Daddy‘s Little Girl (post-Voy, P/T, PG)
by JoAnna Walsvik
Kathryn Elyse Paris, Katy for short, was dressed in a pretty pink nightgown and cuddled up in a comfortable plush armchair in the quarters she shared with her parents. She was intently studying a PADD given to her by her aunt Kathryn Janeway. Aunt Kathryn wasn‘t really her aunt, actually her godmother, but Katy had a whole bunch of "honorary" aunts and uncles; about one hundred forty, in fact. Voyager was her kingdom, and Voyager‘s crew were her adoring subjects. Everywhere she went, Katy was fussed over and spoiled absolutely rotten, as were the other children on the ship.
At three years of age, Katy was the third oldest, behind Christine Wildman, daughter of Samantha Wildman, who was six, and Anthony Nicholas Jarvin, Jr., the son of Tony and Megan Jarvin, who was four. The youngest children were Jeffrey Thomas Baxter, son of Walter and Jenny Baxter, aged one and a half, and little Phillip Frederick Bristow, who had been born to Freddie and Melanie Bristow only three days ago.
Captain Janeway sometimes mentioned that the ship would burst at it‘s seams if any more children were born, but it was no hidden fact that the captain was secretly delighted with all of the little ones running about. She spoiled them all shamelessly, and always insisted on holding each newborn child just hours after his or her birth. Captain‘s prerogative, she called it. She never admitted to playing favorites, but the entire ship knew that of all the children, her favorite was her namesake, Kathryn Elyse Paris, the daughter of Tom and B‘Elanna Paris. Little Katy was her pride and joy, not to mention her goddaughter, and the little three-year-old loved her "Aunt Kathryn" best of all her other aunts and uncles.
This particular night, Katy was being watched by her "uncle" Neelix. She liked Uncle Neelix, even if he sometimes reminded her of the old twentieth-century circus clowns her daddy had read her stories about. He always saved her the best slices of cake and candy that he would make, and sometimes he‘d tell her wonderful stories about his home on Rhinax.
Tonight, though, Uncle Neelix seemed strangely preoccupied. He‘d jump at the slightest little sound, and he kept staring at Katy in a way that made her uncomfortable—like he was really worried about something. It was probably Mommy and Daddy. They were on another one of their mysterious "Away missions" and that was why Uncle Neelix was watching her.
Katy busied herself in her PADD. It was of the multiplication tables, and she had promised her Aunt Kathryn she‘d learn the fives and sixes before tomorrow. If she got them all right, Aunt Kathryn would let her visit the bridge for a few moments—a prize highly coveted. She might even let her sit in Daddy‘s station and pretend to fly the ship.
The fives were easy. They were like a little song, so rhythmic and easy to remember. 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35....
The sixes were a bit harder, but Katy was sure that, with practice, she would be able to get them. She had to. Aunt Kathryn was counting on her. 6, 12, 18, 24, 36....
The doors swished open and Katy lifted her ebony head. Those soft black curls had delighted her father when she was born, because they were so like her mother‘s. In fact, Katy was a tiny miniature of her mother except for her forehead, which was smooth, and her bright, piercing blue eyes.
"Mommy!" Katy squealed in delight, jumping up from the chair. She skidded to a stop when she saw that Mommy had tears streaked all over her face. Mommy NEVER cried. And Uncle Chakotay‘s eyes were sad, so, so sad. "Mommy, what‘s wrong?" she asked timidly. "Where‘s Daddy?"
"B‘Elanna," Uncle Neelix said in alarm. "What‘s wrong? Is...?"
Mommy looked at Uncle Chakotay, then back at Katy. "Honey, come here," she said, her voice quivering. She sank down into a nearby chair and pulled Katy on to her lap.
"Katy," she said slowly, "remember when Daddy and I had that talk with you about Starfleet officers and how we were in danger sometimes? I told you that there might be a chance that one of us might have to go away and never come back, remember?"
Katy nodded, her eyes wide. Mommy and Daddy had been so serious during that talk, it had made her feel scared. She wanted them to smile and laugh and have fun, not talk about going away.
"Well, Daddy...he was on an Away mission with Aunt Kathryn and he—some bad men shot Daddy, honey."
"They shot Daddy?" Katy questioned, not fully understanding.
"Yes, Katy. Daddy is very, very sick. The doctor is doing the best he can to make him get better, but..."
"Is Daddy going to DIE?" Katy cried, aghast. Young as she was, she understood death. Katy had once been present at the death of a crew member. She had been in sickbay for an annual check-up, and during her examination the ship had been attacked. Katy had been all but forgotten as many injured crewmembers were beamed to sickbay and the doctor, with Kes, had struggled to save them. They had managed to save all but one crewmember—Vorik, a young Vulcan ensign who had been standing too close to a console when it exploded. Katy would never to her dying day forget the moment when the Vulcan had died—he had looked directly at her, hideous burns covering his face, then closed his eyes, his head slumping back. Katy had screamed and become hysterical. She had nightmares for months afterward. The doctor would never forgive himself for forgetting her presence and exposing her to such horrors long before she was ready. Tom and B‘Elanna had been worried about their small daughter, but they very kindly told the doctor that, perhaps, it was better for her to have seen death so she could understand it better if something ever happened to one of them.
Unfortunately, that time had come.
"I don‘t know, honey," B‘Elanna told her daughter honestly. "The doctor is doing his very best to save him, but Daddy is very sick."
Katy buried her face in Mommy‘s chest. She didn‘t want Daddy to be sick. She wanted him to walk through the door, his blue eyes sparkling, and kiss Mommy and hug her. She wanted to hear him say, "How‘s my Katy-did?" and have him pick her up and swing her around. "What about Aunt Kathryn?" Katy asked, her voice muffled. "Is she okay?"
This time, it was her Uncle Chakotay who answered. "Aunt Kathryn is all right, Katy," he assured her gently. "She was shot, too, but not as seriously as your daddy was. The doctor says that in a few days, Aunt Kathryn will be back on duty."
Katy contemplated this for a few moments. She loved Aunt Kathryn and was glad that she was okay, but she wanted her Daddy to be okay, too. "Can I see Daddy?" she asked, her voice tiny.
Mommy looked at Uncle Chakotay despairingly. "I‘m afraid not, honey," she said gently. "Not until he gets a little better."
"But he might not GET better," Katy objected. "You said so. I want to see him!"
"I‘m sorry, Katy," Mommy said sadly. "I want to see him too, but I can‘t. No one can, except for the doctor and Kes. He‘s too sick."
"I want to see him!" Katy screamed, with a temper that rivaled her mother‘s. "I want to see him NOW!!!!"
"NO!! I want to see him!"
"Kathryn Elyse Paris, are you throwing a temper tantrum?"
All four occupants of the room whirled towards the doorway.
Kathryn Janeway was standing there, her uniform wrinkled and her hair mussed, but obviously very much alive.
"Aunt Kathryn!" Katy shouted gladly, scrambling off of her mother‘s lap and rushing towards her godmother. She latched on to Kathryn Janeway‘s legs and held on tight.
"Kathryn, you‘re supposed to be resting," Chakotay said disapprovingly.
"I was going to, and I am. But I could hear my goddaughter shouting all the way out in the corridor." Janeway kneeled down so she was at eye level with Katy. "Now, Katy, what‘s wrong?"
"They won‘t let me see Daddy," Katy pouted. "I want to see him, Aunt Kathryn. Why won‘t they let me see him?"
"Your daddy is a very sick man, Katy," Janeway said gently. "The doctor and Kes are doing their very best to save him, and if anyone went to sickbay, even your Mommy, they might get in the way. We wouldn‘t want anything hindering your daddy‘s medical help, would we?"
Katy nodded understandingly, even though she wasn‘t quite sure what "hindering" meant. "Can I see him soon?"
"I don‘t know, Katy. We‘ll just have to wait and be patient.
Remember that talk you and I had about having patience?"
Katy sighed and nodded. Did she ever remember that talk. She had thrown a temper tantrum in the middle of the Mess Hall after Neelix had been slightly behind schedule with her dinner. The talk Kathryn Janeway had given her afterwards was one even Tuvok had been impressed with. Young Katy would definitely be much more patient.
"Good. Now, isn‘t it near your bedtime?"
"That‘s right, it is," B‘Elanna interceded. "Say good night, Katy."
"Good night, Aunt Kathryn. Good night, Uncle Chakotay. Good night, Uncle Neelix. Thank you for watching me," Katy recited dutifully, giving each of them a hug in turn. "Good night, Mommy."
"Good night, sweetheart. Sweet dreams," B‘Elanna Paris said, kissing her small daughter.
Katy ran off to her bedroom, the PADD forgotten. Multiplication tables were unimportant when her daddy was so sick. "Good night, Daddy. Get well soon," she whispered, climbing into bed. Moments later, the tears began to fall, and Katy Paris cried herself to sleep.
"My little angel," B‘Elanna Paris whispered, tenderly stroking the soft curls atop her sleeping daughter‘s head. She could plainly see the tearstains on Katy‘s rosy cheeks, and it made her heart ache to look at them. She remembered all too well another little girl who had cried herself to sleep for months after her father had left...a little girl, a woman now, who still woke up in the middle of the night and wondered where her father was...and why he had gone away.
B‘Elanna had grown up without a father, and she didn‘t want the same thing to happen to her daughter. However, unless a miracle occurred, it seemed that history would repeat itself, and another child would be left fatherless.
She hadn‘t told her daughter the worst of what had happened. Not only had Tom been shot, but he had been tortured brutally by a group of vicious terrorists. B‘Elanna had hardly recognized her husband when he had been beamed to sickbay. His face and body had been such a mass of bruises and blood she had nearly thrown up at the sight. As it was, she had become dizzy and turned away, hating herself for not able to look at him.
Kathryn Janeway had been extremely lucky. The terrorists, it seemed, didn‘t torture women or children. Just men. It didn‘t matter if they were husbands or fathers, this group of horrible and unfeeling aliens did their best to break the wills of their captives.
They hadn‘t broken Tom‘s will, though, and B‘Elanna was fiercely proud of that fact. He had refused to give them an particle of information right up until the time Voyager had rescued him.
It seemed the terrorists had been after information about Voyager‘s phaser banks and photon torpedoes, trying to improve their own stock of weapons. Tom hadn‘t budged, and as a result of his stubbornness—and of the alien‘s fury—
Tom had almost no chance of living whatsoever.
As of yet, he was still in surgery with the doctor doing the best he could to patch up most of his body—or what was left of it. The doctor had told B‘Elanna that Tom‘s prognosis wasn‘t very promising. All she could do was wait—and hope.
She was waiting and hoping with all her might, but the hours of anxiety and fear were quickly taking their toll on her. She hadn‘t been able to deal with Katy‘s temper tantrum; thank the gods the captain had come when she did or B‘Elanna might have burst into tears right then and there. Usually she had no problem calming Katy down, mainly because her daughter‘s temper was exactly like her own, but today she just couldn‘t face it. B‘Elanna now had an overwhelming sympathy for her mother‘s experiences raising her temperamental daughter. And L‘Terra Torres hadn‘t even had a loving husband like Tom Paris to help her.
And maybe B‘Elanna wouldn‘t, either. The thought brought tears welling into her eyes, and she wiped them away with her hand lest Katy suddenly wake up and see her mother crying. The last thing the child needed was more unhappiness.
"B‘Elanna? Are you all right?" a tentative voice whispered from the doorway.
B‘Elanna smiled through her tears. Chakotay. He had insisted on sleeping on the couch tonight, just to be near in case she or Katy needed something. He was such a good friend. She didn‘t know what she‘d do without him.
"I‘m fine," she called back softly. Standing up, she dropped one last kiss on her little girl‘s forehead before tiptoeing out of the room.
"How‘s she doing?" Chakotay asked in his quiet way.
"She cried herself to sleep," B‘Elanna sighed, dropping into the same chair Katy had occupied just an hour before. She picked up the PADD and glanced at it for a moment, grinning slightly. "Has Kathryn been teaching her multiplication again?"
Long ago, shortly after Katy‘s birth, Captain Janeway had ceased to be "the captain" and had become Kathryn—at least, off duty. On the bridge it was still the formal "Captain Janeway" or "ma‘am", but off duty she insisted that she be called Kathryn.
"We‘re a family now," she had declared after Katy, the third child on board Voyager, had been born. "Families don‘t call each other by titles." So, despite Tuvok‘s obvious displeasure at this breaching of protocol, Captain Janeway had become Kathryn to everyone. The transition had been awkward for everyone except Chakotay, but eventually they all adapted to the change. Now the name was so familiar B‘Elanna barely thought about it anymore.
"Katy‘s doing pretty well for a girl only three years old," Chakotay said with an obvious amount of pride. "She‘s mastered the multiplication table up to the sixes."
"She‘s so bright," B‘Elanna agreed with pride of her own. "I look into those big blue eyes of hers and I can just see the intelligence in them." She paused, slowly turning the PADD in her hands over and over again. "Her eyes are so much like Tom‘s. I look at her and I can see him staring out at me." A tear slowly trickled down her pale, wan face. "And I‘m so afraid..."
"Afraid that she‘ll be all you have left of him?" Chakotay finished gently.
B‘Elanna nodded, not trusting herself to speak for fear the tears would come rushing out.
Chakotay enclosed her white, trembling hand his strong brown one. "We‘ve been friends for a long time, B‘Elanna," he said sincerely. "And you know that I can‘t bring myself to lie and tell you not to worry because everything will be all right. Because I know, and you know, that it‘s a possibility that Tom may die."
She nodded again. "I know." Her voice was barely above a whisper. "And then all I‘ll have left of him are my children."
It took Chakotay a slight second to realize that she had used the term in the plural sense. "Yes, you‘ll always have Ka—" He stopped in the middle of his sentence and blinked startledly as her words sunk in. "Did you say children?"
B‘Elanna managed a slight, wavery smile. "I‘m pregnant."
"You are?" Chakotay sat back, astounded. "Did—does Tom know?"
For the third time, she nodded. "We were going to tell Katy tonight. But now I—I don‘t know what to tell her. I don‘t want her to think that this baby is coming to replace Tom."
"Don‘t worry about that," Chakotay said reassuringly. "The important thing is for you to rest and take it easy." He was, B‘Elanna knew, referring to her pregnancy with Katy. Early in her third month, B‘Elanna had come dangerously close to miscarrying, the unborn Katy saved only by the doctor‘s expertise. The hologram had immediately put B‘Elanna on an extremely light duty schedule with strict instructions not to overwork herself, and six months later a strong and healthy Kathryn Elyse Paris had arrived, seemingly unscathed by her slight brush with death.
"Believe me, I will," B‘Elanna said emphatically. "This baby is more precious to me than all the dilithium in the Alpha Quadrant. As for Katy— Chakotay, I never believed in angels until she was born." She paused to look lovingly at her daughter‘s bedroom door. "And Tom. Oh, gods, Chakotay. Do you have any idea at all what‘s it‘s like to love someone with your whole heart and soul and mind?"
Chakotay thought of a certain redhead who was very dear to him. "Yes. Yes, I think I do."
"Then you know how much I love him. And how much I‘m missing him right now."
Her eyes filled up with tears. "And how much I‘ll miss him if he dies."
"I know." Chakotay didn‘t know what to say to comfort her, so he didn‘t try. "Look," he said simply, "why don‘t you go to bed and get some rest. You‘re tired, and it‘s been a long day. I‘ll be right here if you need me."
B‘Elanna smiled at him. "Thank you, Chakotay. I honestly don‘t know what I‘d do without you."
He grinned bashfully. "Go to bed, Lieutenant. That‘s an order."
"You‘ll call me immediately if -- ?"
"I promise. Good night, B‘Elanna."
"Good night. And thank you. For everything."
"You‘re welcome. Now go to bed."
"Yes, sir." And she went.
It was not often that Kathryn Janeway saw a member of her crew cry, least of all her half-Klingon chief engineer. But the sight that greeted her when she arrived at the Paris‘s quarters the morning after her rescue was of B‘Elanna Paris, sitting on the couch and sobbing wildly on the shoulder of Chakotay.
A wave of nausea passed over the captain of Voyager. Was Tom -- ? Had he— ? "B‘Elanna?" she whispered, her stomach tying into knots.
B‘Elanna Paris looked up, and her tearstained face was one of radiant joy.
"He‘s going to be all right! Oh, Kathryn, he‘s going to be all right!"
"Oh, thank God," Janeway breathed, feeling an intense surge of relief flow through her body. She dropped into the nearest chair, her legs having turned to jelly. "Thank God."
"The doctor called this morning, the moment Tom was out of surgery," Chakotay told her, a broad smile on his face. "It seems that many of his wounds only looked a lot worse then they really were, and the doctor was able to patch him up without too much trouble. Tom‘s still unconscious, and he‘s going to be pretty weak for a while, but he‘s going to be okay."
"I don‘t know why I‘m crying," B‘Elanna confessed, wiping tears from her cheeks. "It‘s just that I‘m so glad—I had hoped—"
"Mommy?" The anxious voice of a very worried little girl sounded from the bedroom. The three adults turned to see Katy Paris peeking out the door, clutching her well-worn baby blanket, the one knitted and given to her by Kathryn Janeway, to her chest. "Why are you crying? Is—is Daddy—dead?"
B‘Elanna held out her arms to her small daughter, and Katy rushed into them. "Daddy‘s alive, sweetie. The doctor called this morning and told us that Daddy is going get better. I‘m crying because I‘m happy."
"Daddy‘s okay?" Katy squealed in delight, her blue eyes shining like stars.
"Really and truly?"
"Really and truly," her mother said happily. "And, if you want, we can go and see Daddy this afternoon."
"We can? Can we go now? Can we, Mommy? Please?" Katy was fairly bouncing up and down on her mother‘s lap at the prospect of seeing her daddy once more.
"I said this afternoon, not now," B‘Elanna laughed. "But I promise you, we‘ll go."
Katy Paris was very, very happy. Her mommy and the doctor had given her permission to visit her daddy all by herself! She had seen him once before, with Mommy, but he had been so tired that he had fallen asleep right in the middle of their visit. But now he was wide awake and she got to see him alone!
"Daddy!!" she yelled joyfully, rushing madly into her father‘s arms.
"Katy!" the still weak but conscious Tom Paris exclaimed in delight, hugging her tightly. "I‘m sure glad to see my munchkin again!"
"I miss you, Daddy," Katy told him, her blue eyes sparkling with happiness that she was back with her daddy again. "Are you going to come home soon?"
"The doctor wants me to stay here for a few more days yet," he told her.
"But then I‘ll come home, I promise."
"I want you to come home now," Katy pouted, her lower lip protruding defiantly. "Why do you have to stay here?"
"Just so the doctor can make sure that I‘m all better, Katy. Just to be safe."
"But you‘ve been here for the longest time already," the little girl objected. "One whole week! Why can‘t you come home?"
"I told you, Katy," Tom said patiently. "The doctor wants to keep me here for three more days so he can be sure that I‘m all better. You don‘t want me to be sick again, do you?"
"No," she said reluctantly.
"Well, then, I‘ll just stay here," he said cheerfully. "It‘s only for three more days, angel, then I‘ll be back home with you and your mommy."
"Daddy, why did those bad men shoot you?" she burst out. It was a question she had been pondering for days. Katy had no conception of anything evil. She had never been exposed to any kind of maliciousness or hatred on Voyager. Everyone was so kind and nice on the ship, it was hard for her to imagine it being different anywhere else.
Tom sighed, gathering his small daughter in his arms. He knew this question would be coming eventually, and he dreaded it. But he couldn‘t raise his daughter to think that the universe was all sunshine and roses. Sooner or later she‘d have to learn the truth, and it might as well be now.
"Well, Katy," he said slowly, "these men were very, very angry because they didn‘t like what the government was doing to their planet. They were so mad that they took all of their anger out on the nearest person, and that happened to be me."
"But why, Daddy?" she persisted. "Why you? You didn‘t do anything to them."
"I know, sweetheart," Tom said gravely. "But these men were so angry that all they could think about was hurting someone else. They didn‘t care who it was or where they were from, as long as they had someone they could take all of their anger out on. Some people are like that, Katy, so full of hatred that it twists their minds and causes them to do bad things. But the important thing is that I‘m all right and the bad men have been caught and punished. They can‘t hurt anyone else ever again."
"I‘m glad," Katy declared. "I love you, Daddy."
"I love you too, munchkin," he agreed, hugging her tightly.
"Is this a private hug or can anyone join in?" B‘Elanna Paris asked from the doorway of sickbay, where she had been silently watching and listening to her husband and daughter have their discussion. In a way, she was relieved that she didn‘t have to deal with Katy‘s questions herself, and Tom had done a damn good job of explaining it to her—better then she could have done.
"There‘s always room for one more," Tom Paris grinned, holding out his arms to his wife.
Katy grimaced as her mommy and daddy kissed. They were always doing that icky mushy stuff—and right in front of her, too! She squirmed impatiently on her father‘s lap, wanting them to stop kissing and pay attention to her.
"We might as well tell her now," Tom whispered to B‘Elanna, who agreed.
"Katy, honey, we have a surprise for you."
"A surprise?!" Katy asked excitedly. She adored surprises, especially when
they were for her!
"Something like that," Tom agreed, winking at B‘Elanna. "Remember when Freddie and Melanie Bristow had their baby?"
Katy nodded solemnly. She had been allowed to take a peek at the baby when the proud mama and papa displayed him in the Mess Hall a few days ago. She hadn‘t been able to understand what all the fuss was about. The baby did nothing but sleep and cry. He wasn‘t fun, like she was! But Aunt Kathryn had fussed over little Phillip until Katy had become quite jealous. It wasn‘t fair that Aunt Kathryn should like the baby so much; why, he couldn‘t even do multiplication.
"Well, Katy, in a few months, we‘re going to have a baby, too," B‘Elanna said gently.
"A baby? We are?" Katy asked, wide-eyed. "Where is he?"
"He or she is in your mommy‘s tummy," Tom said proudly. "Your little brother or sister won‘t be arriving for about eight months yet, so we still have a while to wait."
Katy considered this for a moment. Eight months was a long, long time. She would be four whole years old before the baby came. "Why so long?"
"You see, the baby has to grow in my tummy before he or she can come out," B‘Elanna explained.
"How did the baby get in your tummy, Mommy?" Katy asked innocently.
Both parents froze, looking at each other nervously. This was another question they had been hoping they wouldn‘t have to deal with anytime soon. "You tell her," B‘Elanna whispered to Tom.
"I told her about the terrorists, you can tell her about this," he whispered back.
With a tense gulp, B‘Elanna realized he was right. "Well, Katy," she began uneasily, "it‘s like this..."
Katy Paris listened, enthralled, as her mother explained to her the process of having a baby. Her daddy seemed to be holding back laughter as her mommy talked, and Katy couldn‘t understand why. To her inquisitive little mind, the entire concept was fascinating. She hadn‘t known that girls had eggs, and boys had seeds, and one day when her mommy and daddy had kissed one of the seeds had gotten inside the egg and the egg had started to grow bigger and bigger, and in eight months, when the egg got big enough to be a baby, the doctor would help her mommy take the baby out of her tummy.
"Wow, Mommy," she breathed when B‘Elanna was finished. "That‘s neat. Can I go play now?"
"Sure. Go ahead," her mother permitted, relieved that the entire experience was over.
After Katy had kissed both of her parents and scampered off to play, B‘Elanna and Tom looked at each other. Tom couldn‘t help himself. He burst out laughing, holding his sides until he thought they would burst. "That was—that was—that was priceless," he gasped, tears of laughter streaming down his face.
B‘Elanna gave him a dirty look, but a smile was tugging at the corners of her lips. "Next time, you‘re explaining it. I absolutely refuse to do it again."
"Was that—um, explanation the one your mother gave you?" Tom asked, highly amused.
"Me? Hell, no," B‘Elanna said emphatically. "She never told me anything. I had to find it out for myself."
"Warrior Women at the River of Blood‘?" Tom said slyly, winking at her.
In spite of herself, she grinned, remembering that long-ago novel and the conversation that had followed it. "Something like that. What about you? Did your mother explain the birds and the bees to you?"
"Of course not," Tom said, rolling his eyes. "I learned it the same way you did. When I was twelve, my dad sat me down for a man-to-man talk. He got about halfway to the birds before I interrupted him and said, ‚Dad, I know this stuff already.‘ He said, ‚You do? Just how much do you know?‘ So I ended up explaining the entire process to him. Needless to say, we didn‘t discuss it again."
"Well, I‘m glad Katy has two happy, healthy parents to explain the facts of life to her," B‘Elanna said softly, smiling at him.
"So am I," Tom agreed, his hand closing around hers. "So am I."
"Okay, hold still..." Tom Paris said, carefully focusing the camera.
"Smile, Katy...that‘s good...there. All done."
Katy Paris hopped off of her mother‘s lap while her new baby sister, Serena Kes Paris, cooed contentedly. "Can we take another one, Daddy?" Katy asked eagerly.
"Maybe later, munchkin," Tom grinned, helping his wife out of her chair.
"We‘ve taken enough pictures already."
"Mommy, can I hold Selery?" Katy persisted.
"Not right now, sweetheart. And don‘t call your sister ‚Selery‘. She‘s a
baby, not a vegetable," B‘Elanna said, adjusting little Serena‘s blanket.
"But that‘s what Daddy calls her," Katy said innocently.
B‘Elanna shot her husband a menacing look. "Well, Daddy isn‘t going to call her that any more, is he?" she said pointedly.
"Yes, dear," Tom grinned, holding back laughter. "I can‘t say the same for Uncle Neelix, however. He gave her the nickname in the first place. And you have to admit, it‘s cute."
"Neelix always has food on the brain," B‘Elanna said ruefully, rolling her eyes. "Whenever he calls her ‚Selery‘ I feel like I‘m raising a garden, not a child."
Serena Kes Paris, named after Tom‘s grandmother Serena Paris and godmother Kes, was blissfully unaware of the discussion surrounding her name. A mere three weeks old, she only knew that she was cherished by her mother, father, sister, and one hundred forty-odd aunts and uncles—and especially by her godmother and namesake, Kes.
The newest addition to the Paris family was just that—a Paris. Upon seeing his new daughter a few seconds after her birth, the first words out of Tom‘s mouth had been, "She‘s Serena!" Serena, it seemed, had been his grandmother and a person whom he had loved very much. According to the proud papa, his new daughter was the very image of her great-grandmother.
B‘Elanna took Tom‘s word for it, for she certainly couldn‘t see anything of herself in the child. The baby had fuzzy little golden ringlets that made her look like a tiny version of Tom, but the striking emerald green eyes the little girl possessed must have belonged to Admiral Serena Paris, as Tom claimed.
Those same eyes had given little Serena her rather infamous nickname. The moment Neelix, who had just replicated celery stalks for a salad he was concocting, set eyes upon the new Paris child, he exclaimed, "Her eyes are the color of tops of celery stalks! She‘s not Serena, she‘s Selery!" From then on, despite B‘Elanna‘s objections, the little girl was called ‚Selery‘ by all. And even "Selery‘s" mother had to admit, the nickname was kind of cute.
"Maybe we should name the next one ‚Cantaloupe,‘" Tom teased good-naturedly.
"Thomas Eugene Paris, if you dare—" B‘Elanna began laughingly, but was silenced when Tom pressed his lips upon hers.
"Mommy, Daddy, that‘s gross!" Katy protested loudly.
"Oh, yeah, munchkin? Just wait about a decade, and then you can tell us how ‚gross‘ it is," Tom said, scooping her up in his arms. "C‘mon. Let‘s go to the holodeck and romp around a bit, shall we?"
"Yea!" Katy yelled. "Can we bring Selery with? And then can we replicate some candy? Can we, Daddy, can we?"
"Sure," he agreed, bringing a joyful smile to Katy‘s face.
"Tom, you‘ll spoil both of them," B‘Elanna warned gently from where she was changing the baby Serena.
"And why shouldn‘t I?" he replied, a slow grin spreading across his face as he gazed at his wife and daughters. "They are, after all, daddy‘s little girls."