Captain Kathryn Janeway was working her way through the mountain of official notifications that were sent with each month's transmission from the alpha quadrant. She was overjoyed that they were in contact with home but this was the part of the job she hated. She'd dealt with her personal communications and those high priority from Starfleet but still had to go through everything else that was sent for the Captain's attention. Looking through for anything unusual to break the monotony she was somewhat surprised to find a message from the Klingon government until she remembered that the last transmission contained the notification of Tom and B'Elanna's marriage. Janeway expected this to show the marriage had been officially registered with the Klingons. It didn't.
"Janeway to Torres"
"Torres here Captain"
"B'Elanna please report to my ready room."
"On my way Captain"
The Captain wondered how on earth she was going to deal with this and hope she didn't end up with an enraged Klingon on her hands. The chime to her ready room sounded and brought her out of her thoughts.
"Take a seat B'Elanna. I asked you to join me as there was a message from the Klingons about your marriage. It seems they won't recognise it as legal as you are betrothed."
"I don't deny I was betrothed as a child but Niki died a long time ago. I can never take the Great Oath with anyone else but I'm entitled to marry normally."
"Well according to this your bond mate is alive but it gives no further details."
"What do you know about Klingon bethrothals Captain?"
"I didn't even know they existed before I read this."
"They're not like Vulcan ones. They aren't prearranged. In fact they're quite rare. They happen when two children feel compelled to bond at a young age. Without prompting they perform the ritual bite that is part of the Great Oath. They usually signify some of the most powerful and passionate relationships known to Klingons. I was only four when I bonded, my SoS was surprised it had happened with me only being half-Klingon especially since my bond mate was human."
"So you bonded with a human child at four years old but they died before you were old enough to take the Oath?"
"Yes, about three years after we bonded Niki died. My father had left the year before it was the final thing that lead to me rejecting all things Klingon."
"Does Tom know?"
"Not the full details but he knows there was someone special in my past I've never really got over."
"I'll add a message to the next transmission asking for more details. At least you'll know one way or another."
"My life would have been so different if Niki hadn't died."
"You can't do what ifs B'Elanna. Go home to your husband and try to put this out of your mind until we get an answer."
Kathryn took a deep breath as she was left alone to continue with her work.
It had been quite a while since the Captain had been called to intervene between her Chief Engineer and head of Astrometrics but given the circumstances she wasn't sure it was a good thing. Seven was still dealing with the ramifications of the Borg children leaving along with the failure of her cortical node. B'Elanna was withdrawn obviously disturbed by the possibility that her bond mate was still alive. What should have been a happy time for her had been spoiled. Kathryn didn't know if she'd confided in Tom but the Helmsman looked confused by his new wife's behaviour. Seven had withdrawn from her after everything that had happened but maybe she could do something to help B'Elanna. Janeway caught up with her in Engineering.
"B'Elanna would you like to join me for dinner in my quarters tonight? I promise not to cook."
"Just Kathryn tonight. I thought you might like to tell me about Niki."
"I'd like that."
"See you at 19:00 then. Tell Tom we're having a girls night and he can go play with Harry."
B'Elanna was prompt and Janeway had arranged for Nelix to deliver something palatable for dinner. They chatted about ships business and general gossip while eating then moved to the sofa.
"Tell me about Niki B'Elanna."
"She was the most beautiful little girl I've ever seen Kathryn." The Captain raised an eyebrow as she realised that B'Elanna's bond mate was female but didn't interrupt. "She was only three when we met. Her parents were working with my SoS preparing for some sort of mission they were going on. They took Niki with them and never came back. Even if by some miracle she survived she may not even remember bonding with me. She's human so she's not bound by our bond. I dream about her sometimes what she'd have looked like if she'd lived. A blonde haired, blue eyed stunner. She'll have moved on and I'm stuck."
"You've got on with your life. You've just got married."
"It's not the same. I do love Tom but it's nothing like what I still feel for Niki. A couple of years ago I spoke to Tuvok, while the bethrothals of both species are different an incomplete bond does have a similar effect and he had some experience. He helped me to realise where a lot of my anger was coming from."
"You call her Niki do you know her full name. We could look her up in the database."
"I only ever knew her as Niki. I was only a kid. I don't remember what I called her parents they weren't around much."
"Ok I guess we'll have to wait and see then. If you don't mind me asking what prompted you to speak to Tuvok."
"It was once I realised what was happening once Seven came aboard. My initial reaction towards her was due to her being Borg but once she'd had her armour and implants removed she caused another reaction. I was attracted to her and reacted to her badly. After Niki I hadn't had a relationship with a woman. She reminded me of her, same colouring and an innocence under the Borg exterior, I lashed out to keep her away. Not that Seven would ever be interested in me but she deserved better than someone who only had a small piece of her heart left to give. I couldn't take that chance."
"Given the state of your relationship still I gather talking to Tuvok didn't help?"
"It did but not in the way you think. It turns out he has a family member who lost their bethrothed before they were fully bonded. They actually went insane. I was lucky in one way I was so young when it happened. He made me realise that I'm never going to act rationally about this, Seven provoked a reaction and I was unlikely to be able to change that. I do try Kathryn, I try not to let our arguments get too personal but we'll never be able to be friends. No matter what I do she won't stay away though."
"I think that's a shame as I think your friendship could be good for her."
"Unfortunately we'll never know."
"What was the difference with Tom?"
"Tom wasn't looking for deep and meaningful, just some fun and comfort. We fit quite well. I guess we both settled but I love him as much as I'll ever love anyone other than Niki and I don't know if Tom is capable of anything deeper. On Qo'nos someone in my position would pair up with another in the same circumstances, both knowing they didn't hold the others hearts but were still loved and cared for. It isn't fair for me to expect someone to love me with their entire heart and soul if I can't offer the same."
"I dealt with this a long time ago. I'm happy with my life, at least I was before I found out Niki might be alive. If this turns out to be false information I'll go on with my life. If she's still alive I don't know what'll happen."
"Let's cross that bridge when we come to it. We'll have an answer next week. Have you talked to Tom about this?"
"I can't Kathryn. How do you tell your new husband that your marriage may not be valid because you are promised to someone else on the other side of the galaxy you thought was dead and if they are alive you'd do anything to be with them? He knows something is wrong and I'll talk to him once we have all the facts."
"I'll have to trust your judgement on this. I'm here if you need to talk about it."
"I know Kathryn and thanks. I've been speaking to Tuvok again to try to get my thoughts in order as well. I'd better go try to get some sleep. I'll see you at the Senior Staff Meeting tomorrow."
In the days before the next transmission from the Alpha Quadrant the Captain conferred with both Tuvok and the Doctor on how she could expect B'Elanna to act depending on the circumstances. They were both of the opinion that she could be emotionally volatile and they came up with several options for dealing with her if she had difficulties with the news no matter what it was.