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 Seven

And so it was that one week later, Seven and Tom stood in front of Captain Janeway and exchanged wedding vows. Tuvok stood next to Tom as his best man and little Naomi Wildman stood next to Seven as her bridesmaid. The little girl had been so excited that she could hardly stand still, hoping from one foot to the other through the whole ceremony.

The Doctor gave the bride away and he stood behind them now, beaming like a proud father. He could not understand why - since he was not programmed to shed tears - his eyes kept blurring and his throat had a lump in it.

The Captain seemed to be in the same state as he was and he beamed even more. His holomatrix was adjusting all the time.

The Doctor watched Tom give Seven a rather chaste kiss on the cheek as the Captain announced, "You may kiss the bride," and sniffed in disapproval. No matter what the Captain said, Seven deserved more than this one-sided love affair. And that she was in love with Tom was clearly evident - to the Doctor at least. She may seem remote and detached but the love shone clearly in her eyes. He didnít think that Seven realized this, however.

The Doctor sighed as everyone congratulated the newly married couple warmly. Tom cared a great deal for Seven, he knew that, but he did not love her. Seven had told him that herself. When he had tried to explain to her how important love was, sheíd merely repeated what Tom had said.

And then the Captain had stepped in and he had promised to say no more to Seven on the subject. He had spoken to Tom instead, but Tom had shaken his head. "Iíll never love like that again, Doc. Itís too painful. Seven and I have a great friendship, where we genuinely care about each other. Thatís much more important than love."

"And what if one of you falls in love with someone else, in the years to come?"

"I never will, Doc. And Seven sounded pretty sure too. If she does though, I promised her I would step back and let her be with him. Iíd never stand in the way of her happiness."

"How very civilized," the Doctor had snapped.

Tom had just shrugged. "You might not like it, Doc, but the arrangement suits us."

The Doctor looked at the happy smiles on both of their faces and sighed once more. Yes, the arrangement certainly seemed to suit them - for now.


"This room is too small," Seven announced, as she watched him tuck little Isabelle into her cot.

"It is kind of small," Tom agreed. "But after all sheís just a baby. She doesnít need a lot of room."

"I disagree. As she grows older she will need more space."

"Well, Iím sure we can work something out when we need to."

"I believe we should make our plans now."

"Now?"

"Yes."

"Geez Seven. Weíve been married for exactly four hours. Why do I already feel henpecked?"

"Henpecking is irrelevant. You will comply."

Tom turned around to look at her and laughed out loud, as her eyes twinkled mischievously. "Resistance is futile?"

Seven nodded and went over to give Isabelle a kiss goodnight. Turning, she walked out into the main room and Tom, after giving Isabelle one last kiss, followed her.

"We need to discuss our sleeping arrangements," Seven announced, sitting down on the couch.

Tom felt the smile leave his face. "I thought that was all arranged. Youíre sleeping where you always have and Iím sleeping over there in the new bedroom."

"That will not suffice."

"It wonít?"

"I believe that Isabelle should have the new bedroom. That way we could enlarge our sleeping quarters by combining the two existing bedrooms."

"Our sleeping quarters?"

"We are now married. Married couples sleep together. Is this not so?"

He sat down next to her. "Well - yes. But we talked about this. I told you I didnít expect you to sleep with me."

"And I told you I would not be adverse to having a sexual relationship with you. I found our last encounter enjoyable."

Tom felt himself redden. "I - I donít know Seven."

"I have embarrassed you with my bluntness."

"N-No," he protested. He reddened even more.

"But you are uncomfortable with this conversation."

"Yes I am, I guess."

"But we are now married. There should be no embarrassment between us."

Tom gave a small smile. "Not that Iím speaking from experience here, but married couples can still be embarrassed around each other."

Seven sighed. "I still have much to learn." There was a small silence. "I apologize for causing you to feel uncomfortable."

"I guess you just took me by surprise."

"I feel it is important that we discuss this. It is the first night of our marriage. You do not wish to share sleeping quarters, and have a sexual relationship with me?"

"I donít feel right about it."

"I understand. You do not find me desirable."

"No! Of course I find you desirable. Iíd have to be crazy not to. I just feel Iíd be taking advantage of you."

"It would not be taking advantage, if I desire it."

"I suppose so, but I really donít know if itís a good idea."

"Perhaps we could share the sleeping quarters, but not have intimate relations."

"I donít think thatís going to work," Tom mumbled.

"Very well. We will sleep as you suggested. When Isabelle becomes a little older, we will enquire about enlarging her room." She stood up abruptly and started tidying their quarters.

Tom nodded in relief, but then felt guilty as he realized that Seven looked hurt. He had thought she understood that their marriage would be purely platonic, but they had not actually discussed it. He remembered her saying much the same thing as she had tonight, back when heíd first proposed. He had made it clear then, that he did not expect sex from her.

She continued tidying the room, her back to him now and he sat up suddenly, as it finally dawned on him. He might not expect sex from Seven, but she did expect it from him. And why shouldnít she, he asked himself. She was obviously curious, ready to explore her sexuality and she trusted him. She had already stated that she had enjoyed their first time. He wished that it were more than just a blur to him.

He stood up quickly and went over to her, placing his hands on her shoulders and turning her around to face him. "Seven, Iím sorry. I was so busy ensuring I didnít take advantage of this whole situation that I wasnít really listening to you. To what you wanted." He watched her face carefully. "Do you really desire an intimate relationship with me, or do you just think thatís what is required, now that weíre married?"

Seven sighed in exasperation. "Have I not made my feelings clear? It is humiliating to have to keep repeating myself."

Tom kissed her softly. "Iím sorry," he whispered. "Sometimes I can be a little thick headed."

"I concur," Seven answered, kissing him in return.


Six Months later:
 

Captain Janeway smiled a trifle smugly as she watched her two protégés laughing together while they ate their dinner in the mess hall. Isabelle sat in her highchair next to them, gurgling happily.

Tuvok, who had joined her for dinner, raised his eyebrow. "You are looking exceedingly pleased with yourself," he remarked.

She looked over at him and nodded. "I did the right thing, Tuvok. It just makes me feel so good to have it confirmed."

"The right thing?" Tuvokís eyebrow rose even higher.

She indicated Tom and Seven, who were now in a deep discussion with Neelix. "Theyíre so happy together. I knew they would be. They just needed a little push in the right direction."

"I see. And you performed this push?"

"No. Not really. They were both just having cold feet about the wedding. I think they were both ready to cancel it."

"And you stopped them from doing this?"

"They asked me for advice. I gave it. Why? Whatís the matter? You sound a little disapproving."

"I merely believe that if two people are meant to be together, then they will be together. You may have pushed them into something they were not ready for."

"Does it look like theyíre unhappy? Does it look like they werenít ready? Seven is blossoming. And Tom hasnít looked so carefree since before he and - - -. Well for years, anyway."

"I am gratified to see how well they are fairing, but interference - even with the best of intentions - can have disastrous results."

"Tuvok, I did not interfere. I merely gave advice that I was asked for, I might add. I donít interfere in the personal lives of my crew. Except for that one time with Tom, when I assumed that BíElanna was abusing him."

Tuvok nodded. "That was understandable given the circumstances. I believe it was a necessary interference."

"Thatís right. Any other time Iíve given advice itís because theyíve asked me. All right, Seven didnít exactly ask me to tell Tom about the pregnancy, but I know deep down thatís what she wanted me to do. I donít think she was ever going to tell him herself. And I did suggest to her that they live together, when she was being so stubborn about getting married." She hesitated slightly. "But I know that she wanted to be with him - and he wanted so badly to do the right thing by her."

She thought about what she had done when they had both come to her with their doubts about the marriage and cringed internally. "Youíre right, I did interfere. But I just knew, right from the start, how good they could be together. I never had that feeling when Tom was with BíElanna. I could feel it between Chakotay and BíElanna and Jenny Delaney and Michael Jacobs for that matter. And look at those two now. Theyíre baby is due in less than a month."

"But you did not interfere between the two couples you have mentioned."

"No, youíre right. I didnít. I let nature take its course." She sighed. "I guess Iím lucky that things turned out so well for Tom and Seven."

"I believe that it may be too soon to judge."

"Of course itís not. Look at them. Twelve months ago, Seven wouldnít even smile in public and now look at her. Their marriage is obviously a happy one."

"There is a very large potential for unhappiness there, however. Sevenís obvious feelings for Mr. Paris may lead to heartbreak."

"No Tuvok, youíre definitely wrong there. I think Tomís beginning to fall in love with Seven as well."

"He told you this?" Tuvok sounded highly surprised.

"Well no, but itís obvious. Look at the way he looks at her."

"I see warmth and caring and tenderness. I do not see love."

Janeway laughed. "Thatís the beginnings of love, Tuvok."

Tuvok shook his head. "Mr. Paris is still in love with Lieutenant Torres."

She shook her head fiercely. "Did he tell you that?"

"I cannot betray what we discussed during his counseling sessions, but suffice to say he would not discuss Lieutenant Torres at all. It was difficult to even get him to speak of his feelings regarding Commander Chakotay."

"But thatís all sorted out now. He seems fine around Chakotay these days."

"That is because we worked through his feelings. His feelings are still unresolved toward Lieutenant Torres."

"And thatís why you think heís still in love with her?"

"That is one of the reasons, yes. Another is my own power of observation."

"No Tuvok, youíre wrong. Heís over her now."

Tuvok said nothing and she quickly finished eating. Her good mood was gone now. She looked back over to the table where Tom and Seven were sitting and saw that Chakotay and BíElanna had entered the mess hall, each carrying a twin. Isabelle immediately cooed in delight and held out her arms. The little twin boys fascinated her and the feeling was mutual. They struggled to be put down so that they could go to her.

Janeway watched as Tom and BíElannaís eyes met and Tom quickly averted his gaze. She saw Chakotay say something to BíElanna, who nodded, and then handed the baby she was holding over to him. Chakotay then carried both boys over to Tom and Sevenís table and Seven, seeing him approach, took Isabelle from her highchair and placed her on the floor.

Chakotay put the two boys down next to her and Isabelle squealed in excitement as she tried to hug them both at the same time. The twins eagerly returned the embrace, chattering away in their own baby talk with an occasional real word every now and then.

Tom looked up from watching them, a huge smile on his face, and said something that made the Commander laugh and Seven smile warmly. BíElanna stood back, watching.

Janeway sighed. If only Tom and BíElanna could be more at ease with each other, everything would be perfect.


BíElanna stepped into the Delta Flyer and walked over to where she could see Tom laying underneath the helm. His upper body was hidden and his voice muffled as he cursed and banged. She crouched down next to him and put down her equipment bag.

He must have seen the movement, as he called out. "Joe, Iím glad youíre here. Usually I can fix most problems with the Flyer, but this is beyond me. I need an engineer."

He pushed his way out from beneath the conn, a huge grin on his face, only to freeze when he saw BíElanna crouching next to him.

"Well, youíve got your engineer," she forced herself to say brightly.

He frowned in response. "Whereís Joe?"

"Heís busy, and since this sounded a bit tricky, I thought Iíd better take a look myself."

Tom moved out of her way without saying anything and she scrunched in under the helm. Working quickly, she couldnít help feeling a little self-conscious knowing that Tom was watching her. This was only the second time she had been alone with Tom in the past eighteen months, as usually there was always someone else around. That first time had been stiff and awkward and this time didnít seem to be any better. The silence was oppressive and she found it difficult to concentrate. Sighing, she ducked her head out from under the conn. "Iíve isolated the problem."

"Good."

Tom was uncomfortably close to her and she backed away a little. "I-It shouldnít take long to fix."

Tom nodded and then, seeming to realize how close he was to her, flushed and backed away.

BíElanna sighed again. "This is awkward Tom. Itís inevitable that we will have to work together sometimes. Itís been two and a half years. Weíve both moved on with our lives. I miss you. Canít we be friends?"

"Of course," Tom said quickly - too quickly.

"Youíre just saying that. You donít mean it. Tell me what youíre really thinking."

Tom shook his head. "You wouldnít really want me to do that. You want to be friends? Then fine. We are now officially friends."

She felt her temper begin to rise. "Just like that?"

"Yeah, just like that."

"From this moment on, we are now friends?" she growled.

"Yeah," he snapped.

"Fine," she spat out, throwing herself back under the helm and narrowly missing banging her head. If that was the way he wanted it to be - then - fine. She seethed as she worked, snarling out instructions to him every now and again. His responses were clipped and angry.

By the time she had finished, her anger had abated and she crawled out from under the helm with a rather sheepish smile. "That was rather childish. Iím sorry I acted like that. I really would like us to try and be friends. A lotís happened and I know it wonít be easy. But I think we should try, even if itís just for the kidís sake."

"The kids?"

"The twins adore Isabelle, and Iím pretty certain after seeing them together yesterday, that she feels the same way about them. Itís going to be even harder to keep them apart when they get older, just because weíre awkward around each other." She smiled, hoping he would agree with her, but his face had darkened with anger.

"Just what sort of a parent do you think I am anyway?" he practically roared at her. "Do you honestly believe that I would stop Isabelle and the boys from playing together just because we donít get along? Gods!! Did you think they should carry some sort of grudge into the next generation? That may be the Klingon way of doing things, but itís not the human way anymore. And itís not mine. Hell, BíElanna - those kids are all each other will have in the years to come. Itís not like thereís hundreds of other kids running around Voyager that they can choose their friends from. Look at the lonely life poor Naomiís led." He stopped and took a deep breath, trying to calm down and then climbed out of the shuttle.

She scrambled out after him and grabbed his arm. "Tom, you misunderstood what I was trying to say. I never thought for one moment that you would try to keep them apart," BíElanna explained, horrified. "Youíre right in everything you just said. I just meant that I didnít want there to be any awkwardness between us, when we were picking the kids up or dropping them off and things like that."

Tom pulled his arm away and, brushing past her, made his way towards the exit. He turned around to look at her and she swallowed as she saw his eyes were full of tears. "Sometimes I hate you BíElanna," he said softly. "I really do." And with that he stepped out of the shuttle bay, leaving her standing there, trembling so hard she had to grab hold of the Delta Flyer for support.


Seven looked up in astonishment as Commander Chakotay stepped into her quarters in reply to her rather distracted command of "enter", as the door chime sounded. She was in the middle of dressing a rather wriggling, squirming Isabelle, who only wanted to crawl around the room at top speed, not sit still while her mother fastened her clothes. She squealed a couple of times in protest.

"I hope I havenít come at a bad time," Chakotay said with a smile.

"No, that is quite all right, Commander." Seven finished fastening Isabelleís pants and with a small pat let the baby go. Isabelle crawled straight towards Chakotay, chattering happily. He picked her up, kissing her cheek before placing her back down on the floor again. Seven stood up. "What can I do for you Commander?"

"Iím your new babysitter," he told her, his dimples showing.

"You?"

"I am qualified, you know."

"I am aware of that. It is just that I was expecting Ensign Jennings this morning."

"She isnít feeling very well, so I offered to do it instead. Iím going to be home with the boys anyway, and I thought Isabelle might like to join us. Thatís if you donít mind?"

"I have no objections. It will be good for Isabelle to have other children to play with."

Chakotay smiled. "I was hoping youíd say that. Um - are you aware of what happened in the shuttle bay last week, between BíElanna and Tom?"

Seven nodded. Tom had come home, upset and angry and told her everything. "I believe Tom misinterpreted what the Lieutenant meant. She wants our children to spend some time together, and put our differences behind us. I concur with the sentiment."

"How does Tom feel?"

"Tom can be - touchy at times. However, he would also like Isabelle to have some company."

"Great. Weíre all in agreement then. Iíll take Isabelle back to my quarters now as BíElannaís waiting to get down to Engineering."

"Iíll put some things in a bag for you, for Isabelle. Tom finishes his duty shift before me today, so he will pick her up. I will be in astrometrics if you have any trouble with her."

Chakotay laughed as he picked Isabelle up once more. "Trouble? With this little angel? I canít imagine it."

Seven handed him a bag. "Angel is not a word I would use to describe my daughter."

Isabelle chose that moment to decide she wanted to play with the tattoo on Chakotayís forehead. She made a grab for it, poking him in the eye as she did so. When she found she couldnít actually hold the tattoo, she slapped it angrily.

"Ow!" Chakotay said, grabbing her hand before she could whack his forehead again.

Sevenís mouth turned up at the corners. "I will let you decide."


Two Months Later:
 

Janeway found herself in rather a dilemma, as she read the reports from stellar cartography regarding the planet they were approaching. They had picked up some strange mineral deposits on the surface that certainly looked interesting enough to investigate. Usually she wouldnít hesitate to send BíElanna down to find out if they could use these unusual minerals on Voyager, but the problem was that the planet had a rather unpredictable atmosphere which made it impossible for them to get close enough to beam an engineering team down.

That meant that they would have to send a shuttle and the atmosphere being so tricky meant that Tom was the best pilot for the job. She really did not want to send Tom and BíElanna on an away team together. Things seemed to be even more strained between them than they were before.

This had been bound to happen, of course. She was surprised that it hadnít happened sooner. She sighed. The whole thing was ridiculous. She couldnít let personal conflicts affect the ship. Tom and BíElanna were the best people for the mission, so they would go. She would ensure that BíElanna took two other engineers with her. And she would not worry about the outcome.


Sue Nicoletti kicked the ground in disgust and vowed to herself that never again would she volunteer for an away mission without finding out who would be on it with her. When BíElanna had asked for volunteers, she had eagerly put her hand up. Going on an away mission with Joe and Tom would be fun. Her spirits had sunk a little when Vorik was chosen to go with them. He wasnít much fun, but it still beat being stuck on the ship doing general maintenance.

Her spirits had plummeted to the ground however, when BíElanna had turned to Joe and said. "Iíll leave you to it. Weíll be back sometime tomorrow." We? BíElanna was coming - not Joe. She had cursed under her breath. This was not good. Not good at all. BíElanna and Tom hardly spoke to each other and when they did, it was stiff and formal.

Sue kicked at the ground once more. Things had been even worse than she had feared. The trip down to the planet had been uncomfortable. You could have cut the air with a knife for most of the way. She had decided to try to make some light conversation but Tom had remained stonily silent, BíElanna had merely grunted now and again and Vorik had watched her the whole time with one eyebrow raised. She had decided to shut up.

Now that they were on the surface, they could only find trace elements of the mineral they were searching for. It was long since gone, the atmosphere distorting the readings on Voyager. The mission had been a waste of time and now Tom and BíElanna had decided to declare all out war.

They had found the remains of a long dead civilization, their story chiseled in stone amongst the rubble. The planets resources had dried up and instead of relocating to another planet, which they had the means and knowledge to do, the majority of the population had decided to stay in the sanctity of their own homes, dying as a result.

"That is so sad," she had said, wiping a tear away as they stepped away from the ancient ruins.

"It was an illogical decision," Vorik had stated.

"Logic and emotions donít often go together." That had been Tom, his voice sad and mournful.

BíElannaís voice had been flat. "It was stupid. They should have just left."

"Why?" Tom had asked, his voice cold. "Leaving isnít always the right answer."

"The people that stayed here, died. I think that proves my point."

"Thatís because they waited until it was too late. When they first saw the problem they should have tried to stop the degradation. Gotten help. There could have been steps that they could have taken. Counter measures to help fix the problem."

"The problem was too big to fix," BíElanna had yelled.

"How do you know that?" Tom had yelled right back. "They didnít even try. Why did there only have to be two choices? Die or leave? There should have been a compromise. At least they could have tried to fix it."

"How do you know that they didnít, but all died anyway?"

"Thereís nothing here to suggest that they did. They thought they only had two choices. Stay and die or leave."

"Well the few who left obviously made the right choice. "

"Thereís no proof of that," Tom had said hotly, his face flushed with anger. "For all you know they may have moved onto something even worse."

BíElanna had growled menacingly. "I think youíve said enough. You donít know what youíre talking about, anyway."

"Iím merely saying that I can understand why they didnít want to just give up."

"And all Iím saying is that they should have known when to quit and move on."

Tom had rounded on her angrily. "Not everyoneís as quick to move on as you are, BíElanna."

"Whatís that supposed to mean?"

"I think the meanings quite clear. Somethingís not quite right so you just walk off and leave it. Go somewhere else without a backward glance."

"To hell with you," BíElanna had shouted.

"To hell with you too," Tom had shouted in return.

Sue had exchanged glances with Vorik. She had had a feeling that this argument was not about the people from this planet.

"I do not understand the heat of your debate," Vorik had said quietly, while Tom and BíElanna glared at each other. "These people died thousands of years ago. The past can not be changed."

Tom had then turned on Vorik. "To hell with you too." He had stalked off.

"Let him go," BíElanna had ordered as she had started to follow Tom. "We have work to do."

Things had not improved either, as a few hours later she had returned to the Delta Flyer to find Tom and BíElanna arguing heatedly. "Iím in charge here Ensign and youíll follow my orders," she had heard BíElanna say angrily.

"Yes Sir, Lieutenant," Tom had replied fiercely.

Sue had still been trying to decide whether to go in or not when Tom had come barreling out and straight into her. She had stepped backwards and he had grabbed her before she could fall. "Sorry Sue. Are you all right?"

She had nodded, getting back her breath. "I think so, but maybe I should be asking you that. What the hell are you doing anyway?"

Tom had sighed. "Iím sorry. I guess you heard all that?"

"No I didnít, thank goodness. All I heard was the raised voices, but I did hear her say that sheís in charge and sheís right Tom - she is. Youíve got to put your personal feelings aside and follow orders."

"I know. Youíre right. It wonít happen again, I promise."

And it hadnít, although there had been a few snide remarks between the two of them and BíElanna had threatened to put Tom on report on two occasions.

Sue sighed and looked at her tricorder. It was time to get back to the Flyer and leave this godforsaken planet. She couldnít wait to be back on Voyager and put this, Ďaway mission from hellí, behind her.


Kathryn sighed as she watched her two senior staff members leave the ready room. Where before Tom and BíElanna were stiff and formal around each other, they were now openly hostile. All through the debriefing they had glared at each other and although she had asked them pointedly if there was a problem, both had refused to tell her anything. She wished with all her heart that she had listened to her misgivings and not sent them on the away team together. Carey could have handled it, after all.

She looked across at her companion, still seated at her desk, to see how he was reacting to the obvious hostility between the two.

Chakotay was still watching the door, a worried frown on his face. Feeling her eyes upon him, he turned his troubled face to her. "Iíll have a talk to her later, when sheís rested. Hopefully, sheíll tell me what happened."

Janeway nodded. "Itís probably nothing." She tried to sound reassuring. "Theyíre probably both upset over the fact that the mission turned out to be futile."

Chakotayís eyes looked haunted. "Itís more than that. Why is this happening now? I donít understand it. This hostility shouldnít be happening now."

She placed her hand on his arm. She couldnít really understand it either. Tom had been hostile towards Chakotay when he had first been told of BíElannaís pregnancy and their intended marriage. So much so that she had had to intervene. The hostility, although not as open, had still been there for quite some time. Tom had never been hostile towards BíElanna, however. Uncomfortable and ill at ease, certainly, but any anger had never surfaced.

BíElanna had been just as uneasy around Tom. Guilt and sorrow had slowly been replaced by a stiff formality that had been hard to watch. This hostility was new and appeared to be escalating if today was anything to go by. She couldnít help wondering why BíElanna was so angry.

She patted Chakotayís arm once more, wishing she could reassure him. He gave her a small smile in return.

"Iíll let you know if thereís anything to worry about," he told her. "Iíd better go and pick up the boys from Seven."

She nodded as he got up and left the room.

Despite the problems between Tom and BíElanna, it didnít seem to affect the babies. They spent most of their days together, watched by one of their four parents. If the whole four were on duty at the same time, then there was a whole list of babysitters on hand. Neelix and Sam Wildman always watching them in the case of a red alert.

She sat, lost in thought, deciding just where they were going to set up the childcare facility that was definitely needed. Young Danny Jacobs was now six weeks old and she knew he wouldnít be the last baby born on the ship. More and more couples were committing to each other, following the example of the senior staff.

She was surprised to hear her door chime sound and smiled in delight as Seven entered, nursing Isabelle on her hip. The baby held her arms out to her and Seven quickly handed Isabelle over.

Kathryn sat bouncing the baby on her knee and cooing to her softly.

"I need your advice," Seven said with a smile.

"Oh?"

"Commander Chakotay has just asked me if we intend to celebrate Isabelleís birthday next week with a party. I do not believe she is old enough to understand the significance but the Commander said that the twins enjoyed their first birthday party."

Kathryn smiled as she remembered the twinís excitement. "They didnít really know what was happening, but they certainly had fun. And, oh my! When I think of the mess they made of the cake Neelix baked for them. Youíll have to ask the Doctor to show you the holopictures he took."

Seven smiled. "I will discuss this with Tom. Thank you."

"How is everything between you and Tom?" Kathryn knew she shouldnít ask. It wasnít her business, but considering how testy he had been with BíElanna she couldnít help herself.

Sevenís smile widened. "It is wonderful. Things have never been better."

She looked at Seven in surprise. "Have you seen him since he got back from the planet?"

Seven nodded. "He came to see us when he first returned."

"And he was all right?"

Seven frowned. "Yes. Was he damaged?"

"No. He wasnít hurt. He just wasnít in a very good mood."

"You are referring to his ill humor in regard to Lieutenant Torres?" At her nod, Seven continued. "They have had another argument."

"Another one?"

"Yes. They argue quite regularly these days."

"This doesnít concern you?"

"I have already told Tom that it is not professional."

"Youíre right. Itís not. But I meant on a personal level."

There was a look of confusion on her face and then it cleared. "I am very pleased on a personal level. Tomís feelings for Lieutenant Torres have changed. He no longer regrets the termination of their relationship. He is ready to move forward."

Kathryn swallowed her dismay. "I thought that he had already done that. You seem so happy together."

Sevenís smile was even brighter. "We are content and satisfied. It is now time for more."

Kathryn looked down at Isabelle as the baby played with her commbadge. "I promised myself I wouldnít interfere again, but are you sure heís ready?"

"I am positive. I do not believe that you interfere. We are both gratified that you are so concerned for our welfare."

"Iím pleased you think so," Kathryn said softly. "Iíll always be here if you need me."

"Thank you. We both appreciate that." Seven held out her arms to Isabelle. "I must go. Tom will have returned from cleaning up the Delta Flyer."

Kathryn handed the baby over, giving her one last peck on the cheek as she did so. She couldnít dampen down the small knot of worry that seemed to form in her chest as she watched them leave.

Seven appeared to believe that Tom and BíElanna arguing meant that Tom no longer had feelings for BíElanna. Seven was still very naive in a lot of ways and Kathryn wondered if she shouldnít have explained that it could mean that Tom still had very deep feelings for BíElanna.

She spoke to herself sternly. "Itís between Tom and Seven, so stay out of it." Her voice was loud in the quiet room. She knew that Tom would never let Seven believe he was ready to move on if he didnít think he was. They would sort it out.
 

End Part Seven