Too Much Delta Quadrant Coffee  (PG-13)

Codes: P/T

Disclaimer: Viacom/Paramount owns the ship and all characters, I'm just kidnapping them for a good time.  I always return them.

This was actually my first ever post to the ASC newsgroup in September 98.  I received absolutely no feed back what so ever - I did not think it was that bad. I had written it as a direct result of watching the episode, 'Vis a Vis' (we poor Brits will only see season 5 next spring, if we are lucky). I hated this episode on first viewing and this is what my mind pored forth in another time and another place.....

Summary:  The story picks up after everyone has been returned to the correct bodies. Real Steth and the 'body thief' have left the ship and before Tom and B'Elanna 'park' in the Camero.

Warning:  A little background may be needed to help you understand why I felt I had to write this piece. I hated the episode when I first saw it and went into a total rant. Here are my thoughts at the time (I hope I can get away with this): From a character point of view, this episode was terrible. Tom Paris' character and to a similar extent Torres' were done a major disservice by not exploring the reasons behind Tom's 'bizarre' behaviour, after all he was acting like an idiot before Seth took over his body!

Halfway through this episode I actually started to chant for an end to the P/T love thread, ME - The number one P/T devotee! And started to beg for the re-emergence of J/C - BIG TIME!!!
I am not fickle I swear, but this episode......Grrrrr........This is my response to how things may have gone if I had the power and not just access to a television, video recorder and a PC.

Too Much Delta Quadrant Coffee...  (PG-13) by Annie M

After receiving the Doctor's assurances that everything about his Genome had been returned to normal Tom Paris was eager to return to duty.

'Not so fast, Tom.' The captain's remark stopped Paris as he turned to leave sickbay.

'Captain?' Paris returned.

'Take the rest of your shift off, and report for normal duty tomorrow morning 0700 hours. This has been an unsettling experience, at least for me, and it will give you a chance to re-adjust to being in your own body again.'

Tom gave Janeway a grateful smile. 'Thank you, captain.'

'No offence, Tom,' Janeway continued as she walked with him out of sickbay 'but being in your body is an occurrence I'd rather not repeat.'

'I know what you mean.'



  Tom Paris entered Engineering five minutes later and scanned the area for its Chief. He spotted her at a diagnostic array and approached quietly, noticing that a couple of ensigns respectfully moved away from her as they spotted his approach. B'Elanna was concentrating on the latest computer readings and had noticed neither his presence nor the retreating forms of her subordinates. 'Hi.' Tom whispered uneasily.

B'Elanna turned and gave him a surprised but wary look. 'Hi.' she returned equally uneasy. Tom reached out to take her hand then stopped and let his arm fall to his side. He looked at the floor then glanced up at her face, her expression now a mask.

'B'Elanna, we need to talk.'

She shook her head in agreement then cast her gaze around Engineering, her crew had their heads down and appeared not to be watching their interplay. She looked at the floor, then turned her attention back to her display. 'I get off shift in half an hour.' she offered.

'Meet me in my quarters, when your done?'

B'Elanna turned slightly his way and nodded her head in an affirmative. Tom watched her a minute more as she turned back to her station, wanting to say something more, needing to touch her. All he could muster was to bring his hand to his mouth as he opened and closed it a few times. No speech patterns recognised. Tom finally turned and left for his cabin. He would have an opportunity to say plenty thirty minutes from now, he hoped.



  'What the hell has been going on with you, Tom?'

B'Elanna growled as she paced the floor of his living room. She had arrived not five minutes earlier and had sat quietly on his couch while Tom replicated some tea.

All of her emotions were in turmoil from the last few days; Her fight with Tom in the Mess Hall, his solicitous behaviour, or rather Steth's. And the cruel way she had been rejected by him, Steth, in the transporter room. It was so hard to untangle Tom's crazy behaviour from the alien's. Her need to get this horrible issue resolved was undoing her desire to stay calm. She had to do something. 'If you want to end this....this affair we've been having why don't you just say so.'

Tom returned with the drinks and his heart ached as he listened to her. Was it already too late, had he lost her?

'B'Elanna, that's not true, I don't want us to end.' he answered forcefully. He quickly slipped the tray onto the table and rushed to B'Elanna holding his arms open to her and pleading with his eyes for her to step into them.

'No!' she roared. 'You can't make the last few days, excuse me, few weeks just disappear with a hug.'

'B'Elanna, please let me try to explain.' Tom begged.

She stopped her pacing and whirled around to face him her anger and frustration clearly visible on her beautiful face. She folded her arms across her chest and took a few deep breaths.

'Explain.' her voice still held murderous intent but Tom could tell she was fighting her rage.

'Please sit down.' he asked quietly as he sat himself on the end of his three seater couch. She joined him sitting as far from him as the sofa would allow.

'I'm sorry I've been acting like a pig recently.' Tom tried to read her face but her head was bent and her hair was obstructing the view. 'I don't know if I can explain it, B'Elanna.'

'Try, Tom.' her voice was like a faint whisper.

'I was dissatisfied with my life.' he admitted quietly. 'The shifts in sickbay, crew training and evaluations, all the work we had to do after the Hirogen. Christ, B'Elanna, four years ago I was in a rehab colony with a locator tag on my ankle!' his voice faltered a little as he struggled to explain. This is so hard, he thought to himself.

'Having contact with the Alpha quadrant again, after all this time. The possibility of getting back .....seeing my father. Prison. I felt like a convict, like I was living a lie.' Tom's voice cracked, he was crying. 'I don't know why, B'Elanna, I'm so sorry I hurt you.'

B'Elanna felt her heart constrict as she watched tears fall against his cheeks, but she didn't reach out to him. It wasn't enough.

'I know I'm not the only one who's had a lot to deal with since we ended up out here.' Tom continued. 'You, the rest of the Maquis, Harry even captain Janeway. It's been hard for everyone, but it's like it didn't hit me until the Doc made contact with that ship and we started to get letters from home. Suddenly I felt like a misfit, the guy who didn't fit, you know?'

'But Tom, everyone on board respects you now. They have for a long time.' B'Elanna answered.

'Nothing felt real anymore. B'Elanna, I didn't know what you were doing with me so I tried to shut you out.' Tom resumed miserably.

'What do you mean?' B'Elanna's voice was hesitant.

Tom took a deep shuddering breath and tried to continue. He cast his eyes about his cabin and nervously wiped the corners of his mouth with his fingers. He was struggling to find the words that would not only explain his recent behaviour but somehow keep her from leaving him.

'Remember when we woke up during the Hirogen's simulation, World War two?' Tom asked.

How could she forget. B'Elanna just made a noise in her throat at the memory. 'When I saw how pregnant you looked, I tried to laugh it off, but for a second I thought it was our child. I thought we were having a baby and I couldn't remember. It scared me, B'Elanna. It scared me for a long time.' Tom's hand trembled as he ran his fingers through his hair. He only looked at the floor now, he could no longer face B'Elanna.

'I started to think about what having a child would mean, to both of us. Out here....' Tom cast his right arm about as if it were his quarters he were referring to.

'Is that really it, Tom?' B'Elanna asked. 'Is that why you've been shutting me out, accusing me of trying to control you?' she continued aghast. Tom just sat there, head bowed, running his sweating palms up and down his thighs.

'Is my loving you scaring you that much? Has my wanting to be with you really become so possessive? Or are you bored with me, just like you've been with everything else?'

These questions were hurting her heart to ask, but her new found honour would accept nothing less than the truth now, even if it cost her dearly. 'No.' he answered truthfully, but said no more for a minute before bringing his head up to look B'Elanna in the eyes. Something he realised he hadn't done in several days, maybe more. Her eyes were watery, filled with unshed tears, she was leaning forward onto her knees with her elbows bent against them and hands steepled in prayer at her chin.

'I thought I could run away from everything for a while, duty, commitments, Everyday was routine, I just needed to escape.......' his voice trailed off for a moment, as if he was trying to concentrate on something.

'I ran from me I guess, I think I was bored with me.' he stated in final realisation.

'Steth, in a perverse kind of way let me have that escape for a while, when he switched bodies with me. That's when I realised how selfish and childish I'd been. I didn't want his life, although a part of me had been attracted to what it offered. I wanted my life back. Here on Voyager. Piloting the ship, Janeway's approval, the Doc badgering me, Harry, Neelix, Tuvok even Chakotay, all my friends. But B'Elanna, more than anything else I missed you. I know I've acted like a prize jerk for awhile now, and maybe I'd stopped showing you that I cared, but your love means a lot to me. More than I realised until I woke up on Steth's ship all alone and thinking maybe I'd never see you again. I'm so sorry for the way I yelled at you. I wasn't angry at you, B'Elanna, just with myself.' Tom had moved to kneel in front of B'Elanna and she had let him take her hands in his as he finished his confession. He stroked her fingers lightly and brought them up to his lips for a kiss. B'Elanna flinched and drew her hands back slightly.

Jagged pain lanced through Tom's eyes.

'No.' B'Elanna consoled 'It's not you,' she released a hand and trailed fingers up and down his cheek soothingly 'Steth, when he was in your body, he kissed me like that, when I thought we were making up for the fight in the Mess hall.'

'B'Elanna, Steth said some things.....when he was in captain Janeway and later when we returned to Voyager. Did he hurt you?'

B'Elanna looked away at first then back to their joined fingers. Noticing the fine reddish hairs on the back of his hand and wrist. Their differing skin tones. 'What happened?' Tom tried again.

'I thought he was you.' she answered quietly.

Tom's mind went blank for a second, then it hit him. Oh my God! His mind spun feverishly with images of B'Elanna and Steth, in his body, doing.........Oh Christ!

'I'll kill him!' Tom thundered, wrenching himself away from B'Elanna and striding to the window to yell at the stars beyond.

'I'm gonna kill that son of a bitch!' he stood there screaming and yelling at the moving starfield, pounding his fists on the unbreakable glass until his shoulders shook in rage and guilt. Knowing all the while that revenge against the body thief would never, likely, be his.

'It's all my fault.' he sobbed 'I'm so sorry, B'Elanna. I'm sorry.' he was crying like a baby, tears streaming down his face, nose running and head slumped in defeat against the window.

Two strong female arms wrapped themselves around him, rubbing his chest in a calming manner. Tom felt B'Elanna's head rest lightly against his back. 'I'm sorry.' he continued to mumble through his tears.

'I love you Tom. Only you. I'm sorry it happened but it wasn't your mind Tom, but it was your body. I don't know if that's a consolation but it's done now. Finished.' her tears were finally falling against the back of his uniform.

'Do you think we can get our life back, Tom? Can you let me in?' Tom turned and gathered B'Elanna into his arms. They held each other tightly and cried together some more.

'Yes.' he whispered hoarsely when he was able to speak again. He led her to his bed and undressed her slowly as she undressed him. There were no thoughts of lovemaking between them they just needed to be close to each other. To reacquaint the one, who had taken for granted, the textures and satin of their skins.

Tom drew a blanket around them after setting his alarm for B'Elanna then they held each other all night long.



  Tomorrow he would take another step towards letting her in. She would probably hate the car, then again she was an engineer.