Chocolate and Vanilla 2
Amy Elizabeth

Disclaimer: Yes the actual names of some people in this story ARE Star Trek and I so not own them. However...some names I do Hehe....I’m still not making any money though....

Archiving: Please? Just email

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Dedication: Deck 9 Section 12? And everyone that took a moment to email and tell me to write? See...I do listen sometimes

A HUGE THANK YOU TO PAM!!! Who was wonderful enough to beta this for me....and I’m still relived you didn’t have a heartattack over my awful grammer?

Rating is PG or PG-13— Some strong language
This is a continuation of Chocolate and Vanilla 1

The Story:

Things can change so fast. So very fast. Elanna sat and watched the rain drip off the window. The heavens were crying it seemed. The petals of the flowers looked wilted under the rain and the ground had small, curving rivers deeply ingrained. The wind howled against the pains of the window and through the trees. It seemed to be whispering, as if it could have held the answer to her mystery, but it was too quiet to hear. It frustrated the hell out of her. As she sat and glared at the water droplets on the window she remembered a saying someone had told her about the rain that had once comforted her. The floors of heaven have holes, where angel's tears give the earth water. She shuddered at the image. Angels weren't an unpleasant thought normally. Yet...could Tom be one now??

Damn plane, damn sensors, damn the world. Why? It was a simple question. Why did the plane disappear? Why did Tom disappear? Why? She began to shake with forlorn anger, not at him, not at the world. Though, in all honesty, she could very well hate both. He was gone. In a second. Forever. It was funny, in that twisted, morose way, how fast your world could shatter. And in such an unexpected way. With so much unsaid. She cursed herself to hell and back for not saying what she had felt before it was too late. She had loved him. With all she could. With all anyone could. And he never knew. Sure they had had their romantic encounters...they had been together. She knew he loved her, cared about her. And she was sure he knew she felt the same way. But that wasn't enough.It just wasn't. She felt more than she could ever say, she knew that. But she hadn't even tried. She was too scared. Like a damn coward. And now he had been reported missing, with the new plane he was flying. God only knew if it crashed, if it blew up, if he died, if he survived. Unfortunately she wasn't God, and she hadn't a shot in hell of knowing. She buried her head in her arms, no longer wanting to watch the rain--the tears of the angels--Tom's tears.

Harry watched her. Discreetly of course, not wanting to make her uncomfortable. His heart went out to her. He had grown to love her as his sister in the past few months she had lived with them. She had become part of his little 'family', and it hurt him to see family hurting. Yet he knew he couldn't help her. Not now. He couldn't even help himself. He had taken a week of leave from the station. Which allowed him to be here for her, and to think. Tom and Elanna had had quite an interesting relationship, he could never tell what they were thinking. But he had known they were in love. Even if they wouldn't admit it, even to themselves. He knew that they had formed a romantic bond, one full of uncertainty and quick decisions. Yet it was one of mutual respect, trust, and friendship. They had had real potential. But Tom was gone now. Gods, that was hard to say. Gone. The happy, exciting, totally insane man who had become like the brother he had always wanted, gone. He had not wanted to focus on his own pain. It was so much easier to focus on hers. As if he had not experienced a loss. But he had. An earth shattering one. He saw people who had lost loved ones to violent crimes, car crashes, accidents...those people hurt with an unimaginable pain. Yet he couldn't help thinking of those who were left unknowing, whose loved ones were missing. The void he could now feel. Others spoke of the hope they must have had, that those who knew didn't. Yet Harry couldn't feel that hope. He only felt an unbearable weight he held on his shoulders. That limbo, that confusion, the want to either see his friend or to have the resolve of wishing him a final goodbye. Yet for now all they could do was wait. Waiting was hell. 

The rain had gone away, no doubt to come again another day. She shook her head at the remembrance of the child's rhyme. The sun had yet to show itself, and the dark, heavy clouds still covered the skies. However Elanna was suffering from cabin fever. She hadn't left the apartment since she and Harry had received the call that Tom's plane had left sensors and they couldn't find him. She had sat on the couch, waiting for the call that would let them know his fate. Yet the phone didn't ring for days. She had been going crazy, waiting, watching, hoping, cursing herself, cursing him, cursing planes, wondering, pacing, throwing things against the wall... it had been a slow couple of days. Yet they had flown by for her, she knew every passing moment meant losing more and more hope of his survival and recovery. She had been crawling out of her skin, wanting more than anything to get out and find him herself, no matter what that meant. Harry wouldn't let her, it wasn't her job. Her job was to hope and pray. She wanted to kill him in that moment, even though she knew he was right. Now as she sat there staring out the window, dripping with the cold water that had started to freeze over her heart, she had to get out of that apartment. She looked around the room. Everything reminded her of him. The bowl of uneaten cereal on the table, the sink, the 'family' picture Harry had insisted on getting, every little thing. Every insignificant thing, and they were driving her crazy. She looked over on the counter. A carton of swirled ice cream sat, melting. Chocolate and Vanilla. Mixed into one. She had remembered that conversation. She still thought he was crazy for analyzing ice cream...but in the end it had a quite a sweet meaning. He had brought home the carton of the swirled ice cream and left a note beside it. It was still in her book upstairs. The exact wording eluded her but he had said no matter what they chose, they would always be one. It took her breath away at the time. Yet now as she remebered what that had meant she could get away fast enough. She stood and walked out the door. 

Neal watched her walk in. Watched her sit down. In that same old seat, where he had first met her. He knew why she was sad. Few people didn't know about the disappearance. And he sympathized with her. Many people in this part of town had known Tom Paris, had considered him their friend, and were devastated by his absence. Yet he could tell, for her, it was more than that. He had kept up with the two of them, observed them. They were in love, it was obvious. It wasn't very much like a normal relationship. They fought often. Neal had heard it all from Harry when he would leave to escape his roommates' arguments. He also heard from Harry every night he couldn't sleep, again due to his roommates. Harry hadn't found it very amusing, but Neal always got a kick out of it. He guessed none of them in or around Hall 9 Room 12 got much sleep. Not even now, since Tom was gone. Neal doubted she had slept the whole time he had been missing. Neal decided to go over. She really didn't look like she would openly appreciate company, but she was here. And this was his shop, and she was his she deserved some.

" Hey, Elanna, how ya holding up?" He spoke quietly as not to startle her. She took her time looking up, feeling too tired to move. Her eyes held the haunted look of someone who was exhausted of caring, who didn't want to feel, but couldn't help it. 
" I'm tired Neal, very tired. Is there anything you need?" She seemed eager to see him go, but in an unspoken way, grateful for the distraction from her unhappy thoughts 
" I was about to ask you the same thing." He took a seat, not really bothering to ask. She wanted this conversation, even if she wouldn't say it. 
" No, I think I'm just here for a change of pace." She turned back towards the window, hoping he would get the clue. She wasn't lying about the tired. She hadn't slept in days. Why had she come here of all places? Their...Place? Was that the word she wanted? She didn't know, really didn't care. Now that she was here though, she realized why, it brought comfort...and a friend. She turned back at Neal. " And maybe something to eat...Harry's not been in a cooking mood. Neither have I for that case." 
Neal smiled a gentle smile, " Of course, I know just the thing. Banana Pancakes, warm from the oven. My grandmother used to make them. Called them comfort food." He turned to go get them, " She also told me something I've always remembered...everything happens for a reason. Everything Elanna. “ Then he went to the kitchen, leaving her to think. 

The sun had begun to show as she made her way back to the apartment. She thought about what Neal had said. About everything happens for a reason. For some reason she couldn't stop thinking about what that meant. There was a reason for the man she loved to be missing? For her world to be turned upside down and her heart ripped out? It didn't make sense. Hadn't she endured enough? She pulled out the key Harry had had copied for her and opened the door. She hadn't told Harry she was leaving but he hadn't been around when she had left. When Elanna walked in she immediately saw Harry on the couch, talking quietly with a small blonde woman. He looked up as she walked in. Harry finished what he was saying to the woman and then motioned for Elanna to come over. 
" This is Elanna Torres, she's our newest roommate. She was quite...close to your brother." Elanna stopped abruptly. 
" Brother?" She looked at the slim blonde woman. " Your Kes Paris? Tom's sister?" The girl looked up, her eyes were red rimmed. 
" Yes, that's me. His long lost sister. Whose here in time to hear about her lost brother." The girl's words were bitter, echoing Elanna's emotions. " But yes, I'm Kes, better know as Kessie to him. I got the news a couple of nights ago. And got here as fast as I could. Though I guess not much has changed." She seemed just as tired as Elanna. She found herself feeling an odd kinship to this woman. Just as Elanna turned to find a seat she heard a sob. The girl began to cry, quite brokenly. Harry reached over and comforted her, handing her a tissue. Elanna, without much conscious thought, just left. 

She knew her sudden departure was rude but the crying was just too much for her. She hadn't cried since this had all happened. It just wasn't her. She wasn't ready to do that. She wasn't so broken that she could let go and cry. The heavens could...but she couldn't. The sun was fully out as she sat on the window sill of her bedroom. She had decorated it since she had moved in. Given it just a few personal touches, mainly at Tom's urgings. Tom's urgings... Gods, she never realized how much he had influenced her life until he wasn't there.
*Why does that always happen? You never do realize what you have until its not there.*
When her father had left she had realized how much she needed the love he had. She realized that she needed support and caring, she needed him. However, that hadn't lasted long. She had learned to block that out a longtime ago. Learned to manage by herself. Now that same feeling was coming back. That void where love had been. And it was beginning to scare the hell out of her. She felt a little wetness on her cheek. 
* Aw hell, tears.* She thought, silently. But she didn't even move to wipe them away. She just sat there, the warm sun lighting her wet face. She didn't sob, she didn't moan and scream. She just sat quietly, unmoving while rivers of salt ran down her cheeks. 

She didn't remember when she had fallen asleep. But she did remember the tears. She never cried. But she had to then. She now realized she wasn't broken, or weak. Just sad, and lonely. She began to move towards her bathroom. A hot shower would do her good. 

Elanna turned the shower to hot and was beginning to remove her clothes when she noticed there was no towel. She pulled her sweater back over her head. Leaving the water running she made her way back into her room. She swore softly as she looked for the towel. After a good five minutes she plopped down on her bed. 
" Where is that towel?" She asked aloud. Just as she got up the phone rang. She left her room to go out into the hall and heard Harry pick it up. She listened closely as he talked with the person on the other line. And what she heard caused her heart to stop. 
* Hello? Harry here* Harry's automatic answer followed the third ring. 
* Yes, this is his residence* -- *Uh-huh* -- *Yes* -- *My God* -- *You did?* -- *Will he* -- *I understand* -- *We'll be right there* Click.

Elanna knew who it was, and what it was about. They had found him. She didn't know how, but they had. She had heard Harry's voice. It was relieved. They knew now that he was found. They had an answer. Yet she heard a note of uncertainty, of fear in his voice. Something, she could tell, had happened to Tom.

Kes Paris didn't know what to think. Her brother was alive. But barely. What was she to do? Go in, when he could very well be on his deathbed, and say her hellos and maybe goodbyes? How could she tell him she was sorry for leaving him alone? For not saying goodbye? And for not contacting him...until it was almost too late? Would he know she cared? Yet in her heart she knew, no matter how hard this would be, she couldn't let him die not knowing these things. She just hoped he would listen. She looked around the apartment. Tom had made quite a life for himself. The apartment glowed with warmth and caring, despite the gloomy air that had pervaded the place in his absence. His pictures, as well as those of his roommates, hung on the walls. The walls themselves were nicely painted, and several old toy ships sat on a shelf nearby. Those she recognized, they had played with them as children, back in the good days. His roommates themselves were good people. Harry she was very impressed with. He seemed to run the place, and he was so very kind. Elanna she could tell was troubled, but a good-hearted person. And, despite Harry's obvious reluctance to tell her, Tom was involved with Elanna. Which, to Kes, made sense.... for some reason she seemed to fit. She just hoped they would have more time to explore their relationship. 

She looked at his sleeping form. He was there. Same blonde hair, same fair skin, but she couldn't see his blue eyes. She found she missed them, and the love they held. Harry had come in before her and gotten word on his condition. Kessie had had her turn. She wouldn't tell why but she came out with a grin. Obviously she had found some peace. And she had gone back to the hotel she was at to get some sleep. 

Finally Elanna was here, how she had practised so much patience she didn't know. But while she was out there she had done a lot of thinking. His condition looked good, which made her decision that much easier. She loved him, oh gods she loved him.And that was why she had to leave. She couldn't stay, not after this. He would always be a pilot, no matter what had happened. And she would always love him. But she couldn't rely on someone like this. It wouldn't work. It was like depending on a bed of nails to break a fall. She would get hurt, more than she had been. He would too. It was time for her to go. Elanna had brought a bag in her car with her, all that she would need. She was a big girl now, and didn't need anybody. There would only be hurt and pain. She looked at him once again. He would be ok. She had to know before she left.
* Well,* she thought, * You know now. Go, before you can't.* She bent down by the bed, close to his ear. 
" I love you, and that’s why I'm leaving. You won't understand. Neither will Harry. But thank you. For your kindness, for your love. I'll never forget you, no matter where I am. I can't. You were right about chocolate. And you’re right about the swirl. We'll always be one. No matter what. Take care of yourself, and Harry. Goodbye Tom." She gently kissed his cheek. And left. 


She leaned her head against the wheel. The traffic going out of this town was impossible. St. Louis was always backed up. All she wanted to do was get out of this town. Away from it all, before she could turn around. She had decided to go back to California. She knew the territory; she could find a place to live. California was a nice place anyway. Warm, sunny, familiar. It would be good. Good. She hoped the more she thought it the more she would believe it. She was waiting for it to work. The traffic started to move. 
* Amen! Finally..…* She pulled forward. She got off on the highway to Kansas City, might as well retrace her steps. Maybe it would be more interesting this time around. Maybe. 

" Elanna." Tom's blue eyes fluttered open. "Elanna come back." Harry closed his eyes and shook his head. How could he tell him that Elanna had left, when he himself couldn't believe it. Why seemed to be the question on everyone's lips. And Harry had no answer. He couldn't understand it. She had been so happy. They had been so happy. How could she just leave him? Leave them? 

Kes stood above her brother's bed, watching him make the long transition into full awareness. They had brought him home yesterday, a good week after he had been found. She had been able to talk to him, though he couldn't really talk back. However, he listened to her, she knew he heard her. And that he forgave her. He was happy to be home. That that anyone could tell. Yet he was beginning to really realize that Elanna wasn't there. This past week he had teetered between awareness and sleep, not really acknowledging much. Now that he was home he was awake more often, noticing more. And she Kes knew that he noticed her absence. Kes honestly didn't get it. Elanna had seemed so happy when they had found him. Though her happiness was tinged by a palpable fear...but hadn't everybody's been? She reached down and stroked the cheek of her again sleeping brother. He was so tired lately, though it was very understandable. If only he could wake up to a happy ending. 


Interesting. That wasn't quite the word to describe the situation. It had been a whole week since Elanna had pulled out of St. Louis. She’d expected to be back in California by now. Expected to be trying to get back to normal, or to find a job, or a home. However she hadn't even left Kansas yet. 
" I guess I'm back in Kansas Toto." She muttered under of her breath. The woman next to her gave her an odd look and scooted a small distance away. 
* Great* She didn't know how many days she had sat in this office, waiting for her car. At least the people working here had taken her to and from the hotel she had booked into. But they were taking forever. She went back to looking out the window. It was a rainy day. Just like it had been the last time she had taken the time to look out a window. Someone was crying up there again. She was relieved to know this time it wasn't Tom. She worried about him though, a lot. Oh gods why could her car just be done so she could leave. Leave and be done with it. She had just entered into Lawrence, Kansas as it had begun to get dark. She decided to push through, make it a couple more miles before she stopped. Traffic had kept her in Missouri for a day, delaying her significantly. However, as she drove through the small college town, a car came out of no where and hit her from behind. No one was hurt but she’d spent a good two days filing paperwork and getting her car back from the towing company. She had waited days to get her car fixed. Seemed this place was always backed up. 
" Ms. Torres?" A small man stood above her with a stack of papers. 
" Yes. Is my car done?" The man handed her the papers. 
" Yes, as soon as you sign all these." The stack landed in her lap, 
" Have fun." 
He wanted vanilla ice cream. He wanted things to go back to the way they were. He wanted her. The events that had transpired in the past week were blurry to him. Everything. Kessie's arrival, Harry bringing him home, the hospital stay, his rescue. None of it really stuck out in his mind. Yet her absence had been clear to him from the moment he'd regained consciousness. Call it unreal, call it corny, but from the moment he looked up and saw Kessie and Harry standing there, he knew she was gone. It had crushed him, torn out his heart and stomped on it. He had slipped quickly back into a state of slumber . Yet when he had awoke again, she still wasn't there. And she never was, all the times he looked up and yearned to see her standing there, smiling. He couldn't understand it. And neither could Harry, judging by his expression every time Tom asked. Kes comforted him, and he was glad she had finally come back into his life. But, despite the void Kes's presence filled in him, the void left by Elanna was enough to consume him. He looked over at the small, velvet box on the chest near his bed. 
*I wonder what I'll do with the ring now?* 

Harry sat in the living room holding the family portrait the three of them had taken. It held so many memories. 9 months. She had been there 9 whole, long, wonderful months. Why did she choose to leave now? That had been a popular question to all who had known her. Neal was beside himself at the diner. He had been so relieved when Tom was found, as everyone was, now the town would go back to the way it was before. However it was hardly normal in the house. A million visitors had come in and out, seeing Harry, seeing Kes, seeing Tom, asking about Elanna. Harry answered everytime, I don't know. I don't know where she is, I don't know why, I don't know how, I don't know when she'll be back, I don't know if she'll be back. It was rather like a broken record to him constantly of his now second missing roommate. The biggest question in his mind, now that he had finally realized that, for some reason, she was really gone, was if she was ok. It had been pure luck that she had met Harry at that station. But now she was out on her own again. And it made him nervous as hell. Sure she was a big girl, but even the biggest girls need someone sometime. 


She needed something to do. Desperately. It had been a whole week and she was just out of Lawrence. 
"Where to now?" She spoke aloud to the map beside her. It was a lonely, treeless, sightless highway, Totally void of life except for the occasional cow. Hmm...wasn't Emporia that town she was looking for? Yes, that was it. Emporia. And wasn't that around where that couple had lived? Kathryn and Charles? Yes to that to. For the first time in days, she had a plan. 

Kathryn Ann Janeway sat in the rocking chair on her little porch. Wasn't life funny? She would have never pictured herself on this little farm. Seventy-some miles from anywhere important. It was peaceful though. Every day something new happened. One wouldn't expect that on a small Kansas farm, but one could never expect who would roll through, what animal would give birth, whatever God would send. Today seemed no different as Kathryn watched as a red Volkswagen grew nearer and nearer. She knew that car. It was so familiar. It ended up Kathryn was right as the small red car pulled into her driveway. 
*Elanna* The name came immediately to her. There really hadn't been a day in the last 9 months Kathryn hadn't given at least a little thought to the young traveler. She didn't know why but she sensed an untapped potential in this girl, as well as a taste for trouble. Well, she thought, she wasn't the kind to go looking for trouble, just one it usually came to. 
" Elanna." She just said the name not anymore more. 
" Hi, Kathryn." She obviously remembered her name. "How have you been?"
Kathryn didn't respond. She just walked straight to the young woman and hugged her. 


Elanna felt unbelievably comfortable as she lay on her back in the guest room. She lazily rubbed the dog's head as he sat panting beside the bed. Kathryn had had to go into the fields to talk to someone. Elanna hadn't understood all of the farm lingo she had used. Kathryn had seemed pleased to see her, which made Elanna very relieved. She was worried Kathryn wouldn't even remember her. Lying there in the warm sunlight, on the soft bed, Elanna fell into a very deep sleep. 

In her dreams she could see a man. He was a darkly handsome man. Tall, dark skin, dark hair. Yet the eyes were what made her go to him. They were her eyes. The same chocolate depths that she saw in the mirror every morning. 
"Elanna." His voice was like the mountains, deep and wide. It brought her an unsettling comfort. " My little girl." It was now obvious who this dark man was. It was her father. Her long lost father. He was as she had always imagined. She felt the little girl she had so long submerged in her conscience resurface. She felt so vulnerable at his very presence, so nervous, so curious.
"Daddy?" Her voice was meek, hardly the independent, proud woman she had become. 
"Yes?" She prepared her self for the question she was about to ask. It took all her strength to utter it out. 
" You left me. Why?" Anger began to seep into her words. She began to feel the years of questioning and guessing, and the nights of tears and moans for her 'Daddy' resurfacing. He had hurt her. Just disappeared out of her life like it didn't matter to him. 
" Why did you leave Tom?" His voice was filled with that paternal condescendence and worldly knowledge that had driven children crazy for generations. Yet, to her ears, that was lost and the gut twisting reality and meaning of his words sunk in. Daddy had left her unexpectantly, when she was so vulnerable, with no explanation, and no way of contacting him again. Exactly what she had done. Exactly. What a hypocrite she was! 
" I knew you'd understand, Elanna. I've spent my whole life missing you. I've always loved you. I regret every morning when I wake up, every day when I go about my business, and every night when I sleep that I left you. And I know you will too. You'll regret every moment that you left something that important to you." With that final word his eyes transformed into blue-grey depths. Hurt blue-grey depths. Accusing blue-grey depths. Loving blue-grey depths. *His* blue-grey depths. She recoiled at the naked agony in them, the naked vulnerability. " You left me. Why?" And he faded away. She awoke bathed in a cold sweat. 
*It was a dream, Elanna. Just a horrible dream.* She repeated that in her head. Just as she began to gather her senses, Kathryn walked in. 
" Hello dear. Are you okay?" She paused while Elanna managed to nod her head. "Well, Charles is home so we're going to go ahead with dinner. You hungry?" Elanna nodded again.
" Yes. Yes I am, thank you." 


Dinner just didn't taste right to him. Tom put the chicken back on his plate. Maybe it was just a new seasoning, but maybe it was because it was Elanna's favorite meal. He just couldn't eat so he excused himself, leaving Kes, Harry, and Neal to eat. Neal had stopped by to drop off some new recipes to Harry and had ended up staying for dinner. Tom entered his room and picked up the small velvet box. Inside was a small diamond ring, fitted just to Elanna's finger. Made for her. Just for her. No one else. Yet now the question was no longer “Will you marry me?” but, to his heart wrenching dismay, “Will you come back to me?”


Charles was pleased to see the young woman back with them that evening in the kitchen. She felt right in their home, though neither he nor Kathryn really knew her. He could tell something was troubling her, Kathryn knew it too. He waited patiently until the chicken was all eaten. 
" Thank you very much. I must tell you, that was my favorite meal Harry used to make." She placed her napkin on the table.
" Harry? Whose Harry?" Kathryn finished off the last of her chicken. 
" A friend I made in St. Louis. I stayed with him and his roommate for the last nine months. He was like my brother." Her face gained a sad look to it. She regreted not being able to tell Harry she was leaving. But he would have never let her go.
*You shouldn't have* The thought came unbidden into her mind. She just shook it off. 
" How did that happen?" Charles helped himself to a slice of pie. 
" Well," She cleared her throat, "it began when my car was stolen in St. Louis...." 


"And I just left again. Got in the car and left. Now I'm here...and that's pretty much it." She looked up into two pairs of captivated eyes. 
She hadn't omitted anything. Not her involvement with Tom, not her cowardice in leaving. 
" You left him?" Kathryn's voice held an audible note of shock. "Why the hell would you?" The shock gave way to bewilderness. Charles, obviously having nothing to say got up and left the table, disappearing down the hall. Kathryn didn't pay one bit of attention. "Why Elanna? Why?" Elanna suddenly felt very ashamed. And, for the not first time, doubtful of her reasons. 
" I couldn't stay. It was too hard. He almost died Kathryn! I couldn't stay with someone who’s inevitably going to die in some awful crash! I love him too much." Her voice faded at the end. Her once confident assurances seemed hollow and selfish when spoken aloud. Yet Kathryn just looked sadly at her. 
" Do you know what you're giving up? What you're missing? All because the thought of really loving someone scares you?" She paused, " I assure you, my dear Elanna, that everyone gets this scared. It's all part of really loving someone." She smiled sadly at the young girl. "If only you could see that." Charles showed up again behind her with a large, old book. 
" This is our scrapbook of when I was in the Vietnam war." Charles put down the dusty book on the table. 
" You see, Elanna, Charles and I had just gotten engaged when he had to go to Vietnam. I was so afraid. I wanted to call it off more than anything. But I knew that I could never make it a day without him. And look where we are now. I can't promise you the happy ending you want but I can tell you that true love will always be there Elanna. But only once." 
She couldn't go back. She just couldn't. It was just too late. Just too hard. Gods she was a coward, that she knew. But she couldn't. 

Kathryn and Charles were gone again in the morning following breakfast. She wished them goodbye and promised to visit again someday. Yet when they had left for the fields she had continued on her way to California. The highway was particularly lonely that day. Not even the cows would look her way. It was as if she were in a dream, a horrible one, and no one could wake her up. The world seemed faded and unreal. She felt a huge void that was widened with every passing mile. The midday sun beat down hard on the roads. Suddenly thirsty, she stopped off at a familiar gas station. It was the one she had stopped at the last time she was in this part of Kansas. 


She went in and saw the same attendant standing there, as if nine months hadn't passed. He was grinning the same lopsided grin. 
*If only Tom could be here* The thought drove nails into her heart. She selected a soda from the fridge and then went towards the snack cakes. She particularly liked them for some reason. She again held a chocolate cake and a vanilla cake in her two hands. Then she saw the thing that would change her life forever. There, buried under a dozen or so cakes was a package with one chocolate and one vanilla cake, In one bag. Together, sealed, one. Elanna felt her gut contract. She went to the counter and put down the mixed package. The attendant took his dear sweet time. 
" Wanna bag?" Some things would never change. 
" No, give me the cake. I'm going back." 
She walked out, leaving one confused teenager behind. It was passed dark. Elanna had driven all day, with a new inspired fury. She had ridden past Kathryn and Charles's house. She didn't have time to stop but she made sure to yell out "I'm going back!" as she passed. Attracting some very strange looks from the cow. Now she was finally entering the dear familiar town of St.Louis. It was just cracking dawn and the early morning drizzle was beginning to turn into a nice sized rain. She could feel how close she was. And she could feel the huge knot growing in her stomach. What would she say? How could she make this better? Had she come this far for nothing? She looked at the still uneaten cake on the seat next to her. " You better be right." She said to the cake... now she knew she was going crazy. 


It wasn't quite morning yet. The rain clouds that were forming over head blocked out even the earliest rays of sunlight. Tom was sitting on the first level of the apartment buildings, right under the canopy. He held her ring in his fingers, toying with its never ending circle. He watched the rain. It seemed as if the world was crying with him. But rain also brought new life and new wonderful things. And it looked as if that was about to happen. He pulled his eyes up from the spot he had been studying on the ground. And he saw her. Her. He couldn't begin to believe his eyes. Yet he could feel her presence all the more in his heart. And while his brain was still trying to piece together the scene, his heart was steps ahead of him. She got out of the car slowly, never taking her eyes off him. The dark eyes held such fear and sorrow, accompanied by a look of hope. He didn't know what his eyes betrayed. He was so relieved, gods so relieved. Yet he was also nagged by a feeling of anger towards her. He had been to hell and back, questioned everything he ever believed in., spent numerous tormented nights plaged by an awful feeling of sickness and longing. But she just stood there. In the now pouring rain.… Her dark hair wet and soaked to her head, her shirt dripping, rain drops falling from her nose and eyelashes. 
" Tom." The simple saying of his name betrayed so much of what she was feeling. He felt his anger slipping as he tried desperately to cling to it. He was rightfully angry, he couldn't let her do this. She had hurt him once. 
" Tom I'm sorry. I'm so very..." She looked on the verge of collapse. He went out to her. They both just stood there, rain pouring over both of them, eyes both stinging with saltwater. He reached out and put his arms around her. She fit so well into his arms. Her head found the crease of his neck. They again just stood, both recovering. Tom felt his anger go. He knew, no matter what had happened, he couldn't let her go. Not again. She lost herself in him, her soul singing with joy and relief. He looked up to the down-pouring heavens and offered a prayer of thankfulness. Then he pulled away slightly, remembering the ring in his hand. He would be damned if he let her go again. He took her hand and showed her the ring. Her eyes grew wider than they had been before. She could feel her heartbeat go into a state of uproar and she knew he could too. But she didn't even have to think. Her heart did it for her. She nodded and he slipped the ring on. And as he bent down to kiss her the rain clouds parted and the sun began to shine. The angels were smiling. 

The end