The Eulogy  (Rated - G)

Disclaimer: Viacom/Paramount owns the ship and all characters, but not their reactions to certain stimuli.

Note: At the time of writing this short piece I had not seen the episode and had no idea what Tom actually recorded to B'Elanna.

This is an Alternate Universe (AU) coda for the episode "Once upon a time," which assumes that Tom Paris died shortly after recording his message in this episode.

The Eulogy by Annie M

Why can't you say you love me?

"Tom Paris was an introspective kind of guy.  He really was.  I know, he was always shooting his mouth off and making wise cracks at every opportunity, but he was my friend.  My best friend.  I miss him and so will all of you.

"He was the kind of guy who, when you were in the worst possible kind of situation, could make you smile.  He could make you forget about your troubles.  Just for a little while.  He always used to say "Don't worry about it, Harry.  Everything will work out".  And you know something, it always did.

"I loved him....I loved him so much.  He was more than a big brother to me, more than a friend. He would tell me straight up 'Harry, your wasting your time.' or 'Harry, your not in love with another holo-character are you?'.   God, I used to be so embarrassed when he said those things, but you know, somehow, he was always right.  Always. I never thought about it before but Tom had insight.  An ability to see past the complexities of a situation.  He didn't care too much for details, I guess that's true.  He just saw right into the bones of a thing and was able to name it. That simple.

"At first people used to wonder how we ever stayed friends.  Every one told me Tom was trouble, bad luck, stay away.  In fact I think Tom was the first person to warn me off him.  I remember I told him, I choose my own friends. I choose my own friends.  I chose him and he never, ever let me down. Tom...."

"Mr Paris and I shared, I suppose what humans may call, a unique friendship. I tolerated his 'humour' and he failed, unerringly, to understand my logic. I have not always had the highest regard for lieutenant Paris.  However, our paths crossed frequently on our journey through the Delta quadrant and I had come to consider him a highly valuable member of our crew. Mr Paris was an excellent pilot and a holographic programmer of some talent, our collaborative efforts, are I hope, testament to that.

"Thomas Eugene Paris, I offer you this Vulcan Prayer...."

".....We were never close and I admit that I regret that now.  There was a lot to admire in Tom Paris.  I wish I had realised it sooner, wish I had told him so. He was selfless in his compassion, sacrificing him self on numerous occasions for this crew. I sometimes noticed how that arrogant outer shell of his used to crack, just a little, when he was given a compliment or encouraged in the right way.  I almost used to laugh at the way captain Janeway could make him squirm, with just a look at staff meetings.  Some times I envied his apparent lack of
feeling.  The way he would nonchalantly state the obvious in a tight situation. I was wrong about that.  Tom did care deeply, about all of us.  He demonstrated it every time he took the helm, flew a shuttle craft, fired a phaser in anger.  He cared and I never saw it until it was too late, until he took that fatal phaser blast for me....."

B'Elanna couldn't listen to any more so she simply arose from her seat,  in plain view of every one gathered at the memorial service, and walked out of the mess hall.  Head, defiantly, held high.

Back in the warmth and the dark of her quarters she sat at her desk.  Staring with unseeing eyes at her computer terminal.  She had listened to his death message to her three times and every time she asked herself the same question: Why can't you say you love me?

Tom Paris was dead, B'Elanna knew and yet this question kept presenting it self in the context of the present.  She turned on the monitor and once again listened to the words of her late and sorely missed - has it been three days already? - lover.

The words were the same, as were the inflections of his voice, but something had changed.  Maybe it was her fresh tears, blurring her vision.  Maybe it was her softly sobbing breaths as she remembered his scent, his breath, his fingers, his textured skin.  So unlike her own.
What ever it was it seemed to B'Elanna that she was finally hearing his voice, Tom's voice as the recording played on.  The voice that only spoke to her. The voice that was only meant for her ears and no one else's, no matter who was present.
She understood that now, she could hear him now.  The Tom Paris who
never said anything serious if it could be avoided. The kind of man who showed you how he felt.  Tom, who only wasted words so that he could put people at ease, break the ice.  Put him self down just to
make others feel better.

B'Elanna knew that, let the knowledge of it envelope her as if it were his arms around her.  Finally able to see the message Tom had left for her.


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