was flying on automatic pilot, utterly numb - barely able to see the controls
of the shuttle through the blur of her tear filled eyes. The majestic beauty
of space before her held little of its unearthly charm, and she honestly
couldn't say where she was or where she was going; all she knew was that she
had to leave, escape, somehow gather the remains of the walls that had once
protected her from harm, and shakily start to build them again. In a way the situation held an odd dramatic irony, for flying
blind wasn't her forte, it was… his. Tom
once told her that there was more than good eye sight to flying, there was
instinct, and a sixth sense, as if flying was a derivative of nature; some had
it, and others would never entirely understand what it meant to truly
experience it. But she wasn't trying to 'fly' now by his definition, she
wasn't even comfortable using that term, for flying was something she would
always indefinitely connect to him, and he was what she was running from.
pain was intense, and it was shattering; she didn't know whether to berate
herself for feeling so much, and so hard, or just let it go and accept the
emotions for what they were... agony. She saw as her hands shook, trembling to
the point where she barely had control over them, but she felt powerless to
make it stop, just as she felt powerless over fate - a state that would have
angered her so ferociously just a year before, but now she just felt old, and
tired, and something akin to physical numbness.
her Miral, just barely under one, didn't make a peep, as if sensing her
mother's turmoil and instinctively keeping silent… either too afraid to cry
or too dazed to comprehend that the shuttle was not her house, and she would
normally be in bed at this time. But B'Elanna was having a hard time looking
at her daughter to assess her unusually mute state, because looking at Miral,
seeing the innocent blue eyes, Tom’s eyes, staring back up at her, brought
with it a fresh wave of guilt.
most confusing thing was that she didn't know whether to hate Tom, or hate
herself. Was she a coward for running? Violating some Klingon code of honor by
leaving her husband? Did she even care that her Klingon side would be
protesting the running? Could she have stayed? Would things have ever gotten
better, or would they continue as they had for months - spiraling downward,
making her miserable, Tom miserable… hell, everyone around them miserable.
At one point she had dared to believe that she and Tom were indestructible,
that their bond would withstand the test of time, that it was incapable of
breaking, so why had they allowed it to break? At what point did she start to
feel disheartened… doomed? At what point did she start to give up on them?
flashed before her mind like an unforgiving tidal wave, playing out
relentlessly in her mind, forcing her to relive the past year in all its
dizzying sorrow. B'Elanna, Tom… Tom and B'Elanna - a desperate dream now on
the verge of collapse.
now that she had seen what it had been like to dream, the emptiness was even
Beginning of the End
scowled at the woman who was her Captain, more recently an Admiral, and
pretended that she hadn't heard her correctly.
want me to what?!" she asked incredulously, yet wondering simultaneously
why she had even been surprised by the older woman's request. After all,
Janeway had personally taken B'Elanna under her wing during the early days of
their being stranded in the Delta Quadrant, it wasn't really that much of a
surprise that the Starfleet matriarch would extend her naturally derived
instincts after their safe return to the Alpha Quadrant.
want to sponsor your return to the Academy," the admiral smiled serenely,
as if she had asked B'Elanna to pass the bread instead of the life altering
decision she had voiced instead.
should have known something was up when you invited me to lunch for 'just us
girls', without letting me bring Tom along to help me ward you off," the
younger woman smirked, too familiar with Janeway's antics to take any real
offense to her deviousness.
know me too well," Kathryn Janeway retorted with a smile, eyeing her
former chief engineer appraisingly. "You've got a god given talent,
B'Elanna, one that needs to be utilized. Don't tell me you don't miss your
engines because I know you'd be lying. The charges for your actions while in
the Maquis have been dropped due to your dedication to Voyager these past
seven years, over which time your temper has evened and you've gained a more
in depth maturity. I have seen the kind of officer you are capable of being,
and frankly, Starfleet needs more of those types of officers. I see no reason
why you couldn't go back and finish this time. In fact, I could even pull a
full strings and have you go in as a third year, simply allowing you to finish
what you had started prior to dropping out and joining the Maquis."
continued to stare at the older woman unbelievingly, although strangely, she
didn't feel the normal irritation or rebelliousness she would have responded
with in the past whenever she perceived Janeway as foisting her Starfleet
beliefs on the younger woman against her will. The truth was that going back
to the academy had crossed her mind more than once. As an engineer B'Elanna
didn't like to leave projects undone, her main drive was problem solving,
following something through until it was mastered, or at the very least until
the project was accomplished. Her youth, her anger, her resentment over her
traumatic childhood, as well as a number of other circumstances, had all
contributed to her leaving the academy, but always there had been that regret,
that gnawing at her conscience. And Kathryn Janeway knew it - she knew it
because B'Elanna, herself, had told her seven years ago when the then Captain
had been faced with appointing a young, angry, yet extremely gifted Maquis
rebel as her chief engineer on Voyager.
seven years on Voyager under the most dire of circumstances had shown her that
she being an officer wasn’t that bad, there were worst fates, or at least
that is what she would admit to the Admiral to cover her genuine desire to
return. If she could return, there were other factors to consider…
seem to have forgotten that I have a three week old infant and a husband at
home. Graduating from the Academy, if they allow me to enter as a third year
student, would still take me two years to accomplish, which in itself is hard,
but with a baby… next to impossible," B'Elanna remarked challengingly,
leaning back in her chair to cross her arms.
merely deepened her smile, perhaps already reading that she had caught her
friend's attention more than she would willingly admit.
are plenty of parents who have successfully made it through the academy, they
even provide housing for it, although I know you and Tom have settled into
your own place not far from here or the Paris', for now," the Admiral
drawled out, both amused and excited. "And I've spoken with Tom recently
and he informed me that he wouldn't be taking Starfleet up on the offer to
return. He expressed that he would like to pursue other interests, like
writing holo-novels. I'm sure the two of you would be able to work something
out, perhaps a rotation with Miral. Besides, the new training year doesn't
start till September, by that time you and Tom would have settled into a
schedule. New parents work through these kind of problems all the time."
the engineer hedged, just a little, leaning forward slightly to betray her
eagerness to accept. "But I'm not entirely convinced this is the path I
should be taking."
but the afternoon is young, I've got all the time in the world to convince
you. One of the benefits to being Admiral - longer lunch breaks," Kathryn
Janeway preened, knowing full well that she had already won the battle of
wills as an affectionate sense of pride shone in her eyes.
are you here?" B'Elanna called into the condo she and Tom had just
recently purchased, straining her ears for any noise that would indicate that
her husband was home. She wasn’t disappointed, muffled voices beckoned her
as she walked further into the living space and she wondered curiously who Tom
could be talking to as she continued to seek him out.
she found him she was greeted with the sight of Tom and his father arguing in
whispers, as if they were mindful of the sleeping baby not two doors down,
although both men looked to be undoubtedly frustrated.
told you, I have no desire to return to Starfleet," Tom proclaimed, his
voice laced with irritation. "On Voyager I did what I had to do, worked
with the crew, kept myself occupied, participated in the well being of the
group to ensure our survival. But that’s not what I want to do here. I want
to pursue other options."
elder Paris sighed, neither man noticing that B'Elanna had appeared and was
watching the exchange silently from the doorway.
I realize that you have other interests, it’s good to be well rounded, and
writing holo-novels is a great hobby, but your piloting skills are needed in
Starfleet," Admiral Paris responded with equal exasperation. "You've
been given a second chance; not many people receive that. Admiral Janeway has
nothing but glowing things to say about you. Think of what you are throwing
away here. You could be piloting a Starship. Your daughter could yet be the
child of a Starfleet captain. I thought you had turned over a new leaf out
there in the Delta Quadrant, son."
turning over a new leaf mean that my fate has to be tied to Starfleet?"
Tom asked with obvious anger shining in his eyes, yet his voice was still
quite, even… calm, as if he refused to show any sign of weakness in front of
his father. "Is being an officer the only way you would be proud of me?
I'm not looking for your approval or your permission. I'm a husband now, and a
father. You can no longer intimidate me into following orders."
continued to watch the exchange with morbid fascination, overwhelmingly proud
of Tom for sticking up for himself, yet sickened that the father/son
relationship between the Paris men had reverted to its pre Delta Quadrant
days, a fact she knew would upset Tom greatly. As far as he had come, and
although he had stated otherwise, Tom still desperately sought his father's
approval. With a sigh she wondered if that would always be the case, if there
were some kind of gene that it existed that children would always secretly
long for their parents to be proud of them.
elder Paris was close to fully losing his temper, it was obvious in the way
his fists clenched at his sides, and in the way his face started to glow a
brightened red color. Yet somehow he too kept his voice even, perhaps
realizing just as B'Elanna had, that his relationship with his son would be
threatened by the prodding.
matter how old you get, or how many kids you have, you are still my son,"
the Admiral stated, taking shallow breaths to calm his temper. "I worry
for you and your future."
stared at his father for untold minutes, assessing him, analyzing him, trying
to read into his words and their meaning. Finally he sighed, looking weary as
he shrugged and finally broke the silence with… "Maybe it’s time you
let me worry about my future."
Paris shook his head, suddenly looking very much the old man, and less the
guess I just have to resign myself to the fact that there won’t be another
Paris in Starfleet for awhile," clearly indicating with his tone that he
wasn't the least bit happy about that fact.
wasn't sure what possessed her to speak up then, either the need to somehow
console her father-in-law, or the idea that Tom would be less likely to
vocalize his misgivings over her re-enlisting into the Academy with his father
present. Either way her… "I wouldn't be so sure," caught the
immediate attention of both men.
the thousandth time she wondered if the trouble between her and Tom had truly
started with her re-enrollment into the academy, if things might have been
different if she hadn't taken that step, and instead, chose something less
time consuming, less all encompassing, less something Tom viewed as a thing to
avoid because of his father's pushing and prodding. The academy life had been
grueling, the hours spent in classes was tripled by the amount of time she had
to spend studying for the courses, all the while causing her husband and
daughter to suffer as a result - time spent behind a computer was time spent
away from them.
first Tom had been tremendously supportive, watching over Miral with little to
no complaint, in fact, he seemed to thoroughly enjoy it, all the while working
on his holo-novels whenever he could catch a spare minute. On occasion he
would help her study, sometimes making it a game, sometimes not. Sometimes
they would use her reading material as a pretense for foreplay and ignite
their unquenchable desire…
hate that I have to be tested on material I already know like that back of my
hand. Like this for example… the schematics for a shuttle pod. I could
design my own while sleeping," B'Elanna had told her husband, utterly
exasperated while she nearly missed the sly grin that appeared across his
I don't know. Going over old material has its uses. Take the shuttlepod for
example: small, confined, meant only for two people comfortably," he
breathed in a mock sexy voice, trailing his fingertips up her arms
tantalizingly as he said it. "There is something to be said about compact
spaces for bringing two people together."
really?" B'Elanna had drawled, catching his game and smiling slyly as she
decided to play along. "Small places like say… that chair over
We'll have to try it out and see…." He trailed off, flashing her the
come hither stare that never failed to excite her.
we definitely must…"
memory brought a fresh wave of tears to B'Elanna's eyes as she stared down at
the shuttle controls in unconfined misery. God she had loved moments like that
- spontaneous echoes of time where the only thing that existed was their
desperate passion for each other and the fact that they could never seem to
get enough. Moments that got less and less frequent as time passed and the
distance growing between them became so shockingly apparent.
happened to us?" she asked the stars shining in the distance, only to be
disheartened when they failed to provide the answer.
Past that Refused to Remain Dormant
twisted and turned her way through the crowd of people with easy grace, nearly
bumping into a few of the more clumsy individuals on her way as she struggled
to keep her irritation in check. She was late, very late, and she knew it. She
fleetingly wondered just how mad Tom was going to be about it. This was to be
their first night out alone in quite sometime, the Doctor offering to watch
Miral for the night so that Tom and B'Elanna could 'rekindle the old flame' as
he put it, yet already the night was off to a disastrous start.
she spotted Tom at the bar, shoulders hunched over a drink, an almost
unreadable expression on his face: part indignance, part resentment, part
anger; all mixed with a small glimmer of sadness, though one that anyone who
didn’t know him well wouldn’t be able to read in his handsome, usually
untroubled face. She approached him tentatively, believing that the majority
his anger was a result of her tardiness as she braced herself for the
confrontation she was sure to follow upon her arrival by his side.
she jumped straight into the apology as she sat down next to him, hoping to
diffuse the situation and salvage the night as best she could.
so sorry I’m late. One of my professors kept me after class to discuss a
report I had turned in and it took longer than I thought it would. Can I make
it up to you by buying you a drink?” she said in a rush, purposely keeping
her voice light as she leaned forward and brushed a kiss across his cheek in
look he gave her in response served to almost single handedly break her heart,
like he was looking through her and not at her. Quickly the realization that
he wasn’t alone sunk in, and when it did he jumped slightly, as if he were
jolted from one reality to another, an ancient pain shining sharply in his
beginning to think returning the Alpha Quadrant wasn’t the best idea we’ve
ever had,” he announced glumly, ignoring her attempt to appease his bad
a brief second she was too stunned to respond, not expecting him to be as
upset as he was over her late arrival while a fresh wave of guilt consumed
her. As officers serving together on Voyager she and Tom had gotten used to
struggling to find time to spend together, yet even she had to admit that the
Academy was sucking every bit of spare time she had, and when it didn’t
there was Miral who needed attention. With a sinking heart she began to wonder
if she had made the right decision by returning to school and if Tom was
starting to feel the brunt of that decision.
know I’m late, and I’m truly sorry, but don’t you think you’re
overreacting just a little?” she couldn’t help but ask, hurt over his lack
of support when he had been so lavish with it before this one occasion.
took him all of a second to grasp what she was saying, and when he did another
realization passed through his eyes, causing him to reach out and grab her
upper arms with his hands as he met her gaze firmly, as if her understanding
was infinitely important to him at that moment.
not that,” he dismissed suddenly, an intense fire burning suddenly in his
gaze. “It’s just that while I’ve been sitting here waiting for you I’ve
noticed more than a few whispers and stares shot in my direction from some of
the people in this bar and it reminded me of what it was like before Voyager
got lost in the Delta Quadrant and everyone regarded me as the pariah of
society,” he finished softly, melting through her defensiveness as she
struggled with a different, even stronger emotion… protectiveness.
surge of love for him flashed through her as she turned and paid closer
attention to those around them, noting with disdain that Tom was right and
that people were subtly looking in their direction every now and then and
whispering conspiringly with those in close proximity. She and Tom hadn’t
been out much since they had returned to the Alpha Quadrant, too busy with
settling into a new life to really go out amongst the populous on more than
just a few occasions, and fleetingly B’Elanna wondered if that had actually
been a benefit. Rage boiled within her spirit, and it took every ounce of
control she possessed to keep it in check before she gave in to her urge to
confront some of those barely hiding their loose tongues. Instead she took a
few deep, calming breaths, and turned to her husband with a soft smile,
searching for the right words to reassure him.
not so surprising that people are talking about you, about us, behind our
backs,” she said finally, again trying to keep her voice light. “After
all, we are two of the famed Voyager crew - the crew that single-handedly
explored the Delta Quadrant and took on the Borg as well as numerous other
previously unknown species. I’m sure that’s what they are talking about
and that none of this idiotic behavior has anything to do with your past or
mine,” she finished, attempting to sound more confident than she felt.
nodded at her words, seemingly appeased, though still slightly pained by the
burden of memories – memories that the Alpha Quadrant would always hold
within its limitless boundaries no matter how much they both had changed while
serving on Voyager and how different things were now then they had been seven
sure you’re right,” he agreed finally, as if he, too, had decided to
ignore those around them… for now. “And did I hear you say something about
buying me a drink?”
recalled the incident in the bar with startling clarity, as if it had happened
just yesterday rather than so many months ago. And like so many other
occasions throughout her marriage she wondered if she should have read more
into the incident than she had… Should she have said more? Been more
reassuring? Should she have brought up the fact that the looks and the
whispers had continued to follow them wherever they went in the months that
followed, haunting them, disallowing them the real opportunity to leave the
past behind them as they had been able to do while serving on Voyager?
she and Tom had opted to ignore it, choosing to put on some false bravado
instead, willing the problem to just go away rather than confront it. They
were both victims of a colored history, both recipients to the public opinion
of a sometimes harsh and unforgiving audience, despite the hero worship they
also received. There were those who thought that they had got off too easy
from past sins upon their return to the Alpha Quadrant, and those that felt
that such famed survivors hadn’t been given enough leeway - it seemed that
everyone had some sort of opinion, one way or the other and whether or not
they had right to pass judgment.
she had the Academy, and Tom had his budding writing career, and neither
wanted to rock the boat, neither wanted to dwell on the concept that society
might not deem them worthy of the future they were working towards.
remembered returning home after that memorable night at the bar, slightly
tipsy, yet still feeling like she had to reassure Tom, as if dulling their
senses hadn’t been enough to ease the memories of another lifetime.
“We still have another hour and a half until the doctor brings Miral home,” she had slurred, using her best seductive tone, and one she knew through experience that Tom would respond to.
of time,” he had responded huskily, reaching for her without the need for
Their corresponding lovemaking had been unusually fierce and furious, as if Tom had needed that control, needed some form of outlet for his frustrations. He had paused somewhere in the middle, holding her hands pinned about her head as he stared down from on top of her with a feral snarl, sweat causing his skin to glow brilliantly in the moonlight that shone through the window.
you and me against the universe, B’Elanna, just you and me,” he had
she had agreed, urging him to resume… *needing* him to resume, as she ached
piercingly for the delicious release that only he could ever provide.
he nodded at her contention, appeased, and resumed their lovemaking, sending
them both spiraling into a universe of their own making, neither one admitting
during the heat of their unparalleled passion that they had left too much
unsaid in that moment until the problem had cascaded throughout the months
that followed, ultimately sending her running… and leaving their private
universe in shattering disarray.
Holiday from Hell
was not a holiday B’Elanna really celebrated until she had been stranded in
the Delta Quadrant with the rest of a crew whom searched for any and every
occasion to throw a party and boost moral. On Voyager the holiday had meant
that everyone was together, relatively happy despite the sometimes overbearing
work load, and free to feast freely for that one time of year without the
added concern over wasting replicator rations or being subjected to Neelix’s
leola root stew. Although the nonhumans of the crew didn’t really comprehend
the significance of the holiday or celebrate it in the contents for which it
had been created, they all enjoyed the reprieve it allowed, and the
togetherness it inspired. In a way Voyager had put its own spin on
Thanksgiving, marking it as an occasion when a small crew of different ethnic
backgrounds and different planets of origin came together to celebrate life,
the adopted family they had found in each other, and their common goal of
reaching home. After seven years B’Elanna had found herself looking forward
to the holiday, even starting to feel comfortable with the goodwill it
inspired; all of which made her long for the Voyager incarnation of it as she
and Tom transported to the Paris household for what was to be their first
Thanksgiving back in the Alpha Quadrant and away from the rest of the crew.
a way she was feeling homesick, more keenly than she had since the first week
or two back from the Delta Quadrant, but Tom, although apprehensive about
spending any length of time with his family, or more specifically his father,
was determined to participate in the traditional Paris family Thanksgiving.
B’Elanna had tried to be a good sport about it, smiling as her mother-in-law
fretted over Miral, trying to find non Starfleet related topics to discuss
with her stringent father-in-law, while attempting desperately to cover the
fact that she didn’t want to be there.
It wasn’t until the entire family was seated at the table, busily
trying to ignore the subject of Tom’s writing career, which his father didn’t
approve of, or Starfleet in general, which Tom had a sore spot for in the
company of his father, that B’Elanna had just about reached the end of her
admittedly short tolerance level.
me again why we turned down Janeway’s offer to spend Thanksgiving with her,
Chakotay, Seven, and the Doctor?” B’Elanna whispered to her husband when
both of his parents were distracted with their discussion of the proper way to
carve a turkey.
this is the first Thanksgiving I’ve been able to spend with my parents in
years,” Tom whispered back, shooting his wife a quick glare just as Owen
Paris returned his attention to the young married couple.
B’Elanna,” the Admiral stated gruffly, eyeing his daughter-in-law with
amusement, “Tom mentioned earlier that you didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving
when you were younger, and given your half Klingon heritage I can see why.
What do you think of the holiday so far?”
we celebrated it on Voyager,” she informed him evenly, shooting Tom a
defiant, saucy grin before adding, “I developed a love for the holiday
there. Something about the crew coming together socially to enjoy each other’s
company gave the holiday a lot of appeal.”
comment had exactly the reaction she was shooting for from both parties
involved, a smile from the oblivious older Paris as he took her comment at its
face value, choosing to believe his daughter-in-law was proclaiming her
interest for the human holiday and a scowl from Tom, who recognized the real
meaning of her words as he kicked her gently under the table to demonstrate
his disapproval. Desperately B’Elanna tried to smother the laughter that
caught in her throat as she shot her husband what she hoped passed for an
innocent expression, grinning wildly when Tom couldn’t help but smile in
return. However, her amusement was quickly dissipated with her father-in-law’s
of Voyager,” the Admiral intercepted, his eyes gleaming as if he had been
waiting for someone to slip and bring the topic up all day. “I spoke with
Kathryn Janeway the other day. She informed me that your performance at the
Academy has been exceptional, B’Elanna and that your instructors have
nothing but praise for your natural abilities. You are carrying on the Paris
tradition of excellence within Starfleet well.”
a split second B’Elanna didn’t know how to respond to the older man;
either to feel elation for the complement freely expressed or horrified at the
gentle rib the comment was at Tom and his chosen profession outside of
Starfleet despite his Paris name. It turned out that she didn’t have to say
anything at all - Tom beat her to it.
just couldn’t resist, could you?” Tom asked his father angrily, his blue
eyes dark and turbulent. “At every opportunity you can find you set out to
remind me about the Paris tradition in Starfleet. I have to tell you, Dad, I’m
getting pretty sick of it.”
don’t know what you are talking about,” the Admiral retorted, feigning
innocence, “I was simply trying to compliment my daughter-in-law on her hard
you were,” Tom replied disbelievingly through gritted teeth, folding his
arms over his chest in a defensive posture as he glared defiantly at his
father, and ignored his wife’s attempt to comfort him by the placing of her
hand on his arm.
we please drop this subject? I only want happy topics at this table,” Tom’s
mother stated futilely, trying desperately to keep peace despite the damage
already done and the awkward silence that had followed.
year, Admiral Janeway’s house it is,” B’Elanna whispered under her
breath to her husband, feeling an uninhibited pang when he gave her a pained,
defeated glance in return.
involuntary shudder went through B’Elanna as the events surrounding the past
Thanksgiving swam through her head over and over like a projection set on
replay; tormenting her with its refusal to allow her peace of mind or freedom
from its ghastly restraints. At the time it had seemed horrible, yet
insignificant, nothing that either of them couldn’t recover from, and
nothing that either of them hadn’t come to expect - though no less painful.
The truth was that the incident had left its profound impact, marking it the
turning point where Tom had withdrawn into himself, baring the pain of his
father’s disapproval like a marte while she kept occupied with classes and
continued to excel.
cringed as she remembered her comment: “Next
year, Admiral Janeway’s house it is,” regretting those words meant in
jest now seemed so starkly inappropriate. Who would have known at the time
that there might not be a next time where the two of them celebrated the
holiday together? Who would have thought that everything would have escalated
to what it had?
couldn’t stop the continued and powerful shaking of her body as her mind
continued to ponder the ‘what if’s’ as if unable to stop. What if she
had confronted Tom afterward – voiced out loud the unbending support he
probably would have needed to hear at that time? What if she had responded to
Owen Paris before Tom had the chance to, letting him know in clear, certain
terms that she didn’t appreciate a double-edged compliment at her husband’s
another part of her, the part that remain indignant and hurt that Tom had shut
her out wondered if there was anything he might of done differently, and why
it was that after three years of dating, and nearly two years of marriage he
still hadn’t been able to confide in her about his personal pain. It was as
if he had retreated behind his old, familiar walls, and she, too preoccupied
with the latest engine designs and what marks she was receiving, hadn’t
pushed the issue, hadn’t forced the Paris men into a room together to fight
it out once and for all and lay a lifetime of pain on the table the way she
had with her own father upon her return to the Alpha Quadrant.
simply stopped: between Tom and his father, between Tom and B’Elanna, and
the two of them continued to dance around each other, keeping conversation
light, avoiding discussing anything that would shatter peace and focus in on
the pain with steadfast idealism. In retrospect B’Elanna knew that it all,
everything that happened prior to the incident, and anything that happened
since, continued to fester, eventually exploding in a way that left them both
angry, frustrated, and unable to remember the last time they had truly been
“Tom, I don’t have a class until oh ten hundred hours tomorrow morning, do you want to… you know…”
not in the mood tonight, B’Elanna.”
when had she last been happy? B’Elanna searched desperately in her mind,
looking for anything that might bring hope to what was already a dismal
situation, needing to shed some light on the dark place she was currently
residing, her innocent daughter in tow.
Concept of ‘Alone Time’
was actually in a good mood when she got home, excited to have her late
afternoon class cancelled as she pondered over how to best surprise Tom with
her free evening. Though she was loathed to admit it, a small part of her
wondered if Tom would be happy about the sudden reprieve from harsh
scheduling. Lately he had been both moody and withdrawn: sighing whenever she
spent too long studying, glaring whenever she left for class early or came
home late, and picking fights with her over what she considered little,
that she could blame him, while she spent every spare minute she had into her
studies, he took care of the baby and juggled his writing, leaving little to
no time for each other - almost as if they had reached the point where they
barely exchanged more than five sentences on any given day. With a weary sigh
she reminded herself that the situation was temporary, and that once she
graduated the Academy she and Tom would have plenty of opportunities to make
up for lost time. In the meantime she planned to take advantage of the time
she did have, forming an idea in her mind that involved candlelight, wine and
maybe a little slow dancing once Miral was tucked safely into bed.
sight that greeted her when she got home caused her to smile, Miral was asleep
on her father’s chest and he laid sprawled out on the couch watching
cartoons. The image was so sweet, so tender, that she couldn’t help the rush
that flowed to her heart, giving her a slight pang for having to miss out on
scenes like the one before her on a day-to-day basis. She kept her smile as
she walked into the room, coming to sit on the armrest of their couch as she
met her husband’s gaze.
flyboy, boring our daughter to sleep with 20th century television?”
she teased lightly, hoping to spread her good mood.
to you too,” Tom responded belatedly, his surprise over her early arrival
showing clearly in his face as he indignantly teased her back.
got the afternoon off, I figured tonight might be a good night for that pizza
fest you were hinting at not too long ago,” B’Elanna offered with the
exaggerated drawl of a lady asking a gentleman out on a date, her eyes
sparkling with anticipation.
halfway expected him to jump on the offer, hoping that he was as eager for a
peaceful night together as she was, which allowed for her disappointment when
her offer was met with silence and a weary look from her husband.
it’s all right with you I’d like to go out tonight. I’ve been getting
cabin fever and feel a tad bit cut off from the rest of the world,” he
finally announced, looking away from his wife’s face.
can do that, maybe check out a nice restaurant instead,” she replied
excitingly, warming to the idea as she remembered that it had been awhile
since they had done anything like going out to eat as well.
you and Miral… just me,” Tom volunteered quietly, still refusing to meet
his wife’s gaze.
a second B’Elanna was speechless, unsure how to take his request, and
infinitely hurt that he had suggested it. She squelched the anger that wanted
to swirl up inside her, biting her tongue to stop herself from reminding him
of the fact that opportunities for time together was infinitely sparse. Yet
her guilt over her hectic lifestyle stopped her from voicing her hurt, opting
instead to cover her disappointment by walking over and gently lifting Miral
from his chest, careful not to wake her as she forced her husband to meet her
that is what you want then sure, Miral and I could use some bonding time
anyway,” she offered in a strained tone, trying to gauge her husband’s
mood through his eyes.
he stood up from his seated position too quickly for her to read him, barely
sparing her a glance before he started to make his way towards the door
mumbling, “Thanks,” under his breath as he passed by her.
watched his back as he walked, waiting till he reached the door before calling
out to him in obvious confusion. “Tom?”
stopped and sighed, still facing forward, taking a few deep breaths before
responding to the unspoken question in her tone.
just need some time alone without stressing B’Elanna. I love my daughter
dearly but I’m starting to go a little nuts having to be constantly
attentive to a nine month old and holodec characters of my own creating all
day. I need to get out, and just have time with myself to think for awhile,”
he stated with quiet resignation, willing her to understand.
she did. ‘Alone time’ was something she had spent a lot of her adult life
and a good portion of her childhood perfecting. Even after she and Tom had
started dating she had required her space, escaping every now and then to her
own thoughts while searching for a few minutes out of the day where
intelligent conversation wasn’t necessary and activity was nonessential. She
understood logically that she couldn’t begrudge that privilege to Tom, but
logic didn’t stop her heart from aching over his proclamation, especially
given how rare and precious their time together really was. With another sigh
she silently watched him go, clutching her sleeping daughter tightly to her
chest as she remained stuck in her spot, unmoving, for countless minutes
that first night out by himself Tom gradually made a habit of his 'alone
time', at first taking one night a week, followed by two and soon thereafter,
three. He would wait until she got home, and then take off without elaborating
his destination, all under the veil of his desire for space. And because of
her guilt, self-condoning, and painful understanding, she had let him do it,
watching silently as he would leave, holding back any vocal protest, all the
while trying to ignore the resentment that grew steadily inside her.
a rush of frustration she punched the console of the shuttle, careful not to
hit anything vital as she internally debated in her mind whether saying
anything to Tom at the time would have changed his mind, or if they had
already been pretty much doomed by that point. It had been a double edged
sword, voice her protests and have him resent her, or do as she had done and
remain silent, ultimately coming to resent him.
shook her head to ward off the painful memories, but they kept surfacing,
causing each new wave of pain to overcome the last. Blindly she reached for
the controls to the shuttle, hitting the disengage button and effectively
stopping the small craft dead in its tracks as she fought another surge of
remorse, another surge of hurt. Miral had fallen asleep in the chair beside
her, although her slumber was fitful as disturbed baby mumbles escaped softly
from her lips. With a surge of intense maternal love, B'Elanna wondered how
much of the tension between her and Tom Miral had taken in? How had the pain
of the parents affected the child? Would she ever be able to look at her
daughter and not remember just how much love had created this small, precious
being? She and Tom had loved beyond logic; beyond reasoning, stumbling and
falling numerous times only to pick themselves up and cling even more tightly
than before. They had been resilient; they had been passionately and wholly
consumed with one another, and they had overcome so many obstacles to come to
what… her running away?
first night Tom had left her alone after brushing off her attempt for dinner
he had come home apologetic, with the faint stench of synthenol on his breath.
For awhile he stood silently at the doorway to their bedroom just simply
watching her while she pretended to be asleep. But she knew - she sensed him
as he stared at her longingly, she felt it when he climbed into the bed beside
her, brushing the hair out of her eyes, and then lightly tracing her cheeks
with his fingertips, her own heart racing so undeniably fast.
so sorry, B'Elanna," he had whispered, having no way of knowing that she
had heard the plight in his tone.
it hadn't stopped him from seeking refuge again not too long afterward, and it
didn't stop the last, lone tear that made its way down her cheek just then.
Shattering of Dreams
had been a rough day, there was no other way to describe the dawning of the
headache that pounded in her brain, or the dark mood that had followed her
from morning until evening. With finals coming, Miral teething and thus
correspondingly cranky, and Tom retreating further and further into himself, B’Elanna
didn’t know how she had even made it through the past week, let alone the
past few months. She was so tired, undeniably so, having spent every couple of
hours throughout the previous night trying to get her daughter to return to a
fitful sleep, all the while burning the midnight oil studying for what seemed
like impossibly difficult tests. The last thing she felt like witnessing as
she walked through the door of her home was Tom walking out of it.
going out,” he announced before she had a chance to greet him, pausing
briefly to place a light kiss on her cheek.
was all B’Elanna could do to keep from going off on him, opting instead to
clutch her hands into tight fists at her sides and grit out a simple yet firm
proclamation took Tom by surprise, stilling him, resulting in him whirling
around to face her, shock evident in his handsome features.
do you mean, no?” he asked calmly, though on the verge of his own flash of
exactly what ‘no’ implies. N-O, no,” she gritted in an overly calm voice…
almost too calm, like the forewarning to a giant storm.
had stunned him and she knew it, but at that moment she couldn’t bring
herself to care, as if the weight already placed on her shoulders made their
current predicament just one more thing.
have finals coming up that I need to study for, I only got maybe a total of
two hours of sleep last night not to mention the night before, and I really
have no desire to play the single parent tonight, so no. You can’t go,”
she announced with bitterness that surprised even her, yet she refused to take
it back, refused to apologize, because for the first time in a long time she
was being utterly candid, and it felt good.
turned instantly frigid, his posture straightening instinctively and his lips
were drawn in a straight line and he eyed her with obvious pent up hostility.
“Oh, you’re tired of being the single parent?! Try doing it everyday - all
day. Try juggling a baby in one hand while trying to jumpstart a career in the
other, all the while watching you, my loving wife, devote every bit of your
energies into something my father won’t let me forget I gave up. You once
told me that you feared being abandoned by me because of what your father had
done to you… Well, guess what? I’ve been feeling pretty damned abandoned
myself, B’Elanna. I have for a long time.”
recoiled as if she had been slapped, shock permeating her spirit. For untold
minutes she didn’t know how to react, what to do, what to think. She stood
there, silent, still, experiencing one emotion after another without the time
or frame of mind to sort them out, claim one then another and deal with them
accordingly. She was confused, lost, and in that confusion she felt fear, and
the fear, above all else, made her angry, it made her hurt, and vulnerable in
a way she didn’t like experiencing or dealing with. In that state she was
helpless, unable to figure out how to react except to cling to the one defense
she felt most comfortable using through the slew of uncertainty, the one
defense that had got her through a troubled youth, the Maquis, and later, and
to a lesser degree, Voyager… anger.
thought you supported my decision to return to the Academy,” she spat, her
voice rising as the hostility spread through her in waves. “I thought you
understood how much it means to me. We knew about the hardships before I
accepted Janeway’s offer - you agreed to work it out so I could go. Why give
me guilt about it now? Why turn this against me?”
tone she used made him recoil, caused him to feel indignant, and angry… so
angry he felt his body shaking. For months he had let it build, let her do
what she wanted and dealt with his own grief because he knew - he knew that
she was doing what she wanted and he knew that part of the problem wasn’t
even her: it was him, his father, adjusting to just how much their lives had
changed practically over night.
didn’t like feeling like a disappointment, he didn’t like being reminded
of a past he’d rather not remember every time he went out and the stares
that followed, he didn’t like feeling… alone, like he had before he met
her. She was supposed to be his: his mate, his companion, his lover, his
friend - his partner. They were supposed to square off against the universe
together. And although he logically knew that her love of her job had always
been a part of her and the Academy was a means to that job, his couldn’t
help but feel hurt that she had left him to defend himself against the
universe as a solo effort, as he had always had to do in the past. And he was
tired: tired of feeling that way, tired of living with it all, and most of all
tired of existing in a shadow of his own making, of her making - the making of
his parentage and the expectations that would always be there, shaky truce or
his life he had defended himself and his sanity through rebellion, which was
all he could think to do then, in that instance. Rebel against the Alpha
Quadrant, his father, her… himself. Ignore the pain, ignore the hurt, and
live under the belief that as long as he didn’t have to face it he would be
fine… Except he was being forced to face it and he didn’t like it. He didn’t
know how to deal with it, didn’t *want* to deal with it, and wasn’t quite
ready at that moment in time to face the problems that came from both ends of
their bruised and battered psyches.
talking about something is different than living it. Because I had no idea
just how much it all would entail. Because I didn’t want to believe that my
wife cared so little for her husband and child that she would treat us this
way,” he shouted, unable to stop himself, then later unbelievably shocked
that it had slipped out the way it had. But by that time it was too late…
too late to take it back, too late to admit that in that moment she was the
scapegoat for everything, all together, as a whole.
the first time in a long time B’Elanna Torres saw red. Her vision swam, her
blood boiled, she felt dizzy with anger, dizzy with rage. In fact she scared
herself with it, jolting her out of this dark and stormy place to pin her face
to face with every bit of self restraint and sheer will she had tried so hard
to exert over the more primitive part of her being throughout her life.
you really believe that I am capable of that, that I am capable of just
abandoning you and Miral and not caring?!” she screamed, blind to the tears
that fell down her cheeks, blind to the hurt and anger on his face, and blind
to the way the walls around them trembled with her wrath.
wouldn't have thought so before, but you're sure making a show of it now,”
he stated automatically, yelling instinctively because she had, answering more
out of the fact he had already locked himself into the current direction of
the conversation and he was unable to think straight enough to get himself out
of it or to speak a truth unclouded by resentment and hostility.
baby’s wail pierced the silence as Tom and B’Elanna stared each other
down, each dealing with their own private hell during the afterglow of
emotionally shattering devastation. They had woke Miral with their fighting,
and in yelling so heatedly at each other they had scared her, sending her into
a whirlwind of panic she was unable to comprehend.
a memory of her own childhood came to B’Elanna as she stood stock still
under her husband's gaze and listened to her baby cry… A young frightened
girl sitting in the middle of her bedroom with her hands over her ears as her
parents fought unrelentingly in the other room. So many noises, so much pain -
glass shattering, voices filled with rage and hate, unidentifiable thumps
against the wall. She had been so scared, so impossibly frightened, and now
history was repeating, and Miral was going through the same thing.
saw his wife shaking but he didn’t know how to deal with it, didn’t know
how to comfort her when he was so entirely lost himself. He wanted so much to
run, to escape, to retreat into himself so that he could work it all out,
figure out what had just happened, and what was really going on. And so he
unconsciously took his wife’s silence as consent to run and he slowly turned
around and left, unable to withstand the stunned, shocked expression that held
on B’Elanna’s face as if it had been chiseled there, though the image of
it had been permanently engraved in his brain and it followed with him as he
fled, haunting him, remaining over him like a dark storm cloud.
whatever daze B’Elanna had been in snapped when she heard the sound of the
front door hiss shut. Still stunned, still shocked, still angry, confused, and
hurt, she made her way to Miral’s room and contemplated her own means of
escape. In a blind panic she quickly ran to her daughter’s closet and
started throwing clothes and essentials into Miral’s baby bag, not stopping
to think, not stopping to care, and keeping herself moving and busy so that
she didn’t have to.
she was done with Miral she did the same for herself, cramming any possession
of hers she could see through her tear-blurred haze until her suitcase was
full and she had nothing else to do except grab her daughter, their bags, and
her memories and continue walking straight out the door and onto the nearest
Paris was a wreck when he returned to his home three hours later, eyes swollen
from crying, spirit hoping wildly for release from the heavy, heady, darkened
oubliette it had trapped itself in. That night no solace had been found in his
solitude, in fact, staring at the Pacific Ocean from the shores of a desolate
San Francisco beach didn’t bring the tranquil serenity it normally afforded
him. It didn't allow his mind to escape into oblivion as he attempted to
separate his spirit from the events of the day… nor did the alcohol burning
its way through his system.
the past three months that salty, barren, comforting stretch of beach had been
his security blanket. The one place he ran to where he didn't have to think at
all. He didn't have to ponder his life, his work, the distance bridging in his
relationship or the fragile truce with his father that had formed when the
novelty of Tom’s return from the Delta Quadrant had worn out. On the beach
he would slip into his memories of Voyager; recalling with vivid clarity the
freedom of space, the supportive, family atmosphere, meeting B'Elanna and
falling head over heals in love with her, courting her against her will by
planning different scenarios that would get her to agree to go out with him
when she wouldn’t have otherwise given him the time of day.
hadn't been a part or aspect of her that didn't intrigue him, that didn't
attract his attention, his libido, his thoughts… his heart. He would fall
asleep each night with her name on his lips, and then she would invade his
dreams during those long, restless nights, never far from his thoughts.
B'Elanna, the way you feel, the way you smell… the way you taste. I've
wanted this for so long. So very, very long."
months after they had started dating for real he couldn't believe she was his,
as if he were still locked in that dream and none of what transpired was
actually real. He supposed that is where his greatest fear had generated from
- that irrational part of him that was frightened he would wake up and realize
that it had all been a dream… that she had been a dream. So many times he
had the strongest urge to just take her in his arms and squeeze as tightly as
he could, not letting go, never wanting to loosen his grip even a little for
fear it might mean he could potentially lose his hold on her.
Alpha Quadrant brought with it one too many doses of reality, one too many
ghosts that haunted the foundation of his dream. And his greatest fear…
losing B'Elanna, slowing waking into a nightmarish world to find her drawing
away, had become all too vivid a reality. The worst thing was the feeling of
being powerless to stop it, powerless to prevent life from interfering,
powerless to do anything as she retreated, he retreated, and they both danced
around each other with confusing indecision.
bottom line was that he loved her: he loved her then, loved her now - loved
her to a level he had never believed possible before she had been inserted
into his life.
night, standing on the San Francisco beach in the aftermath of their explosive
argument, Tom Paris discovered that B'Elanna was with him in the place he had
ran from her to hide in. She was in the wind, in the waves, in the sky,
because he saw those things with his heart, and B'Elanna Torres was also
something he would forever see with his heart. She was with him because he had
brought her, as he always would. And as if that realization wasn't enough it
dawned on him that he didn't mind that she was there, in spirit, in his place
of comfort. In fact, he liked that she was.
so he went home, prepared to make penance, prepared to do anything, say
anything, that would find her back in his arms, back in his grip, firmly and
soundly. But instead he was greeted by emptiness, coming home to a barren
house and an even more barren dream.
the first time that Tom could remember in all of his adult life, he sank to
the floor onto his knees and sobbed loud, bellowing wails that shook him to
the core of his spirit.
Torres struggled against the memories of the past year: tired of the hurt, the
pain, the agony - wanting release from all the built up frustration swirling
within her spirit. Her heart was sick and she knew it. She knew it because no
matter where she went, and how fast she traveled, she couldn't escape. Despite
the argument that had sent her running - had sent her soul into a horrible,
frightening location… she missed her husband with an ache that pierced her
being. Their voices, both during angry and loving moments, seemed to resound
increasingly through her head.
some reason unfathomable to her given her current state a new memory surfaced
from a corner in her mind. One of Tom, and her - the overwhelming vastness of
space, the nauseous feeling of being encased in an environmental suit, and the
fear that the lack of oxygen would cause her to die without honor, and without
Tom knowing that she loved him with everything in her.
something I have to say," she had said, on the brink of death.
to..." Tom had replied, "I'm glad the last thing I'm going to see is
been a coward about everything - everything that really matters," she had
admitted, searching desperately for the courage to admit to him how she really
you're being a little hard on yourself," he had tried to soothe her,
completely oblivious to what she had been about to confess in a way that was
so endearingly Tom.
I'm going to die...without a shred of honor. And for the first time in my life
that really bothers me. So I have to tell you something," she pressed
forward, knowing that if she paused, if she halted at all, her courage would
run out and he would die unknowing.
have to tell you the truth," she continued, dizzy from either oxygen
deprivation or fear, she couldn't distinguish one from the other.
truth about what?" Tom had asked, curious despite the near fatal
circumstances surrounding them.
love you," she had stated - three words that had been the hardest thing
she had ever had to say, and yet the one phrase that had brought her the most
still, quiet, and beautiful peace.
the time admitting to Tom that she loved him had been the scariest thing she
had ever had to face. Her fear of rejection, of opening herself up and
allowing him to glimpse at the vulnerable part of her frightened her to no
end. But now - now she knew better. She realized with steadfast certainty that
there were scarier things than giving Tom Paris her heart: Much more
frightening was the concept of living a life without him.
negative residue of their argument started to fade as happier memories joined
the aftermath of that Klingon Day of Honor so long ago. Images of Tom doing
everything in his power to get a smile out of her during an extremely bad day.
Of the first time they had made love against a wall in her quarters; both of
them so desperate with longing that they were unwilling and unable to make it
to a bed. Of the two of them sneaking into the mess hall on Voyager in the
dead of night while she was pregnant with Miral to raid Neelix's kitchen. Of
the time Tom had spent hours well into the night trying to find a ticklish
spot on her body, never giving up. And finally, how tightly they had clung to
each other that first week back in the Alpha Quadrant when they had faced such
drastic changes in their lives: parenthood, an uncertain future, a life
without the secure and loving comfort of the Voyager family around them on a
was such a part of her: the man responsible for the happiest memories of her
life, and the angriest. The only person she had ever allowed herself to
completely open up to, and the only one she trusted to see the part of her she
instinctively liked to keep hidden.
many times they had fought, and so many times they had made up, each time
realizing just how much they needed each other, just how much they loved so
entirely. On Voyager neither one could ever really run. They couldn't escape
each other's erratic personalities because they were stuck… on a small ship,
in a small community - one where they were forced to confront all that ailed
them. They had never really been tested because there was no way to truly
realized that throughout her life she had been anything but courageous…
until Tom. Before that she had always run, just like her father before her -
the father that couldn't take the heat of turmoil and had escaped like a
coward into the night when she had been no more than a few feet high, and she
turned out to be just like him. She had run from her mother, she had run from
the Academy, she had run from conformity and she had run from pain… as she
was doing now. All of which was made worse by the fact that she was taking her
daughter with her; subjecting Miral to the same sort of fatherless fate that
she had so resented in her own childhood.
longer protected by the walls of Voyager she had failed to face her fears and
her uncertainty by escaping, by letting her hurt and anger lead her to an act
that she knew deep inside wasn't the right thing to do. She still loved Tom
Paris, completely, entirely: despite the pain, the resentment, the hurtful
accusations - she couldn't imagine a life without him, even now… especially
so, like that one, exhausting, breathless, terrible yet wonderful day so long
ago - the day that started it all; B'Elanna had to fight for the courage to
follow through. To have the willingness to confess to Tom her true feelings -
to struggle with every last breath of oxygen in her, and every bit of honor at
her disposal - to not let him go without him knowing… that she loved him.
again drawing on that need she busily worked to turn her shuttle around.
house was dark when B'Elanna entered, and for a brief moment she became
panicked to think that Tom wasn't home… until she picked up a muffled,
urgent tone coming from the living room. With her heart racing at
irreconcilable speeds, she temporarily sat down her and Miral's bags and the
baby seat that carried the dozing, exhausted toddler and went to face her
sight that greeted her gave her heart a swift, hard jolt and sent her spirit
reeling. Tom was there in utter disarray: clothes rumpled and unkept, hair
tasseled, shoulders sunk, his back to her as he spoke desperately into the
communiqué on the wall.
on Chakotay, you would be the first one she would contact. I want to find my
wife!" he begged, his voice desperate and filled to the brink with
told you that I have no idea where she is, I haven't heard from her in two or
three days," the voice over the computer announced, dripping with the
protective older brother tone that Voyager's ex first officer usually adopted
whenever Tom spoke to him about B'Elanna. One that implied without saying
'what have you done now, Paris?'
her courage, B'Elanna walked further in the room, her heart moved irrevocably
at seeing Tom in such a state while struggling with the confusion of whether
to take him in her arms and promise to protect him from further anguish, or to
announce what she had come to realize during her epiphany on the shuttle.
telling the truth, he doesn't know where I am," B'Elanna announced
softly, tears building in her eyes as she watched Tom whirl around to face
her, his face an invariable myriad of emotion: relief, shock, penance, love,
desire, yearning, a desperate need for something inarticulate yet something
she could instinctively comprehend. He caught his breath as he looked at her,
his hand automatically moving to close off communication with Chakotay as his
eyes remained locked on B'Elanna, starkly naked with longing.
untold minutes there was nothing but silence between them, both of them trying
to convey with their eyes what lay in their hearts… The craving they felt to
move on from that point, together, nearly palpable in the air.
had this horrible nightmare last night," Tom said at last, breaking the
stillness, his gaze roaming over B'Elanna's face as if he were busily trying
to memorize ever curve and contour. "I dreamed that I had to live the
rest of my life without you… and it scared me - so much. I woke up in a cold
sweat, panicking, my heart racing so fast I thought it would jump out of my
chest. I had never felt so alone before, and I knew that that was one future I
would do everything in my power to prevent," he finished, his voice
choking with raw emotion.
not alone, Tom," she responded with an urgent whisper, letting him know
in her own way that she was back and ready and willing to work things out
lunged for each other then, neither one knowing who reached for who first, and
neither one caring; occupying themselves instead by the heated, repeated
kisses, and hands that roamed desperately, using touch to confirm that they
were there in each other’s arms and that it was real.
was still so much to be said. So much to be discussed, so many compromises to
be made, and so much pain to work through, but for now, in that instant, they
basked simply in the knowledge that they had survived their latest hurtle and
now faced the rest of their lives… together. Both appeased that, at the very
least, the past year had taught them the many layers to love and strength, all
of which would serve to prevent them from making the same mistakes twice.
love you, Tom."
"I love you, B'Elanna."