DELTA BLUES @ Reviewboy.com - Jim Reviews...

"Lineage"

[Disclaimer]

Paramount pretty much owns everything you're about to read. It's their dialog, their characters, their franchise. For whatever reason, they've chosen to left me alone, and I thank them for it.

This is all meant in good fun, as though I were reciting the episode to you around the water cooler at work. You'll find the closest thing online to watching the actual episode, though I do sometimes take liberties when I think it will help the narrative. Any errors in fact or interpretation are my responsibility alone.

[Captioning sponsored by Paramount Television and United Paramount Network.]

[Summary]

Tom Paris and B'Elanna Torres reach a crossroads in their relationship which could have long-ranging effects on both of their lives. Early in her life, B'Elanna and her father joined his family on a camping trip where something happened - something that could result in B'Elanna making an irrevocable decision against Tom's will that no amount of technology can rectify.

Jump straight to the Analysis

[Breakdown]

As Tom and B'Elanna stroll through the corridors on their way to their morning shift, they pass a nameless blonde working at an access panel.  "Good morning," B'Elanna chirps to the extra.

Tom can't help but notice. "You're in a good mood," he tells his wife, who is not known as a morning person.

"It's another beautiful day in the Delta Quadrant," she says with a smile.

Tom stops in his tracks a few steps from the door to Engineering.  "What'd you have for breakfast?" he asks suspiciously.

Her response is to grab a bit of dessert--she steps up on tiptoes and kisses him full on the lips.  "I'll see you tonight."  Before he can respond, she's through the door.  All he can do is smile. 

It is a beautiful day in the Delta Quadrant, isn't it?

*

Engineering is running like the well-oiled machine it all too rarely gets to be.

The door hasn't even finished closing behind Lt. Torres before a crewman crisply marches toward her, PADD in hand. "Here you are, Lieutenant," she says, handing B'Elanna the environmental systems report.

"Thank you," Torres says sweetly, earning her a smile--and a surprised look.

Torres next moves toward a young ensign, who can't help but notice the eyes of her commanding officer upon her and her work.  But after a few seconds, Torres lets her off the hook. "Nice job, Ensign."  She moves away, and the ensign heaves a sigh of relief.

Next, B'Elanna sets her sights on a very tall male engineer whose fingers fly over the controls.  She nods her approval.  "You keep the warp field that stable you might just get us home a few years early."  He stands just a little taller at the praise.

I know what you're thinking--and I agree.  There's no way this can last.  The karmic pendulum just can't leave B'Elanna on a high note for long.

*

Meanwhile, in another section of Engineering...

"The Starfleet manual allows for a variance of point three," Icheb says to Seven of Nine.

"That's only a guideline. You can do better."  Seven moves away from her student and toward another panel in upper Engineering.  Icheb shakes his head slightly, but doesn't protest.  He's gunning for admission to Starfleet Academy, after all.

Wouldn't you know it--a couple of twelve-stepping drones are just the thing to spoil B'Elanna's chipper mood when the lift gives her a view of them toyin' with her wee bairns.  "I don't remember giving you permission to work here," she growls.

Icheb is penitent.  "I'm sorry, Lieutenant."

Seven of Nine is not.  "I'm helping him study warp mechanics."

The lift stops, and B'Elanna begins walking down the stairs. "You should have notified me. It's a busy day, and I..."  She stumbles on the last step, falling into Seven of Nine's powerful arms.

"Lieutenant," Seven says, concerned.

"I'm fine."  Torres brushes herself off--then grabs her head, feeling a bit woozy.

Icheb is on her in a Delta Quadrant minute, running a tricorder over the cheif engineer.  His brow furrows.  "I'm detecting another life-sign."

"Where?" Seven asks, looking around.

"Inside Lieutenant Torres.  It could be a parasite."  He hands Seven the tricorder.

Seven's eyes go wide when she sees the readout, then slaps her combadge.  "Seven of Nine to the Doctor."

"Go ahead ."

"I'll be accompanying Lieutenant Torres to Sickbay."  Surprisingly, Torres doesn't object.

"What's wrong? "

Seven't mouth twists up at the corners as she looks down on Torres.  "I believe she's pregnant."

B'Elanna's forehead ridge begins to pulsate as those words sink in.

Just another frelling day in the Delta Quadrant...

* * *

In Sickbay, Tom and B'Elanna look nervous. 

Fortunately for them, the Doctor does not.  "The fetus appears to be about seven weeks old--and doing quite well. So are you."

"Why did she faint?" Tom asks.

Doc shrugs. "Klingon and human metabolism sometimes...clash."

Tom snorts. "Tell me about it."  That earns him one beauty of a skunk eye from his beloved.

"It's not uncommon for such pregnancies to cause biochemical fluctuations in the mother," Doc assures them.  Tom asks if it's serious; Doc smiles. "Not usually. You can expect some behavioral volatility increased nutritional needs. Creating new life is a big job."

Tom is thoughtful at that. "Hmm. Creating new life--"

"I can't believe it," Torres mutters, lost in thought.

Doc notes the distinct lack of elation in his patients, and grows anxious. "I don't mean to be indelicate, but...weren't you trying to get pregnant?"

This gets B'Elanna to stop and consider the quesiton. "Well...of course. I mean...we knew we wanted a family."

"But the odds against human-Klingon conception are so high," Tom adds.  (In the immortal--and rarely accurate--words of Vessini the Sicilian, "inconceivable!")

Clearly, success hasn't quite sunk in for these two yet.  Captain Proton, me lad, your boys can swim...

Doc smiles. "Well, apparently you've beaten the odds. May I be the first to congratulate you?"

Tom still looks shocked, but in a pleased way now. The questions tumble off his tongue.  "When is the baby due?"

"Normally, Klingon pregnancies run 30 weeks," Doc says, "but with mixed species, it could be sooner."

"Is it a girl or a boy?"

"No! Don't tell," B'Elanna pleads. "I want to be surprised."

"Uh, we've already been surprised," Tom reminds her.

Torres gives him a big-eyed plea.  "I just don't see any reason to have to label the baby. I don't want to know the gender. I don't want to have to pick a name yet."

Tom gives in. "Okay, okay. Mommy knows best." 

B'Elanna's eyes blaze.  "'Mommy'?"

Lucky for Tom they're still in Sickbay.  When she pulls his bottom lip over his skull, every second counts...

*

Tom and B'Elanna are again walking through the corridor.  But their mood isn't quite the same as it was earlier this morning.  Both are hopped up on the anxious high of the news.

"I wonder if the holodeck has any child-rearing programs," Tom says.

"There are some things you just can't simulate," B'Elanna counters.

"I'll take whatever help I can get."

"We should get our quarters ready," Torres suggests.

"Maybe I can replicate one of those antique cribs," Tom says.

"And put it where? We'll need to rearrange the living area."

"We need to do a lot more than that," Tom says.

B'Elanna stops walking and looks at her husband. "You're happy about this, right?"

"Of course I'm happy! Just a little overwhelmed, that's all."

"Me, too," B'Elanna admits. "Can we, uh, keep this to ourselves for a while?"

Tom smiles down at her. "Absolutely."

For a second, neither speaks.  Then Torres starts to giggle.  She throws herself into Tom's arms, and they hug fiercely.  When they part, she laughs again, and he joins her.  For one brief moment, they share the joy of the news without sweating the details.

Then the moment passes.  "I, uh...I need to get to work. See you later...Dad." B'Elanna leaves him in the corridor, letting that new title sink in.

He seems to like the sound of it.

*

Tom strolls into the mess hall--and is surprised to be greeted with a hearty round of applause.

"Congratulations, Tom!" Neelix says cheerfully.

"Thanks," says Tom, stunned.   "How did you find out?"

"Icheb." Then Neelix looks worried.  "Oh--he wasn't supposed to tell?"

Tom shakes his head, resigned to the inevitable. "Well, we were hoping to keep it private...for an hour or so."

Neelix smiles.  "As they say on Talax, omara s'alas --'good news has no clothes.'"

Tom's laugh has a touch of nausea to it--now there's an image he simply didn't need.  "Thanks...I guess."

"Now, my good news would be learning that I'll be the godfather," Neelix says, hinting broadly.  "I do have experience with Naomi Wildman, you know."

Put on the spot, Tom can do little but shrug. "I can't think of anyone more qualified."

Neelix beams. "In that case, I've been making up a list of names. Tell me what you think of..."

*

Chakotay approaches Torres in Engineering.  He gives her a curious look. "Have you checked the warp core for radiation leaks today?"

Torres is instantly on guard. "No. Why?"

"You have a certain...Glow about you."  His eyes twinkle.

It takes her a second to catch on--then she growls. "Okay, who told you?"

The captain saves her first officer with an act of incredibly good timing. "I just heard!" Janeway says, rushing up to give B'Elanna a hug. "Congratulations."

"Thanks," Torres says.

"Seven said you were dizzy. Are you all right?"

B'Elanna bristles a little. "I'm fine."

Chakotay smiles. "Nothing ever rattled her--not even the Cardassians."

"This is scarier," B'Elanna admits.

"Would you like some time off?" the captain asks.

"To do what?" Torres asks, surprised and slightly hurt.

"Adjust . This is a big change."

But B'Elanna doesn't want to give up her day job just yet.  She waves off the suggestion.  "I'll work during the day, sleep at night and have the baby when it's time."

"Well, if you need to cut back on your duties, I'm sure Seven would be happy to fill in for you."

Janeway couldn't have said anything more likely to keep Torres anchored to her beloved engine room until the nanosecond the baby becomes due. "I think I can handle it," Torres insists.

*

Harry Kim catches up to Tom in the corridor. "Congratulations, buddy," he says, throwing an arm around Tom's shoulder.

Tom rolls his eyes. "Where did you hear the news? In the data stream from Earth?"

Harry chuckles. "Actually, I think it was a transmission from the Borg." He laughs some more, clearly having fun at his friend's expense. "It's all over now. No more late nights on the Holodeck...no more racing the Delta Flyer."

Tom's eyebrows fly upward toward his hair line--no mean feat. "Don't you think you're exaggerating just a little ?"

"I've seen it happen," Harry insists cruelly. "The new dad gets tied down with family, old friends drop away--"

"It's fatherhood , Harry, not exile!"

"If you say so," Harry says.  Then he drops the act. "Kidding aside, how's it feel?"

"Well, it's...it's not quite real yet."

"Maybe that's what pregnancy's for.  Time to let reality sink in...before your life spins out of control."

Harry pats Tom on the shoulder one last time, then bolts down the corridor, leaving Tom open-mouthed but speechless.

You know, back when he was single, Tom NEVER let Harry have the last word.  Ol' Papa Tom is slowing down in his advancing years...soon the gray in his hair will match his eyes...

*

Tom Paris finds Commander Tuvok in the Jefferies tube, running a diagnostic.   "Need any help?"  Tom asks.  You don't need to be an empath to see that something is on his mind.

Tuvok's eybrows knit.  "Mr. Paris, this may be the first time you've ever volunteered to assist me."

"Really?" Tom asks self-consciously. "Well, we ought to change that. I mean, we've known each other a long time.  We ought to work more closely."

"I'll keep that in mind."  If Tuvok carries a wallet, he's no doubt guarding it at this moment.

"So I guess you've heard," Tom says with a big sigh.  "B'Elanna and I are going to have a baby."

A pause.  "I was unaware."

It's Tom's turn to be surprised--pleasantly. "Finally, someone who doesn't know!"

"Allow me to extend my best wishes," Tuvok says sincerely.  No doubt, however, he's calculating the sheer potential for headache the offspring of Tom Paris and a half-Klingon Maquis will mean to the ship.

"Thanks," Tom says.  "You know, a baby is...it's a big responsibility--but I'm ready for it," he adds hastily.  Then, more sheepishly, "Not that you can ever be completely ready."  He ends with a plea. "Can you?"

It's not subtle.  Then again, Tom isn't known for his subtlety.  Tuvok gives Paris an appraising look. "Lieutenant, are you asking me for advice about fatherhood?"

"Well, I don't know anyone else who's been through it."

"I'm afraid my parenting skills are somewhat dormant. It's been many years since my children were young."

"Well, you've had a long time to think back on it. Any helpful hints?"  The unspoken pleeeeze!!! hangs in the air between them.

Tuvok goes for the all-purpose platitudes. "Offspring can be disturbingly illogical, yet profoundly fulfilling.  You should anticipate paradox."

Aw, shucks, is that all there is to it?  Parenthood should be a snap now! "I'll remember that," Tom says with a weak smile.

Tuvok senses his first offering didn't quite do the trick.  "If you'd like my counsel on more specific issues..."

Tom smiles, more encouraging this time. "Something tells me I'm going to be volunteering to work with you on a regular basis."

*

Back in their quarters, Tom prepares an elaborate candle-lit dinner.

B'Elanna comes through the door, looking frazzled, and is caught short by what she sees.

"So?" Tom asks.

B'Elanna gives the table a good review. "Looks nice."

"Well, I figured quiet, romantic dinners may soon be a thing of the past. Tough day?"

B'Elanna heaves a sigh. "The Captain practically relieved me of duty...as if I couldn't handle being an engineer and being pregnant at the same time." (Ah, you gotta love those season-four inside jokes...)

"Well, if you ever need a baby-sitter, 'Godfather Neelix' is ready to go."  He doesn't mention that Neelix gave him an offer he couldn't refuse...a head of leola root left in the foot of their bed...

B'Elanna lets out a soft growl. "Chakotay wants to be godfather."

"Well, Neelix already has a list of names," Tom says, defending his--well, Neelix's--choice.

"I don't mind people suggesting names. What annoys me is all of the free advice about--feeding, and discipline!"

"Folk wisdom is my favorite," Tom agrees. "According to Chell, Bolians believe that if you give birth near a warp core it'll improve the baby's disposition."

"Why does everybody feel they're entitled to give us advice?" B'Elanna asks, more than a little miffed. "This is our child."  Well, let's see--after more than six years, this is only the second child born on Voyager--and the first where the seeds were sown in the Delta Quadrant.  It's not TOO surprising that the entire ship would want to be part of the Blessed Event.

"Well, people should know better than to interfere with a Klingon mother," Tom says, teasing her.

But B'Elanna suddenly turns cold. "What's that supposed to mean?"

Uh oh. "Nothing. It was a joke!"

"What does being Klingon have to do with it?" B'Elanna's voice rises.

"Hey, take it easy--"

"I don't want to take it easy! I want everybody to back off and just let me--"  Torres stops herself, and takes a deep breath.  When she continues, her voice is calmer, and she regards her husband with an apologetic look. "The Doctor said I might experience some behavioral volatility. I guess this is it."

"Well, forget about the Doctor. Forget the Captain and all the godfathers."

"Maybe you're right."

"I know I am," Tom says.  "This isn't about their expectations or hopes or...doubts. None of this belongs to them."

"It belongs to us," B'Elanna agrees. "All of it."

"Lucky us."

But before things can get too mushy, their combadges chirp and the Doctor interrupts the moment. "Lieutenant Torres, Lieutenant Paris, please report to Sickbay ."

*

Under normal circumstances, a hovering, rotating spinal column would be out of the ordinary.

But in a 24th-century sickbay, it's all merely part of the Mother to Be curriculum.

"It's a holographic extrapolation of your child's spine, approximately ten months after birth," Doc explains.

B'Elanna notices at once why Doc brought them here.  "It's deviated."

"Yes. There's a pronounced curvature to the left."

Tom is worried. "Can it be corrected?"

"I had surgery for it when I was a baby," B'Elanna says.

"You never told me that!"

"My mother had it, too."

Doc nods. "It tends to run in Klingon families--especially among females."  He practically clamps his hand over his mouth when he realizes what he just said.

Tom picks up on it immediately. "Are you saying that this baby is a girl?"

"No, I didn't say that," Doc says, not at all convincingly.

"But it is a girl, right?" Tom asks.

Doc looks at Torres, worried about what she could do to him.  "You cannot infer that."

"It's okay," B'Elanna says. "You might as well just tell us."

Doc's relief is palpable. "Yes. It's a girl. And aside from the deviated spine she's healthy."

"Will she need surgery?" Tom asks.

"Fortunately, we've advanced beyond that. Genetic modification is the treatment of choice."  (Foreshadowing... )

Tom Paris gets one of those looks in his eyes. "If you can project an image of the spine...can you use the genetic data to show us the whole baby?"

Alarm bells go off in Doc's subroutines. "I could. It would only be an approximation."

Tom gives B'Elanna a puppy-dog pout. "Let's take a look."

"I don't know."

"Oh, come on! Aren't you curious?"

Tom's enthusiasm wins her over. "Okay," she says. 

Doc works his magic--and a moment later, the spinal column is covered with skin, and a child floats and rotates in the middle of sickbay.

"Oh, she's beautiful!"  Tom gasps.

Torres gasps as well, but not for the same reason. "Forehead ridges?" she asks as she sees the baby's face.  Doc confirms it.  "But she's only one-quarter Klingon."

"Klingon traits remain dominant for several generations," Doc says, "even with a single ancestor."

Tom couldn't be happier. "Oh, she looks just like her mother."

We peer into B'Elanna's eyes...

*

And suddenly it's night.  A dark-haired man is looking at her on the other side of a campfire.  He sighs.  "You are so much like your mother."

*

B'Elanna looks like she just saw a ghost.

"She's perfect...Isn't she?" Tom asks.

But B'Elanna is at a loss for words.

* * *

Whoa--a double bed on Voyager!  We haven't seen that since "The Q and the Grey," when Q tried to turn the captain's quarters into an omnipotent love nest.

B'Elanna is in bed.  Tom is on his way.  Their sleepwear is fairly tame, all things considering.

"What a day," Tom says while crawling under the covers.

"Mm-hmm." B'Elanna looks distracted.

"Six years in the Delta Quadrant and nothing has ever scared me as much as hearing our baby had a problem."

"It's not much of a problem," Torres says softly.

"We didn't know that at first."

"Now we know."  Still close to a whisper.

Tom picks up on her mood and changes his tone to one of blatant encouragement. "And we also know that the Doctor is going to fix everything tomorrow morning."

Torres smiles softly.  "I'm sorry. It's a lot to take in all at once, and I'm really tired."

"We could both use some sleep," Tom agrees. "Computer, dim the lights."

Tom is out like, well, like a light.

B'Elanna, though, is not.

Flashback time.

*

It's a beautiful sunny morning in the woods for a family outing.

"Somebody make sure those coals are completely out," a fatherly bald guy shouts.

"I'll get it, Dad," says a boy in his early teens--if that.

Another fatherly man, with more hair and fewer years under his belt, works with his fishing pole. "You kids be careful--and be back before sunset."

The bald dad raises his own pole. "And bring your appetites--we're having fish for dinner!"

A girl in her mid teens rolls her eyes. "If you two can catch any," she says skeptically.

A younger girl, with distinctive forehead ridges, quietly approaches the younger dad.  "Dad, I increased the field strength of the targeting lure."  I'm guessing that's B'Elanna.

John looks proudly at his daughter. "Ooh, those fish don't stand a chance!"  He gestures toward the other kids. "You better get going. Your cousins aren't going to wait forever."

But she's in no hurry to leave. "I was thinking--maybe I could go fishing with you and Uncle Carl."

John frowns. "I thought you were looking forward to the hike. Just the kids, no dads to slow you down...."

"They don't like me," B'Elanna mopes.

John's look is sad. "Why would you say that?"

"Because it's true."

Just then, the older girl calls out to her, her tone clearly an invitation. "Come on, B'Elanna, let's go!"  The two boys are also expectant.

"You see?" B'Elanna's dad says. "Now, go on.  Have a good time."

B'Elanna is resigned to her fate.  She heads toward the other kids.  Then she stops. "Dad?"

"What is it?" he asks.

She hesitates.  Then gives up. "Nothing."

Off she goes, looking like Dead Kid Walking.

*

B'Elanna, in bed next to the snoring Tom Paris, has a haunted look.  In the darkness, it's Forehead Ridges as far as the eye can see.

*

The next morning, Tom mans the toaster while B'Elanna rushes around getting ready for the new day.

"Relax! We're not that late," Tom says.

"The Doctor scheduled me at 0800."

"You still have time for my favorite gourmet breakfast: peanut butter toast."

"I'm too tired to eat."  Tom may not know why, but we do.

Tom, oblivious, isn't as sympathetic as he might otherwise be. "If you're having trouble sleeping now, wait till those 0200 feedings come around."

His humor gives Torres something to banter about.  "You'll be in charge of those."

Tom sighs. "I can't wait."

Torres finishes getting ready, and heads for the door.  She looks a bit anxious.  "Look, you don't have to come with me. It a minor procedure."

This surprises him.  "Wouldn't you like some moral support?"

She bristles.  "I'm not an invalid."

Tom considers his response.  He appears to discard his first response, and goes for something more casually disinterested.  "In that case, you're on your own."  He holds up the peanut butter toast.  "That goes for breakfast, too." He takes a chomp with relish.

Torres smirks, and the door closes behind her.

*

Since we didn't get much of this in "Drive," it seems they waited till mid-season to reward us with the annual Torres Undressed episode.  Yes, this is Sickbay, so there's a valid medical reason for her to be in her skivvies--but given the number of procedures that DON'T require stripping off the uniform, you have to wonder why this particular one does.

"I've been expanding my database in obstetrics and pediatrics," Doc tells Torres proudly.

"You haven't found another problem, have you?" 

"No, not at all!" He assures his patient. "But I have put together a prenatal enrichment program."

B'Elanna sighs. "Why am I not surprised?"

"I'd like to start with trans-abdominal vocalization," he says as he leads Torres to the main operating bed.

"Let me guess," she says as she hops up and lays back.  "You're going to sing to my fetus."

Singing--now there's one thing we haven't heard much of this year, compared to the Cop Rock Royale of season six.  "Through a diatonal amplifier. It's quite safe, and it should enhance the child's mathematical abilities."

"Can we talk about this later?" B'Elanna asks, just wanting to get the procedure over and done with.

"Absolutely...at our first parenting class."   Doc waves the padd over her face.

We hear a soft groan.  "Parenting class?"

"Birthing techniques, feeding options, bonding strategies. It's not all hard work. We'll have ample time for fun."

Fun will now commence. The horror.  "Could we get on with it?"

"Certainly. Computer, dim lights."

The lights go down.  Doc's voice takes on an eerie Barry White quality.

Torres can't help but notice.  "I hope you don't expect me to sleep through this."

"Of course not. The darkness encourages vascular dilation. Now, you may feel a slight tingling. Please remain as still as possible."

B'Elanna lays back and lets her mind wander...

*

Young B'Elanna isn't exactly a social animal.  Lone wolf is more like it.  She steers clear of the other children.

"B'Elanna, come have lunch," one of the boys urges.

"That's okay.  I'm not hungry."

"You better eat while you can," says the older girl. "You know our dads aren't going to catch any fish."

B'Elanna finally relents, and walks over to grab a sandwich.  The other kids seem relieved when she takes it. One more barrier crossed with the cousin.

"Your mom wasn't sure you'd be able to come this weekend," says the girl.  "I'm glad you made it."

"That's nice of you to say," B'Elanna says, grateful to hear it, but almost afraid to believe it's sincere.

"No, I mean it."  The girl, Elizabeth, is doing her best to make B'Elanna feel welcome.

So, in his own way, is one of the boys.  Unfortunately, boy bonding rituals usually involve grossing out girls--and this is no different.  He asks B'Elanna to get him a drink, and while she does he grabs a big wriggling worm and tosses it on top of her sandwich.  He gratefully takes the drink from her, and waits for her to notice.

When B'Elanna does, she screams.

The boys laugh.  Elizabeth frowns.

"My teacher said Klingons like live food," worm boy says.  (Not to be too cruel, but he doesn't look like he's met that many meals he didn't like.)

B'Elanna seems to have two settings at this age--withdrawn, and fangs bared.  She lunges at Worm Boy, growling like a bobcat swatting a squirrel.

Elizabeth saves her brother before B'Elanna can do much damage.

"It was just a joke!" the boy protests.

"It was a stupid joke, Dean," Elizabeth scolds. "He's always doing stuff like that to me," she says to B'Elanna, desperate for her cousin to believe that it's just her brother being a dorky little twerp, which is his way of saying Good to See You, Cousin, and not the Die, Klingon Scum that B'Elanna's worst fears may be suggesting.

B'Elanna growls some more.

"Don't be mad, B'Elanna," Dean begs.

When B'Elanna's human side reasserts itself, she's mortified--and she runs off into the woods.

"B'Elanna, wait!"

*

B'Elanna Torres-hyphen-Paris has a very haunted look when Doc calls to the computer to raise the lights.

"Your daughter's spinal column is now perfectly aligned," he assures her, smiling with professional pride.

"Is she going to be all right?"

"Better than all right, if her parents are any indication."

Parents.  The term seems to give her a fresh wave of unease.

*

Now fully dressed and all alone, B'Elanna enters the mini-holodeck.  "Computer, access B'Elanna Torres' medical file."

"File accessed. "

She takes a breath. "Project a holographic image of the baby."  The computer uses the new Do What I Mean algorithm and shows her the ten-month old baby we saw earlier in the lab, and not a representation of the current seven-week old embryo.

"Now, extrapolate what the child's facial features will look like at 12 years old."  The floating infant disappears, replaced by a young girl, a little taller than Naomi Wildman.  Her hair is long and black as night, and her forehead ridges have a distinctly B'Elanna look to them.  the child doesn't look exactly like B'Elanna at that age, but she's close enough.  Even more disturbing, the computer gave the kid a most somber expression--this is not a happy hologram.  The child-to-be practically begs for a little motherly intervention.

Momma Torres doesn't disappoint.  "Display the fetus genome," she tells the computer.  Consulting a padd, she begins taking a digital machete to the chromosomes of her offspring.  "Delete the following gene sequences."  boop, boop, boop - as simple as that, traits are excised from the genome like outtakes for a blooper reel.

"Extrapolate what the child would look like with those genetic changes."

The raven-haired girl is replaced by a little blonde girl, hair more like her father Tom's.

But the forehead ridges are still in place.

Time for round two of the edits.  "Delete the following sequences."  Boop, boop boop.  Gone is the taste for Gagh.  Gone the quick temper.  Gone ... what?

"Extrapolate."

The little blonde Klingon disappears.  In her place, a little blonde human, with a forehead smooth as the plains of Kansas.  She doesn't look at all like her mother now.  Now, she's daddy's little girl.  Well, except for the predilection for practical jokes on gene 47 which she deftly removed, along with that funky eye thing (they won't STAY blue!) and the incomprehensible affinity for pizza and Shannon Tweed movies.

Torres leans in close to the tailor-made fruit of her womb.  "Save changes."  As simple as that...designer genes.

Fetus, don't fail me now.

B'Elanna has a thought.  "Restrict access to this file.  B'Elanna Torres only."

* * *

There's only one hitch in B'Elanna Torres' plan--she can design the changes, but she cannot implement them--not unassisted, anyway.

But the Doctor isn't keen on the proposal. "There's no valid medical reason to do what you're proposing!" he says, rising from his office chair.

"I disagree."

"You want to delete entire DNA sequences. The genes that create redundant organs, for example!"

"They're superfluous."  Oh, I dunno...Worf might have a contrasting opinion on that...

"Those redundancies are there for a reason," Doc reminds her.

"Does my daughter need a third lung to survive?"

Doc sighs.  "Strictly speaking, no--but having it may be beneficial.  Some geneticists believe the extra lung evolved to give Klingons greater stamina on the battlefield."

This gets B'Elanna's blood boiling. "My daughter is NOT going to be a Klingon warrior!!!" she growls.

Doc responds with an imperious glare. "With all due respect, you have no idea what your daughter's going to be!  What if she develops an interest in athletics?  Greater lung capacity would be an advantage. The point is, there's no reason to arbitrarily remove genetic traits."

"It's not arbitrary!" B'Elanna protests. Perhaps realizing that she's not making any progress, her tone changes.  "It's preventive," she whispers.

"How so?" Doc asks.

"That third lung could become diseased, couldn't it?"

It's an obvious reach.  But Doc is gentle.  "I suppose...."

Torres pursues her point. "Then what I'm suggesting is no different than removing an appendix before it becomes inflamed!"

Doc isn't even close to convinced.  "Why tamper with biological systems that evolved over eons?"

"Like curvature of the spine?" 

Ooh--that one hits home.  Doc winces.  "If I make these changes, it'll affect her appearance."

"I'm aware of that."

"Are you also aware that some of these genes influence behavior? Personality?"

All too aware, almost certainly.  "None of that's as important as her health!" Torres says.

Doc waits a long time before speaking.  "What does Tom think about all this?" he asks softly.

A pause.  "I wanted to see what you thought first."

Doc's look is sympathetic, but firm.  "Well, as you can see, I'm very dubious."

"Look, I've done statistical analyses, epidemiology. At least review my work!"

Doc hesitates briefly, then sighs.  "All right, I'll look at it. But in the meantime...I suggest you have a talk with your husband."

*

"Absolutely not!" Tom says.

Poor B'Elanna.  She's not getting much traction on Baby Paris 2.0.  If only she'd spec'ed the kid as a redhead...

"This is our child's health we're talking about!"  B'Elanna pleads.

"It's more than that," Tom says, cutting to the heart of the matter. (well, one of them, anyway--I forgot for a second that Klingons have two of everything.) "You want to change who she is. Her individuality, her..." 

Then the other clue drops.  "You don't want her to be Klingon. That's what this is really about, isn't it? You're trying to protect her from being Klingon because you had a rough time when you were a kid."

B'Elanna's face flushes. "I was treated like a monster."

"That isn't going to happen to our daughter," Tom assures her.  "Everyone on Voyager will accept her for who she really is."

"That's easy for you to say. You're human."  Uh oh.  Speciesism rears its ugly head...downtrodden species rising up against the hew-Man.

Fight the power.  You go, girl.

"Meaning what, exactly?"  asks the clueless, tall, good looking, heterosexual, middle-class professional white son of privilege in the prime target demographic.

"Meaning you don't understand what it's like."  Oh, now, is that fair?

Tom doesn't contradict her, though his reputation as a trans-quadrant pariah may give him some inkling of what it's like to be looked at like a freak. "Okay, then...Tell me."

Torres takes a deep breath.  "When the people around you are all one way and you're not, you can't help feeling...like there's something wrong with you."

B'Elanna's been dwelling on her own childhood, but Tom's perspective is anchored firmly on their present situation.  "Voyager isn't just one way. We've got Bajorans, Vulcans, a Talaxian..." a couple of borg...

"And 140 humans."  (really?  That many?)

But Tom isn't quite so species-centric.  Perhaps because he has the luxury of being in the majority.  "Our daughter is going to have a mixed heritage--just like her mother. It's something you'll have in common! Something she should be proud of! Why destroy that?"

"I'm not destroying anything!  Gene resequencing isn't a weapon. It's a tool...Like a hyperspanner."

"She's not a machine," Tom reminds his engineer bride.  "She's our daughter."

They seem to be at an impasse.  This looks like a job for...

*

"I'm not exactly sure what you want me to do," Mama Kate says.

"I want you to order the Doctor to genetically alter my child," B'Elanna says.

Tom groans. "You see what I'm dealing with here?"

Janeway gives B'Elanna a steady gaze.  "What you're asking for is ethically questionable.  The Doctor has reservations; your husband is against it."

Torres gazes right back.  "I only want to do what you did...for Seven of Nine."

Playing the Seven of Nine card?  Torres must be desperate.

The room turns arctic.  "I beg your pardon?" Janeway asks.

"You had her implants removed."

"I don't see the connection."  Brrr.

"You altered her physiology.  You changed who she was."

"I was acting in her best interests."   Each syllable is clippped sharper than a katana blade.

"That's all I'm doing."  Torres has spunk, I'll give her that.

"Seven was born human," Tom says, interrupting.  "The Captain just helped to restore her original physiology."

"And gave her a better life in the process," Torres counters.

"Our child isn't even born yet!  How do you know what's going to make her life better?"

"I just don't want her to start at a disadvantage," Torres insists.

Tom's exasperation gets the best of him.  "The Doctor said you might experience mood swings..."

"That's it!" Torres bellows. "Just dismiss my argument as some kind of hormonal outburst!"

Oops. "I didn't mean that--"

They seem to forget where they're arguing.  Janeway reminds them. "Stop it, both of you."  She rises from her chair.  "The biggest problem you two have isn't ethical...It's marital. I'm happy to offer you advice as a friend, but as your Captain I am not going to overrule the chief medical officer."

The captain dismisses them with some friendly advice. "You two need to work this out."  And, she doesn't need to add, they need to do it somewhere else.

*

What else are corridors for?

Tom runs after his wife.  "B'Elanna..."

She stops and glares at him. "What?!"

"You heard the Captain. We have to work this out."

B'Elanna isn't at all happy.  "There's nothing to work out.  You're getting what you want."

"What I want is to have a civilized discussion with my wife!"

Ain't gonna happen, dude.

Tom tries to smooth things over. "Maybe a change of scenery would help.  How about the holodeck?"

At this point, nothing he can say is likely to do much good.  "That's your solution to everything," she grouses.

"At least I'm trying! Look, I don't care where we do it, but we have to talk this out..."

"I am tired of talking! All right?"  B'Elanna leaves him standing, open-mouthed, as she storms off.

*

Perhaps this is an indication that we're viewing an alternate-universe version of Voyager--Harry Kim is playing some jazz riffs, but he's doing it on a saxophone rather than his old standby, the clarinet.

He stops when his door chimes.  He opens it to find Tom Paris, looking like a whipped puppy. "Do I need a reservation?"

"What happened?" Harry says after inviting him in.

"I think B'Elanna and I need some time apart," Tom says miserably.

Harry nods. "My couch is your couch."

*

Tom tosses a blanket on the sofa, and soon he joins it.  "She's barely pregnant, and already we're having a major crisis."

"You'll make up. You always do."

"Yeah, but that's what worries me," Tom admits. "We're always fighting and making up. How's that going to affect our daughter?"

"She's going to have a great life!" Harry assures him. "Piloting the ship from your lap, battling Dr. Chaotica on the holodeck--"

"Yeah," Tom says, momentarily cheering up... "unless B'Elanna thinks battling is too Klingon. "

Harry understands immediately. "She's always been sensitive about being part Klingon. You know that."

"That doesn't give her the right to turn our child into a science experiment."

"But it does explain why this is so important to her."  Good on ya, Harry, for getting to the point.

"What am I supposed to do?"

Harry smiles down at his friend. "Maybe you should tell her you understand."

"What good would that do?"

"It might make her less defensive.  And then, maybe it would be easier for her to see your point of view."

"What if she can't?"  Tom asks.

Harry shrugs, then his eyes get an evil twinkle. "Like I said, my couch is your couch." He tosses Tom a pillow.

Poor Tom.  I wonder how B'Elanna's holding up.

*

Well, B'Elanna looks pretty darn miserable, all alone in their quarters.

On the bright side, she's upgraded her choice of sleepwear.  Suffice to say, it's red, two-piece, form-flattering, and a triumph of minimalism.

Victoria must have some secret--it's still going strong in the 24th century...

While the men in the audience are distracted by the view, the women (and a certain review boy, naturally) can focus on the sight of a woman agonizing over the memories of her childhood, and the implications for the daughter whose life she's not being allowed to change for the better.

Time for another stroll down painful memory lane...

*

Night is falling at the fishing camp.  All are accounted for, except for young B'Elanna, not seen since the worm-on-the-sandwich incident.

Everyone looks worried.  Especially Papa John Torres.  "She should be back by now."

"Nobody has any idea where she went?"  Carl asks his kids.

"She just ran off down there,"  Dean says, pointing.

"I'm going to go look for her," John says.

Elizabeth calls after him. "Uncle John..."

"Yeah?" he asks, looking back at her.

"I..." She nods at something over his shoulder.  John turns around, and hears a rustling in the underbrush.

Timidly, B'Elanna appears.

"B'Elanna!" John says, rushing to his daughter.  "Where have you been?"

"I'm sorry. I got kind of...Separated."

"It was our fault," Elizabeth says.

"It was Dean's fault!" Michael, the youngest cousin says. "He put a worm in her sandwich."

Dean, busted, cops to it.  "I was just kidding!"  He looks apologetic at B'Elanna. "I'm really sorry." He seems to mean it.

B'Elanna has calmed down after her time alone. "Forget it."  Dean breathes a sigh of relief--he'll live another day.

The rest of the camp also breathes easier. "Come on, let's get dinner started," says uncle Carl to his kids.

John sticks with his daughter. "You want to talk about it?"

"I just wish..." B'Elanna says, stops, then spits it out. "I wish I weren't Klingon."

John Torres frowns. "Now why would you say that?"

"Because everyone makes fun of me."

"Who's everyone?"

"Dean. The kids at school," she says miserably.  "They all hate me."

How many twelve year olds haven't felt that at one time or another?  John tries to put her at ease.  "Did I ever tell you what the kids at my school used to call me?"

B'Elanna shakes her head.

"I used to fall asleep in class all the time. So instead of John Torres, they called me John 'Snore-ez.'"

"It's not the same thing," B'Elanna says sourly.  True enough; it's hard to imagine getting a worm on your sandwich for being a Snore-ez.

"Of course it is.  Kids tease each other!  They can be very cruel. But it doesn't mean that they hate you, or that they hate Klingons."

"You don't understand!"

"I think I do," John says.  He offers some fatherly advice. "You have to learn to be a little less sensitive."

That's not exactly what she wanted to hear. "Fine," she grumps.

They both look over to the campfire when they hear the other kids laughing.  "Now come on," John says. "Uncle Carl's going to tell one of his famous fish stories."

"I'd rather just read,"  B'Elanna says.

John is clearly disappointed, but he doesn't push it. "Suit yourself."  He walks over to join the fun, leaving his daughter to lose herself in a PADD.

But she doesn't seem to be reading much--she can easily overhear the conversation, a tall tale about fish with wings, which the kids loudly declare is a bunch of hooey, giggling all the while.

*

Daddy's little girl may be all grown up, but some things appear not to have changed much.  B'Elanna Torres-Paris, chin resting on her curled-up knees, stares into the darkness, hearing her lone heartbeat echo in the emptiness of her quarters.

* * *

The end of a very long day of camping has come.  All the kids are tucked in.  The two brothers Torres gather by the fire.

"Everybody asleep?" John asks.

"They were exhausted. Coffee?"

"Sure," John says, gratefully accepting a cup. 

"Listen, I'm sorry," Carl says, sitting down.

"For what?"

"The way Dean treated B'Elanna.  I had a talk with him."

John waves it off.  "He was just doing what 11-year-olds do. I'm sure B'Elanna overreacted."

"What makes you say that?"  Carl asks.

"She's too damn sensitive."

"What do you mean?  She's a great kid."

John begins to unburden himself. "You haven't been around her much the last couple of years."

A few meters away, in her tent, B'Elanna listens in.

"She's gotten moody, unpredictable, argumentative. Just like her mother," John says miserably.

"I thought you loved Miral's...intensity."

John sighs. "Everything's become a fight with her. I guess the older I get the less intensity I can handle." He shakes his head as he stirs the coals.  "You know, it's funny how Mom and Dad always turn out to be right."

"What do you mean?"

"Mom warned me not to marry Miral."

B'Elanna begins to tremble.

"Mom loved Miral," Carl reminds him.

"Sure she did. But she never thought I had the constitution to live with a Klingon...and now I'm living with two of them."

John sighs again.  B'Elanna's trembling continues.  If she didn't like being Klingon before, she's got one more reason not to now.

*

"Taya."

B'Elanna is shaken from her daydream by the voice of the first officer.  "What?" she asks.

"'Taya.' It's the feminine form of 'Chakotay.' What do you think?"

"I'll add it to the list," she says without much emotion. "Right after 'Floxia.' Neelix suggested that one."  She finishes with a weak smile. "It's number 32."

Chakotay groks.  "On second thought, you and Tom ought to come up with your own name."

With that, Chakotay earned his bucks in the Love Bank for the week.  "I knew there was a reason I always liked you," B'Elanna says sincerely.

"You look like you've been up all night. Want to get some coffee?"

She smiles. "That's the best offer I've had all week."

*

"Morning." Tom Paris runs into Chakotay and B'Elanna in the corridor. 

"Hi," B'Elanna says, as she might to a pile of pond scum.

Chakotay takes the center lane, maintaining a buffer zone between the quarreling couple as they head for the mess hall.  "Join us for breakfast?" he asks Tom.

Neither says anything.  But the tension is palpable.

"You know what?" Chakotay says.  "I forgot my padd. Why don't you two go ahead? I'll meet you in the mess hall."  He flees in terror.

The two walk in silence for a moment before Tom breaks the ice. "So, how are you today?"

"I haven't changed my mind, if that's what you mean."  Brrr.

Tom stops walking.  "No. What I meant was, how are YOU?"  Attaboy, Tom.

She answers honestly. "I've been better, but I'll get over it."

"You know, Harry has the lumpiest pillows on the ship.  He snores, keeps the room way too hot...." He cuts through the bull.  "I missed you," he says, his eyes all basset-houndy.

Hers grow large as well.  "Me, too."

Tom smiles--the thaw does a heart good. "I still owe you that slice of peanut butter toast.  Why don't we go back to our quarters, fire up the toaster?"

B'Elanna returns the smile.  "Sounds nice."

But before they can move toward their quarters, their combadges light up.  "Lieutenant Torres, Lieutenant Paris--please report to Sickbay."

Oh, no, not again...

*

"I've reviewed the data you gave me," the Doctor tells Tom and B'Elanna, "and I've also done my own analysis."

"Skip the details, Doctor," Torres says testily.  "You've already made it clear what you think of my proposal."

"Actually, I've changed my opinion."

B'Elanna's eyes go wide.  "What?"  Tom folds his arms and bites his lip.

"The genetic alterations you've suggested," Doc says, "are necessary."

"On what grounds?" Tom demands.

"The 'clash' I mentioned between Klingon and human metabolism?  It's more extensive than I realized."

Now both parents look worried. "How extensive?" Torres asks.

"Theoretically, it could lead to complete metabolic failure."

If the thought of a slight spinal irregularity was enough to make their hearts skip a beat, this is downright scary.  "But you can fix it,"  B'Elanna says hopefully.

Doc nods, but the news isn't good.  "By eliminating most of her Klingon genetic material."

Tom gapes for a moment. "Are you sure about all of this?" he asks.

"My analysis was quite thorough.  Of course, if our circumstances were different, you would be free to seek a second opinion."

"No offense, Doc, but--I am just trying to understand what's going on."

Doc hands Tom a padd. "You're welcome to review my findings. But let me stress it would be unwise to delay this too long."

"Why?" B'Elanna asks.

"The fetus is at a critical stage of development. Antibodies have begun to form."

"How long do we have?" Tom asks.

"I've scheduled the procedure for Tomorrow morning...with your permission," he says, looking at B'Elanna.

They're both speechless.

But now it's Tom who looks like the devastated one.

*

Icheb is working in Astrometrics with Seven of Nine when Tom finds them.  "I want to thank you both for helping B'Elanna when she fainted," he says.

"I'm glad it wasn't a parasite," Seven says, enjoying the chance to tweak Icheb a little.

"Well, you probably don't know this, but there may be some problems with the pregnancy."

The jokes stop.  "I'm sorry to hear that," Seven says earnestly.

"The Doctor suggested a treatment for the baby, but his findings are very confusing...at least to me," Tom admits.  He looks plaintively at Icheb. "You have some expertise in genetics. Do you mind taking a look at this?"

"Of course not," Icheb says, and takes the proffered padd, getting to work immediately.

"Whatever the problem is, I have no doubt the Doctor will solve it," Seven says. 

"I hope you're right."

Icheb frowns. "Your confusion is understandable. There's a computational error."

Seven's eyebrows rise.  So do Tom's hopes. "It's not like the Doctor to make a mistake," Seven says.

"I didn't think that was possible," Tom says. His eyes widen. "Unless...there's some sort of glitch in his program."

"I'll run a diagnostic," Seven says, and gets to work immediately.  Tom thanks her.

"Please tell Lieutenant Torres," Icheb says, "if there's anything I can do..."

"I'll let her know," Tom says. "Thanks."

Seven works fast. "It appears to be more than a glitch. I believe the Doctor's program has been tampered with."

Oh, frell.

Tom slaps his chest. "B'Elanna, this is Tom. Respond."

There is no response.

"Computer, locate Lieutenant Torres!"

"Lieutenant Torres is in Sickbay. "

Tom looks at the two ex-drones.

Red alert.

*

In sickbay, Torres is back in her underwear, hopping up on the operating bed.

"Frankly," Doc says, "I'm relieved you decided not to wait till the last minute.

Torres lies back. "Once this is behind us, I'm sure we'll all feel better."

* * *

Tom paces while Seven works the controls. "Someone's blocked communications to Sickbay," Seven says.

Tom grits his teeth.  "See if you can deactivate the Doctor."

Seven tries, but no go. "Access to his program has been restricted."

"Keep trying." Tom slaps his chest.  "Paris to Tuvok."

"Go ahead. "

"Meet me in Sickbay."

*

Tom and Tuvok and a security team march toward Sickbay.

"Why would she alter the Doctor's program?" Tuvok asks.

"To change his mind about the medical procedure," Tom says as they reach their destination.

"Computer, open Sickbay doors," Tom orders.

"Unable to comply. "

Tuvok nods at one of his officers, who rushes off to get the keys.  But he tries the standard approach first. "Override.  Authorization: Tuvok Pi Alpha."

"Authorization denied. "

This wasn't unexpected--nobody knows the ship like B'Elanna, and she's covered all her bases.  The officer appears with the manual door opener; Tuvok attaches it to the door and pushes it aside with his Vulcan strength.  Tom and Tuvok lead, followed closely by the security squad.

*

"Doctor, stop what you're doing!"  Tom shouts.

Doc bristles. "You're interrupting a medical procedure."

"Your program has been altered!"

This stops the Doctor cold. "What do you mean, altered ?"

Torres grows alarmed. "Ignore him," she tells Doc.

"B'Elanna, this is completely irrational!" Tom yells.

"Will someone please tell me what's going on?"  Doc demands.

"I'm your patient," Torres declares to the whole room. "Your first duty is to me and my baby."

Tuvok doesn't bother to join the argument.  He tries to get to the operating bed, but a force field stops him.  "Tuvok to bridge."

"Kim here. "

"There's a force field in Sickbay.  I can't deactivate it.  Cut power to the EPS relay surrounding the surgical bay."

Harry does so, but his console buzzes at him. "Access has been restricted.  I'll have to bypass them. "

Torres tries to get the Doctor back to the surgery. "You said it could be dangerous to delay the procedure."

Tom shouts for the Doctor's attention as well. "She's manipulating you, Doc--in more ways than one."

The Doctor hesitates.   In the end, he looks apologetically at his patient. "I'm sorry, Lieutenant--but if there's something wrong with my program..."

"There's nothing wrong with your program!"

Harry's voice carries through the room. "I'm cutting power to the surgical bay, now.

The force field flashes out of existence, and Tuvok is through in a heartbeat.  "I suggest we deactivate your program until we determine the extent of the alterations," he tells the Doctor.

"I understand," Doc says. "Computer, deactivate EMH."  He shrugs an apology to B'Elanna as he disappears.

B'Elanna is furious. "You had no right to interfere!!!" she says as she hops off the table.

Tom takes a deep breath.  "Tuvok, would you mind giving us a minute?"  Tuvok nods, and the security team exits sickbay.

Tom is simply mortified.  "I never thought you would go this far."

"I don't know what you're talking about," Torres says defensively.

"Reprogramming the Doctor?!"

"I upgraded his program!!! So he could understand what had to be done!"

"You mean to reconfigure our baby, so she wouldn't be treated like a monster."

"It's not just about the way she'll be treated."  B'Elanna's starting to withdraw into herself again.

"What else is it about, then?"  She doesn't respond. "Come on, B'Elanna tell me!"

"Forget it."

"No, no.  We're not going to forget it.  We're going to talk about this--right now!"

B'Elanna snaps.  "Stop telling me what to do!  You're not my father!"

Given all the underwear B'Elanna's been wearing this week, I guess a Freudian slip was inevitable...

Tom stops yelling, and starts whispering.  "What are you talking about?"  He begs.

"Look, my father..."  B'Elanna's voice trails off.

"What?  What about him?"

"We were inseparable.  He spoiled me and I worshipped him. But the older I got...we just grew apart."

Torres begins pacing, unable to look at Tom.  "He ended up organizing this camping trip with my cousins.  I guess he just wanted to, I don't know, make things better again." She loudly swallows her tears. 

"But it didn't," Tom guesses.

"It was awful!  I ended up trying to run away."

*

John Torres notices B'Elanna is packing her bags in the tent.

"B'Elanna?  What are you doing?"

*

"It was so stupid," B'Elanna says, kicking herself years after the fact.  "I mean, where was I going to go?"

"You probably just wanted him to stop you,"  Tom says gently.

B'Elanna laughs a pained laugh.  "Well, he did."

*

"Don't touch me!"  B'Elanna says when her father puts a hand on her shoulder.

"B'Elanna, what's wrong?"  John asks, not comprehending why she's acting this way.

"You know what's wrong."

"No, I don't."

"Maybe I'm just being moody and unpredictable, " the child says bitterly.

John gulps.  That hits close to home. "What are you talking about?"

"I heard what you said to uncle Carl."

John is embarrassed, and a little angry. "You shouldn't be listening to private conversations," he scolds.

"And you shouldn't have said what you did about mommy!"

if the others in camp were sleeping, they aren't any longer.  Dean peeks out from his tent.

Without another word, father and daughter move outside the camp so they can talk without keeping everyone up.  B'Elanna finds a log to slump down on.

Her father sits beside her.  "B'Elanna...Listen to me.  Your mother and I are having problems, but..."

"You don't love her anymore."

He's surprised.  "That's not true!"

"Yes, it is! And you don't love me, either."

"B'Elanna..."

"You're no different than anyone else.  You don't like Klingons.  You said it!"

"You are twisting my words, B'Elanna--"

*

"Maybe he was right," Tom says. "Maybe you misunderstood."

"No, I know what I heard," B'Elanna says, reliving the anger and shame.  "It made me so angry!"

"You had a right to be, after the things he said."

"It's not what he said!"  B'Elanna's tears flow freely now. "It's what I said."

*

"If you can't stand living with us," B'Elanna yells at her father, "then why don't you just leave?"

*

"And that's exactly what he did."

"Oh, B'Elanna..."  Tom says, his heart breaking for her.

"Twelve days later...and he never came back."

"You can't blame yourself for that."

"Why not?" she demands, whirling to face him.

"Because...He was obviously unhappy about his marriage.  He didn't leave just because you told him to."

"You don't know that."

There is no way for Tom to win this kind of argument.  So he smartly doesn't even try. "Look. Whatever the reason was, I'm sure it was a horrible thing for you to live with."  Thank you, Harry.

But no, that isn't it.  B'Elanna is still keeping her distance.

And then it hits home.  Tom gets a sick knot in his gut.  "Wait a minute.  You don't think..."

He runs over to her.  "B'Elanna, I am never going to leave you."

That childhood memory is seared into her soul.  "You say that now...But think about how hard it is to live with one Klingon. Pretty soon it'll be two."  And two was too much for John Torres, after all.

But Tom is no John Torres.  "And someday I hope it's three or four--I mean it!" he says, seeing B'Elanna's skepticism. "And I hope that every one of them is just like you."

It's too much for her to hope for.

"B'Elanna...I am not your father. And you are not your mother. And our daughter is going to be perfect just the way she is."

It's almost too much to hope for.  "You really think so?" she asks, desperate to believe.

"I know so."

It's enough.  B'Elanna rushes into Tom's arms, and she lets the tears come, holding on for dear life.

*

Medical officer's log, stardate 54452.6: Lieutenant Torres has deleted the alterations she made to my program.  It's a relief to be back to my old self again.

B'Elanna looks suitably abashed when she enters sickbay.

"Good morning, Lieutenant," Doc says.  He notices the look on her face, and grows concerned. "You're not feeling ill, are you?"

"No. I'm fine," she says.  "I just wanted to apologize for violating your program."

Doc smiles cavalierly.  "Apology accepted.  Not guilty by reason of biochemistry."

"Nice of you to let me off the hook," B'Elanna says, "but biochemistry isn't an excuse.  I knew exactly what I was doing."

Doc smiles more sincerely this time.  He nods, accepting the apology, and B'Elanna smiles with relief.

Then she gasps, grabbing her tummy.

"Is something wrong?" Doc asks, reaching for a tricorder.

"I don't know," she admits.

Doc finishes his scan, and smiles. "Your baby's kicking."

Ah, so that's what it is. "So soon?" she asks.

"Well, she is part Klingon."

Before she can take offense, B'Elanna gasps.  "There it is again!"

"May I?" Doc asks.  She nods, and Doc places his hand on her tummy.

The little lady kicks again, and Doc and B'Elanna share a delighted laugh.  "Feisty little thing, isn't she?  I wonder where she gets that from."

The moment passes, and Doc returns to his work.  But B'Elanna doesn't leave just yet.  An idea seems to form as we watch.  "Speaking of the baby...I have another request."

"Yes?"

"I wonder if you'd like to be her godfather."

Doc stops working.  He doesn't turn around; he's a bit too stunned for that.

B'Elanna takes the silence as a no, but she presses on. "Neelix wants the job but he's already got Naomi Wildman and Chakotay knows less about raising kids than Harry does, and if you think about it..."

Doc turns around. "I accept."  He's beaming.  She couldn't have given him a greater honor.

"Thanks," she says, her gratitude evident.

"Thank you," Doc says, his gratitude evident.

"I was also wondering...do you think I could see her one more time?  The holographic projection, I mean."

Doc smiles. "I don't see why not."  He calls up the program showing the child as she's likely to look at age ten months.

B'Elanna takes a good long look.

And she begins to laugh as the tears form.  "She is cute, isn't she?"  The smile--finally--reaches her eyes.

Maybe motherhood won't be so bad after all.

[Analysis]

Tempted as I am to launch into an extended look at "designer babies," reproductive rights, the tyranny of the Man, and so on...I'm going to borrow a line from Captain Janeway.  This episode really isn't about the ethics of genetic splice and dice or any of the other red herrings B'Elanna tossed at Tom like so many five-foot flying fish.

It's about B'Elanna's emotional baggage.  The sort that goes way beyond the carry-on limits.

We've known for years that her dad left when she was young, that she blamed it at least partly on her Klingonness, and that it was a defining moment in her life.  As I recall, this incident was first brought up in the first season episode, "Faces," when B'Elanna was split into pure-Klingon and pure-Human halves by a Vidiian scientist who thought Klingon DNA could be just the stuff to cure his people's debilitating Phage.  It was an intriguing episode, though probably shot too soon in the series, before B'Elanna's dual nature really had time to form.  So perhaps it's not too surprising that they held the resolution until now, after they've had plenty of time to set the stage.

Tom started pursuing B'Elanna in early season 3, and it's been a roller coaster ever since.  At long last, they had all the pieces in place, allowing us to meet the dad, and see the incident that preceded her father's leaving, put into a context that has clear and present implications to an episode.

In this episode, it doesn't really matter whether B'Elanna's early years were traumatic because of her nature (the now-editable DNA) or her nurture (being abandoned by her dad at a crucial time in her childhood).  What matters is that she has carried around that burden of memory--accurate or not--most of her life, and the back-to-back shocks of learning she's pregnant, that the child inherited her spinal condition, that the child was quite likely to look as Klingon as she did, had her mind racing.  The discovery that Doc could wave his magic wand and correct in the womb something she needed surgery for simply gave her an idea for how to spare her child a trauma similar to her own.

This is the place where the heavy ethical issues might be tempted to arise.  Such as, who should have the final say in what the child's DNA will be?  What variations from the natural result of fertilization should be no-brainers (in this case, the deformed spine), which optional (say, giving every girl long, flowing piles of lustrous red hair), and which (if any) strictly off limits?  In that future realm where the human genome is an open book and an editable document, should you be allowed to change your fetus' gender?  Switch the Gay Gene off (or on)?  Snip away the Republican chromosome? Code in a permanent preference for Pepsi--for a generous financial incentive from the good folks at PepsiCo, of course--by making all other soft drinks taste like carbonated phlegm?

A ten-meter pole comes to mind.  I ain't touching it.  No way.  I'd rather Riverdance in a minefield.

Whether you think B'Elanna was right or wrong for wanting to spare her child the same sucky childhood, for assuming that the worst aspects of personal history would repeat in every respect, Harry had it right--understanding her concerns is the key to getting to the bottom of things.  It wasn't REALLY about her being Klingon.  It was about her fear of losing those she cared about--and her tendency to push those very people away.  We've watched her do this, off and on, for nearly five years.  Lucky for her, Tom seems committed.  Unluckily for her, she doesn't always see it.  When her fears surface, she assumes the worst--and she invites those who love her to leave, and she runs into the woods.

Are her fears warranted?  Maybe.  Are they understandable?  Definitely.

*

All in all, not a bad episode.  The story moved along, and it maintained a nice consistency with the B'Elanna backstory.  The performances were pretty solid, and the characterization was not overshadowed by the technojive.  Though I must admit, I'm not sure why Roxann was in her underwear so much this week, in so many variations--perhaps it was a metaphor or something.

Anyway.  Call it 3.5 stars.

Next week: Some 24th-century remake of Con Air, without Nicholas Cage.

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Last Updated: February 7, 2004
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