Itís strange to look at my father now, the man who Iíd blamed
for a good portion of my screwed up childhood, and feel so strangely
dispassionate, as if the sight of him wasnít able to produce
a glimmer of emotion, either good or bad.
Chakotay, on one of his oft experienced reflective, philosophical
days once told me that there were no good or bad emotions, that
how one felt at any instance in their life was valid and worthy
of experiencing, positive or negative connotations aside. But
at the time I didnít take him seriously, how could I when he
had said this to a woman whose whole life had been centered on
the belief that her Klingon side was something to be feared and
disgusted; whose genetic disposition to flare at times with uncontained
rage was akin to the mark of Cain and whose very temperament
only served to cause unimaginable anguish and push those close
to me away.
I remember snorting at the time, mumbling some disbelieving protest
under my breath like ĎYeah, whatever. Who died and made you a
psychologist?í Even though deep down I regretted my easy dismissal
of his words, because I knew that I might have offended him,
and Chakotay, after all, was a friend, but not because I believed
what he said to be true. I guess I had a more linear way of thinking
- there was good and there was bad, and due to a conglomerate
of things, not the least of which was my duel nature, I had convinced
myself that I was more on the bad end than the good. It wasnít
until many years later that I truly understood what he had meant.
Feeling something, anything at all, be it anger, impatience or
aggression, is better than feeling nothing at all.
And despite my readily apparent joy over the birth of my daughter,
and the security and love I had with TomÖ nothing is what I felt
when Voyager had been ambushed by those friends and family who
had been praying for our safe return after our seven year journey.
Nothing was what I had felt when I looked out into a thousand
faces who had been waiting eagerly to catch a glimpse of the
apparently famed crew who had been stuck in the Delta Quadrant
for seven years disembark their ship for the first time in Federation
soil. Perhaps it was poetic that I also felt nothing when my
father had contacted me a few days later to inquire of my safe
return and to request permission to Ďsee meí.
I was disillusioned, and I knew it. For the few days after returning
to Earth I would wake up early, my mind traveling a million miles
an hour as I felt that I had to be somewhere doing something.
That there was an engineering room I had to inspect, a warp core
I had to hear humming, a senior staff meeting scheduled at some
untimely hour of the morning. And Tom would wake up next to me,
smiling slightly as his beautiful blue eyes regarded me wholly
and with quiet understanding as he moved to wrap his arms tightly
around me, soothing my fears. It amazed me how much of a haven
Tomís arms were, as if they had the ability to shield me from
anything that might cause me harm. It was only then that Iíd
feel Ďhomeí and that my spirit would be appeased. That or when
I held Miral in my arms and marveled over the life that Tom and
I had created out of our love despite all the obstacles we had
I look at my daughter and am amazed at the love that flows almost
instinctively. Staring at her tiny face and her little hands
clenched too tightly into fists makes me want to pledge my undying
devotion; sends me reeling with the need to protect her and do
right by her at all costs. So why was it that my own father was
able to walk away from HIS daughter? How was it that a force
that flowed undeniably within myself; and within Tom, if the
look of open adoration he gives Miral whenever he holds her is
any indication, had escaped my own father completely. And at
what point in time had I stopped caring why it was he had left
me when I was so little?
Perhaps it had started with Tom, the man who holds the power
to make me feel everything at once. It often scares me - the
love I feel for Tom. Causes my heart to race uncontrollably and
my throat to clench making it hard for me to breathe. I didnít
used to think it was possible to love someone so much and so
entirelyÖ that such ideals of love existed only in literature,
and that certainly a half-human, half-klingon self-proclaimed
bad girl certainly would never experience the phenomenon if it
truly did exist.
But it found me. And boy did it find me. Clobbered me over the
head actually; hitting me when I least expected it. I wasnít
prepared for Tom, wasnít prepared to bunt heads with a man whose
will is as strong as my own, and whose determination is undeterred
when he sets his sights on something he wants. The strange thing
was that he wanted me, and nothing: not my temper, not my klingon
nature, not my repeated tests over the limits he would take his
devotion, especially following my continuous rebuffs, would scare
him away. He was focused on me, he was resolved to me, and it
had scared the hell out of me.
Heíd push, Iíd retreat, he pushed againÖ I retreated further.
I didnít know how to deal with whatever it was that was going
on between us, I didnít recognize my growing feelings for what
they were. How could I when I had never experienced them before?
I didnít have a basis of comparison. I didnít know what love
was, I only knew that a room seemed to brighten when he walked
into it, that I smiled and laughed more when he was around, that
my stomachs kind of ached anxiously whenever he attempted to
ask me out, and that my heart broke a little after I turned him
down, as if, while I was doing the act itself, I had done it
more out of instinct and kicked myself later for hurting him
with my own means of self preservation. To love him was to give
him the power to hurt me, like my father had, only Tom Paris
was more persistent in remaining a part of my life than my father
ever was. He let me know in clear, certain terms that he wasnít
going anywhere, and that the faster I accepted it, the sooner
we could do something about it.
I like to think that I had shocked him when I finally conceded,
that my admission of love to him took him off guard and that
for once I was the one initiating something, but truthfullyÖ
it all belonged to Tom. He had my heart far earlier than the
time I actually admitted to it; had realized far sooner than
I had that there was this unquenchable chemistry and fire between
us - I had just been the one who had decided to finally stop
Itís kind of weird when I think of my life before Tom, and then
compare it to my life after Tom and I started dating. Before
Tom my life seems sort of hazy, like distant memories from a
completely different lifetime, or like those old, scratchy 20th
century black and white movies Tom loves to watch so much. After
Tom inserted himself into my life the vivid color came and I
can recall each moment, happy or sad, joyful or bitter, with
unmarred clarity. As if I woke from a nightmare to find myself
truly alive, regardless of the many hardships we had to endure.
He always tells me that he is the lucky one, and that he doesnít
know what he did to deserve me. I canít help roll my eyes at
that, even if it does send my pulse racing a thousand light years
a secondÖ not because I donít think he is utterly sincere in
his words, but because I often wonder the same things about him.
It was through Tom that I first started to believe that perhaps
I wasnít such a Ďbadí girl after all.
And while I give Tom full credit for being the one to reach me
and drag me out of my rock hard shell, there were other factors
as well. The crew of Voyager - the stressed, battered, tested,
dedicated, loyal crew of Voyager that had become more like a
family to me than anything else.
At the front of it all was Janeway, the woman I both loved and
hated simultaneously. There were times when she reminded me
so much of my mother that it was uncanny. As stringent to her
Starfleet beliefs as my mother was to her klingon beliefs. Stubborn,
one sided, unwilling to bend or see things my way every once
in awhile. I have never been one to blindly follow authority
without question, without thinking for myself, but while I was
busy sometimes resenting her driven, oft-blind dedication, I
was also eager to please her.
My feelings for Janeway have never been less than confusing.
There were times when I wanted to hug her, and times when I wanted
to push her out the nearest airlock, but at the center of it
all I really do look up to her, though Iíd never admit it out
loud. She had faith in me early on when she really had no basis
to, and she supported me for seven years of unyielding exploration,
helping to mold me into a direction I hadnít realized I was missing
before she whirled into my life. I realize that I owe her a lot,
and truly there isnít anything I wouldnít do for herÖ well, almost
anything. Whether I wanted it or not, her maternal influence
was something I needed that she willingly provided and Iím grateful
for it. Maybe one of these days I should tell her that.
And then there was Chakotay: father-like presence, friend, mentor;
a million things wrapped up into one easy to talk to package.
We share the passion for our beliefs and the drive to do what
we feel is right. There were times when I donít think I would
have made it as far as I did as an officer on Voyager without
him. His support never bended, even though I was unworthy of
it at times. Iím a little embarrassed that I used to harbor such
a crush on him, now he seems more like a protective older brother
than anything else. And Ďprotectiveí wouldnít even begin to describe
how he got when Tom started to pursue me so relentlessly.
I should probably be offended or upset that Chakotay tried to
warn me against the one thing in my life that holds no regrets
Ė my relationship with Tom. But strangely, Iím not. I think it
was kind of sweet that he was so protective of me and really
the only thing that offended me at the time was that he felt
he had any say in what I wanted to do with my life, or in who
I wanted to hang out with. As I said, I donít take too well to
authority. And he was wrong about TomÖ very, very wrong. The
great thing about Chakotay is that even he realized that he didnít
know Tom as well as he thought he did at first and that Tom had
more honor than Chakotay had previously pegged him with. We all
live and learn, Chakotay no less than the rest of us. Not even
the pedestal I always had him on prevented me from realizing
I sometimes look back and cringe on how difficult it was for
Chakotay early on and how I didnít really help matters in making
the adjustment from Maquis to Starfleet easy for him. But for
some reason I always felt the need to prove to him that his faith
in me was warranted, despite it all. He made me want to succeed
without using the authority that Captain Janeway used to do it
and his friendship was/is truly appreciated. Perhaps I should
tell him that as well, although Iíve never really been big in
the confessional department. Tom could vouch for that.
Of course, there is also HarryÖ the first of the Starfleet officers
that I really befriended, or I should say who befriended me.
I had always convinced myself that I was difficult to get along
with, and that I somehow had to live up to that reputation. Harry
was determined to look passed that. Then again, Harry is truly
the most likable person I know, its hard not to warm up to the
guy. And certainly his friendship has meant a lot to me over
the years. Even more so to Tom, who is Harryís best friend. Like
my experience with Harry, Tom also had Harry barge through any
initial walls to see the decent person inside. I could never
thank him enough for that. Tom needed that sort of companionship;
a kindred spirit willing to get to know a person before casting
apparitions on them and on rare days Iíll admit that I needed
that too. How two rebel rousing, reputation depicting, more pomp
than circumstance, raga muffins like Tom and I ended up closely
tied to the hip of Starfleetís most chaste ensign Iíll never
know. Just one of those things I suppose.
Then there was Nelix, always lending his ears, and the father
of non-sought out advice and president of the leola root fan
club. And the doctor, whose brutal honesty never went unappreciated
by me, even if he was mentioning things I didnít want to hear.
Tuvok, another mentor, who worked so hard, bless his heart, to
help me control my temper. I never really had the heart to tell
him that his efforts were kind of futile, even if I think my
sessions with him did sort of help in the calming department.
Even Seven, despite her tendency to annoy the living hell out
of me, had her moments and in all honesty its very scary to think
of life without all of them now. Scary to think that we might
all lose touch and that everyone who had been such a profound
part of my life for seven years were now going to go their own
Miral might not get to have weekly hover ball sessions with Chakotay,
or saxophone lessons with Harry, or get the special title of
Captainís assistant like I had once envisioned she would. I guess
our coming back to the Alpha Quadrant was inevitable. I never
doubted that Captain Janeway would stay true to her word and
pull it off, but I guess that the reality of the situation was
that I felt more home on Voyager than I had in the Alpha Quadrant.
Voyager was the home where I came into my own, where I found
Tom, where my daughter was conceived. On Voyager I had a purpose
and maybe I still do. I havenít really had time to settle yet.
Itís a shock: coming home, the fact that my daughter is finally
here, the changes that have happened since I last saw this quadrant,
more specifically Maquis-wise, and the sudden interest my father
has in renewing our relationship after twenty years of silence.
I canít help but be numb, as if I were a specter watching this
all take place without my participation, but the most important
thing is that I have Tom and Miral, that hasnít changed, and
by the way Tom latches on to me every five minutes or so since
weíve been back, squeezing as if his life depended on it, I donít
think it will ever change. Gods I love him.
Tom and I will once again have to prove ourselves. To everyone
here we are still the rebellious, criminal, admiralís son, and
the Maquis fireball. Although Tomís sister pulled me aside to
mention that everyone had been pouring over the transmissions
that Janeway had been sending from the Delta Quadrant the past
two years as if they were the hottest selling holo novel, and
that public opinion was swerving to regard us all as heroes.
I canít help but be amused by that. Me? A hero? Fate truly does
have a healthy sense of humor.
And my father-in-law, a man I was prepared to loathe, but who
I strangely felt an instant kinship towards, which Tom claims
has to do with the fact that were both alike: hot headed and
stubborn as hell, was the first to tell me that the Maquis Voyager
crew members were absolved of past sins committed. He admitted
to Tom and I that he was happy about that for me solely, although
Chakotay and the others on Voyager were an added bonus. He didnít
want the one woman who managed to subdue his sonís wild habits
and the mother of his granddaughter to be hauled off to prison
upon arrival. And he said all of this with a devilish twinkle
in his eye. I really donít think that Tom and his father are
THAT different from one another. And I know now where that devil
would care expression of Tomís comes from; itís genetic.
It was kind of sweet the way Tomís family greeted us - all hugs
and exclamations of undying devotion. Iíve never been truly comfortable
with affection, mostly because after my father left I didnít
receive a lot of it. My mother wasnít big in the hugging department.
But Iíve learned two things in the past three days weíve been
back: one is that I had better learn to get over my hang ups
when it comes to hugging because the Paris family does a lot
of it, and two is that returning to Earth has not caused Janeway
to loosen her reigns over all of us one bit. Weíve already received
four transmissions from her already. I think she does it more
to reassure herself that her prodigy are still thatÖ hers.
I was overwhelmed by how quickly the Parisí accepted Miral and
me, all of them acting as if I had always been there and that
I was unquestionably part of the family and how dare I have the
audacity to suggest otherwise. It wasnít at all what I expected
from Tomís family. I guess I really didnít know what to expect.
If they felt trepidation over learning of a former Maquis, half-klingon
daughter-in-law they didnít show it. In all honesty I was prepared
not to care what they thought one way or another, but they didnít
give me the time or reasons to put my customary shields up. I
donít know whether to be relieved or frightened by that, so I
decided to go with relieved. Itís the easier feeling to live
I think Tom was taken off guard too. Whatever history had passed
between Tom and his father was buried. I wonder how many officers
who have worked under the stern Starfleet Admiral have ever wondered
if he had the capability of cryingÖ well he did the moment he
saw Tom again for the first time in years, taking him in his
arms as if he had every right to do so and after only a slight
pause on both their parts. And he had tears in his eyes even
still when he held Miral for the first time. She has that affect
on people. I also cried the first time I held her. So did Tom.
The Parisí took us in instantly, without condition, and although
they havenít pushed us on where to go from here. Admiral Paris
has made some less-than-subtle hints that I have a future as
a Starfleet engineer. I think he has been talking to Captain
Janeway. It is abundantly clear why these two got along when
she served under him. Theyíve both mastered the Ďwe know whatís
best for youí expression; the one that screams Ďfollow my exampleí
in not so many words. I told Tom that if he ever catches me giving
that expression to Miral he has my permission to fire a laser
blast my way. He made me promise to do the same to him in turn.
Whatever the future has in store for us Iím sure it canít be
all that bad, not with the support of family, the love of Tom,
and the most perfect baby to exist throughout the history of
humanoid life forms. But where does that leave my relationship
with my own father? I honestly donít know.
I agreed to see him, when he contacted me on Voyager and again
when we landed on Earth. I even promised Tom that I would give
a mend in our relationship a chance and that I wouldnít try to
kill the man on sight. There was a time when I would have done
anything in the world to see my daddy again and I believed that
the fact that he didnít want to see me meant there was something
wrong with me.
I know better now. If seven years on Voyager as: friend, daughter,
lover, wife, engineer; taught me anything itís that being BíElanna
Torres isnít really all that bad. In fact, I kind of like her.
Whether my father agrees with that sentiment or not really doesnít
matter. He no longer has the power to make me feel unwanted.
Thank you, Tom.
So maybe, just this once, feeling nothing when I look at this
man who is no more than a stranger to me is a good thing. And
perhaps I might have positive feelings towards him in the future.
For now itís enough that the effort is being made and that I
have a family of my own: a husband that I adore more than I ever
thought possible, and a daughter whom I canít wait to raise and
be there for every major step in her life. Together, some how,
some way, Tom, Miral and I will seize the universe and make it