Title:  Sympathy
Author:  Julie Evans
Email:  Juli17@aol.com
Series:  VOY, Scenes From a Marriage
Part:  1/1
Rating:  PG
Codes:  P/T
Date posted:  2/20/01
Summary:  B'Elanna isn't very receptive to sympathy, so Tom finds a
way offer it in a manner she will accept.  Set approximately two weeks
after the events in "Lineage."  Another vignette in the "Scenes From a
Marriage" series.

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, and BLTS.  All
others please ask author for permission.

by Julie Evans


Tom got no answer to his call as he walked into their darkened quarters.
He'd expected to find her here since her shift had ended three hours
before his half-shift in sickbay.  Then he recalled that she had mentioned
meeting Chakotay for dinner in the mess hall.  They'd probably talked

Tom halted as he saw the sliver of light shining from under the bathroom
door and realized that B'Elanna was home after all.  He smiled and
started pulling off his uniform jacket as he walked toward the bed.  He
stopped abruptly again, with his jacket sleeves still caught halfway down
his arms behind him, when he heard a noise from the bathroom.  The
muffled sound was halfway between distress and annoyance, and a sharp
curse followed.  In Klingon.

Tom frowned and jerked his jacket off his arms.  He left it on the floor
where it fell, and strode quickly into the bathroom, speaking his wife's
name as the door slid open.


She was crouching over the toilet with one hand clutching the rim, and
the other resting on her abdomen, where her pregnancy was beginning to
show.  It was obvious that she'd just thrown up.

The doctor had added a standard anti-nausea ingredient to B'Elanna
prenatal regimen, designed to combat the "morning sickness" both
human and Klingon women sometimes experienced in early pregnancy.
But he'd warned that her uniquely hybrid system might not receive the
full benefit, and that she might still experience occasional bouts of
nausea.  It hadn't happened yet, but clearly it was happening now.

B'Elanna looked up and spared him a brief glare as he moved toward
her.  Then she clamped her lips together, swallowed heavily and turned
her attention back to the toilet.  Tom quickly wet a washcloth and knelt
down next to her, placing a hand gently on her back.  She immediately
shook it away.  He waited a moment and reached for her again, but she
had stopped heaving enough to hiss, "Don't!"

Tom pulled his hand back as she glanced up at him and then quickly
away.  She spoke again, a low plea through clenched teeth, "Please."

He wondered if she'd added that soft "please" because of the events that
had almost torn them apart recently, and was sure she had.  To his mind
it was over and resolved, but he knew B'Elanna still felt some lingering
guilt about what she'd nearly done.

She glanced up at him one more time, her expression a mix of irritation
and supplication.   He wanted to stay, but he knew she hated being weak
or ill, and especially hated anyone, even him, seeing her in that
condition.  He also knew she didn't want his help right now, just his

He pressed the wet washcloth into her hand, ignoring every instinct that
urged him to do more as he felt her hand tremble slightly against his.
Then he rose and left.

When she came out of the bathroom ten minutes later he'd changed into
his sweats and was settled on the couch with the television on and a
padd in his hand.  She was wearing her indigo nightgown, looking
freshly scrubbed and a little pale as she circled the bed.  He wanted to
get up and hug her, but instead he simply edged over on the couch in an
open invitation.

She walked over and sat down next to him, letting out a soft, almost
inaudible sigh.  Tom flipped off the television with the remote she had
designed, and set aside his padd.  His navigation reports could wait until
tomorrow.  They were only a day behind, not a bad pace for him.
B'Elanna's gaze was on the coffee table as he spoke.  "Are you--"

"I'm fine," B'Elanna said shortly.  Then she looked at him again and her
gaze softened a little.  "Really.  It was just something I ate."

"What did Neelix serve tonight?" Tom asked.  He'd replicated a ham
sandwich in sickbay since he hadn't wanted to take the time to stop by
the mess hall for dinner.  Taking a shorter break between shifts allowed
him to get home that much earlier.

"I didn't ask what it was," B'Elanna said.  "It actually tasted better than
usual, but lately some things haven't agreed with me."

Tom looked at her curiously, but didn't say anything.

"It's happened a couple of times in engineering," B'Elanna said a little
grudgingly, answering his unasked question.  "It's no big deal."

Tom nodded.  B'Elanna would have simply slipped into the nearest
lavatory and taken care of it, and then returned immediately to her work,
determined to avoid any notice or fuss.  "The doctor said it would pass
in a few weeks, so it shouldn't bother you much longer."

He reached over and picked up the cup from the coffee table.  "This
might help.  It's herbal tea.  Neelix's special blend."  And one of his
more successful creations in B'Elanna's estimation, Tom knew.

B'Elanna took the cup from his hand and inclined her head toward the
table.  "Crackers too?"

"Yep," Tom said.  "Whenever I had an upset stomach as a kid, my mom
would have the tea and crackers out in a second."  Especially if his
stomach was as empty as B'Elanna's must be right now.

"Hmm..." was B'Elanna's only response as she took a cautious sip of the
tea from the cup cradled in her hands.  She gave Tom a sidelong look.
"My mother's remedy was a cup of blood wine."

Tom's lips quirked.  "Well, I can replicate that if you'd prefer."

B'Elanna shook her head quickly.  "No, thanks.  Tea is just fine."  She
settled next to Tom.  "Television tonight?"

Tom brought the television out from the cabinet where they kept it once
every week or so, sometimes when Harry or someone else with an
interest came over, and sometimes when it had just been a long day and
he had little compunction to do anything more constructive.  Sometimes
B'Elanna joined him, or she worked on her engineering reports while he
watched.  "I guess it was one of those days."

"Uh huh," B'Elanna said with feeling, apparently in full agreement.
"What were you watching?"

"You sure you want to know?" he asked.

B'Elanna gave him a suspicious look as she reached forward and took a
cracker from the plate.  "Probably not."

Tom grinned at her sardonic tone.  Several months ago he had
discovered twentieth century "cultural programming" on a network
called PBS.  They'd checked out a couple of the science shows like
"Cosmos," with their antiquated though in some cases surprisingly
foresighted theories, and the natural environment shows like "National
Geographic."  Then Tom had come across another type of later twentieth
century programming called "cable," and he'd found one program in
particular that fascinated him.  He flipped the television on, and a rugged
blond man appeared on the screen.  B'Elanna groaned.

"And today," the man said in a heavy Australian accent, "I have here one
of the most venomous snakes in the world."  He held up a wriggling
black snake.  "One bite from this fellow and the gig is up, mates.  It
takes great dexterity and composure to handle this bugger with my bare

"Or great stupidity," B'Elanna said dryly.

Tom smiled.  Despite her derision, he knew the show amused B'Elanna.
She enjoyed repeatedly pointing out the fine line between courage and
stupidity, though he thought she had a sneaking admiration for the
crocodile hunter's audacity.

"Idiot," B'Elanna muttered, as the crocodile hunter thwarted the snake's
quick lunge at his throat.

Or maybe not.  But she tolerated watching it, though she'd made him
promise not to recreate any of the silliness on the holodeck, safeties or
not.  He'd agreed, though he'd told her that it would be a great
disappointment to Harry.  "Want me to find something else?"

Tom had a pretty large collection of old television programs stored in
the remote's datachip now, and his offer was sincere, but B'Elanna just
shook her head and snuggled a little closer to him.  "This is fine."

They watched the show for several minutes, though Tom's attention
strayed to B'Elanna periodically as she sipped the tea and ate most of the
crackers.  Her lips twitched a couple of times at the crocodile hunter's
antics, though more often she rolled her eyes.

When she finished the tea, she set the empty cup on the coffee table
before he could take it.  Then she stretched, and curled her legs up on the

"Tired?" he asked.

"No," she replied.  Then she yawned.

"We can go to bed if you want."

B'Elanna shook her head.  "Finish watching this," she said, as she
stretched out on the couch.  She settled on her side and dropped her head
on his lap.  He waited until she was comfortable, and then he draped his
arm over her waist, letting his hand rest against her slightly protruding
belly.  In response she slipped her arm over his, and linked their fingers

A water-thrashing scene on the television caught his attention.  He
watched the action for a couple of minutes and when he looked down at
B'Elanna again her eyes were closed.  He brushed a strand of hair from
her face with his free hand, and let his fingers linger against her warm
cheek for a moment.


He started a little at the unexpected murmur of B'Elanna's voice.  "For

"For the tea and crackers," she said, her eyes still closed, and her words
a little indistinct.  "And the sympathy."

He knew hadn't fooled her, but B'Elanna thanking him for sympathy?
He smiled and stroked her hair.  "My pleasure.  Next time we can give
the blood wine a shot."

B'Elanna snorted lightly, a sound Tom took as dissent.  "Love you," she
said, her voice fading into a whisper.

"Me, too," Tom returned softly.

The crocodile hunter shouted at a particularly aggressive kangaroo,
trying to shoo it away.  Tom watched the kangaroo throw a kick in
defiance, then he looked at B'Elanna again.  He should probably rouse
her and go to bed before she fell into a deeper sleep.  But he wasn't that
tired, and he felt pretty comfortable at the moment with her head on his
lap, the crazy antics of the crocodile hunter going on in front of him, and
the stars passing by at his back, as incongruous as those factors of his
contentment were.

Tom shifted slightly and glanced out the window.  B'Elanna and he had
taken advantage of the location of the couch to do more than watch
television, several times.  Their daughter might well have been
conceived right here under the stars.  He smiled, thinking the possibility
very fitting.  They probably wouldn't be making much use of the couch
for that particular activity after she was born, at least not until the
captain approved the extension they'd requested into the vacant quarters
next to them.

That had been B'Elanna's idea.  She wasn't a brilliant engineer for
nothing.  There was just enough space to install an adjoining doorway in
the wall near their bed.  The quarters next door were smaller, but the
expansion would give them the plenty of room as the baby got older.
And if there were more babies.

They were thinking a bit ahead, but Tom knew it might be many years
before they got back to the Alpha quadrant.  And while he looked
forward to some aspects of their eventual return, he didn't really care
how long it took to get there.  Right now B'Elanna and he were making a
good home right here, for as long as it might last.

A memory from his childhood came suddenly to him.  When he'd been
about six he'd spent almost a month in close quarters on a space station
with his parents and sisters while his father had been on assignment at an
extended conference.  He'd missed his own bedroom and had asked his
mother when they were going home.  She'd told him that a home was no
more than the people in it.  That answer hadn't exactly mollified him at
the time, but he'd finally come to understand how true it was.

B'Elanna stirred, and Tom felt a tiny ripple across her belly.  His
daughter was kicking, as if to demand his attention.  A small, delighted
smile lifted his lips.  He'd felt her move a dozen times over the past
couple of weeks, and it had sent a thrill through him every time, as it did
now.  He'd been stunned when he'd first found out that B'Elanna was
pregnant, but that shock had been quickly replaced by elation.  Now he
felt an almost serene sense of certainty about becoming a father--as if
another piece of his life was moving perfectly into place--just as he'd felt
when he'd married B'Elanna.

Tom recalled another conversation he'd had with his mother when he'd
been around seven or eight.  He'd informed her with a child's conviction
that he was never going to get married.  After all getting married
involved a *girl,* and who wanted anything to do with girls anyway?
She'd told him that he might change his mind one day, when he found a
girl who was just right for him.  To please his mother he'd conceded that
it was possible, *if* she was just right--if she liked all the things he
liked, and did whatever he said, and was always nice to him.  He'd
imagined that the perfect girl would simply be an extension of him.
When his mother had asked him mildly if he planned on contributing
anything, he'd declared that he would protect her and take care of her,
the way heroes did in fairy tales.  He'd thought that was pretty
considerate of him.

When he'd finished his narrative his mother had smiled with affectionate
amusement.  Then she'd patted his head, and she'd gently told him that
he would grow up some day.

He hadn't reflected far beyond those narrow views, as a teenager, or for
years to follow.  After he'd left Starfleet in disgrace, he'd used his natural
charm and his roguish reputation to attract women, the one ability in
which he still had total confidence.  He'd portrayed himself as some sort
of tragic hero burdened by his past, and had let them bolster his self-
esteem by putting him on a pedestal, short-lived as that always was.

Tom looked down at his sleeping wife.  From the first moment his
charm hadn't worked on her.  She hadn't seen him as any kind of hero,
but luckily she wasn't looking for one.  She'd made him earn her notice
and respect, step by honest step.  Throughout their evolving relationship,
as semi-antagonists, then friends, then lovers, they'd disagreed more
often than they'd agreed.  There had never been a time when she'd hung
on to his every word, and he knew there never would be.

His lips quirked.  Marriage hadn't changed *that* much.  There were
still dings in the walls from the things she sometimes threw at him when
they argued--though the only thing she'd ever actually hit him squarely
with was Toby, and he knew there was nothing wrong with her aim.

While marriage might not have changed their obstinate personalities, it
had closed a lot of their distances.  In fact, the couple of days right after
they'd found out about the baby had been the only time in their nearly
six month marriage that there had been a real emotional rift between
them.  They'd become almost complacent to that point, as if they'd
assumed that getting married had immediately solved all their problems.
It hadn't, but this time they'd healed their break more quickly and
completely than they ever had before, and that was an achievement.

Tom brushed his hand over his wife's hair.  He'd never had a hard time
loving B'Elanna, but for a long time he'd had difficulty finding the right
balance, being with her without smothering her--and it often took little
for her to feel smothered--yet not being oblivious to her own efforts to
become more a part of his life.  He knew his tendency to emotionally
detach when things got strained between them had kept him from
reaching out at critical moments, from seeing what he didn't want to see,
even recently.  So often when she'd pulled away, he'd given her the
distance she'd seemed to want with little protest, and she'd done the
same to him in return.  Marriage had made them better at intimacy, but
even now it wasn't always easy.

Tom's lips curved at the irony.  He'd once assumed that when it was
"right" it would automatically be easy, but he should have known he'd
never been one for the easy way.  B'Elanna was completely her own
person; in fact he couldn't imagine anyone less an extension of him.  She
was far from the docile and agreeable woman he'd long ago envisioned,
and now he wondered how he'd ever believed he would have settled for
so little.

His eyes focused on the empty teacup.  She also didn't need him to take
care of her--much as he sometimes wanted to--though she occasionally
let him get away with such small gestures.  It was only in the most
vulnerable moments that she openly let him know he filled a space in her
no one else had, or could.  But he'd take each of those moments any day
over all the blind adoration he'd imagined as a youth.

Tom looked up at the television screen for the first time in several
minutes.  He'd missed the end of the show, and the credits were rolling
as he turned it off with the remote.  He watched the screen go dark, and
gazed past it at the near wall by their bed, where a doorway would
probably lead to their child's--or children's--room one day.  Then his
eyes moved to the dresser in the alcove beyond the bed.  On top was a
small pile of baby blankets, waiting to be placed in the cradle they'd
already picked out and planned to replicate in the next couple of weeks.
Propped on one side of the blankets was Toby the targ, the expression on
his furry face one of ironically fierce gentleness.  On the opposite side
was the small, scruffy teddy bear he'd had since he was a toddler, and
who had traveled with him into Starfleet as part of an old accepted
tradition.  No matter how many times his course had been altered since,
his steadfast stuffed companion had come along too, shoved into more
duffels and drawers and corners during his life's journey than he could
now even remember.

He looked down at B'Elanna again, curled on her side with her head
comfortably nestled on his lap.  The angles of her face were softened in
sleep but still etched with the strong, luminous beauty that had struck
him the first time he'd laid eyes on her.  He wondered idly what his
mother would think if she could see him at this exact moment, settled
contentedly with his beautiful, self-reliant wife, their hands clasped over
her belly where their child was growing, here in this home they were
making together.  Not this physical space they were sharing right now--
that would change eventually, as it did in life--but the home they were
creating with each other and with their daughter that was independent of
place, the kind of home in the heart at which his mother had always

His mouth curved into a soft, wistful smile.

Maybe she'd think that he was finally growing up.


the end.