UNEXPECTED PATHWAYS
By TíPam

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.

Rated PG-15
 

Part Six

"I donít like to interfere in personal relationships. The last time I did that with you, it had disastrous results." Janeway took a deep breath.

"But youíre going to anyway," Tom said quietly.

Janeway nodded. "Yes. I am. Seven is frightened. I donít think she has any intention of telling you herself. She needs support."

"Seven?" Tom looked at the Captain in bewilderment. "What about Seven?" He fidgeted a little in his chair. When the Captain had called him into her ready room at the end of his shift, he hadnít expected to be discussing Seven.

"Sheís pregnant, Tom."

"What? Thatís not possible. Sheís not seeing anyone. Iíd know if she was. She spends the whole of her time either working or regenerating these days. The small amount of time she has to herself, she usually spends with me. What are you trying to tell me? She was raped?"

"No! No, it was completely mutual. Sheís over twelve weeks, Tom."

"Twelve weeks?" Tom thought back. That was when Harry had died. He swallowed.

"Yes, Tom. I see youíve made the connection."

He nodded. Seven could have been seeing or doing anything back then, he was in too much of a mess to notice. Sheíd been there for him though; he remembered that.

"Why did she wait so long to say anything?"

"She wanted to wait until you were a little more stable."

Tom looked at the Captain in surprise. What did he have to do with anything? Seven might need a friend for support, but it didnít really make a lot of sense.

"She was afraid of what your reaction might be," the Captain continued.

"Iíll be there for her; she should know that. Whatever she needs. But I donít understand. She waited all this time to tell anybody because of me?"

"She thought you might be angry. Blame her."

"Blame her? Why the hell would I blame her? I blame whomever it is that took advantage of her. Who was it anyway? Do you know?"

Janeway opened and shut her mouth. "I thought you realized. I thought you made the connection when I told you how far along she was. Itís you Tom. Youíre the father."

"Oh my god!" He felt dizzy suddenly. He opened his mouth to deny the accusation. He had never been intimate with Seven. They were friends. Heíd sure as hell remember doing something like that.

He looked over at the Captain, who was coming towards him, her face full of concern. "Tom?"

A sudden vision flashed before his eyes, of he and Seven in bed together. They were naked and he was sobbing as she kissed him. His vision became more detailed and he groaned in remembrance. So it was true.

He had had dreams of this nature for months now, but when he awoke he couldnít quite remember them. He knew that Seven was in them, and he felt warm and comforted, just like that first morning he had awoken after Harryís death. Seven had been there, telling him that he had needed her. Oh God! What had he done?

"Tom! Talk to me."

He focused again and saw the Captain kneeling in front of him, her hands on his knees, looking up at him with a worried frown.

"She must hate me," he managed to say.

Janeway shook her head. "Of course she doesnít. She explained to me what happened. Things just got out of hand one night between you. I donít know all the details of course, but I can guess. Unfortunately, neither of you were thinking straight. Seven hadnít even thought about contraception and you had forgotten to get your booster."

"And now----."

"Now, youíre going to have a baby. Perhaps not the best start in a relationship. You need to sort a few things out. Seven is petrified. Sheís adopted a head in the sand attitude. I think sheís still hoping it will all go away."

Tom shook his head, trying to think. He cleared his throat. "Iíll do the right thing by her, I promise."

"I know you will, Tom. I never doubted that for a minute."


Tom prowled around the cargo bay, while Seven stood quietly watching him. "Iíll never forgive myself for what Iíve done to you, Seven. Never."

"Tom, please. This is not your fault. I encouraged you. You did not know what you were doing."

"Thatís no excuse. I donít understand why you didnít say something to me about what weíd done."

"It was obvious to me that you had no recollection of the event, so I thought it best to remain silent. Then I discovered I was pregnant and did not want to add to your burdens. I am sorry if I did the wrong thing."

"Youíre sorry? Please Seven; donít ever say youíre sorry to me. You have done nothing to be sorry about. Nothing! Iím the one whoís sorry. Desperately sorry."

Sevenís eyes were troubled. "I do not want you to blame yourself."

"And I donít want you to blame yourself," Tom told her sadly.

"I believe the solution would be to discontinue all blame. It is counter-productive."

Tom gave her a small smile. "You talked me into it. I just want you to know, that Iíll be here for you Seven. Always. Every step of the way. Thatís if you want me to. Iíll do everything I can to help."

"Thank you."

Tom sighed and looking around the cargo bay, swore softly. "I donít know how you can stand it here, Seven. I truly donít. There isnít even a chair to sit on." Tom upturned a couple of crates and gestured for her to join him.

"I do not need chairs. I have the regeneration chamber. That is all I need." She perched delicately on the edge of the crate.

"But you donít even have any privacy in here. With the baby and everything youíll need some proper quarters. Family ones. If youíd like, Iíll have a word with Chakotay tomorrow. Thatís if you donít mind him knowing."

Seven shook her head. "Now that you know, I do not mind who else does."

"Good. Iíll get you some like the Wildmanís. Would you like that?"

Seven nodded. "I do not have any personal items to put in them."

"Donít worry. Iíll help you with that. I didnít have anything either when we were first stranded out here. All my possessions fit into one small duffel bag, and there was plenty of room left over. Iíve managed to collect a few things over the years, and Iím sure you will too. And youíre going to need lots of things for the baby. Iím sure the Captain will help out."

"I am uncertain of what I will need. I do not have any experience with babies."

Tom smiled. "Neither do I. I guess weíre going to learn together. Tell me about the baby. Is it a boy or a girl?"

"I do not know. I have never asked the Doctor."

"Oh?"

"I do know that it is healthy and strong. That is all I have ever wanted the Doctor to tell me."

"Would you like to know?"

"I am not sure. Do you?"

"I guess so. Itís up to you though. Whatever you want to do is fine with me."

Seven thought for a few moments. "I believe I would like to know. I did not ask the Doctor any questions about the baby for fear that it would become real to me and I did not want it to be real."

"I understand," Tom said softly, reaching out and taking her hand in his. "How about we go and see the Doc tomorrow and ask a few questions?"

Seven nodded. "I would like that."


Four Months Later:
 

Captain Janeway took a deep breath before pressing the door chime to Sevenís quarters. ĎGods, Katherine! When you decide to interfere you really go all the way donít you?í she scolded herself. Tomís miserable face haunted her, however.

Seven opened the doors and asked her in.

"How are you feeling?" she asked her.

"Uncomfortable," was the prompt answer. "The baby is very restless today. I am unable to sit for any length of time."

Janeway smiled in sympathy. "Well, itís not for much longer. Thereís only seven weeks to go."

"That is easy for you to say."

The Captain winced. Tom was right. Talking to Seven was like treading on eggshells. "Do you want to tell me whatís wrong?"

"There is nothing wrong. I am merely impatient for this all to be over."

"Tom came to see me today. He told me what happened the other night and the way youíve been acting ever since."

"He told you that he proposed? He wants us to be married."

Janeway nodded. "He told me that you refused and now wonít discuss it."

"You wish to change my mind?"

"No! Thatís your decision. I just thought you might need someone to talk to. Youíre obviously having all sorts of feelings at the moment and are not sure how to deal with them."

Seven sat down with a sigh. "I am confused. I am uncertain if I will be a good mother."

"Seven, Iím sure youíll be a wonderful mother."

"I wish I had your confidence. Have you ever wished to become a mother, Captain?"

"Sometimes. Mark and I discussed it, but I had too many worlds to investigate. Then we were stuck out here. I never really think about it anymore. To tell you the truth Seven, Iíve discovered something since the twins were born. They are cute and adorable and I love them a lot. I look forward to occasionally babysitting them, but I absolutely love the fact that I can hand them back. I am not ultimately responsible for their welfare."

That probably sounded a little strange, she thought to herself. She was ultimately responsible for everyone on this ship. But that was different somehow.

Seven was nodding, as if she understood. She put her hand to her stomach. "This baby is my responsibility. She will be completely dependant on me. It is a frightening concept."

Janeway agreed. "Youíre right, it is, but I really believe youíll be fine. And Tom will be with you every step of the way."

"That is why he believes we should be married. He says it will make things easier."

The Captain patted her hand. "What do you think?"


Seven lay down on the bed, as soon as the Captain left. She was tired, but wanted to think things over. The Doctor had discovered that she now needed to sleep as well as regenerate. In spite of doing both, she still seemed to tire easily. She went over in her mind what had been said three nights before.

She had come out from the bathroom to find Tom smiling at her.

"Iíve been thinking," he had announced. "Why donít we get married?"

"Married?" she had repeated.

"Yeah. It makes a lot of sense you know."

"You do not have to do that."

"I know I donít. I want to. It would make things so much easier. Iíd be here all the time to help you and the baby."

"You do not believe that I will be able to cope adequately," she had accused.

"No, thatís not it. I canít imagine you ever not coping. I just think it would be best. I bet Iíll be spending more time here than in my own quarters anyway. Hell. Iím doing that now."

"But we are not in love."

"Believe me Seven, love isnít all itís cracked up to be," he had replied bitterly. "Weíre friends and we care about each other. We get on great. Thatís much more important in the long run."

"What if you fall in love with someone else, in the future? You will be tied to me."

"Thatís not going to happen," Tom had denied. "Iíll never love anyone the way I did BíElanna."

"I see," she had said softly, not understanding the ache in her heart.

Tom had looked thoughtful and then ashamed. "Iím sorry. I didnít think. Iím being very unfair to you. Just because Iíll never love another, doesnít mean that you wonít fall in love with someone. Iíd really be in the way then, wouldnít I? Would it help if I promised to get out of the way if you wanted to be with somebody else?"

Seven had shaken her head. "That will not happen."

"How can you be so sure?"

"I just - am."

"All right then, what do you say?"

Seven had hesitated. She wasnít sure what to do.

"Seven? It will work, Iím sure of it. Hamiltonís in the room next door. We could swap quarters, Iím sure heíll agree. My quarters are a lot bigger than his. Then we can knock down this wall between us. That way, weíd have three bedrooms - one for each of us - and a pretty decent sized main area, as well."

"You would have your own sleeping quarters?"

"Yeah, I wouldnít expect---. Is that what you thought? No Seven, I promise you. Weíll be friends, living together, bringing up a baby. Weíll be married in name only. I promise."

"You misunderstood me. If we were married I would expect us to share the same sleeping quarters and have a sexual relationship after our baby is born. I am not adverse to the idea. I found our first encounter - quite pleasurable."

Tom had turned red and looked a little flustered. "I donít really remember. That was a mistake and I promise Iíll never put you through it again."

Seven had opened her mouth to tell him that she meant what she had said, when the thought occurred to her that Tom obviously did not desire her in that way. Would never desire her in that way. He wanted BíElanna - no one else.

So she had said - no. It was not a good idea. There was no need for them to marry.

Tom had been disappointed and tried to talk to her about her decision. She had refused.

And now the Captain had made her reconsider. She had told her that it was her decision. That Tom would get over it. She sat up guiltily. Why should Tom have to get over it? Hadnít he been through enough? This was all her fault after all. Didnít she owe it to him? Didnít she have to make it up to him somehow? To make him happy?

The memory of them together that night, flashed through her mind. The shame. The shame of what she had done. She could tell no one. Ever. Not even the Doctor, who knew everything else. The real reason for all her guilt.

Tom had been sobbing - inconsolable as she held him. She had been overcome and started kissing him. His face, his neck - his ears. He had responded and began nibbling at the nape of her neck, murmuring over and over again. She had not understood him at first. His breathing had been ragged and his voice nothing more than a whisper.

Finally, what he was murmuring had penetrated. "I need you BíElanna. I need you so much."

She had hesitated, willing herself to say the words. "I am not BíElanna." Thatís all it would have taken, to stop what had happened. She was sure.

Instead, she had let him pull her against him once more. "I love you BíElanna. I love you so much. Please love me. Please!"

And she had whispered. "I do love you." Taking his hand, she had placed it on her breast and given in to the feelings that engulfed her.


Tom sat down at the table, across from Seven. They were in her quarters, as she had invited him there for dinner. "Iím glad youíre not mad at me anymore."

"The Captain came to see me last night. She made me realize that I have a lot of insecurities and doubts. I am frightened of many things."

"I know youíre worried about being a mother. Iím kind of worried about what sort of father Iíll turn out to be, too. I just want to help you. However I can. Iím sorry if I upset you by proposing."

"On the contrary. I have reconsidered your proposal."

"You have? You mean you want to get married after all?"

"I am not sure. I believe we should try living together first. A trial, so to speak. To ensure that we are compatible."

"You want me to move in?"

"Yes. If you still wish to marry me after the baby is born and things have settled down, then I believe we should."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes."

"Well, weíll have to get the Captainís permission."

"That has already been granted. It was her suggestion."

"It was?"

Seven nodded. "You may sleep in the babyís room for now. She will not be needing it for a while yet. I do not want to convert these quarters into larger ones, until we are certain we will marry. It would not be fair to Mr. Hamilton."

"Okay," Tom smiled. "I guess youíre right."


Chakotay watched with a worried frown as BíElanna paced angrily around the room. Although she had much more control over her emotions than she used to, she still had trouble sometimes keeping her temper in check. This was obviously one of those times.

"The whole thing is a sham. You know that as well as I do. You shouldnít have let him."

"Let him? How could I stop him? The Captain sanctioned the whole thing."

"Why the hell canít she mind her own business?"

Chakotay took a deep breath, trying to control his own temper now. "May I just point out that this is none of your business, either?"

"Of course itís my business. He doesnít love her. Sheís tricked him right from the start. Kahless! Heís always been too softhearted. Now look whatís happened."

"BíElanna, itís between the two of them. We donít know what happened. Oh, I know what you think happened. Youíve been spouting off about it for the past four months. But you donít know anything. And I repeat, itís none of your business." He could feel himself beginning to seethe.

"And I repeat, it is my business."

"Why? If everyone else on this ship can wish them well, why canít you?"

"Because no one else realizes what she did. I know she took advantage of him. I just know it. Now sheís got him moving in with her. Pretty soon theyíll be getting married."

"And is that such a bad thing?"

"Yes. He doesnít love her, Chakotay. He feels guilty and responsible."

"How do you know how he feels? Has he spoken to you?"

"No, of course not. He barely says hello to me anymore. But I know him. I know him as well as I know myself."

Chakotay shook his head, not knowing whether to be angry or sad. "You still have feelings for him," he said quietly. Heíd known it all along of course, but it still hurt.

"Iíll always care about him Chakotay. You know that. I hate seeing him hurt, and thatís whatís going to happen. Donít ask me how I know, I can just feel it."

"What about Seven? She genuinely cares about him. I donít care what your feelings tell you. I can see it in her eyes."

"I know that. This was the only way that she could get him though. She knew she didnít have a chance in hell otherwise. If you can see how she feels in her eyes, then you should also be able to see that Tom still loves me. Most of this god-damned ship can see it."

"I know that too," Chakotay could feel his own anger building now and he made no attempt to rein it in. "You know what I think? I think youíre jealous."

"Thatís not true. Why would I be jealous? I have you and the twins. I donít love Tom. You know that. I care about him, but I donít love him."

"This is all to do with your own self-image. You like the idea of having Tom still in love with you. Watching you and wishing for what can never be. It feeds your ego. And now Seven might be able to take that away from you. If it had been anyone else, you may have been able to handle it, but not Seven. Thereís always been some sort of rivalry between you."

BíElanna stood in shock, her eyes filling with tears. "Is that what you think of me? You really think I get a kick out of seeing Tom so miserable? You really think Iíd be so petty?"

"I donít know what to think anymore. Iím sorry. I shouldnít have said that."

"No, you shouldnít have. But youíre right about one thing. I donít like Seven. Iíve never liked her and I donít think I ever will. I want Tom to be happy, though - more than anything. I want him to be as happy as I am now, with you and the twins. It might alleviate some of the guilt I feel over him. I donít know. I just donít think thatís going to happen with Seven."

Chakotay sighed. "I want Tom to be happy too, BíElanna. Youíre not the only one who has feelings of guilt regarding him." He went over and pulled her into his arms. She came, unresisting, her head resting on his shoulder. "Theyíre about to become parents. A little girl. I can already picture her. Who knows? She may be all that Tom needs."

BíElanna nodded, hugging him tightly. "I hope youíre right, Chakotay. I truly do."


Five Months Later:
 

Captain Janeway looked down at the gurgling infant in her arms and smiled in delight. She was a beautiful baby. At three months of age, she was happy and contented and Kathryn loved her with all her heart. She was the granddaughter that she could never physically have and she promised herself that she would always be there for her.

She told herself that she shouldnít play favorites. The twins were also adorable, happy babies and Naomi was an absolute treasure, but that didnít stop her from feeling the way she did. This was the child of her two protégés. She wasnít sure if protégé was the right way to describe either Tom or Seven. She wasnít sure how to classify her relationship with the two of them.

Seven was almost like a daughter to her. She had brought her back to humanity and Seven relied on her guidance. And Tom. Tom was the little brother sheíd always envisioned, but never had. His father had been a second father to her and although they rarely spoke of him, he was there, binding them together.

She cooed at the baby in her arms and cuddled her closer. She was sure that no grandparent could love a grandchild more than she did this one. She laughed as she remembered Tom teasing her and calling her ĎGranny Kat,í a few weeks ago.

She had ordered him to go and clean the jeffries tubes - with a toothbrush. He had merely laughed and rolled his eyes. He was so happy these days; it was a joy to be near him. And Seven. Seven had found the last few weeks of her pregnancy difficult. She had been terrified of her impending motherhood. Tom had been infinitely patient and reassuring, although underneath he had been worried sick about Seven. He had often come to see her, to voice his concerns. She had been pleased that he felt able to talk to her.

The actual birth had been relatively easy. The Doctor deciding to do a caesarean.

And then little Isabelle Kathryn Paris had entered the world.

They had named her Isabelle, in deference to Harry. He had often spoke to Tom of his dreams of settling down with the right girl and getting married. They would have two children. A boy and a girl. The boy would be named after Tom and the girl would be called Isabelle. Why Isabelle, Harry had never really explained. He had merely shrugged and said he liked the name.

If Seven had found the last weeks of her pregnancy difficult it was nothing to what she went through after Isabelle was born. She had been petrified of doing the wrong thing. Worried whenever she picked the baby up that she would drop her.

Tom had taken over everything - the bathing, changing and feeding of the baby and looking after Seven as well. Although he had had no experience with babies either, it all seemed to be natural to him. He had shown Seven what to do, time and time again. He was always patient and understanding. Seven began to slowly build confidence around the baby.

The Captain had given him a few weeks off from work and by the time he had to go back on duty, Seven seemed to be coping well.

It had been only three hours later when Janeway, sitting in her ready room, had received a call from Seven, asking for help. She had rushed to her quarters, wondering whether she should have called Tom and deciding to see what was wrong first.

She could hear Isabelle screaming before she even reached the doors. Seven had let her in, looking more disheveled and distraught than Janeway could ever remember seeing her. "I can not make her stop crying. I have done everything I can think of. I did not want to call Tom away from the bridge, but I donít know what to do."

Janeway had taken the screaming infant from her, not really knowing what to do herself. She had rubbed her back making little soothing noises, but it hadnít seemed to help. "I think we should get her to sickbay. There may be something wrong."

Seven had nodded and led the way out.

When they had entered the turbolift, BíElanna had been standing there, looking a little surprised. "Um, Hi!" she had said, clearly uncomfortable. Isabelle had continued to scream. "Whatís wrong with her?" BíElanna had to shout to be heard.

"We donít know," Janeway had shouted back. "Weíre on our way to sickbay."

"May I?" BíElanna then asked, holding out her arms.

Janeway had looked towards Seven who had nodded, running her hands through her hair. She then handed Isabelle over and BíElanna had started to rock her. The screams had continued.

BíElanna hadnít seemed to be perturbed. She had adjusted the position of the baby, so that she was now facing away from her and formed a small ĎCí in her arms. She continued to pat her back soothingly and by the time the turbolift had stopped, Isabelleís shrieks had lessened to small wails.

"How did you do that?" Janeway had asked as they made their way down the corridor to sickbay.

"Practice. The twins had a lot of colic. Itís pretty scary the first few times. The Doc should be able to give you something for it."

She had handed Isabelle back to Seven at that point, and stopped in front of the sickbay doors. "Sheís a lovely baby," she had said sincerely. "You do know you can ask me for help if you need it, donít you?"

Seven had looked at her for a few moments. "Thank you."

BíElanna had smiled at them both, before leaving, and they had gone into sickbay.

That had been the start of a new relationship between BíElanna and Seven. They were not friends, far from it, but BíElanna no longer felt the hostility towards Seven that she had always felt. Seeing her so disheveled and completely panicked, had made BíElanna look at Seven in a kinder, more understanding light. She had begun to hope that Tom and Seven could make a go of it after all.

Janeway looked down at the baby in her arms once more and realized that she had gone to sleep. Walking carefully over to the crib, she placed Isabelle in it gently, and tucked her in. She knew that Seven and Tom would be back shortly. They never left the baby for long.

The past year had seen many changes, she thought to herself. The Delaney twins both marrying had been a surprise and all of this with Seven and Tom. She sat down once more and picked up the knitting she had abandoned when Isabelle had demanded to be fed. She was making Isabelle a matinee jacket, the pattern being a little difficult but very pretty. Tom had rolled his eyes at her as she came in with her knitting bag and pulled out the pink bundle of wool. "I think sheíll look adorable in this," she had said.

Seven had smiled - a proper smile - and Tom had laughed softly. "And you said you didnít want to be called ĎGranny Katí."

She had poked him with a knitting needle and he had rubbed his arm, laughing all the more.

"I will be ĎAunty Katí or ĎAunt Katí, nothing else. Is that clear?"

"Yes Maíam."

She smiled again as she thought of his cheeky smile. He had had a bad week the week before. It had been exactly one year since Harryís death and the birth of the twins. He had been quiet and subdued, but had spoken to Tuvok and that had seemed to help. Seven had helped him through the difficult anniversary.

Now he seemed to be his old self. Happy and contented. And tonight he had special plans for Seven. He intended to ask her to marry him once more.

Kathryn hoped fervently that she would say yes, this time. They were so good together.


Tom looked across at Seven and waited for her answer.

"We do not love each other," she said finally.

"We care about each other. We get along great. I think these last months have shown that we can live together without any hassles. Weíve both had our problems during that time and always been there for each other. I think it proves that we need each other. I want to do the right thing, Seven. I want Isabelle to have a proper family. I know this isnít the ideal setting to bring up a child, but I want to do the best that we can."

"If this is what you still wish, I did say that we would marry after things had settled down."

"So, you will?"

"Yes. It is time Isabelle had her own room."

Tom laughed. "Now thatís a sensible reason, if ever Iíve heard one. I hope sheíll be comfortable in there. Itís no bigger than a walk-in closet. I should know."

"That is an exaggeration. You managed to fit your bed and a chest of drawers in there."

"Just," Tom said with a wry smile. "Hamilton will be pleased. Heís been longing for my old quarters. When did you want to do it? Get married, I mean. Not rip out the wall."

"As soon as possible."


"May I interrupt?"

Captain Janeway looked up from the padd she was working on and smiled as Seven sat down across from her. "Actually, Iím working on your marriage ceremony. I want everything to be perfect."

"That is what I wished to discuss with you."

"Of course. You want to change some of the arrangements?"

"No. The arrangements you have made are acceptable. I wish to ask your advice." Seven glanced around the busy mess hall. "Perhaps we could speak somewhere a little less noisy."

Janeway nodded and led the way out of the room and into a small observation lounge not far away. "This is a little better. What did you want to talk to me about?"

"I am wondering if we are doing the right thing."

The Captain felt a little confused. "The right thing? About what?"

"The marriage. I am not certain that it is the best thing to do under the circumstances."

"What do you mean?" She pushed aside the disappointment that washed over her. She wanted Tom and Seven to be together more than anything.

"We do not love each other."

"But you care about each other. I see the way you look at him."

"Perhaps, but I believe that it may not be enough. The Doctor has told me---."

"The Doctor?" Janeway interrupted. "I hope you havenít been asking him for advice."

"He offered it, whether I wanted it or not, but he did raise some valid points."

Janeway found herself snorting. She wondered if the Doctor had been trying to deliberately sabotage the upcoming wedding. She believed he may want Seven for himself, and although she had no objections to allowing him to fully explore his humanity, this was taking things too far. She determined to go and have a little talk with him after undoing whatever damage he may have done.

"The Doctor does not fully understand relationships yet. Heís the last person you should be listening to."

"I see. So you believe that a marriage based on friendship will endure throughout the years?"

"I believe that friendship is a very important part of marriage. Mark and I were friends long before we fell in love and became engaged."

"But Tom will not fall in love again. He has been hurt too badly."

"Thatís what he says now, but in time, he will."

"And if he does, he will be tied to me."

"What makes you think it wonít be you he falls in love with?"

"I - I do not believe it would be possible."

"Believe it. I think heís already halfway there."

"You do?"

"Yes, I really do. When you both decided to get married, for Isabelleís sake, you made the right decision. Youíre just having pre-wedding jitters now. All brides-to-be get them, apparently."

"So, these doubts I am having are normal?"

Janeway nodded. "Completely. Donít worry, youíre doing the right thing."


"So, if you truly care about her youíll stop trying to confuse her." The Captain watched the Doctor as she spoke. She was compassionate yet firm and the Doctor seemed to be considering what she had said.

"I do care about her Captain. I did not mean to make things difficult for her. I just thought she should--."

"I know why you did it Doctor," Janeway interrupted. "I think Sevenís very lucky to have you for a friend, but this is right for her. Itís right for all of them. I just know that theyíll be very happy together."

"I hope youíre right Captain. I canít help feeling a little worried."

"Of course, thatís only natural. You feel for Seven as I do. Almost as if she were your own daughter." She saw the Doctor flinch a little, but pushed any guilty feelings aside. "Itís perfectly normal to worry, but we have to let go. And I couldnít be happier that Seven and Tom are together. Surely youíve seen the way she looks at him? And heís such a good man."

"I have noticed that - yes. But ---." The Doctor gave a huge sigh. "You are right Captain. I must not interfere."

"Thank you Doctor. Seven feels very close to you and would like you to give her away. How would you feel about that?"

"I - would be honored," the Doctor answered huskily.

"Good, Iíll tell her."

Tom entered the sickbay at this moment and looked a little surprised to see the Captain. "Oh, hi Captain. Doc. Iím here for my duty shift."

"Yes - good," the Doctor answered a little distractedly. "Iíll leave you to it. I have the holodeck booked. Call me if you need me." He quickly left and Janeway watched him go, the feelings of guilt intensifying. She turned to see Tom staring at the doors, a slight frown on his face.

"Is he all right?"

She nodded. "Heís a little emotional at the moment. I asked him if he would give Seven away. He said he would be honored."

"Poor Doc." Tom gave a small sigh.

"What do you mean?"

"He cares about Seven. I feel kind of bad about it."

She felt a little alarmed. So he knew about that. Of course, he would. He worked alongside the Doctor. "I see. I didnít realize you knew."

Tom nodded. "He denied it of course, but I could tell. That was a long time ago though and I was hoping he was over it."

"I think he is. He cares about her more as a daughter now."

"You think?"

"Yes. We were just discussing that as you came in, actually."

"Well, thatís good. But Captain, can I talk to you for a minute?"

"Of course." Her alarm increased.

"Am I doing the right thing? Should I be marrying Seven? Itís not really fair to her. I may be stopping her from having a real chance of happiness with someone who can really love her."

Janeway felt her heart sink. Not now. They were so close. She knew that once they were married, they would be so happy. They were perfect together. Why couldnít they see it for themselves? In her heart she knew that Seven was in love with Tom.

She couldnít believe that Tom hadnít realized. He was usually very attuned to other peopleís feelings. And she also knew that he had very deep feelings for Seven. All right, perhaps it was not love - but one day it would be. She was sure of it.

"Have you spoken to Seven about this?"

Tom nodded. "She says that she understands my feelings and sheís sure sheíll be happy with me."

"Well then, that should be your answer. And donít forget, Tom, you have got Isabelle to consider."

"I know that Captain. But I can do the right thing by Isabelle, the way Seven and I are now. Getting married isnít going to change any of that."

"Tom, Iím disappointed in you. Living with Seven with no commitment would be the unfair thing to do and Isabelle needs to be brought up in a stable environment. I never thought Iíd have to lecture you on what the right thing to do was." She hoped sheíd gotten her point across.

"Iím sorry, Captain. Youíre right of course. I donít know why Iím having these doubts."

"Itís all right. Youíre just having a case of pre-wedding nerves. Believe me, youíre doing the right thing."
 

End Part Six