The other young ones made fun of her. Eight months old and still reading stories about the sun. Her peers went out to sit around the screens and talk about what jobs they would do, in a few months, when they grew up.
Kes didn't want to grow up. Not if it meant forgetting the stories.
'One day,' her mother had told her, when she was very small, 'you'll see the sun.'
Probably all of their mothers had said that - it was the sort of thing you said to little children. But Kes was the only one who kept believing it.
Mostly her daddy had read her westerns. She was a child who wanted action, adventure, daring deeds and mysterious strangers. Her daddy did all the voices. It was just for the two of them. Two humans in a sea of Betazoids, with their human stories.
After a while, her daddy wasn't there to do the voices any more. She asked her mother to put the books away.
She felt as though the human part of her had gone into storage with the books - but she didn't feel exactly Betazoid either. Nobody knew quite what to make of her. She hardly knew what to make of herself. The Mysterious Stranger, just like in the stories.
It was one of the earliest things Kasidy remembered - her mother reading her bedtime stories from the Bible. She liked them because they were different every time - sometimes they seemed like adventures, or sometimes they were scary, or sad, and sometimes they were about the wonderful things Jesus had done. Kasidy liked those best of all.
Her mother told her to ask Jesus for help if ever she was lonely, or scared, or needed something, and that He would be there for her. That was a warm, comforting thought.
Sometimes she wondered if Jesus ever got lonely and scared. She hoped He had someone to be there for him, too.
When Laren went to sleep - sometimes in a bed, sometimes on a pallet, sometimes just curled up however - her father would play his belaklavion for her, to help her feel sleepy.
It had magical powers, he would tell her. It would scare away the monsters that hid under her bed.
'What else can it do?' she would ask, as he played, and he would tell her about how the music could bring the stars down to dance together, how sometimes, when the moons were all full at once, it could heal the sick and make the old grow young again.
'Can it make the Cardassians go away?' she asked him, one night.
'No, Laren,' he said. 'We'll have to do that for ourselves.'
She nodded. That was all right. Even the magic belaklavion couldn't do everything.
B'Elanna had never really taken to the Klingon stories her mother told her. Oh, she didn't mind that they were bloodthirsty - far from it - but they were all about honor and loyalty, or else they were supposed to be funny but she couldn't work out why, and nobody would explain to her.
She preferred human fairy tales - there were witches who would eat children, and goblins who would steal them away - she liked those parts - but instead of defeating them through prowess with a bat'leth or cunning on the battlefield, the girls (she liked it better when they were girls) in the stories would rescue themselves by being smart.
Her favourite was Bluebeard - she liked the room full of corpses and the quick-thinking heroine, but she couldn't understand why the story was called that, when really it was all about the girl and not the man.
B'Elanna didn't think her deeds would ever be told in song and story. That was for warriors, not for her. But if - just if - they ever were, she'd make sure everyone remembered whose story it was.