Stardate 215204.0 (Wed 4 Aug 2376): After suffering their second miscarriage, Tom and B’Elanna must try to keep their world—and their marriage—from falling apart.
San Francisco, California
Wednesday 4 August 2376 1625 hrs
Lieutenant B’Elanna Paris sat up on the biobed in the hospital at Starfleet Headquarters in San Francisco. Her husband, Lieutenant Tom Paris, looked at her with a small smile from his seat beside the raised bed. Their doctor, a Tellarite named Sechmat, came back into the room, a PADD in his hand and a somber expression on his face.
"What is it?" B’Elanna asked.
"Lieutenant," Sechmat began, then stopped himself. "B’Elanna. I’m sorry to have to be the bearer of bad news. The baby’s heart is no longer beating. I’m afraid he is dead."
B’Elanna looked at the four-month-old bulge in her belly. "No," she breathed. "Not again. We were so much farther along this time."
"Doc," Tom said to the swarthy Tellarite, his voice desperate and his eyes pained, "isn’t there something you can do?"
"I’m sorry," Sechmat said. "As far as we can tell, his heart stopped two or three days ago. His body’s already gone into necrosis." Tom’s head dropped as he leaned forward in his chair, his elbows resting on his knees, supporting his upper body. "B’Elanna," Sechmat continued, "I know you don’t want to hear this now, but we’ll have to remove the fetus. I’d like to run some tests to see if we can determine what caused the miscarriage."
B’Elanna nodded her head wordlessly as Sechmat placed a sympathetic hand on her shoulder, then turned and walked back out of the room. Tom stood, then wrapped his arms around his wife.
Two days later, Tom and his best friend, Lieutenant Harry Kim, sat wordlessly at a small table in Burch’s Pub, a smoky, dimly-lit bar on the outskirts of San Francisco that had been a popular hangout among Starfleet personnel for more than a century. Kim toyed with his glass, while Tom simply stared into his own. Toward the back of the bar, two obviously drunk engineering instructors from the Academy were holding a friendly argument over a game of darts.
"Och," the larger one, a captain, said in a thick Scottish brogue. "There’s no way, laddie. I should know, I’ve met both of them."
"You’re biased," the second said in an Irish accent. "You served with one of ’em."
"So did you, laddie," said the captain. "Your shot."
"Tom," Harry said finally, his attention returning to his own part of the bar, "what’s wrong?" Tom didn’t even look up. "Something’s been bugging you for the last couple of days. Neither you or B’Elanna have been able to concentrate on work lately."
"We," Tom began as he reached drunkenly for his glass, "we lost the baby."
"God, Tom," Harry said. "I’m sorry. When did it happen?"
"We just found out two days ago," Tom said. He paused, then continued, "We were really looking forward to this. After Tommy was born, B’Elanna finally started to warm up to the idea of being a parent. We were still hopeful after the first miscarriage, but now she’s taking it really hard. She says it’s all her fault. She’s blaming her Klingon half for screwing up her life again."
"Tom," Harry said, "you know that’s not true."
"Of course it isn’t!" Tom yelled suddenly. "It doesn’t matter worth a damn, though, because B’Elanna won’t see that! And maybe it’s not her at all! Maybe it’s me — I got mutated when I hit transwarp, remember? Maybe the doc wasn’t able to completely reverse that!"
"Tom," Harry said, "I can’t accept that. I know–"
"Don’t even think about saying you know how I feel," Tom interjected, his voice still raised, "because you don’t! You and Seven don’t even have to try and you can have a kid!"
"Tom, you’re drunk," Harry said softly. "You’re making a scene."
"I am not drunk!" Tom protested a little too loudly. "You have no right to say that you know what I’m going through!"
"I never did," Harry said. "Tom, let’s go home."
"Fine," Tom said. "I’ll go home. But I don’t need your damned sympathy!" He stood and stormed out of the bar, leaving his friend speechless at the table, the other patrons watching the spectacle in morbid silence.
B’Elanna sat somberly in the office of her commanding officer at the Research and Development divison of the Starfleet Corps of Engineers, Admiral Orifil Quinteros. He leaned across his desk and looked at her. "B’Elanna," he began, "what’s bothering you?"
"Nothing," she said. "Just some family troubles. Nothing you need to be concerned about."
"It is my concern when it affects your work," he said, "and your work has been substantially below par for the last few days." B’Elanna looked at him, silently. "Whatever you tell me won’t go beyond this room. I give you my word."
She didn’t speak for a few moments, then said softly, "Tom and I lost the baby."
Quinteros sat back in surprise. "I’m sorry," he said. "I know what this meant to the two of you." He paused for a moment, then added, "Maybe you and Tom should take some time off. Let Harry and Annika hold the fort for a while, until you get things sorted out."
"Do you think I can’t do my job anymore?" B’Elanna asked sharply.
"That’s not what I meant at all, lieutenant," Quinteros said.
"Then just what did you mean?" she snapped. "Have you lost faith in me as an engineer? Am I not good enough for this project anymore?"
"That’s quite enough, lieutenant," Quinteros interrupted. "You’re obviously distraught, so I’ll overlook this… insubordination. You and your husband have one week’s leave, effective immediately. Use it wisely." He paused, looking at the reports on his desk, then looked back at B’Elanna. "You’re dismissed."
B’Elanna lost her grip on the bat’leth. Her opponent, a fierce-looking Klingon woman, seized the opportunity, spinning the weapon out of her hands and sending it flying across the room, where it struck a wall and clattered loudly to the ground. The Klingon woman struck her squarely in the face with the blunt center spar of her blade, knocking B’Elanna to the floor. The Klingon spun her blade, bringing it over her head to deliver the killing blow.
"Computer, end program!"
B’Elanna spun as the room and her opponent vanished, the room’s walls replaced with a stark yellow grid on a black background. "Tom!" she snapped. "What the hell are you doing?"
"Saving your life!" he shot back. "Looks like I got here just in time — you turned the safeties off again!"
"Why should you care?" B’Elanna yelled.
"Because you’re my wife!" Tom exclaimed. "I love you!"
She fixed him with a harsh glare. "I don’t mess with yourholoprograms!"
"My programs don’t usually involve turning off the safety protocols!" Tom returned. "B’Elanna, we need help. It’s been three days since the admiral gave us this leave, and things aren’t getting any better."
"Tom, B’Elanna," Admiral Owen Paris said as he settled into a seat beside his wife, Linnis, at the younger Parises’ San Francisco apartment, "I know I’ve been tough on both of you, but it’s because I care. I want you to know that you have our full support. We… we know what you’re going through."
"Tom," Linnis began softly, "we never told you this, but I… I had three miscarriages before you were born."
"This is different," B’Elanna said sharply. "I’m half-Klingon. I–"
"What I’m trying to say," Linnis interrupted, "is that even among fully-human couples, miscarriage happens."
"It’s not you, B’Elanna," Tom said. "Maybe it’s me. Maybe I can’t have kids ever since that transwarp experiment."
"Don’t say that, Tom," Linnis said. "You said Dr. Zimmerman assured you that wasn’t possible. Trust me, I know how hard this can be. Mourn your child, but don’t dwell too much on the could-have-beens. Talk to your doctor, when you’re ready. I’m sure there are ways to help you carry a child to term."
With one chubby hand grasping his mother’s shirt for support, Tommy Kim reached out with his free hand toward the big, fluffy object his Uncle Tom was offering him.
"Targ," Tom said slowly, smiling to the infant. "That’s a targ. Can you say ‘Targ,’ Tommy?"
"Guurrgle!" Tommy replied, grasping the stuffed toy and smiling toothlessly.
"Tom, he’s only five months old," Harry admonished his friend.
"Never too early to start working on speech," Tom said. He made a goofy smile again at his namesake, and the infant giggled once more. B’Elanna rested her head on his shoulder, wrapping one arm around to the other side while her other hand stroked his chest. They watched as Harry and Annika played with their baby son.
"Tom," B’Elanna said softly, "I… I’ve been thinking. Maybe we can try again, sometime. Sometime soon."
"You mean it?" Tom asked his wife.
"Yes," B’Elanna said. "But not just yet. Let’s give it some time first."
"Take as much time as you need, B’Elanna," Tom replied.
"Guys," Harry said, "I don’t mean to butt in; we couldn’t help but overhear you…"
"We wish you luck," Annika said.
"Thank you," B’Elanna replied.
"Have you considered contacting Dr. Marcus on Voyager?" Annika asked. "One of her grandfather’s closest friends is Admiral McCoy; perhaps he could be of assistance. He is reputed to be one of the best physicians in the quadrant."
"I’d call the Vidiians if I thought they’d help us," Tom said seriously. He paused for a moment, then looked back at Annika. "It’s a good idea, Seven. Thanks."
"We’re here for you, guys," Harry said. "Don’t forget that."