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After the shuttlecraft story, the night seems to whittle gently away. We both have some work to do, and I'm tired from talking. We sleep early.

I turn over in the middle of the night and find her gone. Without looking at the clock, I know that it's 03:00 hours and that Voyager's captain is touring her ship. At least that's what she calls it. I call it insomnia. I pull on some sweat clothes and set out to find her.

It doesn't take me long. I'm pretty certain of where she'll end up. And sure enough we reach the mess hall at almost the same instant. I know that when I'm looking for Kathryn I just have to head towards the most convenient caffeine source. She'll turn up there, inevitably.

Neither of us says a word as we enter Neelix's domain. He too knows his captain. I can see the outline of a coffee thermos sitting on the counter. He leaves it for her every night.

But tonight I notice another small form, illuminated by the gentle glow of a personal lamp at the far end of the room.

Kathryn glances at me; a slightly quizzical smile on her face, and we both head towards the light.

Our nocturnal companion is totally unexpected. Naomi Wildman, sound asleep amidst a small pile of PADDs. Voyager's youngest crewman should have been in her quarters, in bed many hours ago. Kathryn picks up one of the PADDs and scrolls through it quickly. She smiles again and nods. She sits down on the bench beside her, gently brushes Naomi's hair away from her face and strokes her cheek to wake her.

The child startles, more I think as a reaction to who is waking her, and struggles to sit up. Kathryn pulls her quickly onto her lap and calms her. "Shhh... Naomi. What are you doing here?"

"I was doing. . ." she searches for the words, still sleepy. "I was doing a research as...assignment."

"For the Doctor?" Kathryn asks.

"Yes." Naomi sighs. "Captain?"

"Yes Naomi."

"Captain, why is the Doctor so...so...he makes me work so hard." she finishes plaintively.

Kathryn grins. "Naomi, believe it or not, the Doctor is much better now than he ever was. When I first met him he had absolutely no social graces whatsoever. And you - you are very special to the doctor."

Naomi looks up at Kathryn expectantly. And Kathryn suddenly realizes exactly what she has gotten herself into.

"Commander Chakotay is the story teller on this ship." She says to Naomi. "I'm sure he wouldn't mind."

"Oh no, Captain," I answer quickly. "I think it's your turn . . ."

Bedtime Story
by CyberMum


(Stardate: 48315.6)

"Please state the nature of the medical emergency." The sounds echoed through his systems. He was momentarily disoriented but quickly realized that what he had heard emanated from his own program. This was definitely new.

He had been refitted with a functioning sound system. He vaguely remembered the last time he had been activated there had been some question as to his voice. His creator, Dr. Lewis Zimmerman, had been quite insistent upon installing his own voice patterns in his program. Zimmerman's ego was legendary, and his co-developers had decided not to debate this particular demand and acquiesced.

All around him was chaos.

External stimuli. He was autonomically responding to external stimuli. His programming was beginning to function. He was on-line.

His reaction was immediate. He stepped up to the nearest biobed and began to examine the patient stretched out upon it. He treated each injury carefully and thoroughly. When he had done all he could, he moved on to the next bed. He said nothing and interacted with no one around him except to demand a medical instrument or instruct the patient to move this way or that. He was completely immersed in his tasks.

The observers were satisfied. This prototype Emergency Medical Hologram was operating at full function.

"End Prototype Test 47, deactivate EMH." The technicians complied and the program faded once again from their view.

"Well" said Dr. Zimmerman. "I think that this EMH is ready to be installed on Voyager. It will be a perfect test case scenario. Three weeks or so in deep space, isolated from any other ships or space stations. There might be a few cases of Bolian flu and a couple of minor injuries for him to treat. I'll instruct Captain Janeway to run a few diagnostics and some drills while they're out there. Shouldn't be too much trouble for her. Not that I anticipate any problems." He added.

Dr. Zimmerman surveyed his lab, and raised one brow slightly as he noticed a few instruments out of place and a data PADD tucked haphazardly between two consoles. "I like to run a tight ship, ladies and gentlemen. Disorder will not be tolerated." He nodded to the junior technician who happened to be standing nearest to the offending materials. "Take care of this, ensign." The doctor turned on his heel and left the lab, followed with alacrity by his minions.

The young ensign sighed and turned to the task at hand. The counter was easily straightened, and she picked up the offending PADD. She glanced at the heading, in preparation for filing the information in the correct data storage unit, and her attention was caught. "Proposal for integrating ethical, moral and emotional subroutines into EMH prototype 7a-b". She scrolled quickly through the information. She knew that all the EMH prototypes must have had ethical and moral programming installed. This had come as a directive from Star Fleet Medical Headquarters. But an emotional subroutine? This was the first time she'd come across any mention of such a proposal. Her attention caught, she began to read.

Several minutes later she looked up and grinned. Dr. Lewis Zimmerman was known to be an arrogant and emotionless, albeit brilliant scientist. He was famous for treating his students, technicians and underlings less than kindly. The proposal that the young ensign now held involved a few relatively simple adjustments to the EMH program. The young woman reviewed the figures on the PADD, just to make sure. She flicked on the console in front of her and began to enter the data into the system.

* *

(Approximately 18 months later)

When Neelix arrived in sickbay with Samantha Wildman leaning heavily on his arm, Voyager's Doctor was in consultation with Kes.

"Doctor, doctor!."

The Talaxian's frantic excitement was nothing new to the EMH. "Just one minute Mr. Neelix" he said, without turning around. "I'll attend to you."

Kes interjected quietly. "Sam, why don't you come over here and I'll help you onto the biobed."

The EMH had been preparing for this moment ever since he had diagnosed Ensign Wildman's condition. He had reviewed all the information in Voyager's database regarding inter-species gestation and birthing techniques. He had prepared himself for every possible emergency and contingency. What he had not prepared for was a very pregnant woman in heavy labour.

"Push." he instructed her.

"Don't forget to breathe, Samantha." Kes said kindly, and gently wiped her forehead with a damp cloth. "Deep regular breaths."

"Cervical dilation is at ten point two centimeters, glandular levels are normal. Push, Ensign!" The doctor barked impatiently.

"You push damn it. I'm sick of pushing."

He looked up in surprise. Not many of his patients argued with him. "I know you are fatigued. Try to focus on your breathing. Remember the exercises we did. When you feel a contraction, bear down" he directed. He had not expected this reaction. After all, wasn't he doing all the work here?

But this was not going according plan. Or any of the books that he had read. Samantha was in distress. And so was the child.

"The baby has shifted position. This is a rare complication. . ."

Voyager was rocked by a heavy impact.

*

All around him was chaos. Triage. But this was what he was programmed for. He sorted through the wounded quickly and efficiently.

"Second degree plasma burns on the face and neck. Treat him withÖ Fractured clavicle, thoracic contusions, nothing serious, she can wait." He was back in command.

But the baby was in distress again. "Increase the osmotic pressure by ten percent."

More wounded. And his program was in jeopardy. He flickered and dropped a regenerator.

"Oh no." He felt something unfamiliar jolt through his systems. He tried to shake the sensation off, but it lingered for a moment. He continued triage.

*

The child died.

"I'm sorry ensign." He whispered. And couldn't look into Samantha Wildman's eyes.

*

They had been given a second chance. Ensign Wildman's baby had come from another Voyager through a spatial rift with Harry Kim. The captain and the crew were ecstatic. Samantha had taken the child back to her quarters and both were healthy and thriving.

But Voyager's EMH was troubled. Which in itself was highly unusual. He had failed. He reviewed the records of his procedures and actions for the day of the Wildman baby's birth. "Naomi's birth," he corrected himself. And there too lay an interesting dilemma. He felt a special . . .fondness . . . for the Wildman child. And he could not quite figure out where these (he couldn't quite put a name to these sensations) were coming from. The failure, perhaps. The fondness was mystifying.

*

"Doctor to Torres".

"Torres here. Doctor, we're extremely busy down here. Can it wait?"

"Lieutenant, I am in need of a diagnostic at your earliest convenience. EMH out."

*

"Captain, thank you for coming." He actually fussed a little and offered her a chair. She valiantly tried to suppress a smile.

It seems Captain" he said when they were both settled, "That there is a small glitch in my program. Lieutenant Torres discovered it the other day when she ran a detailed diagnostic - one that I requested - I might add, on my systems."

"A glitch Doctor?" Janeway asked.

He continued. "It seems that there was an unauthorized addition to the moral and ethical subroutines that Dr. Zimmerman programmed into the Emergency Medical Hologram installed on Voyager."

"In other words, into you, Doctor."

"Yes. I have an emotional subroutine embedded into my matrix. Lieutenant Torres has informed me that it can be removed, although it will be a tricky procedure. She told me that she would be willing to do it on her next 72 hour break. But she also insisted that I obtain your permission to have it removed."

"I see. And why do you want it removed, Doctor?"

"Captain. I found it very difficult to fail. When I lost Ensign Wildman's baby I felt a paralysis that frightened me. I must be able to function fully at all times, in any situation. I could not. I could not look at Samantha. And I could not face myself." He continued, slowly, his voice reflecting his distress. "And Captain I have recently found that I have certain feelings that are dictating my responses to members of our crew. I find these responses puzzling and they often divert my attentions when I should be working on research and other duties."

"Doctor." Janeway's tone was soft and kind. "Have you found that these emotions are detracting from the care that you are giving the crew? Have you neglected any of your patients, or your duties because of them?"

"No." He sounded surprised. "Of course not. I am still functioning at the high end of my efficiency ratio. I am just . . . feeling things. I'm not sure that I want these emotions to continue." He paused and looked up at his Captain, who was watching him carefully. "However" he continued eventually "some of those feelings are actually quite pleasant. For instance the way I feel about Naomi Wildman evokes a pleasurable sensation."

Kathryn Janeway smiled. "Doctor, Naomi Wildman evokes a pleasurable sensation in the entire crew. And you didn't fail her you know. Your counterpart on the other Voyager was able to adjust her cellular problems and send us a healthy baby. You did what you had to do under distinctly different and difficult conditions. You have grown immeasurably over the past 18 months Doctor. We all know that your program was initially developed to be an adjunct to a ship's doctor. But you are our ship's doctor. And as such you have served us well. You will be able to serve us even better with your emotional routine intact. Permission denied."

The EMH remained quiet as he considered his captain's decision.

"And Doctor." Captain Janeway continued. "It might be beneficial to both of you if you spend some extra time with Naomi Wildman. And I'm sure that Samantha would appreciate your advice. In moderation, of course." She finished quickly.

The Doctor tilted his head in thought and then smiled. "Why yes. Of course. I am the perfect instructor for the child. I have an incredible amount of knowledge to impart. Probably more than anyone else on this ship, excuse me for saying so Captain! why I will start developing a curriculum immediately."

* *

Kathryn glances down and sees that one member of her audience has faded again. She quirks that enchanting Kathryn grin at me and nods. I carefully gather Naomi up into my arms and we head towards the Wildman quarters. She doesn't stir as I place her gently in her bed, Samantha sheepishly tucking her in.

"I didn't notice she was gone" she mumbles. "Double shift, Neelix was sitting, I just fell into bed."

"Don't worry" I say, and I give Kathryn's hand a surreptitious squeeze. "She just needed an extra bedtime story tonight."



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