been there for him. She surprised everyone, even the Captain."
"Iím glad heís had someone to help him through all this," she said casually. "Have you finished? I think itís time we got back to the boys. Ayallaís probably ready to tear his hair out."
"Sure. Iím ready whenever you are," he smiled. The smile didnít reach his eyes, however. They looked troubled.
Seven sat in an observation lounge later that night, thinking. It was here that she had made her first tentative step towards friendship with Tom. The friendship had become important to her. She did not want to lose it. Telling Tom that he had created a child with her, when she was quite sure that he did not even remember being with her, would change everything.
She could not keep this a secret. Her condition would soon become obvious to everybody. She could keep the fatherís identity a secret, but dismissed that idea quickly. She did not feel she could bear the endless speculation. Besides, it would not be fair to the baby or Tom. The baby deserved to know itís father and Tom had the right to know his child.
Seven wondered how Tom would react to the information that he was about to become a father.
A vision of Tom with the child, Naomi Wildman, sprang up before her eyes. Tom would be a good father. She wanted to wait a while before she told him, however. Now was not a good time. He was still struggling to come to terms with the loss of his friend. He still missed Harry immensely. And then there was the whole BíElanna issue.
Tomís sessions with Tuvok seemed to be helping. She didnít want to disrupt anything. No, she would wait a few more weeks, until Tom no longer needed to be counseled. She could wait that long. She stood up and made her way back to her cargo hold. She was tired. It had not been that long since she last regenerated, but felt the need for more.
She pushed aside the small feeling that seemed to be growing in intensity, inside her chest. It was fear, and Seven of Nine, tertiary adjunct of unimatrix zero one, did not give in to fear.
The EMH studied his medical assistant with concern. Tom, unaware of the scrutiny, sat lost in thought. He hadnít touched any of the vials he was supposed to be cataloging for the past fifteen minutes. He had been quiet and troubled for the past few days and the Doctor was beginning to worry. Tom had seemed to be adjusting quite well, with Tuvokís help, and now it seemed he may be suffering a setback.
"Mr. Paris, are you all right?" he asked going over to him.
Tom looked up at him and nodded, his eyes clouded. "I guess so," he mumbled.
"Would you like to talk about it? Thereís obviously something wrong."
Tom shook his head. "Itís the same old - same old. Iíll be all right."
"How are your sessions with Commander Tuvok going?"
"Not so great. Iíd rather not talk about it," Tom answered, his voice low.
"I see. So there is a problem. Would you prefer for me to take over? The Commander is far too emotionless to make a good counselor. He couldnít possibly understand how you feel."
"No, itís not that," Tom said quickly. "Heís really very understanding and easy to talk to. I trust him - but---." Tomís voice trailed off and he sighed.
"I donít understand then whatís wrong."
Tom sighed once more, his face thoroughly miserable. "For the past week heís wanted me to talk about things Iíd rather forget. Things that happened in my childhood. Some of the stuff, I had forgotten. Now itís like it all happened yesterday and itís starting to get to me."
"I understand. Dealing with your painful memories will be difficult."
Tom nodded. "Tuvok says itís necessary for my recovery. I just have to somehow get through it."
"If you need someone to talk to, just as a friend, Iím here."
They both looked up as Seven entered sickbay. "I require assistance."
"What is it?" the Doctor asked, hurrying over.
Seven glared at him, as the urgency in his tone, summoned Tom as well. "I have a headache."
"Is that all?" Tom asked, studying Seven for signs of something more serious.
"Yes," she answered. "Is that not sufficient?"
Tom gave a small laugh. "It was just the way the Doc sounded, I thought it was serious."
The Doctor harrumphed as Seven continued to glare at him. "Iíll handle Sevenís headache. You had better go and see if you can finish the cataloging."
"Okay, if youíre sure you donít need any help." Tom went back to his workbench.
The Doctor led the way over to a biobed, picking up a tricorder on the way. Seven climbed up onto the bed, still glaring at the Doctor.
"Is that really all thatís wrong?" he hissed.
"Yes. Your behavior is unacceptable. Your overreaction will cause Tom to become suspicious," she hissed back.
The Doctor glanced back at Tom, who was busily working, paying them no attention. "I apologize. But he really should be told." As Seven started to shake her head, he continued. "Heís my medical assistant and needs to know. As hard as it is to believe, he can keep a secret, you know."
Tom looked up at the almost shout. "Is everything all right over there?"
"Yes, of course," the Doctor said hurriedly.
"Yes," Seven said, just as quickly.
Tom frowned at both of them.
The Doctor prepared a hypospray for Sevenís headache. "You are showing signs of stress," he whispered, placing the hypospray against her neck.
"I do not become stressed."
"Well, apparently you do now. Have there been any other problems besides the headache?" He tried to keep his voice low.
"I have been tired, only hours after regenerating," Seven admitted.
"Hmmn! Interesting. You may need to regenerate more often."
Seven nodded, stepping down from the biobed.
"If youíd like to come into my office, I have your next lesson in personal development ready," the Doctor said loudly, making his way to his office.
"I do not have time at the moment."
The Doctor stopped in mid-stride and turned around to glare at her. He waggled his eyebrows, trying to send her a silent message. "It wonít take long. You can take the padd away with you and read it later." Seven arched her eyebrow. "Very well."
As soon as the office door closed behind them, Seven spoke. "You wished to speak to me in private? I assume that is what this charade is all about."
"Yes," the Doctor hissed, although there was no way that Tom could now hear them. "You wonít let me tell Mr. Paris and I need to talk to you. I hate to keep reminding you, but time is running out. You seem to think that by ignoring the situation, it will just go away. I can assure you, that that isnít going to happen."
"I realize this, Doctor. The matter is complicated at the moment. I intend to tell the father, but now is not a good time. I will tell him in the next few weeks, before my condition becomes obvious."
"I see. Well, Iím glad youíve made a decision. Do you have any questions regarding the data pads I gave you?"
"No. They were very detailed."
"How is the morning sickness?"
"It is at an acceptable level."
"Good. If thereís anything else you need, let me know."
"Thank you Doctor."
They went back into the other room and were surprised to see Naomi Wildman sitting up on one of the biobeds, while Tom fussed over her.
"Itís all right, " he assured them as they hurried over. "Naomi had a little fall. Just a scraped knee. Sheís fine."
"I thought I should get checked over - just in case," the little girl said seriously.
"That was very - sensible," Seven told her.
"Tom said he was going to give me some more flying lessons. Not in a real shuttle, just the holodeck."
"Really?" Seven arched an eyebrow.
"Uh ah young lady, I said Iíd talk to your Mum and then the Captain, and if theyíre agreeable, I would."
"Theyíll let me though, wonít they?"
"Youíll have to wait and see. Now, where are you supposed to be, anyway?"
"I was going back to my quarters."
"All right. Iíll take you there if you like. Is that okay, Doc?"
The EMH nodded. "Your shift is almost over anyway. No need to return."
"Thanks, Doc." Tom smiled down at Naomi. "How would you like a piggyback?"
"Yes please," Naomi beamed scrambling up to her knees on the biobed. As Tom lifted her up, the little girl leaned over and whispered to Seven loudly, "heís cute, isnít he?"
Tom laughed a little. "Youíre pretty cute yourself."
The Doctor was surprised to see that Seven looked slightly embarrassed. "Mr. Parisís looks are - acceptable."
Tom laughed once more. "Thanks - I think. Youíre not bad yourself. Now come on Naomi, Iíll take you back to your Mum."
The Doctor watched Seven, as her eyes followed Tom from sickbay. Her cheeks were flushed and it almost looked as if she were smiling. The corners of her mouth were turned up slightly, but it was something about her eyes. They shone.
She turned back to see him studying her and flushed even more. "I must go too," she said quickly.
The Doctor stood as if turned to stone, as the implications of what he had just witnessed began to sink in.
Could it be? No! It couldnít! Could it?
Seven was now almost seven weeks pregnant and as the Doctor thought about it, he realized that she must have fallen pregnant around the same day as Ensign Kimís death and the twinís birth. She had spent that night with Tom - at least what was left of it - the Doctor knew that for certain.
He had been worried about Tom, but couldnít leave to check on him. The Captain had been up and about, wandering the ship and called back into sickbay. He had voiced his concern and she had told him that Seven was staying with Tom. She had apparently promised Ensign Kim she would look after him and was taking the promise seriously.
At the time he had felt relieved. But now! He could hardly believe it. Tom had been distraught that night. Surely the last thing on his mind would have been sex. The facts seemed to prove otherwise. Unless of course, Seven had gone to someone else after Ensign Kimís memorial service.
She had been his friend also and may have needed comfort. But, whom would she have gone to? The only people she seemed at all close to back then was the Captain and Tom. It all came back to Tom.
She had seemed flustered just then and the look on her face as she watched him leave sickbay showed there were definite feelings there.
The Doctor sighed. He had known that Seven would not return his feelings for her, so he had not told her how he felt. This was totally unforeseen however.
There was only one way to find out if his assumptions were correct. He would ask Seven - as soon as possible.
Seven looked up from the data padd she was reading, as the EMH walked into the cargo bay. "Iím not disturbing you, am I?" he asked.
"No," Seven answered, putting the data padd down. "You wished to see me?"
"Yes. Iíve been thinking all evening about this and have come to some conclusions. I may be wrong, of course, but I donít think so."
Seven looked at him curiously. "These conclusions are concerning me, I presume."
"Iím fairly certain who the father of your baby is and I----."
"Doctor! That is none of your concern."
"On the contrary, Seven. He has taken advantage of you. You are too naive to realize it. You need someone to watch out for you."
"Thatís enough, Doctor! I have already stated that I was not taken advantage of. I will not continue to repeat myself."
"Seven, Iím not exactly sure what happened, but I can imagine. Mr. Paris - and we are talking about Tom here, arenít we - was distraught the night of the explosion." Sevenís silence and pale face, confirmed his suspicions. "He had had to deal with a lot that night, more than he could handle. You wanted to help him, comfort him."
"Ensign Kim asked me to look after him," Seven said softly.
The Doctor nodded. "You were holding him, comforting him and somehow it turned into something more."
"I lost control," Seven whispered, her head down.
"Of course. Mr. Paris is a very experienced man. He would have known exactly what to do. You would have been putty in his hands." Sevenís head shot up, but the Doctor took no notice. "You know, I should have known right from the start that it was him. He hasnít bothered to keep his contraceptives up to date. He hasnít been with anybody since Lieutenant Torres, and since I once heard Mr. Neelix refer to him as a Ďwalking hormoneí, I doubt he would have had much self-control."
"That is not true," Seven rasped out.
The Doctor shook his head. "You are a very beautiful woman, but also very vulnerable where emotions are concerned. You are still a child yourself, emotionally. He would have told you how much he needed you, and you probably believed that you had to do all that you could, to comfort him. As much as it pains me to tell you this Seven, he seduced you."
"You are wrong. He did not seduce me."
"I was wrong about one thing - yes. I thought Tom had integrity and honor. I was wrong about him. Seven, itís obvious. He saw an opportunity and he took it."
Seven shook her head. "No!"
"Yes Seven. He took advantage of you."
"Shut UP!!!" The Doctor took a step back at the shout. Sevenís eyes flashed furiously, as she stepped right up to him. "Mind your own business! You donít know what youíre talking about. Tom would never do that! NEVER!!!! You know nothing about what happened - nothing."
"Well then tell me. Make me understand."
"I took advantage of him!" Seven yelled.
The Doctor stepped back a little more. "Seven, I know you believe that, but itís not true. You have had no experience in these matters." He tried to sound reasonable. He hadnít expected such a strong reaction. "Perhaps I was a little hard on Tom. I do not believe for a moment, that Tom deliberately set out to seduce you. I saw how upset he was that night. We were all worried about him. Things probably just got out of hand between you."
"NO! It wasnít like that."
"Please Seven, tell me."
"I can not."
"Seven, this isnít like you." The Doctor shook his head, surprised at just how different she had sounded.
Seven looked down at her shaking hands. "You have caused me to become emotional. Leave."
"I apologize for upsetting you. I promise you, that whatever you tell me, will be in the strictest confidence. I think you need to talk about this."
"I took advantage of him."
"You said that before, but I donít believe it. I think youíre a little confused."
"I am not mistaken. I knew he was vulnerable and didnít know what he was doing. However, I did. I knew what was happening the whole time. I wanted it to, so I encouraged him. I did not think of conceiving, however."
"Seven, what are you saying? Tom must have known what he was doing."
"He did not. He was confused, disorientated. Completely overwhelmed by grief. He cried for a long time, with no signs of quietening. I could not console him. I began to stroke his shoulders and back, holding him as he cried. A great feeling of tenderness came over me. I do not truly understand it. I began to kiss his neck, softly at first, and run my hands through his hair. He began to nuzzle me in return. Soon, we were kissing passionately and I took his hand and placed it on my-----."
"Thatís enough Seven. I donít need to hear any more," the Doctor said faintly. "So, youíre telling me that you initiated the encounter?"
Seven nodded. "It was not premeditated. As I told you - I lost control."
"You had feelings for Mr. Paris? How long have you been attracted to him?"
"I am not sure. I do not understand what my feelings are for him. He was the only member of this crew that came to my mind a year ago when the Captain told me to try romance for myself. He was unavailable, so I had to choose somebody else. It was not a successful choice."
"So all this time youíve been trying to initiate something with him?"
"NO!" Seven denied quickly. "Although he and Lieutenant Torres broke up, he is still in love with her. He is still unavailable. I chose to be friends instead. It was a suitable arrangement, until that night."
"But I donít understand. I have noticed nothing different in his manner towards you. What did he say after it was over?"
"He continued to cry. The whole time we were having sexual relations, he cried. I simply cleaned everything up and held him until he finally fell asleep. He awoke a few hours later with no memory of what took place."
"Youíre sure of that?"
"I am positive. If he remembered, he would have mentioned it."
"And you never told him?"
She shook her head. "I believe he would have felt guilty, so thought it best to pretend it had never happened."
The Doctor shook his head in amazement. "Well, heís going to have to be told about it now."
"I will tell him, but now is not the right time. I am not sure how he would cope with the knowledge. He is finding his sessions with Commander Tuvok difficult. I do not wish to add to his troubles."
The Doctor sighed. He had wanted to stay mad at Tom. Blame him for the whole situation, but found he couldnít. "Well, this is a nice little mess."
The weeks passed and still Seven did not tell Tom. The Doctor was her only confidante. She was finding things becoming more and more difficult. She was tired all the time, having to regenerate every twenty four hours, and found it harder and harder to control her emotions. Even worse, she seemed to be hungry all the time, too.
She was now twelve weeks pregnant, and knew she couldnít keep her secret for much longer.
Tom was still seeing Tuvok, although not as often, and seemed to be more at peace with himself. Seven didnít want to do anything to disrupt that.
The Captain was beginning to worry about her, asking her if she was all right. On more than one occasion, Seven had been tempted to confide in her.
That morning, Seven was running late for a duty shift in engineering. She was helping with some new warp core enhancements. She felt flustered. She was never late.
BíElanna looked towards her as she entered engineering. Her hostility towards the ex-Borg had never really abated. She hated working with her, even when circumstances made it necessary, and everyone was aware of it.
"So nice of you to join us," she said scathingly.
"I apologize." Seven avoided eye contact. She did not feel up to having a confrontation with BíElanna that morning.
"You do realize that you are over a half an hour late, while everyone else arrived here early?"
"I will stay later to make up the difference."
This didnít seem to satisfy the chief engineer. "Weíll all be working until weíre finished."
Seven wasnít sure how to respond, so decided to say nothing.
BíElanna was standing there glaring at her, making no attempt to begin work.
Obviously the rest of the engineering crew didnít want to see a confrontation either, as Joe Carey quickly interceded. He thrust a data padd towards her. "Iím glad youíre here. Could you check over some of these figures with me? Weíre having a little bit of trouble with this one area." He launched into technical schematics as he led Seven to a workstation.
Seven felt relieved and quickly set to work, although all through the morning she could feel BíElanna watching her. She found it disturbing.
BíElanna couldnít get her mind off of Seven. She found she was distracted all morning. She could feel her temper rising. The last thing she wanted to think about was the ex-Borg. She wanted to pretend that the woman wasnít there, so this was more than a little frustrating.
She had work to do. A lot of work. ĎConcentrateí, she told herself firmly.
Her gaze once more went to the ex-Borg and she cursed herself fiercely. Turning to Joe Carey, who was working next to her, she sighed. "I need to go over some of these figures. Iíll be in my office if you need me."
Joe nodded. "No worries, Chief."
BíElanna sat behind her desk and put the padd on the table. She gave up all pretense of working. ĎWhy am I so preoccupied with Seven?í she asked herself. ĎI think I need to figure that out, if I have any hope of doing any work today.í By the curious glances that the ex-Borg had sent her way that morning, BíElanna was pretty certain that she was aware of her scrutiny.
BíElanna sat up straight. It was more than a little surprising that Seven hadnít called her on it. She was blunt to the point of rudeness. If someone had been staring at her off and on all morning a few months ago, she would have asked him or her why, in no uncertain terms - even if it was the Captain. She seemed to shy away from confrontations these days.
Seven had changed a lot over the past few months and it wasnít just the new outfit and hairdo, although it did make her look a little softer. Her face seemed rounder these days. A little fuller. So did her figure, come to think of it, although the loose fitting clothes hid her body. BíElanna smiled a little maliciously. Now that the ex-Borg was eating normally, it looked like she may have to watch her weight.
She frowned at herself. Why was she being so nasty? If anything she should be grateful to Seven. She had been very worried about Tom - and guilty. It was the one thing that spoilt her happiness. Life with Chakotay was all sheíd ever wanted and the twins were a dream come true. But Tom was a dark cloud hanging over her.
When Harry had died, and the twins were born, he had needed a friend - desperately. She couldnít be there for him. Could never be there for him again.
But Seven had been. She had helped him to get on with his life. Between her friendship and Tuvokís counseling, Tom was almost his old self. As much as he was ever likely to be, considering all that had happened.
So why was she so down on Seven? She had long ago forgiven her for her Ďstudyí. She and Tom would more than likely still be in the destructive relationship they had shared, if it had not been for that Ďstudyí and the Captainís intervention.
Resigned, BíElanna sighed and picked up the data padd once more. ĎAdmit ití, she told herself. ĎYou donít like her. Youíll never like her. Seeing people be friendly to her - just grates. And watching her become more human - grates also.í
With these thoughts, she pushed the ex-Borg firmly from her mind and settled down to work.
Joe popped his head into her office. "Iím just going to grab some lunch. I wonít be long."
"Thatís all right. Take your time. When you come back, Iíll go." Joe nodded and hurried away while BíElanna went to check on how everything was progressing. She was pleased to see that everything was running smoothly. She was even more pleased to find that she could work right alongside Seven and not become distracted.
Chakotay entered the mess hall and smiled as he saw BíElanna sitting with a group from Engineering, eating her lunch. They were in earnest discussion and his smile widened as he got closer. They were talking excitedly about the warp core adjustments.
"Howís everything going?" he asked, coming up behind her.
BíElanna turned around and smiled up at him. "Great," she answered. "If things keep going smoothly, I should be able to be home early this evening."
"Donít worry, Commander," Sue Nicoletti told him. "Weíll make sure to send the Chief home early."
BíElanna pretended to scowl. "I sometimes wonder whoís really in charge down there."
Chakotay sat down next to her with a laugh, and began eating his lunch. He coughed a little. "This saladís very nice, but I think Neelix got a little carried away with the dressing. Itís quite - tangy."
Sue laughed. "Thatís what the pitcher of water in the middle of the table is for." She passed it over to him. "Of course, you could do what Sevenís done," she indicated Seven, sitting at the end of the table. "She didnít have any dressing. Sheís put honey on it instead."
"Honey? On a salad?" He looked over at Seven, who merely looked back at him and shrugged.
"It is - tasty."
"I canít imagine it myself. I think Iíll stick to the dressing."
"That is your prerogative, but as Tom would say - ĎYou donít know what youíre missing.í"
Everyone laughed, although BíElannaís seemed a little forced, in Chakotayís opinion.
Neelix bustled up just then and placed a bowl in front of Seven. He was beaming. "There you are. Iíve heated it to just the right temperature."
Sue leaned forward and sniffed. "That isnít what I think it is, is it?"
"Leola Root Stew," Neelix confirmed. "Seven asked for it specifically."
"But itís the beginning of the week," Sue objected. "No-one has Leola Root Stew at the beginning of the week. You have all your replicator rations. Leola Root Stew is for the end of the week when things are becoming desperate."
Neelixís smile faded a little, but lighted up again as Seven announced. "I like Leola Root Stew."
"Are you going to eat that, as well as your salad?" BíElanna asked curiously.
Seven nodded. "I am hungry." She began to eat the stew to prove her point.
"Seven has a very good appetite," Neelix said. "Now that sheís adjusted."
"But thereís fruit over there," Sue waved vaguely behind her, grimacing as she watched Seven eat. "You could have some of that, if youíre still hungry."
"I will eat that as well."
"And biscuits," Sue tried again. "Neelix made some really nice biscuits."
Chakotay struggled to keep a straight face.
"I will try some of those too," Seven said solemnly.
"Now?" Neelix squeaked.
Seven nodded. "Is that a problem?"
"No. No, of course not. Itís just that, thatís a lot of food. Um. I mean. Well, are you sure you can eat all that?"
"I believe so." Seven looked around at the table of surprised faces. "It is too much?"
"A little," Chakotay told her, his dimples showing. "I wouldnít worry about it. You just need to learn how to control your appetite."
"You probably should talk to the Doctor about it," BíElanna added, trying to be helpful.
"I will speak to him immediately," Seven said, getting up and leaving quickly.
"You donít have to go right now," BíElanna protested, but Seven was already gone.
"Doctor," Seven demanded as she walked into sickbay. "You must suppress my appetite."
The EMH looked at her in surprise. "I canít do that," he said. "Why? Whatís happened?"
"Crewmembers have begun to notice my increased appetite. I also believe that my increase in weight is beginning to show."
"Seven, youíre twelve weeks pregnant. Itís time to let people know."
"It is none of their business."
"Then, why try to hide it? And it is a certain personís business. I donít understand why you havenít told him. He seems a lot better these days. He even managed to annoy me yesterday."
"I am - concerned about his reaction."
"Heíll handle it. Iím sure of it."
"What if he is angry with me?"
"Seven, are you afraid to tell him?"
"I am afraid of nothing."
"Well, youíre not acting like it. Why are you so concerned about his reaction?"
"He may wish to end our friendship. It has become - important to me."
"I canít see that happening. Tom is a caring, decent man. Seven, you canít put this off any longer. Heís going to find out very soon. It would be better if you told him. The Captain also needs to be informed."
Seven hesitated, looking as if she were about to argue. "Very well," she said instead. "I will do it tonight."
"Good. Now, letís go over a sensible eating plan that is beneficial for both you and the baby."
Captain Janeway looked up from the book she was reading when her door chime sounded. She gave a little sigh. It wasnít often that she had time to herself these days and she had been savoring the time that she had that evening.
Putting the book down, she went to answer the door. Seven was standing there, looking extremely nervous.
"I am sorry to disturb you in your quarters," she began.
"Donít be silly. Come in. Sit down."
"I wish to speak to you, but if I have come at a bad time, I will come back later."
"No. Itís fine. What did you want to talk to me about?"
Seven sat down and licked her lips nervously. Janeway watched her with growing concern. Sitting down next to her on the couch, she patted her arm. "Seven, whatís wrong?"
"I was on my way to speak to Tom, but could not continue. I found myself here instead. The Doctor insists that you have to be informed too. Iíve been putting it off long enough."
She stopped to take a deep breath and Janeway shook her head in confusion. Seven had been speaking so quickly that it had been hard to understand her.
"Putting off informing me about what?"
Seven took another deep breath. "I am pregnant. The baby is due in approximately 28 weeks. I have known for some time, but wished to keep the knowledge private."
Janeway sat back in shock. "Youíre pregnant?"
"I didnít even know you were dating."
"I am not."
"Youíre not? Then I donít understand. You werenít----?"
"I was not attacked, coerced or taken advantage of," Seven put in quickly. "I had what the Doctor described as Ďa one night standí. I did not think of the consequences of my actions at the time."
"Obviously. Oh Seven! Why didnít you come to me? You may have felt ready physically, but emotionally is a whole other issue."
Seven shook her head. "I was not contemplating having sex with anyone. It just happened. I have already had this conversation with the Doctor."
"I see. Have you told the father of your baby?"
"No. I am - afraid."
"Of his reaction. He will blame me."
"Blame you? It takes two here Seven. Heíll have to face up to his responsibilities." She was starting to get angry. Seven may not believe she was taken advantage of, but she obviously had been. Seven wasnít ready for the responsibility of bringing up a child. She was still one herself in many ways. Who the hell could it have been anyway? Seven was never with anyone except Tom these days. She stopped on that thought.
Seven had said she was on her way to speak to Tom. Tom? Surely not! They were friends. Seven had said it was a one-night stand - it had just happened.
It started to make sense now. Of course, it had to be Tom. Their friendship was blossoming into something more. Neither of them was quite ready for a romance, but circumstances had intervened.
She smiled in delight. She couldnít be happier. She had been watching them the past few months thinking what a nice couple they made, but had never dreamed it was more than just friendship.
"Tom wonít blame you," she said softly. Seven looked a little startled. "It is Tom, isnít it?"
Seven nodded. "I did not want to cause him any more problems."
"I understand. Tomís had it pretty rough. But I think this will be good news for him. How do you feel about it?"
"I am uncertain. I have been trying not to think about it."
"Weíre all here to help you, but you need to tell Tom."
"I am scared. I want his friendship."
"You care a great deal about him, donít you?"
"I - I - Yes."
"Seven - believe me. Tom wonít react unfavorably to this. You have to tell him. And straight away."
"I can not."
"I need time to think. I still have a few weeks."
"Iím not so sure that you do. Youíve had plenty of time already."
"I will tell him, but not just yet."
"Will you Seven? Or are you hoping that this will all go away?"
"I need more time," Seven insisted. "This must stay between us for now."
Janeway sighed unhappily.
End Part Five