Codes: P, T, J, P/T
Summary: Two years after Voyager’s return home, Tom and B’Elanna have some talking to do.
Disclaimer: Paramount/Viacom owns everyone yadda yadda.
· When Voyager got home the Federation are still at war with the Dominion and Cardassians.
· Voyager was in the Delta Quadrant for 7 years
· Tuvok has retired. Chakotay has become Captain of Voyager
· All the Maquis crewmembers have been pardoned.
· Janeway has been promoted and now drinks coffee with the top brass.
Dedication: To Roxann and Robbie who play such wonderful characters. To Kate Mulgrew to, who plays the woman who according to Kat, I love to hate. To all the wonderful people on Heather's P/T Message Board and to Kat. I don't know where I would be without all her encouragement and guidance. Thank you.
Lt. Commander B'Elanna Torres sat in the darkened alcove of the tavern. She watched the dark brown liquid swirl in the glass she was holding as she moved it around and around in her hand.
"You shouldn't drink you know. It's bad for you."
"You're a fine one to tell me that." Her voice was low and hostile as she stared expectantly at the man who had sat down opposite her. "Is that it? After two years and that's it? Not a hello, a how are you, how have you been? Just that this is bad for me?"
"What else do you want me to say?"
"An explanation would be a good place to start. Or don't I even deserve that? Like I didn't deserve a good bye."
"I didn't want to hurt you." Tom paused as B'Elanna placed a glass on the table next to him and filled it with whatever it was she was drinking. "I thought it would be easier if I just left. After everything that happened."
"What? We get home and you immediately take of with Janeway, at the first given chance."
"You know it wasn't like that." Tom's voice was level as his eyes took in the surroundings.
"Yeah I know. You'd made it clear just where our relationship stood when it came to being loyal to your Captain."
"You would have done exactly the same, in fact you did. No matter what you sided with Chakotay, you always will, just like I will with the Admiral. As long as I wear a Starfleet uniform that’s where my loyalties will lie. With Admiral Janeway. Besides, you'd made it perfectly clear what you our relationship meant to you."
B'Elanna finally put down the glass she held in her unsteady hand. "That's when it started you know." She looked in to his eyes. "That was the beginning of the end."
Two weeks earlier
"Three power plants were destroyed and we managed to disable a few medical facilities without any civilian casualties and without being detected. In brief, Admiral the mission was a success. We didn't suffer any casualties and the team worked well together."
"Were the modifications to the Delta Flyer any help, Commander?" Admiral O'Donnell stared at the young Commander before her.
"Yes Ma'am. We managed to slip past their security net without being detected." Tom stood in the middle of a small room with Admiral O'Donnell and Admiral Janeway in front of him, the rest of his team standing behind him.
"Good. Does that complete your report Commander Paris?"
"Very good. You and your team are dismissed Commander," She stood and returned the salute and then when turned to Admiral Janeway who was sitting next to her. "He is a very resourceful young man Kathryn."
"Being stuck in the Delta Quadrant for 6 and a half years does that to a person Janet."
"His team seem to work well together, and with him. They don't seem to have any problems"
"Most of his team are fresh from the academy," Kathryn held the door open for her senior officer, as they headed for Kathryn's office. "They work well with him, they respect him and accept his judgement."
"He seems unhappy Kathryn."
"How do you mean?"
"He seems happy with his job but it seems he is, how can I put it, missing something, a spark. He seems a different person to the one I read so many Captain's reports about."
"I know. He's changed." Kathryn's eyes became unfocused as though looking into the past.
Admiral O'Donnell noticed the far away look in her friend's eyes. "You sound regretful Kathryn. Do you regret bringing him here?"
"No. He asked me to bring him here."
Admiral O'Donnell stopped walking and looked at the younger woman. "He is happy here and he has great respect for you and loyalty to you, but maybe he sacrificed a greater happiness to be here."
"If it wasn't for the Admiral Janeway, I wouldn't be here now," Tom looked directly into B'Elanna's eyes before draining the rest of his drink. A waiter suddenly appeared from out of the shadows and promptly re-filled his glass.
"What?" B'Elanna cocked her head to one side to make up for her vision of the room listing slightly to the left. Not surprising considering the amount of alcohol she had drank. Her voice was tinted with a trace of scorn "Did she convince you to come here and tell me you were getting married?"
"Christ B'Elanna," Tom's fist clenched too tightly around the glass he was holding and it smashed, shattering into tiny fragments that cut deeply into his hand. "Are you ever gonna get your mind out of the gutter? I just came to talk, as a friend. About me and you, not about anything else, or anyone else, not Kathryn or any other person you or I might know."
"So you're on first name basis now?" B'Elanna realised what she was saying but was too slow to stop the words pouring form her mouth. She saw Tom's crystal blue eyes flash and then harden over. Covering his emotions behind that familiar mask.
"You know what I think I’d better go, maybe I should leave it another two years before I come and talk to you again."
"No Tom," B'Elanna's voice became desperate and her hand grabbed his to stop him leaving. "Please," She looked down at her glass and then back in his eyes. "I don't want you to go. Not like this. It brings back too many memories."
2 and a half years earlier
"What the hell did you think you were doing?" B'Elanna stormed into her quarters with Tom not far behind. "Do you realise how stupid you made me look?"
Tom flinched inwardly. If there was once thing B'Elanna couldn't tolerate, that was being made to look stupid in front of other people. Especially when it came to Engineering. After their huge argument a few weeks ago and now this, Tom hoped he had a chance of making it out of her quarters alive. "B'Elanna look," Tom reached out and tried to touch her shoulder.
"Don't you touch me Tom Paris or I swear the doctor will be treating you for several broken bones."
Tom sighed and took a step away from his lover, his arms folding over his chest. "I'm sorry B'Elanna I just…"
"Just what? Just wanted me to look a complete idiot in front of the Captain and Chakotay? And the fact that you agreed with her too."
"B'Elanna look I'm sorry," Tom's voice was becoming louder as he tried harder not to lose his temper at his mate. "But the Captain was right. It doesn't matter."
"Doesn't matter? I'm the chief engineer I should come up with ideas that help Voyager. How would you have liked it if Seven, for example, suddenly came up to you at the helm and started taking over and flying Voyager? You wouldn't like it."
"That's not the point B'Elanna."
"Yes, but that's how you made me feel. You made me feel unwanted, useless. You of all people should know how I feel about that."
"B'Elanna. The Captain is one of the best scientists in the whole of Starfleet. She didn't spend years working her butt off to become a Captain for no reason. You may be the chief engineer but you can’t do everything yourself. That's what your engineers are for."
B'Elanna stared at Tom, her dark eyes flashing with anger. "Are you bucking for you rank back or something Paris?"
Tom took a step back as though he’d been slapped in the face. His voice was low. "What’s that supposed to mean?"
"Well it just seems to me that you've been awfully co-operative recently. Following the Captain's orders like a good little boy."
Tom's back stiffened. "You know what. I don't think I want to have this conversation anymore…"
"Why Tom? Did I hit a little too close to home?"
"That wasn't fair B'Elanna."
"Life's not fair Tom. You were the one that told me that."
"This is pathetic. You can't even have a decent argument with me recently without including some below the belt remarks," Tom's voice was level, his voice not betraying a trace of any of his increasing anger.
"Yeah well, I have been learning from the master," B'Elanna's voice was cold and harsh. Her face was emotionless; her mask of hostility and defiance was well in place. If she realised how much damage her remarks were causing her face didn't show it.
"I think I should go."
"That's it Tom, keep running away. This is what happens every time. I say something you don't like and you leave."
Tom laughed, his voice full of disbelief. "That's a fine thing coming from you. The person who would rather talk to a former Borg Drone that the person who is supposedly her lover."
"At least the former Drone knows how to have an argument. At least she doesn't constantly back down and walk away. Unlike you, who was raised too much an officer and a gentleman to tell me what you're really thinking."
Tom stared at B'Elanna; he took in her posture, the set of her jaw and the expression in her eyes. He felt his own anger building and came to a decision. "Let me know when you want to have a adult conversation. Until then I think you should stay away from me."
Two weeks earlier
Tom sat behind his desk in his office, just two doors down from Admiral Janeway's. He put the padd he was holding in his hand down and put his head in his hands, his fingers caressing his temples to try and subdue the beginnings of another roaring headache.
His office was quite spacious but by his standards maybe a little too big. It was situated on the 15th floor of one of the main Academy buildings giving him a nice view of the Academy gardens and San Francisco Bay. His desk was opposite the doors and there were a series of consoles behind him.
There was a large type of drawing board just off to the left of the desk. On it were several different designs for new shuttlecraft. Both designed by himself and others people had requested he looked at, because as they put it, he had a unique perspective. This was one of the things Tom couldn't understand. Why did people insist that his perspective was so unique? After all he was just a pilot, there were thousands just like him in the Academy.
Next to the windows there was a large grey couch, which had quite recently begun to serve as a bed when work had required him to pull all-nighters, or when he couldn't face going home to an empty apartment.
Tom lifted his head from his hands when he heard the door chime bleep. "Come in." The doors parted to reveal Admiral Janeway. "Admiral," Tom stood.
"At ease Tom," Kathryn raised her hand to stop him getting up. "This is a social visit."
Tom smiled as he saw the familiar gesture. "Would you like some Coffee Admiral?"
Kathryn cringed. "Please, but if you keep calling me Admiral I'll be forced to come up with some extremely tedious punishment. You know how much it annoys me."
Tom walked over to the replicator. "Two coffee's, black." He took the two cups from the dispenser and handed one to her. "Have a seat," He gestured to one of the armchairs beside the window. "So, if I'm not allowed to call you Admiral. What do I call you? How about Ma'am?"
Kathryn cringed again and smiled widely. "That's acceptable in a crunch Tom. How about Kathryn?"
"Okay," Tom smiled. "But you'll have to give me some time to adjust. It's hard enough remembering not to call you Captain. I got so used to calling you it. I'm still having trouble with people calling me Commander. I keep thinking Chakotay's walking next to me."
"I know, I'm having the same problem." Kathryn smiled at the young man before her and let her eyes wander around his office. Just above his desk were two framed photos. One of Voyager and the other of the Delta Flyer. On his desk sat two photo frames. One with a picture of his family, the other containing the picture of the senior staff, celebrating Ancestor's Eve.
"You said this was a social visit. Admi… urm Kathryn, What can I do for you?"
Kathryn turned her attention back to Tom. "How are you feeling Tom?" She saw the puzzlement and amusement flicker over Tom's face.
"Feeling? I'm feeling fine."
"You don't regret coming here?"
Comprehension dawned on Tom's face. "No."
Kathryn put down her coffee cup. "Omega section is being split up soon, until they are needed again. You'll go back to Voyager." It was more an order than a question.
"Yes, Voyager is scheduled to be re-launched in two weeks. Omega section is going to be disbanded in less than one. I'll go back and re-join Voyager."
"Have you spoken to anyone since you came here?"
"I saw Harry just last night, he's pretty excited that Voyager is coming back out of space dock, and about the fact that pretty much all of the original crew… Well original after the trip to the Delta Quadrant, are still onboard. He can't wait to get back out there, as much as he's enjoyed being at home. And I know the feeling."
"Have you seen B'Elanna?"
Tom's eyes flicked from Kathryn's face to the floor of his office. "No. I haven't heard from her or seen her since I came here when the temporary assignments were handed out."
"That was almost 2 years ago Tom. You should talk to her."
"There's nothing to talk about."
"Isn't there?" Kathryn leaned forward and lifted Tom's chin up, looking him in the eyes
"You're going to have to work together as senior officers onboard Voyager. Her as the Chief Engineer and you as the First Officer."
"We managed before."
"Just," Kathryn smiled ruefully. "Besides. You can't go on like this any more Tom."
Tom stared at her, his crystal blue eyes locked with hers.
"You might be able to get away with it here…"
"Get away with what?" Tom's expression was one of studied innocence.
Kathryn cocked her head to one side, her voice gentle and soothing. "Not sleeping, eating. Spending all your time working. Here you can stay in your office or stay at home. You won't be able to do that on Voyager. You'll constantly be needed. And whether you know it or not, or like it or not, this thing with B'Elanna has affected you, hurt you."
Tom closed his eyes, stood up and walked to the windows, staring out as though looking for answers. "What would you have me do?"
Kathryn came up behind him and put her hand on his shoulder. "Talk to her."
"What would you have me do?" Tom's voice was barley audible as the noise in the tavern became louder. A group of people began to argue over their nights bar bills.
"Talk to me."
"I've tried talking B'Elanna. Hell. I've tried talking for years and you always kept me out, you wouldn't let me in," Tom sighed and ran a hand through his short hair. "You preferred to talk to Chakotay or Harry. My God B’Elanna you even preferred to talk to Seven over me."
"I… I didn't mean to, Tom it was just so hard, it's just so hard to…"
"What? Talk to me? Am I hard to talk to?" Tom smiled grimly.
"No. I just…"
"Or didn't you trust me?"
"This is has nothing to do with trusting you Tom. It never did and it never will. I trust you. I trusted you then and I still trust you, with my life."
"Then why so you find it so hard to talk me B'Elanna?" Tom's voice carried a hint of desperation.
"I don't know," B'Elanna looked out beyond the darkened alcove of the tavern as though seeking answers she couldn't find. "We have to sort this out, we need to talk, to set things right."
"You see a future in this?" Tom eyes locked with B'Elanna's.
B'Elanna could hear a mixture of amusement and scorn in Tom's voice and she stared at him seriously. "I would never be so presumptuous."
Tom shook his head and looked into B'Elanna's eyes. "Maybe that's where we went wrong."
"What do you mean?"
"Maybe that's why you found it so hard to talk to me, open up to me. Maybe you had a doubt that I'd walk out on you, or that our relationship wouldn't work."
"It wasn't all my fault."
"I'm not saying it was. I'm saying it was both our faults. If people don't see a future in something they don't put all their effort in," Tom stared out of the alcove and into the murkiness of the tavern. "Or their soul." He stood leaving his comment open to further personal debate.
B'Elanna stared at him. She had finally stopped thinking of insults to throw at him and began to study him. She hadn't seen him or heard from him for two years. She'd heard news of him but after years on Voyager she knew better than to listen to workplace gossip. Now she finally studied him she could see how thoughtful he looked. His last comment was echoing throughout her head. Giving her the impression that this was something he had thought a lot about.
She realised he was getting ready to leave as he pulled out his wallet and placed a few strips of Latinum onto the table, enough to cover both bills.
"I have to go. I still have a lot of work to do before Voyager is re-commissioned."
B'Elanna stood up quickly, and then grabbed the side of the table to steady her self, as the room became a mixture of spinning images. "Can we… we need to. I mean we still need to talk, before…"
"Yes," Tom interrupted her, not enjoying seeing her squirm. "We still need to talk. This is just the beginning and I don't know about you but I want to at least get some of this out of the way before we re-join Voyager."
B'Elanna crossed her arms over her chest. "This won’t affect the way I work around you."
She suddenly felt the need to defend her self.
"I wasn't criticising you B'Elanna, I was just agreeing with you. You know the kind of thing I used to do a lot of when other people disagreed with you. I urm. I'm really busy for the rest of the week and I don't know when I’d be free…"
"Any time's fine," B'Elanna stared at him, both worried he wouldn't be able to meet and yet scared he would.
"Well I suppose you could pop in the Academy Campus sometime but I doubt you'd want to do that because you might bump into Kathryn…"
B'Elanna inwardly cringed as he called their former Captain by her first name. It bothered her more than she would admit. "That's okay if you're busy I'll come and…"
"No. It's okay." Tom studied her. "How about I contact you. It will be easier."
"Okay. You promise you'll contact me though?"
"Or else what you gonna do Torres?" Tom's voice became playful, easily slipping into their old banter.
"Or the Starfleet Medical department will finally have a sample to discover what happens when half-Klingons get too drunk. Understood?"
2 days later
Kathryn was next to the window looking out over the Academy gardens, seeing all the Cadets walking around, remembering what it was like when she was doing exactly the same. Her thoughts were interrupted as the door chimes announced someone requesting to see her. "Come in."
Tom walked through the doors into an office almost twice the size of his own. "And I thought my office was too big," He looked around and then focused on Kathryn who was standing next to an open window with a coffee cup in her hand. "You wanted to see me Admiral?"
"Tom. Have a seat. Would you like some coffee?" Kathryn picked up the pot that was sitting on the coffee table just next to the window.
"Good. Drinking as much coffee as I do is a bad habit. Most people pick it up between being a Lt. Commander and a Captain."
Tom smiled. "I'll be sure to not pick it up."
"You do that," Kathryn smiled and turned to fully face him. " Sit."
Tom walked over and sat in the armchair opposite the Admiral.
"Just over 13 days before you become the first officer on one of the Federations finest ships, if not the finest. Feel up to it?"
"I think I can handle it." A smug smile played on Tom's lips.
"I know you can handle it. Are you nervous?"
"You mean am I more nervous than the first time I set foot on Voyager?" Tom grinned.
"Yeah I am. Although this time I have a rank and I actually have to do something other than observe."
"You'll do fine," Kathryn smiled. "Trust me, I've watched you work almost everyday for the past 9 years. I should know."
"Has it been that long?" Tom's eyes stared out of the window, his expression became thoughtful. "It doesn't seem that long," Tom eyes shot back to Kathryn's.
"Although when you were constantly having to watch over your shoulder because you never knew who was going to attack next. The days just didn't seem that long."
"I know. Sometimes the days would fly by…"
"And other's would drag on and on." Tom laughed. "At least then they dragged on because there was nothing to do other than fly in a straight line, now they seem to drag because there's nothing to do but paper work and reports."
"You’d better get used to it. You’ll see a lot more reports before you're finished." Kathryn smiled as she put down her coffee cup. As she sat back in her chair her expression became more serious. "Have you talked to B'Elanna?"
Tom lifted one of his eyebrows, Tuvok style, and smiled ruefully. "How did I know this topic would come up?"
"Because you know me too well. Now answer my question. Have you talked to her?"
Tom stared at the grey carpet on the floor. "Yeah. I've talked to her," Tom’s gaze came back to Kathryn. "We had a lot to talk about, on B'Elanna's half it was mainly insults but after a while we actually got down to the subject in hand."
"What did she say to you?"
"Like I just said, mainly insults. But I got her to talk. After almost walking out first."
"What did you talk about?" She pressed further.
"Anything and everything. We both agreed that we need to sort out what ever is between us before we go back to Voyager."
"It's a start I suppose."
Tom's eyes locked with the woman opposite him. "That’s better than nothing." He paused. "I suppose."
Kathryn leaned forward. "But not good enough?" She suggested.
Tom shook his head and buried it in his hand. "The amount of times in these past two years I've spent trying to figure out what when wrong between us and I'm still no closer to a solution. I keep asking myself, what if I tried harder? What if I listened to her more? Talked to her more? I know I'm not the perfect guy, I can be a jerk and my reputation proceeded me. And I know at times I wouldn't talk to her, or let her in. But every time I think about it I realise it was always me who was trying to make it work. It was always me that backed down whenever we had an argument, always me who apologised even if it wasn't my fault. I used to ask myself what if I wasn’t there when she wanted to talk. But I was, she just never came to me, she never wanted to talk to me. During her depression and after, I was there for her to talk to and yet she shut herself away in the holodeck, or preferred to talk to Chakotay, Harry, Neelix even Seven, but never to me." Tom looked up at Kathryn. "I was constantly trying, while I was chasing and while I was supposedly in a relationship with her. I was always the person who gave in or tried. There's only so much a person can give without taking something back."
3 days later.
B'Elanna lay curled up on the sofa in her apartment, staring up at the reflections on the ceiling from the candles that burned around her. The candles were the only source of light. B'Elanna had recently begun to prefer sitting alone in dim candle light than the artificial lights. Two of the main windows were ajar just enough to allow air in to make the candles flicker gently, she could also hear the faint lapping of the waves against the bay.
Her apartment was much like her quarters had been on Voyager; plain, not defined by any personal objects and yet just subtle in its style to show that a person actually graced its walls. B'Elanna sat thinking about her meeting with Tom almost three days ago, she wasn't expecting to see him, let alone agree to meet him again. B'Elanna's thoughts were cut off as she heard someone knocking on the door to her apartment. She looked over at the clock that was perched on the wall; it read 11:30. *Who the hell's knocking on my door at this time of night? *
The knocking hadn't stopped so B'Elanna swung her legs from the sofa and reluctantly started towards the door. "All right, I'm coming already." B'Elanna walked through the hall and towards the door, quickly checking her reflection in the mirror on the wall to make sure she looked reasonable. B'Elanna opened the door and took a step back in shock. "Admiral," B'Elanna's voice was barley above a whisper.
"B'Elanna. May I come in?"
B'Elanna stepped aside and closed the door behind the woman she hadn't seen or expected to see for a long time. "What can I do for you Admiral?"
Kathryn took off her jacket and stared at her former chief engineer. "I came to talk to you. I thought the demons have had enough time to be chased away."
B'Elanna crossed her arms across her chest. "You won't be offended if I disagree?"
"No. Although it will make what I have to say a lot harder."
"What exactly do you want Admiral?"
"Please, call me Kathryn."
B'Elanna sat on her sofa watching her former captain as she drank her coffee.
"Voyager is re-launched soon. Are you looking forward to being back in Engineering?"
B'Elanna looked down at the up in her hands. "Yes."
Kathryn stared at the younger woman. "It will be hard for Voyager to operate smoothly when its Chief Engineer and its First Officer, aren't talking."
B'Elanna looked up sharply. "This thing between me and Tom won't affect the way we work."
"Maybe. But you won't have the same kind of working relationship as you did before we came home."
"With all due respect Admiral, what is going on between Commander Paris and I, is none of your business, or anybody else's business. It never has and it never will."
"I'm making it my business. For the past nine years I've watched Tom mature as an officer. I've seen him at his best and at his worst. Two years ago I watched him walk away from the person he loved, his friends and the people that had become his family. Since that day I've worked closely with a man that looks like Tom Paris and sounds like Tom Paris. But the man I've been working with is a shell of the man I knew before we came home. And it's because of you."
Tom awoke to the sound of his alarm.
:::The time is now 7:15. The time is now 7: 15:::
"All right, all right I'm awake."
:::The time is now 7:16:::
"Enough. Computer end alarm." The alarm stopped and Tom sat up in his bed. "Another day in the life of Thomas Eugene Paris." Tom unwrapped himself from the sheets grumbling. *The one night I actually sleep, without any nightmares or dreams and as soon as I know it over already. * He continued to unwrap himself from the sheets, beginning to wrestle with them in an attempt to emerge from them. He finally got his arms and upper body out from under the sheets and kicked them to try and get them away from his legs. He kicked too hard and he ended up in a heap on the floor next to his bed, still tangled up in his sheets.
5 minutes later Tom was finally free of his bed sheets and he slowly padded over to the bathroom, intent on soothing the muscles in his neck and shoulders; they were tense from sitting at his desk console until an unearthly hour earlier that morning.
Thirty minutes later, Tom walked across from the bathroom to his bed clad in a towel and drying his hair when he noticed a light on his desk console flashing. He walked over to it and pressed a button and a message from Admiral Janeway flashed up informing him he was not to report for duty. Tom sat down in a chair and was just about to contact Kathryn's office when he noticed the light was still flashing. He pressed a button and another message opened.
I know you probably won't read this until sometime tomorrow, as it's almost 5 in the morning but will you contact me as soon as you can. We need to talk.
Tom sat staring at the console, wondering why she had contacted him and how she had got his address.
The next day
San Francisco Cafe
Tom sat at a table outside of one of the many Café's in San Francisco waiting for B'Elanna to turn up. He had finally contacted B'Elanna earlier that afternoon after his Mom had turned up unexpectedly just moments after he had finished dressing.
He sipped the dark liquid in the cup he was holding and shuddered as the taste registered on his tongue. Tom didn't actually understand why he drunk coffee, as he didn't actually like it, in fact he couldn't stand it. After the incident with the specially blended coffee Neelix had made for him after his transwarp flight, he had avoided drinking it as much as he could but in the past two years the coffee had come back with a vengeance.
"Do you mind if I join you?"
Tom looked up at the voice and raised his hand to shield his eyes from the sun. "As long as you promise not to hurt me."
"I won't hurt you Tom." B'Elanna sat down in the chair opposite Tom. She stared at the cup he was holding and frowned. "I though you didn't like coffee?"
"I don't," Tom offered the cup to her. "Would you like some?"
Tom shifted his chair so he could see her better. "So I'm curious. How did you get my address?"
B'Elanna smiled faintly. "Well. Let's just say I had quite a persuasive and concerned visitor late last night."
"About you. About us."
Tom stiffened slightly. "There is no us. There hasn't been for over 2 years."
"Not according to my guest."
The previous night
"What do you mean, ‘because of me’?" B'Elanna's voice rose in volume and intensity.
"You've stolen the man's heart. He loves you. No matter how much he denies it, or you deny it. That man can't live without you." Kathryn's voice was level but her face betrayed all the feelings she had for the young man. The love, the compassion and the pain at witnessing the suffering he been forced to endure.
B'Elanna sat still, shocked. She wanted to say something, tell her that it wasn't true but she couldn't.
"I can see the difference in Tom, and if given the chance I would be able to tell the difference in you too," Kathryn stared at the young woman sitting on the couch. "Do you think Chakotay won't know? And the others? Do you think they won't be able to see it? You two may be good at hiding your true feelings, but this, this has affected you so much that you can't hide it any more."
"What would you know?" B'Elanna's voice was cold. Her hostility returning, but her eyes were fixed to the floor.
Kathryn sighed and gazed out of the window. "A long time ago, I was on vacation with my father and my fiancée Justin. While we were on vacation there was an accident. My father and Justin died. For months after I sat alone in my room, unwilling to leave, too absorbed with my own grief to see I was affecting the lives of those around me. Finally it took the intervention of someone who cared about me to make me realise what I was missing."
B'Elanna looked up. "I'm… I'm sorry. I didn't know."
"It doesn't matter It happened a long time ago. My point is B'Elanna you can't afford to live in the past. What happened between you and Tom happened, there's nothing either of you can do to change that, but you can change what’s happening now. And you can change what is going to happen. He loves you. He always has B'Elanna and he always will."
"I," B'Elanna looked at her former captain tears beginning to form in her eyes but she pushed them back, determined not to cry… "I've made a mess of everything…"
"No, no you haven't," Kathryn moved to the edge of her chair. "All you have to do is talk to him B'Elanna," She looked B'Elanna directly in the eyes. "All you've ever had to do is talk to him."
"I can't, he won't, he shouldn't…" B'Elanna's voice was soft. "I pushed him away, I was always pushing him away."
"Then stop pushing him away." Kathryn's voice was firm. As thought trying to be the other half of B'Elanna's conscience, urging her that all was not lost. "Talk to him. Work at getting back what you had. I know it's still there. The love between you two will never die."
B'Elanna stared into Kathryn's eyes and saw the concern, support and the determination in them. Smiled ruefully. "He won't listen."
Kathryn smiled. "How do you know?"
"I know Tom."
"Maybe you don't know him as well as you thought."
B'Elanna stared at her, her eyes searching the older woman’s, as though looking for some kind of confirmation.
"If he doesn't listen then make him listen. I expect to hold a wedding ceremony for you two, even if I'm 70. I always have. I always expected you to settle down, to be together forever. It hurt me to see you two go through such pain."
B'Elanna turned to look out of the window. "It hurt," She turned to look back at Kathryn. "But it hurts more not being with him. Some days all I ever think about it him. All the times he did the sweetest, most romantic things. How much I loved waking up lying in his arms, and how lonely it is to wake up alone."
San Francisco Café
Tom shook his head and smiled. "I should have known Admiral Janeway or should I say Kathryn, wouldn't be able to stay out of it for long."
"Give her some credit, she stayed out of our relationship for the best part of 4 years. Well aside from a few incidents."
Tom smiled at B'Elanna and then became serious. "Yeah she's done a lot more for us than other people would."
"Do you want to do this Tom?" B'Elanna reached over for the cup Tom had offered to her and took a tentative sip.
B'Elanna took a long drink from the coffee and put the cup down on the table meeting Tom's eyes. "Try again."
Tom shook his head and laughed a short cruel laugh. "I've been ready to try again ever since I left Voyager.
"I need to know something Tom."
"What?" Tom's voice was serious and his eyes were locked with hers.
"When you left Voyager two years ago. Was it because of what happened between us?
The truth Tom."
B'Elanna nodded firmly.
"Mainly. I needed to get away. Our break up wasn't the must amicable of separations. I wanted time to myself without everyone crowding around me and offering their sympathies," Tom blue eyes locked with B'Elanna's "And I wanted to give you some breathing room. But… I didn't want to go. Half of me wanted to stay and try in someway to try and change your mind. I didn't want to leave the people I’d come to think of as my family. But the other half was telling me that you meant what you said and that you weren't going to change your mind. And when I found out that the Captain was receiving a promotion and was going to head a new Special Forces squad I saw the perfect opportunity to give you some breathing room."
B'Elanna looked beyond Tom and out into the street behind, contemplating what she had just heard. She looked back at Tom. "Why didn’t you say goodbye?"
Tom sighed and looked around him, thinking how to answer. "I, I don't know. I've never been very good with good-byes. I suppose I didn't want to hurt you any more, and I didn't want to hurt myself."
"Your leaving without saying goodbye hurt me more than having you say goodbye ever would have."
Two weeks later
B'Elanna sat at the engineering console watching Tom sitting in his commander's chair, manning the bridge while Chakotay was in his ready room.
Voyager had been launched only 3 days before and already the new and old crew members Voyager were working well together, adapting well to the changes if still a little unused to Admiral Janeway not being on the bridge.
Her and Tom had had many long conversations since they had come aboard and several since their conversation at the café and Admiral Janeway's intervention, which had proved to be the catalyst they needed to get them talking. They had discussed many things, from what had gone wrong aboard Voyager and their thoughts and feelings during those 2 years apart.
B'Elanna saw Tom notice she was staring at him and he smiled. She smiled back and turned back to her station. Things may not be perfect between them yet, but it was a start.