Disclaimer: Star Trek and its characters are the property of Paramount/Viacom. I‘m just borrowing them for fun, not profit.
Synopsis: Coda story to Random Thoughts. P/T. This is my interpretation of that missing final scene between Tom and B‘Elanna (with only a small amount of angst thrown in). Rated PG13 for sexual implications and mild profanity. Comments toJuli17@aol.com.
by Julie Evans
"Personal log, SD 51368.3, 0017 hours, Tom Paris reporting.
Today, when we knew the Mari were going to go ahead with their mind wipe technique, I thought for one horrible moment that I was losing her. Again. Since we‘ve been together for almost two months now this is the third time that fear has gripped me. And that‘s not even counting the incident in the EVA suits when our oxygen ran out. I have mixed feelings about that one. We both edged pretty close to death then, but it was almost worth it since that‘s when she told me that she was in love with me.
Besides that, the first time was when that holographic jerk tried to rip her heart out. When she came back from that ship with the doctor, pale and barely able to stand, my heart almost stopped. Then a couple of weeks later those damned aliens, the ones who experimented on the crew like we were a bunch of guinea pigs, and saw themselves so superior that they wouldn‘t even reveal their species name, attacked her in Engineering. They forced the doctor to hide on the holodeck, and it was Nicoletti who found her and beamed her to Sickbay, barely in time. She‘d already stopped breathing. I managed to hold it together and get her lungs working again, though I was panicking inside. I had to remember to breathe myself.
She got over both of those incidents easily, since physical pain doesn‘t bother B‘Elanna much. This time was different. The Mari didn‘t try to physically hurt her, since they consider it barbaric to use corporal punishment or incarceration in retaliation for what they consider a crime. No, instead they just restrained her and forcibly invaded her mind. How civilized. Luckily Tuvok managed to find the real culprit and intervene before they could complete their mind wiping process on B‘Elanna.
I was still on duty on the bridge when she and Tuvok came back. The one day I don‘t have late duty in Sickbay, of course. The doc gave her a clean bill of health, minus a few missing memory engrams and perhaps a little minor psychological torture. Knowing B‘Elanna, she barely took time to shower and change before rushing to Engineering. That‘s where I found her after my shift was over, lost in her engines, focusing on warp core equations. Her way of forgeting, or pretending to forget.
B‘Elanna said immediately that she was fine, of course. That it was over, and not to worry about it. She touched my cheek then and smiled, though it didn‘t quite reach her eyes. I wanted to talk to her, to hold her, but she was rushing around, distracted by some new irregularity in the warp core equation figures. Instead I asked her to come here tonight. She said she‘d try, while adding some excuse about perhaps staying in Engineering late to deal with some minor crisis. I thought she was giving herself a way out. But in the end she didn‘t take it.
She showed up an hour ago, just about when I‘d given up hope that she would. I asked her if she was really all right, if she wanted to talk about what happened. She just said she didn‘t come here to talk at all. Her eyes bored into mine, and her meaning was very clear. Then she grabbed my shirt and pretty much ripped my clothes off.
We didn‘t make it even halfway to the bed the first time.
Not that I minded. In the past couple of months B‘Elanna and I have been pretty...enthusiastic at times in our lovemaking. I‘ve sported bruises before, so that doesn‘t concern me. It was just that this time our lovemaking seemed a little...driven. At least on B‘Elanna‘s part. But I went along willingly, not just because whenever she touches me my guts turn to jelly and I‘m unable to resist her. Hell, I don‘t want to resist her. But also because I hoped the intensity of our passion for each other tonight helped her dispel any lingering memory of what those bastards tried to inflict on her mind.
I hope so anyway, because I can‘t stand to see anything clouding her beautiful brown eyes. I saw the momentarily haunted look that flashed in her eyes tonight when she strode into my quarters, and it tore at my heart. I know that my concern makes her uncomfortable. It‘s hard for her to accept needing help, or being helpless, like she was today. But that doesn‘t stop me from wanting to protect her, body and soul. I try and hide it, even if I don‘t succeed very well. I probably don‘t succeed at all- even Chakotay saw through me today. But no one except me will ever hear this log, so I can admit it here.
She‘s asleep now. We don‘t usually sleep together, in the all night sense. In fact we never have yet. I guess we haven‘t quite reached that plateau in our relationship. It‘s too easy to pull back still, and keep that last little part of ourselves private. Sometimes we do drift in and out for a while in each other‘s arms, until one of us eventually slinks back to our respective quarters. But tonight I think we wore each other out even more than usual. Emotionally and physically. I‘m halfway asleep myself right now, but I can‘t quite drift off. I just keep watching her sleep, hoping she‘s having good dreams, even when she shifts a little against me and lets out a small, restless sounding sigh. It‘s a little arrogant of me, but I guess I hope that by holding B‘Elanna in my arms, I‘m somehow helping to keep the demons away, those that she doesn‘t admit to.
I should end this now and get some sleep too. I just hope my own dreams aren‘t haunted by everything that‘s gone on in the past day. But worrying about B‘Elanna has been a waking nightmare, so I don‘t guess my dreams could be any worse. If I just keep holding B‘Elanna, maybe that will protect both of us.
End personal log."
Tom Paris woke up suddenly, not sure what had disturbed him. The clock on his bedside table was in his direct line of sight. 0141. While one part of his mind was immediately trying to figure out what woke him at such an ungodly hour, another part was registering the sensation of weight and of warmth pressed against his body. And of movement.
B‘Elanna. Even as his arms tried to tighten around her she was pulling away from him, struggling against him, against the bedcovers tangled around both of them, moaning broken protests. "Computer, lights, quarter illumination."
"No!" She jerked up to a sitting position so fast Tom couldn‘t restrain her. Instead he put his hands on her face and tried to calm her, but her eyes were wild with fury, and he could tell she wasn‘t seeing him.
"B‘Elanna!" He dropped his hands to her shoulders and shook her slightly. "It‘s Tom. You‘re having a bad dream-"
"Get away from me!" Her fist came around and connected with his mouth. The blow was tempered only because his arms were partially deflecting her angle. Otherwise she probably would have knocked out some teeth. As it was he tasted blood.
"B‘Elanna!" He gripped her arms, hoping to keep her from completely pummeling him. But the one swing had been enough apparently. Her eyes focused on him and her brow furrowed in confusion.
Tom nodded. He let go of her arms and gripped her hands tightly.
"You were just dreaming, B‘Elanna."
"The Mari...they were...they were trying to-"
"They‘re gone, B‘Elanna." Tom pulled B‘Elanna into his arms and she didn‘t resist. "We left them behind on that damned planet of theirs." She willingly rested her head against his shoulder and he raised a hand to stroke her hair. "You‘re safe on Voyager. We‘ll never see them again."
He held her for another minute, murmuring comforting words, soothing her, stroking her. Then she jerked up and pushed away from him. And stared at his mouth.
"I hit you."
Tom touched his corner of his mouth, where a small trickle of wetness had formed. He wiped it away. "It‘s fine. It doesn‘t hurt." Much.
B‘Elanna looked appalled. "I‘m sorry. I didn‘t mean-"
"It‘s okay, B‘Elanna, really." Tom smiled. "Besides, I have a dermal regenerator. Presto, damage undone."
B‘Elanna didn‘t smile back. She shook her head, then glanced around the room. "I shouldn‘t even be here-"
Tom grabbed her arm as she started to get up. "Don‘t go, B‘Elanna."
B‘Elanna twisted her wrist from Tom‘s grip and pushed the bedsheets back. "I should get back to my quarters-"
B‘Elanna turned and looked at Tom. "Because...my fresh uniforms are there, my toiletries, my other stuff..." She sighed and stood up, reaching for her discarded uniform shirt. "It‘s easier in the morning."
"It‘s five doors down the hall, B‘Elanna. Do you think what time you get back there will really affect your schedule? Or vice versa if I‘m in your quarters?"
B‘Elanna looked at Tom again and frowned. At another time Tom might have enjoyed the sight of her standing stark naked next to his bed, the quarter light softly illuminating every curve of her body.
"What about the dream?"
B‘Elanna looked away, but not before he saw the shadow cross her eyes. "It wasn‘t...I don‘t usually have bad dreams. I‘m sure it won‘t happen again."
"Tell me about it anyway."
"It was..." B‘Elanna smoothed out her shirt. "...not important. Like you said, it‘s over. It really wasn‘t a big deal."
"B‘Elanna, please get back in this bed."
She hadn‘t picked up any more of her scattered clothing, but she didn‘t move toward the bed either. She was just staring at her shirt. "Why?"
"Because I want to hold you."
B‘Elanna sighed. "Tom, I‘m fine." She fingered the ripped seam of her shirt. "The Mari were right about one thing, though. It was my violent thought that started it all-"
"Because of their lack of control, not yours." Tom pushed the rest of the sheets away and threw his legs over the side of the bed. "Your thoughts and your feelings are yours, B‘Elanna, no one else‘s to steal without your permission. As far as I‘m concerned, that‘s exactly what they did." Tom frowned. "Talk about a warped moral code. Besides, if we could be prosecuted for our thoughts, everyone on Voyager would be in the brig. Even Tuvok admitted to harboring a few violent thoughts. He‘s just a lot more repressed than the rest of us."
A ghost of a smile crossed B‘Elanna‘s face. "I‘m not sure Tuvok would think of it in quite those terms."
Tom smiled back and shrugged. "Well, the Mari should have read my thoughts today. I was thinking about taking Voyager‘s photon torpedoes and aiming them right in their...throats until they let you go. Unfortunately I couldn‘t act on it. But whoever threatens you, B‘Elanna, threatens me."
B‘Elanna looked at him and sighed. She crumpled up the shirt back up in her hand. "Tom, I appreciate the thought, but I don‘t need you to take care of me-"
"B‘Elanna, the point of a relationship is letting someone else in, letting someone else be strong sometimes. Letting someone else share the burden doesn‘t make you weak. Even Klingons believe two hearts together are far stronger than one alone. You‘re not alone anymore. And neither am I."
Tom reached out and took her free hand and pulled her forward a couple of steps. She stood between his legs looking down at him. "And, right now I need you, too. So why don‘t you get back in this bed and hold me." Tom‘s hands dropped to rest lightly on her waist. "Lord knows your death defying adventures the last few weeks have been scaring the hell out of me. Maybe I‘m the one who could use some comfort right now. So stay with me."
A small grin quirked Tom‘s mouth, but he looked at her somberly, the fear he‘d felt for her so recently clearly visible in his eyes. She reached out a hand and brushed a blond lock of hair off his forehead. Then she touched the side of his mouth where she‘d inadvertently hit him, where a bruise was already forming around the swollen cut. She leaned down and touched her lips to the injured spot, and the shirt she was holding slipped from her hand and dropped to the floor.
Tom wrapped his arms around her waist and lay back on the bed, taking her with him. She lay half on top of him, and he pulled her closer against him, and felt her own arms tighten around him. For several moments they just lay together, not speaking, arms and legs intertwined, holding each other.
"Go to sleep, Tom," B‘Elanna murmured softly. She snuggled closer to him, and rested her head on his shoulder. "I‘ll be here. K‘laq tlg soragh."
Tom squeezed his arm tighter around B‘Elanna‘s waist and rested his other hand in the silken tangle of her hair. "And I‘ll be here. And I‘ll guard your heart, too, B‘Elanna. Not just tonight. Always."
"Personal log, SD 51368.8, 0647 hours, Tom Paris reporting.
B‘Elanna left before I woke this morning. Actually, I was awake. She just didn‘t know it. I sensed something, and my consciousness stirred. I felt her hand touch my cheek, and her fingers brush lightly across my mouth. Then I felt her lips press against my forehead, little more than a momentary whisper of breath on my skin. Then she was gone, no doubt intending to get an early start in Engineering.
She did leave the dermal regenerator on my bedside table, with my PADD propped up against it. One word was flickering on the screen. "Sorry". I guess I‘ll have to remind her of that old saying, that love means never having to say you‘re sorry. Especially not twice. And not for the things that are simply a part of who you are, anyway. I would never want B‘Elanna to apologize for who she is.
I‘m glad she stayed last night, even after the dream woke her. She didn‘t want to talk about it afterwards, but I know it was pretty bad. I had a swollen lip to prove it. But she stayed, and we held each other. She slept peacefully after that. We both did.
I don‘t know if we‘ll ever talk about how she felt about what happened to her on the Mari planet. Maybe it‘s enough that she knows she can tell me whatever she needs to, and I‘ll listen. I‘ve told her that nothing she could ever tell me would scare me off. What I‘ve never said is that I‘m not so sure about some of the things I could tell her.
B‘Elanna‘s not the only one used to keeping everything inside, to hiding her true feelings from everyone else. I‘ve done that for the better part of my life. It‘s not hard keeping everyone out, especially when you know no one really wants in. What‘s hard is getting used to someone else being there again, someone wanting to be there. I don‘t think B‘Elanna or I have become completely comfortable with that concept yet. But no one said love is easy. In fact someone said "no one said love is easy". I think.
After I showered and got dressed for duty, I used the regenerator on my swollen lip and the vivid bruise that went with it. Not because of how I got it or because I mind anyone seeing it, but because what goes on between me and B‘Elanna is our business. The other bruises no one can see, so those I left alone.
Who knows, I may have a few more of those tonight. After I left B‘Elanna in Engineering yesterday I put the present I got her in her quarters. I know she came straight here last night, so she never saw it. I don‘t know if she‘s opened it yet today, but I expect she‘ll show up tonight- either to thank me, or to strangle me with it. B‘Elanna‘s still a little unpredictable that way. That‘s one of the things I love about her.
Now I‘d better get out of here, because I have something to do before my shift starts. I want to catch Tuvok before he leaves his quarters. Last time I went there it was to apologize for practically accusing him of tattling on me and B‘Elanna after he caught us in a compromising position in Engineering. I still haven‘t completely forgiven myself for thinking that Tuvok would actually do something like that in the first place. It was pretty unworthy of me. This time I want to thank him for what he did for B‘Elanna. Whether he was just doing "his job" or not, I know it cost him a lot. He probably won‘t accept my thanks with any more real feeling than he did the apology. But I‘m going to say it anyway. Because I realized last night while I was holding B‘Elanna that, trite as it may sound, his efforts saved not only her, but me, too.
End personal log."
I used the regenerator on my swolbetween me and B‘Elanna is our business. The rest of the bruises no one can see, so I left those alone...