The Way We Wanted It To Be by kes7
Summary:

What would have happened if everything had gone according to plan after Icheb decided to ask Maren to spend her life with him?

Here's a peek into an alternate universe where things went right.


Written for the TToT 2015 "Ficlet Flashdance" Challenge.


Categories: Voyager, Alternate Universes, Expanded Universes Characters: Ensemble Cast - VOY, Icheb, O'Connor, Maren, Quigley, John, Seven of Nine
Genre: Drama, Family, Friendship, General, Romance
Warnings: Adult Language, Adult Situations
Challenges: TToT15 - FICLET FLASHDANCE
Challenges: TToT15 - FICLET FLASHDANCE
Series: Star Trek: Tesseract
Chapters: 7 Completed: Yes Word count: 3421 Read: 10879 Published: 17 May 2015 Updated: 24 May 2015

1. The Peak by kes7

2. Unity and Perfection by kes7

3. The Bet by kes7

4. The Groom Awaits His Bride by kes7

5. They Do by kes7

6. Four Years Later by kes7

7. There But By the Grace ... by kes7

The Peak by kes7

The moment Icheb had been anxiously awaiting had finally arrived.  The Doctor had once described the abdominal disturbance he was experiencing as “butterflies,” but today, if he had to compare the sensation to a creature in flight, it would be an eagle soaring at dizzying heights.

As he grabbed hold of Maren’s hand and helped her up over the final ledge of their daylong climb to the top of Galartha, it occurred to him that perhaps it was due to the location – it was a long way down.  He had to admit there was a small part of him that was surprised they had actually made it to the peak, considering how difficult it had been to navigate the constantly-shifting vertical landscape of the enormous rock.  

Evidently, Maren felt the same way.  As she scrambled to her feet and steadied herself, she turned and flashed him a wide grin of equal parts pride and disbelief.  “We did it!” she exclaimed, beaming.  She looked back down at the undulating cliffside below them and her eyes widened fractionally.  “We really did it,” she repeated, a note of awe creeping into her voice.

Icheb watched as she shifted her gaze from the now-conquered rock to Suraya Bay beyond.  She gasped softly as she took in the view of its crystal-clear waters, lush garden islands, sleek yachts, and gleaming resorts.  Above them, the sky was a brilliant blue, dotted with only a few wispy pink clouds. “Wow,” she murmured.  “It’s true what they say.  Holos don’t do it justice.  Don’t you think?” 

Distracted by the view, she hadn’t noticed that Icheb had dropped to his knees. Her contented smile gave way to a surprised frown when she failed to find him at eye level.  Then her whole face screwed up in confusion as she noticed nearby tourists smiling at the ground beside her.  She looked down …

… and gasped.

Icheb was dimly aware that a crowd of strangers was staring at them, just as he recognized in a distant way that the view behind Maren was indeed one of the most beautiful he had ever seen.  Still, he thought it paled in comparison to Maren. He watched intently, memorizing each millisecond of the moment as her eyes grew wide, her cheeks paled slightly, and she lifted the slender fingers of one hand to cover her lips as she drew a breath and held it.

Icheb met her gaze, locking his eyes on hers.  “You’re right, it is beautiful,” he said, his voice steady even though his heart was pounding harder than his Borg enhancements could compensate for.  “But not as beautiful as you.” 

Slowly, deliberately, he unzipped the chest pocket of his climbing vest and took out a small velvet box.  He opened it and held it out to her, revealing the delicate ring inside. 

An excited murmur went through the crowd, and Maren began to cry.

Holding her gaze, Icheb took a deep breath. 

“Maren Siobhan O’Connor, will you marry me?”

 

 

Unity and Perfection by kes7

Maren didn’t know why she was surprised.  It all made perfect sense, as Icheb usually did.  The borrowed shuttle, the extravagant trip, B’Elanna’s strange willingness to let them both take an entire week’s shore leave at the same time.  Yet here she stood at the top of Galartha, stunned breathless and trembling as she stared down at Icheb through tear-filled eyes.

Will you marry me? he’d asked.  Shocked as she was, she didn’t have to think twice about the answer.

“Yes!” she cried, the word coming out in a single, forceful sob.  She took a step toward where he was kneeling on the worn gray rock. “Of course I will.”  Ignoring the small crowd that had formed to watch them, she held out her arms, beckoning him to get up off the ground.  With a small but incredibly satisfied smile, he did.

She let her eyes play over the ring in its box for a moment.  He had obviously put a lot of thought into it – it was composed of a nonreactive, iridescent Andorian metal she could safely wear at work, and engraved with intricate fractal patterns she immediately recognized as a mathematical representation of Beethoven’s 8th sonata – her favorite, and the first song they had ever played together on the piano as a duet.

“It’s beautiful,” she whispered.  “Thank you.”

Icheb solemnly removed the ring from its box and slipped it onto the ring finger of her left hand.  The fit was flawless – he must have scanned her when she wasn’t looking.  They held each other’s gaze for a moment longer, their eyes saying a million things words couldn’t. Then Maren cupped his face in her hands and brought his lips to hers.

If there was anything besides recreational sex that could bring a bunch of alien tourists on Risa together, it was true love, and the crowd around them clapped, whistled or otherwise expressed appreciation according to their species’ customs as the pair lost themselves in a deep kiss.  It went on for quite a while, and when they finally broke apart for air, they still held each other close – Icheb’s arms looped securely around Maren’s waist and her hands resting lightly on his chest, her ring glinting in the light of the setting sun.  Silently, they gazed into each other’s eyes, their foreheads touching, lost in their own private world.

“I can’t believe you planned all this in secret,” Maren whispered.  Her tears had evaporated.  Now she couldn’t wipe the grin off her face.  “No one said a word.”

Icheb returned her smile and pulled her closer.  “Was it a good surprise?” he asked, his gray eyes questioning.

Maren nodded, but hesitated, wanting to make sure she chose precisely the right words.

“It was perfect,” she finally said softly.  “Just like you."

The words had their intended effect.  Icheb’s smile faded, replaced by a look of intense gratitude.  “I love you, Maren,” he whispered, holding her tight.  Their lips met again.

It was perfect.

 

 

The Bet by kes7

“Pay up!” Tom Paris crowed, as he and B’Elanna sat down with Harry Kim at the bar.  His friend had stopped by Utopia Planitia for a drink on his way to visit family on Earth, and although Tom couldn’t have cared less about the fifty credits, he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to give his buddy a good ribbing.

“Pay up?  What are you talking about?” Harry said, making a face.

“Didn’t you hear? You lost the bet,” Tom exclaimed.  Beside him, B’Elanna gave him a disgusted look and elbowed him, but he ignored it.  “Icheb’s getting married.”

Predictably, Harry choked on his drink. He looked like he’d just been stunned by a phaser – specifically, a phaser wielded by a child.  It took him only a second to play it off, rolling his eyes and shifting his expression to something more nonchalant, but Tom had seen his look of surprised dismay, and it was priceless. It made B’Elanna’s disgust worthwhile, even if he wound up sleeping on the couch tonight. Hey, he had some holo to catch up on, anyway.

When Icheb had started dating Maren, no one really expected it to last – after all, Icheb was the only person on Voyager more inept with women than Harry – but Tom had still bet Harry fifty credits Icheb would get married before him, just to piss him off.  Never in a million years had he expected to collect on the bet, but in a stroke of serendipity, he had just received word that the trip to Risa had gone as planned, and Icheb was now engaged.

“You’re such a jerk sometimes, Tom Paris,” B’Elanna chided him.

Tom took the opportunity to rib her, too.  “You’re just jealous that he’s moved on,” he teased her.  “But that’s okay.  I’m happy to keep serving as your rebound.”

B’Elanna shot him a look like a bat’leth.  Meanwhile, Harry kept his wallet closed.

“Well, give them my congratulations, but unless I’m mistaken, they’re not married yet,” he said.  “I’ll pay up when they say ‘I do, and not a minute before. Besides, how do you know I won’t beat him down the aisle?”

“Got a woman we don’t know about?” Tom asked.

Harry sighed.  “No,” he grumbled, taking another swig of his drink.  “But it sounds like I’m going to have to find a date for a wedding.”

 

 

The Groom Awaits His Bride by kes7

Maren’s church wasn’t large enough for her family, her hometown friends, their mutual Starfleet friends, and Icheb’s “family” from Voyager, but they were packed into the small chapel anyway.  Icheb stood alongside his half of the wedding party, feeling impatient.

Beside him, his best man John Quigley nudged his arm.  “What’s wrong?”

“The ceremony was supposed to begin 43 seconds ago.”

John snickered. “Haven’t been to many Earth weddings, eh?”

Icheb shook his head. “No.”

John leaned over as if to whisper something more, but before he could open his mouth, the music started and someone opened the rear doors to the church.  A hush fell over the crowd.  Many people turned in their seats or craned their necks in search of a better viewing angle of the doorway.  For Icheb, it was a straight shot from his position at the front of the church to the rear entrance.  He tried to catch a glimpse of Maren, but even with his enhanced vision, it was impossible – there were far too many people between them.

Maren’s bridesmaids were first to enter. They filed in one-by-one, wearing dresses the color of the midnight sky and dotted with bioluminescent pearls. He could make out constellations in the patterns of the “stars” on each dress – a thoughtful touch by Maren’s sisters, who had designed the gowns together.

Despite the bridesmaids’ beauty, he had to fight his impatience as they processed in – first Rachel Quinteros, Maren’s academy roommate; then B’Elanna Torres; then Maren’s elder sister, Rory; then their eldest sister, Caye.  Rachel, B’Elanna and Caye took up their places at the front of the church opposite Icheb and his groomsmen – John, Tom Paris, Harry Kim, and Maren’s younger brother Seth – but Rory split off and waited behind the microphone, where she would be singing when Maren walked in.

Next was Tom and B’Elanna’s daughter Miral, carrying the rings.  Then Caye’s two toddler sons, Tate and Riley, entered the church.  Their assignment was to throw flower petals on the ground – a task for which they were exceptionally well qualified, based on past observations.

John nudged him again.  “Almost time,” he whispered.  Icheb didn’t acknowledge the statement.  He was perfectly aware already.  Only his cardiopulmonary regulators kept him from holding his breath as the first processional hymn ended, the rear doors closed, and silence fell over the church.

6.13 seconds passed that felt like an eternity.  Then, finally, Rory began to sing, in the beautiful Irish lilt for which she was famous throughout the Terran worlds. The song had been her wedding gift to the couple – a surprise that had brought Maren to tears last night at the rehearsal.

As the doors reopened, everyone in the pews stood up to greet the bride.  Then suddenly, there she was, on her father’s arm, looking more beautiful than Icheb had ever seen her.  

For 1.7 seconds, she froze, her eyes searching the crowd.  When her gaze settled on him, she smiled and took her first step down the aisle.

They Do by kes7

Maren walked arm-in-arm with her father, clutching her bouquet with a duratanium grip to keep her hands from shaking. She was keenly aware that she was the absolute center of attention – a quantum singularity drifting slowly down the aisle.

Her sisters and Rachel had done a remarkable job transforming her from a ponytailed engineering prodigy into a bride.  Her dress was a work of art, a sheath of lace featuring the same fractal patterns Icheb had engraved on her engagement ring, with a chiffon train like a comet’s tail.  Her fine blond hair was pulled into a sleek modern updo, while a dusting of pearlescent powder at her cheeks and temples gave her an ethereal glow. She had barely recognized herself in the mirror when she saw an elegant young woman instead of an awkward, scrawny girl.

She filtered out the smiles and awed looks on the faces of their friends and family and kept her eyes on Icheb.  As long as she remembered why she was here, she’d be okay.

At the front of the church, she locked eyes with him and smiled.  His usual unflappable calm was mostly on display, but the pink flush to his cheeks and ears betrayed him – he was just as excited as she was. They had always been able to talk to each other with just a look. Now, they launched into silent conversation.  As Father Henry made his opening remarks, she was so absorbed in their shared thoughts that she almost missed it when he asked, “Who gives this woman to be married here today?” 

“I do,” her father said, snapping her out of her trance.  The look on his face broke her heart – he was so happy for her, yet there was a pain in his eyes that she knew she had caused, just by growing up.

She turned and kissed him on the cheek.  “I love you, Daddy,” she whispered in his ear, before stepping up to take her place beside Icheb.

The ceremony was beautiful, but it felt neverending to Maren.   Finally, the time arrived to say “I do.”

Icheb wasn’t Catholic, which meant no Mass.  But since Maren still wanted to be married in the Church, they had to use traditional vows.  Truth be told, they didn’t mind.  The ancient words appealed to both Icheb’s love of Terran classicism and Maren’s respect for family tradition.  They felt strange and wonderful on her tongue as she promised:

"I, Maren, take you, Icheb, as my husband ... to have and to hold from this day forward ... for better, for worse ... for richer, for poorer ... in sickness and health, until death do us part."

Icheb said the same thing back to her, and it was finished.

“By the power vested in me by God and the United Federation of Planets, I pronounce you husband and wife,” Father Henry said, as their friends and family cheered.  At long last, he turned to Icheb. 

“You may now kiss your bride.”

Four Years Later by kes7

“Lieutenant Commander Icheb, report to Sickbay immediately.”

Icheb looked up from his post at the Tesseract’s science station and fought an involuntary wave of anxiety.  Doctor Bashir’s tone had been just urgent enough to worry him – especially since he knew Maren had left to see him thirty minutes prior. He glanced over at Captain Oyugo, who had swiveled in the center chair upon hearing the shipwide summons.  Her black eyes met his, all kindness and concern. 

“Go,” she ordered, with a small nod.  “You’re dismissed.”

He walked as quickly as he could to the turbolift.  “Deck Nine,” he said, feeling queasy. Maren had been ill overnight, but it hadn’t seemed serious. When she had told him this morning that she was going to visit Doctor Bashir, he had assumed the doctor would simply give her an anti-nausea injection and remind her to avoid Claire Keller’s food.  He had not expected to be summoned via shipwide comm.

The .67 seconds it took the sickbay doors to open made him want to pry them aside himself. When they had parted enough for him to edge through, he did.

“Over here,” said Bashir, catching his attention as he entered the room.  He looked over and saw Maren lying on a biobed, while Bashir stood next to her, examining the displays. 

To his surprise, both were smiling.

“What’s going on?” he asked, cautiously moving toward them.

Maren and the doctor exchanged another smile; then she turned to him and grinned.  “It worked,” she said, sounding awed.  “The treatments worked.”  The import of the statement hit him before she even said the words – “I’m pregnant.”

Icheb looked from Maren to the doctor, eyes wide.  “Are you certain?”  He rushed forward to see for himself.  Maren gently took his hand as he examined the displays.

Sure enough, there was life growing inside her – not a parasite, as he had naively thought all those years ago when he had accidentally discovered B’Elanna’s pregnancy, but a child – their child.

“Is it healthy?” he asked anxiously.  “Is she healthy?” he added, glancing at Maren. 

It shouldn’t have been possible.  As if interspecies reproduction wasn’t complicated enough, his Borg past and tainted DNA meant the odds of them ever having children of their own were effectively nonexistent.  But their desire for a baby was so strong that Icheb had developed a genetic therapy to try and force his body to produce what it could not – and to ensure that any results would be compatible with Maren’s DNA.  By his calculations, if the treatment worked at all, it would take at least 60 days of injections to begin working.  His first had been only 17 days ago.

Doctor Bashir gave him a warm smile.  “Maren is just fine,” he said.  “I’ve prescribed injections to take care of the morning sickness.  As for the child, as far as I can tell, in about seven and a half months, you’ll be the proud parents of a very healthy baby girl.”

There But By the Grace ... by kes7

“Are you all right?” Icheb’s concerned voice startled Maren out of her thoughts.  She looked up from her PADD, where she had been deeply absorbed in reading some logs from the mysterious comm buoy they’d found that afternoon – specifically, logs that appeared to be her own ... only not.  The Maren O’Connor who had written these logs was living a completely different life.

As best Icheb and T’Pring had been able to reason, despite looking exactly like one of their own, the buoy was from an entirely different universe – possibly having been sucked through a vortex or window in spacetime.  It was labeled with their ship’s name and registry, bore the Federation logo, and was protected with the same encryption protocols as the buoys they had been dropping behind them like breadcrumbs since they departed Federation space for the Delta Quadrant.  But at the quantum level, it resonated at a different frequency – giving them the first hint of a scientific explanation for the disturbing data it contained.

“I’m okay,” she told Icheb, rubbing her eyes. “Just reading some of these logs.” She glanced down at the baby sleeping soundly in the sling across her chest.  It was sad to think there was a universe in which she didn’t exist.

Icheb frowned.  “Captain Oyugo requested we not read our counterparts’ logs.”

Maren shot him a skeptical look.  “Like you didn’t.”

Icheb looked briefly uncomfortable, but admitted, “Yes, I did.”

“Then you know how bad it is.”  She looked up at Icheb in distress.  “You’re dying.  We’re not married; we’re at each other’s throats.  The whole quadrant is in shambles and you’re considering genocide.  I don’t recognize this universe at all, but I do recognize us.  I mean, she thinks like me, writes like me. The way she describes you is so familiar ... Icheb, is this what we would be? If we ever faced this kind of hardship, would we turn on each other? Would you turn away from me?

“Enough.” The conviction behind the order was enough to shut Maren up immediately. She looked up at her husband and a chill went down her spine.  He wore a tortured expression, one she’d never seen before, but one the other Maren had described at length in her writings.  “I want you to stop reading those logs immediately,” he said, in a tone that left little room for debate.  “They only get worse.”

Maren sighed, feeling guilty for questioning him.  “You’re right,” she said.  “I’m sorry.  I just – ”

“I know,” Icheb said, cutting her off.  He walked across the room and planted a kiss on top of her head.  “I wish I hadn’t read them at all.”

The look on his face was still haunted, and Maren wondered exactly how bad things were in this alternate universe.  As he headed toward the bedroom to change out of his uniform, he stopped just short of the door and turned back toward her.  “I would never leave you, Maren,” he said solemnly.  “Never.”

This story archived at http://www.adastrafanfic.com/viewstory.php?sid=2218