Story: Of Heroes and Men
Disclaimer: Paramount owns them, I’m just borrowing them for
some nonprofit geared fun.
Summary: Coda to the episode “Memorial”
Shots rang through the air, marred only by the quickened sound
of footfall and the heart-wrenching wail of screaming. Darkness
shrouded the land with shadows, punctuated only by the occasional
bursts of light from the laser fire and the mocking twinkle of
starlight. All around the air reeked of death - as if dying were
a tangible force heady in the air, sucking out every trace of
life giving oxygen and replacing it with a stale, stagnant reminder
of the slaughter taking place so viciously around him. People
falling, bodies strewn: violence, chaos, despair, and all of
it beating against his soul like the steady rhythm of a drum.
Tom Paris couldn’t breathe, couldn’t feel the pleasant sensation
of air filling his lungs, distributing itself refreshingly throughout
his body, couldn’t take solace in the simple act of human preservation
when he had been suffocating relentlessly by his refusal to except
the sights before him. So he ran, as fast as his legs would carry
him away from the madness, not caring that the occasional branch
or rock lay in his way, not paying any heed to the fact that
the act might be considered cowardly; he simply knew he couldn’t
feasibly watch another second of destruction without going thoroughly
insane. But the images followed him, consuming his thoughts like
the black plague, seemingly seeping down his throat in bitter
aftertaste, causing the bile to rise within his stomach and his
heart to race in mortal terror.
He stumbled then, falling desperately to the ground in what seemed
like slow motion, his foot wedged under a sharp rock as he bellowed
the cry of a wounded animal. And then there was nothing but darkness,
a black aura to match the seedy feel of turmoil in an area consumed
with the psychological imprint of horror - leaving him isolated,
completely stranded, with nothing but his own unrelenting thoughts
to keep him company.
Yet gradually the darkness started to retreat, shapes could be
made out through the black void, and the piercing sounds of screaming
retreated to a distant, far off wail and Tom awoke fully from
his recurring nightmare to find himself in his quarters on Voyager,
yet just as much alone.
The remnants of his dream stuck with him as he entered the mess
hall, his face a tired betrayal to the inner turmoil as he absentmindedly
headed straight for the counter, bypassing small groups of shipmate’s
in order to avoid conversation. The act of grabbing a tray and
serving himself food seemed like such a mundane experience, as
if his mind was separated from his body, still trying to recover
from the false memories of the massacre that had been forced
into his subconscious on that last away mission, while his limbs
went through the habitual morning actions that were more second
nature than anything else. He noticed fleetingly that Neelix shared
the same tired, pain-filled expression that Tom had seen reflected
at him in the mirror that morning: weary, sad, wizened - the
eyes of souls who knew and remembered too much, just as Harry’s
reflected when Tom went to join him at his table.
Harry barely looked up as Tom helped himself to a chair and sat
down, the uncomfortable silence between them punctuated by an
even more uncomfortable and awkward conversation.
“How are you?” Harry asked, not attempting to inflict the question
with his usual overtly chipper tone.
“Good. You?” Tom responded, wondering hollowly why they even
bothered with asking each other a question they both knew the
answer to but neither one would answer honestly - not when they
were both too busy trying to forget.
“I’m fine, thank you,” Harry answered as automatically as Tom
had… idle chitchat, safe responses, all no more than a show used
to hide anything deeper.
An awareness stuck Tom at that moment: the thickening of air,
a faint scent his subconscious picked up on, her presence calling
out instinctively to his – he couldn’t readily explain how he
knew when it was B’Elanna was near, but he did, as if they had
become naturally in-tuned to each other during the course of
He turned his head towards the entrance to the mess hall just
seconds before she walked in, and he continued to watch her as
she made her way to the counter; as she kept her eyes straight
ahead, never once sparing a glance in his direction. He could
tell by the sternness of her walk, and the slight rigidity in
her posture that she was tense… Angry… Uncertain – perhaps a
combination of the three and his heart sank a little more, his
mind alternating between wanting to rush to her and crush her
to him as tightly as he feasibly could and wanting to maintain
the distance between them that he had started the other day…
virtually licking his wounds in private. The echoes of their
confrontation played across his mind unbendingly, mixing a second
form of pain with the first.
"I know the last few days have been difficult…"
"'Difficult?!'… 'Difficult' doesn't quite cover it.
I helped murder 82 innocent people."
"You don't know that…”
"I know what I remember!"
"The Doctor said your memories could have been altered…"
"I was there! When I close my eyes, I can see the bodies.
I-I can hear the weapons fire - I can feel where I was shot!"
"Then why isn't there evidence of…"
"I don't know!"
"All I'm asking is that you consider the possibility
that this didn't happen! We'll keep investigating;
there are sensor readings on the Delta Flyer that we
haven't even analyzed yet…"
"I can't concentrate on sensor readings right now!"
"I can't! Stop pushing me! I don't want your help!"
It became apparent to Tom that he wasn’t the only one remembering
the confrontation as B’Elanna continued to avoid his gaze, consciously
steering clear of looking out amongst the inhabitants of the
mess hall, intentionally keeping her back turned as she briskly
requested a cup of coffee from Neelix; all signs of a carefully
veiled anger and eerily unvoiced hurt, as if she were a ticking
time bomb attempting to shield the rest of the world from her
B’Elanna’s lack of eating habits was to be enough to snap Neelix
out of his funk, his facial expression going from tense to concerned
as he welcomed the distraction she unknowingly offered and easily
slipped into the wise, protective, fatherly soft spot he had
for Voyager’s chief engineer.
“You need to eat something, B’Elanna. A cup of coffee isn’t enough
to get you through the morning. I know how much running around
you do in that engine room. You need fuel just as much as those
engines do,” he scolded gently, offering her a weak smile.
“I’m not hungry, maybe later, Neelix,” she responded dismissively,
grabbing her cup and motioning to the door as if she were in
a huge hurry to escape to the solitude of her office.
“You should eat something anyway. I can make banana pancakes,”
the Talaxian insisted temptingly with wiggling eyebrows, knowing
exactly what buttons to push.
His efforts paid off, albeit begrudgingly, as she turned and
offered him a ghost of a grin, still careful to avoid looking
at Tom in the meantime. “Maybe later, Neelix,” she repeated more
firmly, successfully brushing him off that time as she hastily
beat her retreat, leaving the chef to glance at Tom with a look
that bordered on a sympathetic yet accusing, ‘what have you done
Although he didn’t think it possible, the pilot’s spirits sank
The dream came again that night, consistent and unyielding; replaying
the brutal images of death and mayhem that refused to relinquish
control over his subconscious. Although this time the images
in the dream were hazy, as though they were a holo projection
which had been blurred through some fancy lighting trick and
not the crystal clear pictures he had been subjected to in evenings
past. The effect created a surreal atmosphere into the destruction
taking place around him, allowing him to separate himself from
the rest of his surroundings for the first time since the visions
had started, alerting him to the fact that he was, in fact, dreaming.
But like dreams past he saw himself stumble, falling nightmarishly
to the hard, cool ground below as the wail of screams wafted
unrelentingly to his ear. Alone and desperate he grasped at the
ground below him, clutching desperately at dirt and stone while
his gaze lifted to search frantically for a direction to run
once he safely moved to stand up and escape the memories or the
dream - he would settle for either.
That was when he saw her. Off in the distance, walking toward
him with an indefinite spring to her step: the only vivid, and
real vision in a realm filled with mist. She moved with a feline’s
grace, her skin nearly glowing like an urethral angel while she
softly called his name: a song sweetly carried through the faint
wisps of the wind.
She wore a dress of white, a direct and stunning contrast to
the dark world in which he envisioned, like a guiding light to
a ship lost at sea. She continued to move towards him slowly
but surely, her face masking her own lost confusion. Again and
again she called, the urgency of her tone getting louder and
more persistent as seconds ceaselessly passed. She beckoned him,
but didn’t see him, and his mind worked desperately for the means
to answer her cry, his spirit sinking as he realized his own
screams held no volume, and his body lay paralyzed by his own
With a rapidly degenerating spirit he watched her glide past
him: her eyes never seeing him, her soul never knowing he was
there, and his heart shattered unrestrainedly into a thousand
fragmented pieces as she slowly disappeared from his sight.
It wasn’t until she had gone that he regained control of his
basic motor functions. With a savage desperation he screamed
her name, his spirit attempting urgently to bring her back to
“B’Elanna!” he cried, to no avail - the anxiety in his plea enough
to jolt him into waking consciousness.
Strangely it was the force of habit that eventually allowed the
remnants of the disquieting remorse to fade, although never depart
entirely. The act of going through the motions: of flying, attending
staff meetings, bantering with the Doc in sickbay - all contributed
to a shaky sense of pattern, of normalcy; like a warm, comfortable
blanket during a cold front. Normal, that is, except for the
tension still so pungently palpable in the air between him and
To Tom’s growing frustration she continued to be distant with
him: concealing reactions when speaking with him, giving short,
one syllable answers to his questions – it was as if she had
cut him off from her emotionally. The fact that the rift between
them was approaching the week mark was new, causing his anxiety
to increase exponentially. He missed her, greatly. Missed waking
up with her next to him, her body wrapped tightly around his
after passionate encounters of reckless abandon, missed sneaking
innuendoes back and forth into intentionally raspy conversation,
and he missed curling up on the couch with her and basking in
peaceful silence, as they were prone to do every now and then
when they were in the mood for simple, pure reflection. And looking
at the television resting in his quarters, the one she had handcrafted
lovingly and presented him with just a week before, only served
to remind him that she wasn’t where she needed to be… with him
spiritually as well as physically.
B’Elanna was renown for her short fuse, a trait she had been
more and more successful as of late at controlling, especially
given her meditations with Tuvok, but she was also quick to forgive.
However, even more distressing than her persistence in holding
a grudge over an extended period of time was her lack of any
real anger. The few times they had been together since the argument,
she had looked at him with more sorrow than anything else, her
remorseful countenance lasting only a few seconds before her
customary collected and cool mask would fall into place, effectively
hiding any deeper feeling on her part. He was at a loss on how
to deal with it, on how to make it up to her, especially when
she insisted on giving him the distance he had admittedly asked
for during his initial sorrow and despite the fact that he wasn’t
quite ready to talk about his experiences.
It probably didn’t help matters that he felt mildly indignant
over her behavior. True he had yelled at her, true he had pushed
her away when she had tried to provide comfort, and true he had
yet to truly confide in her, but he had just been through a traumatic
experience, the effects of which he was still trying to completely
comprehend. At this juncture in his recovery he wanted nothing
more than to take her in his arms and hold on for dear life,
basking in the love they felt for each other while breathing
in the familiar scent of her – the one that he associated with
passion, unquenchable longing, the need for some form of unarticulated
blending of souls, and home.
With a sigh he wondered how much longer he would be able to tolerate
the distance, especially given the degree in which he missed
her, but what scared him most was that she could not only tolerate
it, but prolong it, as if he were somehow expendable to her through
the veil of her hurt.
“Computer, locate Lieutenant Torres,” he requested on impulse,
his anxiety increasing when the idea that he could potentially
lose her became a forefront alarm within his mind.
“Lieutenant Torres is in holodeck one,” came the brisk reply,
causing Tom to turn quickly on his heels and march his way determinedly
to the holodeck, intent on confronting her with his frustration.
The program she was running surprised him as he was greeted by
the rocky, barren, and sweltering landscape of Qo'noS. More surprising
was the activity she was engrossed in, her bat'leth glistening
brightly in the light as it clashed forcefully with that of a
holo projected Klingon adversary. For someone who usually balked
from any apparent association with the klingon half of her DNA,
B’Elanna was holding her own in battle, the feral gleam in her
eyes causing her opponent to exhibit thinly veiled fear.
For a while Tom simply stood and watched her, his mind calculating
her mood by the aggravation apparent in her expression. It was
obvious that B’Elanna had found a new vent for her anger, and
in a weird way he was jealous of it, wishing from some abstract
place within him that he had been the recipient of her wrath
in one form or another, at least then they could have got the
ball rolling, and far quicker than a week after their initial
argument had occurred.
“Are you imagining that your opponent is me, B’Elanna?” he asked
with more sarcasm than he had intended, eyeing her warily as
she whirled around to face him.
For a brief second she appeared startled, but quickly the shocked
expression on her face disappeared, replaced hauntingly by an
“The last time I checked this was a private program. I don’t
recall inviting you in here, Paris. Computer, end program,” she
retorted, watching as their surroundings disappeared into blank
nothingness before returning her gaze to meet his.
“Of course not. To invite me somewhere you’d have to actually
want to spend time with me, which isn’t something you’ve done
a lot of lately, at least not really,” he stated calmly, trying
to keep his voice more even than he actually felt.
A brief flicker of remorse passed across her face, but all too
soon the barely concealed anger returned. “The last time I tried
to ‘be with you’, you practically bit my head off and told me
to leave you alone. Since then you haven’t really made much of
an effort to come clean. You need to decide, either you want
me to talk to you or you don’t, this halfway stuff isn’t very
“Oh for gods sake, I didn’t mean forever! I had a lot to deal
with, I just needed time to myself to think. Right now what I
need is you. Not questions, not pushing… just you,” he gritted,
running his fingers through his hair, entirely frustrated.
Her expression softened marginally, and for a moment it looked
as if she were going to reach out to him, but just as her hand
started to raise she snapped it back down, hurt replacing the
anger on her face as she eyed him sorrowfully.
“That’s not how it works, Tom. I’ve done a lot of thinking this
past week, and I know that I’m as guilty of retreating during
rough spots as you are, but we can’t just be together when everything
is fine and then push each other away when it’s not. I may not
have a lot of experience in the relationship department but I’m
pretty sure it’s not healthy. Why do we always do this? And how
can we honestly be together when we do?”
She was sincere in her questions, that much he could tell. She
honestly wanted answers to the solitude that continued to plague
them both, even when they had each other, and even when they
were on a ship filled with over a hundred and forty close knit
The fact was that neither one of them was naive, they could both
point to a disgruntled past, and virtual abandonment, him metaphorically
and she in all actuality, by their fathers. They were both aware
of the defense mechanisms they had each built after years of
learning to rely only on themselves. Hell, they could each point
to the universe at large and fate to cast blame, but Tom realized
in that instant, as he looked at her - the person he loved so
dearly and with more fervor than he had ever experienced before,
was that neither one of them knew how to deal with that knowledge.
They knew the cause, but it was the effect that was the controversy
- the naturally driven instinct to retreat within themselves
when things got tough, even at the expense of their relationship.
And so he could only stare at her hopelessly, not having the
answers she sought, and knowing powerlessly that he had little
choice but to give her complete honesty… she deserved no less.
“I don’t know,” he admitted helplessly, his voice choking as
he stared closely at her face, wanting so much to just take her
in his arms and kiss her senseless as a means to forget about
their troubles, their past, the Delta Quadrant and the universe
at large… The way they usually dealt with a problem of this magnitude.
She nodded silently in response to his outburst, understanding
both what he said and what he didn’t say, her own eyes filling
with tears before she quietly turned and left him alone, both
of them still searching for answers.
Again he dreamed, only unlike his previous experiences he was
alone amongst the foliage of the planet: no gunshots, no screams,
no retched stench of death - nothing save the occasional wisp
of wind, and a silence that was truly deafening.
The solitude began to crunch in on him, making him feel isolated
and cut off from the rest of the world - abandoned in a place
that had come to symbolize hell to him, in one form or another.
For some inexplicable reason the solitude he found himself in
scared him, and he could no more control the panic that filled
him than he could the increase in his heart rate, or the dizzy
spell that threatened to overtake him.
With confusion he looked around, seeking the presence of another
– needing the one soul in the universe who could lift the weariness
in his heart, and the anxiety he felt over being left alone in
the barren surroundings in which he was trapped.
And like a cool, fresh water stream to a dehydrated traveler
she appeared, as she had before, the white satin slip of a dress
rustling gently as she moved gracefully, almost gliding across
the ground. With a siren’s voice she called to him, her tone
echoing his need, his fear… his heart.
But as before she did not see him, and his heart sank irrevocably
as he watched her come closer to him, her face, as ever, searching
for something he was too paralyzed to provide. With utter hopelessness,
he watched her waltz past him, her eyes consistently questing
yet never quite seeing him, as if he were invisible to her.
The fear within him bubbled to an overpowering crescendo, shaking
him both physically and metaphorically to the core of his spirit,
all the while lost to the solitude that continued to plague him
like an albatross across his neck. And he could do little more
than watch as she disappeared from sight, lost to him once more.
For the umpteenth time that week, he woke with B’Elanna’s name
across his lips.
Tom realized that any form of sleep was unattainable as he forced
his still shaking body out of the bed to splash cold water across
his face over his bathroom sink, glancing up briefly to catch
his pale, tired reflection in the mirror. He almost didn’t recognize
himself - couldn’t find an inkling of who he was in the ashen
man who greeted him without a trace of a smile, as if he carried
the weight of the world on his shoulders and was starting to
physically project that image.
The sound of the door chime jolted him out of his morbid reflection,
causing him to jump in reflex. It took a few seconds for his
sleep-deprived mind to realize that it was 0200 hours as he padded
his way to the living room and shouted a confirmation at the
computer to open the door, already having an idea as to who was
on the other side, or at least wishing desperately that who he
wanted to see more than anything had come to him at last.
He wasn’t disappointed.
B’Elanna stood cautiously in the doorway, her eyes as tired as
his were as she gazed at him longingly, looking so much like
a lost child that he ached to soothe her in any way that he could.
It was he who had to fight the urge to reach out and grab her
- to prove to himself and his subconscious that she was real
and that, unlike his dream, he could reach out and touch her
whenever he pleased. Yet something told him to wait, some instinct
buried deep within cautioned him to let her make the first move,
for her sake more than for his... After everything they had been
through recently she had to have sought him out for a reason.
She stepped into his quarters slowly, blinking as if she were
startled to find herself there, and he looked at her searchingly,
as she had in his dream, looking for something he couldn’t define,
yet something he understood nonetheless.
“I had a bad dream,” she stated while pondering what to tell
him, how to convey what it was she felt, and how to be weak when
instinct warred with her to be strong. “I needed to see if you
“Me too,” he stated helplessly, knowing that they were both beyond
simply 'needing' to have a discussion - the necessity to communicate
had already reached the essential point.
She was silent for the longest time as she collected her thoughts,
the quietness nearly choking him. Again he was reminded of his
dream - the eerie solitude, the constant yearning… were they
both really so lost that they couldn’t open themselves up to
each other as they should? Hadn’t over two years of dating accomplished
anything in regards to sharing?
In that early dawning of morning, after a hellish week, and with
B’Elanna standing in front of him: the personification of all
he held dear - Tom Paris came to a realization. He was sick of
it… sick of remaining stagnant, paralyzed to a fault, as life
whirled consistently around him.
He loved her: deeply, wholly, wantonly, and it was enough for
him that finally, openly, he wanted to share everything with
her. It had to be.
“You were right. You were right about us, about what we both
do, about what I recently did as a result of the false memories.
And although I don’t have the answers, and I don’t really know
how to undo years of conditioning, I’m ready to try… if you are,”
he finished with a question, his throat burning as he subconsciously
swallowed, every muscle in his body tense as if ready to spring
at any given moment.
She nodded then, silently, her eyes burning with tears she had
the hardest time releasing, as if they were the last vestige
of some hard learned resolve. And her arms were wrapped tightly
around herself in a rare outward sign of emotional burden, but
she did nod, and that was enough for him.
He bridged the final steps between them, crushing her to him
with all the hard mounted frustration and uninhibited longing
he had felt for the past week. She went willingly into his embrace,
burrowing her face in his shirt, breathing him in as he breathed
her in, allowing herself to bask in what it was to feel safe,
adored, and protected while he lost himself in what it was to
simply feel: not burden, or anguish, or remorse, as he had for
far too long, but acceptance… love… understanding; all things
she more than willingly provided.
“We’re going to get through this. We’re going to be okay,” he
whispered into her hair, trailing his hand up and down her back
in a calming gesture, though it dawned on him that the act was
probably more soothing to him than it was to her. He had a desperate
yearning to touch her, as if to reaffirm that she was his and
that they really were there, together - the effects of the last
week silently slipping into the far corners of his mind.
For untold moments they stood in each others arms: healing, basking,
discovering - holding each other tightly as shaking wracked their
bodies and then subsided, clinging to each other still when a
quiet sort of peace filled them, and with it a degree of safety
- of familiarity.
“So we’re agreed. No more pushing each other away. If we’re going
to make this work we have to be entirely forthright with each
other,” B’Elanna stated with newfound confidence as she pulled
back slightly, just enough to meet his gaze.
“We’re agreed,” he nodded solemnly, honestly, looking deeply
into her eyes as if to convey the depth of his devotion to the
There was a light in her eyes, a sparkle he hadn’t noticed before,
perhaps because her face glowed brilliantly under the half illuminated
lights of his quarters, or perhaps because her happiness clearly
showed, either way he was both awed and humbled by her beauty,
her radiance… her presence in his life.
“So tell me about the memorial, Tom,” she requested, pulling
away to reach down and take his hands in hers, her brown eyes
beseeching him to confide in her.
And suddenly that didn’t seem like such a scary thing.