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Perpetuating The Species

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Turning Tom back into Tom takes longer than turning Janeway back into Janeway. In fact, Janeway is already herself when the doctor finishes up Tom's genetic transformation. She is groggy and her memories are slowly sorting themselves into a recognizable order. She remembers a shuttle. She remembers somewhere dark and humid and remembers opening her eyes briefly and seeing the Doctor hovering above her, telling her she'd be just fine. Now she turns her head and watches him wave something over Tom, watches Tom's skin shift and change.

"He'll be fine," the Doctor assures her. But later, she's eating some broth and Tom hasn't even woken up yet.

"Why is he still asleep?" she asks.

"He's tired, I imagine," the Doctor said, suddenly scanning her. "You two had quite the ordeal." He doesn't quite meet her eyes when he says this.

"Why are you scanning me?" she asks, setting the broth aside.

"You were having some difficulty with your speech center earlier," he says. "I just want to make sure everything is as it should be. The fact that you're speaking and I can understand you is a good sign."

"And will Tom have this problem?" she asks. He gives her an odd look.

"Perhaps, but I assure you, the treatment was a success."

She just feels strangely protective over him. She's always felt a soft spot for Tom – knowing his father the way that she did gave her an understanding of Tom, of the kind of life he'd had to lead as a child. She's always protected him against the rest of the crew as well, knowing that she was the one who'd taken him out of prison; she was the one who'd offered him a second chance.

But this is different. She wants to climb on the bio bed with him and curl her body into the shape of his. She wants his arms around her and for them to pull the covers over their heads and stay warm and alone in the darkness forever.

Which is odd considering he's her pilot and fifteen years her junior.

The Doctor moves the tricorder down her body and it beeps.

"Oh my," he says.

"What?" she asks.

"It's just an unforeseen complication," he says quickly. "Nothing that cannot be remedied."

This is neither an answer nor an explanation but she's tired and doesn't push. For once she just wants to lie down and leave her health in his hands.

"Okay," she says.

"Get some rest, Captain. I'll let you know when Mr. Paris wakes up. Commander Chakotay will be in to see in a while. I'm sure you'll want to read his report."

When she wakes up again, she sees Tom sitting up, looking at his hands. The Doctor is speaking softly to him and she can't quite hear what's going on. When he glances over at her, he looks guilty and ashamed and doesn't hold her eye contact long enough for her to convey any sort of silent message with her own expression. Soon Chakotay comes in.

"May we speak in the Doctor's office?" he asks. He's holding the report rather tightly in his hands and while she remembers a lot of what has happened, she doesn't remember everything and everyone's expression is making her feel like perhaps the part she doesn't remember is the important part. Chakotay looks like he wants to say something, even inhales to speak but in the end he just hands the PADD over and watches her sit at the Doctor's desk to read it.

For the most part it's what she remembers. Tom grabbing her in the Turbo Lift, waking up in the shuttle. There are some parts that he doesn't know about – losing her hair. Tom holding her while she changed and shifted. The feeling of being everywhere at once. Finding the planet and leaving the now obsolete shuttle behind.

She balks at the description Chakotay gives of what they turned into. He doesn't say as much but they were giant lizards, basically. And then she comes across the passage that is making everyone so damn nervous. She has to school her features severely.

"Offspring?" is all that she manages.

"Yes Ma'am," he says. "Three."

"And you left them on the planet?" she asks.

"Yes Ma'am," he says again. "We can go back, Captain, but it's the Doctor's opinion that the… offspring would not be able to survive the same genome reversion technique that he used on you and Lieutenant Paris."

"I see," she says. "Does Tom know?"

"I believe the Doctor just informed him," Chakotay says. It explains the look of guilt, anyway.

"Thank you, Mr. Chakotay," she says, finally. He understands a dismissal when he hears one. The Doctor comes in.

"Would you like to speak to Mr. Paris now?" he asks. She chuckles, dryly.

"What do I say?" she asks, rhetorically. "How do you follow this up?" She tosses the PADD onto the desk.

"I believe Mr. Paris is afraid that he's ruined your, ah, working relationship," the Doctor says.

He has, really. How do you go on being someone's captain when there are children involved? Reproduction, procreation. What she really wants to know is why Tom had come after her on a ship that was half women? But what she's going to do is play it off and be his captain through and through. She'll make a little joke about mating and tell him what he did was commendable and leave it at that. After all, they have three days to spend in sickbay together.

"Captain, when you are more rested there is one more thing I'd like to speak to you about. Perhaps in the morning?" the Doctor says.

"Sure," she says and leaves to speak to Tom, trying to push the intimate feelings she now has for him down and out.

That night, Tom moves to a Bio Bed on the other side of the Doctor's office. On the surface it looks like he's trying to give them both some privacy but they both know it's because he's ashamed to look at her and for her to lay eyes on him. In the morning, the Doctor stands next to her bed solemnly. Tom is still asleep across the room.

"Good morning, Captain," he says.

"Doctor," she says, sitting up. She gathers her hair in her hands and twists it, lays it over her shoulder. She feels extremely vulnerable and exposed in the blue gown with her hair loose. She has nothing to hide behind now.

"When I was scanning you yesterday, I found something," he says. "I assume Command Chakotay told you about the… offspring left behind on the planet?"

Her heart drops into her stomach.

"What are you saying?" she asks.

"I'm surprised that any fetus could withstand the genetic transformation let alone transform along with you but it seems that has, in fact, happened," he says. "Captain, you're pregnant."

"Are you sure?" she asks.

"Quite," he says. He takes out his tricorder and scans her. "One fetus. You're only about a week along which is why I didn't notice it during my initial scans. I can't tell you the sex for a few weeks."

She doesn't say anything.

"It's really a testament to the future of the human race, the rate of procreation the two of you achieved," he says.

"That's enough," she whispers.

"Of course," he says. "Anyway. Congratulations are in order."

"Wait," she says. "I don't know… I'm the Captain and Tom… I can't…"

"Of course, you always have the option to terminate the pregnancy. You may let me know what you decide," he says. "Lieutenant Paris is waking up. I thought you should be the one to tell him."

"Yes. I wouldn't mind some privacy," she hints.

"Say no more. Just reactivate me when you're finished," he says. "Computer, end Emergency Medical Holographic program." She watches him dematerialize and the resolves herself.

She walks over to Tom and he's sort of tossing but isn't quite awake yet. He looks flushed and warm. He's been fighting a little fever over the last 20 hours but she's been feeling okay. She puts a cool hand on his forehead.

"Mr. Paris, wake up," she says. Her hand stills him and his eyes open.

"Captain!" he says and sits up. She pulls her hand back, offers him a strained smile.

"I'm sorry to wake you. There's something we need to discuss," she says. "And there is no easy way to do it."

"Sure," he says. He sits up so she can sit next to him on the Bio Bed, their bare feet dangling next to each other.

"Tom," she says and takes a breath. She needs to say it, just say it even though the words want so badly to stick in her throat. "Tom," she says again.

"You can tell me anything, Captain," he says, sweetly. She tries to smile and feels like crying.

"Tom, I'm pregnant."

"Oh," he says and then realizes what she's implying. "OH."

"Yes," she says.

"But I thought… there were babies on the planet, the report said," he says. "So this was?"

"A different time," she says. They are both embarrassed and quiet for a moment.

"I don't remember…" he says.

"Neither do I," she responds quickly.

"Are you going to keep it?" he asks finally.

"I don't know," she says. "That's why I'm talking to you."

"It's your body," he says.

"But it's our child," she says. "When I said earlier that I had thought about children but not with you, I was telling the truth. But the truth of the matter is if I am ever to have a child, this is probably my last chance. I'm not a young woman anymore."

"So you are going to keep it?" he asks.

"Oh Tom," she says. "I'm the captain. I can't have a child! It would undermine my authority; it would take me out of rigorous duty and complicate my job performance immensely."

"So you aren't," he says.

"I don't know what I'm going to do," she admits. "It's your child, too. Do you want a child?"

"I don't know," he says. "It's all sort of happening very fast… but if you do decide to have it, I would support you in any way that you asked, one hundred percent."

"I appreciate that," she says. "I'm old enough to be your…"

"Don't worry about that," he says. "What I mean to say is, I don't really mind that."

"You and I may be fine with it, but this crew is in a precarious moral place as is," she says, rubbing her forehead.

"Are we?"

"Are we what?" she asks.

"Fine with it," he says.

"Tom," she says.

"Because while I don't remember what happened, exactly, I remember how I felt. How I feel."

"How do you feel?" she asks.

"Protective of you," he says. "Connected to you."

"Oh," she says. She feels the same way. Like a flip had been switched inside, like her longing for him was on a more baser level, something that was written into her genetic structure. It felt like it would never go away.

"You feel it too?" he asks.

"It doesn't matter what I feel," she says, which is as good as saying yes. "We need to make a practical decision here. About the baby."

"I want you to keep it," he says. She sighs. "Do you want it?"

"A baby? On Voyager?"

"Sam Wildman is already pregnant, Captain. And what if we really are going to be out here 70 years? This crew needs at least 100 people to run efficiently. Eventually we're going to have to start replacing our crew."

"I had this same discussion with Chakotay once," she says.

"Not exactly the same, I hope."

"No," she says. "Not quite."

"Put the ship and your captaincy aside for a moment. Do you, Kathryn Janeway, want to keep it?" he asked.

"Yes," she says, and when she says it, she knows it to be true.

"Then there you go," he says. "I guess we're going to be parents after all."

The Doctor lets them go, and Janeway all but runs to her quarters. Tom does the same. They share a turbo lift but they are on different decks and when he gets off, she's happy to be alone. In her quarters, she pulls off the blue medical gown she's been in for about 40 hours too long and climbs into her bed. She's not actually tired, but Bio Beds aren't exactly built for long-term comfort and her spine thanks her for the new support. Soon she gets back up to run a bath. While the water runs, she stands in front of the mirror and stares at the length of her body. Her hair is long now, long as it's ever been without the monthly trim she would get in the Alpha Quadrant. It covers her breasts, nearly. But she focuses on her stomach, splays her fingers across the pale and freckled flesh. She's always been small – her sister had got the body meant for bearing children. Phoebe was curvy and stocky but she is narrow and lithe, always an athlete. Her stomach is flat as it ever was.

She doesn't feel different. She goes to her desk and gets the tricorder there. It isn't a medical tricorder but it will tell her what she needs to know. She needs to see the life form there, growing inside her. And there it is. The tricorder makes it out to be more of a parasite than anything else – a second life form, feeding off her energy and power.

She spends nearly an hour in the tub. She wants to cry but she can't for some reason. Instead she ducks her head under and lets the water trickle down her cheeks like tears. But it doesn't relieve the pressure in her chest.

At her desk, in her soft clothes meant for sleep, she tries to think of what to say in her personal logs. Usually she just turns on the recorder and starts to speak about her day – about a weird food Neelix made her try, about the time she spent in the holodeck, about a problem in engineering no one could solve. Now her hand hovers over the record button but the sound of her door chime interrupts her.

She's in her pajamas and her hair is still wet but she calls for them to enter anyway. It's probably Chakotay, wanting her to talk about her feelings. She'll have to tell him about the baby – about Tom. She'll have to let him down easy somehow. She isn't blind, after all.

"Captain?" It's Tom and a flood of relief washes over her. She hadn't even known that she was missing him but now that he's here, she's glad.

"Come in," she says. "Sit down."

"I know it's late. I don't mean to interrupt but the computer said you were awake."

"I couldn't sleep," she says.

"Me neither," he confirms sitting down on the sofa by the windows. He rubs his face. "It's strange. We spent a week straight together, but when I was finally by myself in my own quarters, I found that I missed you."

"I know what you mean," she says, softly. "In the morning we're going to have to talk about this."

"And until then?" he asks.

"If neither of us are sleeping you may as well stay," she says. "Do you want something from the replicator?"

"Whatever you're having," he says. She moves to the replicator and he looks around. He's never been in her quarters before. They're bigger than his, big but not huge. She has a ready room and was meant to have a private dining room so he understands. It's not like she's ever here. There are flowers in a vase, a picture of what he's pretty sure was her fiancé and a few other odds and ends but over all it's an impersonal space. She sets a mug of something hot in front of him and then sits carefully next to him, a mug in her own hands. He sips at his drink – it's coffee. "We'll never sleep, you know."

"It's decaf," she says. "Well, yours is."

"Captain," he says. "Caffeine is really bad for the baby." He takes the mug gently from her hand and gives her his.

"I didn't even think about that," she admits. "I really am tired, but I can't sleep."

"Here's the thing, Captain," Tom says, drinking her coffee. He can taste the subtle difference. "You are going to need help from me, more and more the further along you become and I can't give you the help you need if I have to worry about talking to you within protocol all the time."

"What are you suggesting, Tom?" she asks.

"At some point, if only for a couple hours every day, I'm going to have to stop being just your pilot and you're going to have to stop being just my captain," he says.

"And how do we do that?" she asks.

"You'll have to trust me," he says. "Why is it that you can't sleep?"

"I'm not sure," she says.

"I tried to sleep," he says. "But after being with you on the planet and in sickbay, sleeping alone was… unsettling."

"Understandable," she says. "It feels like we spent years together, not days, doesn't it?"

"Yes," he agrees. "Why don't you try again? I'll be here, on your couch no further away than I was when we were in sickbay." She looked at him for a while.

"I won't be handled on duty," she says. "Protocols will stand outside of personal quarters at all times, is that understood?"

"Yes, Captain," he says.

"I can't promise you anything," she says, her voice softening. "I don't know what's going to happen."

"That's half the fun," Tom says. She pats his shoulder and walks into the bedroom. When she returns she has a blanket and a pillow for him. He takes them gratefully.

"Goodnight, Mr. Paris. You have the honor of being my first overnight guest," she says.

"Goodnight, Captain," he says. "Sleep well."

The funny thing is, she does sleep well, knowing he is not so far away. In the morning, when the computer wakes her, she takes a shower and puts on her uniform before she goes to wake up Tom. She hasn't done her make-up yet, and her hair hangs loose but if he wants to make his bridge shift on time, he needs to wake up. She puts her hand on his warm shoulder. He's slept in his uniform – in the gray turtleneck and stiff pants. She almost trips on his boots on the floor between her coffee table and the couch.

"Tom," she says, kindly. "This is your 5:45am wake-up call."

He mutters something and turns over.

"Come on," she says, rubbing his back. "Rise and shine." She can feel the moment he wakes up and remembers just where he spent the night. His back tenses and then melts. She rubs little circles and gives him a solid pat before stepping back and sipping the coffee in her spare hand. He sits up and squints in the light. He focuses on the mug. "Don't worry, it's decaf."

"Why are you awake so early?" he mutters. "We're not due on the bridge until 0700."

"I have an appointment in Sickbay. He wants to monitor me closely in these… early stages," she says.

"I'll come," he says, leaning over to pull on his boots.

"No," she says, gently. "That isn't necessary."

"But, Captain, I want too!" he says.

"I know, but we need to tread gently until I figure out how to tell the crew," she says. "You should return to your quarters. Get ready for your duty shift."

"All right," he agrees though she can see he'd much rather be with her.

"I promise to let you know what he says," she offers and he can accept this.

"I'll see you on the bridge," he says.

"Tom, I know I don't need to remind you that descrestion is key?"

"Don't let anyone see me tiptoe out of your quarters in the wee hours?" he asks.

"Well, it sounds sordid when you put it like that," she mutters. He looks like he's about to say something only Tom Paris could get away with but she waves him away and he slips out of her quarters like a pro.

When she gets to sickbay, she has to activate the doctor. She sits on a Bio Bed but when he gets close enough to scans her, he narrows his eyes.

"Have you been drinking coffee?" he asks, scandalized.

"Decaf," she says. "I've already received that particular lecture, Doctor, so let's move forward."

"I'll be monitoring your diet closely, Captain," he warns. "There will be no more skipping meals, no more all nighters."

"Noted," she says, dryly.

"Have you given any thought on when you might inform the crew?" he asks.

"I thought it was bad luck to tell people in the first trimester," she says. An antiquated tradition but she's grasping at straws, trying to put off the inevitable.

"Be that as it may, certain people should be informed. Mr. Neelix prepares the majority of your meals. Lieutenant Torres, as your exposure to the Warp Core should be limited. Kes will need to know to help with your appointments."

"I get your point, Doctor." She holds up her hand to cut him off. "If I have to tell Neelix then I may as well tell the whole crew." The Doctor just smirks. "Well," she says, rubbing her forehead. "One thing at a time, today."

"Of course," he says. "But please. Eat breakfast before you go to the bridge."

"Yes sir," she says. He gives her a list of appropriate food sources and important nutrients, gives her a vitamin booster, and sends her on her way. So early, the mess hall is still pretty deserted. Neelix is in the kitchen and there are some junior officers who rise when she enters the room but otherwise, she's alone. No one will bother her while she's eating at any rate.

"Good morning, Captain!" Neelix exclaims, always cheerful. "Coffee?"

"Not this morning," she says, sadly. His expression falters into disbelief.

"Okay then," he says. "What can I get you?"

"Breakfast," she says. "Maybe some juice, if you've got it."

He stares at her for a minute. She can understand his disbelief. She almost never eats this early in the morning. Occasionally he'll bring something to her ready room late into the morning but generally she goes without breakfast altogether.

"Of course," he says, snapping out of it. She watches him load her a tray and she takes it and smiles at him. She picks a table away from the doors, near a window. She's not hungry, her body not used to consuming so early but she gamely takes a bite. It's not bad, really, and she eats almost half of it before Chakotay comes in. When he sees her, he smiles and raises his eyebrows. She watches him get his food and come over to her.

"Nice to see you back on duty, Captain. Mind if I join you?" he asks. She nods and he sits across from her.

"Thank you for holding down the fort in my absence," she says.

"Happy to serve," he says.

"Commander," she says. She clears her throat. "Chakotay."

"Something the matter?" he asks.

"We need to discuss something important," she says. "Why don't you meet me in my ready room at the start of the shift?" He looks a little worried now but nods gamely. She can't sit there with him knowing that she has to tell him about the baby. It's too much. She leaves her tray with Neelix and gets to the bridge fifteen minutes early. She dismisses the ranking officer and sits down in her chair, running her hands along the arms. Three days, six if the time on the planet was to be counted, off duty was a long time and she is ready for things to go back to normal.

Whatever normal is, now.

When Chakotay arrives, he comes in the lift with Tuvok and Harry, all precisely on time.

"Mr. Tuvok, you have the bridge," she says and Chakotay dutifully follows her into her ready room. "Have a seat," she says to him and he does, his face open.

"Are you all right, Captain? You seem… well, nervous," he says, with a teasing smile. "It's not like you."

He thinks he's just teasing her but she's extraordinarily nervous. She cares what he thinks about and she doesn't want to lose his respect. This trip is going to be long enough without her first officer not trusting her. And, she realizes, raising a child.

"I'm… the thing is," she says, sitting next to him. "When it comes to the ship and the crew I feel confident in my choices, that sticking to my principles has led us in the right direction."

"I agree," he says.

"But…" She falters.

"Captain?" he prods. "You know you can say anything to me."

"I know," she says. "Thank you for that. Commander, this has to do with Mr. Paris and the… incident." She smoothed the fabric on her thighs and realized it was because her palms were wet. "Usually, with the support of Starfleet command, this wouldn't be such an issue but with the way things are, I'm not really sure how to approach such a monumental change and I'm going to need your help."

He stares at her.

"You have no idea what I mean by that," she says.

"Maybe you should just say it," he says.

"When the doctor performed the procedure… when we came back to normal, I mean. There were the children on the planet but now, I'm…." She rubbed her forehead. "Chakotay, the thing of it is, I'm pregnant."

"You're… pregnant," he repeats. "And the child is technically…?"

"It's Tom's, of course," she says. "I'm going to keep it, Chakotay."

It takes him a moment, but he smiles.

"Congratulations Captain," he says.

"You see why I'll need your help more than ever?" she says.

"If you're worried about the crew, I'm sure that they'll support you," he says. "They've rallied around Samantha Wildman."

"Who isn't their captain," she says.

"And Lieutenant Paris?" Chakotay asks, carefully.

"He's… excited," she says. "It's all very new."

"If you'd like," he says. "I will inform the crew. I am in charge of personnel after all."

She wants to tell him no but the idea of facing everyone and admitting something so personal about herself sounds intolerable.

"Thank you," she says. "I'm not very far along at all… I'd prefer if you would wait a few weeks just to make sure everything is safe."

"Of course. Just let me know when you're ready," he says. "And Captain, you didn't do anything wrong. Sometimes life is unexpected."

"That's all, Commander," she says. When he's gone, she scoffs. It's not that she thinks anything bad has happened, she is just worried it will affect the crew badly. It doesn't matter; she doesn't have to worry about it for a couple weeks.

On the bridge, she and Tom are quiet. Sometimes they banter but this shift is spent catching her up on the duty rotation that she'd missed and since he'd missed it too, he doesn't have a report to give to her. At lunch, she isn't hungry.

"Go ahead," she murmurs to Tuvok but when she looks up both Tom and Chakotay are looking at her pointedly. "Actually, I am kind of hungry."

"I'll go with you," Tom says.

"You have the bridge Mr. Tuvok," she says and when they get on the turbolift, Chakotay joins them. The silence is awkward. Tom stares at the floor. She clears her throat. "Mr. Paris, I informed Commander Chakotay of my… condition."

"I see," Tom says. "And the rest of the crew?"

"Not yet," she says.

"I'll be doing that when the time is right," Chakotay says.

"Good," Janeway says, nodding.

"Yes," Tom says.

It seems like an awfully long lift ride.

Janeway is completely relieved when her duty shift is over. She's never been happier to sit at a desk and read reports. She replicates some soup for dinner because she just can't eat three Neelix prepared meals every day. She can't see how that could be healthy for anyone, especially someone eating for two.

At her desk, though, she is distracted. She misses her mother suddenly and fiercely. She's always been a daddy's girl and even after her father's death, she tended to keep her mother at arm's length. She wasn't like Phoebe. Her mother and sister would giggle and whisper and Kathryn just felt like she was never in on the joke and for the most part that was fine, but now, all she wants is to lay her head on her mother's lap and have her hair stroked.

She's about to summon Tom to her quarters but she doesn't want him to feel like he's at her beck and call. Instead, she slides her feet back into her shoes and puts her uniform back on and reapplies her lipstick before she goes down to his quarters. When she presses her finger against the chime, she has to concentrate of being still. She doesn't know what she wants from him, exactly. Company? Comfort? Companionship? She figures she'll know when she sees him.

When the door slides open, he's there. The sight of him does trigger something and he barely gets her inside before the sob erupts from her throat. He'd seen her face crumple and her shoulders fold in and he'd tugged her through the doors and into his arms. He shushes her and rubs her back and makes her sit on the sofa. The tears are so hot that they burn her cheeks and throat. She presses her face into his chest so he can't see her and because there is something about being close to him that makes her feel more human. He murmurs softly into her hair.

It takes her awhile to realize that he's apologizing.

"Sorry, I'm so sorry, I know, it's my fault, Captain, I'm sorry," he says over and over again.

"What?" she says, raising her head. Her voice is thick and watery and she's left a big spot on his uniform front.

"I know that I hurt you," he says. He sounds miserable.

"I'm not…" She wipes her eyes. "I'm just scared. I don't blame you," she says.

"But you're crying!" he says.

"I don't mean to," she promises. "Sometimes you just can't help it. I trust you, that's why I'm here. You don't have to be sorry."

"I kidnapped you," he says. "None of this would have happened if I'd picked someone else."

"It just would have happened without me, you mean," she says. "Tom, why did you pick me?"


"Was I just the closest person?"

"I don't really remember," he says honestly. "But I think it was on purpose. I… I think I wanted to show you. To make you see how big the world was." He shakes his head. "I wanted to give it to you."

"It's really very flattering," she says, after a while. "I think I might be sad if I found out that you had gotten another woman pregnant."

"Really?" he asks. "Would you be jealous?"

"Let's not go overboard," she says but a small voice in her head tells her that she might be. "Well, thank you for…." She runs her hand over the wet spot she's left. "I do feel better."

"Don't go," he blurts. "Will you stay? I really don't think you should be alone. I'll even take the couch."

"Two nights on the couch in a row has to be hell on your back," she says.

"Trust me, I'm used to it. I'm the kind of guy who gets in relationships where I often spend nights on the couch," he says. She laughs, a little. "Show me the list that the doctor gave you and I'll fix you something."

So she calls it up on his computer terminal and pulls her uniform jacket off. She pulls the pins out of her hair and leaves them in a pile on the table with her rank pips and comm. badge. She's comically short in her bare feet when he returns with a bowl of yogurt and granola. He smirks but wisely says nothing. She doesn't feel hungry until she sees the food but when she starts to eat it, she wolfs it down.

"I shouldn't stay," she says.

"No one cares," he promises. "Nor will they notice if you stay."

"They will eventually. What if there's an emergency? What if it's all hands to battle stations and all your neighbors see me stumbling out of your quarters at some insane, inexplicable hour?"

"Wow, you've really put a lot of thought into this," he says.

"It's my job," she says.

"Well," he says. "If it makes you feel better, Jenny Delaney lives across the hall but she's been living on deck eight for the last three months with Ensign Matthews. To the right is Vorick who sleeps like the dead and is Vulcan so he probably wouldn't rat you out anyway. To the left is, coincidentally, Sam Wildman who shares your situation and can probably sympathize with you."

"Oh," she says. "Still."

"Come on," he says. "I'll find you something to sleep in."

He gives her a big t-shirt and lets her use the bathroom first. She washes her face and wishes she had her toothbrush. The shirt is long on her but she still feels exposed with her legs bare. She leaves her uniform folded on the counter and comes out of the bathroom shyly. He's already in his robe – the blue makes his eyes pop even in the low light. She gets into his bed feeling awkward.

"I feel bad," she murmurs.

"Don't," he promises. "Computer, reduce lights to 10 percent." It gets dark. "Goodnight, Captain."

"Goodnight," she whispers. "Tom?"


"When we're alone, do you think you might call me Kathryn?"

"Sure," he says. "Kathryn."

"Thanks," she says. No one calls her by her name and she didn't realize she'd miss it until it was gone.

She wakes up in the middle of the night in a panic. The dream is already fading away but the fear remains, lingers in her lungs and makes her breath quick and shallow. She can feel that she's sweaty and she feels isolated and trapped. She gets out of the bed and rushes into the living area. Tom is asleep, sprawled across the sofa, his arm and leg dangling off. She takes the hand, squeezes it maybe too hard.

"Huh?" he says, his eyes opening. She must look how she feels. "You're okay, it's okay. What happened?"

"I don't…" She shakes her head. "Will you?" She tugs his hand and hopes that he understands because she can't ask for it out loud. But Tom is perceptive and they've understood one another quite well lately. She wonders if this feeling for him will ever fade or if it's in her genetic make-up now. After all, there is a part of Tom growing inside of her. In the bedroom, he slides into the bed after her and she pulls arms around her.

"Something is wrong with me," she says, tears already threatening to fall again. "What's wrong with me?"

"Nothing is wrong with you," he promises. "You just had a traumatic experience."

"But so did you and you're fine," she says.

"I'm not fine," he says softly. She puts her arms around him, realizing that he needs her too. But she can't get close enough, it seems, so she presses herself against him and tangles their legs and when he kisses the top of her head, she sighs into the warm skin of his neck. She tells herself this will be the last time but she's never been a very good liar.

She's tired and starving when the alarm goes off. She wants another hour of sleep feeling warm and safe. She feels Tom stir – his hand is in her hair and he pulls it out but she tightens her grasp.

"You okay?" he asks, concerned.

"I'm fine," she whispers. She has to find the Captain inside her, has to be able to face the day. Still, he doesn't get out of bed until she does.

During the second half of the duty shift, Tom requests a moment of her time in her ready room.

"It's called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder," he says. "I spoke to the Doctor."

"I don't have PTSD, Tom," she sighs. "I mean, I'll admit that I'm a little shaken up but."

"The Doctor says,"

"I was a Cardassian Prisoner of War," she interrupts. "With your father, actually. I know what PTSD feels like."

"Right," he says. "Dad didn't talk about that much."

"No," she says. "I would imagine not. Tom, if what I'm feeling is too much, just say the word and we'll spend some time apart."

"No," he says. "I just want you to feel better, that's all."

"I feel better when I'm with you," she says.

"Then I'll just butt out," he says.

"Dismissed," she agrees.

They find a rhythm after a couple weeks. Either Tom comes to her quarters or she finds her way to his. Mostly, they sleep apart with Tom on the couch. Only if there are bad dreams or one of them is feeling particularly lonely will they share a bed. When things are busy and the risk of getting called to the bridge seems higher than normal, they'll sleep apart but those nights always seem long and restless.

Two months pass by before Tom wakes up to hear Janeway retching in the bathroom. He rushes in to find her on her hands and knees in front of his toilet. He holds back her hair, dutifully.

"Should I call the Doctor?" he asks but she waves the notion away and presses her face into the hand towel he gives her. "What happened?"

"I replicated the coffee," she says. "Like every morning, but this morning… the smell of it was just…" She groans and looks a little pale at just the thought.

"Coffee gives you morning sickness?" he says. "That's a little ironic."

"It's horrible," she says. "And I'm sore all over."

"I think we should go to sickbay," he says again. "Let the Doctor decide if you're fit for duty. At the very least he can give you something for the nausea."

"Okay," she says. She puts on a clean uniform but feels bad enough that she just clips her hair back and lets Tom walk her there.

"What seems to be the problem?" the Doctor asks. Kes is already with him, even this early. She knows, of course, but Janeway has yet to let Chakotay spread the word. Soon, she'll begin to show and she won't be able to put it off any longer.

"She…" Tom doesn't know how to say it delicately so merely waves his hand in front of his mouth.

"Vomited?" the Doctor asks and Janeway groans. "Morning sickness is a perfectly normal part of pregnancy."

"It was the coffee," Tom says and winks at Kes. Any feelings for her he may have been harboring had swiftly disappeared. Kes smiled slightly, her face compassionate.

"I believe it's time to tell Mr. Neelix," the Doctor says. "You won't want him waving just anything under your nose these days."

"No," Janeway says. "I don't want that."

"If you're going to tell Neelix, you may as well write it on the side of the hull," Tom says. "No offense, Kes."

"None taken," she says.

Janeway is lying on the Bio Bed and lets the Doctor press a hypospray to her neck before tapping her comm. badge.

"Janeway to Chakotay."

"Chakotay here, Captain."

"You'd better gather the senior staff," she says. "It's time to break the news."

The staff looks concerned to be summoned to the conference room so early for an unscheduled meeting, especially when their normal daily meeting is only a few hours away.

"I know you're curious as to why I called you," Janeway says. "But it's time I told you because there's not much longer to put it off." She crosses her arms across her midsection. "Because of some unforeseen complications due to going to Transwarp, I am pregnant."

Everyone stares at her and then, as if a light bulb goes on at the same time in everyone's head, they all turn to look at Tom. Tom, to his benefit, just smiles serenely.

"Yes, it's Lieutenant Paris's, yes, I am keeping it, no, it was not on purpose," she says.

"Congratulations Captain!" Neelix says. Tuvok looks like her news is a personal affront to his security protocols and B'Elanna and Harry just look shell-shocked.

"Thank you, Mr. Neelix," she says. "For now, things will be the same. Commander Chakotay is in charge of informing the crew, but some how I doubt that's going to be much of a problem," she smirks. In ten minutes, everyone will know. "If you have any questions, feel free to ask. Dismissed."

She can see that Harry wants to talk to Tom but he just touches Tom's shoulder and returns to his station. Alone in the conference room, she lets her hands rest on the cool metal of the long table. She touches her hand to her stomach but it doesn't feel any different so she feels silly doing so.

But the change is gradual. One morning, Tom is in her bathroom, brushing his teeth and she's buttoning her pants with a little difficulty. They fit but it's a tight fit – the waistband bites into her skin and will leave a long, red line. She doesn't say anything to Tom but he's watching her in the mirror.

"You all right?" he asks, wiping his mouth on a towel.

"I'm just…" she sighs. "I'm fine."

"We can replicate you a new size," he offers. "If you're uncomfortable."

"What exactly are you saying," she accuses.

"That there's a baby growing inside you and pretty soon it's going to start taking up some space," he says. "You aren't fat, Kathryn. You're pregnant."

"I'm just not ready for the next size," she says. He walks over to her and slowly, giving her plenty of time to stop him, presses his hand against her stomach. It's always been flat and firm but now it feels hard, solid in a different way. Tom smiles hugely. Kathryn can't help herself. She pushes herself up on her toes and kisses him.

It doesn't seem like it should be such a big deal. They practically live together and have for two months. More and more they share a bed. She knows that he snores when he's really tired, he knows that she tosses and turns all night when there's a problem she hasn't yet solved. They eat meals together, work side by side. But they don't touch in this way. They don't kiss and she never feels his hands on her skin.

But it's becoming real now, this life that they've made together and she's so happy that he's happy. She kisses him because it seems the natural thing to do, forgetting that it's not. He doesn't freeze with surprise, or pull back. He, too, kisses her like it's natural; like it's something they've done a thousand times before. His lips are warm and soft and he smells like a man and his arms wrap around her in a delicious way.

"Doctor to Janeway." The sound of the nasal voice interrupts them and she steps back. She can't look at him right away.

"Janeway here," she says.

"You're late for your pre-natal appointment, Captain," he says.

"On my way," she says. When the communication is over she looks at him. "Tom, I'm sorry." He doesn't acknowledge the apology.

"I'd like to come with you," he says, instead. "Since everyone knows it's me, now."

"Sure," she says.

When people see them walking together, now, they nod and smile. She'd been worried about how people might react but it seems to have helped bridge the chasm between the Maquis and Starfleet crews. If the Captain could fall for the most rebellious of the group, there was some hope yet.

Although, she hears the gossip. Were the Captain and her helmsman in love? Were they just making the best of a bad situation? Outside their quarters, they show no outward signs of affection. They are often together –- on the bridge, in the mess hall at the same table, or in the holodeck but apart from the normal banter and occasional shoulder pats, not much is different. The only time Tom had taken any liberties had been two weeks ago. Neelix had baked some sort of morning pastry and brought a sample to the bridge. As soon as the smell hit Janeway, she'd paled and bolted for her ready room – more specifically, her private bathroom. The last few days, her morning sickness had extended into the late afternoons and Tom was always careful about food around her. When she'd bolted, Tom had been right behind her and the crew had watched this exchange without a word. When they reappeared, Janeway had looked a little worse for the wear, but Tom had simply returned to the helm and neither had a said a word.

Everyone had heard about the incident within half an hour, but the point was, no one said a thing to the Captain or Tom.

In sickbay, Kes is waiting for her with a smile.

"Good morning Captain, Tom," she says.

"Good morning, Kes," Janeway says, already used to the drill. Tom offers his hand when she pushes herself up onto the Bio Bed.

"How are you feeling this morning?" Kes asks.

"Fine," she says. Tom must make a face that she doesn't see because Kes raises an eyebrow.

"It's nothing," Janeway says. Tom nudges her with his elbow. "Fine, I've gained weight."

"That's completely normal," Kes says. "A good sign."

"I have never been above a size four," she says, lowering her voice. "It's disorienting."

"Good morning, Captain," the Doctor says coming over. "Lie back, please." Tom takes her hand and squeezes it. This is the sort of thing he really isn't supposed to do but she can hardly fault him after this morning and it is the first of these appointments he's attended. "Would you like to hear the heartbeat, Mr. Paris?"

"Yes," he says. The Doctor presses a button on his tricorder and then the room is filled with the echo of heartbeats.

"The stronger one is the Captains," he explains. "The echo is the child's."

"Wow," he says.

"I can tell you the sex if you'd like," the Doctor offers.

"Yes!" says Tom.

"Absolutely not," says Janeway. They stare at each other.

"Seriously?" Tom asks.

"What difference does it make?" she asks. "As long as it's healthy?"

"Well, we wouldn't have to say 'it' any more," Tom says. "Can he tell just me?"

"No!" she says. "You can't keep a secret from me."

"What's that supposed to mean?" he asks.

"What do you think?" she says, snidely.

"I don't think it's fair that the Doctor and Kes knows the sex of my own child and I don't," he says.

"Life isn't fair, Mr. Paris," she says in her captain's voice.

"Kathryn, be reasonable," Tom says and she narrows her eyes. He knows the rules and they both know he's using her name now to try to soften her to his position.

"When you grow a baby inside you, you can make all the decisions. Until then, Tom, you'll just have to suffer your curiosity," she says. "Doctor, are we through?"

"Almost," he says. He gives her the vitamin spray she needs and she hops off the bed and storms out.

"That went well," Tom says.

"She's going through a rough time," Kes offers. "She's emotional."

"She's a hormonal rollercoaster," Tom says. "One minute we're… and then she's…." He realizes he can't really fill in those blanks but Kes seems to understand just the same.

"Give her some space," Kes says. "Let her cool down."

"Remember," the Doctor pipes in. "Her foul mood affects us all so you would do well to keep on her good side, Mr. Paris."

"Thanks for the advice," he mumbles and gets out of sickbay before the Doctor can offer any more pearls of wisdom. The bridge is as silent as a graveyard and when he announces slight course corrections, it's Chakotay who acknowledges them. Finally, she retreats to her ready room and he can relax slightly. When he turns around to look at the rest of the bridge, Chakotay's look tells him that the Commander knows that the Captain is mad and he also knows it's Tom's fault.

It's a stupid reason to fight, he realizes. His curiosity is one thing, but she's right. He doesn't have to do the hard part. When they break for lunch, he sees her in the mess hall sitting with Tuvok and Harry. He gets his tray and walks over there, feeling brave.

"May I join you?" he asks. Both Tuvok and Harry look at the Captain, who sighs.

"Of course, Mr. Paris," she says. He takes a seat next to Harry, across from Tuvok and remains silent.

"Actually, I'm due back on the bridge," Harry says and disappears before anyone can say anything.

"I, too, must brief my security team before the start of the next duty shift," Tuvok says, and walks away.

"Cowards," Janeway mumbles.

"Captain, I just wanted to say that I'm sorry," he says.

"This may not be the place, Lieutenant," she says.

"I just wanted to say that you were right and I was wrong and whatever you decide is best, I will go with," he says. "And if you need space, I will give you space."

She sighs and stabs at her meal with her fork.

"I don't mean to be unkind," she tells him. "It's just been a rough morning."

"It started out pretty great, I'd say," he says. She smiles and knows she just can't stay mad at him.

That night, she goes to his quarters. She likes being on a lower deck. She actually likes the cozier space, the fact that his things surround them both. He seems pleasantly surprised when she appears. He didn't think she'd come.

"I've decided that I'm going to go up a size and when I grow out of that, I'll switch to the maternity uniform," she says.

"Sounds like a good compromise," he says.

"I've had the same basic body since I was 16, Tom. Some things are a little lower, but there's never been a change like this."

"You at sixteen is something I would've liked to see," he says.

"You were a baby then," she reminds him.

"I remember you from when you worked with my father," he admits. "You're prettier now."

"You're laying it on rather thick," she says.

"Just being honest," he says.

"Can I sleep with you tonight?" she asks.

"Of course," he says.

"I wasn't exactly honest with you today," she says. "Tuvok, a while ago, found out that someone has been contacting the Kazon with some regularity."

"We have a traitor on board? Who?" he asks. She pulls at her uniform and takes the jacket off. He can see the slight roundedness of her midsection, the way it strains against her trousers.

"We don't know," she says. "But this afternoon Tuvok and I came up with a plan to ferret them out. We need your help."

She doesn't go on until they are ready for bed. She has started to wear nightgowns, slippery things that make him a little crazy. He understands why she does it, they are billowy and roomy but the thin straps and bits of lace are very distracting on a woman he isn't sure if he's allowed to touch. Tonight she wears a red one, command red, really, and it makes her skin pale and the copper highlights in her hair stand out. She sits on the edge of his bed, brushing out her hair watching him.

"I'm not going to like this, am I?" he says.

"Come to bed, Tom," she says. In bed, she clings to him in a new way and it takes him a moment to realize that he feels her tears on his shoulder.

"Kathryn," he says, softly.

"Tom, I need you to leave the ship," she says. She explains to plan – how he needs to seem like he's giving up, the lapses in duty, the lashing out, and finally, the departure.

"The crew will think I'm the worst kind of man," he warns her. "Leaving you like this."

"I'll know the truth," she says. "It's just until we figure out who is leaking information to Seska."

"What if I don't come back," he says. "What if something happens?"

"Are you turning down the mission?" she asks.

"No," he says. "I just don't want you to be alone."

"Then don't die," she says. "You're the only one I trust enough to do this and do it well."

"Aye, Captain," he whispers. They are cocooned in darkness, warm and soft in each other's arms. When he kisses her, she pushes herself into him, opens her mouth and takes as much as he is willing to give.

In the morning the charade begins. He's convincing, his snide and arrogant attitude. He mutters under his breath at every order, stops brushing his hair, eats alone and arrives late everywhere. They stage a fight in the mess hall which results in him throwing down is tray and stalking out, leaving her alone and shocked. He ignores Tuvok, actively hates Chakotay. Even Harry doesn't know what to make of it.

Janeway starts taking precautions. When Tom comes to her quarters, he leaves his comm. badge in his quarters and reroutes all communications for him through Janeway's computer terminal. The only one who'd notice something awry is Tuvok and he's in on the charade.

On his last night, she doesn't cry and or ask him not to go and he doesn't ask to stay.

"A couple weeks at most, all right?" he says. Her lips are swollen. In the morning, all that will be left of him is his smell on her sheets and a soreness between her legs. She won't see him off in the transporter room and she won't appear sad that he's gone. She will ignore the pitying looks from her crew.

While he's gone, she switches to the maternity uniform and it just seems to add insult to injury.

"I'm glad he's gone," Harry Kim surprises her by saying. "He didn't deserve you."

"He never had me, Ensign," she corrects, a warning note in her voice. "What happened was an unforeseen complication from our medical procedure."

"Of course, Captain," Harry says but she begins to wonder if her and Tom's nights spent together haven't been overlooked by the crew after all. When Tom returns, she'll have to ask him just how much Harry knows.

Nights are the hardest. She isn't used to sleeping alone any longer and she misses him. The growing bump is lousy company. She's starving all the time now, and tires easily. She misses Tom rubbing her shoulders and her feet; she misses him in her bed when they're not sleeping. She didn't mean to start a sexual relationship with him but now that she has she can't see her way to stopping. Her hormones are so out of whack that sometimes she's all over him before she realizes what she's doing.

Being alone now is harder than she anticipated. Tuvok eats with her whenever she comes to the mess. Perhaps it's the Vulcan's way to show solidarity. Chakotay would eat with her too, she knows, but he's one of the people that exuded pity with just a dash of smug know-it-all-ness. She doesn't want that.

They get word that the Kazon have taken Paris and her heart flutters in her chest. She doesn't want to let her fear show as she thanks the Captain of the Talaxian freighter. She knows Paris is capable of pulling off their plan. It's Neelix who makes everything that much more complicated.

His devotion of Tom had moved her but his scathing commentary on the next episode had cut her deeply.

"Get him up here now," she'd told Tuvok. Chakotay, upon finding out that he'd been left out, was understandably angry though somehow she felt he wasn't angry only because he'd been left out, but that Tom would be returning to Voyager, once again ready and willing to raise his child at the Captain's side.

When Tom returns, she knows she can only welcome him back but her voice betrays her joy. He'd wanted to save Voyager, though, and she'd wanted to save him. When she heard the explosion and then no response, she thought the worst. Her heart had fallen, fallen far past her feet, out the bottom of the deck, the ship, and floated away into the darkness of space. When they had him, it came rushing back into her chest and started to beat wildly.

That night, he comes to her quarters showered and back in uniform and she throws her arms around him.

"You changed," he says, when she lets go.

"Come on, you weren't gone that long," she says.

"No, I mean your uniform," he says, tugging on the end of her loose tunic. It has elastic in the back, ready to stretch with her and curves delicately over a stomach that is just starting to show its bloom.

"Yes," she says. "The pants are not the most flattering things I've ever put on."

"You look adorable," he assures her. "Beautiful and radiant."

"Thank you," she says. "Not for the compliment, but for doing a good job and being a fine officer. Thank you for coming back to me."

They stay up too late, sitting on her couch with tea and snacks. They talk hours past when they should both be asleep, their knees touching and fingers always grasping for contact. For the night, they don't care who knows where they are. Kathryn is a captain who has led her crew to victory and Tom is the hero who carried them all on his shoulders. When they get tired, she crawls onto his lap and they lie back, entwined. Tom rests his hand on the swell of her, hoping to feel something, but she hasn't even felt the flutter of life yet, so she tells him to be patient, that the time will come.

She wakes up alone in his bed. She has a later duty rotation today and he's off entirely, having earned a break for his heroism.

"Tom?" she calls out, worried that his return was just a dream.

"I'm here," he says. He comes in with his face half covered with shaving cream. In many ways, Tom is a traditionalist, like her family. He likes old-fashioned things, old music and cars and such like. It's ironic that the things she'd struggled so hard to get away from as a child are the things she's come back to now.

"Hi," she says. "Just checking." She rolls onto her back, trying to find a comfortable position. She has to sleep on her side now, or her back to make room for her expanding stomach. She likes to sleep on her stomach the most but it's becoming impossible to do so. She likes best to lie on her stomach while Tom rubs her lower back, humming some ancient song, old enough that she doesn't recognize it but familiar nonetheless.

When he comes out, she realizes he's in full uniform.

"Wait, I thought we were going to have a leisurely morning," she says.

"I agreed to go on Neelix's show," he says.

"Apologize to Chakotay would you?" she says. "I think he's mad at both of us."

"Will do," he says. "Since you asked so nicely. I shouldn't be too long."

"It's okay, I may as well get up. I have to go to the Doctor's labor class with Sam Wildman anyway," she says.

"Labor class?" he asks.

"He started it when you were gone. Teaching us how to breathe and heaven knows what else," she says. "She's due soon, you know."

"She's been pregnant forever," Tom says.

"Human – Katarian pregnancies can take up to two years, she told me," Janeway says. "So thanks for being human when you decided to kidnap me."

His face falls a little.

"I'm sorry. That was a bad joke," she apologizes.

"No, you're right," he says. "You didn't ask for this."

"Wait, wait," she says. "We're not fighting about this. I'm perfectly happy with you so let's not."

"I… make you happy?" he asked.

"Of course," she says. "You've always made me happy even before all this happened."

"That's nice to hear," he says. "Thank you."

"Go on, do your show," she says.

"I'll come by the holodeck and pick you up for lunch," he says.

At the pre-natal class, Janeway's attention wavers. The Doctor is lecturing on something but she's long since stopped listening. Next to her, Samantha Wildman is slumping in her chair. She is farther along than Janeway in time and in girth. She will deliver soon, and Janeway is nervous for the both of them. Janeway hasn't really spent much time with Wildman and it's for no good reason. The sight of Sam struggling to stand or sit, use a replicator or walk down a corridor simply gives Janeway a funny feeling in the back of her throat. It's like looking into the future that she just can't control.

Perhaps her face shows her emotions or perhaps Sam can simply anticipate how Janeway might be feeling, but she reaches out and takes Janeway's hand and gives it a little squeeze. In any other circumstance, the action would be inappropriate for a lower ranking officer, but here, Janeway just squeezes back. Here, she is the one with less knowledge and experience.

Something startles her, then, makes her yank her hand away and sit up right.

"Captain?" Sam asks, concerned. The Doctor pauses in his lecture, his hand hovering near his tricorder.

"I felt something," she says. "I'm almost sure of it."

"You're over 20 weeks along," the Doctor says, scanning her. "It's probably just movement."

"It felt like… wings beating inside of me. There it is again!" she exclaims, positioning her hand over the area where the movement is. "It's bizarre."

"It takes some getting used to," Sam agrees with a warm smile. "Soon you'll be able to tell if it's an elbow or a foot that's poking you."

"I think I've had enough for the day," Janeway says. "Excuse me." When she's alone in the hallway, she taps her badge.

"Janeway to Paris."

"Paris here, Captain."

"Tom, I just felt the baby move!" she says, excited. Through the open comm. link she can hear the sound of cheering. She hadn't even thought about where Tom was, if he were somewhere public.

"That's wonderful, Captain," Tom says. "The entire mess hall is happy for you."

"Oh dear," she says. "Janeway out."

When she enters the mess hall, people start to applaud and she blushes, raises her hand to try to stop it. Tom looks a little smug but stands to greet her.

"Can I feel it?" he asks.

"Not here! And besides, I can barely feel it on the inside, I doubt you can feel it on the outside yet," she says. "I was foolish to just blurt it out like that."

"Everyone was thrilled! I don't think you need to worry so much," he says. "Come on, I'll get you something. You hungry?"

"Famished," she says. When he brings her a tray, she digs in immediately.

"What'd you learn in class?" he asks.

"I don't even know what I was supposed to be learning," she admits. "It seems like lately I just can't concentrate like I'm used to."

"You're tired and you need more rest," he says. "I'm going to talk to Chakotay, try to get you on a less stressful duty rotation."

"I don't need you handling me, Lieutenant," she says.

"And I don't want to have to involve the Doctor," he threatens.

"You wouldn't," she says.

"Try me."

"You know, Ensign Paris is sounding better and better," she says.

"If that's what it takes to make you rest," he says as if he couldn't care less. He's calling her bluff.

"Fine," she mutters. "I can work from my quarters more often."

"See? And you have no faith in diplomacy," he teases. She decided not to dignify his response and instead focuses on devouring the rest of her, and his, lunch.

A week later, she has the early bridge shift. She's already straining against her new maternity uniform. Tom says that from behind, she looks exactly the same as she always has and it's only from the side and front that her belly is noticeable. She is sitting in her chair more often now, and Chakotay had been the first to notice when she'd switched from the heeled boots to the flats.

"You were always short, Captain, but this is really stunning," he'd laughed. She barely came to his chest and she'd glowered at him. The truth is they'd be killing her lower back; she can't stay on her feet for hours at a time anymore.

In her chair, she's considering cutting her hair short when the baby comes. She's mentioned this to Tom and the look of disappointment on his face was so extreme that she'd promised him she'd give him fair warning if she chose to do so. Also, in the back of her mind, she's thinking about how still the baby is inside her. Since the first feeling of movement, the baby had been active. It stands to reason, she thinks, since she and Tom are both restless and active people. The baby often moves in the morning but this morning she hasn't felt so much as a flutter or a kick,

It's too soon to worry, but she does pace for a while, hoping to feel something.

"Something wrong, Captain?" Harry asks which makes Tom swivel around in his chair so fast he nearly falls off of it.

"Nothing, just thinking," she says.

At lunch, she asks Neelix to make her something spicy. The baby moves when she eats spicy foods but in the end, she only gets indigestion and nothing from the baby. That night, even though it's really Tom's night to host the sleepover, she request the he comes to her quarters after the duty shift. When he arrives, he comes into find her in the bathtub, her stomach protruding out of the water.

"You okay?" he asks. She looks a little panicked, actually and can't hide it from her features. "Kathryn?"

"Usually, when I take a bath, I can feel the baby move," she says.

"It's not moving?" Tom asks.

"I haven't felt a thing all day," she admits. His face pales.

"Come on, we're going to sickbay." He practically yanks her out of the tub, and the lukewarm water tells him she's been in there for a while. He towels her off and throws his own robe on her. It's the only one that will tie around her.

"I can't go in this," she protests but he pulls her out without shoes, in his robe with hair that still dripping. She feels like this is a little much but on the way she feels a sharp pain where the baby is and groans, doubling over. "Something is wrong," she gasps, finally willing to admit it.

"Come on," he says, and picks her up like she weights nothing though she knows this isn't the case. She focuses on her bare knees in his arms and while she sees the blur of passing crewmembers but she can't make out who they are.

In sickbay, she can see the Doctor leaning over Sam Wildman who appears to be in labor. She's about to tell Tom that it's fine when another shot of pain rips through her and she feels moisture between her legs.

"Doc, we got a problem here," Tom yells, setting her on to the nearest bed.

"Stay with her," he informs Kes before rushing over. "What happened?"

"Pain," is all Janeway manages.

"She hasn't felt the baby move all day and when we were on our way, she felt pain," Tom says. The Doctor scans her but all Tom can see is the blood running down Kathryn's pale thigh. "Doc!"

"The baby is trying to revert back to his original genome," he says, pressing a hypospray to the Captain's neck.

"What?" she cries. "Why?"

"I have no idea," the doctor says. "If I try to do the same genetic therapy on the fetus as I did on you, it'll kill you. If we're going to save it, we'll have to deliver now."

"It's too soon," Janeway sobs. "It won't survive."

"Doctor!" Kes cries.

"Mr. Paris, I need you to go assist Kes while I work on the Captain," the Doctor says. "You have medical training."

"I'm not leaving," Tom says.

"Go!" She gives him permission. He reluctantly moves across sickbay.

"Captain, I think I can transport the baby out long enough to do the procedure and then use the medical transporter to put him back into your womb," the Doctor offers. "You must decide now."

"Him?" Janeway realizes. The Doctor doesn't look like he has time to apologize for the slip, so she just nods.

"I'm putting you under," he says, attaching a cortical device to her temple. When he moves to the console, she slips under.

Tom is the first one to see their son. When the baby appears on the incubator, his skin is mottled and he looks like he's in pain. Tom wants to touch him, to cradle him but the Doctor has informed him that Tom must stay back and not interfere. The baby is so small, so underdeveloped that he's gripped with fear. If this doesn't work, it's going to break Kathryn, and it's going to break him as well. Kathryn is on the bed, unconscious but there are small lines around her eyes and on her forehead, like the stress of the situation has not left her. Because he cannot go to the baby, he goes to her. He strokes her cheek and whispers into her ear that everything is going to be fine. Across the room, Sam Wildman holds her daughter close, as if whatever is happening to Tom's son might jump over to her child.

"All right, we're ready to transport him back," the Doctor announces. "Mr. Paris, please assist in holding the Captain still. The coordinates must be exact in order to reattach him to the umbilical cord."

"Got it," he says. Kes holds down one arm while he leans on the other.

"Energizing," he says. Where Kathryn's stomach has deflated a little, it now firms up again. Kes scans her.

"I think it took," she says.

"I'm going to keep her under for several hours in order to keep her still and allow both mother and child to get plenty of rest," the Doctor says.

"But they're going to be all right?" Tom asks.

"I believe the procedure was a success," the Doctor says. "I want her for several days of observation and then, and get used to these words Mr. Paris, bed rest, Strict bed rest for her."

While Kathryn rests, Tom is restless. Chakotay and Harry have both come to visit, to look down at their sleeping Captain, pale and still and to hear the story. They coo over the newest crewmember, named Naomi, but as happy as they are for Sam, their worry over the Captain is obvious. They're worried about Tom, too.

"Come on," Chakotay says kindly, much too kindly for the relationship they share. "Let's get you some dinner."

"No," he says. "I'm not hungry. I think I'll just go to bed."

But he can't sleep. His sheets smell like her. He wants to go to her quarters but realizes that he's not authorized to enter her quarters without her being in them first and that the same is true for his. Of course, she could override any security block he put on the quarters, but she wouldn't do so unless it was an emergency and he wants her to be able to just press her finger to a button and be let right in.

Except that voice command of the computer has been down on his deck all week, so he'll have to input the command manually. When B'Elanna finds him, he's practically inside the access panel a little way down the corridor from his quarters.

"Paris," she says. "What the hell are you doing?"

"Trying to bypass voice command," he says, muffled. She crouches next to him.

"Well, your tinkering with the system lit up my engineering console like a Christmas tree. You've disconnected voice command on the whole deck and trapped three people in a turbolift," she says. He looks at her.

"Sorry," he says. She pushes him aside and reconnects what he'd spent the last hour taking apart. In a few minutes, she has even repaired the initial problem.

"You're a great pilot and a passable medic, but an engineer you are not," she says. When he doesn't respond she sits next to him on the floor. "I heard what happened in sickbay."

"Yeah," he says.

"Word is she's fine," B'Elanna says.

"She's still sleeping," he says. "But, we almost lost the baby."

"But you didn't," B'Elanna says.

"Is it… no one ever talks about it, about Kathryn and I. Is it weird to the rest of the crew?" he asks.

"It's weird to hear you call her Kathryn," B'Elanna chuckles. "It was odd a first but everyone understood your situation. And then when everyone thought you were abandoning her… well, I was ready to put your head on a pike. But now… it's just how it is."

"How it is," he repeats.

"You make each other happy and no one can begrudge that, Paris," she says and pats his arm. "So stop worrying about it."

"It's not that easy," he says. "What if I had lost them both?"

"Do you love her, Paris?" B'Elanna asks. He nods, miserably. "Oh man. You need to get some sleep."

She walks him to his quarters and tells him not to reemerge until the morning cycle. Once in his quarters, he instructs the computer to allow Kathryn Janeway entry at any time, day or night.

In the morning, he goes to sickbay before his duty shift. The Doctor wakes her up while Tom holds her hand.

"How is he?" she asks.

"Your son is just fine, Captain," the Doctor smiles.

"Good," she sighs. She looks at Tom and he touches her face lightly with an index finger.

"Things have to change," he says. "No bridge duty. No engineering. You're on bed rest, now."

"Bed rest?" she says. "I still have over three months to go!"

"Doctor's orders," he says. "Chakotay knows."

"Also, no transporters for you," the Doctor chimes in. "No sports, cut your sugar intake in half, and please, Captain, anytime you feel that something is wrong, come to sickbay immediately!"

"This is going to be awful," she groans, trying to sit up. The Doctor unceremoniously pushes her back down by the shoulder.

"I want you in sickbay for another 12 hours," he says. "I've already spoken to Mr. Paris about staying with you, making sure you follow my instructions."

"Doctor," she says.

"I'm to wait on you hand and foot," he interrupts. He knows the Captain well, knows that warning note in her voice means she's about to lay into the Doctor and he has to make sure she doesn't hit her stride. "I know it sounds terrible but it's what's best for the baby."

She can't exactly argue with that.

"If I wear a monitor, can I at least go back to my quarters?" she asks. The Doctor sighs theatrically.

"Mr. Paris may escort you back to your quarters at the end of his duty shift," he says, compromising. She rolls her eyes and looks at Tom.

"See you in a few hours," he says and leans down to kiss her cheek.

Chakotay runs the noon staff meeting.

"I'm sure you've all heard that Captain Janeway has been put on bed rest," he says, looking at Tom like it's singularly his fault. "I'll be the commanding officer on the bridge until the Doctor releases her for duty."

"Is she all right?" Harry asks.

"She's fine," Tom pipes in. "Unhappy with the situation but fine."

"I hear you're having a son," Harry says, smiling. Tom can't help but grin.

"Yep," he says.

"Focus, please," Chakotay says. He sounds a little bitter, but Tom doesn't care. The meeting is about picking up slack, dividing some of the work Chakotay usually does so he can step up to fill the Captain's shoes. "All your reports go to her, still, though if you need to talk to someone, you come to me. She shouldn't be bothered with trivial things."

"What's important," Tom interrupts again. "Is that her blood pressure stay low so we really need to make sure her stress levels don't get too high."

"Thank you, Lieutenant," Chakotay says, stressing his rank a little more than necessary.

When they are dismissed, Tom settles into his seat, waiting for his shift to end.

Janeway seems fine, if a little impatient when he arrives in sickbay. She's still in her sickbay clothes but it's still better than the robe she has folded on her lap.

"I brought you some clothes," he says, handing her a pair of slacks, blouse, and a pair of shoes she'd left in his quarters.

"Bless you," she says and disappears to the bathroom to change. When she returns, she smiles at him. The blouse is a little snug around her stomach but their just transitory clothes. "Get me out of here."

In her quarters, though, he orders her to bed. She frowns and starts pulling off the clothes to change into something more comfortable. He looks away – one of the Doctor's orders was no sex for at least three weeks and there is something irresistible about the way she swells with his child. He doesn't want to be tempted.

"Something wrong?" she asks, smirking. Clearly she knows the rules too.

"Nope," he says. "Just checking out the view."

"Hmm, empty space. Very enthralling," she says. "You may turn around now, Lieutenant Paris, my modesty is restored."

She's in civvies still, but pants and a tank top that is loose. She's braiding her hair over one shoulder, her eyes twinkling at him.

"You're going to make this hard on me, aren't you?" he asks.

"Someone must be punished for my current state," she shrugs. He sighs.

Two days is all she can stand, apparently. Because two days later, she shows up on the bridge in her uniform.

"Captain?" Chakotay asks, curiously.

"I left something in my ready room," she says and disappears into her office before anyone can say anything.

"Permission to… fix this?" Tom asks Chakotay who nods once. When Tom requests entry, she is slow to allow it. Finally, though, the doors open. She's sitting at her desk only looking slightly guilty.

"If you needed something, someone could have retrieved it for you," he says.

"I didn't want to put anyone out," she says.

"Captain," he says.

"And besides, what's the difference between sitting at the desk in my quarters and sitting here?" she asks.

"You should be in bed!" he says. "You and I both know you couldn't resist coming to the bridge should something happen while you were in here."

"And why is that so bad?" she asks.

"What if we get fired on?" he says. "What if you lose your footing on the steps or get thrown into the railing? What if a console explodes in your face?"

"That's a lot of what ifs," she says.

"It isn't just your life you're putting in danger, anymore," he points out.

"All right, all right, I can't take any more of your lecture," she says, holding up her hand. "I have my report, I'll return to my prison." She holds up a PADD that he doesn't believe even holds any data. It's all a rouse, he's sure.

"I know this is hard," he says.

"You don't!" she says. "I feel useless."

"Perpetuating the species is not being useless," he says. "You've simply got to change your perspective."

"I don't know how this ship is going to go through three months of having no captain," she says.

"Your faith in us is astounding," Tom says dryly. "We do have a captain! She just… can't come to the bridge for a little while. In the scheme of things, three months isn't very long and then, you and I will have a son to raise together." Her eyes soften at his words.

"We will," she says.

"Now, while I do enjoy your backside in that uniform, please go change and go back to bed," he says. She raises her eyebrows. "Ma'am," he adds.

"Breaking some rules here, Mr. Paris," she says. "Insubordinate, even."

"Is it because you want to kiss me right now?" he asks. "I understand. I'm rakishly handsome."

"I'm leaving," she says, pushing her self up out of the chair.

"We could make out right here, if you wanted to. I wouldn't tell," he says but she just waves her hand and slips out the backdoor. When he returns to the bridge, Chakotay watches him.

"Everything all right, Lieutenant?" he asks.

"Yes sir," Tom says. "She just needed a little encouragement in regards to her new orders."

Chakotay smirks.

"I'm sure she did," he says.

When Tom gets to her quarters later, Janeway is sitting on the floor with her eyes closed.

"You okay?" he asks.

"I'm meditating," she says.

"Oh. How's that going?" he asks. She sighs and opens her eyes, her shoulders slumping.

"Not well. Your son keeps kicking me in the spine," she says. "Or resting on my bladder."

"You don't strike me as the meditative type anyhow," Tom admits.

"Tuvok recommended it. He said I should try it if I felt 'bored.'"

"Tactful," Tom says.

"Kes offered to let me help in the hydroponics bay," she says. "And Neelix said I could help cook in the galley any time."

"There you go," Tom says.

"I'm the infirm grandparent that all the kids try to pawn off on their siblings," she groans.

"You are very dramatic," Tom says. "That's not true."

"It is true. Just put me in a shuttle and set me adrift," she wails.

"Okay," he says. "Come with me. We're going to burn off a little energy."

"I thought the Doctor said we couldn't…"

"Not that kind of energy, Kathryn Janeway," he says. "We're going to the holodeck."

"All right," she says. "Help me up."

She expects to walk into Sandrine's a game of pool or dancing or something. It would be like Tom, asking her to learn to shoot pool around her growing belly. He likes when the odds are tipped in his favor. But instead he calls up a new program, one she hasn't seen. When they enter the holodeck, it's a beautiful day. There's sunshine, a soft breeze and down the ways, there's a red barn.

"It's lovely," she says. He just grins. On the way to the barn, he slips his hand in hers and she gives him a squeeze, maybe just to let him know that she's there with him one hundred percent. She steps back so he can drag open the barn door to reveal an automobile.

"What… is this?" she asks, trying to sound neutral.

"It's a car. Like the truck we found. It has a combustion engine. It's a 1965 Ford Mustang," he says proudly. "It's a beautiful car. I built her myself."

"And we do what with it?" she asks.

"I take you for a ride and then, when you feel comfortable, you're going to learn how to drive it," he informs her.

"And this is safer than being flung about on the bridge?" she asks skeptically.

"The holodeck safeties are on," he says. "And I'd never let anything happen to you."

"All right," she says. He opens the passenger door for her and helps her slide into the car. Everything looks helplessly ancient. The thing is piloted by a wheel and there are knobs and dials on the helm but she doesn't know what anything means. She recognizes the keys dangling from the side of the wheel from when Tom started up the truck they'd found but she can't imagine herself piloting it. Tom slides in and closes the door. When he turns the key, the engine roars to life loudly enough that she jumps and brings a hand to her belly. Inside her, the baby shifts.

"Is he moving?" Tom asks.

"Yep," she says.

"That's because he likes it!" Tom says gleefully. She watches him move a stick and then the car is backing out of the barn onto a dirt road.

"Where are we?" she asks. He shrugs.

"I programmed it to look like Earth but we're nowhere in particular. There's a river nearby with a great place to have a picnic, but mostly it's just roads for driving," he explains. He moves the stick again, his feet working at the pedals and they change directions. There's no top to the car, so as he increases their speed, the wind blows out her hair. She's stopped putting it up lately – it's too much trouble when not on duty and she knows Tom likes it down. Now, it blows out behind her, waving like a flag in the wind. She laughs. When she feels used to the motion, she slides over so she can sit closer to Tom. He lets his arm rest on the seat so she can lean into him.

They drive for several kilometers before he slows down and pulls off onto the side of the road. He opens her door for her and helps her out. From the back compartment of the car, he pulls out a large blanket.

"Where are we going?" she asks.

"I told you, there's a river," he says.

"Yes, but what is there to do?" she presses.

"See? This is your problem. I don't think anyone has ever taught you how to relax," he says. "We're going to sit on the blanket and enjoy the day. And that's it."

"I can relax," she pouts, following him down a narrow path. Now that he's mentioned it, she can hear the sound of water moving. "I take baths. I have the occasional glass of wine – well not anymore, but when I'm not carrying another person around inside me."

"Kath, baths and a glass of wine once a year is not relaxing," he argues. She seems to hesitate for a moment and the banter dies down. As they crest a small hill, the river comes into view. He lays out the blanket and helps her sit before settling next to her. "You okay?"

"Hmm?" she says. "Yeah."

"You got quiet," he says.

"It's just…" She looks at him. "Do you ever wonder if what we're feeling isn't real?"

"No," he says. "Do you?"

"Well, it isn't that I don't believe in what I'm feeling," she assures him. "It's just that, before you took me to Transwarp and… you know."

"Knocked you up?" he supplies.

"Yes," she says. "That. Before that, I didn't think about you in a romantic way."

"Understandable, I'm a subordinate officer," he says.

"It's like a flip got switched inside me," she says. "And sometimes I wonder if someday it will get switched back."

"That's a day I hope never comes," he says.

"You didn't think about me that way either?" she asks, searching for confirmation.

"Oh come on," he says. "Of course I did."

"What?" she exclaims.

"Most junior officers think about at least one of their commanding officers that way," he assures her. "Have you never had a crush on a higher ranking officer?"

"Well, yes, but not the captain!" she says.

"Not every captain looks like you," he says.

"So you thought I was attractive," she says.

"It wasn't just that," he promises. "You believe in me."

"Yes," she says. "I do."

"So yeah, I thought about you that way, but I wouldn't have pursued anything. 70 years in the brig sounds like a long time," he says. "What brought this on?"

"Oh, back there. You called me Kath. It's what my fiancé used to call me. Well, he's not my fiancé any more," she says. "I suppose."

"Ah," he says.

"I haven't thought about him hardly at all since I found out about the baby," she admits. "I guess I'm just feeling guilty. You've been so wonderful. I can't imagine what he'll think of me."

"He'll understand," Tom promises. "Things change and sometimes it's out of our control."

"I did love him," she says. "More than anyone I've ever met. Or at least I thought I did. But Tom, when I look at you…" She trails off. "It's so strong that it can't be real. It has to be… there has to be some sort of explanation as to why I completely lose my head when I'm around you."

Tom doesn't know what to say to such an admission so he grabs her face and kisses her, She lies back on the blanket and lets him touch her, drag his lips over her mouth, along the shape of her jaw and down her neck.

After a few moments, something starts to beep.

"Shit," she says. "It's my monitor."

"Monitor?" he asks, sitting up and breathing heavy.

"From sickbay," she says.

"Doctor to Janeway." Right on cue, the Doctor's voice cuts in.

"Janeway here," she says, touching her comm. badge.

"Your blood pressure has spiked to a much too high level," he says.

"Sorry, Doc, we were just…" Tom starts to explain.

"Please don't tell me," the Doctor says. "Just cease whatever strenuous activity you are participating in or report to sickbay."

"Acknowledged," Janeway sighs and ends the communication.

"Guess I'm pretty good," Tom says. Janeway's laughter fills the meadow. They spend the rest of the hour on the blanket, sprawled out in the sunshine. Janeway has her head in Tom's lap and he runs his fingers through her hair. When she feels the baby move, she holds his hand against her stomach so he can feel the movement too. They don't discuss work – the ship or it's crew and they don't spend any more time on ex-lovers. They don't discuss the baby, they don't plan names or future careers and they don't worry about if their son will ever see the real Earth.

They just sit on the blanket and watch the sun move across the sky.

The day the baby comes is not a good day. Janeway sits in her quarters, which she's started to think of as 'their' quarters, and feels the ship tremble with enemy fire. In the last month of her pregnancy, she has ballooned. Her face is as round as a full moon and she hasn't seen her feet in weeks. The weight is too much for her small frame and the Doctor has confined her to quarters except for meals in the mess or visits to sickbay.

Just in the last few weeks, Neelix has pronounced them out of Kazon space but they are now into Vidiian territory and have been under steady attack. B'Elanna has spent countless hours improving the shields and the weapons. While the Vidiians do have superior medical technology, their weapons are no match for Voyager.

So far, anyway.

The ship shudders again and Janeway simply can't stand it anymore. There has to be something she can do to help. She stands and winces. Her lower back has been in agony all day and every so often she gets a sharp twinge. She's endured worse, however, and so she heads for the door intent on helping in engineering if not the bridge. But, as soon as the she clears the door, she feels a warm gush between her legs and looks down to see a puddle forming beneath her. The ship rocks again, threatening to knock her off her feet.

"You've got to be kidding me," she groans and heads for sickbay instead.

It seems too fast, but by the time she makes it to sickbay, the pain has escalated exponentially and she's sweating and clenching her teeth with every wave. When she walks in, the sickbay is a flurry with activity. There are wounded crewmen – broken limbs and burnt flesh from exploding conduits. It takes the Doctor a moment to notice her by the door, leaning against the bulkhead, her face contorted in pain.

"I really don't have time to deliver a baby right now, Captain," he says in passing.

"I don't have time to have one!" she yells back. The room is dark, the red alert diverting power elsewhere, so she can't really see his expression as he hurriedly mends a burned crewmember with the dermal regenerator.

"The Captain needs the bed," he says and shoos the healed man back to his duty station.

"Congratulations Captain," he manages as he passes her.

"We'll see," she groans. The Doctor helps her onto the bed.

"Wait here. You probably have hours before you're ready to push. How long have you been in labor?" he asks.

"Oh, a couple hours," she says.

"And you waited until the middle of an emergency to come down here?" he asks.

"I thought it was just back pain," she says. He rolls his eyes and rushes away at the sound of Kes calling his name. She taps her badge.

"Janeway to Paris," she manages.

"Little busy right now, Captain," he manages. "What can I do for you?"

"I believe the Doctor needs you in sickbay," she says.

"Now?" he asks and she can hear the din of the bridge through the link. She misses it fiercely.

"I'm in labor," she says. "And the Doctor and Kes could use the help."

"You're having the baby?" he screeches. "On my way."

It takes almost twenty-five minutes for him to actually make it to sickbay and he brings two more wounded with him. Janeway is right in the middle of things, with wounded on either side of her and her legs spread for all the world to see. She has a blanket but every time the Doctor passes, he lifts it to check her progress and everyone on the other side of the room gets a show. The Doctor actually seems relieved to see Tom and ands him a tricorder.

"Triage," he says.


"Go, I promise you won't miss any of it," he says. He lifts the blanket and glances down. "You're at 8 centimeters, Captain. Almost there."

She's still in her dress. There hasn't been time to change her and the time for painkillers has passes so she is drenched in sweat. Her hair sticks to her head and with every contraction, her eyes roll back in her head. It is the worst kind of pain, deep and inescapable and she has no idea why women would ever do this more than once, let alone at all. The contractions come sooner and closer now and the next one that comes has her screaming low in her throat. Suddenly Sam Wildman is there, with a nasty gash over her eye and looking rather worse for the wear. Sam takes Janeway's hand.

"Just squeeze when it hurts, Captain," she says, her voice soothing.

"You're bleeding," Janeway manages, looking up at Sam.

"Doesn't hurt," Sam promises. The blood has mixed in with her blonde hair and has run down into her ear where it disappears.

"How's your vision?" Janeway asks.

"Don't worry," Sam says and wipes at Janeway's forehead with a towel. Janeway hadn't even noticed the sweat running into her eyes. "How do you feel?"

"It hurts," she says. "Like no other pain."

"You'll forget all about it once you have your son in your hands," Sam promises. "What can I get you?"

"I want Tom," she wails, feeling another contraction coming on. There's nothing she can do to stop it and she and Sam both know this. "Breathe," Sam instructs.

"TOM," Janeway wails, so far past what her crew may think of her relationship with her pilot. Suddenly, the need to push is overwhelming. "I want… I have to push."

"Just hang on," Sam begs. "Doctor, I think it's time."

When the Doctor finally appears, Janeway grips his arm so tightly he's glad he isn't programmed to feel pain.

"Get me Tom. Now," she seethes.

"Captain, Mr. Paris is…"

"That's an order!" she snaps.

"I'll get him," Sam says.

"You need to push with your next contraction, Captain," the Doctor instructs. Tom appears by her side.

"Hey," he says, taking her hand. "Here I am." At the sight of him, she wells up.

"Tom, I can't do this, I can't, it's too much," she says, sounding desperate.

"Too late now, babe," he says. "Come on, you have to push."

And because she has no other choice, she does.

It's hard to say just what happened after that. When she wakes up, the sickbay is well lit again – they're out of red alert. She feels like she's been shot and everything feels swollen and tender. Tom is there, leaning over her.

"What happened?" she asks.

"You had a baby," he says. The look on his face is unexpected, however. He doesn't smile or stroke her face. She blinks and moves her head. She doesn't want to look at him when she asks.

"Where is he?" she says.

"You did great," Tom says. "You did everything right, exactly as you were supposed to."

"Where's my son?" she demands. He rubs his face and she can see in his watery eyes that something is awfully, terribly wrong.

"He was weak, Kath," Tom says. "The Doctor tried to… but his lungs didn't process the oxygen very well. His genome didn't hold the therapy and…"

The tears running freely down Tom's face say it all.

"No," she says.

"I'm so sorry," he says.

"I don't…" she shakes her head. "I don't believe you."

"You were perfect," Tom says. Janeway can't hold inside the sob that is rising. Tom holds her, lets her cry into his neck. Tom's never heard a woman cry like this, like there is something worse than death. When she finally stops crying, her face is swollen.

"I want to see him," she says.

"Sure," he says. He helps her up and she puts most of her weight against him. He leads her to an incubator – the baby is covered but Tom pulls back the cloth so she can see her son. The baby almost looks like he's sleeping but is so still, he's doll-like. Janeway brings her hand to her mouth and her knees give. Tom catches her and lifts her up, back to her bed. "Go to sleep," Tom says. "I'm not going anywhere."

Tom attends the next senior staff meeting while Janeway is sedated. She's healed up but every time she wakes up, she remembers what happens and starts to hyperventilate. In the conference room, Chakotay let's Tom speak.

"I know most of you know that Kath… that the Captain went into labor during the attack," Tom says. Everyone in there knows what's coming next. "We, ah, we lost the baby."

"Let's take a moment of silence," Chakotay says. It's not as if anyone knows what to say about it anyhow. When the silence breaks, Chakotay looks over at Tom.

"Thank you. The Captain is upset but I would just request that… when she returns to duty, which she'll want to do as soon as possible, I'd imagine, I ask that no one mention this. We just need to move past it."

"Of course we'll respect your wishes, Lieutenant," Tuvok says.

"I'm so sorry, Tom," B'Elanna says. "So sorry."

Tom stays for the rest of the meeting but if were asked later to repeat what was said, he wouldn't have been able to under any circumstance. Janeway sleeps until she is deemed fit for duty. Tom suddenly doesn't quite know his place. She never asks him to leave, in fact, she seems relieved to find him in her bed every night but they don't speak of it. When she returns to duty, she puts on a standard issue uniform. She's not the same trim woman she was at the start of the mission, but she no longer looks pregnant. In time, her body will go back to the way it was – narrow hips and toned abs but it will take time. She'll work hard to erase any sign of this personal failure.

On the bridge, Tuvok announces her as soon as she appears.

"Captain on the bridge!" he announces. Tom turns in his chair and rises until she sits in her chair. She nods at him, a sort of understanding that here she is the Captain and while she may need him, it's in a different way, now. He won't overstep his bounds on the bridge.

"Commander," she says, her voice confident and strong. "Report."

Maybe things can go back to normal. Tom tries to believe this as the shift wears on. At the end of the day, he does something he hasn't done in a while. He goes back to his own quarters. Standing in the middle of them he looks around. He tries to get used to the sight. Across the mattress he can see one of her nightgowns. He picks it up, folds it and sets in on his desk to return. In the bathroom he gathers her toothbrush, a hairbrush, and a tube of red lipstick and sets them on top of the pink nightgown.

He can't bring himself to do it now though. He sits on his couch and puts his head in his hands.

"Janeway to Paris." He composes himself before he responds.

"Paris here," he says.

"Where are you?" she asks.

"I'm in my quarters," he says. "Did you need something?"

"No," she says. "Yes. Will you come to my quarters?"

"On my way," he says. He puts her things in a storage crate to carry with him. When she answers the door, she looks at the crate.

"What's that?" she asks.

"Some of your things," he says, setting the box down. "I thought you might want them."

"Oh," she says. "Yes. Well, thank you Lieutenant."

"Anytime," he says. "It was great to have you on the bridge again."

"Yes," she says. "It felt right. Good to be back."

"Good," he echoed. He smiles at her and she stands there, looking at him.

"Why are we talking like this?" she says, finally.

"I'm not sure."

"Are you…" She seems to tense herself for the worst, whatever that is after everything that has happened. "Ending things with me?"

"I sort of thought you were ending things with me," he says.

"Did I ever say that?" she asks.

"No," he says.

"It's the last thing I want, Tom," she says. "After… I mean, I don't think I could… But, if you want things to end, that's certainly your prerogative."

"No," he says. "I don't want that."

"Good," she says, looking relieved. "In that case, will you consider moving in with me permanently?"

"What about the crew?" he asks.

"I think they know," she says, lowering her voice. He nods.

"Me too," he says. She sits down, looks out the window.

"Maybe we weren't meant to have him," she says, at last. "The way he was conceived. How we never agreed on a name. Maybe it just wasn't meant to be."

"Maybe," he agrees. "It seems like an awfully cruel joke."

"You instructed me once that I needed to change my perspective," she says. "From where I sit, you're right. A terribly cruel joke. On the other hand, if I hadn't gotten pregnant, I would have never fallen in love with you."

"That's a good way to look at it," he agrees. "Come on. Let's go get my stuff."

He empties the storage container and picks it up. They will stop by a cargo bay and get a few more empty ones. He will fill his duffle bag with clothing and she will fill the containers with his personal items – picture frames, books, and other odds and ends. It will take two trips and they will fall asleep in bed together before they even bother to unpack.

In the corridor, every crewmember nods and smiles in greeting as they pass by.