Disclaimer: The author is not stealing from Paramount but merely 'borrowing' as described by the "Handbook of Playground Possession". A fictional document in which it states"If I was playing with it five minutes ago: it's mine. If you aren't holding it tight enough: it's mine. If it looks like mine: it's mine. If I like it: it's mine. If it's mine; it must never in any way appear to be YOURS." Therefore, seeing Paramount as the big bully who wrote this handbook I acknowledge that only the STORY and none of the characters or ships are mine. On the other hand I haven't got any milk money so don't beat me up for playing with your toys!

Code: T/7.
Rating: PG
Feedback welcome and appreciated.

When I Grow Up, Part 13

"I thought you had the 'problem corrected.' That is what you said, amd I not mistaken?" Seven demanded.

"Calm down, Seven," Kathryn said gently, a protective hand on the young woman's shoulder. "I'm certain the doctor will be able to correct this?" Though technically a statement, the question was apparent in Janeway's tone, as well as the worry.

"I believe that it has to do with the last attempt, Captain. Rather than aging forward, as she had been doing, I believe that my tampering with the temporal-"

"You made her age backward again." Seven glared at the doctor. "Fix it."

"I'm not sure it will be safe to attempt-"

"Correct your mistake!" Seven's voice broke and she closed her eyes for a moment, then opened them, cold as steel in her anger and fear, and glared at the EMH. Janeway's hand tightened on Seven's shoulder and the doctor's face showed the pain of his error and the concern.

"I can attempt the original failed experiment again. I believe that I may be able to cause her to age forward again, but I will need a few days to adjust the equipment so that I might stop her growth, as I have done with you, at the correct time in her life."

"Nika?" The little girl was sitting up, looking around, her eyes wide and frightened.

"She remembers me?" Seven whispered. The EMH nodded.

"Only her memories after this age have been wiped." Seven walked over to B'Elanna's side, the tiny Klingon tracking her with curiosity.

"I am here, Lala," Seven told her.

"Who you? Where my Nika?" B'Elanna glared fiercely at Seven.

"I am Annika... your Nika."

"Nuh-uh. Ba! Want Nika! Nika, Nika, Nika!" B'Elanna shrieked, swinging a kick at Seven that she was barely fast enough to avoid. She had been expecting it, though.

"I am Nika, Lala," Seven explained patiently. "I grew up." The wails stopped for a moment as B'Elanna stared at Seven, considering this new information.

"Lala go up?" B'Elanna asked. At the look on Seven's face, B'Elanna once again became enraged, screwed her face up and screamed. "Lala up too! No no no no no! Ba Nika! Lala up!"

"You will grow up, Lala," Seven said, dodging the flailing legs by stepping back out of reach. B'Elanna stopped for a moment. "It will just be a little while."

"Noooooooooooooooo!" B'Elanna screamed. "Now! Nownownownownow!" B'Elanna threw herself back in the bed and screamed and cried. Seven looked over at Kathryn helplessly, to find her captain rubbing her temples and shaking her head.

"It's just not fair," the captain muttered. "In less that a year, a two year-old, a teenager, and a two year-old again, and she's Klingon to boot. It's just not fair."

The next few days were a painful deja vu for Captain Janeway and tremendously lonely for Seven of Nine. Though she saw B'Elanna on a daily basis, she found it hard to reconcile that this was her Lala. She sat alone in their quarters, looking at the pictures little B'Elanna had drawn for her, that she had hung on her walls and wished with all her heart to have her B'Elanna back as quickly as possible.

Finally, she left her quarters, having been unable to study the last bit of information she would need to take her place in the science department, to eventually work back to Astrometrics. She wandered the halls until she found herself in the Mess Hall. She stepped into line and received Neelix's soup of the day, trying to ignore the odd puce color. Neelix tried to cheer her up, but the very sight of the man who had tutored her alongside B'Elanna was too much for her to bear and she hurried to a table. About three spoonfuls in, that she couldn't even taste, she looked up, startled. Tom Paris was sitting across from her.

"It's hard, I know. Losing her."

"I have not lost her. There was merely an accident that will soon be corrected."

"Doesn't feel like that though, does it?" Seven looked up at the helmsman. She noticed, with surprise, that he seemed to have aged since she last saw him. Then she realized that he had seemed to have been aging as fast as she and B'Elanna. There was only sympathy and understanding in his eyes. No malice, no grief.

"No, it feels as though a piece of myself is missing," Seven admitted. Tom nodded and smiled slightly. "The Doctor… I know that he is working as fast as he can, but it feels like he is taking forever."

"Growing up takes forever," Tom replied. Seven smiled a little.

"I am sorry that you lost her." Seven looked at her soup, realizing that Tom had suffered this same pain, only worse, because he knew his wife was lost to him. She had hope, whereas he had not.

"It was hard, seeing her grow. I kept imagining what it would have been like if she had been our daughter, instead of herself. That she might have grown up like that, only slower, with us. Or at least, with me."

"I can sympathize, though our situations are different. I can imagine what it must have been like."

"You've been such a good friend to her. I'm glad she didn't have to do this alone."

"Thank you," Seven said. They sat there in silence a few moments, then Tom stood up and walked away, placing his hand on Seven's shoulder briefly. By the time that she was finished eating, Seven realized that she could bear waiting on the Doctor. She understood that the outcome was all that mattered, not how long it took. And if he couldn't fix it…

If he couldn't fix it, she would be there for her friend as she grew up.

"It'll be okay, Lala. You'll go to sleep and when you wake up, you'll be grown up. Like I am." B'Elanna whimpered as she looked at the device suspended over the bed and hid her face against Seven's shoulder. Seven rubbed her back. "If you are too frightened, we can wait…"

"No!" the little girl shouted. "Lala go up. Be like Nika." Seven smiled and set B'Elanna down on the bed, where she, thought obviously nervous, laid back and closed her eyes. Seven was about to walk away when she felt a tiny hand close around hers. She took the hand and held it. "Love oo Nika." Seven felt tears well up in her eyes.

"I love you, too, Lala. Sweet dreams." With a small smile, the Doctor pressed the hypo into B'Elanna's neck and a moment later, the child was asleep.

"You'll have to wait behind the forcefield."

"Of course," Seven agreed and stepped back to stand with Janeway. The captain reached out and squeezed her shoulder. They watched as the forcefield went up, the doctor ordering the warp sequence to begin. He began sending phased tachyons through B'Elanna and when the computer announced the thirty-two second mark, she began to change. It was more rapid than Seven had ever seen and she almost had to look away, as the sight was fairly nauseating. The doctor watched closely, then fired another field of tachyons from his array and it stopped.

The room was silent as the doctor worked at restoring B'Elanna's memories. After a few minutes, he stood straight and smiled. It seemed that everyone began breathing again. They were still traveling at warp 2.88 and B'Elanna was stable. It had worked!

"I still can't believe I drew those just a month ago. You know, it won't hurt my feelings if you take them down." B'Elanna said, kicking her feet back and forth in the air as she lay on her stomach. Somehow, they had both managed to stop aging at exactly 25 years-old. Neither one could now claim to be older, although B'Elanna still pointed out that she had lived longer, even if she didn't remember most of it.

"It would hurt mine," Seven responded. "My Lala drew them for me." B'Elanna laughed and looked over at the love of her life, reached out and took her hand. Seven smiled back and leaned in for a kiss. "How is Engineering?"

"It's great, I love it. Are you excited about starting in Astrometrics next week?"

"I believe that I have stated that fact on numerous occasions."

"I know. I was teasing. It's all you've been talking about." Seven shrugged slightly. She rolled over and hugged B'Elanna close to her. B'Elanna snuggled into the embrace. "Do you think anything could be better than this?"

"No." They lay there like that for a long time, just enjoying each other's presence, basking in their love. "Are you going to try for Chief Engineer?" Seven asked. B'Elanna smiled and turned to look at her.

"Of course. Just as soon as I grow up."

The End.