Title: The Words That Remain Unspoken
Author: Briar Rose
Synopsis: Set shortly after 'Faces', so there will be spoilers. I'll go with the fact stated in that episode that B'Elanna's father left her when she was five, 'Lineage' notwithstanding. Three officers share three wishes.
Disclaimer: All the characters and lingo is property of Paramount. I don't even pretend to own them.
Thanks: To my three amigos, my beta buddies Barb, LA and Liz. Once again we've wrestled a story to the ground. Or is it a storylet? I have links to their superb stories on my homepage, why not check them out?
Date: May 2001
B'Elanna Torres sat alone staring out the viewport at the passing stars. Tom and Harry were in the gym. They'd tried to get her to join them in a game of three-man basketball, but she preferred her solitude in the near empty mess hall.
She was back on light duty after being released from sickbay, 'light' for her meaning banishment from engineering after putting in her full eight-hour shift. She dreaded the thought of being alone in her quarters, but she didn't want Harry and Tom's rough company at the moment, either. So she settled for the mess hall, where the low conversation from a handful of crewmembers comforted
her, though no one expected her to join them.
Or maybe it was because no one desired her company that she was comforted. If she was alone, she didn't have to be nice to anyone, or pretend that she was feeling better than she really was. She really didn't feel up to making polite conversation about her ordeal in the Vidiian mines.
She raised a hand to her forehead, and slid her fingers down and then up again, following the line of her ridges. She'd spent a long time hating them-hating the outward reminder of her Klingoness-and she still wasn't comfortable with all they represented. But seeing her Klingon self as a separate person, and seeing the scorn in her eyes for her human counterpart, were eye-opening experiences for B'Elanna. She had never before considered that had she been more human, she could have possibly resented that weakness in herself.
Or maybe she was just conditioned to self-loathing after living with it for so long.
"Basketball is not a contact sport, Tom," Harry said as he and Tom bounded into the room. He headed directly for the galley and helped himself to a pitcher of water, and two glasses. He turned in time to see Tom leap over the back of the sofa to land beside B'Elanna, jostling her.
"You would have missed that shot anyway and you know It, Harry," Tom called with a dismissive wave of his hand. He grinned at B'Elanna and punched her lightly in the shoulder. "I told him to stop daydreaming about Jenny Delaney and concentrate on the ball," he said.
"If anyone was showing off it was you," Harry countered as he set the pitcher on a low table and sat across from them, under the window.
"I'm telling you Harry, Jenny likes you. You should ask her to spend some more time with you on the holodeck."
"I have a girlfriend at home, Tom," Harry reminded him. "I don't need a matchmaker."
Tom turned to B'Elanna and followed her gaze out the window. The glow from the starfield cast deep shadows on her face, making the ridges on her forehead seem more prominent. "Heavy thoughts?" he asked.
She let her gaze shift to him for a moment, then dropped her eyes to her hands in her lap.
"You could say that," she answered softly.
"B'Elanna, are you feeling all right?" Harry leaned forward, concern in his eyes. She hadn't been out of sickbay for very long.
"I'm fine, really," she said. "Just thinking too much, I guess."
Tom looked rueful for a moment. He knew that B'Elanna couldn't get the events of the last week off her mind, and he was beginning to think she was starting to obsess about Pete Durst's death. "I guess you're not the only one," he admitted.
B'Elanna raised her head and looked at him. "Hey," she said. "There was nothing you could have done to save Durst; you know that."
"Do I?" he countered softly. "Do I know that for a fact?"
B'Elanna shivered at the memory of the Vidiian guards as they took Durst away. "If you had fought them, they would have taken you instead. I don't... I can't..." She shook her head and glanced out the viewport again, her thoughts lost in the stars.
Tom sighed. He hadn't wanted to remind her of that awful fact: that Durst had been killed, his face grafted onto that Vidiian doctor like a scene in one of those bad 1950's horror movies he was so fond of. In truth, without weapons there was nothing that either one of them could have done to save Pete. He was in command, so Pete was his responsibility, not B'Elanna's. That she felt
unreasonably responsible for his death, Tom already knew, and he saw no reason for them both to live with that guilt.
He followed the direction of her eyes, and his mouth quirked up in a smile. "Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight," he began.
B'Elanna turned to him and raised an eyebrow. "What?" she asked.
Harry leaned forward to place his glass on the table. "You know, the rhyme," he said. "To a wishing star."
B'Elanna just frowned and shook her head. She looked perplexed. "What's a 'wishing star'?" she asked them.
Tom sighed again, though he tried not to. Here was more evidence of B'Elanna's foreshortened childhood. The little she had told him in the mines about her life on Kessik IV after her father had left had made him realize how different her childhood was from his own. His had been far from ideal, but at least he was well versed in childish games. He rubbed a tired hand across his face and looked hopefully at Harry.
"Well, you're supposed to say this rhyme to the first star you see at night, then make a wish, and it'll come true." Harry supplied.
"Like a birthday?" B'Elanna asked.
"Something like that," Tom agreed. Looking at her doubtful expression he had a sudden desire to get it all back for her. It made him wish fiercely that he could ask his sisters about all the secret desires of a five year old girl. "Pick a star," he said. "A stationary one."
B'Elanna gave him the look she reserved for when he said something incredibly obvious, and he grinned in response. "Pick one," he urged.
"Oh all right." B'Elanna gave in to the inevitable.
"Now repeat after me; star light, star bright, first star I see tonight-"
"But it's not," she interrupted.
He felt the smile lift the corner of his mouth in spite of himself. He loved her contrariness. "Pretend it is," he said.
B'Elanna sighed and ground out the rhyme.
"I wish I may, I wish I might," he continued, "have the wish I wish tonight." He looked at her expectantly.
B'Elanna wondered for a moment if Tom was making it all up, but a glance at Harry revealed that he was reciting the words under his breath. She shook her head and did the same, thinking that Tom could talk her into anything.
"So?" Tom prompted when she was done.
"What? There's more?" she asked.
"What would you wish for?" Harry asked.
"You have to say it out loud or it won't come true," Tom stated.
B'Elanna frowned. She was sure he had said the opposite at Harry's birthday party a few weeks ago. "And no fair wishing to get back to the Alpha quadrant," he added.
B'Elanna thought for a moment, knowing what she should wish for, but then self-loathing overrode her guilt about Pete Durst's death. She opened her mouth to speak, but Tom cut her off. "Harry first," he decided.
Harry drew in a long breath, and sat back, distancing himself from his friends. "All right," he said. "I'd wish I'd never met Libby, so it wouldn't have to hurt so much to be away from her."
"Oh, Harry," B'Elanna said. She realized that she had been so absorbed in her own problems lately that she hadn't noticed that her friend was hurting too. She reached for him but he just shook his head and gave her a sad smile. He looked at her expectantly.
"That's easy," she said. "I'd wish these away again." She gestured toward her forehead, and Harry finally took her hand and gave it a warm squeeze.
"I'd wish them back," Tom declared instantly.
B'Elanna's brows drew together in an angry frown, accentuating the ridges she so despised.
"But not for the reason you're thinking. Not just to annoy you," he amended. "I'd wish them back because of what they give you; your strength, and determination. Your sense of honor."
She rolled her eyes as he stressed the last word but he pressed on, undaunted. "I don't doubt for a moment that it was that Klingon spirit inside of you that helped you make it in the mines. You were ill, B'Elanna, and you'd just undergone a horrible, debilitating experience. But you still managed to
escape and get the shield grid down so Chakotay could beam in and rescue us."
"She helped me escape, Tom. She waltzed right into the barracks and took out the guards while I was cowering on the floor!"
"Why were the guards bothering you, B'Elanna?" Harry asked gently. "What happened down there?"
"They'd caught me at the computer terminal. I was trying to contact Voyager... They were about to take me to organ processing when she came in," her voice shook with the memory. She was starting to tremble slightly, and her eyes looked over-bright.
Tom glanced at Harry, then his gaze shifted back to B'Elanna. "I know I'm saying this all wrong, but the woman I saw down in that mine was the same woman I see in front of me. You have no idea how strong you are, B'Elanna. The way you are now, or fully human."
She shook her head vehemently. "You're wrong, Tom. I was weak, and I don't just mean physically. I was terrified every moment that I was in those tunnels. I couldn't even do anything to help myself, let alone help Durst." B'Elanna paused and let out a slow breath, willing herself to calm down. "She had to carry me out of the barracks, Tom. I'd fainted. From the shock of seeing her; from fear. And even though we're safe on Voyager I'm still a little... I don't want to feel that way again," she admitted quietly.
"If you feel that way, why would you want to be human again?" Tom felt his chest tighten as he looked at her. "Look, I'm not an expert on the human psyche, but I do know that having feelings doesn't make you weak, B'Elanna. It makes you human. It makes you a better person. What you call cowardice, I call exhaustion. You were ill, and frightened, and that's normal under the circumstances," he insisted.
"Maybe I just want to be the way I was a week ago." She glanced toward Harry and he shook his head slightly.
"You can't, B'Elanna. None of us can," Harry said.
B'Elanna expelled a breath, a little of her old anger coming back, "Certainly not Pete Durst."
"You can't blame yourself for what that... that 'mad scientist' did down there."
"Why not?" Her voice was rising with her anger, and several people were staring at them. B'Elanna pulled her hands through her hair and resisted the urge to get up and pace. "You saw him, Tom. And you saw how he reacted to...her. Isn't it obvious why he had Durst killed? Don't you think I figured that out by now? Hell, maybe they had a dinner date and he wanted to look his best." A shadow crossed Tom's face, and he pressed his lips into a thin line. She gulped in a breath of air and turned her face away from him.
Her voice was quieter now. "They could have taken you instead. They almost did. How do you think that makes me feel when I look at you?"
"B'Elanna, I know you feel guilty, but what happened to Pete wasn't your fault," Tom insisted. "Even if she'd asked him to kill Pete, it still wouldn't be your fault."
"She was me!" B'Elanna insisted. "They both were. All my life I just wanted to fit in. I wanted to be pre-" She bit off the word. She couldn't say 'that.' Certainly not in front of Harry with his boyishly good looks. Or Tom. Especially Tom. "I just wanted to be normal, " she finished finally.
Tom covered her hand with his and tugged on it until she finally looked at him. "You know," he said slowly, "I think that crazy doctor choose the wrong B'Elanna Torres to try to impress. If I had my choice, I'd pick the one sitting in front of me."
B'Elanna felt a blush start to creep up her cheeks and her heart began to pound hard in her chest. She tried to pull her hand from his, but he held on and she realized she'd have to create even more of a scene to get it back. "Idiot," she muttered.
"I mean it." He was starting to grin. "The human you was very sweet and brave and," he paused for a breath, "pretty. In a girl-next-door sort of way. And the Klingon you was certainly impressive. Very fiery and impulsive." B'Elanna remembered the way she had leapt in front of the phaser fire without even thinking of her own safety, and had to agree. "But the half human, half Klingon you has the best of both of them wrapped up into one decidedly, very pretty package. And I wouldn't change her for anything."
B'Elanna's brow lifted. "Package?"
Tom ignored her question. "I think that whatever you felt on that rock was inside you all along, you just never let yourself acknowledge it before. You're stronger than you think you are, B'Elanna. And mushier than you want to be, or you wouldn't be here right now wrestling with all these feelings." He cocked his head, appraising her. "You're sort of like a chocolate brownie," he decided.
B'Elanna stared openmouthed at him for a moment, then threw her head back in a full-body laugh. "No, it's true," Tom laughed with her. "You're all hard and crunchy on the outside, but warm and gooey on the inside," he finished with a wink. "It's true," he said, pleased that he had finally made her laugh. "You can deny it all you want, but you can't fool me."
Harry watched them quietly over the rim of his glass and sent a silent 'well done' to Tom. It felt good to see B'Elanna laugh so freely, finally. That his friends had made some sort of connection on that planetoid was obvious to him, and he couldn't help wondering how far they would let it take them.
His thoughts drifted back to Libby and he smiled ruefully. As much as he missed her-at times he felt a physical ache from their separation-it wasn't true that he would wish he'd never met her. His time with her had been wonderful, and he wanted to believe that they would be together again one day. He felt a peace as he looked on the laughing faces before him. Perhaps he had been pushed far beyond Libby's love, but he decided playing matchmaker for others was definitely an activity that was within his reach.
And he knew just where to start.
Okay ~ I ripped off the title from a Solas CD. They might as well sue me along with Paramount. Why offend one man when you can offend a Nation?
A little note: I wasn't happy with Tom's response to B'Elanna's soul baring statements in "Faces." I didn't like the way he took all of her pain and self-hatred and said, "Yeah, well, my dad gave me a bad haircut so I wore a hat all summer." It just didn't compare. I like to think he panicked and didn't know what to say to comfort her. So, in this story he's had some time to think about it, but the words still don't come easily to him. It's been pointed out to me that his wordiness isn't really true to character, but I like him this way. What do you have to say?
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