Title: Private RespectsJuli17@aol.com
Author: Julie Evans
Codes: P/T, Joe Carey
Date posted: 5/6/01
Summary: That was a nice replica of Voyager that Joe Carey was
building, but somehow I think there was a greater tragedy to his death
than an unfinished ship in a bottle. Set immediately after the events in
Disclaimer: Star Trek and its characters are the property of
Paramount/Viacom. I am borrowing them for fun only not profit.
Archiving: Okay to archive to ASC, PT Collective website, and BLTS.
All others please ask author for permission.
by Julie Evans
B'Elanna Torres stood in the cleared area of cargo bay one. In a few
hours it would be used for a memorial service, but right now she was
alone. The torpedo tube on the platform in front of her gleamed like
polished ebony. On starships the tubes had long served a secondary
purpose besides housing torpedoes--sheltering the bodies of those who
died far from home. It had been a long time since there had been a need
to use one for that purpose on Voyager. They'd been so fortunate over
the past couple of years, cheating death so many times, that it had
become the expected course. They'd gotten complacent about their
survival, and had all but dismissed the odds that one day the dangers
they faced would catch up with them. They always did. And Joe Carey
had been the one to pay the price this time.
Back in their first days on Voyager, she would have never expected to
be one day mourning Joe's death. They'd barely tolerated each other
then. He'd been dyed-in-the-wool Starfleet, she'd been Maquis and
resentful of the forced integration of the two crews into one. They'd
clashed repeatedly, culminating in the confrontation where she'd lost her
temper and had broken his nose. Then they'd vied for the chief
engineer's slot, and she'd won. She'd expected him to be resentful in
return, but he'd surprised her by immediately accepting her authority.
With the definition of their working relationship finally resolved, much
of their original antagonism had faded away. Years later she'd wondered
if that would have been the case had Joe been given the chief engineer's
position. She doubted she would have let go of her animosity as easily
as Joe had done.
In seven years Joe and she had only occasionally worked together on
projects. Since he'd been second in command in engineering, he'd been
in charge of the shifts she wasn't working. Their on-duty interaction had
mostly taken place during shift changes, in staff meetings, and during
their monthly one-on-one inter-departmental reviews. Since their
interests were different as well as their shifts, they'd rarely spent time
together off-duty. Still, as time passed they'd slowly gotten to know
each other better, and they'd developed a mutual respect for each other's
abilities and natures--diametrically opposed as his calm deliberation was
to her driven intensity. And they'd begun to share some aspects of their
Joe had mentioned his wife and his two sons many times over the years,
though at first it had mostly been in passing. After the crew had started
sending and receiving monthly letters through the datastream, he'd
spoken of his family in more detail, and without the despondency that
had sometimes characterized his earlier mention of them. When
B'Elanna had become pregnant, he'd talked animatedly about the joys of
having children--and sometimes about the pains. He'd even joined her
and Tom in the mess hall on one of his nights off not long ago. During
the meal Joe and Tom had discussed the responsibilities of fatherhood in
very serious tones. She'd teased them about their earnestness, though
she'd been glad Tom would have someone with whom to share his
experiences and concerns as a father, Tuvok's Vulcan knowledge and
experience notwithstanding. She'd also appreciated Joe's genuine
interest, and his happiness for her and Tom, which he'd expressed
She wouldn't have believed it if someone had told her in the beginning,
but Joe had become more than a work colleague. He'd become a friend--
a good friend. And now he was gone, not because his death had been
unavoidable or had served a greater purpose, but because of a senseless
act of revenge by some p'taQ--
The cargo bay doors opened at that moment and the distraction saved
B'Elanna from picking up the nearest container and flinging it across the
room. As it was she quickly dashed tears from her eyes with one hand
as Tom's footsteps came toward her. She waited until he stopped next to
her before she looked at him.
He was staring at the torpedo tube, his expression grim. She reached
across the small space between them and slipped her hand in his. He
immediately turned and wrapped his free arm around her, pulling her to
him. She rested her cheek against his shoulder and sighed, gratefully
accepting the brief exchange of comfort between them, a repeat of
several such moments they'd shared since he'd returned from the planet.
Though someone had finally discovered the native name for the place,
she didn't care to remember it.
Tom drew back first, though their hands remained linked. "I didn't hear
you leave. It must have been early."
"It was just after five hundred hours," she told him. "You were still
asleep." Sound asleep, though that wasn't surprising after he'd been held
hostage most of the day, had received a round of treatment for radiation
poisoning, and then had spent several hours on the bridge helping create
the isolitic chain reaction on the planet. He'd practically passed out
when they'd finally gotten back to their quarters last night.
"I don't remember a thing after my head hit the pillow," Tom said. He
glanced at the torpedo tube. "I don't even think I dreamed."
He sounded relieved and B'Elanna couldn't blame him. "You were
exhausted. You hardly moved all night."
"And you hardly slept all night," Tom guessed, his gaze on her sharp.
"I tossed and turned a little." It had been hard to sleep thinking about
Joe, and Tom, and everything that had happened.
Tom squeezed her hand. "I'm sorry."
B'Elanna shook her head at his apology. "Don't be. You're the one who
needed the sleep. In fact I could barely wake you." She'd called him
from engineering before she'd headed here, and his voice had been
groggy when he'd finally answered on her third attempt.
"I'm glad you did call. I don't think the alarm would have woken me."
Tom glanced pensively at the torpedo tube again. "Why are we here?
The memorial service isn't until eleven hundred hours."
"I need to do something when no one else is here." B'Elanna reached
into the inside pocket of her uniform and pulled out the two photos she'd
retrieved in engineering. Tom moved to her side and looked at them
B'Elanna touched one of the photos, the one that was clearly the older of
the two and frayed around the edges. It showed a pretty blond woman
standing in a grassy park, with two young boys--one blond and one
auburn haired--on either side of her. All three were laughing at the
camera. "Joe kept this at his workstation, maybe since the first day he
boarded Voyager, or at least since we ended up in the Delta quadrant. I
saw it there dozens of times. After we started receiving letters through
the datastream, he added a second picture he'd made from one of their
letter transmissions. Recently he replaced that with this one..." she
adjusted the photos so the second one was more visible. "It's an image
from Joe's conversation with his family two weeks ago."
The photo showed Joe's wife, looking hardly any older, and his two
sons, now in their teens. They were sitting in a room at the Pathfinder
project headquarters, one reserved for families of the Voyager crew
during the FTL conversations, looking eager and happy. "His oldest
son, Michael, is planning on applying to Starfleet Academy." Joe had
told her that just last week. "He was so proud his son wanted to follow
in his footsteps."
"I think he'll still want to do that for his father," Tom said. He was silent
for several moments before he added quietly, "The captain arranged to
talk to Joe's family during the FTL link today."
B'Elanna didn't envy Janeway that part of her job. Not at all. "It just
isn't fair," she said bitterly, though she'd certainly seen enough to know
how unfair life could be. The injustice still rankled.
"After Verin killed Joe I asked, Brin, the pregnant woman, why she was
still helping me. She said 'Your child's going to need a father, isn't
she?'" Tom shook his head. "It was ironic. I wanted to shout, 'what
about Joe Carey's sons, didn't they need a father?' But it wouldn't have
served any purpose to make Brin feel guilty for something she couldn't
change, and Verin certainly didn't care about fairness."
B'Elanna frowned. She knew Tom had developed a lot of sympathy for
his captors, despite the murderous act of their leader. Tom and Neelix
had both argued to help the inhabitants, and only partly because the old
Earth probe had played a role in their misfortune. No doubt they'd had a
harsh life, and maybe she'd have more sympathy if she'd been on the
planet with Tom and had seen their living conditions first hand. But it
was hard for her to think beyond Joe's body laid out in the torpedo tube,
and the fact that her husband might have met the same fate if Tuvok
hadn't engineered a successful rescue.
"They weren't all guilty of Verin's crime," Tom said, obviously sensing
the animosity in her silence. "They were barely surviving under
horrendous conditions. They were suffering, physically and
emotionally, especially the children. It wouldn't have been right to turn
our backs on them because of one man's brutality. And Joe wouldn't
have wanted us to."
"No, he probably wouldn't," B'Elanna agreed. Joe had never been a
Tom's gaze fell on the torpedo tube again. "I still don't know why Verin
B'Elanna didn't know either, though Joe had been injured, and people
like Verin always went after whomever they perceived the weakest.
Whatever the reason, it was Joe who had been the victim of Verin's
wrath. And her first reaction when she'd heard had been...gratitude.
"B'Elanna?" Tom's hand closed over hers. "You're going to crumple the
She looked down at the photos of Joe's family, and loosened her
clenched grip. "Do you know what my first thought was when I heard
that a hostage had been returned dead, and that it was Joe?" Her mouth
twisted as her husband looked at her quizzically. "I thought, 'Thank god
it wasn't Tom.'"
"B'Elanna..." Tom stared at her for several seconds, his expression
sympathetic. "You didn't think 'Thank god it was Joe,' did you?"
"Of course not," she replied to his soft-spoken question. She understood
Tom's point, but she still felt guilty about it.
"I felt the same way, you know, especially after Verin killed Joe. I was
angry, and I certainly didn't wish for Joe to die, but I was also incredibly
relieved that you hadn't come on the mission."
"Because you talked me out of it?"
Tom actually cracked a small smile at her sardonic question. "I can't
recall ever talking you out of anything you really wanted to do,
That was true. She only gave in when it suited her. She'd been feeling
restless and cooped up when she'd walked into sickbay and demanded to
be included on the away team. She'd also known Chakotay would refuse
her presence on the mission in the end, even if she'd managed to
convince Tom. Maybe she'd just been looking for a way to vent her
frustration. "You pointed out the risk and you were right." She pressed
a hand over her belly. "Our baby's safety *is* my first priority."
Tom put his hand over hers. "I know. And the way things turned out,
it's a good thing you decided to stay on Voyager. I couldn't even treat
our radiation exposure since Verin wouldn't let me have my medkit, let
alone stop him from killing Joe." He shook his head. "By the time I
realized Verin's real intention, it was too late to do anything--"
"Tom, you were a hostage. You couldn't have saved Joe. Like you said,
that p'taQ Verin is responsible for his death, no one else."
"I know," Tom said, his voice hollow.
"Besides, you did do something. You delivered a baby. Considering the
circumstances, that must have been a little unnerving."
Tom shrugged. "Truthfully, I had so many other things on my mind, and
it happened so fast, I didn't have any time to think about it. Brin did
most of the work anyway. The only scary part was when the baby
wouldn't breathe. I almost panicked."
B'Elanna had never known Tom to panic in a crisis, no matter how he
might feel inside. "Instead you saved him."
"Thankfully," Tom said. "Brin had already lost three babies. Imagine
how she would have felt if she'd lost a fourth one."
B'Elanna didn't want to imagine it, though she understood Tom's
sympathy for the woman. "She's fortunate you were there. And all your
experience could come in handy again soon."
Tom shook his head emphatically at her implication. "No, thanks.
When it comes to our baby I'll be more than happy to let the doctor do
the honors, while I just hold your hand."
"You know you may have the more hazardous duty."
Tom's lips twitched at her dry warning. He leaned over and kissed her
cheek. "I'll take my chances."
B'Elanna smiled faintly. Either way, Tom's presence did reassure her,
and not just because of his knowledge and his ability in a crisis. He
hadn't lost any of his irreverence, but impending fatherhood had brought
out a new steadiness in him, just as impending motherhood had given
her a sense of serenity she'd rarely known before.
Well, she felt it some of the time anyway.
Her smile faded as she looked at the torpedo tube. For a few moments
she'd almost forgotten why they were here. She glanced at Tom, and his
expression was somber again as he took her hand in his. She nodded at
his questioning look, and together they walked the several steps to the
B'Elanna knew in some Earth cultures humans chose not to view the
body of the deceased, preferring to remember the person as he'd been
when alive, while others followed different customs. Klingons
traditionally said their goodbyes directly to the deceased, as did
Betazoids, while Bolians believed it was bad luck to look upon the dead.
In Starfleet, with its mix of races and cultures, it was generally left to the
individual crewmembers to pay their private respects as they wished.
On starships it was also not uncommon practice to place personal items
with the deceased before he was consigned to space. They weren't items
to be used in an afterlife, though that could be an element of some
cultures. They were simply things from the person's life that had
defined him in some way, and that seemed meant to remain with him.
Tom lifted the top cover of the torpedo tube. Others had come and gone
before B'Elanna and Tom, and several items had already been placed
with Joe's body. B'Elanna was sure the backgammon set had come from
someone in engineering. She wasn't familiar with all of Joe's hobbies,
though she knew about the Voyager model he'd been building in hopes
of giving it to his boys when he got home--he'd mentioned recently that
he'd nearly finished it--and about his fondness for backgammon. Joe
had organized the backgammon tournaments on Voyager, which were
popular with many in the engineering and science departments, as poker
enjoyed a strong popularity among those in the helm and security
departments. Joe had talked her into a backgammon game once, and
she'd been surprised to find out that he was quite a ruthless player
beneath his relaxed demeanor.
Perhaps Sue Nicoletti had left the set. She was as enthusiastic a player
as Joe had been.
B'Elanna didn't know who had left the datapadd, or what it contained--a
farewell message from some of his friends, a propulsion theory he'd
been working on, or maybe a copy of his personal logs. Nor was she
sure who had left the copy of Starfleet Concepts of Engineering, though
it might have been Icheb, since he'd worked with Joe on some of his
cadet studies. She knew the dark blue ribbon--Starfleet's Medal of
Valor--had been put on his dress uniform by the captain, and the citation
would now be listed in his file, posthumously. And she could guess who
had left the drawing.
It depicted a group of people standing in Voyager's mess hall, all
wearing Starfleet uniforms. B'Elanna recognized most of them,
including herself--pregnant--as well as Tom, the captain, Neelix,
Chakotay, the rest of the senior staff and quite a few from engineering.
Icheb was there, and of course Sam Wildman and Naomi. In the year
and a half since she'd made Tom a get well card after that incident with
the Alice computer entity, Naomi's drawing skills had improved
considerably. She was, in fact, quite talented.
The drawing had a caption across the top. "To keep you company."
And at the bottom was another caption, "Your family on Voyager."
B'Elanna bit her lip and felt Tom's hand squeezing hers tightly. After a
moment, she carefully set the two photos of Joe's wife and sons next to
Naomi's drawing. Then she stepped back and watched Tom lower the
cover, though her vision was blurred. When he turned around, she
slipped her arms around him. He responded by pulling her close again,
and they stood that way, silently holding each other, for several minutes,
each lost in their own thoughts and feelings.
Maybe it was okay to be grateful for what she still had. She knew Joe
wouldn't begrudge her that. And she *was* grateful, particularly for the
fact that Tom had returned alive. After Joe had been killed by Verin,
she'd been terrified she'd lose Tom the same way. But it hadn't been the
irrational fear she'd experienced a few months ago when she'd found out
she was pregnant, and had been haunted by memories of her father's
abandonment. She knew she could raise her child alone if she had to, as
Sandra Carey had been raising her children alone, and Sam was raising
Naomi, and as her own mother had finished raising her. As much as it
would have hurt her to do that without Tom, it would have hurt more
living with the knowledge that Tom would never get the chance to know
the daughter he already loved so much.
Right now she hurt for Joe that his children he'd finally found again had
been yanked from him, and he from them. She pulled back a little and
looked up at Tom. "Tonight I'm going to run my martial arts program."
She hadn't done it in a while, since it had become a little awkward for
her, but she needed the release, and the doctor had okayed any physical
exercise she could perform.
Tom didn't even blink at her determined tone. "I'll do it with you."
He might be offering to join her partly out of the over-protectiveness she
couldn't seem to cure in him, but she saw from the hard glint in his eyes
that he had his own anger to resolve too. A willing bunch of holo-
Klingons would no doubt be a good enough stand-in for Verin.
B'Elanna put her hand on Tom's arm, and by silent agreement they
turned to leave. When they reached the door she stopped and looked
back at the lone torpedo tube resting on the platform.
After the memorial service it would be sealed and carried to the torpedo
bay. From there it would be launched into space, and then Voyager
would move on. Though she'd be at the service, B'Elanna preferred to
finish her goodbyes now. She didn't know much about Joe's personal
beliefs, but she recalled the word he'd often spoken when someone in
engineering had been about to leave on an away mission. It had been his
way of wishing his colleague and friend a safe journey. So she offered
that final wish to him--her colleague and friend--and she hoped it would
follow him, on whatever journey he was now bound.