Summary: What happens when the Doctor can't be activated and
B'Elanna is not able to repair him?


Assumptions: Timeline: approximately 5-1/2 years from entry into
the Delta Quad. Tom and B'Elanna are engaged.

This story can be read by itself but will make more sense if And
I Love You So, Deception, and Rebecca's Revenge by the same
author are read first and in that order.

SOLUTIONS by PJ in NH, rated PG

Chapter 1 - Memories of Home

As Tom entered B'Elanna's quarters, he could see that she and
Harry were still in the same position they were in when he had
left them over three hours ago to attend his medical classes,
sitting at the table both with half-filled cups of coffee in
front of them.

"I tell you, B'Elanna, I am so close to activating the entire
Starfleet message. It's just driving me crazy to be so close and
still not be able to read it. It's like the whole message is
virtually laying there before me and all I have to do is remove
my blindfold and I'll see it all, but I just can't get a grip on
the blindfold. It is so frustrating!" complained Harry Kim as he
took a sip of his now cold coffee as Tom laid down his datapadds
on the table and sat down with them.

"Maybe you have been working on it for too long, Harry. It might
be a good idea to take a step back to let it rest for a few days
and then try again." she suggested, "I think you're trying to get
too much done too fast, sometimes a slower pace can accomplish

"Are you two still taking about that message? I believe you were
having the same conversation when I left to go to class." Tom
said, "couldn't you two find something else to talk about, maybe
tomorrow's shore leave?"

"We did talk about it for a while and even developed a list of
what to bring with us for the hike," Harry explained, "but

"It's just that Harry is so close to deciphering the entire
message," B'Elanna explained. "It's like we're missing the last
piece to the puzzle."

"You mean that the last piece will allow us to view the entire
message?" asked the pilot.

"That's what it looks like, the last piece may be the key to the
whole thing, and we just can't find it. There are some odd bits
and pieces of messages that we can't associate with any other
message that we received, but those don't work. The piece we
need must have gotten lost in the array."

"Maybe not," mused Paris. "Maybe we have to supply the mystery
piece, maybe it is something that is already on Voyager."

"What do you mean," asked Harry.

"Well, if I were sending something that is as sensitive as we
believe this message to be, after all they did take the trouble
to hide it amongst all the letters from home, then maybe for an
added measure of security they figured that we would supply the
key to activate the message. If the message had been
intercepted, they wouldn't want an alien race to decode it and
then possess all the information," he explained.

"I never thought of that, you may be right, but if you are, what
is the key?" asked Harry.

Tom had been contemplating the very question. "Well it could be
as simple as a password. And normally, if someone uses a
password, it is something that isn't that obvious, something that
means something only to the individual, like a favorite sport, a
name, a place, or a combination of information. It could be just
about anything."

"Harry, we could always let the computer try supplying the
password from information stored in its database." B'Elanna

"That's going to take awhile, but it's the only option I can
think of at the moment," agreed Harry. "We'll get started on it
first thing in the morning, if the computer has to run through
most of its information, considering the different amount of
possible combinations possible in its database, it could take
over a week, possibly two."

"It's something to try though, right now that is the only
possible solution we have," said B'Elanna thankful that they had
come to some type of solution, albeit possibly only temporary.
"By the way, Tom, how did class go today?"

"I finally got through viruses and toxins with a 95 on the
written exam and 98 on the lab!"

"That's wonderful!" the other two chorused.

"Thanks," he said as a blush worked its way up his cheeks.

"So what does the Doctor have planned for the next stage?" she

"Childbirth. I have a ton of reading assigned for the next
couple of days and at the next class, we are actually going to
have a holographic mother give birth, the Doctor doesn't believe
on wasting any time. The program is suppose to be very realistic
with multiple scenarios which are selected at random, so we never
know what's going to happen," he explained. "It could be a normal
birth or we could be faced with a several complications,
everything from a simple premature breech birth to severe

"Hey, guys, how about we head down to the mess hall and beat the
rush," suggested Harry paling at the thought of participating in
a birth, even if it was holographic. "I don't know about you
two, but I'm hungry." Not really, but it was the first good
excuse that had popped into my mind.

"Sounds good," replied Tom and B'Elanna nodded. "Why don't you
two go ahead and I'll meet you there, I just want to wash up and
swing by Sickbay and pick up a couple of datapadds on gynecology
and childbirth."

The other two just laughed as they exited the cabin, it still
amazed them how much time and effort their friend was spending in
his studies, it didn't seem that long ago that he hadn't seemed
interested in medicine at all.

"You know, Maquis, I bet his father would be surprised at what
Tom has accomplished here in the Delta Quadrant," remarked Harry.

"I would hope so, but I don't think that it matters as much to
Tom as it used to what his father thinks of him. At least I hope
not. He doesn't need that added pressure."

"You're right, from what little Tom has ever told me about
up with his father, none of it was ever very good. I can't
imagine what it must have been like for him."

"I can, somewhat," she recalled, "my mother and I never got along
and when my father left it was terrible, but what Tom went
through with his father, I think was worse. I just wish he would
talk to me about it," she said sadly. "There are times when his
walls come down and he'll let something slip but as soon as he
realizes his lapse, he starts erecting them again.

Harry reached over and put his arm around her shoulders. "He
will, B'Elanna, when he is ready. When that time comes, he'll
tell you, I'm sure of it. I also know that the walls aren't as
high as they used to be."

"Thanks, Harry, I needed to hear that," she said with a slight

Harry and B'Elanna then turned to enter the mess hall and were
surprised to find a long line and it appeared that everyone was
asking for Neelix's special of the day. "I think you had better
pick up an extra tray for Tom," Harry suggested. "It looks like
this meal may be a keeper."

"Good idea."

The two made their way through the line and when they got in the
front of the line found out what all the excitement was about.
Neelix had created his version of an earth favorite called
Eggplant Parmesan, and according to some that were coming back
for seconds, equaled or exceeded the real thing. Harry picked up
his meal and B'Elanna took two plates of the dish with her,
stopping at the refreshment counter. The two friends located a
table off to the side, fairly near to the entry door and waited
for Tom.

Tom had left sickbay and had the two datapadds he had picked up
with him, along with three others the Doctor suggested. It
looked like he was going to be busy. He was still contemplating
which padd to start reading first when he entered the mess hall.

"Hey Tom, we're over here!" Harry spoke up waving his arms and
pointing to an extra tray at their table.

The pilot started over to join them when he noticed a familiar
smell in the air, it made him hesitate in mid-stride. The smell
was familiar but he couldn't quite place it and he was still
wondering about it when he put the padds on the table and sat

"Tom, we took the liberty of getting you a meal since we thought
that they may be none left by the time you got here. Everyone is
raving about this one." B'Elanna explained, though Tom was hardly
listening, he was just looking at his plate.

It couldn't be, he thought, he hadn't smelled that aroma in
years, not since . . . But, as he examined the food on his
plate, he knew that he wasn't mistaken, it *was* Eggplant
Parmesan or something very similar to it.

"I . . . I . . . I've got to go," he stammered, as he got up
abruptly from the table, knocking over his chair and causing the
stack of datapadds to tumble to the floor.

"What's the matter?" she asked looking at him with concern geting
up from her seat.

"I . . . it's nothing . . . stay and eat . . . I can't . . ." he
mumbled and turned and fled the mess hall.

"What was that all about?" asked Harry as he reached over to pick
up the chair.

"I don't have any idea." replied B'Elanna worriedly as she
reached for her napkin to wipe her mouth. "Do me a favor, Harry,
when you're done, pick up the padds and leave them in
I've got to find out what's going on."

"Good luck, B'Elanna, I hope he'll open up to you this time," he
said as he reached over to pick up the padds.

"Thanks Harry, I hope he will too." she said as she left the
table in search of her fiance.

"Computer, location of Lieutenant Paris?"

"Lieutenant Paris is in turbolift 4, current destination
habitation level." the computer replied.

His quarters, he was going to his quarters, she thought as she
raced through the corridors of the ship.

"Tom, it's B'Elanna, please let me in." there was no answer. She
tried his general access code but was still unsuccessful,
obviously he wanted to be alone. "Please Tom, open the door."
Still there was no answer. "Computer override security lock on
Lt. Paris' quarters authorization Torres Beta Omega," she ordered
and the door opened to admit her and then slid shut behind her.

She entered his quarters only to find that the lights were out.
For a minute she thought that maybe she had been mistaken and
that he wasn't here. For a moment she almost left, but then she
heard what sounded like sobs from over by the porthole.

"Computer, 20% illumination," she ordered. In the dim light she
could make out a figure sitting on the floor against the wall
with his knees pulled up to his chest with his head resting on
his folded up arms on top of his knees and very softly she could
hear muffled sounds coming from under his hands.

"Tom?" she said as she touched his shoulder and kneeled down in
front of him. "Tom, tell me what's wrong."

His head shot up at her touch, and from the dim light she could
see the traces of tears that had tracked down his cheeks. "Please
leave Bea, just leave me alone," he choked.

"I don't think that's an option."

"But B'Elanna, I'll be fine, I just need some time."

"You're not fine Tom. Let me help you," she asked but received
answer. "Tom, I love you and we have made a decision to spend
the rest of our lives together. Don't you know that you can tell
me anything, anything at all. I want to help you if I can, and
if I can't, I'd like to be here just to listen to you, so you
have someone to talk to, someone to confide in," she paused to
let the words sink in. "I trust you with my life and my heart,
won't you put your trust in me too? she said as he slowly let
her pull him into her loving arms. They held each other for a
long time. After a while Tom reluctantly pulled away from her

"Are you ready now, will you tell me?"

"I'll try, but I've never told anyone before, not even the
psychologists at the rehab colony, and they were pretty
persistent. In fact, I hadn't even thought about it for quite a
while, but when I smelled the meal in the mess hall, all the
memories came flooding back."

"The meal? Why the meal?" she asked surprised by his answer.

"That meal was my mother's favorite. Every time I smell it or
see it, I immediately think of her, and while most of the
memories I have of my mother are wonderful, that meal only brings
up the worst."

"Do you think you could tell me about them?" she asked as she
touched her palm to his wet cheek.

"I can try," he replied softly. He steadied himself by taking a
couple of deep breaths. He pushed back against the wall to look
at B'Elanna's face and she took a hold of one of his hands in
both of hers.

"Bea, my mother meant the world to me, I loved her and she loved
me unconditionally. I wish you could have known her -- I wish
she could have known you. She would have loved you," he told her
as he choked on the last words before he could continue. "With
the Admiral away so much, most of the time it was just her and
me, other than the staff. We would do a lot of things together.
We would go hiking, bike riding, swimming, and sometimes we would
just sit and watch televids and talk about nothing at all."
Remembering all the good times brought a smile to his face.

"Things were wonderful when it was just us, but eventually *he*
would come back, then things would all turn upside down." He
stopped talking for a moment and swallowed down his tears before
continuing. "Neither of us could do anything right. He would
yell at us sometimes for no reason at all. If she didn't dress
right or the party she planned wasn't up to his standards, if I
didn't stand up straight or my hair wasn't combed to his
satisfaction," he recalled, his eyes focused on memories of many
years ago and thousands of light years away.

"One night shortly after father had returned from a space
mission, he was at Starfleet and was supposed to work late. So
for a treat, after the help had left for the night, Mom fixed
dinner from scratch, all by herself, it was Eggplant Parmesan,
her favorite and mine. Just as we sat down to eat, Father
stormed into the kitchen reeking of alcohol and demanding a meal.
When he saw what we were going to eat, he lambasted my mother,
upended the table and slapped her hard across the face. I still
remember him saying something like 'You expect me to eat that
slop!'" He stopped momentarily to steady his voice again.

"Bea, I still don't know why he was so angry or upset, but then
most of the time he didn't need a reason. He wanted to hit
something, so he just made up an excuse, any excuse. Before
then, I had never seen him raise a hand to her, but now looking
back on it, I can remember other bruises and I don't think it was
the first time he had hit her. Then...then...he..." he found he
couldn't go on, the memories were too painful so he buried his
head in his hands again in an effort to compose himself.
B'Elanna took the opportunity to get up and replicate him a glass
of cool water.

"Here, Tom, drink this it'll make you feel better," she said as
she handed him the water. She sat back down next to him again
and wrapped her arms around him.

Tom lifted up his head and took the glass from her and took a
sip. "Thanks," he choked. "I'm sorry, after all this time you
wouldn't think it would still affect me this way."

"That's alright Tom, you're doing fine, please finish your story.
What happened after he hit your mother?" she asked knowing that
the most painful part of the story lay ahead.

Tom inhaled deeply and slowly released the breath before
continuing his story. "He had hit her and she had landed on the
floor. I went over to try and help her but she told me to leave
the room, B'Elanna. She said that she would take care of it,
that everything would be fine, but I knew better. I ran out of
the room and bolted out of the house screaming that I was going
to the servants' quarters and tell them. My father realizing
that that was just what I intended to do, let go of my mother and
made a beeline for me. I had just reached the top of the stairs
leading out of the back door when he caught up with me, mother
was right behind him. As he grabbed me and pulled me over to
him, mother shot past him, tripped and fell down the stone steps,
finally landing at the bottom. She broke her neck, Bea, she died
trying to save me from that monster. She died for me. If I'd
been faster, it wouldn't have happened. If I....if I..."

"Ssssh, Tom," she said soothingly as she took the glass from him
and placed it on the floor. She then pulled him to her arms
again stroking his back with her hand. "Sssh, it's okay now.
I'm glad you told me."

Tom just shook his head in agreement, not daring to say anything,
doubting that he could voice any words in his present condition.

"She must have been a lovely woman. I wish I could have met her.
I wish I could have let her know what a fine son she raised. I'm
sure you have a lot of her in you."

"I love you, Bea, I love you. She would have loved you too," he
finally said and hugged her tightly and the two of them sat on
the floor in silence for a long time occasionally touching,
kissing, and comforting each other.

B'Elanna finally rose to her feet and pulled Tom up from the
floor. "Come on, let's get ready for bed, we have a busy day
tomorrow. You haven't forgotten about our shore leave have you?"
she reminded him in an effort to lighten his solemn mood.

"Nope, I haven't forgotten," he said with a small grin. "I think
I'll shower first though before I turn in, do you want to join

"I'd love to."

Chapter 2 - Rest & Relaxation

Tom and B'Elanna, followed by Harry and Seven, hiked down through
the alien forest, climbing up ridges and down valleys. It was a
lovely and warm, but not too warm, with a gentle breeze blowing
pine-like scented fresh air. The trees around them were very
tall and very green. It reminded Tom of some time he had spent
in the Colorado Rockies after graduating from the Academy.

"So how much further, Tom?" asked Harry for the third time in the
last half an hour as he and Seven descended down the trail to
join Tom and B'Elanna on the valley floor.

"I bet you were the little kid that sat in the back of the hover
car who asked every two minutes 'Are we there yet?'," chided the
pilot in an annoying little boy voice.

"And you weren't?" he argued as he and Seven caught up with the
other two.

"Nope, I was the kid in the backseat that was always saying 'We
would have been there already if you went the way I wanted you
to,'" which caused Harry to laugh.

"I bet your folks didn't like that," said B'Elanna hoping it
wouldn't bring back unpleasant memories.

"No, not much, especially when I was only eight at the time."

Seven was at a loss for words during this exchange, but finally
spoke up. "Please explain the purpose for this expedition. What
purpose is served by walking through these trees when we could
have been beamed to our destination?"

"The purpose is to enjoy nature and to get a little exercise.
When we get to the lake, you'll see that it was all worth it."
explained Tom.

"But you forgot the best reason of all, Tom," reminded the half-

"You're right, the best reason of all is that..."

"It isn't Voyager!" the three said in unison as Seven stared at
them in bewilderment.

As much as they loved the ship, at times Voyager's walls just
felt like they were closing in on them. To be out in the fresh
air, away from anything Starfleet, was very welcome.

"But you didn't answer my question, how much further?" insisted
Harry, not willing to let his question go unanswered.

"It's just over that next hill, you'll love it," promised the
pilot as he adjusted his backpack on his shoulders and began to
climb the final hill. "According to the preliminary maps of the
surface it should be a real special place."

As the four came to the top of the final rise, stretched below
them with the sun glistening on its surface was a small blue lake
surrounded by trees and wild flowers.

"Wow!" exclaimed Harry, "you're right, this *was* worth it, let's
go!" He took the lead and the other three followed. They
finally arrived at the shore of the lake and took off their

"I don't know about the rest of you, but before we assemble camp
how about we go for a swim?" suggested B'Elanna.

"A swim?" questioned the former-Borg.

"Yes Seven, that *is* why you brought your swimsuit," the young
ensign reminded her.

"Oh, course," she said, but inside she thought I don't know how
to swim, do I?

Tom quickly stepped behind a nearby bush and stripped off his
clothes and donned his navy blue swim trunks. "Last one in is a
rotten egg," he yelled as he ran into the lake, when he was in
deep enough he dove under the water. He swam underwater quite a
ways before finally emerging. "Come on you guys, hurry up, the
water is great!"

"You better not be lying to me helmboy, I don't plan on
freezing!" B'Elanna threatened as she began entering the water
herself clad in her a red one-piece swim suit. "Tom, it *is*

"Come on Bea, where's that fierce Klingon hiding today? Once you
get in and swim around you'll warm right up, I promise."

"And if I don't?"

"If you don't . . . then I'll find some other way to warm you

"You're learning, flyboy, you're learning," she said as she dove
the cool water and started swimming towards the pilot to collect
on his promise.

Harry followed shortly behind her and was almost up to his waist
when he turned around and noticed that Seven wasn't following him
in. "Come on, Seven, hurry up."

"I don't think so, I don't see the purpose to his activity, and I
don't want to be a rotten egg." she said stubbornly standing
there in a black two-piece suit her hands on her hips.

"The only purpose to this activity is to have a good time, look
at Tom and B'Elanna," he said pointing to the couple who were
having a good time swimming and splashing each other, "and
besides Tom was only joking about the rotten egg."

Seven shrugged her shoulders and walked in deeper towards the
young ensign. Harry dove in and began to swim. Following his
example, Seven attempted to do the same. Unfortunately, all she
ended up doing was floundering around in the water waving her
arms and coughing up water.

Harry hearing the commotion swam over to her and helped her
stand up in the chest deep water. "There is that better?" he
asked the former Borg's blond hair hung in wet strands down to
her shoulders.

"Better than what?" she sputtered.

"Better than drowning? Why didn't you tell me you didn't know
how to swim?" he asked.

"Why didn't you ask? I thought that you just did it, I didn't
know that it was something that required instruction!"

*** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ ***

Back on Voyager, the Captain was pacing in her ready room,
waiting for her first officer to join her for an afternoon cup of
tea. Or maybe something else? she pondered, when she received a
call from the Doctor.

"Doctor to Captain Jane...vate emergency...chann..." said the

Catching bits and pieces of his transmission Janeway turned on
the emergency medical channel. "Doctor, this is the Captain,
you're breaking up, please repeat."

"...that's the problem.....fading in and.....require assist...."
said the Doctor clearly worried as his image fluctuated on the

"I'll get right on it Doctor." she promised as she looked up and
saw Chakotay enter her ready room. "There is something wrong
with the EMH, he keeps on fading in and out."

"I'll contact B'Elanna on the surface right away," he said. He
turned around and exited for the bridge and the communications

"Please contact Lt. Torres and request that she and Lt. Paris
beam up right away."

"Aye, sir." the officer replied and pressed a few buttons.
"Voyager to Lt. Torres, come in please." And she waited.
"Voyager to Lt. Torres, come in please." Still no answer, then
she proceeded to try call all the members in their party before
she instituted a search for the lieutenants' commbadges.

"Commander, there is no answer, according to my readings their
commbadges are located next to a body of water on the planet."

"They must be swimming," he reasoned remembering the conversation
he had with Tom that morning over breakfast where he had spelled
out his plans for the day. "Keep on trying to hail them, and let
me know when you're successful."

"Aye, aye, sir."

*** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ ***

"Wow that was refreshing," B'Elanna said as she stepped out of
the lake.

"Yeah, I don't think I've swum like that in a long time. I know
that I never had as much fun before." he said as he reached for
her and pulled her towards him into an embrace their cool wet
skin touching and crushed his lips against hers.

"BREEP, BREEP -- Voyager to Lt. Torres, come in please."

"On damn," she said as she reluctantly pulled away from him and
reached for her commbadge from the pile of clothes she had left
on the shore. "Lt. Torres here, go ahead."

"B'Elanna, it's Chakotay, we are having a problem with the EMH
and we need you and Lt. Paris to transport up to the ship

B'Elanna and Tom exchanged worried looks. "What's the problem
Commander?" she asked.

"We are really not sure, the EMH keeps on fading in and out."

"Just give us five minutes to towel off and we'll contact the
ship for transport."

"Very good."

"What do you think the problem is Bea?" Tom asked.

"I have no idea, this kind of thing hasn't happened before." She
handed Tom his towel and grabbed her own not noticing the insect
that had been perched on her towel. "Ouch!" she said as she
brought her finger up to look at it.

"What happened?" he asked as her reached over to look at her

"I don't know, I think something, some kind of insect maybe, bit

"Well, it seems to be alright, but have the Doctor look at it
when we get back to Voyager. Are you ready?" She nodded in the
affirmative. "Harry and Seven, we have been asked to beam back
so have fun!"

"Okay, see you back on the ship later this afternoon!" Harry
replied, proud of himself for teaching Seven to swim. Granted it
was just the dog paddle, but she was staying afloat.

Chapter 3 - Problems, Parties, and Progress

B'Elanna and Tom materialized directly in Sickbay and were
greeted by the Captain and Commander.

"So Captain what's the problem?" asked the Chief Engineer.

"We're really not sure, about two hours ago the Doctor called me
from Sickbay and he kept on fading in and out, both visually and
verbally. When the Commander and I got to Sickbay, all we found
was his portable holographic projector," she explained as she
handed the device to her Chief Engineer. "We felt that no one
but you should attempt to repair it, as you are the most familiar
with its function."

"I'll get right on it Captain. If you need me, I'll be in

"Very good Lieutenant," Janeway said and turned to the pilot.
"Tom, until she has the Doctor functioning again, I think it
would be wise for you to only be assigned to Sickbay for the time
being, I'll find someone else to cover your shift at the helm,
possibly Chakotay. Do you think you could bring a few things
down from your cabin and spend the night if necessary?"

"Sure, no problem." No problem? Why did I say that? The Doctor
would be back soon wouldn't he? Of course he would. B'Elanna
would fix the problem and everything would be back to normal in
no time--hopefully.

One hour stretched to two and two stretched to four and still
B'Elanna hadn't brought the Doctor back to Sickbay. It hadn't
been boring during that time though, a steady stream of people
had come to Sickbay to be treated for a variety of minor
ailments, thankfully there was nothing he couldn't handle. He
prayed that nothing serious arose before the Doctor was back

As anxious he was to find out what progress B'Elanna was making,
he hesitated calling down to engineering not wanting to disturb
her. He knew from past experience that one risked life and limb
disturbing a half-Klingon under similar circumstances. He also
knew that as soon as the EMH was functioning again, he would be
the first person B'Elanna would notify.

Finally, about two hours later, B'Elanna and the Doctor strode
through the Sickbay doors. "Doc, it's good to see you!"
exclaimed the pilot/nurse as he looked up from where he was
seated reading one of the medical datapadds.

"You know, Mr. Paris, I think you actually mean that," the Doctor
replied dryly as he turned to enter his office.

"Oh I do, I do." he said turning this attention to his fiance.
"So what happened?"

"I really don't know, and I am not even sure what I did to
correct it. Some additional investigation is necessary to
determine that cause, but I think that can wait until tomorrow,
he should be alright for the foreseeable future."

"Well, if that's the case how about joining me for dinner
tonight?" he asked.

"Sounds good, but I think we're going to have to settle for the
mess hall, I am about out of rations," she replied.

"Unfortunately, I'm in the same boat," he said and extended his
elbow gallantly to her which she took and he ushered her out of
Sickbay en route to the mess hall.

Tom and B'Elanna entered the mess hall and were happy to find out
that there was no eggplant on the menu today. They made their
selections, such as they were, and noticing Janeway and Chakotay
at a nearby table joined them.

"So B'Elanna, did you get the problem with the Doctor
straightened out?" asked the Captain.

"It seems to be," she replied, "though I still don't know what
caused the problem. I'll have to do some further investigation,
but for now everything seems alright."

"Very good, then are we still on for that tennis match in
Holodeck 1 tomorrow?"

"I'm looking forward to it Captain, 1900 right?"

"That would be fine," Janeway replied, turning her attention to
the pilot. "Tom, so how are the classes coming?"

"Pretty good, though there is a lot of reading involved. The
Doctor now has me concentrating on childbirth, apparently because
we have two mothers-to-be ready to give birth in about four to
five months. In fact, tomorrow morning I'm scheduled to assist
in my first holo-birth. I just can't make up my mind on the
proper way to catch the baby. Should I go for a ground ball or a
line drive type approach," he said and he attempted to
demonstrate the technique causing the other members at their
table to laugh.

The next morning, Tom reported for a half-shift at the helm with
the afternoon scheduled for the classroom followed by a few
hours in Sickbay that evening -- a very busy day. The morning
went smoothly, no confrontations with any alien species and only
a few asteroids to fly around to make the morning interesting.
The afternoon however was a different story. While he had
anticipated participating in one holo-birth, the doctor/
instructor had other ideas. After the fifth birth this one
involving twins, he had had enough for one day and he still had
to look forward to the evening in Sickbay. Well at least he
could be guaranteed of one thing, a good night's sleep. Then
again, that could only be accomplished if he could put B'Elanna
off until the morning.

*** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ ***

Shortly before she was scheduled to meet the Captain in Holodeck
1, B'Elanna changed from her uniform into a pair of white shorts
and a blue tank top. If it hadn't been that the invitation came
from the Captain, she would have canceled as she wasn't feeling
all that well. Maybe I'm coming down with a virus or the flu,
she mused. Then again maybe I'm just tired and a little
exercise might give me the boost I need.

At 1900, tennis racket in hand, B'Elanna prepared to enter
Holodeck 1. At 1901, B'Elanna was standing speechless inside of
the holodeck looking at all her female friends gathered around
her, each one shouting surprise.

"What's going on?" she asked, turning her attention to the

"B'Elanna, this is your bridal shower," explained Janeway.

"But what about the tennis game?" countered the half-Klingon who
wasn't too fond of surprises, especially when they we directed at

The Captain came over to B'Elanna and put her arm around her
shoulders. "We had to think of some way to get you come down to
the holodeck." She had sensed a tension in B'Elanna's shoulders,
and whispered in her ear so the others couldn't hear, "come on,
B'Elanna, this will be fun."

An hour later, B'Elanna had to agree it had been a lot of fun.
She had received a number of gifts and extra replicator rations.
Sue Nicoletti's package contained candles of all different kinds
some scented, some tapers, some votives, and the package also
included hand-printed instructions on how to use them to 'create
the right mood.' The present from Samantha Wildman was a bit
more risque as it contained various scented massage oils
'guaranteed to get you in touch with your partner.' The
Delaneys' gift was another matter, even after she unwrapped it
and held it up she couldn't figure out was it was. The gift
consisted of two pieces of red see-through material. Was it
some kind of wash cloth? Maybe a hat? she wondered. Finally
Meagan came over noticing her puzzled expression and held up the
two pieces right side up while Jenny explained that what her
sister was holding, what little there was of it, was lingerie.
Obviously Tom was going to love it, B'Elanna thought, providing
she could figure out how to get it on, he would have a lot of fun
removing it.

The last gift to open was from the Captain. It was beautifully
wrapped in blue paper which reminded B'Elanna of her fiance's
eyes and it was tied together with silver ribbon. She undid the
bow, opened the box, lifted the tissue paper, and brought out the
gift. All the guests gasped in awe. It was an exquisite
negligee, made of ecru lace with spaghetti straps that showed a
substantial bit of cleavage and when worn would come down to the

"Captain, I..I.. don't know what to say it's just beautiful,"
stammered B'Elanna at a loss for words to describe how touched
she was by the gift.

"You've said enough, B'Elanna. This is for your wedding night.
I wanted you to have something that would make you feel extra
special," explained the Captain.

"And besides that, it's sexy as hell," chimed in Sue Nicolleti,
which caused B'Elanna unusually pale face to blush and she felt a
little lightheaded.

Standing at the head of the table, B'Elanna expressed her
gratefulness to her friends. "I can't thank you all enough, all
the presents were wonderful, even if I didn't know what they all
were at first," she said smiling at the Delaneys. "In fact..."
she paused as she grabbed a hold of the table for support and to
catch her breath.

"B'Elanna, I think you had better sit down," said the Captain
clearly worried. She berated herself for not noticing the young
woman's condition before. "On second thought, I think I should
bring you to Sickbay." To her surprise, the soon-to-be bride
didn't protest.

*** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ ***

" Doc then I turned the baby's face and cleared out the
mucus from his nose and then before I knew what was happening the
holo-mom had delivered not only the head but the rest of the body
as well. I was so nervous I thought I was going to drop the
little guy, he was so slippery." the pilot explained grinning
from ear to ear.

"It sounds as if you enjoyed it," observed the EMH with a huge
grin on his face, taking pride in the progress that the
pilot/nurse had achieved in just a relatively short while. The
emergency medical classes Paris had wisely taken at the Academy,
combined with the accelerated lessons he had taken on Voyager
already were the equivalent of about two and a half years of
conventional training. He recalled a time shortly after he had
been activated in the Delta Quadrant when the Lieutenant had told
him that his father didn't approve of him taking the medical
classes at the Academy because he believed that there were more
appropriate classes to select from -- how wrong his father had
been the EMH thought.

"You know I think I did enjoy it, Doc," he replied "I'm not
saying that I wasn't nervous, I was, and I know that it wasn't
real, but after the first few contractions your mind kind of
forgets that and it becomes real to you. You and Harry did an
amazing job with the program," Tom enthused as he performed one
of the more mundane jobs in Sickbay -- inventory -- sitting on
the floor in front of the supply cabinet, his back to the Doctor.

"There is just one thing I don't understand," the pilot
continued, "how do you know when the appropriate time is to
perform the episiotomy, or if one is necessary?" There was no
response. "Doctor?" he questioned as he got up from the floor
and turned around and noticed the portable holographic projector
laying on the floor which he picked up and placed on the nearby

"Computer, activate the Emergency Medical Hologram."

"The Emergency Medical Hologram program is currently not
available to comply with that request."

"Why not?" he asked agitatedly.

"Insufficient data," came the computer's vague reply just as the
Sickbay door slid open and Captain and B'Elanna entered.

"Tom, where's the Doctor?" asked Janeway. "B'Elanna isn't
feeling well."

Tom hurried over to his fiance's side and helped her up onto one
of the biobeds. "I think he's having problems again, he blinked
out again when my back was turned, and the computer can't bring
him back," he explained before focusing his actions on B'Elanna.
"How are you feeling, love?" he asked obviously concerned.

"I'm lightheaded and it's getting difficult to breathe," she
explained fighting for oxygen.

"I'll get the medical tricorder," he said as he made his way to
the diagnostic table. He went back to her and scanned her,
noticing that she was looking worse all the time. "According to
the readout and symptoms, you appear to have been poisoned," he
proclaimed looking at the device. When he brought his head back
up he noticed that B'Elanna had quickly progressed into a stage
of delirium and was fighting to breathe. He reached into the
draw to his left and withdrew a vial of antitoxin and injected it
into her neck, and when nothing happened, he administered a
second vial. Finally, her breathing eased, but he could tell
that she was still in critical condition. How could she have
gotten poisoned? he wondered, of course the insect bite. Didn't
she have that taken care of?

"Computer, did Lieutenant Torres report to Sickbay within the
last 36 hours?" Paris asked.

"Negative," came the reply,

"Damn!" he said through clenched teeth as he slammed down the
empty antitoxin vial.

"What's the matter Tom?" asked the Captain noticing the concern
on his face.

"She was bitten by an insect during our shore leave. I told her
to have the Doc look at it..." he said his voice drifted off as
he contemplated the result of her inattention to her own health.

"So where do we go from here?"

"Right now she appears to be holding her own. All I can do right
now is to monitor her condition and hopefully she will improve,"
he said taking her hand in his as he continued. "If she doesn't
respond to the universal antitoxin, I can put her on life
support. In the meantime, I'll do my best to come up with a
specific antitoxin, but that could take time. I've performed all
the class work and taken the labs, but this is real life,
Captain, this is B'Elanna," he explained his eyes never leaving
the patient.

The Captain could clearly see that he was troubled, and needed
encouragement. "Tom, I'm sure you'll come up with a solution. I
have every confidence in you. In the meantime, I'll go speak
with Joe Carey and see if there is anything he can do about the
Doctor's condition," she said as she reached over and patted her
pilot/nurse on his upper arm, but it was like he hadn't even
heard her. "Tom? did you hear me?" she said louder this time.

"Yes, Captain, I heard. It's just that this is my worst
nightmare," he explained his tear-filled eyes still hadn't left
B'Elanna. "I'm the closest thing the ship has right now to a
doctor, and I'm not good enough, and to top it off, B'Elanna may
be the only one who can bring the Doc back."

"Tom... TOM!" Janeway said as she grabbed both of his upper arms
with her hands and shook him until he focused on her. "Tom,
listen to me. B'Elanna is counting on you *and* so is Voyager. I
*expect* you to do your best and I *know* you will. Now get
started on finding that solution. On the way down to
engineering, I'll stop by Ensign Wildman's quarters to see if she
can come down and give you a hand," she said as she picked up the
holographic projector and pocketed it. "Tom, I have every faith
in you."

I wish I had that much faith in myself, he thought.

*** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ ***

The next morning Janeway joined Chakotay in the mess hall for
breakfast. Naturally the conversation turned immediately to the
crisis in Sickbay.

"So tell me Kathryn, how is B'Elanna and Tom doing, has he made
any progress?" the big Maquis asked.

Janeway reluctantly took a forkful of 'breakfast surprise.'
"Well, I stopped by Sickbay this morning after I got up.
Unfortunately, B'Elanna is still in critical condition. Tom is
desperately trying to find a solution, in fact he's been working
all night long, but so far has made no progress," she said as she
shook her head in despair.

"I wouldn't want to be in his shoes, Kathryn. It wasn't that
long ago, in fact it was during the problem with McAfee**, Tom
and I were talking and he told me how worried he was that if
something happened to the Doctor he would be the only one
available to care for the medical needs of the crew."

"It's a lot of pressure to put on one's shoulder's, especially
when Tom is not fully qualified to replace the EMH. Granted he
is doing his best, it hasn't been easy for him taking the classes
on top of all his other duties. I have to give him credit for
that, but he still isn't the Doctor," admitted Janeway.

"I'm worried about him too. I'll make a point to stop by and
check up on him later today," suggested her First Officer.

*** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ ***

Tom stood by B'Elanna and scanned her again, she wasn't getting
any better and the antitoxin wasn't working as well as it had at
first. Earlier in the morning, he had to resort to putting her
on life support. It broke his heart to see the woman he loved,
the normally vibrant half-Klingon, so helpless. It was now late
evening and he was still no closer to an answer and he had gone
nearly forty hours without sleep.

"B'Elanna, I just want you to know that I'm trying everything I
can think of to make you better. I love you so much, I don't
know what I would do without you," he said as he reached over and
caressed her unusually pale cheek with the palm of his hand. He
was so focused on her, that he never heard Chakotay enter the

"Tom, are you okay?" asked the Commander which caused the pilot
to jump a bit. What he saw concerned him. The man before him
was obviously in dire need of sleep. He had dark circles under
his half-shut eyes. How he was staying erect, the older man had
no idea.

"Yeah fine... just fine," he replied dejectedly.

"I'm sure you'll find the answer soon."

"I'm glad you're so sure, I haven't had any luck so far."

"It's just a matter of time, Tom," he said trying to sound
hopeful. "By the way, where's Sam? Has she been in here today?"

"She was here earlier. She had to go tend to Naomi and then she
was going to bring back dinner. She should be back anytime." At
that moment, Samantha came through the door carrying two trays.

"Tom, is B'Elanna getting any worse while she is on life
support?" asked Chakotay as he looked down at his former Maquis
crew mate concerned by the lack of progress.

"No, so far I've been able to keep up with it, but she isn't
getting any better either. That little insect certainly
possessed some potent venom. I take it Joe hasn't made any
progress either?" Tom asked as he swayed next to B'Elanna biobed.
Chakotay seeing the pilot falter went over to steady him by
putting his arm around the younger man's shoulder.

"No, I'm sorry but he's working on it. Tom, I think it is time
for you to get some sleep," he suggested.

"No, Chakotay, I'm fine I'll just give myself another stimulant
shot and I should be fine for another few hours," Tom protested
through a yawn shaking off the First Officer's arm.

"Tom, don't force me to make this an order. I'm asking you to
get some sleep for your own good, yours and B'Elanna's, don't
make me make it an order. You need to eat and you should sleep
for at least six hours. I'll come back down after I go to the
mess hall and stay with Samantha while you sleep and the Captain
will be down in the morning," the Commander said sternly.

The pilot sensing that he wouldn't take no for an answer relented
and after kissing B'Elanna on her still lips sat down with his
meal, fork in hand.

"Come on Tom you have to eat," coaxed Sam, "you have to keep up
your strength for her and the crew, you know that."

He nodded his head in agreement too tired to speak and silently
began to eat his meal. After he ate about half that was on his
plate, he laid down on the bed next to B'Elanna and immediately
fell asleep.

The Commander stopped by a little while later as promised.

"I don't know how he's doing it Commander," said Samantha
worriedly as she covered up the pilot with a blanket. "He never
stops. On top of trying to find a cure for Lt. Torres, he also
had to take care of all the usual cases that come through the
door. I'm just glad you came down here when you did or he would
have collapsed."

"I know, I wouldn't want to be in his position for anything. I
just keep on thinking if I was in Tom's place and B'Elanna was

"Kathryn," she finished for him patting his hand. "It really is
no secret Commander, in fact I am very happy for the two of

"Thanks, but I look at what he is going through and I question
whether I could cope as well as he has," he finished.

*** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ ***

The next morning, the Captain joined Tom in Sickbay, relieving
Sam so she could get some sleep herself.

"Well where are you at with the testing Tom, have you made any

"It's slow going, I'm trying all different types of antitoxins in
different dosages and strengths. So far, I've gotten nowhere,"
he said with a discouraged tone in his voice.

"I'm sure you'll have a breakthrough soon Tom, we just have to
keep working on it."

"And Joe, has there been any progress?"

"I wish I could tell you there was, but he is not giving up."

"McAfee to Sickbay."

"Lt. Paris here go ahead Ken."

"Lieutenant, there has been an accident in the Cargo Bay 3, we
need you to come down while we extricate the injured. I don't
think it is serious, but according to Starfleet regs. a doctor is
recommended to be present..."

"...and barring the doctor that means me," he finished. Tom
looked up at the Captain who nodded to him. "Ken, I'll be right
there. You can stick around to help me can't you?"

"I'll be waiting."

"Don't worry Tom, I'll keep an eye on B'Elanna and the tests.
You go, someone else needs you." Someone else needed him, not
too long ago back in the Alpha Quadrant it seemed that no one
needed him, hell he didn't even need himself. How he wanted to
be needed back then. But now to be needed carried such
responsibility, responsibility to B'Elanna, the crew, and to
himself. With those thoughts running through his head, Tom
picked up his medical bag and headed for the door.

The next day.

"Well Joe how's is going, are you making any progress?" asked
Harry as he sat down at his table.

"No, not really. Lt. Torres didn't have time to brief me on what
she did the last time to bring him around, so I'm operating
blind," Joe Carey responded shaking his head.

From the next table, they could hear Chakotay and the Captain
talking. "...and then Puppikins would take my shoes and run in
circles around the kitchen table thinking that it was the most
fun of all," said the Captain. "She was so cute it was hard to
be mad at her."

"Puppikins?" questioned Chakotay disbelievingly.

"Well you've got to remember I was only six years old at the
time." she said with a playful pout on her face looking very much
like little Naomi Wildman. "I made up the name Puppikins, but
until the day that black labrador died fourteen years later we
always called her 'Puppy.'"

"Captain?" asked Harry sensing a lull in the conversation. "I
understand that you're going down to give Tom a hand again this

"That's right."

"I have a couple of extra replicator rations. Do you think you
could you bring them to him, I won't have time. I thought maybe
he could use them and get himself some breakfast or something."

"That's very kind of you Harry," she said as he handed her the
rations. "I'm sure Tom will appreciate it."

*** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ ***

The Captain entered the Sickbay about a half an hour later. and
was surprised to find two people waiting very patiently to be
taken care of. In fact, after the door slid shut behind her,
they looked at her and brought their index fingers up to their
lips, made a shushing sound, and pointed to the figure sound
asleep at the work table.

The Captain went over to the two and quietly spoke to them. "Mr.
McAfee and Ms. Williams what seems to be the matter?" she asked
keeping her voice low.

"Nothing much Captain," responded McAfee for the both of them.
"We only came down to get something for a headache and we noticed
Paris had fallen asleep. We didn't want to disturb him,
everyone on board knows how hard he is working to help Lt.
Torres, so we thought we'd just wait and see that he wasn't

"That's very kind of the two of you, let me see if I can find a
pain reliever for you," she said as she headed toward the supply
cabinet and ordered it to unlock on the Captain's code and she
handed them some capsules. "There you are, this should help you
and thanks for keeping an eye on the Lieutenant, I appreciate

"You're welcome, Captain," replied Ensign Williams.

"When he wakes up will you tell him we wish him the best of
luck?" asked McAfee.

"I will, and thanks again," said the Captain as the two ensigns
walked out of Sickbay hand in hand.

The Captain proceeded over to Tom's worktable to check on what he
had been doing. The sample he had worked with before he had
fallen asleep was still processing. That's strange, thought
Janeway, usually the samples processed almost immediately, he
must have done something wrong. Then she saw what he had done.
He had programmed the sample to inject the new antivenom solution
in small dosages at twenty-second intervals. A bit unorthodox
but, according to the computer the test was nearly done. The
computer beeped a few minutes later signifying that the test was
complete. The sound of the beep woke Tom up.

"Good morning, Mr. Paris, it appears that your test is finally

"Oh . . . good morning Captain," he murmured trying
unsuccessfully to stifle a yawn, "what are the results?"

"Let's see." She addressed the computer, "Computer, provide
results of last sample processed."

"Working . . . result of last sample processed is conclusive,
100% eradication of the poison," stated the computer.

Paris and Janeway exchanged wide-eyed looks with each other. "We
did it?" asked the Lieutenant still not convinced of what he had
just heard.

"No, Tom, *you* did it," said the Captain clearly proud of the
young man. "Let's administer the solution, Tom, the quicker she
starts to get it the sooner she will get better and the happier
I'll be and you'll be. I just can't figure out how you came up
with it?"

"Well, I had tried the standard treatment for administering
antitoxin in all sorts of different strengths and dosages, via
recommended direct hypospray penetration to the neck. It is
painless and fast. Then I remembered something B'Elanna said not
too long ago about sometimes working slow accomplished more than
trying to get things done quickly. Then I also remembered some
of the things that were talked about in my class a couple of
weeks ago, about how old-fashioned medicines were sometimes
administered intravenously by dripping a medicine periodically
into a solution that was fed directly into the blood stream. I
figured I had nothing to loose, I had tried everything else," he
explained as he assembled the necessary equipment to set up the
intravenous to administer the antitoxin, "so I fed in the
parameters to the computer, and lo and behold it looks like it's
going to work!" he said with the first smile on his face in a few

The two of them went to work setting up the IV and began the drip
of the antivenom.

Five hours later B'Elanna began to stir.

"B'Elanna? Can you hear me?" Tom asked. "Wake up, dear, wake

"Uh . . . Tom? . . . Tom?" she said here eyes still closed.

"I'm right here, Bea, just open your eyes."
B'Elanna slowly opened her eyes and looked into the tired blue
eyes belonging to her mate sitting beside her. "Tom . . . how
long?" she mumbled her dry lips sticking together making speech

"About four days Bea, four long days," he said as he reached for
a glass of water by her bed and helped prop her up so she could
drink. "Better?"

"Uh, huh. More."

"Sure, have a little more then try and be quite and let the
medicine work. I'll be right here."

He settled her back down against the pillow and then reached up
to activate the commbadge. "Paris to the Captain."

"Go ahead Tom," the Captain answered from her ready room.

"B'Elanna's woken up, I thought you should know."

"That's great," she said looking up and smiling into a familiar
tatooed face who held her in his strong arms. "We'll be right

He sat back down next to B'Elanna's bed to wait for the Captain
and Chakotay to show up. It had been a very long four days, he
had to admit and he was very tired. But knowing that B'Elanna
would recover made him feel much better. After the Captain and
Chakotay got here, he would see if Samantha Wildman could come
down and keep an eye on B'Elanna while he got some sleep.

Chakotay and the Captain entered the Sickbay and found the pilot
was still sitting next to B'Elanna but his head was resting on
the bed next to her and he was fast asleep her hand resting on
his fair head.

"I think we should move him to one of the other beds." said the

"Good idea I'll call down and get some help."

He was so tired when he was moved to the next biobed, he never
even stirred. The Captain removed his shoes and covered him up
while the First Officer contacted Samantha Wildman for her to
cover sickbay while the pilot/nurse slept.

*** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ ***

Joe Carey rushed over to greet his boss. "Chief, it is good to
see you up and about."

"It's good to be up. Even Tom wouldn't let me out any earlier
than if the Doctor had been there."

"I suppose you want to look at the PHP," he said motioning to the
device that was on his work table.

"Yes, let's see if we can get the EMH working again."

After about four hours:

"Please state the nature of the medical emergency" was once again
heard on Voyager.

"Doctor it is good to see you again." said B'Elanna.

"Where have I been Lieutenant?"

"It is not so much where as when, you've been inactive for a
little over five days."

"Five days?! Is everyone alright."

"Everyone is fine, but to be sure why don't you call Tom and ask

The EMH reached up and slapped his commbadge. "Emergency Medical
Hologram to Lt. Paris."

"Doc, is that you?!"

"In the flesh, so to speak, yes."

"That's wonderful!"

"Tom, we'll bring the Doctor to sickbay, could you contact the
Captain and Chakotay and have them meet us there as well?"

"Sure thing, Paris out."

*** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ ***

" that is the problem," B'Elanna concluded. "Our EMH has
been too busy lately and the knowledge that he now possesses is
much greater than what it was when he was first activated. For
him to remain active on some level on Voyager, he's going to need
to regenerate on an average of forty hours every week. It also
might help if he could rest longer than that. For instance, if
he could rest more than forty hours each week, say seventy hours,
than he could occasionally work more than usual, say if an
emergency arose. Also, I forgot to mention, the rest has to be
for a significant period of time, say six to ten hours or more of
*continuous* rest *no interruptions*. It would have to be
verified during actual use, but if he could get seventy hours a
week, after a few weeks it's possible that he could cover sickbay
for a whole week without regenerating again."

The weight of her statement could be felt on everyone in the
room, and in particular the weight fell very heavy on Lt. Paris'

"So you're saying that preferably everyday we have to find
else to cover sickbay, or at least be on call," confirmed the

"That's what I'm saying."

The Doctor appeared to be miffed. "Well I never. And who would
possibly cover for me?"

"Why I imagine that Mr. Paris will do a excellent job. He
covered for you wonderfully during the last five days," explained
the Captain.

"He did?"

"He did, and not only did he cover for you but he had to come up
with a solution to the poison that was attacking Lt. Torres'
system. It's a testament to your training that he was
successful," she concluded trying to soothe the EMH's feelings
and looked over to the pilot who's complexion had deepened into a
deep shade of pink.

"Captain," began her First Officer. "I think I may have a
solution that would make Tom's backing up the Doctor a little bit

"And what's that?"

"I understand that there is a storage area across the hall from
Sickbay is vacant, there is no reason why Tom couldn't move in
there to be closer to Sickbay, it would be more convenient,
especially if intership transport was unavailable. I also
understand that there is a seldom-used utility closet next to
those quarters. If we were to knock out the wall in between, it
would make an appropriately sized cabin for both him and B'Elanna
or anyone else that may ultimately constitute their family." It
was B'Elanna's turn to blush.

"Well Tom, B'Elanna, what do you think?"

"I think it's a good idea. Being so close, I should be able to
work my schedule around the Doctor's and still have time to pilot
and continue my studies."

"I agree with Tom, besides it would be nice to have a larger
cabin," B'Elanna agreed.

Chapter 5 - Underlying Messages

Tom walked into Sandrine's the next evening having packed up most
of his belongings for the move tomorrow, B'Elanna was planning to
move most of her belongings in after the wedding. Spotting Harry
at the bar, he went over to join him. B'Elanna was expected to
join them shortly.

"So you still haven't made any progress with the message?" Tom
asked as he sat down next to Harry at the bar noting his dejected

"Not yet, the computer ran through its entire database, but no
luck," Harry said discouragedly.

"Well that only means that the words aren't in there," said Tom
trying to be cheerful.

"Tom, the computer contains all the words in standard language.
The password is not the answer."

"Not necessarily, Harry. It might be a word that was a made-up
word that wouldn't show up in the computer."

"A made-up word?" questioned Harry thinking that Tom had lost his

"Yeah, like Ensign Williams, what is it she calls McAfee --

"Oh, well I suppose." he said not sounding convinced and not
entirely believing that Ken McAfee, all 6'7" of him, would allow
anyone to call him 'snookums.' Ah, he thought, it must be love.

"The fragments of messages that you didn't know what to do with,
do you still have them?"

"Yes, so what?"

"Would you mind if I looked at them?"

"No I suppose not, though I think it's a waste of time, all they
consist of is a few words here and there, they don't even make

"Humor me, Harry, I used to play word games with my mother all
the time. Let me look, in fact, let's go now," he said pulling
the younger man along with him.

"Sandrine, when B'Elanna comes in, please tell her we have gone
down to stellar communications."

*** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ ***

"These are the message fragments Tom, can you make any sense of

Tom looked them over and over on the screen and finally asked
Harry to replicate some pieces of paper. He carefully duplicated
the letters and words that were contained on each message each on
a separate piece of paper. Then sitting cross-legged on the
floor moved them around in various kinds of combinations. Which
was what he was doing when his fiance came into the room.

"What is this some kind of game?" she asked Harry with a smile on
her face.

"No, he's trying to make some sense of those message fragments,"
he replied shaking his head obviously believing that it was a
waste of time and energy.

"You're kidding?" she said looking at Harry and noticed that he
wasn't fooling her.

"I've got it!" shouted the pilot, "Come look."

There on the floor spelled out on the paper were the following


"How did we miss that before?" Harry asked scratching his head.

"Maybe you were just too close to the problem." Tom said.

"Janeway should be on the bridge shouldn't she?" asked B'Elanna.

"Let's find out," Harry said and tapped his commbadge "Ensign Kim
to Captain Janeway."

"Go ahead Harry." responded the Captain.

"We've made a breakthrough with the message, but we need your
help, can we meet you and the Commander in your ready room in ten
minutes?" the young ensign asked.

"That would be fine Harry, we'll be there. Captain out."

*** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ *** ^^^ ***

"...then Tom wrote down the message fragments on pieces of paper
and moved them all around on the floor until he came up with the
message," explained B'Elanna.

"But the message that I initially got from Starfleet only
consisted of four pages," countered the Captain as she walked
around the table with her hands on her hips.

"But," responded Chakotay pointing to the Captain, "that wasn't
the only message you received, was it? You got one from Mark."

"Oh yes, but I don't see how," she began, "but give me a minute
and I'll go down to my quarters and bring it right back."

A little while later, the Captain came back to the ready room
carrying her 'Dear John letter.' She sat down and scrolled down
through the message until she got to the sixth page and counted
down to the fourth line she read it aloud to the group: 'I
remember you talking about all your dogs, how many where there

"I don't understand how this could be a password?" she asked.
"Well what were the names of your dogs?" asked Harry.

"Let's see there was Bear, the Irish Setter; and before him,
Remington, the black Labrador Retriever; then Casey, the Golden
Retriever; and then my first dog Puppikins, she was another black

"Puppikins, of course!" shouted Harry.

"What do you mean 'of course'?" asked the Commander thoroughly

"Why 'Puppikins' is a made-up name and it wouldn't have appeared
in any connotation in the ship's data base, this might be the
answer we have been looking for," he explained.

"Well put the name in Harry," instructed B'Elanna anxious to see
if it would work.

Harry quickly instructed the computer to supply 'Puppikins' as
the password to the Starfleet message, but was unsuccessful.

"Harry," B'Elanna said, "try all four of the dogs' names in both
normal and reverse chronological order. See if *that* works."

"Computer supply the names: Puppikins, Casey, Remington, and Bear
and process message."

"Working...working...message being downloaded, approximate
completion time three hours, twenty-two minutes." the computer

Soon they would know what the Starfleet's message contained.

Chapter 6 - Onward and Upward

"I am glad all of you could attend this meeting," Janeway said as
she looked around Shuttlebay 2 at most of her crew. A skeleton
crew stationed at the bridge and engineering were monitoring the
proceedings from their stations. "There are a couple of items
that I would like to take care of tonight. The first item is
something that is long overdue, I have a few promotions that I
would like to announce. Mr. Kim, Ms. Torres, and Mr. Paris would
you please come forward.

The three surprised friends approached the podium clearly self-
conscious of their predominance among the rest of the crew.
"It is my honor and privilege to bestow the rank of Lieutenant
Junior Grade to Ensign Harry Kim, and the rank of Full Lieutenant
to both Tom Paris and B'Elanna Torres, she said as she passed out
the pips that signified their new ranks to the three officers.
The rest of the crew signified their approval with a round of
applause. Eventually, the applause died down and the Captain

"Lt. Kim, your contributions to this crew and ship over the past
five years have been outstanding, not only at the communications
station but also in engineering. You continue to perform at a
level consistent of someone with many more years of service. I
am honored to have you on my ship." Janeway walked up to the
happy new lieutenant and shook his hand.

"Lt. Torres, without your talents and sacrifices you have made
over the years I don't think we could have come as far has we
have. I know that not only the crew but the ship has benefitted
by your presence, ingenuity, and dedication to your job. You are
a valuable asset to this ship and I am honored as well that your
a member of this crew," the Captain walked up to her Chief
Engineer and also shook her hand and murmured her thanks.

"And Lt. Tom Paris, what you have accomplished since we entered
the Delta Quadrant has been nothing short of miraculous. Not
only have you saved the ship on numerous occasions and have more
than once put your life on the line, for not only the ship but
your crewmates, but you have taken on the added responsibility of
the ship's EMH medical assistant and have found the time to
attend classes in order to enhance your medical training. Your
actions can certainly be described as above and beyond the call
of duty. I am honored to serve with you Tom," Janeway walked up
to the pilot and shook his hand, looking up at his face she could
see his eyes were moist with unshed tears.

"Everyone let me introduce Lt. Junior Grade Harry Kim, Lt.
B'Elanna Torres, and Lt. Tom Paris," she started clapping and the
rest of the members of the crew followed.

"Now if I could again have everyone's attention. Several months
ago we received letters from family and friends in the Alpha
Quadrant. Along with those letters was a message from Starfleet.
This message was cleverly hidden amongst all the letters. Lt.
Harry Kim, with some recent assistance from Lts. Torres and
Paris, has been working relentlessly since then to attempt to
download this message. I am happy to say that finally we have
the entire message." A huge round of applause erupted from her
audience accompanied by whoops of joy, hugs, and kisses.

"To play the whole message would take some time, so I'll condense
it for you. Essentially what it says is that the Federation has
developed a device to create temporary wormholes. Their plan is
to create a temporary wormhole in an area of space approximately
10,000 light years away. A Federation starship, the U.S.S.
Salvation will then travel through this wormhole, according to
the message, that would have occurred a month and a half ago.
This ship is equipped with a prototype propulsion system which
will enable it to rendezvous with us approximately two months
from now. They will be carrying necessary provisions and
supplies which will enable us to retrofit Voyager to withstand a
journey through this type of wormhole. We will then travel to
the wormhole location which will take approximately eleven
months. That should give us plenty of time, barring
confrontations with aliens, to prepare the ship for travel
through the wormhole. At about the time, the Federation will
begin creating a temporary wormhole once every month. We will
travel through one of those wormholes back home."

"It is my hope that in eleven months from now I can assemble the
crew together again but this time in the Alpha Quadrant!"

The End.

Probably to be continued.

Please send E-mail to and let me know what part
of the story you liked the best.

Also, I'd really appreciate it if in your e-mail you could
include what state/country your from so I can keep track of how
far this story travels. Thanks.

** To find out more about McAfee read "Rebecca's Revenge" by the
same author, if you can't find it on the internet please e-mail
me at

Thanks again to my daughter and hubbie for letting me indulge in
this passion. I've finally forgiven my Labrador Retriever, in
fact I've given him a piece of the story, he's the real one that
runs around my kitchen table with my shoes and his name is