Author: Annie M
Archiving: Please ask for permission before archiving anywhere.
Summary: B'Elanna tries to be patient. Set during the sixth season episode,
"The Haunting of Deck 12."
This story focuses on the possible events in that episode, as narrated by Neelix, following Janeway's order to abandon ship.
Thanks to Patti, for giving it a thorough beta test.
Disclaimer: Paramount/Viacom etc. owns the characters and by extension my obsession. The following is for therapeutic purposes only.
(c) Annie M, 5 March 2001.
"Waiting" by Annie M
This not knowing is hard.
The further away from Voyager we get the worse I feel, and the tension building up in my stomachs is beginning to make me queasy.
I check tactical from the "bridge" of the Delta Flyer. Voyager's still dead in space, and I'm not reading any acceptable levels of life support over there. All of her systems are still down.
I hope everyone made it out okay, after Captain Janeway gave the "abandon ship" order.
Seven runs a sensor sweep of the area. She confirms that all of the escape pods have cleared the ship, and it looks like we've all set a course for the Alpha Quadrant, albeit at various speeds.
I glance at Harry, at the helm. He was grim faced the last time he looked my way, but I know he's as determined as I am to make sure we get through this as best we can.
It looks as if the Delta Flyer has just been made the new flag ship. I check the comm traffic between our little armada of shuttles and pods, and most of the messages are directed at us, with everyone looking to the Flyer for answers.
The messages are anxious; everyone wants to know how long we'll be out here like this, and if there's any hope of returning to the ship soon.
I send out a general hail, asking for calm and advising that ships stay together or in groups--we don't need any pods drifting out of sensor range.
Seven looks up from her station and gives me a sceptical look. Maybe she senses my unease.
We haven't heard from the Captain or Chakotay.
"Harry," I call. "I'm going to check aft. You two keep an eye on things, okay?"
Harry turns to me and nods, swinging his chair immediately back to the helm. Seven gives me one of her unfathomable looks. I almost expect her to object or find some flaw in leaving my station at a "crucial time." I hesitate, waiting for her remark, but whatever she is thinking never reaches her lips, and I move on.
I make my way quickly through the little ship and Neelix greets me as I enter what is now our makeshift medical bay. Tom, Tuvok and McMinn are lying on bunks, victims of the sentient electromagnetic life form that's trying to turn Voyager into its own J class nebula.
"How are they?" I ask of Neelix.
"I think they're all in a stable condition, but I've had to keep them sedated, B'Elanna. We've only got a couple of basic med-kits on board, so all I can do is try and relieve their pain. Crewman Tal and I have tried to use the dermal regenerator on Tom and Tuvok's facial burns, but we really don't have enough power to do decent job with either of them--for now."
I wince as I look down at Tom. His body is still, his face misshapen and bubbled from the attack. Neelix's words are of little comfort to me as he continues.
"But their vital signs are good and McMinn's recovering. I think the Doctor was able to start her treatment before he went off line."
I glance over at Maria McMinn--she's sitting up, still looking the worse for wear, hacking a cough every now and then as Tal Celes fixes a blanket around her.
"It's too bad the Doctor isn't here."
Neelix echoes my thoughts exactly as I stand over Tom, softly stroking my fingers against his hair and the unblemished side of his face. I hate to see him this quiet, this still. I take a steadying breath.
"When the Doctor's program went off line I think Chakotay managed to download him into his mobile emitter..." I don't know what else to say. Morale boosting isn't exactly me. I glance down at Tom again and try to will him better. He'd know what to say at a time like this. He'd tell a joke or say something that would put us all at ease. I shudder a little inside, missing him so much, even though I can feel him, warm and alive beneath my fingers.
He'll be fine, I tell myself. He's been through worse.
I look around at my "crew." McMinn, trying to be brave, though it obviously hurts her to try and breath deeply; Tal, who according to Harry, has hardly left his side since she mistook him for a Hirogen back on the ship, is obviously apprehensive.
Tuvok and Tom laid out, unconscious and passive. And Neelix, a small smile of hope lighting his features.
Our eyes meet and something in his amber gaze gives me a little bit of strength.
"Well done," I nod approvingly. "Keep up the good work. I'm sure we'll be back on Voyager in no time."
Don't ask me where that came from--probably Neelix communicating with me telepathically on some level. Or maybe it's Tom.
"Do you think... Naomi and Sam made it out all right?" Neelix asks me.
My hand lingers on Tom's shoulder for another second, as I look at Neelix. How quickly his eyes have changed from warm amber to fearful brown slits. "I'm sure they did, Neelix, but I'll check with Harry and Seven when I go back up," I assure him.
His expression changes again and he nods in satisfaction.
"All the pods and shuttles cleared the ship, so I'm sure Sam and Naomi are just fine." Before Neelix can ask another question I cross the room to McMinn and Celes. "Good to see you up, Maria," I say, giving her leg what I hope is a comfortable squeeze.
McMinn nods and tries to smile, but she still looks dazed and a little traumatised. I try to encourage her all I can. "Who needs the Doc, huh, when we have Neelix and Crewman Tal?"
The Bajoran gives me a little grin and I wink at her. "I think you missed your calling, Celes."
"Thank you, Lieutenant."
Although Tal is gracious, if a little shy in my company, I give a quick thought to how her "missing her calling" might sound. "Don't think about quitting engineering too soon though. We'll need your skilled expertise back on Voyager. A lot of systems will have to be replaced, realigned and re-calibrated when we get home."
If we get home.
"Yes, Ma'am. I won't let you down."
"You never have, Crewman."
This is definitely Tom speaking, but there's an outside chance I'm channelling the Captain.
I hope that's a good sign.
I give them a final look before returning to the "bridge." And if I'm wearing an expression of determination, it's only because I've seen it countless times on the faces of the Captain and Chakotay.
Why haven't we heard from them? I hope they're all right.
"What's the word, Harry?"
He gives me a status report of the ship, and tells me that some of the pods and shuttles have gone to higher warp speeds, including us, at Seven's suggestion. In case the unimaginable happens and that life form on Voyager decides to tinker with the anti-matter.
"I can't raise Chakotay or the Captain," he goes on. "I've tried to scan for their comm badges, but if they are out there, their pod must have suffered some sort of damage that's interfering with our scans."
"Let's hope that's all," I sigh. We couldn't lose them like this--we wouldn't. Where are they? "Any word on the EMH?"
Harry swivels in his chair and shakes his head. "No word from any of the pods or shuttles. I don't think Chakotay got him out of sickbay," he says sombrely. "How are Tom and Tuvok doing?"
I shrug. "The same. Neelix has them sedated for now, McMinn's sitting up."
"Their injuries are not life threatening, Lieutenant," Seven adds. "And Neelix is an excellent care-giver."
Despite myself, I smile at Seven's attempt to make me feel better.
But I can't help but remember what a struggle it was to move Tom and Tuvok from engineering and through the Jefferies tubes to the shuttle bay. Even in such distress, Tuvok maintained his Vulcan stoicism, though we had to slow down every so often to allow them to catch their breath. But Tom's occasional hiss of pain in my ear was too much for me, and I'd stop completely. I offered to carry him over my shoulder, but he refused, even in his semi-conscious state he claimed his predicament was humiliating enough without me carrying him like some helpless child. So, I'd wait for him to squeeze my fingers, to let me know it was okay to keep moving and we'd begin again.
"Perhaps this may be a good time to consider our options, Lieutenant," Seven announces. "I recall detecting a number of M class systems in Astrometrics before our hasty departure from Voyager."
"It's a little soon, don't you think?" I try to counter.
"Voyager is uninhabitable. It is impractical to assume that remaining as we are, we have any chance of reaching the Alpha Quadrant."
Harry turns to me from the conn and we exchange a quick look.
"Ordinarily I'd agree with you, Seven, but I'm not willing to rule out a quick return to Voyager."
"Lieutenant, you surprise me. I never considered you to be sentimental about inanimate objects. Surely you can see it is futile to believe we have any chance of returning to the ship in its current condition."
I bite the inside of my cheek and try to keep my voice calm. "Harry, maintain course and speed, but keep us within sensor range of Voyager. Seven, I want you to keep monitoring Voyager for any changes to its key systems. We're not giving up."
It takes her a minute to respond, but I think she's getting the picture.
"As you wish," she says.
Seven's right, I'm not really that sentimental, but Voyager's been my home for nearly seven years, and most of the highlights of my life happened on that ship.
Could I say a casual good-bye and make do on some new colony world?
If there were no other options. But it's not that time yet. I know it isn't.
This not knowing is hard and I find myself daydreaming about walking Voyager's corridors. The Captain and I touring the damage left by the EM entity and mentally ticking off in our heads how soon we can make repairs; how many shifts we'd need to complete the work; if we'd need to trade for parts or more energy reserves; how many systems were inoperable. And how long could we go on without the kind of re-fit our ship so badly needs.
The hours go by like days, and to ease our restlessness Seven and I take turns in the medical bay, and Neelix and Tal join Harry on the bridge. There's little banter to be heard among us now, as we watch over Tom and Tuvok--still silent. I would give almost anything to hear Tom's acerbic wit or Tuvok's unfailing logic right now--just a single word.
What else can I do to find Captain Janeway and Chakotay? They have to be out there!
Damn it, what have I missed? Is it possible they're still on the ship?
I start to calculate how much oxygen they'd have in the standard issue breathing apparatus. It's possible they could survive this long, if they've got more than one between them....
"Lieutenant Torres, I do not believe your grasping Lieutenant Paris' hand that way will be conducive to his recovery."
Shit! I let go of him in an instant, I wasn't even aware I was holding his hand.
"Sorry," I whisper to him, now brushing the impression of my desperate clutch from his already pale skin.
Tom would probably love the chance to settle on some M class planet somewhere. So long as it had the potential for water-sports, skiing and hiking. And he could still fly.
I guess so long as I could still tinker with engineering principles--and let's face it, you can't build a new settlement without them--I'd be happy too.
If Tom were there with me.
Time drags on and Seven and I return to the bridge of the Flyer. Our continuous checks are now hourly, and this not knowing is making me feel numb inside.
"I'm detecting a change in Voyager's atmospheric controls," Seven announces suddenly.
Harry and I turn to her, a little expectant and a little fearful. I can barely control my voice, but I manage to ask, "Any life signs?"
"One," she pauses to run another scan. "I believe it is Captain Janeway. I am now detecting a full restoration of power and life support to Voyager.
"Is she all right, is Chakotay with her, can you hail her?" I urge. My God, she was on the ship this whole time!
"I am attempting to do so."
Janeway's voice comes over the comm a few seconds later. She sounds out of breath and wheezy, but I detect relief in her voice too.
::: I'm fine, B'Elanna, Seven... ::: she says, as the communication crackles with the sound of her small coughing fit. ::: Chakotay and I were separated by the EM life form, and his pod was launched without me. The life form has now returned control of Voyager--tell everyone they can come home. :::
Harry lets out a whoop of glee, clapping his hands in delight, while Seven raises an eyebrow to try and restrain his enthusiasm. He ignores it.
I shake my head ruefully. Only the Captain. Whether she'd stayed behind of her own choice or not, you could guarantee she wouldn't give up on her ship just because an electromagnetic entity wanted to turn Voyager into its new home.
And at this moment, I'm positive Janeway could talk down the Borg Queen herself. I join Harry in the revelry, laughing out load at the mental picture my thoughts conjure up.
"Let's start spreading the good news," Harry says through a grin.
"I will comply," Seven states evenly, but I could swear she quirked her lips in a genuine smile.
"Set a course for home, Harry," I order, getting to my feet to bring the good news to Neelix, Tal and McMinn.
"Save that for the Captain, Starfleet," I joke.
"What do you think you've been for these last few hours?"
I pause and turn to stare at him, and it takes a while for me to comprehend what he's saying. It hits me in the stomach like a cramp. I reach out and hold on to the engineering station I'd been sitting at.
A few hours in the metaphysical "big chair." I don't want to allow myself to start thinking about it; I'll throw up for sure if I do. I'm just the engineer, and right now, a damn relieved one.
By the time I get down there, Neelix, Tal and McMinn have already heard the news and are beaming. Neelix comes out of an embrace with Tal Celes and rushes to me.
"B'Elanna, this is wonderful!" he crows, pulling me into a hug. I roll my eyes but hug him back--what else can I do?
"The Captain came through again," I admit, as I try to take a step back from him.
"Is that nebula thing still on board?" asks Tal.
"Perhaps," I respond, "but Captain Janeway says everything is under control."
"Maybe we should put our shields up or have weapons on line as we get closer to
Voyager," she suggests.
I share a look with Neelix that is this close to making me roar with laughter. "Maybe you should go talk to Seven and Harry about it," I say, behind a small smirk.
I admit, the girl has a point, but I've come to trust the captain implicitly on matters like these. If Janeway says the ship is fine, you can bet your monthly rations, the ship is just fine.
I feel a small tug at my hip and look down. Tom has his one good eye open slightly.
"Hey," he rasps, "what's going on?"
I turn to him and crouch down by his side. I reach for his hand and he holds on to me firmly.
"Hey," I whisper to him, "how are you doing?" He makes a face at me, though how he manages to do it with all that damage I'll never know. "Still in pain?"
"Not too bad," he manages. "How's Tuvok? Is the Captain okay? What about the ship?"
"Tom, save your strength. Everything's fine, we'll have you and Tuvok back to your beautiful best in no time." I share a brief glance with Neelix and he immediately brings over a hypospray.
"Ssshh, everything's all right, Tom. Everything's all right now."
This seems to calm him and he relaxes his grasp on my hand a little but he doesn't let go. Neelix injects him and Tom sighs as the vial of pain reliever hisses against his skin.
"We're going home," I whisper against his cheek, kissing his hair softly.
"You okay?" he asks, before slipping back to into unconsciousness.
"I'm fine," I reply to his sleeping form.
My comm badge chirps, it's Harry.
::: B'Elanna, we've just made contact with Chakotay's pod. It took him a while but he's got his comm system back up and he says he's fine. He should rendezvous with Voyager in a few hours. :::
"Thanks, Harry. Let the Captain know, would you?"
::: Already have. And before you ask, our ETA with Voyager is four hours at warp two. :::
"Harry, let's get there a little faster, okay?"
::: Yes, Ma'am. :::
My stomachs give another flutter and I smile in relief.