Title: Second ChancesJuli17@aol.com
Author: Julie Evans
Date posted: 4/28/01
Summary: A short coda to "Author, Author."
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 Archive and BLTS.
All others please ask author for permission.
Notes: At the end of "Barge of the Dead," it was left unclear whether
B'Elanna's mother was really dead. In my previous story "Ordinary
Life," I made the assumption that she was still alive, but John Torres'
comment in "Author, Author" seems to confirm that Miral did die. Such
is the hazard of trying to predict TPTB. I'm now reversing my position
by Julie Evans
Tom had come directly to engineering from the briefing room, eager to
tell B'Elanna what had just transpired there. But when he spotted her
standing by the railing in front of the warp core, her concentration rapt
on what she was doing, he paused. Instead of approaching her, he
watched her as she punched figures into a datapadd, then transferred her
gaze to the warp core every few seconds.
Though she was thoroughly engrossed in her work, she looked relaxed,
and content. Four days ago, right after she'd spoken with her father for
the first time in twenty years, she'd assured him that she was okay.
Seeing him again after so long had been a little unsettling, and she was
still skeptical, but she was glad they'd talked.
Tom had been glad for her too. Even if she wasn't going to put total
faith in their first conversation and her father's intentions yet, he knew
B'Elanna wanted that connection to her father, especially now that her
mother was gone.
Tom recalled how B'Elanna had told him several times since her
experience in the Klingon afterlife that she believed her mother was
dead. Saying those words had been a way of preparing herself for that
possibility, but without knowing for sure, she'd still held out hope that
her mother was alive, even if it had remained unspoken. Learning the
truth had been difficult for her, especially since it had taken several
months for the news to reach Voyager. Between the occasional
disruptions in the datastream--like the Ferengi's fake Barclay
holoprogram that had canceled the data exchange one month--and the
delays within the Alpha quadrant getting information to and from
Q'onoS because of the rebuilding still going on from the Dominion War
devastation, B'Elanna's first and second letters to her mother had
apparently gone astray. Finally, Elizabeth, B'Elanna's human cousin
who had been the first to write her from the Alpha quadrant, had been
able to contact B'Elanna's uncle on Q'onoS. It was her uncle who had
sent B'Elanna a letter almost two months ago, finally confirming Miral's
That night B'Elanna had been waiting for him in their quarters. She'd
had the datapadd with the transmitted letter in hand for several hours,
but she'd wanted some privacy--and his presence--before she read it.
The letter had been brief, though kindly worded. Her uncle had
informed B'Elanna that Miral's death had been sudden but honorable.
B'Elanna had lost any waning hope that her mother was still alive, but at
least with the certainty she'd finally been able to truly grieve, and to
adjust to her mother's changed presence in her life.
She'd told him a few days later that seeing her mother on the Barge of
the Dead made it easier to accept the loss. It would have been much
harder if she'd never been able to talk with her mother again after they'd
parted so acrimoniously when she'd joined the Maquis, to share some
final words, and to know that her mother had loved her and was proud of
her. Tom had been a little unnerved at the realization that B'Elanna's
experience in the Klingon afterlife had been more than just a simple
vision he'd assumed it was after the fact. But he'd also been gratified for
her that she'd had a chance to reconcile with her mother, whatever the
unlikely circumstances. And he'd been glad for himself that she'd
chosen to fight and return to her life, in part because her mother had
prodded her to make that choice.
Tom figured he also owed Kohlar a debt of thanks for reintroducing
B'Elanna to the prayer for the dead. She'd been intrigued by it then, but
she'd embraced it after she'd found out about her mother a couple of
weeks later. She performed the ceremony regularly now, usually when
Tom was still on shift, in the shower, or otherwise occupied--since it
was a solitary ritual. He was just happy it brought B'Elanna comfort,
and a sense of communion with her mother.
Tom knew that even six months ago B'Elanna wouldn't have been able
to grieve for her mother so openly, or receive comfort from Klingon
rituals--maybe not even from him. Resolving her concerns about their
baby--together--and her interactions with Kohlar and his Klingon crew
had given B'Elanna a stronger and more positive sense of herself. And
now she could accept her father's overture, not without reservations
certainly, but she'd indicated that she was willing to give him a chance.
Her father's candid mention of B'Elanna's mother had probably helped
soften the way a little.
Still, it wouldn't be easy for John Torres. He'd have to earn B'Elanna's
respect and affection all over again. But if he proved himself to her,
B'Elanna would eventually welcome him with open arms. Tom knew
that from experience.
Tom came out of his reverie with a start. B'Elanna was looking at him,
her expression bemused.
"How long have you been standing there?"
"Just a couple of minutes."
"You looked lost in thought," she said as he dropped one hand over her
belly and walked toward him. That protective, affectionate gesture had
become so commonplace to him that he knew he would miss seeing it
once the baby was born. Her gaze was searching as she stopped in front
of him, and her lips curved a little. "You also look...pleased."
Tom smiled. He was pleased, about a lot of things. He leaned forward
and kissed her quickly on the lips. "My father was there."
"Did you get to talk at all?"
"For a few seconds, before the arbitrator came in. After he greeted the
captain, my father said hello to me. He also told me he looked forward
to my call, and to meeting you. Then the arbitrator arrived and got down
to business, so he couldn't say anything more."
"That was enough," B'Elanna said softly. "You got to see him, and he
got to say a few words..." Her lips quirked. "Did you manage to say
anything at all, Tom?"
Tom shrugged at her amused look. "I said 'hello, sir.' I didn't have time
to say anything else. We were on an official call as it was."
"The captain arranged for you to be there for a reason."
Tom nodded at B'Elanna's observation. He hadn't been at any of the
original hearings, and there'd been no official reason for him to be there
to hear the arbitrator's decision. He knew the captain had invited him
specifically so he could see his father, even under the constraints of a
formal meeting. After his father's initial greeting the captain had been
completely silent, though he was sure she had many things she could
have asked him or said to him. She'd intentionally left an opening.
"I'm glad you finally got to see each other face to face," B'Elanna said.
"Yeah." Face to face, for the first time since that moment nearly eight
years ago when his father had briefly met his eyes in the Federation
courtroom as his verdict had been announced--guilty of the crime of
treason. His father had looked angry, disappointed, and maybe even a
little relieved. The judge had demanded Tom's attention for the reading
of his sentence, and when Tom had looked back, his father was gone.
He hadn't stayed to see his son led away to prison, not that Tom could
B'Elanna's hand touched his arm lightly, and Tom managed a small
smile. "He looked older, but I guess I do too. He looked good though.
"Why shouldn't he be? He has his son back."
"He also has a daughter-in-law," Tom reminded her. "And a
granddaughter. My family really is looking forward to meeting you,
Though the first letters from his family had been directed to him,
increasingly they had been directed to B'Elanna too, some sections of
them just to her in fact. His oldest sister was a fountain of personal
information on pregnancy and childbirth, and she'd certainly never been
one to hold back when it came to dispensing her knowledge and
"So does this mean you won't be trading any more chips away to other
crewmembers before it's your turn to make a call home?"
Tom saw the shrewd look in his wife's eyes. "Hey, Harry really wanted
to talk to his mother before her birthday," he protested, though he was
sure B'Elanna didn't believe that had been his whole reason. She knew
him too well. "I'd already waited this long, and I've had plenty of letters
from my family now. I know they've forgiven me, even my father."
"Reading a letter isn't quite the same thing as actually seeing him again,"
B'Elanna said wryly.
Tom knew B'Elanna was talking about her father as much as his father.
Even though she'd received her father's conciliatory letter first, she been
reluctant to talk to him face to face. She would have preferred a little
time to ease into the idea of her father's contact with her after so long,
but despite her nervousness she'd agreed to the meeting. When they'd
walked together into astrometrics at the appointed time he'd felt her hand
trembling a little in his, but she'd gone through with it, and he'd been
proud of her.
"It is different," Tom conceded. "Even in such an impersonal
atmosphere, and with everyone else there, I was a little nervous. I think
my father was a little nervous too. But I'm glad I saw him."
B'Elanna reached for his hand, and linked her fingers with his. "Now it
will be easier when you get the chance to really talk to him."
"When we do," Tom said, and she nodded. He was actually impatient
for the next twenty-seven days to pass. "Did you start the letter to your
B'Elanna shook her head. "We won't have access to the datastream for
another three weeks."
"There's no reason you can't start thinking about what you want to say
B'Elanna gave Tom a reproachful look. "I said I'll write him." Her lips
twisted ruefully. "I just don't know *what* I want to say--what I can say
after all this time."
"Just tell him about your life, B'Elanna. That's what he wants to hear."
Tom rubbed her wrist gently with his thumb. "He never stopped caring
about you, you know."
B'Elanna's expression was dubious. "He had a strange way of showing
"He made a mistake, a big one. The more time passes, the harder it is to
correct that kind of mistake." Tom knew that too well. And sometimes
the harder it was to keep living with a mistake without correcting it. "He
did put himself on the line, when he knows you have every reason to
deny him a second chance."
B'Elanna sighed. "I'm not going to deny him a second chance. Just give
me a little time."
"Okay." Tom kissed her cheek lightly. "I won't mention the letter again.
He changed the subject entirely. "I reserved the holodeck for tonight."
"You did? Isn't the doctor still revising his holo-opus? Or did the
arbitrator rule against him?"
"The arbitrator didn't rule on whether the doctor could be considered a
person or not. He said that was a matter that would need further review.
But he did give the doctor artistic rights over his own work, and he
ordered all copies of the original holonovel recalled until the doctor
finishes the revisions."
"Are you still going to help him with those revisions?"
"Yeah. Despite my 'lowbrow' tastes"--Tom feigned a glare at B'Elanna's
smirk--"I want to make sure the new characters bear *no* resemblance
to any of us. I promised to help the doctor tomorrow night, but tonight I
thought we could have a nice, romantic dinner, just the two of us." He
brushed a hand over her belly. "Or make that the three of us. We
haven't had the opportunity to do that in a few weeks. And we can
Tom shrugged, then smiled. "How about second chances?"
B'Elanna smiled back. "Okay. Where?"
"Hmm." B'Elanna looked at him thoughtfully for several moments.
Tom saw the wicked gleam in her eyes. "Ha, ha, that's very funny."
B'Elanna grinned. "Yes, it is."
"I'm trying to forget what the doctor did to me. Lieutenant Marseille
was a detestable, morally bankrupt jerk."
B'Elanna patted his chest. "Tom, he wasn't *you.* I do know that.
Maybe that was why I could barely keep a straight face when I saw him.
Or maybe it was the mustache. It looked like a little furry animal was
living on your--his lip."
Tom rolled his eyes as his wife let out an uncharacteristic giggle.
B'Elanna cleared her throat. "Sorry. At least Lieutenant Marseille was
amusing. Look at my alter ego, Tory. She was a humorless, vindictive
"Though a human one," Tom noted. B'Elanna hadn't said anything
about that fact, but at one time that alone would have been enough for
her to be envious.
"I'm very happy I'm not her," B'Elanna said without pause. "Believe me,
I much prefer my life on Voyager to anything and anyone I saw on the
"Though several thousand people in the Alpha quadrant probably now
think we *are* the people on the Vortex," Tom reminded her.
B'Elanna shrugged. "Public attention is limited. The whole thing will
blow over soon enough. Besides the people who count already know
the truth about you. About all of us."
She was right, though he was still glad the smarmy Lieutenant Marseille
would soon be history. "About tonight...instead of Marseille, we could
"I've done Paris plenty of times."
Tom grinned at her sly look. "I meant the city. For dinner."
"Oh. That little cafe on the right bank of the Seine, across from the Ile
de la Cite?"
On their six-month anniversary, Tom had recreated the city of Paris on
the holodeck. Despite the obvious connection to his name, it was the
first time he and B'Elanna had gotten around to doing a program set
there. The city's beauty and vitality had charmed people for centuries,
and B'Elanna had been no exception. But who didn't love Paris?
"I did like that cafe," B'Elanna said. "And the jazz club in the Marais,
though dancing's a little awkward for me right now with this huge
Tom patted her belly. "Hey, I love your huge belly. We can dance to
the slow ones."
"Well, I *definitely* prefer Paris to Marseille," B'Elanna said, the drawl
in her voice telling Tom her double-entendre was intentional. "But I
was thinking of another place."
"Kessik?" Tom echoed, staring at B'Elanna. She'd never suggested
visiting Kessik on the holodeck, not with him, and he was sure she'd
never recreated it on her own either.
"I haven't been back since I left to join the Academy. In fact, I was sure
when I left I'd never go back--I'd never want to go back. There were too
many things I wanted to forget. But I've come to realize those memories
aren't *all* bad. There were some good times too."
"With your father?" Tom asked gently. He knew she had good
memories from her childhood, but they'd been colored by her father's
"And with my mother," B'Elanna said. "When I was a little girl we used
to picnic by a river not far from the Research Center. It was in a wooded
wilderness area called Durandi Reserve. In the summer the wildflowers
"It sounds like the perfect place for a picnic supper," Tom said. "And it
should be easy enough to recreate from the geographical files in the
database. I'm off duty now, so I can work on it, if you want me to. Then
you can add any finishing touches I miss."
B'Elanna nodded. "Okay. I'll take care of replicating the food. But I
have about an hour's work left here, if I get back to it right now."
"I reserved the holodeck for 1930 hours."
"Perfect. That will give me enough time to go home and change."
Tom kissed her lightly on the lips. "See you soon then." His hand was
still resting against her belly. His gaze held hers intently. "Are we sure
She understood his meaning, and he saw a quick flash of melancholy in
her eyes. They'd discussed the subject again last night. The melancholy
was supplanted by a look of fond resolve. "Yes."
Tom glanced around engineering once, making sure everyone within
visual range was occupied. Then he dropped into a crouch, and pressed
a quick kiss against B'Elanna's belly. "See you soon too...Miral."
B'Elanna was shaking her head as he stood again, but she couldn't stop
the smile that tugged at the corners of her mouth. "You're an idiot."
He'd been called worse, though rarely with so much affection. He
B'Elanna squeezed his hand quickly before he pulled it away, then with
one final reproving look at him she turned back to tend to her neglected
warp core. Tom sauntered through engineering, not even trying to keep
the stupid grin off his face.
It had been an eventful day, but definitely a good one. Lieutenant
Marseille's brief holonovel career was over for one thing. The man had
been a ridiculous characterization, not him at all, but Tom knew the
doctor hadn't assigned his alter ego those traits out of thin air. They'd
contained a grain or two of truth, and that had disturbed him a little.
Even the name had been appropriate. He'd lived the worst days of his
life in Marseille. His reputation as a womanizer had taken root there.
Though he'd certainly slept around, his partners had been as free--and
easy--as he'd been. He'd never cheated on any of them, but his brief
liaisons back then could hardly be termed relationships, simply passing
flings, so faithfulness hadn't been much of an issue. He'd also made it a
policy never to sleep with married women--though he also hadn't asked
a lot of questions, he had to admit honestly. If he'd kept going in the
same direction he'd been headed back in the Alpha quadrant, who's to
say his already flimsy moral boundaries wouldn't have eventually
slipped all the way.
Even on Voyager he'd flaunted his bad boy reputation at first, though
he'd never really acted on it. Sandrine's had been a deliberate
advertisement of that reputation, but over the years Gaunt Gary, Rickie,
the dingy furnishings and lighting, and even Sandrine herself had
disappeared. Though some of the atmosphere remained, now Sandrine's
was a neat, well-kept piano bar, sanitized to a degree maybe, but a
testament to his life on Voyager now rather than to his former life.
He didn't mind. He'd turned his life around on Voyager, just as B'Elanna
had turned hers around. Even when their relationship had been at its
rockiest, he'd never even been tempted to cheat on her. And, temptation
aside, he'd never cheat on her anyway. It might be in the fictional
Lieutenant Marseille' character, perhaps it might eventually have been in
his own character had his life proceeded differently. Or perhaps not. He
could only know who he was now.
Tom greeted the man who stepped out of the turbolift as he stepped in.
Mortimer Harren still rarely smiled, but he didn't glower silently at every
passing crewmember anymore as if he'd like to incinerate them on the
spot either. Janeway's interest in him a year ago had turned him around,
and he'd started to act like part of the crew instead of skulking around in
the shadows of the ship. He'd been given another chance on Voyager
too, and he'd wisely decided to take it.
Tom watched Harren stride in the direction of main engineering as the
turbolift doors closed. Besides his own second chance on Voyager to
make his life worth something, he'd been given a second chance with his
father, as B'Elanna had with her father. He wanted to make the most of
it. From the warm welcome in his father's gaze when their eyes had met
for the first time in eight years, his father wanted to make the most of it
Much as Tom looked forward to the opportunity of squaring things with
his father again, right now he had something to do for B'Elanna. He was
curious to see Kessik Four for the first time, and determined to recreate
it as accurately as possible for her. Luckily he had a talent for that. A
sanguine smile lit his face as he ordered the turbolift to his next