Author’s Note: Written February 2002, for the P/T Collective Archivist’s Eleventh Challenge, “What was the end of Endgame like from B’Elanna’s point of view?” B’Elanna’s having some trouble in Engineering, and it’s got nothing to do with the warp core. Rated PG. One silly nod toward Disney’s “The Lion King.”
by Diane Bellomo
B’Elanna gripped the railing around the warp core, the only outward sign that she was experiencing anything even remotely like discomfort.
Actually, it really wasn’t anything even remotely like discomfort. It was pain, slicing across her abdomen like the business end of one of the larger Klingon blades, and she realized that soon she was not going to be able to successfully hide it from her subordinates. As the pain subsided, she looked down at her hands and immediately eased her fingers open.
She stole a glance around the room. That white-knuckled grip might be a dead giveaway if she wasn’t careful, but it looked as though no one caught this slip. She’d have to be extra careful the next time, which, if her timing was correct, would be in another ten minutes or so.
Damn, Miral. After all those false starts, you couldn’t wait one more day, could you?
She stood there, pretending to check readouts for about five minutes, before turning and waddling awkwardly into her office.
* * *
Susan Nicoletti, discreetly watching from the upper level of engineering, had also been timing B’Elanna. She certainly admired her boss’s skill in masking what had to be a great deal of pain, but she also knew B’Elanna could not mask birth. If Miral was choosing this most inopportune time to be born – as did most babies – then B’Elanna was going to have to ‘fess up pretty soon, or else she, Nicoletti, had better start sterilizing the floor of engineering.
About that time, Susan heard something like a cross between a scream and a moan coming from the direction of the Chief Engineer’s office. Everyone else heard it, too, and activity froze all around the big room, except for Susan. In her haste to reach B’Elanna, she nearly leaped from the upper level, but instead wisely chose the ladder, slapping her combadge on the way down.
“Nicoletti to the Doctor! It’s B’Elanna, and from my best guess, it’s way, way beyond time!”
The Doctor responded calmly and unhurriedly, as if he had been waiting for just this moment. :::Thank you, Lieutenant. I take it you’re with B’Elanna now? How far apart are the contractions?:::
Susan hit the entrance to the office just in time to hear a splat of liquid hit the floor. B’Elanna was in her chair, clinging to it, eyes squeezed shut, panting rapidly through what had to have been a horrid contraction. She and the floor around her were soaked.
:::Lieutenant? Is that B’Elanna?::: Susan had forgotten the open channel to the Doctor.
“Yeah, Doc. Good ears you have there.” She moved into the room and squatted before B’Elanna. It was obvious the contraction was subsiding, but she still had her eyes pinched shut. Sue continued her conversation with the Doctor. “Her water’s broken and I’m looking at the end of a pretty fierce contraction. She’s been having them about every ten minutes, but this one came a little under that mark.” She turned her attention to B’Elanna. “Hey, boss,” she said, lightly patting B’Elanna’s arm, “think maybe we can go to Sickbay now? I believe you can stop with the bravado, okay? Everyone knows this ain’t exactly a walk in the park.” She waited a few minutes while B’Elanna relaxed enough to speak.
“Yeah, well, I think I did pretty good keeping my secret, don’t you? And how long have you been watching me?”
Susan thought it would be better to get B’Elanna moving, but she didn’t want to upset her, so she answered her. “Watching you? Me? Okay, okay, I’ve been watching for about half a shift, but you know you’re about to burst!” She decided to start hinting around. “We really don’t want you to have Miral in engineering, you know.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re…aahhh!!” B’Elanna tightened up as another contraction gripped her. “Kahless, Susan, this, this…hurts!” Her face was drained of color.
Much to Susan’s relief, the Doctor conveyed what she had been hinting at. :::Lieutenant Torres, chitchat time is over. It sounds like this contraction came a bit quicker than the last one. If you’re going to continue to sit there, perhaps we should reconsider your plans about transportation and beam you directly--:::
“No! I told you – ahhh!!! – I told you I’d get there under my own steam. God dammit, Susan, let’s go!” She tried valiantly to rise from the chair, but the fluid on the floor and her unwieldy body would not allow her any purchase.
Susan had learned early on never to take B’Elanna’s cursing personally; this time she barely heard it. “B’Elanna,” she said, straightening up and moving towards the door, “could you just not move for one more second till I get some pads? I totally agree with you, it’s time to go, but if you don’t want to have Miral in the turbolift, we’re gonna need some help. Doc, call Mulcahey and notify Tom on the bridge, too, would you, please?”
:::Already done. Get her here as fast as you can. When she has the next contraction, just make sure she breathes through it. She can blow, but no pushing.::: The channel closed as she turned to grab a handful of absorbent pads from the supply shelf.
Arranging the pads beneath B’Elanna, she waited until they had absorbed everything and were firmly affixed to the floor before helping B’Elanna shift to the edge of the seat. Mulcahey had achieved the office by this time. “Hey, Patrick, you ready for Birth Patrol?” She motioned with her hand. “Get on the other side of her, will you?” She and Patrick got their shoulders under B’Elanna’s arms. She lifted an eyebrow to B’Elanna. “Ready?”
B’Elanna nodded. “Ready.”
“All right, then. Just tell us when you feel the next contraction starting, okay? Here we go.” They heaved together and B’Elanna was brought to her feet.
“Don’t worry,” B’Elanna said with a surprising amount of mirth, considering her predicament, “I think you’ll know.” With that, they moved slowly out of the office.
They made an odd, slightly damp procession through engineering and the corridors of Voyager.
In the turbolift, B’Elanna bent forward and groaned. “Oh, oh, oh, God. Sue, this is hard! I th..think…I think I’d rather be assimm…assimilated.”
Susan glanced over B’Elanna to Mulcahey and knew by the look on his face that he knew what was coming. She placed her feet further apart to gain better balance and hung on to B’Elanna, figuring Pat would do the same without being told. She grabbed B’Elanna’s hand. “Okay, Chief, it’s okay. Remember what the Doctor said? Breathe and blow.”
B’Elanna nodded, her face pinched in pain. She started blowing.
“Okay, okay, here we go.”
By the time they reached Sickbay, everyone knew B’Elanna was in labor for real.
Despite the gravity of the situation with the Borg, the baby pool began to hum with renewed interest. If there was one thing the crew of Voyager had learned during their years in the Delta Quadrant, it was how to successfully multitask.
* * *
B’Elanna, no longer needing to hold back, let loose a deafening bellow as the contraction gripped her.
The Doctor ran his tricorder swiftly over his patient. No false labor this time. It was clear Miral was ready. If he could just get B’Elanna to calm down a little. She’d adamantly refused medication, which was fine, but she wouldn’t breath for him, either. “Try and relax, Lieutenant.”
“Oh,” she snarled through clenched teeth, “if you tell me to relax one more time, I’m going to rip your holographic head off!”
This time, he gave her no reprieve. It didn’t matter she could reprogram him to wear a grass skirt and do the hula. She was becoming impossible. “I hope you don’t intend to kiss your baby with that mouth.”
At that moment, Tom came flying into Sickbay. With all the activity surrounding the Admiral and the Captain’s plans to foil the Borg and to get home, it had taken this long for him to get away from the bridge. B’Elanna looked to him no different than all the other times she’d experienced false labor, so he asked outright, just to be sure.
“Tell me this isn’t another false alarm.”
The Doctor looked frazzled, which was saying something and should have given Tom a clue, but didn’t. “This isn’t another false alarm.”
Tom’s train of thought veered off track. Wowee. She might have the baby at the time I picked. Wouldn’t that be something? In error, he spoke out loud. “I can’t believe it.”
B’Elanna misinterpreted his statement, obviously thinking he meant about this not being a false alarm. “Ohhh,” she groaned, “believe it.”
For reasons he would never fully understand, Tom stupidly continued his train of thought. “I might actually win!”
“What?” B’Elanna asked, sounding almost curious as to what the heck he was talking about.
“The baby pool. I picked today, fifteen hundred hours.”
The look she gave him would have melted tritanium. “I’m so glad I could accommodate you.”
Sensing danger, the Doctor stepped in, trying to avoid an infamous Paris/Torres fight here in the newly-dubbed delivery room. Clearly, Tom was experiencing a sort of “new dad shock” at the fact that his wife was actually about to give birth. He couldn’t help that, but he was ready to act as a buffer. If that meant taking B’Elanna’s heat again, so be it. He wanted a live, healthy birth, and he was ready to make whatever sacrifice necessary to achieve it. “Don’t celebrate yet,” he said, leaning over B’Elanna’s belly to check the status of the fetus. “Klingon labor sometimes lasts several days.”
Right on cue, B’Elanna let out a howl and viciously gripped the front of his uniform. If there was any time she most resembled her full-Klingon mother, it was now.
“Of course,” the Doctor backpedaled quickly, desperate to spare a couple photons, “I’m sure that won’t be the case here.” She released him and he moved swiftly out of her reach.
The worst then occurred.
:::Bridge to Lieutenant Paris. We’re ready to get under way.:::
* * *
B’Elanna knew without looking that Tom was about to disobey another direct order. And just when he’d gotten used to having his pip back. Birth or not, she was not going to let that happen.
Tom spoke to the ceiling. “Captain, I’m afraid--”
“Go,” she said abruptly from behind him, struggling to sit up. She knew the captain needed him – and she knew he knew it, too. All she had to do was convince him.
He spun around and bent to her, clearly ready to give up his rank for his family. “But…”
She stared into his face, determined to get the message across. “No ‘buts,’ Flyboy. If this mission is gonna succeed, we need our best pilot at the helm. Don’t worry, the Doctor’ll be here with me.” She left unspoken the fact that even though the Doctor could be a royal pain in the ass, there was absolutely no one else in the universe she wanted attending her birth but him.
The captain, unaware that the events unfolding in Sickbay were as close to birth as they were, spoke again over the comm. :::Is there a problem, Mr. Paris?:::
Tom never blinked, and she could see in his blue eyes how torn he was. But she had to make him see the truth of her words. She drilled her eyes into his, willing him to understand how important it was that he leave her and go to the bridge. True, the timing was rotten, but he was the best pilot. This mission would not succeed without him. It was just that plain and simple.
After an intense moment in which B’Elanna almost started to speak again, his expression changed, and it became clear she had successfully convinced him.
Never taking his eyes from her, he answered his superior. “On my way, Captain.”
The kiss they shared was brief but heartfelt. He caressed her stomach. Then he left without looking back.
B’Elanna lay back down on the bed and sighed heavily, waving the Doctor over to finally accept the light medication he had offered. He pressed the hypospray into her thigh, and she immediately felt some relief from the awful aching back pain. “Let’s get this show on the road.”
The Doctor never missed a beat. “Promise me you’ll breathe just as I instruct and no more threats to rip my head off?” He watched her carefully through computer eyes. He didn’t need the biobed to tell him another contraction had arrived.
“I prom – ahhhh!!!” Gripping the bed, she bore down. She wanted to push, it felt right, but when he told her to stop pushing, she listened to him and began blowing frantically.
Satisfied that B’Elanna was finally going to pay attention to him, the Doctor then did something no human or even Klingon doctor would ever be able to do – and, in fact, something even he didn’t care to do unless it was absolutely necessary.
It was absolutely necessary.
He called his backup online and put him between her legs.
B’Elanna, in mid-blow as the contraction subsided, lifted her head in confusion. “Doc?”
“B’Elanna, I know you don’t believe it, but this is going to go very fast and it looks like without a single complication. But even as perfect as I am, I could use a little help, and everyone else is busy at the moment.” He jabbed his chin toward his backup, “As you know, he’s got all the medical knowledge he needs to catch a baby, and that’s all you and I need from him right now.”
He pressed a cool cloth to her head, took hold of her hand, and spoke like the true friend he had become, the godfather he was about to become. “I’ve got everything else. Plus,” he added with gentle humor, “you can’t break my fingers like you did Susan’s.”
Her face creased in pain as she felt another contraction begin, B’Elanna still managed a weak smile at his joke. Her trust in the Doctor had become nothing short of legendary on Voyager.
Then again, anyone looking would easily see that the trust went both ways. The Doctor would fall on a live conduit to protect B’Elanna, despite what she had recently done to make him recommend the DNA changes to Miral. Perhaps because of it.
The Doctor’s double looked up from between her knees, all business, though he did smile. “You’re doing just fine, B’Elanna. This contraction, I want you to push.”
The ship rocked as B’Elanna obediently pushed through the contraction. And the next one. The Doctor held her hand, coached her, rubbed her shoulders, encouraged her, and kept sweat from running into her eyes.
Backup Doc waited professionally and patiently for the inevitable.
And in her own perfectly timed way, Miral slipped, wailing, from her mother just as Voyager broke out of the exploding Borg sphere and triumphantly into the Alpha Quadrant.
* * *
:::Sickbay to the bridge.:::
A newborn’s contented cooing could be heard through the comm.
:::Doctor to Lieutenant Paris. There’s someone here who’d like to say hello.:::
Everyone on the bridge began to grin like idiots, the captain included.
“You’d better get down there, Tom.”
Boy, did he have some story for his new daughter.
“Mister Chakotay,” Janeway waved him toward the seat Tom had just vacated, “the helm.”
“Aye, Captain.” Sliding into the chair, with the huge blue marble of Earth filling his vision, Chakotay briefly wondered about the way she said “Mister,” hoping against hope that it meant she was ready to abandon their ranks and set up some sweeter parameters. He allowed one thought to Seven, amazed at how quickly his heart changed gears.
He supposed if he gave it any real thought, he would know his heart had never changed gears at all. He realized it might be unfair to Seven, but after all they had recently been through, he knew Seven would understand.
Janeway gained the captain’s chair, staring at the impossibly beautiful sight of Earth out the viewscreen. It worked. She had done it, she had brought her sturdy little ship and its precious crew home. Oh, Admiral, if you could only see this. But she knew, eventually, one way or another, Admiral Janeway would get to see it.
“Set a course,” she stated thickly, “for home.”
The Very End.