Keep the Promise
By Erin Alpert
This is dedicated to a very close friend of mine. If he ever reads this, I think he may know who it is, though probably not.
A 13-year-old B'Elanna Torres sat at her kitchen table. Her mother was out, she was home alone. She was waiting for a phone call. She didn't know what it was about, though. All she knew was that her boyfriend had told her to wait for a call from him. And so she was. As she drifted off into a world of her own thoughts, her own mind, the phone jerked her away from it.
"Hello?" She answered.
"Hey, B'Elanna." It was Jeremy, her boyfriend.
"Jer! So, what is it you needed to tell me?"
"It's over. You're too boring for me. Bye."
B'Elanna blinked at the now blank telephone screen. She was trying to blink away the tears, but they still trickled down her face. It was fortunate that she was home alone, for she tried to convince everyone that she was about that. That she was strong, and that she didn't need anyone. But she was living a lie. What she wanted right now was to be loved. Though she thought it was never possible, no one - not even her own mother - loved her now.
She could remember that day clearly, even know. She thought she'd be with Jeremy for a long time, at least through Middle School. At least now she knew there was one person alive who loved her - Tom Paris. She would often wonder if her dad was alive, and if he even remembered her.
"Tom Paris to B'Elanna Torres." Paris spoke without any signs of emotions over the calm.
"If you have a few minutes, would you mind meeting me in my quarters?"
"Yeah. Sure. Wait. Right now?"
"If that's okay with you."
"Yeah, I'll be right there." Though he didn't sound worried, when he didn't sound cheerful or playful, something was usually wrong.
"Tom?" She softly called as she entered his dimly lit quarters.
"Shhh…" He hushed her, cradling her in his arms, and kissing her.
She looked into his eyes, "Tom, what's wrong?"
"There's nothing wrong."
She sighed, "You're a terrible liar."
He buried his face into his hands. She reached out and touched his wrist, "What's wrong?"
"You know the planet that helped us out yesterday?"
"When we were ambushed?"
"What about them?"
"Well. They wanted something in return."
This was where B'Elanna's stomach turned upside-down. It couldn't be a good sign. "What Tom?"
"They're fighting a war. They need more people. And one of the things they needed… was a pilot. I'm leaving in 3 days."
She blinked in disbelief. It was worse then when Jeremy dumped her. She never knew is he loved her, of if she loved him. But Tom. Tom was so much more.
"How long have you known?"
"I swear, I only found out today. I want to spend my last few days here with the people I care about. Janeway says you and Harry can stay off of duty until I leave."
She was at a loss of words. All she could do was put her arms around him and hold him close.
"How about breakfast?" He whispered into her hair.
She looked up into his eyes, and wiped away a tear that was falling over his lips. All she could utter was "I love you."
Three days. It was like they only had three days to live, they spent every moment together. But it wasn't nearly long enough. So three days later, Torres and Paris found themselves standing in the transporter room, kissing goodbye for which was very likely the last time. They held hands until he had vanished into nothing but a few glittery sparkles.
A week passed. Slowly. Torres was sure it was the longest 7 days of her life. Every minute that passed without him felt like another sharp needle stabbed into her stomach.
Voyager had stayed in one area of space for nearly a month. Finally, they began their trip home again, though a small portion of the crew was still in battle. Almost a week later, they got a call from the aliens that they had been helping. The war was over. They had won. But only half of Voyager's crew had survived. They would be coming back soon.
"""I know for sure his heart is here with me
Though I wish him back I know he cannot see
My hands trembling…..
He had to fight like all the rest
In the barrio all the streets are paved with fear
I don't understand, at least he was a man."""
B'Elanna spent all her nights praying that Tom would be among those still alive. And before long, she would find out. That afternoon, she found herself standing in the transporter room, waiting to see Tom's smiling face. She had her doubts, but she also had faith. She wanted him there bad enough, so he had to be there… He just had to. It was time for the first set of survivors to beam aboard. The room became a crowd of people, huddling around to see who was there. Unfortunately, B'Elanna was not one of the taller ones. She tried to balance on her tiptoes, but couldn't stay up long enough to see him, if he was there at all. The transporter room gradually cleared out, but Tom was still no where to be seen. She sat down against the wall and began to cry. She had lost him, and it was so close to when she found him. Her life was to short to waste, but now that he was gone, she thought she had nothing left to live for.
"Did you miss me?"
She looked up into Tom's smiling face, the one she'd hoped to see today.
"Tom!" She jumped up and embraced him.
"Gods. I missed you." Tom breathed.
"Don't ever leave me again."
"I won't. That's a promise."
As Tom was waiting for a medical exam he and B'Elanna sat on the biobed and kissed.
"I love you." Tom beamed.
"I love you more." B'Elanna kissed him.
"Excuse me," The Doctor butted in, "I need to borrow a little bit of your time, Mr. Paris. Lieutenant Torres, would you excuse us?"
"I'll see you later." She smirked at Tom.
It was taking way too long for Tom's medical exam. B'Elanna grew impatient and helped herself to sickbay. She needed to have a word with the Doctor.
"Doctor." She greeted him.
"May I speak to you a moment?" He asked. She nodded and he led her into his office.
"Lieutenant Torres. B'Elanna. While Tom was piloting in the war, he was exposed to a certain type of radiation."
She raised an eyebrow.
Copyright February 6, 1998 Erin Alpert - Eraalpert@aol.com The characters of Tom Paris, B'Elanna Torres, Harry Kim and that Doctor, along with the concept of Voyager belong to paramount. The song I used, "Spanish Eyes", is by Madonna.