Where The Mind Travels
Parts 1 - 9
B'Elanna Torres, lonely from the long nights she had been spending alone lately, at long last gave herself the time she needed to think.
With Tom Paris working double shifts, sometimes longer, B'Elanna had seen her lover maybe ten minutes here, an hour there for the last two weeks. She discovered, then, how implicitly connected their lives had become, having very few people to call to alieve her boredom. It was funny, even years ago she would have been able to think of at least one or two people that would have been glad to spend some time with her, but now there was just no one she wanted except Tom.
So now, she was left with nothing to do but think. Working her way through the corridors of Voyager, B'Elanna made her way to the holodeck, mercifully available, and programmed the scene to one that she loved, despite it's real life memories. When the doors slid open, B'Elanna found herself faced with a children's playground, one that she herself had played on as a child. It was deserted now, much as it had been while she had played there; the children had never wanted to play with her, so she had waited until long after dark and come here to think and just *be* peacefully.
She strode through the empty park, the creaking of the deserted swings eerie to most, but to her they were a comfort. In the middle of the park was an old game, one that B'Elanna knew had lasted through centuries. It was circular in shape, divided into four sections by piping to which the children clung as it spins around and around in dizzying circles. B'Elanna now lay down upon that game, wrapping her legs around the middle pole, grasping the ones at her side as she hung her head off the end.
"Computer, begin spin, repeated rotation, tolerable speed."
On command the game lurched into action, spinning at first slowly then more quickly as B'Elanna stared up at the familiar stars above. The stars seemed to spiral as she lay, and her thoughts travelled to dwell upon the thin thread that fathomed the destiny of all living creatures.
What would have happened if the threads had crossed in some way, and things that never should have happened did? What would have happened if her father never left? Would she still have met Tom? Still be as sucessful as the last six years aboard Voyager had made her? What would have happened if that shuttle had never crashed at Caldek Prime and Tom had never been banned from Starfleet? What would have happened if he had never been captured while out for the Maquis? What would have happened if his family life had been different? So many questions flowed through her mind as she spiraled in place, so many different ways they could have met, so many different places they could have seen. But would it have happened?
The stars continued to spin as she flew faster around and around, and her mind travelled to those far away places, to those far away times that could have changed so much for both Tom and herself.
"Daddy! You're home!"
B'Elanna Torres, six years old, ran happily across the fields directly into her father's arms. He picked her up and spun her around, making the stars in the sky spiral as she let her head drop back, her hair flowing free, laughing lightly.
She had been worried at first, worried that he wouldn't return after the fight he and her mother had had the week before. He had packed his bags, kissed B'Elanna on the head, and walked out of the house without looking back. B'Elanna had watched him leave, tears streaming down her face, praying to all the dieties both her parents spoke of that he would return. And now, seven days later, he was back.
"Where did you go, Daddy? What did you see?"
With a grin her father shifted her small body onto his hip, and carried her into the house. He told her of going to earth to visit his parents, her own grandparents and how much they wanted to see his little B'Ela. She drifted off to sleep that night, and many nights after to the sound of his voice soothing her with stories of his home and their family, and how one day he would take her with him to visit the people that loved them both so much from so far away.
The relationship between her mother and father was never what one could call non explosive, but they tried, and they worked their way around their problems to stay together. B'Elanna spent her childhood and youth watching them, and grew to realize that somehow they loved each other, and her. Her mother's strict rule of a klingon upbringing faded somewhat, and she was allowed to explore both sides of her blood on her own time. She found that over time, she grew to love herself, and even the children and their teasing no longer bothered her.
When it came time for her to leave her family and her home, B'Elanna had to think long and hard of what she wanted to do with her life. For one, she wanted to visit the Homeworld, for her mother's sake if not her own, and secure all that her mother had taught her over the years in her heart and mind. She definately wanted to visit Earth as well. Her grandparents were aging and she wanted to sit with them without her parents present, and hear the stories of her father's childhood and of her history, give herself time to assimilate the course that her family has taken over the centuries.
Picking up her bags, she wrapped her arms around her father's neck, kissing his cheek lightly, denying the moisture in her eyes as she prepared to leave for the first time on her own. She turned to her mother and inclined her head, but was surprised to find herself wrapped in warm, strong arms before being sent on her way.
She had to choose her path as she sat and waited for the shuttle that would take her to a nearby space station. There, her adult life would begin to unfold. Earth or the Klingon Homeworld? Starfleet or other? Chances were that if she went to Earth to see her family, she would join Starfleet while there, and through her career have a chance to visit the Homeworld. She nodded to herself, that would be the way to go.
And so she did. She joined Stafleet, stuck her way out through the classes, and graduated near top her class. She was one of the best, and she knew it. Her father had drilled it into her that she could be the best, and she would be the best. She was going to make him proud, because somewhere deep inside her she knew that he had stayed with herself and her mother for one reason, and one reason only. B'Elanna.
She had passed a man one day, a sorrowful, beaten down man, as she boarded the shuttle that would take her to her first official Starfleet assignment. He had eyes the colour of a warp core, dusky blonde hair, and beautiful features. Her heart stopped beating in her chest for a moment as they made eye contact, and a small smile came to her lips. He watched her as she walked by, watched her so closely that she could hardly have missed the haunted look in those sea blue eyes, or the dark circles that rounded them. Her heart leapt out for him, something inside her recognizing him, and she wanted to stop. She felt the most incredible need to stop and go back, reach out and touch his shoulder, take the pain away from him, if only for the chance to see the young man's eyes sparkle as brilliantly as she somehow knew they would. But she continued onwards.
She learned later that he had been drummed out of Starfleet for a matter of misconduct, having caused the deaths of three of his fellow officers. Her heart ached for him, having seen the sorrow and regret that surrounded a frame too young to hold such heavy emotion. For some inexplicable reason she worried for the man, but as time moved onwards, he faded from her mind. She had a career to concentrate upon, and the fate of a stranger, no matter how drawn to him she may have felt, would not stand in the way of the glory and honour she knew was in store for her future.
The playground game continued to spin as B'Elanna brought herself back to reality. She didn't like that particular scenario, she didn't like having been happy while Tom never had the chance. She wondered how he would have turned out if Kathryn Janeway hadn't come to New Zealand to take him away from the guilt and pain that haunted his every footstep. She had heard from Harry about the alternate time line he had stepped into; she had heard that even then something of the Tom she loved had shone throuh in his sacrifice to save Harry's life.
But would he have loved as he did now? Would he still smile and crack jokes to make sure those around him were comfortable? Would he be able to relax, giving his heart and soul to a group of people that had grown to care for him as their own? Or would he continue to wallow in the explicit guilt that had overwhelmed him when they had first met?
If they had never met and fallen in love, would Tom had continued on in his path to self destruction?
Tears came to B'Elanna's eyes as images of a time never lived floated within her mind, and the spiraling stars overhead blurred. The last thought B'Elanna had before allowing herself to slip into her introspective world, was that when the stars blurred, somehow they became the face of Tom Paris, and the blue light from the central planets, became his eyes. The blue lights flickered dimly, and once again B'Elanna was lost.
He couldn't believe that he had been captured. Sure, what the hell, the Admiral had given up on him long before his declaration of treachery, but still! Tom Paris was supposed to be the best; the son of the best was supposed to have grown up to be the best. He shrugged to himself. He was the best all right, the best screw up on this side of the galaxy, and problably the next.
He had no one and nothing anymore. Starfleet had given up on him when he had crashed that shuttle (well, he could lie to others, but not himself. They had given up on him when he had abandoned honour to save his own sorry hide and lied about the cause of the crash), and now the Maquis would have given up on him as well. He was no good to anyone, not even Federation traitors.
He had had no respect left for himself after the shuttle crash, all he wanted to do was curl up into a ball and die quietly, but his body refused to give out. So, he joined the Maquis and proved once again that he couldn't cut it.
He sat in his cell at the New Zealand penitentary day after day, month after month and thought about what a fucking screw up he truly was. He didn't care about how he looked, he didn't care about what he thought or what he did. All he cared about was getting out of this barred in life sucking hell hole permanently. Once he was out, he knew he would be nobody, but as long as he was here he was Tom Paris, traitor. The guards beat him almost daily now. They beat into him with fists, much as his father had with his words, how utterly fucked up he truly was. Soon, it became the truth.
Finally, after what had seemed like an eternity, the prision officals released him. He wandered the bright, sunlit streets of New Zealand alone, the cold, hard mask that he had perfected in that prision washed over him. If it killed him, no one would ever see the real Tom Paris ever again.
And so he wandered; he had no career, no friends, and a string of lovers as long as his prision sentence. He survived by wits alone (the great Starfleet Admiral doesn't breed stupid troopers), taking the gullables for all their ready cash in pool games and card matches. He made enough to live by, and for the most part wasn't starving. He lived in a dingy hole some scumlord called an apartment, and spent the days sleeping off the hangovers he had bestowed upon himself with alcohol the night before. None of that replicated shit either, the real hard stuff that would eat away his liver and kidneys and with any luck kill him at a relatively young age. Mix that with the disgusting tubes that passed for modern cigarettes, he was courting lung cancer among other diseases as well.
He didn't need outside influence to kill him, however, he did that all on his own accord. He was a volitile man, hating everything and everyone that crossed his path, except those women he could coax into his bed. And, still, even after a good long night of fucking, he found he never really liked those women. They were just good for one thing. Hey, it wasn't like they were innocents, they used him just as much as he used them. All they wanted was the chance to say they did the bump and grind with an ex-con, not to mention ex-starfleet and ex-maquis. Soon, he was just an ex-lover. Ex ex ex ex ex.. everything in his life never completed became an ex.
"Fucking stupid letter anyway," he grumbled to himself as he downed his fifth whiskey of the night. "X Y, why ex? Why ask why when you're an ex?" He made no sense, even to himself, and shrugged that off as well. Who needed to make sense when no one cared to listen?
And so he ordered another whiskey, spinning on the barstool to see who would be the victim of the night. What he didn't see when he turned was the bottle of some alien alcohol sitting on the counter beside him, which he promptly sent smashing to the ground.
A large alien loomed over him, but Tom's mind was too befuddled with alcohol to identify the creature. It yelled at him in some language other than Federation Standard, and Tom merely shrugged his shoulders.
"Listen, man, I'm sorry for busting your drink. Christ, don't get your panties in a bundle, I'll buy you another." Tom's eyes rolled as he turned back to motion to the bar tender. He had every intention of going through with his offer, but apparantly the creature understood Federation Standard about as well as he spoke it. He heard Tom's quasi facious tone, witnessed the rolling of the young human's eyes, and took it as a challenge no warrior would be honourable to turn down.
The broken bottle head was in the creature's hand before Tom could force his alcohol dumbed limbs to react. The sharp edges burried their way into Tom's shoulders, causing him to hollar with agony as the bottle was ripped out of his body and plunged in once more. His blood stained his already dirty white shirt red, soaking down his arm and back, over the bar stool and pooling on the floor. The alien reared his arm back again, and again the bottle plunged into Tom, his back spasming with the force of his musculature tissue being torn away from his bone.
Tom watched it all as if it were happening in slow motion. He never even raised an arm to protect himself from the alien's onslaught. As he sat there dying, Tom wondered silently if he even cared beyond the measure of pain that his life was about to end so suddenly, even though there could have been so much more that he could have done.
For some reason a hint of sadness wrapped around his heart and he flashed back to a day several years before when he passed a beautiful woman as she boarded a transfer shuttle. Beautiful, beautiful woman; half klingon his mind told him. So young and innocent, so full of hope and joy for her future. He wondered what happened to her as he watched his blood flowing away from his body in a river of red. He wondered if she ever thought of him in passing; he wondered if she even felt that brief moment of unexplicable recognition that he had. He wondered if she would care that in a few moments he would be dead?
The alien's hand slashed downwards one final time, and Tom felt his throat open under the cutting of the bottles edges. The last of his blood jutted forth, bathing the alien with his liquid life as his eyes dimmed.
The last thing Tom Paris saw as he slipped into oblivion was a pair of brown eyes, *her* eyes, called forth from a memory long burried. Why his last thoughts should be of a stranger, he didn't know, but in his slide from the mortal world, he was comforted.
B'Elanna had to bite back the cry of horror that threatened to break loose as in her mind's eye she could see Tom's precious life easing away. She wanted to scream at that image; pick him up and shake him, screaming that she would have cared. No matter where and when they were, no matter who they were, she would know and she would care. But it was only an image, and only her imagination had brought it to life.
It was amazing that something so obviously created out of a moment of pure fancy could instill such horror in her heart. She wondered briefly when it was that her heart became so intwined into Tom's life, and then dismissed the strangling thought. She had a feeling that no matter where or when they may have met, they would feel the same.
That left her mind wandering in yet another direction now. If they had met in the Maquis, if he hadn't been captured and arrested, would they have fallen together as soundly as they had upon Voyager? She smiled softly as she continued to spin around and around, her eyes never leaving the stars above. She was almost sure of it. The Maquis were much like Voyager; they had only each other for family and only the single drive of their desire pushing them on and forward to freedom. There had to be a spark of life, a need for self preservation if you were to fight for the Maquis' cause.
Tom's smile drifted over her mind to haunt her and warm her at the same time. As her imagination latched onto that smile and carried her away once more, she sighed, and allowed herself to drift off on the waves of her thoughts.
She brushed her dark hair out of her eyes as she grumbled Klingon curses at the mass of wires before her.
"Stupid fucking ship," B'Elanna Torres groused aloud, as she tried to stitch back together the almost irreparably damaged systems of the ship upon which she was, for the moment, posted. What ever possessed her to join the Maquis, she wasn't sure, probably just to get back at her mother and Starfleet, both for giving up on her too soon. Goddamnit, she was worth the effort! She was worth the time to get to know! So, she was a bit volitile, wasn't anyone on a bad day? And in the Maquis most days were bad days.
"Whoa, that's some language to come from such a pretty mouth."
With a snarl over being interupted, B'Elanna shoved an annoying stray lock of hair out of her right eye, and glanced up, prepared to do battle. Instead, her heart caught in her throat as those blue eyes twinkled down at her. Catching her breath, B'Elanna returned the snarl to her lips, if not her eyes. "Who are you and what do you want?"
He leaned against the console with a slight grin upon his lips. "Tom Paris, and as to what I want, that depends on what you are willing to give."
B'Elanna rolled her eyes with sarcasm. "Then you want absolutely nothing so get the fuck out of my way."
He was unphased as his small grin turned into a full fledged, 100 watt smile. "I'm the new pilot. I heard we had a beautiful engineer" he paused as she snorted with disgust "and I just wanted to come down here and meet her myself."
"Great. You've met me. When are you going to get out of my face? I have work to do in case you can't see it for the radiance of my beauty." Her voice dripped icicles as her sarcasm oozed out of every word.
"B'Elanna Torres," he paused as she looked up one more time, "I think we'll be seeing a lot of each other from now on."
B'Elanna groaned inwardly, "Then leave me to kill myself now and save us both the aggrivation."
"I think I like you."
"I think that as long as I had breasts and a heartbeat you'd like me."
"Now I know I like you."
His grin finally hit his eyes, and they sparkled like a million stars condensed into two tiny blue spheres. He leaned down close to B'Elanna's ear and whispered so softly his hot breath barely disturbed the soft hair curling around the side of her face. "Baby, when I'm through with you, "you pig" will be the last words to come to mind, and "Oh, God, Tom!" will be the first."
B'Elanna couldn't stop the small grin that threatened to break into a smile. "Yeah, probably right before I puke on your shoes."
"I didn't think Klingons threw up."
"Not as a rule, but I'll make an exception for your lame lines."
Sure, they started out rough, but Tom and B'Elanna seemed to find themselves drawn closer together as time went on. More often than not they found themselves fighting at each other's sides, protecting the other from harm. It surprised only them when the fierce passion they shared in their own private war, turned to a fierce passion shared in the bedroom.
Their love making was never slow, in the Maquis there was rarely any time for taking things with a measure of leisure. They came together hard and rough, fast and powerful any chance they could get. From the first time until the second last, sex was to them as harsh as colliding in a battle. Once, and one time only they had the chance to dwell on the others body, taste and touch everything that they desired. Once, and one time only they took it slow and gentle, peaceful and long lasting. Once, and one time only, they made love rather than fucked, and only because they knew that the next morning they would be dead, and this would be their only chance.
Trapped together in a filthy Cardassian prision, captured together on one final mission to Cardassia Prime, they came together with hearts, souls and bodies until they were melded into one being.
He had barely pulled from her warm depths when the Cardassians arrived to take them away. Already naked they were spared the embarrassment of being stripped before being chained up in a central courtyard. They didn't die quickly, Cardassians never believed in mercy. Rather pieces of flesh were slowly stripped from their bleeding bodies, and each had to listen to the screams of agony from the other as they died.
In the end, B'Elanna watched Tom die first. He couldn't hold out, couldn't hold up against the flaying of his once beautiful body. Strip after strip of skin was torn away until his flesh lay waiting first the salt water, then the whips, and finally the acid that melted away whatever was left of the one she had once loved. B'Elanna, herself, died in agony, but not from the physical pain of the same fate befalling her as had been delivered to Tom. Rather, the agony she felt was internal, having her last physical sight be of the puddle of biological material on the ground beneath her own melting body, and two tortured blue eyes, perfect in their preservation, staring up at her in horror as she passed away.
B'Elanna shuddered suddenly. What the hell was her problem? So far, in every clip her imagination forced upon her, Tom had been tortured and killed. Was that how she saw their lives without the other? So awful that they may as well die? But in this last one they had been together and still they died (but you died together! a little voice screamed at her). Together. She smiled slightly as she revolved on the children's toy. As selfish as it may sound, she wanted her and Tom to die together so that neither should have to face life without the other. She prayed that the unthinkable would never happen, that she would never have to face staring at that cold metal box as it floated away with Tom's body safely ensconsed inside, because she knew she would go insane.
"Computer, increase rotation speed by one quarter."
She closed her eyes now as the computer increased the speed of the revolving game. She knew that if she lost Tom there would be a gaping hole in her heart, if her heart even survived the vacuum that would suck all the life out of her in that very instant. The longer she stayed with this train of thought, the further she spiraled down into the depths of her imagination.
One last concept came to mind, one last scene that gloried her but sullied Tom. Even still, her imagination ran away with her, dragging her down into the depths of internal imagery one more time.
B'Elanna Torres grinned visciously as the blood from the freshly torn out heart of her oponent ran down her chin and stained her armour. She was a warrior, a klingon, and future generations would sing of her victories at this battle with awe and pride.
Her bat'telh came down into the chest of yet another victim, slashing upwards to open his sternum and split his throat wide. This is what she lived for, this is the reason to live!
Her mother had taken her to the Homeworld after her *petaQ* father deserted them. She had trained B'Elanna constantly, drilling the klingon rites and traditions into the girl so thoroughly that she grew to despise her human side for weakness, and built the strength of her klingon side to compensate. She was the most gloried warrior in her house, her honour was beyond prejudice. She was B'Elanna, and she brought death to all those that opposed her.
A bat'telh decended behind her head, and she dove to the left, the blade barely missing her throat. She spun on her heel, raising her blade to chest level as she met the eyes of her attacker. She stared at him in surprise for a moment, his eyes two blue focus points in behind his thick armour. She snarled.
"Hab SoSlI' Quch'" she snapped bitterly, dropping into fighting stance.
"I would hope so considering she's human, Klingon."
"Both your parents will weep tonight for the death of their son!"
Tom Paris snorted ungraciously, "They'll no more weep for my death, then I'll weep for yours when I plunge my blade into your heart and eat from it."
"Piteful attempt, Human. You could never do justice to a Klingon threat with your weak voice and pale face. Go back to your baby cradle and have your mommy sing you a lullaby. Leave the fighting to warriors."
"Well, little Klingon, perpare to sing your own death chant to Sto'vo'kor."
Tom lunged forward, his bat'telh a graceful appendage to his limbs as he thrust and parried with B'Elanna's equally graceful attack. Together they faught across the battlefield, B'Elanna using the bodies of dead warriors to bring herself eye level with her opponent. They fought hard, equally balanced, and slowly they both began to tire. Still they fought, their blades drawing strips of blood from the other, thin cuts, thick gashes, anywhere that the sharpened end of the bat'telh could land a mark.
Somewhere in the back of their minds, a sense of familiarity sprung as they fought, as if they had faced each other before. As clear as day they knew the others strengths and weaknesses, and began pressuring the other exactly where they knew they could gain the advantage. It was Tom, however, that gained the upper hand after they faced each other for over an hour.
Tom's face broke into a grin of victory as his bat'telh rose to deliver the death blow to his worthy oponent. "Sto'vo'kor awaits you warrior. Meet your death with honour."
He brought the bat'telh down hard, and cried out with the thrill of victory as it peirced her chest and breast plate, driving deeply into her heart.
She cried out once, her body tensing and bucking upon his blade, before her eyes rapidly began to dim. Her blood, a pinkish red, glowed upon his face as she peered up at him against the backdrop of a setting sun. She nodded weakly, and he leaned down closely to hear her final words.
"Today is a good day to die," her whisper was faint, and her head fell back, she no longer had the strength to hold it up.
Very suddenly, Tom felt a deep tearing regret at having felled this beautiful Klingon woman. With a sigh, he said the only thing that came to mind to give her comfort, "batlh Daqawlu'taH. You will be remembered with honour."
She smiled, her fingers convulsing around her bat'telh as an evil glint came to her eyes. "I know, Human." With every last ounce of strength she raised the Bat'leth, and sliced open the front of Tom's armour, drawing a gush of blood that flowed over her face. She smiled with satisfaction, nodded once, and died.
Tom grimaced as he looked down upon her, his hand holding the minor wound in his chest. Nothing a field med kit he kept in his tent wouldn't cure. He thought for a moment about ripping out her heart and feeding from it, an honoured Klingon tradition, but changed his mind. Beauty such as hers should be left intact.
He closed the folds of her armour, covering the gaping wound that used to be her chest, and closed her lids over her no longer seeing eyes. He bowed his head for a moment, and turned and walked away.
She had been a good warrior.
B'Elanna opened her eyes slowly, the sky still spinning above her, the world still churning below. She sighed.
"Computer, halt rotation."
The children's game slowed, spinning less and less quickly until it came to a halt with a bump a moment later. B'Elanna looked up, only to be greeted by smiling, warp core blue eyes. She smiled in return.
Those two sea blue orbes sparkled brighter than the brightest stars. 'Oh yes,' B'Elanna thought, 'The real thing is so much better than the imagination.' She reached up a hand, allowing Tom to pull her gracefully to her feet.
"What were you doing, B'Elanna?"
"About what I have in mind for tonight? You know we both have a rest day tomorrow.. all day.. twenty four hours." His eyebrows waggled suggestively, and she smiled.
"Twenty four hours with you sounds pretty good right now, flyboy." She bent to pick up the few things she had brought with her, lowering the zipper to her uniform so that it wasn't so tight around her neck as she cleaned.
He frowned as he watched her order the holodeck to end program. "What *were* you thinking about, B'Ela?"
She shrugged, slipping into the warm circle of his arms, raising her lips to meet his soft kiss. She breathed in the wonderful, living scent of him, and sighed with pleasure. "Things that will never, and should never be, Tom. Come on, let's go live *our* life."