Title: Always
[Star Trek: Voyager -- P/T, slight K/7, J/C]
Author: Jane Griffen
E-mail: JaneG100@rocketmail.com
Rating: G
Author’s Notes: This vignette is set after Voyager gets home, whenever that is -- set in the late 6th or 7th season. This is dedicated to Lacey, Hilary, Caity, and everyone else who read it and told me to put “Always” as the title. We must all be on the same wave length, you guys =^)
Disclaimers: Paramount owns Star Trek: Voyager and the characters

A woman dressed in a red ballroom gown walked into the large room, scanning the crowds. With brown hair and dark brown eyes, she had slight Klingon ridges on her forehead. Normally she would have stood out, but not now. Now she was surrounded by friends whom she had known for six years. People flashed her smiles as she walked by them, but she merely nodded.

 *Why did I even come?* B’Elanna Torres thought desperately, trying to think of an excuse to leave even though she had just arrived. *You knew it would be like this. Everyone pitying you,* a voice spoke up from inside her head. She banished it and put on a smile as a familiar figure walked over to her, a tall blonde next to him. “Harry! Seven!” she greeted, trying to sound enthusiastic.

 Harry Kim enveloped her in a bear hug, then pulled back and smiled. “Maquis! You look wonderful!” he commented.

 B’Elanna merely flashed him a genuine smile. “Thanks, so do you!” she replied, then turned to the former Borg next to him. “Seven, you too,” she added, quickly running an eye over the other woman’s figure. Seven of Nine was wearing a dark blue sleeveless floor-length gown and matching high heels. Her blonde hair was pulled up on top of her head, with a few curled tendrils falling down, framing her face. Seven’s blue eyes twinkled merrily, and a smile spread across her face. “B’Elanna! I’m so glad you made it!” she said, hugging Torres. “Although I go by Annika now. Lieutenant Commander Seven of Nine seemed too much for everyone else to handle.”

 “How have you been, B’Elanna?” Harry asked softly, after a few minutes of small talk about what they had done during the past two months after Voyager had returned from the Delta Quadrant.

 B’Elanna’s face fell, and she tried to blink back the tears that were threatening to fall down her face. “I’ve been okay, I guess.” she said quietly, gazing down at her hands.

 Harry hugged her again. “You know I’m always here for you,” he whispered.

 B’Elanna nodded, then nearly winced at the sympathetic look on Seven’s face. “If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go say hi to a few other people. I’ve got something I’ve got to do tonight before I go back to Voyager.” Unlike a lot of Voyager’s crewmembers, she would be going back to her original position aboard Voyager as chief engineer. “It was great seeing the two of you. I’ll see you guys back on Voyager next week, right?”

 Harry’s face twisted and Seven’s brow furrowed.

 “You aren’t being assigned to Voyager?” B’Elanna tried to keep her voice steady, but it was getting more difficult.

 “Well . . .” Seven’s voice trailed off. “We’ve both been assigned to the USS Myst as senior officers.”

 “Oh.” B’Elanna didn’t know what else to say. “Well, I’ll see you around I guess.”

 Harry nodded, then reached over and squeezed her hand. She could see the apologetic look in his eyes and smiled softly. “I promise I’ll keep in touch, Starfleet.” she promised.

 He nodded. “I’ll make sure you keep that promise.” he told her.

 She grinned, then nodded to him and Seven and left. They had really been the only two people she had wanted to see again, since they had become her closest friends over the years. She had already run into Chakotay a few weeks before, giving him a vague answer that she might be able to make the party.

However, before she had reached the door, an enthusiastic voice cried out, “B’Elanna!”

 Torres turned to find Neelix bustling up to her. “B’Elanna! I’m so glad you could make it! We were wondering if you were going to be a no show, what with everything and all-” Neelix quickly stopped, seeing the look of discomfort on her face. “So, how’ve you been?”

 *Why does everyone keep asking me that?* “Oh, I’m fine. Are you coming back to Voyager?” she asked conversationally, letting Neelix lead her over to a group which included Captain Janeway, Commander Chakotay, Tuvok, and the Doctor.

 “Actually, Starfleet has officially given me the title of ‘ambassador’ and I’ve been assigned to help the negotiations with the Tarrk race. They live in a region of space in the Beta quadrant-” Neelix started telling her about the Tarrk, and B’Elanna only half listened. Thankfully, he stopped as soon as they reached the crowd.

 “B’Elanna!” Kathryn called out, setting aside her glass of champagne and hugging her. Chakotay hugged her as well, and Tuvok nodded in acknowledgment. The Doctor flashed her a wide smile. “Ahh, Lieutenant!” he said.

 Torres smiled. “Kathryn! Chakotay! Tuvok! Doctor!” she said. She shook her head at the Doctor’s offer of champagne. “No thanks,” she said quickly. “I just wanted to drop by and say hi to everyone before I go. I’ve got a meeting at Starfleet Headquarters tomorrow and I’ve still got to find a hotel room,” she explained.

 “Don’t even think about it! I’ve rented a flat up in old San Francisco -- I’d be happy to have you stay there. It’s got a wonderful view of the ocean. That is, if you’re not allergic to dogs,” replied Kathryn. B’Elanna noticed that she was holding hands with Chakotay, and had to smile slightly. She was glad the two had finally found each other. They made a good couple. She could remember betting with Tom and Harry about how long it would take for the two to go on an official date. Tom had won.

“If it’s not too much of a bother,” B’Elanna said slowly. She didn’t want anyone taking pity on her. That was the *last* thing she wanted.

 Kathryn’s smile widened. “I’d love to have you come and stay for a few nights. Voyager’s almost out of dry-dock. I’ll miss being on Earth, but I still can’t help but want to be back in command of a starship.”

 Chakotay glanced over at B’Elanna. “Are you still planning to come back to Voyager?”

 B’Elanna nodded. “It looks that way.”

 “Back in charge of your warp core,” teased Chakotay.

 She only rolled her eyes slightly, trying to ignore the sympathetic glances of everyone. “What about you?”

 “I’m still going to be the first officer.”

 “Ooh, I bet you’re only sticking around to have the fun of pulling rank on me,” she teased him.

 Everyone -- minus Tuvok -- laughed. When Tuvok spoke up, saying, “That is a most logical assumption, although I am sure Commander Chakotay’s interests lie in being with Captain Janeway. However, I will be there to make sure they behave according to proper conduct,” Janeway and Chakotay turned to glare at the Vulcan. B’Elanna noticed a blush creeping across the captain’s face, and laughed along with everyone else.

 “Now, now, Mr. Vulcan, be nice,” chided Neelix.

 “How about you, Doctor?” Torres asked, glancing at the chronometer. 2000 hours.

 “I’ve been offered a position to teach medicine at Starfleet Academy,” the Doctor replied. “I’ll be the first hologram ever to teach at the Academy. Has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?”

 B’Elanna’s mouth quirked upwards in a slight smile. The Doctor still had to work on his sense of humor. She pitied the poor cadets who would be in his class. Talk about a bad bedside manner. She grinned. “Just don’t be too hard on the cadets, Doc,” she teased. “I’ve got to go, but it was wonderful seeing everyone again. Kathryn? How do I get to your house?”

 “108 Highland Road in Oldtown San Francisco,” Janeway told her. “Do you have enough credits for a hovercraft?”

 B’Elanna nodded. “More than enough. I’ll see you later, then. Thanks! Goodbye!” she added over her shoulder as she made her way out the door, walking quickly so that she wouldn’t be stopped again.

 This time it was Naomi Wildman who stopped her. Naomi had grown up so quickly, B’Elanna mused.

“Hey, B’Elanna! I just wanted to say hi. I miss your engineering lessons.” she said quickly, giving the engineer a hug.

 Torres chatted with her for a few minutes, then smiled as Naomi quickly excused herself when her mother called.

 Once outside, she slowed down to a walk. It was only a mile or so to the place she wanted to go, so she might as well just walk. On her way out she picked a single red rose from a rosebush on the country club’s property -- she doubted they’d mind -- and walked down the sidewalk. The sky was getting cloudier, and the clouds were pretty dark. *I hope it doesn’t rain.* she thought, quickening her stride.

 A moment later the rain broke, but she continued walking. It felt good to feel the rain pounding down the back of her neck. Her dress was ruined, but she didn’t care. She walked through a large open gate, and walked along the rows of white stones carve with names. Coming to a large oak tree, she stopped in front of a specific white stone. On the gravestone read Thomas Eugene Paris.

 She knelt down and lay the rose across it. “Oh, Tom, I miss you,” she whispered, letting the tears that had been threatening to fall down her face when Harry had asked her how she was come out. She barely noticed, since her face was dripping with rain drops. “Oh, God, I miss you so much.” She allowed herself to sob quietly for a few minutes, then blinked back the remaining tears. “Everything’s changed so much since you died. We made it, Tom, we made it home. I looked up my parents like you said I should. My mother was thrilled to see me; she’s changed a lot. My dad’s working up at Headquarters. It took me awhile, but I’ve finally forgiven him.

“I-” Her voice broke. “I went by your father’s office like you asked me to do if something ever happened to you. I never met him before, but I’m guessing he’s changed a lot. He’s older than the holoprojection you showed me, but he’s nice. He invited me to dinner with your family. I met your sisters. Emma’s a lot like you. Both your sisters are married and have children of their own now. You were lucky, Tom. You had a wonderful family. Your mother was so sweet about everything, too. She immediately made me feel welcome. I just wish you could have been there . . .

 “Harry and Seven are a couple now. Kind of ironic, huh?” She smiled. “They’re perfect for each other. Seven’s changed a lot. She smiles all the time, and I hate to admit this but she’s got a great sense of humor. They’re both leaving Voyager. It seems as if everyone’s leaving Voyager. Harry, Seven, the Doctor, Neelix, Joe, Sue,” She let herself ramble for a few minutes. “The Doctor’s gotten a position at the Academy, and Neelix is now an ambassador. I’m sure they’re both up to the challenge, though. I st hope the Tarrk like leola root.

 “Naomi’s grown so much. She’s really cute. Samantha got back together with her husband, and Naomi’s adjusting to her new home. She still wants to be a captain when she grows up. She’ll make a great one.

 “Kathryn, Chakotay, and Tuvok are all staying on Voyager. So am I. I don’t think I could adjust to a new ship. At least, not now. Maybe someday . . .” B’Elanna swallowed. “I miss you so much, Tom. Sometimes I feel like if I were dead that would be better because then I wouldn’t have to live without you. A part of me died when you died, Tom. I love you so much. I just hope that wherever you are you’ree happy. I’ll always love you, Tom.


The End