A Case of Need, part VI
"You have calmed down considerably," the Doctor said as he examined B'Elanna. "That's a good sign. I take it you're getting used to your surroundings."
B'Elanna looked at his tricorder nervously.
"How does that say I'm doing?" she asked.
"Says you're doing fine."
"What about the baby?"
"She's doing fine also."
B'Elanna breathed a sigh of relief and the Doctor looked at her in concern.
"Were you concerned about something in particular?" he asked.
"No, I mean, I don't know. What if whatever these... Quarrans did to me, what if it affected the baby?"
"The baby is fine. Don't worry."
"Back on Quarra, I didn't have a doctor," B'Elanna said. "It didn't even occur to me to find one until Tom introduced me to a couple who were expecting their first baby and then... then I was back here."
"It's all right," the Doctor said soothingly. B'Elanna slid off the biobed.
"I'm remembering more and more. Snatches of conversations or sometimes, entire scenes," she said.
"It feels real. I do feel that I'm a part of Voyager. On Quarra, I didn't even know how I got anywhere. It was odd. I don't like feeling that lost."
"Hold still," the Doctor said. He pressed a hypospray against B'Elanna's neck. "I've been monitoring your engramatic activity and already, I've seen considerable improvement. I have to say, Lieutenant, your situation has given me great difficulty."
"I'm sure you can write it up as an academic paper when we return to the Alpha Quadrant,"
B'Elanna answered. "After you secure your position at Headquarters, of course." She paused and looked at the Doctor in surprise. "I knew that. I mean, is that true? Isn't that what you want to do when we get back?"
The Doctor nodded and checked his tricorder yet again.
"Well, congratulations," he said. "The regenerative took effect more quickly than I thought. It looks like your neural patterns are almost back to normal. Welcome back, Lieutenant."
"It's good to be back," B'Elanna said and realized that she appreciated those words in a way she hadn't thought possible. Impulsively, she leaned over to hug the Doctor. He beamed back at her.
"I- I know I didn't make it easy-" she began.
"You've never been an easy patient, Lieutenant."
"I know, I know." B'Elanna held up a hand. "I appreciate you keeping after me. You and Neelix both."
"You're welcome. Again."
"Um, now that I'm back to normal, Harry needed some help in Engineering-"
The Doctor nodded. "As long as you feel up to it."
B'Elanna looked the Doctor squarely in the eye. "We've got to get the others back. You know I can help."
She opened the closet and pulled out the first uniform she put her hand on. For a contemplative moment, B'Elanna sat on the bed, fingering the synthetic material.
... who is she to make those decisions for us?
... I hate this uniform. It's- it's not for me.
She had left the closet door open and could see the other uniforms hanging there, including the red ones. Tom wore red, she wore yellow. She hated that such rudimentary facts came as epiphanies, ones for people like the Doctor to use to monitor her progress.
She dressed and then took a quick look in the mirror. She looked normal. Looked exactly like she had on Quarra. But the feelings - her feelings now - were entirely different. Not so useless now, not so lonely.
"Computer, locate Ensign Kim," she requested.
"Ensign Kim is on the Bridge."
Apparently Harry had finished with whatever he was working on in Engineering, B'Elanna thought. A good sign and she trusted Harry's work; he tended to be as detail-oriented and precise in his calculations as she was.
B'Elanna stepped out into the corridor and headed for the turbolift. When she entered the Bridge, she paused briefly, noting Harry at the Helm, the Doctor occupying Janeway's chair and Neelix at Ops.
"B'Elanna?" Neelix asked.
B'Elanna offered him a smile. "I thought you could use a hand."
Neelix didn't look convinced.
"Is it all right?" Neelix questioned the Doctor. The Doctor nodded.
"I hereby declare her medically fit for duty," the EMH announced.
Harry grinned as B'Elanna passed by him.
"It's good to have you back," Harry told her. Before B'Elanna could answer back, Neelix's console beeped.
"We're being hailed," Neelix said. He pressed a few buttons before the viewscreen pulled up with a fuzzy image of Janeway.
"Starship Voyager?" Janeway asked.
"Captain," Neelix said.
Silence, as loud as it possibly could be, descended on the Bridge. On the viewscreen, Janeway looked visibly uncomfortable.
"Why don't you just call me Kathryn?" the captain suggested.
"Yes, ma'am," Harry answered awkwardly. "Where's Commander Chakotay?"
"Hospitalized," Janeway answered flatly. B'Elanna flinched at the thought. What the hell was going on? First their memories were erased and now Chakotay was in the hospital...
"He told me you have proof of who some of us really are," Janeway continued. Harry looked at
B'Elanna and she nodded in silent agreement. She stood up.
"We do," B'Elanna said gently.
Janeway's eyes widened in surprise.
"You're the woman who was abducted..." she said.
B'Elanna nodded. "Chakotay was supposed to deactivated the shield grid...so we could transport you and the others to safety."
"That's why he wanted to get back to the plant," the captain realized.
"If you could find a way to shut down main power, the shield grid will go down too," B'Elanna said.
"Will you help us?" Harry asked.
Janeway didn't seem convinced; B'Elanna didn't blame her. The whole situation was too strange, too unbelievable to swallow all at once and only a few hours ago, B'Elanna had been wary of these people also. She opened her mouth to speak, but the ship shuddered and B'Elanna fell forward against her console.
"We're under attack! Three ships!" the Doctor exclaimed.
"I'm remodulating shields now!" B'Elanna cried back as she regained her balance. In front of them, the image of Kathryn Janeway was rapidly being replaced by static.
"Please shut down the grid!" Harry exclaimed just as the picture finally fizzled out. "Damn! Do you think she heard us?"
"No time," B'Elanna said as she worked furiously to reroute power. "We'll have to try again later."
"I'm taking evasive actions now. Maybe I can avoid them detecting us," Harry said over his shoulder.
"The ships are charging their weapons," the Doctor exclaimed. "B'Elanna?"
"I'm on it!" B'Elanna shot back.
"Neelix, get ready to fire on my mark."
The ship jolted again and the lights flickered.
"So much for evading their sensors," Harry said ruefully.
"The only way they could've found us is if they knew exactly where to look!" the Doctor exclaimed. B'Elanna felt a tinge of pity for the hologram; he seemed unusually flustered.
The ship rocked again, this time causing another console to spark. B'Elanna scrambled to her feet and ran a quick diagnostic.
"Transporters are off line!" she reported.
"We're losing shields!" Neelix announced.
"Any 'advice' from your tactical database?" Harry asked in a sardonic tone of voice which made B'Elanna wonder what she had missed.
The Doctor looked uncomfortable, almost pathetic, as he answered, "Nothing relevant."
"How many escape pods do we have left?" Harry asked.
B'Elanna checked the status logs.
"Five," she replied.
"Stand by to eject three of them," Harry said as he turned his attention back to his console.
"I don't think abandoning ship is the answer," the Doctor objected.
"Neither do I," Harry said. "Can you create a dampening field around the Briefing Room that'll mask our life signs?"
"I believe so. Why?"
"Watch and learn."
"What are you doing?" Neelix asked in fascination, but Harry ignored him.
"When you're ready, Harry," B'Elanna called from her station.
"Ejecting pods now," Harry said. "Tell me when they're clear."
They waited a minute before Neelix confirmed that the pods were indeed away from Voyager.
"Now what?" the Doctor asked.
"You stay here," Harry said as he got up from his seat. "We'll be in the Briefing Room."
"You're leaving me alone?"
"That's the idea," Harry replied. B'Elanna caught up to her friend.
"I don't know, Harry," she said.
"This will work," Harry grinned. "Now, Doc, all you have to do is pretend to be alone. And when you are hailed, press this button here." He pointed to a small yellow key on the Doctor's armrest.
"And what does it do?" the Doctor asked.
"Trust me," Harry said cockily. "It will be explosive."
Harry ushered Neelix and B'Elanna off the Bridge.
"You think this will work?" Neelix asked.
"Of course," B'Elanna said with confidence she didn't feel. She wanted to be able to trust the EMH's ability to bluff, but he seemed so bewildered by the idea of command; it seemed like a harsh lesson to learn that subroutines couldn't quite take the place of intuition. And for some reason, Harry seemed to take command very easily. By instinct almost...
They settled themselves into their usual seats around the Briefing Room table. Through the windows, they could see the three ships that had fired on them.
"At least they aren't attacking us anymore," Neelix said.
"Thank God," B'Elanna said. She pressed her fingers to her forehead. Harry glanced at her in concern.
"Are you feeling all right, B'Elanna?"
"I'm fine. Really," she assured him. "It's been-"
"Doctor to Ensign Kim. I believe the plan is a success."
Harry grinned at B'Elanna and Neelix.
As they entered the Bridge, the Doctor turned to face them.
"Bravo, Ensign!" the Doctor exclaimed.
Harry nodded as he turned to B'Elanna. One problem solved, another one left to go.
"B'Elanna, we need those transporters," he said urgently. B'Elanna nodded and quickly set to work on her console. If she could realign the power matrices and reroute-
"The shield grid's failing!" Neelix shouted.
"B'Elanna?" Kim asked anxiously. B'Elanna's fingers flew over the console.
"Transporters coming on line..." she paused as she checked a quick reading. "Now!"
"Get them up here," the Doctor ordered. Harry nodded.
"Sounds good to me," he said. "Locking on now."
B'Elanna continued to check the power; her fix was the type Tom would refer to as "bubble gum and string," but it would have to do. Once the crew was on board safely, she would work on making the transporters' power flow consistent with Starfleet guidelines.
B'Elanna waited only as long as politely necessary before heading to Sickbay. She knew that her future held several weeks of double-shifts while they put Voyager back together again, but she figured that for a few hours, the repairs could wait.
She entered Sickbay and immediately spotted Tom. He was sitting on a biobed, looking down at a tricorder. B'Elanna noticed Janeway, Seven and Tuvok among the others milling around. Carefully, B'Elanna brushed past a few of her fellow crewmembers, very aware of the disorientation they must be feeling.
"B'Elanna!" Tom exclaimed when he saw her. "You're here." Tom laid slight emphasis on the word 'here.' "I was worried about you."
B'Elanna smiled at him and then looked at the Doctor who shook his head slightly at her before turning his attention back to Naomi Wildman.
"They told me about your disappearance. I shouldn't have listened, should have-"
"Don't worry about it," B'Elanna cut him off. "What matters is that you are here, that we are here."
"I heard the stories," Tom said grimly. "About what they did to us. I'm afraid I'm having a hard time believing all of it. But I saw the evidence, so it must be true. Right?"
"I know the feeling," B'Elanna said. She took his hand in hers and was very relieved when Tom didn't pull away. "I remember everything, and you will too."
He flashed his cocky grin at her and B'Elanna felt instantly better. She could see some of her Tom radiating back at her in that smile.
"Does it take very long to... remember?" he asked.
B'Elanna shook her head. "No," she answered. "The Doctor came up with a protocol that works quickly. But, when you don't remember anything and everyone insists that this is where you belong, it feels like a long time."
"I can understand that." Tom glanced down at their intertwined hands. "I'm glad that... I'm glad you're not alone, B'Elanna. I worried-"
"I know," she said soothingly. "I know."
The Doctor approached them, holding a full tray of medical equipment in front of him.
"You're next, Mr. Paris," he said. "I will need your assistance to restore everyone else's memories once you've recovered your own."
"At your service," Tom answered gallantly, but he didn't take his eyes off B'Elanna. B'Elanna released Tom's hand.
"I'll be waiting for you," she said softly. "At home."
B'Elanna took Naomi Wildman, who had completely recovered her memory, to the holodeck for a Flotter program while the Doctor and Tom worked to heal the rest of the crew. Naomi skipped a few steps ahead of B'Elanna, pausing only in front of the holodeck for a brief moment before beginning a hop-skip Naomi-original dance. B'Elanna punched in the code for the holodeck and a second later, the doors opened to reveal the blue and purple world of Flotter.
Naomi took a step inside and then looked back at B'Elanna.
"I don't know if I like this," Naomi said.
"You do," B'Elanna said. She stepped into the holodeck and then turned back to face Naomi. "You spent hours here with Neelix. Sometimes Tom."
Naomi looked confused and B'Elanna wondered for a moment if the treatment hadn't worked.
"You do remember Tom and Neelix, don't you?" B'Elanna asked anxiously. Naomi nodded.
"Of course," she said. "I just don't remember this." She pointed into the holodeck and B'Elanna let out a sigh of relief. She could understand Naomi's bewilderment. Even now, some things were still hazy and the Doctor had told B'Elanna that it could be some time before her memory was completely recovered.
"It's strange, isn't it?" B'Elanna asked. "You remember some things but not others?"
"Yes," Naomi said. "Do you want to know something?"
"When my mom was missing..." Naomi looked at B'Elanna. "I remember that. I mean, I didn't remember her, but I felt like she was missing. I remember that feeling and I didn't like it at all. I like... knowing."
B'Elanna laughed. "So do I," she said. "Well? Do you want to go in?"
Naomi shook her head. "I don't think I want to do this."
"Okay. Well, then, we'll find something else to do then," B'Elanna said. "Computer, end program." She looked at Naomi, unsure of what to do with the child. Somehow, she had never made time for Naomi the way Seven, Tom and Neelix had. There was something curiously alarming about a child and B'Elanna had never been quite sure about how to approach Naomi. "Well, Naomi, what would you like to do?"
"I want to see the ship," Naomi answered promptly. B'Elanna smiled. This she could handle.
"It's quiet, isn't it?" B'Elanna asked as they started down one corridor. "Just imagine, soon the Doctor and Tom will have everyone else up and around, including your mother, and it'll be like before."
"I can't wait," Naomi said. "When I saw my mom, she didn't recognize me."
"Her memory was erased, just like yours, but she will remember you soon. Don't worry."
"I hugged her, but she didn't hug me back."
B'Elanna didn't answer; she had seen the newly recovered Naomi rush into her mother's arms. Samantha Wildman hadn't been exactly cold to her daughter, but she had pushed the child away. That was when B'Elanna had stepped in and offered to take Naomi. Despite Naomi's obvious intelligence and preciousness, the child had had difficulty grasping exactly what had happened. B'Elanna could understand that.
"The people I stayed with, they were nice," Naomi volunteered. "They had a yard and a dog. I mean, it was something that looked like a dog. Her name was Sadia."
"That's a nice name," B'Elanna said.
"I liked playing with her," Naomi said wistfully. "Those people, I thought - I thought they were my parents."
"Were they good to you?"
"I think so, but I missed my mom. I didn't know I missed my mom, I just knew I was missing someone."
"I know that feeling too."
"I went to school," Naomi said. "It was different. It wasn't just me and Neelix or me and Seven. There were other children there too. They were nice."
"You must have had fun with them."
"We played games," Naomi answered. "There was this one game, you had to kick the ball through the goal. If you did, your team got a point."
"Sounds like you had a good time."
"It was fun," Naomi said. She looked up at B'Elanna and then slipped her hand into the engineer's. "I liked the other children."
"You made friends," B'Elanna said gently. "With people your own age."
"I like everyone here-"
"I know," B'Elanna said. She didn't mean to cut Naomi off so curtly, but she didn't want to hear what Naomi would say next. She remembered discussing their baby with Tom, voicing her worry that a starship, especially one lost in the Delta Quadrant, wasn't the right place to raise a child. Tom had pointed out that Naomi was doing just fine and B'Elanna had agreed. But now, those same doubts came back. What if Chakotay and Neelix hadn't found them on Quarra? Naomi would have been left with those people indefinitely, separated from her mother for the rest of her life. B'Elanna shivered.
"I'm glad you enjoyed yourself," B'Elanna said. Naomi immediately brightened. "You don't get that kind of interaction here on Voyager."
"It's not so bad now that I have Icheb," Naomi said. She sounded almost convinced as she spoke and B'Elanna sighed. Icheb was older, quite a bit older, and one day, perhaps, he would not enjoy Naomi's company as much as he did now.
"You don't have to justify anything to me, Naomi. You're - it's okay to miss your friends."
Naomi sighed in relief.
"I was afraid it would be wrong," she said.
"No, no, not at all," B'Elanna said reassuringly. She thought of the quiet life she would have lived on Quarra, a life that would have been boring, but safe. Her child would have grown up and gone to school with others her own age. Fresh air, not recycled air, and the warmth of the sun rather than the artificial environments of the holodeck. And there would be no red alerts, no ambiguity about what each day would bring.
And it would have been a solitary life, one forever shaded in grays and browns. Perhaps Voyager wasn't the right place for a child, but B'Elanna knew with certainty that she wanted the warmth of her life here.
Without even realizing it, the two of them had ended up back at sickbay. As they entered, Samantha Wildman, seated on a biobed, looked at them.
"Mom?" Naomi asked. Samantha nodded and said nothing, but held out her arms. B'Elanna looked across the sickbay and her eyes met Tom's. He said nothing, but the intensity of his gaze told her everything: he remembered too.
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