Title: The Second Drawer
Author: Julie Evans (Juli17@aol.com)
Rating: PG13
Codes: T, P/T
Summary: Reflections on B‘Elanna‘s life on Voyager, courtesy of an unusual source.

Disclaimer: Star Trek and its characters are the property of Viacom/Paramount. I am borrowing them for fun only, not profit.

Notes: Thanks to Patti for beta reading. And for writing "Mood Indigo", which, besides being a wonderful story, has an interpretation of B‘Elanna‘s acquisition of the indigo nightgown (seen in "Drone") that I consider fanfic canon (if there is such a thing). Additional thanks to Patti for allowing me to use that interpretation. Thanks also to Jim Wright and his Delta Blues Voyager reviews, which are not only entertaining but also make wonderful reference material for past episodes that I don‘t yet have on tape, like "Remember". And while sleepers come in many varieties, it was those in Jane St. Claire‘s lovely story, "Sleepers With Feet", that were on my mind when I included that particular item of nightwear in this story. Finally, thanks to Melanie who wrote "Panic", and to the authors of a certain series of stories beginning with "I am Tom‘s…", that I recalled while reading "Panic", all of which led me to write this admittedly odd story. This is set late in the fifth season, perhaps shortly after the events in "Think Tank".

The Second Drawer

You probably aren‘t aware of my existence. Certainly you haven‘t seen me outside the four walls that B‘Elanna calls her "quarters" (or the four walls that Tom calls his "quarters," but I digress…). I generally reside in the second drawer of B‘Elanna‘s chest, among the other items that she wears embraced close to her skin. Well, the items in the top drawer, the undergarments, hug B‘Elanna very closely also. But it is we in the second drawer who are with her during the night, during the dark hours when feelings and thoughts run deepest, when dreams sometimes take flight, and when despair can overwhelm. I am a fairly recent arrival in the second drawer, my stay closing in on about nine months now. There are others here who have been with B‘Elanna far longer than myself.

The crimson pajamas, for instance. They came with B‘Elanna when she first boarded Voyager. They are the only items in this drawer—perhaps in all the drawers—that were with her during "the Liberty years." That long-standing relationship does make the crimsons somewhat…arrogant. They are a matched pair in that sense as well. But even I cannot deny that the crimsons have been with B‘Elanna through so many changes in her life, so many moments that have shaped her character. She got them shortly after she joined the Maquis—how and when they refuse to reveal—but they were there when she slept on the Liberty, newly confident of her place and with a sense of purpose in her life which she had searched for until then in vain. And the crimsons were here during those first nights she slept on Voyager, resentful at the change that had been abruptly forced on her. They lay with her each night in those early days here, when she returned to these walls, angry and unsure sometimes, but always determined not to show anyone else her fears and insecurities.

It was also the crimsons who were wrapped around her during those few nights after she had been "split in two," when she looked for the briefest time unlike herself, and like what she called with longing, "human." When she lay alone then in the dark, resting her hand against her forehead, caressing the smoothness of her skin as if to commit that sensation to memory. Even as, at that moment, her fingers detected the slightest hint of the re-forming ridges, the evidence of the return of the part of her that she had no peace with, her "Klingon" side. Even as she silently despaired that it must be so.

It is the crimsons who felt the hot wetness of B‘Elanna‘s silent and solitary tears then. Not even the people closest to B‘Elanna, like Tom or Chakotay, have felt B‘Elanna‘s tears. Only the crimsons. And myself.

The crimsons were also there to witness the slowly growing satisfaction B‘Elanna began to feel as "chief engineer" on Voyager, and the confidence it instilled in her. They were there when she went to bed worrying about how to get "her ship" through its latest crisis, or excitedly contemplating a new modification to the warp drive. She was always tired from her long hours of working to keep Voyager‘s engines in shape, but increasingly content with her new life. As had happened on the Liberty, the crimsons witnessed B‘Elanna‘s growing sense of self worth, as she began to consider the Voyager crew her friends, and to value the trust her captain had placed in her. As she started to feel again that she had a place to belong.

The crimsons were also there during the odd period when B‘Elanna was carried "between" lives, and into the life of another, the one named Corinna. They were left behind at each moment of actual transformation, replaced by a sheer negligee (something they are loathe to admit). But they were wrapped around B‘Elanna again each time she returned to herself, disoriented and disturbed by the experience at first, though later she almost eagerly pursued the experience in her always insatiable desire for "answers."

The crimsons were with B‘Elanna through all that, though I do want to point out (to the crimsons‘ annoyance, should they be able to "hear" my accounting), that certainly they were not the only ones who slept with B‘Elanna during the sometimes lonely nights of those early Voyager years. There were one or two others, and there were the Starfleet regulation t-shirts and tanks that B‘Elanna sometimes simply collapsed in when she returned late to these walls. The regulation t-shirts and tanks, being both diurnal and nocturnal, constantly come and go, though some newer ones still take up residence on the far side of the second drawer. But mostly it was the crimsons that enveloped B‘Elanna in their warmth each night. And B‘Elanna, being generally practical, and a "creature of habit" (as Harry, to her annoyance, once called her when he replicated a raktajino for her in the eating place on Voyager called the "mess hall"), was comfortable with the simplicity of that arrangement. At least until she was influenced by another‘s sense of adventure, and began to unlock some of that within herself. And that is when most of the rest of us in the second drawer came along, during what can be referred to as "the Tom years."

"The Tom years" didn‘t really start when Tom began to take up frequent residence here in B‘Elanna‘s quarters. His name had come from her lips numerous times since the beginning of "the Voyager years," but early on his name was spoken within these walls with derision, disinterest, and often annoyance, and mostly in passing. Though she did talk about his kindness and support of her during the time when she was split in half, expressing both surprise and gratitude. But in those days it was Chakotay, her oldest friend, whom she spoke of more often, sometimes with longing, wishing that he could see himself as more than a friend to her. But as time passed her voice when she spoke of him held admiration and affection, but no more. She‘d come to realize that her longing was just a symptom of her loneliness, and that Chakotay was a dear friend and mentor, much like the big brother she‘d never had, but nothing more. And it was around the same time that her tone when she spoke of Tom softened.

From the beginning of the Voyager years, when B‘Elanna lay at night cuddled in the crimsons, she often addressed her "personal log," that inanimate thing that she speaks with, though it only listens and never answers. But she felt free to share her deepest feelings and desires with her "log," as she did with no real person, except in rare fleeting moments. And as those early years passed she spoke more and more frequently of Tom to her log, relating the specifics of a ship‘s project the two of them were working on together, or an off-duty incident that had happened in the mess hall or "resort." She began to refer to him casually as a friend, and more than once she expressed genuine relief that he was all right after he‘d taken some risk or other with his life. She became as likely to speak of him with affection as exasperation, though she sometimes seemed bothered by that acknowledgement. And, finally, after she came back ill from a disease she later called "blood fever," during which the crimsons cradled her as she slept in complete exhaustion for an entire day, something was changed permanently changed between her and Tom.

After that incident, B‘Elanna spoke of Tom to her log even more if that were possible, virtually every day, often amused at something he had said, or irritated by something he had done, talking of his pursuit and his persistence, and whether she would respond. Whether she could respond. Sometimes she sounded confident that she could handle the way he was "disturbing" her life, and sometimes doubtful. And at times she was annoyed that she found herself in a "position" she hadn‘t been seeking, that she was possessed with an expectation and a need that was thrilling, and frightening. Then she tried to dismiss him, to dismiss her feelings. But always threaded through her voice when she spoke of him was a yearning, different from her dreamy musings over Chakotay, deeper and in many ways more disturbing.

Tom began to come to her walls more frequently, even when she wasn‘t particularly welcoming, to discuss a "work matter," or a particular holoprogram they were designing together about a holiday called "The Day of Honor." And after he‘d left—always before she wrapped the crimsons around her—she spoke of those moments in her log. She would not reveal her feelings to him, but when she spoke to her log her feelings were clear. And sometimes in the night, aching with wanting, she would caress herself with her hands, imagining that it was he doing the touching. Much later she told Tom this, and he admitted to doing the same.

And then things between them changed again. In yet another one of those calamitous adventures those who live on Voyager seem to encounter with regularity, B‘Elanna and Tom were trapped in EVA suits in space, and nearly died. It was then, afraid and not wanting to die knowing she was still alone, that she told him she loved him. And they held each other without being able to touch, and without the breath to speak. When she came back to these walls that night, pale and shaken from the experience, she worried to her log as she recounted the incident, wondering whether Tom felt the same, or whether his feelings were no more than affection and his teasing reply to her confession had been an effort to hold her off. Whether she had scared him away with her impulsive words.

She had not. It had already become "inevitable," as the crimsons relate, often with regret. I cannot blame them for that. Once Tom began to come at night, once B‘Elanna slept for the first time on Voyager in someone‘s embrace rather than only in that of her night clothing and her dreams, the crimsons slowly but surely found themselves consigned to the second drawer on a more and more permanent basis. Now they rarely leave. But it is still a sign of B‘Elanna‘s fondness for them, and her gratitude for all the times that they embraced her in their soft folds, during good nights and bad nights, that she has never sent them to the permanent recycler.

When Tom came, the second drawer, until then half empty, slowly began to fill up, until it became the crowded place it is today. There was the white satin gown that B‘Elanna replicated herself only a few days after the EVA incident, the evening after she‘d once again been in danger, this time from a "holo-jerk" who‘d tried to rip her heart out. Tom came to dinner that night, and for the first time he stayed afterward. The white satin was the first to feel the caress of Tom‘s hands, and doesn‘t mind bragging about it. But others came soon after: the black lace peignoir; the red silk negligee that was a birthday present from him (and takes up the least amount of space of any of us in the second drawer); the long bronze satin that he told her "matched the golden warmth and luminosity her skin" (a compliment which B‘Elanna greeted with a dismissive roll of her eyes, as she dismissed such compliments from Tom with regularity, though that never stopped him, perhaps because he knew she was secretly flattered). And still there were more gowns.

Most of them came during the early months of B‘Elanna and Tom‘s relationship, the time of "newness" that all such relationships apparently go through, when the two of them could not get enough of each other. They were even "reprimanded" once for their seemingly insatiable pursuit. It was a giddy time, by all accounts (including the accounts of those in the top drawer, as well as the closet. Her uniforms in fact often believe they have witnessed more of B‘Elanna and Tom‘s physical relationship than even those of us in the second drawer, but whether that is true or not, it is all another story).

I do not mean to imply that Tom was within here all the time, even in those early months. Often he wasn‘t. They are not joined in that sense that some apparently are, since Tom has his own walls and drawers. Sometimes he was there, sleeping at different times than B‘Elanna. Sometimes she went there to join him. And when he was here, sometimes he stayed and they slept, and sometimes he returned to his own walls.

At one period he was hardly here at all for several weeks. B‘Elanna tossed and turned during those weeks, angry and confused by his "withdrawal," sleeping badly, no matter which item from the second drawer was wrapped around her. Eventually he returned, apologizing for his withdrawal, saying that he wanted to "let her in." She forgave him, maybe because she knew from personal experience how difficult it could be to let someone in, and they resumed much as they had before.

At some point in that early period the second drawer had also begun to fill with something else: t-shirts. Not the Starfleet regulations, but the only ones here that have been wrapped close around another‘s body. Tom‘s body. First B‘Elanna kept one or two that he‘d left behind "for him," like the well-worn black one, then the blue one she‘d told him "matched his eyes." Later the ones with words on them came, words like "Pilots don‘t need directions", and "B‘Elanna‘s Beach Tour." Though B‘Elanna often told Tom the t-shirt words were adolescent, somehow those ones stayed too.

The Tom t-shirts, once they arrive, never seem to leave again. Whether Tom has some left in his drawers, I don‘t know. It doesn’t appear to be a reciprocal arrangement either. Though the gowns, including myself, have visited Tom‘s walls from time to time, B‘Elanna always brings us back. Even if it is for a period of several days, as happened to me once, when I was left draped over Tom‘s couch. He ran his hand over my folds every time he walked by, and sometimes leaned over to smell me, to smell B‘Elanna on me. Still, he never tried to keep me, or any of the other gowns, and B‘Elanna soon got me back. Nor does he ever try to wear any of us, perhaps because he is much larger than B‘Elanna and would burst our seams.

B‘Elanna, however, does wear the Tom t-shirts, though they hang almost to her knees. Months before I came it was a common practice for her to wear them to bed on the nights Tom did not come here, or she did not go to his walls. She said to her log that she could smell Tom‘s scent on them (much as he had smelled her scent on me), and it made her feel close to him even when he wasn‘t here.

There are a few residents in the second drawer that came later, more gowns and the fluffy sleepers that take up one end of the drawer by themselves. And myself—I came almost last. And since I am young in the advent of B‘Elanna‘s history on Voyager, and her history with Tom, all I have related up to now is obviously hearsay, the accounts of the others in the second drawer. For by the time I came, this B‘Elanna I have been speaking of was not the B‘Elanna I first met. There were at best glimpses of that previous B‘Elanna the others had known, the one fulfilled and energized by her position as "chief engineer," and by the hours she often spent in the evenings laughing and loving with Tom. The B‘Elanna whose strong, toned muscles were relaxed in restful sleep at night and not tensed in exhausted wakefulness. Who spoke to her log often and easily, freely revealing her desires and feelings, both good and bad, rather than in harsh clipped sentences that dropped into silence as if she could no longer even find those feelings within herself. The B‘Elanna who‘d come to believe she‘d found a place to belong, and meaning in her life. That B‘Elanna, I didn‘t know.

I think the others saw glimpses themselves of the coming change in B‘Elanna, a change that began to become apparent when Voyager went through a long dark void. And how that darkness put a strain on her and on her relationship with Tom, and seemed to stay inside her even after Voyager left the void. But I knew of none of this change at the beginning. I knew only my own experience first.

Though I spent many nights in the second drawer after B‘Elanna replicated me, the evening she decided to wear me for the first time, Tom came. She slipped me over her for that first time, so that my satiny folds fell against the smooth contours of her body. She had replicated me as a gift for him, with rations she‘d won from him in a game. I didn‘t know it at the time, but replicating me was probably one of B‘Elanna‘s last attempts to hold on to the life she had worked to build for herself, and more, to hold on to what she shared with Tom, when both were slipping away from her. Even then it had taken her some time to decide to show me to Tom. And immediately I was busy becoming used to the feeling of being around her, to the sensation of my cool satin brushing against her warm skin, and soon after, to the added warmth of Tom‘s body pressed against me, of being caught between the two of them as his gentle hands began caressing her through me. They came together eagerly, and soon after I was wrapped around B‘Elanna again, and Tom‘s arms cradled both of us, and they fell asleep. Those sensations were nothing the other residents of the second drawer hadn‘t experienced, but it was all new to me. B‘Elanna slept restlessly, her body coiled and tense, and that seemed to communicate itself to Tom, who too moved restlessly. His embrace was not comforting to her body or her soul, and I did not know at the time that it should be any different. Or when he left early the next morning, to her half awake protests, dropping a quick kiss on her brow and brushing his fingers against her hair—and giving her a quick worried look she didn‘t even see—that it was the last time he would be within B‘Elanna‘s walls for several weeks. Nor how close it may have come to him never returning at all.

Oh, in those weeks he called her several times, asking to come and see her, or for her to come and see him, but she refused, protesting exhaustion and problems in Engineering as she sat in bed staring at the dataPADDs propped against my folds over her lap, PADDs that she increasingly did not read. Eventually she became simply curt with him, dismissive, not even bothering to come up with excuses, simply refusing his overtures without explanation. His voice sounded hurt, confused, even angry at those times, but after a few attempts he did desist. He left her alone.

After that I was often the only one with her in the evenings. Unlike the earlier times, she no longer wore the Tom t-shirts at all, and whatever vicarious comfort she‘d drawn from them in the past no longer worked, as she no longer drew comfort from Tom himself, or from anyone or anything else. So the t-shirts lay untouched, pushed far to the side of the drawer, in a way symbolizing everything else she was systematically pushing out of her life. And the gowns lay mostly untouched also, except for me.

I do not know why B‘Elanna chose to wear me almost every night. Perhaps it was because the cool feel of my material somehow soothed the fevered turmoil of her thoughts. Or perhaps my color, indigo, the deepest of blues, the color of twilight and impending darkness, mirrored the darkness that had invaded her soul. We gowns do not always wax so poetically, but in those moments of B‘Elanna‘s growing misery, such an analogy seemed to fit. Night after night I encased B‘Elanna as she sat, tense and brooding, and never speaking, not even to her log. There was little I could do to ease her pain. And by then it was not only the empty pain in her soul, but the physical ache of her body. Her skin where my satin brushed lightly no longer glowed with warmth and vibrancy, but was marked by the angry heat of cuts and the dark stain of bruises that she kept hidden beneath me at night, and beneath her uniforms during the day. She rarely slept, but simply stared into the darkness, and her agony by then was buried too deep for even tears to reach.

That horrible time did pass. When it seemed it could get no worse, B‘Elanna was suddenly gone from her walls for several days. Then she returned one evening, after she had been confined in "sickbay." And she spoke again to her log as I was wrapped around her, and her arms were clasped tightly around her knees. It was then that she finally admitted what Chakotay had forced her to face; what she‘d been doing to herself, to both her mind and body. And that was when she spoke of the death of her friends in the Maquis, as she hadn‘t before, and the words, first spoken hesitantly, began to pour out of her. She spoke with anger, and with sadness and despair, of those old friends, some of the first to accept her as she was, who were now lost to her forever. Then, with the lights out, she hugged herself tightly, pressing me even closer against her skin, and she cried silent tears. She had cried for her Maquis friends before, when she had first learned of their deaths months earlier, but those had been tears shed of frustration and fury at the injustice of their fate. The hot slow tears that soaked into me were tears of grief and loss.

The next night, after B‘Elanna had returned to "duty," Tom came. They talked a little, in quiet tones, both expressing regret for the distance that had fallen so hard between them. And then they came together, only once, slowly and almost hesitantly (and I know now, not only from hearsay, that Tom and B‘Elanna enjoy endless ways of "making love," and often their coming together can be quite ferocious). But that night there were few "fireworks" (as Tom sometimes calls it in his teasing voice), and it was more as if they were both seeking solace and warmth. Afterward they simply held each other, deriving more comfort from the renewed closeness of their bodies, and finally drifted off to sleep, a sleep less tense than my first experience with them. B‘Elanna cried no tears, but there was still a sadness in her, and her anger was still resided down deep, though Tom‘s arms around her seemed to ease those feelings in her a little.

After that night I began to experience the emergence again of the B‘Elanna the others in the second drawer had known. The sadness did not disappear, but slowly became less, occupying only occasional moments, broken more and more by periods of contentment. Periods sometimes when she was alone, sitting on the couch with her legs curled under her and me or another from the second drawer wrapped around her, sipping raktajino or tea and poring over her dataPADDs, her mind nimbly calculating warp equations. When her thoughts are thus engaged, she does not mind solitude, perhaps because it no longer equates with loneliness. For Tom began to come again frequently, or she went to him. They began to spend more time together, and sometimes a smile would break across her face at something Tom said, or she would shake her head in strangely satisfied mystification at his odd habits, like his love for twentieth century "rock and roll" music and for "pizza." She actually began to develop a taste for the "pizza" herself, though I am certainly not fond of it, especially when she and Tom eat it as a late night snack in bed. I then find myself in the "laundry" far more often that I would prefer.

It was during those moments that I finally began to understand how the two—her work, and Tom—help make B‘Elanna‘s life complete. She seemed to seek out and genuinely appreciate those moments of renewed contentment, so perhaps that revelation was becoming clearer to her also. And to Tom.

There have been rough moments since B‘Elanna conquered the worst of her demons, like when her life was saved against her wishes by the alien doctor whose evil methods had caused the suffering and death of so many others; and when Tom was locked away in a place called "the brig" for several weeks for an infraction he had committed, even though he‘d acted in good conscience. These events and others have sometimes brought the anger that still simmers in her close to the surface, much of it in those cases directed at the captain. But B‘Elanna recognized her feelings, and coped with them. And sometimes her and Tom‘s relationship felt the strain also, but, unlike before, instead of withdrawing from each other for long periods of time, they reunited quickly, often fervently.

Events still conspire to make their lives difficult at times. B‘Elanna said once, lamenting another dangerous area of space Voyager had barely survived, that "the Delta quadrant sometimes seems out to get us all." Yet B‘Elanna and Tom adapt, and endure. Sometimes their words to each other are spoken with irritation, sometimes with affection, and often they speak little at all. Sometimes they do not see each other for several days, but Tom is never gone for long, and B‘Elanna as frequently goes to him. I admittedly have limited experience in such matters, so perhaps it is different for others of their kind, but their arrangement—the contented drifting back and forth between each other‘s walls—seems to work for them, to fit their individual natures. It does not seem to affect the connection that remains always between them, whether they are physically together or not. And perhaps the endurance of that connection, despite the obstacles they‘ve faced, is the basis of their relationship. Of any relationship. And I suppose that connection is nothing less than love.

We in the second drawer have witnessed that love, from its strongest to its most fragile moments and back. Early it was strongly physical (not to say that this aspect isn‘t still there, as I have witnessed more than once). But now, after that love has been tested and its boundaries stretched by both Tom and B‘Elanna, it is more relaxed, yet in many ways stronger, more sure. And I have recently witnessed not only the actions of that love but also the spoken words. Not B‘Elanna‘s—for she had said the words many times before I came—but Tom‘s.

B‘Elanna said to her log when she and Tom first came together that she knew how he felt, and that the words did not matter. And the others in the second drawer have long claimed that Tom can show his feelings for her quite exquisitely without words. I too can attest to the ability of Tom‘s hands and lips and eyes to convey the depth of his feelings. But recently, Tom began to say the words also, for the first time. And though he doesn‘t say them often or casually, he does say them openly and with deep conviction. And each time he says them a flush spreads over B"Elanna‘s skin. Not just from the heat of arousal where his hands are caressing her, or from the warmth of his ardent gaze on her, but a flush of genuine joy, the kind that seems to spread out from the heart and rush through the blood until it suffuses the entire body, all the way to the tips of the fingers and toes.

It is a momentary thing, this intense feeling of joy, apparently. It comes and goes. But even in its briefest luminous flash, its effect is profound and its afterglow seems to linger, to lighten the soul. I know there is still a darkness that lurks deep in B‘Elanna, an anger waiting to come out. And though Tom shied away from it when it nearly consumed her, he seems more willing to accept it now, to face its presence in her. Maybe because it is something he knows he has to face in himself too. Perhaps it is so for all of those that our kind sleeps with, that they have both lightness and darkness always lurking inside.

And so it goes, for the two of them, and for us in the second drawer. Some of us have come and gone, and will continue to do so. Tom has begun again to indulge in his delight at giving B‘Elanna second drawer items, and she has come to appreciate his sense of "variety" (his equal enthusiasm for "varietizing" her top drawer undergarments is, again, another story). But B‘Elanna also has a strong sense of the value of the "things" she surrounds herself with, not our minimal replicator or monetary value, but the value some of us have as a part of her history, and the fact that our presence, inanimate as it may be, lends a sense of familiarity and constancy to her life. This seems to be a trait of most the animate beings aboard Voyager share, and not only clothing but all manner of inanimate objects they have collected can hold this value to them. It is what Tom calls "sentimental" value, though B‘Elanna has stated a definite dislike for that term. But it is why she holds on to the crimsons, to the white gown that was present for the "first time," and to the others in the second drawer, including me, all that were present for a significant moment—or moments—in her life. It also doesn‘t hurt that Tom appreciates many of us for the very same reason. And I know from frequent experience that he does not seem to tire of running his hands over my satiny material as it clings to her warm body, so perhaps I will be here for quite awhile to continue to observe.

It occurs to me as I near the end of my story that perhaps as you have been reading this you have been wondering how an inanimate object—an item of clothing—could take it upon itself to relate the story of its wearer, and to presume that it could impart something meaningful in the process. And how such a thing could even be possible. What is that expression Tom used once…?

"If these walls could talk"—that was it. Walls cannot talk, nor drawers, nor items of clothing. But we are all there as the moments happen, as a life unfolds, in this case B‘Elanna‘s life. And perhaps with just a small suspension of belief you might conceive that we—that I—could in some manner relate those moments to you, and reveal something of B‘Elanna. That has been my attempt, even though I am just one of many that have come into her life, and my own presence mingles with the others in the second drawer, in all the drawers, and the closet, and shelves, and cabinets, in the PADDS and logs, all of the inanimate objects that each hold and protect their own small bit of B‘Elanna‘s story.

And B‘Elanna‘s story is not over. No doubt there will be more trials for her to face, both from within and outside herself—as seems to be the norm for all these beings who reside on Voyager—and more obstacles for her and Tom to overcome together. But B‘Elanna is stronger now because of all she has already faced down. And B‘Elanna and Tom together are stronger. I think it is likely that his story will always be part of hers, and hers of his.

How long my part in the slow unfolding of her story will last, I do not know. Her long and sometimes arduous journey to know her "self" will eventually come to its conclusion, and she will see, finally, all that she is—passion, anger, humor, sorrow, delight, fear, love, wisdom, courage—all that is "B‘Elanna." And she will know that it—that she—is more than good enough. Perhaps I, or another from the second drawer, will be around her when that moment comes, and when she finds that much desired but often elusive inner acceptance she calls "peace."