Title: Come of Age
Author: Annette Welsh-Shinya 01/99
Series: VOY
Part: 22/?
Rating: R
Codes: P/T, K/7, EMH Doc, Neelix, Vorik, Naomi Wildman
Summary: Spoilers for Night and 30 Days. After an encounter with a hostile species, most of the crew of Voyager is scattered throughout a region of space as prisoners. Tom Paris leads what's left of the crew in an attempt to recover their missing members.
Disclaimer: Paramount's property, my story, who wants to go a round with the Bat'leths?
Feedback: Encouragement/criticism gladly responded to. Flames will be consigned to the nearest airlock where proper venting procedures per Starfleet Engineering regulations will be followed.
Posting: OK to ASC, ASCEM, BLTS, & PT Fever. Please notify me if you post anywhere else...I love to see my name in lights!


Harry wandered around the ship, seeking out familiar places. He still felt disassociated from his old life, which had been so suddenly restored him. And it was odd, everywhere he went, there was someone going somewhere, doing something. He received friendly greetings from everyone, and struggled to make the proper replies. Good manners had been drilled into him by his parents, but in the last few months had become rusty with disuse. He made his way to the messhall, thinking it would be a quiet place to gather his thoughts, but he was wrong. There were people there too, eating at 0130 in the morning, yet. Harry decided that he was hungry and walked over to the counter.

"Uh, could I get something to eat?" he asked diffidently of the figure bent down behind the counter.

Wilson stood up and said, "Ensign Kim, welcome back!"

"Hey, Wilson," replied Harry, somewhat taken aback by the hearty greeting from the crewman who he had once distinctly overheard call him 'a wet behind the ears Starfleet twerp'. Of course, that had been a couple years ago, but Harry had never really had much contact with him.

"Let me get you something really good...What'll it be?" Wilson gestured expansively.

"Just whatever you've got left over would be fine," replied Harry.

A snort of disgust emanated from Wilson, "You don't want what we had for dinner, Ensign. Trust me, I made it. Besides, all returning crew members have a week of rations on the house. So, what would you like?"

Harry considered this rare treat carefully. Even before his abduction from the ship, replicator rations had always been doled out rather parsimoniously. It had been a rare individual, with a great deal of self-control, who could rack up enough rations for a week's meals at once. That is, he thought, unless you were Tom Paris and could supplement your supply with those won at various wagers. Suddenly, he know what he wanted.

"I'll have vegetable beef soup and some whole wheat bread," he ordered with a slight smile. "Oh, and a piece of cherry pie." He'd dreamed of warm soup endless times when he was cold and hungry. The cherry pie was, of course, from his discussions with Tom about the best foods after his first incarceration.

"Coming right up, sir," Wilson indicated a free table. "Have a seat, and I'll bring it out to you."

Harry sat down and nodded at the crew members that were seated a couple of tables down. They seemed to be locked in an animated conversation. He could hear a word or two drift past him, but he didn't pay much attention. Just sitting, relaxing was a very nice thing. He looked up as Wilson approached with his meal.

"Here you are, sir," Wilson put the tray down in front of him. "I took the liberty of replicating you some coffee also, sir. You looked like you might want to sit here for a while. Nothing like a cup of coffee, a piece of pie, and some stars to relax with."

"Thanks, Wilson...Kurt, right?" asked Harry.

"That's right, sir," beamed Wilson and he turned to go.

"Kurt," called Harry.

"Yes, sir?" Wilson turned back.

"This may sound strange, but why is everyone still up? I mean, it's past 0130, and there's still a lot of people in the companionways, even you're up and still serving," Harry's voice was puzzled. Wilson came back to where Harry sat, and Harry gestured for him to take a seat.

"Well, sir," Wilson began as he sat down. "I guess it all started when Mr. Paris decided that we were going to rescue the rest of the crew. The ship was pretty badly damaged, and we didn't have very many people in the beginning, so we just started working full round the clock shifts. Most everyone worked double, sometimes triple shifts to keep up with the repairs and the problems. Then, when we were ready to go after the crew, it just got even more intense. We're still not up to full staff, so a lot of people are still working doubles. That, and I think we've just gotten used to going at all hours." Wilson grinned here.

"Sounds like it was pretty hard time around here," Harry replied, putting down his spoon. While Wilson had talked, he had managed to eat a good half of his soup. He guessed he was hungrier that he had thought.

"It was," Wilson's voice was serious now. "But I don't think it was any harder than what you and your people went through, sir. It's been pretty bad all the way round, to my way of thinking anyway."

"How..." Harry's voice faltered here.

"How did we do it?" Wilson finished for him.

"Yes, it sounds like it was chaos. I know that right before I was taken, no one really knew what was happening," Harry shook his head.

"Chaos is the right word, sir" Wilson replied. "It seemed hopeless, then Mr. Paris just came on the comm system, somehow he got it to work, and he said that he was expecting everyone back to their duty shifts within five minutes or he was going to put them on report." Wilson barked a short laugh. "Hell, most the people left were so low on the totem pole that they weren't sure which duty station they were supposed to report to. Then, he just appeared, everywhere at once it seemed. He talked to people, gave them assignments, reassured them, got them moving again. Between him and Lt. Torres, they jump started the entire crew into action again."

"The Captain, Chakotay, Tuvok...?" Harry asked quietly.

"All taken," Wilson said with grim anger. "Mr. Paris says we're going to get them back. And you know what? I believe him." Looking at Harry he said, "I didn't believe in him at first. I thought he was just a hot-shot pilot with a famous family. I mean, he's been a good asset to the ship over the years, but I never thought he had it in him to do what he did. I'd hazard a guess that every person that is on this ship would follow him into hell and beyond."

"It sounds like you've developed a great respect for him," Harry said.

"He's the Captain," Wilson replied with simplicity and utter sincerity. "As much as Captain Janeway was for us before, and he'll keep being the Captain until she gets back."

"Thanks, Kurt," Harry finally said.

"You're welcome, sir," Wilson got up and took his leave.

Harry sat there for a moment, then finished his soup and bread. Taking up his fork, he looked at the pie on his tray. He smiled a faint smile of remembrance and took a bite. It tasted just terrific.

Tom ducked his head into the bathroom where B'Elanna was taking a shower. "You want anything to eat? I've got some rations still this week."

"How about some hot cocoa?" B'Elanna's head appeared around the shower door as she reached for her towel.

Tom handed her towel to her and was enjoying the view. At her *ahem*, he grinned shamelessly and said, "Two hot cocoa's coming up." She'd certainly taken to one of his favorite comfort foods. Walking over to the replicator, he queried the computer as to the exact status of his replicator reserve. There was enough and he replicated the cups of cocoa and some marshmallows to go in them. B'Elanna appeared from the bathroom, wearing his blue robe. She swam in it, the bottom dragging the floor, but she looked great. He handed her a steaming cup.

"Mmmm, marshmallows," she breathed as she blew on the beverage.

"Nothing to good for you, my dear," Tom teased as he sat down on the couch. He'd already showered and dressed in the softest, most comfortable clothing he owned, a pair of well worn flannel pajamas. They tucked themselves together and blew and sipped their way through their cocoa.

B'Elanna broke the silence first, "I really wanted to see Harry, but he seemed to have disappeared out of Sickbay."

Tom looked thoughtful. "He had a lot on his mind. I'm sure he'll want to see you tomorrow." He paused, then said, "I think the transition back for this last group is going to be even more difficult." Tom looked over at B'Elanna, sighed, and then began a detailed explanation of what happened while he and the away team were down on Barnok IV. B'Elanna face grew tight with anger, then horror crept into it, finally, a sad resignation filled her eyes.

"Then we lost twelve from that group," she said miserably.

"Yes," Tom said looking out at nothing. "I keep thinking that there should have been some way to save them, get there quicker, protect them. They were counting on us, and we, no I, let them down," his voice was a dejected whisper by the end of the sentence.

B'Elanna set her empty cup down on the table and turned to Tom. "You know that's not true, Tom, you've done everything you could to get them back. You've driven yourself and the rest of this crew to the edge of their abilities, trying to put it all back together again." She reached out her hand and turned his face to meet hers. "You have put so much of yourself into leading these people, there's hardly anything left of you. Not even Captain Janeway could have done more, and if you think about, you know what I'm saying is true. People died; there was nothing you could do about that. A lot more would have died if you hadn't done what you did. You pulled us all together. You made us do things we would have never thought we were capable of, and you kept us going when we would have quit. Sometimes by the sheer force of your will." Emotion choked her voice, and she cleared her throat. She needed to finish this. "Never once think that we don't know that....that *I* don't know that, and appreciate it, so very much."

"It's not been very fair to you," Tom replied, feeling very humbled by her words. "I hardly ever spend any time with you, and all I seem to do is give you more work than anyone should have to do."

"I won't say that is hasn't been hard," B'Elanna said honestly. "It has. And, there have been times when I was really mad at you and wanted to just scream and throw you against the wall." Tom smiled a little at this and she gave him a watery one back. "But then, I'd realize that you were just doing what you had to do, and that I needed to get on with what I needed to do. We both took on a great deal of responsibility, not just you. I realized that, and then it wasn't quite so bad. Besides," she said laying her head on his shoulder. "You've always taken time for me, even when there didn't seem to be any time to spare. I always felt like you were thinking of me, whether I'd seen you for days or not. There's a bond between us, Tom. Nothing's ever going to break it."

"You're right," Tom replied looking down at her as she lay in his arms. "Nothing will ever break it. Have I mentioned that I think you're the most beautiful woman in the Galaxy recently?"

"Not recently," B'Elanna smiled. "But talk is cheap..." and she gave a delighted shout as Tom picked her up and carried her off to the bedroom.

Harry sat in the messhall until it was just a couple of minutes before the end of gamma shift. He felt more relaxed then he had in a long time, but the thought of confronting Seven had started a knot tightening in his stomach again. Making his way to the lift, he realized that he was dreading asking her why she had done it, that he didn't want to know the answer. He called out, "Cargo Bay 2." When the lift arrived, he stepped out and walked into the cargo bay. It was dark, except for a very faint greenish light coming from one of the Borg alcoves. Seven was not anywhere. He decided to wait, having come this far. After about ten minutes, he made a disgusted sound and went back to the lift. Pausing at the entrance, he had a thought. "Computer, what is the location of Seven of Nine?"

"Ensign Seven is in her quarters," replied the computer.

"Where are her quarters?" Harry asked, very surprised.

"Deck 6, section 2, room 617," informed the computer.

Harry got back into the lift and directed it to deck 6. She had quarters, a room, a bed, just like everybody else. He was at a loss as what to think about that. What he did know was that things were definitely different from before. Arriving on deck 6, he made his way to her room. Pausing at the door, he asked himself if he was ready for this. He decided that he needed to confront this problem before he would be able to return to his duties. He pressed the doorchime.

Seven knew who it was at the door. She discovered a dichotomy within herself. There was an urge to not answer the door, to postpone the confrontation, while at the same time, she also wished to open the door and make an extremely emotional display. Neither was a very logical or probable event. Crossing from her bedroom, where she had changed into her off duty clothes, she opened to the door. It was Harry. He looked at Seven and then moved into the room. She stepped back and the door closed behind him.

"Please sit down," Seven directed and took a seat herself on the couch. Harry chose the chair to one side.

"I'm here," Harry said finally in a 'well so now what' voice.

"You wish an explanation of my actions during the attack on Voyager," Seven stated.

"That would be nice," he shot back, his temper seeming to alter between hot anger and cool disdain.

"It is...complicated." she explained.

"So, start at the beginning," Harry snarled. "And enlighten me. I'm sure you have a very logical, relevant reason for leaving me for dead."

"No, it is not a logical reason," Seven replied her eyes downcast. "But, it is very relevant." She looked up and directly into Harry's stormy eyes. "I was a coward. The reason you were taken was because I was afraid."

The words hung in the air, stark and ugly in their connotation. Harry could not speak. She had just thrown out the very reason he had come up with as to why she'd allowed him to be taken, but never in a million years would he have ever thought it was true. No matter how much he had told it to himself to fan the fire of his anger through his ordeal. That wasn't Seven, not her, not the *perfection* that was the former Borg. The ice queen who made fun of him, who mocked his well meant attentions to her, who's appearance had only added to the complicated and compelling mind that was hers. Not *his* Seven. He took a deep breath and let it out. Seven looked utterly miserable.

"I think you had better tell me the whole story," Harry said finally. "From the beginning of the attack, you tell me what happened to you, and...I'll tell you what happened to me. All right?"

Seven looked at Harry for a long moment and then said, "Agreed."

End Part 22 1