Title:  Too Much To Take (14/?)
Author:  CatHeights
Pairing:  P, T (C/P implied)
Rating:   PG-13 this part.  This is a slash story.  If reading
about a relationship between two men disturbs you, read no
Feedback:  CatHeights@yahoo.com
Archive:  Cha_Club, ATPS, Paris Nights, TPD. Anywhere else, just
ask first.
Spoiler Warning: Barge of the Dead; Extreme Risk; Nothing Human;
One Small Step
Disclaimer: Paramount owns all rights to Star Trek Voyager, its
characters, and the Voyager episodes referred to in this story.
The story idea is mine, but I am doing this just for fun, no
money to be made.
End of Part 13:

"Good Night, B'Elanna," Chakotay said.  He watched as the door
slid closed and then sat down on the couch.  Leaning back, he
closed his eyes.  He was glad B'Elanna knew what had happened and
that he no longer had to worry about her finding out.  Even
though she seemed sure that Tom would talk to him, he had his
doubts.  He'd give Tom space; he had no other choice.

And now...

Part 14

B'Elanna took a deep breath--one down, one to go.  She
concentrated on her breathing as she walked.  She could still
feel the adrenaline coursing through her system--a reminder to
her that there had been moments in Chakotay's quarters when she
had been truly angry.

She needed to get rid of the last traces of that anger before she
got to Tom's quarters.  B'Elanna didn't want Tom thinking that
she was angry with him. As her breathing evened, she could feel
the tension leaving her muscles.  Ah, once again, she thought,
one of Tuvok's tricks worked.  She was finding that her
meditation sessions with Tuvok were proving useful, on occasion.

Continuing down the corridor, she could feel another type of
energy building within her--determination.  The kind that took
hold of her when she was close to resolving a problem like only
she could.  She smiled sardonically, thinking that while she had
gotten through to Chakotay, there was no way he would be able to
fix the mess he had created on his own.   Her smile widened as
she recognized the arrogance in her thoughts, and she gave
Chakotay a little more credit.   Actually, he might be able to
fix things if he cornered Tom and refused to let him leave until
they worked things out, but she couldn't see Chakotay doing that.
 Not now.  He would need to be angry, and he was feeling too
guilty to get angry with Tom.

Although it would be interesting seeing Chakotay come at Tom,
because she would bet that if Chakotay used just the right tone,
Tom would come right back at him.  The tension they both were
keeping coiled would be released and....  Her stomach turned as
she realized what probably would happen when that tension was
released.  An image of Chakotay pressing Tom against a wall and
kissing him came unbidden to her mind.  She shuddered.

A small part of her mind told her that she wasn't ready to see
Tom with someone else; she should stop interfering and leave
things alone, but she couldn't.  It was too late now.  B'Elanna
wasn't the type to leave things unfinished.   Besides, she needed
to do this for herself too.   It was a chance to maybe heal part
of the hurt she knew she had caused.  Not to mention, after
having talked to Chakotay, she was convinced that no one on the
ship would have a moment's peace until these two worked things
out.  It was her duty, she thought wryly.

She pressed the chime to Tom's quarters without hesitation and
after hearing him call, "Come in," she stepped inside.

"B'Elanna, I had a feeling you might stop by again," Tom said his
face filled with sympathy.

"Why don't we sit down and talk," she said.

He nodded and they both sat down on the couch.  Tilting his body
toward her, he asked softly, "Do you want to tell me about the
rumor that's going around?"

"I like it when you get right to the point," she said.

He just smiled, waiting for her to tell him.

"The rumor is that you broke up with me because you found out
that I had cheated on you with Chakotay."

Tom looked shocked, but he spoke easily and softly.  "B'Elanna,
you know I would never believe something like that.  Sometimes I
think people on this ship have too much time on their hands."

An image of Sue and Megan serving dinner in the mess hall came to
B'Elanna's mind and her lips quirked slightly. Well there were
going to be two people with a little less time on their hands

She kept her eyes focused on Tom's face as she continued.  "I
knew you wouldn't believe it.  I was annoyed, but that was all.
The thing that made me curious though was that they said you were
obviously mad at Chakotay. I couldn't help wondering if there was
some element of truth to that part of the rumor.  Had he done
something to piss you off?"

She watched as Tom paled and clenched his hands in his lap.  She
paused for a moment and then said gently, "Tom, I spoke to
Chakotay, and I know that he kissed you."

Tom opened his mouth and closed it.  Again, he tried to say
something, but his mind blanked.  He couldn't believe this was
happening.  Why had Chakotay told her?  He couldn't even begin to
make sense of that one right now.  Finally his mind gave him some
words, and he opened his mouth again, managing only to say in a
choked voice, "I'm sorry."

B'Elanna frowned at him.  "Why are you sorry?  Chakotay told me
he kissed you.  Right?"

Tom only nodded at her, looking down at his hands.

She sighed. What was going on in his mind?  "If that's the case,
then why are you sorry?"

"Because I am sorry," he said looking confused.  She didn't seem
mad. Why?  Didn't she understand that this was his fault?

Realization kicked in and B'Elanna groaned.  Tom was blaming
himself.  She should have seen that one coming.  "Tom, knock it
off. This is not your fault.  Chakotay told me you were
practically sleeping when he kissed you.  Chakotay showed a lack
of judgment. Chakotay acted like an impatient, lovesick teenager.
 Notice the name I keep repeating.  Chakotay is at fault.  He's
an idiot."

Tom had decided that either the world had gone insane or he had.
He could have sworn he had just heard B'Elanna call Chakotay an
idiot.  "What happened when you talked to Chakotay?"

"I got him mad enough to tell me the truth."   B'Elanna's grin
was very self-satisfied.

"Uh, and is he still mad?" Tom asked, his eyes wide.  He could
just picture B'Elanna and Chakotay glaring at each other during
the next staff meeting. The Captain would kill them all.

"Of course not.  Relax. Once he told me what I needed to know, I
calmed him down."

B'Elanna was oozing confidence, as if she had solved some great
problem, and it was confusing the heck out of him.  "Why did you
badger him into telling you?"

Her smile disappeared.  "Because I was worried about you.  I
thought maybe Chakotay had tried to get you to talk about
whatever was bothering you, and pushed you too far.  I quickly
figured out something more was going on.  He came into the mess
hall when we were in there earlier."

Tom looked surprised.

"Right when you were asking me about the rumor.  Your hand was on
my arm, and I've never seen him look like that.  Like someone had
just taken everything from him.  It was then that I realized he
was in love with you and must have done something stupid."

Tom gulped, emotions flitting quickly across his face before his
mask fell into place.  His feelings were covered almost
instantly, but B'Elanna had practice in reading Tom Paris--she
didn't miss much.  She asked the next question already knowing
the answer, "Tom, are you in love with him?"

Startled, he met her eyes.  It seemed she wasn't done making this
conversation a roller coaster ride.  It was too weird discussing
this with her.  "I don't know," he said looking away.

Yes you do, she thought.   You love him, and you know it.
B'Elanna wasn't going to force that admission from him though.
She really didn't want to. It was to her advantage and his for
him to wait before admitting to Chakotay that he loved him.

"You don't need to be sure right now.  Just don't shut your mind
to the future possibilities because Chakotay was a fool."

Tom shook his head slowly.  What the heck was going on?
"B'Elanna I've got to be misunderstanding you.  Are you telling
me to keep my mind open about seeing Chakotay?"

"You got it.  Take some time to think things through. Just don't
rule anything out.  No need to rush into anything.  I wouldn't
want people saying that it was easy for you to forget me," she
said her tone light.

This was unbelievable.  He had been so afraid of her being angry
with both him and Chakotay, and instead here she was telling him
that it was okay to be interested in Chakotay.   She was a good
friend and this was just damn weird.

"You know it has nothing to do with forgetting.  No one could
ever forget you," he said in that soft and serious tone of his.
The one she had always liked the best.

She could feel the lump form in her throat.  He always had a way
of saying the nicest things--and making her believe them.  She
needed to leave before she started to feel like a fool for
letting him go.

"Thanks," B'Elanna said and stood up.  "I should get to
Engineering.  Make sure all is well."

"Thank you," Tom said.  "For everything."

"I'll see you later.  'Night," she said, heading for the door.

"Good Night, B'Elanna," he called as she stepped out of his

As she walked down the hallway, she breathed a sigh of relief.
Mission accomplished.  She had removed all the obstacles.  If the
two of them couldn't get their acts together now, she'd done all
she could.   She had a feeling, though, that she would be seeing
them together; she just hoped it wouldn't be too soon.  She
wouldn't mind a little time to adjust to the idea.

B'Elanna's emotions twirled chaotically.   She felt a sense of
accomplishment over having figured out what was going on and then
straightening the whole mess out.  What would they do without
her?  Her mouth curved into a half smile at the thought. Still,
she also felt a twinge of loss at the idea of Tom with Chakotay.

It was funny really.  During those early months on Voyager, she
had been obsessed with Chakotay.   Okay, maybe even before that.
If she was going to be honest, she had really wanted Chakotay
long before she had stepped foot on Voyager.   When she wasn't
too exhausted from trying to keep their Maquis ship in some
semblance of one piece, her mind had fantasized about sleeping
with Chakotay.  Yet, it was a fantasy that she had never felt
tempted to turn into reality.  As time went on, that fantasy
became less and less the frequent visitor.

Somewhere along the line, it disappeared completely, not able to
stand up against the reality of Tom Paris.   Tom refused to let
her ignore the attraction growing between them, no matter how
hard she tried.  He didn't back down, and she liked that, a lot.
She pushed and he pushed back, until finally circumstances made
her admit her feelings and there was no turning back.  Not that
she wanted to.   After all, the sex had been better than her
fantasies about Chakotay, and those had been pretty damned good.
Ah, life sometimes has a way of making reality stranger than
fiction.   Surely, if someone were placing bets, she should have
been the one to end up with either Chakotay or Tom, but instead
the two were going to end up together.  Life was a riot, wasn't

She shook her head dismissing the sarcastic thoughts.  What's
done is done, and there was nothing she could do to change it.
Even if she could, she wouldn't.  Despite the part of her that
mourned the loss of Tom, she still knew that she needed to let
him go and she wanted him to be happy.  She had done the right
thing.  She needed to go on with her life.  There was so much
more she needed to understand about herself.  She had a new path
to travel, and she was eager to start.

Now, though, she needed to get back to Engineering and make sure
they were still ahead of schedule on those installations.  If
there was time, maybe she could also take a look at her
calculations on how they could improve the longevity of the new
parts and minimize the problems of future installation.  She
wanted to run the findings by someone before presenting them to
the Captain.  Maybe she'd talk Harry into spending some time with
her tomorrow going over them.  He'd do it.  Besides, she had a
few other ideas she wanted to hear his thoughts on.  They always
worked well together.

Chakotay and Tom were forgotten as calculations and ideas flooded
through B'Elanna's mind.  Her brain racing through solutions,
Voyager's Chief Engineer walked into her domain.