High Risk
By Jane Griffen

B‘Elanna walked hesitantly down the corridor, nodding to the crewmembers she passed. It had been two days since she had reconciled with herself, and she had apologized to everyone. Well, everyone except for two people. She‘d decided to get the first one over with, then move on to the hard one.

Entering the Mess Hall, she walked over to the kitchen counter. Sure enough, Neelix was there preparing a late night dinner for the crewmembers who had just gotten off of their shifts.

Looking up, the Talaxian was obviously startled to see a smiling chief engineer. He quickly smiled and put down the pot he was cleaning. "B‘Elanna! It‘s so good to see you! I heard you‘re feeling better!" he commented enthusiastically.

Torres nodded, smiling thoughtfully. "Yeah, I guess you could say I‘m back to my normal self." she conceded.
"That‘s wonderful!" replied Neelix.
B‘Elanna was beginning to wonder what exactly he had heard, but decided not to ask. "Listen, I just wanted to come down here and apologize for my behavior. I wasn‘t exactly very nice to you that one time."

"Oh, don‘t worry about it! I‘m just glad you‘re back to normal! So, I heard you saved the Delta Flyer!" the cook replied, beginning to shred some leola root. B‘Elanna was thankful that she still had replicator rations, but declined on the oppertunity to make fun of Neelix‘s cooking.

"Thanks. Uh, have you seen Tom recently?" The half-Klingon asked, wistfully hoping that Neelix would say no.

"Actually, I have! Tom was here about ten minutes ago. He said something about repairing the Delta Flyer. Although I don‘t understand why he would be doing that at nine-thirty." replied Neelix. "He should still be there."
B‘Elanna nodded. "Thanks, Neelix." she said. "I‘ll see you around!"

Torres walked out of the Mess Hall. That had been the easy apology. Now came the hard one.
"Tom?" B‘Elanna called, not sure as to how he‘d react. After all, she had either brushed him off or fought with him for the past- Day? Week? Month? Torres grew more worried. She hadn‘t really cared about Tom, but she had still known that she would be devastated if something happened to their relationship. She still couldn‘t believe how stupid she had been. Like Chakotay said, it‘ll take time. B‘Elanna reminded herself, taking a deep breath.

There was no answer. No one was around, and the shuttle bay seemed empty. Walking up the ramp to the side door of the Delta Flyer, she opened the door and stepped in. At a first glance around, it seemed like no one was there. After a closer look, she spotted two Starfleet issue black boots sticking out from underneath a computer console. She spotted an engineering kit nearby, open with all its contents strewn about the cockpit.
"Tom?" she asked quietly, crouching down next to him.
Torres heard a bang, then a swear. Tom scooted himself out from underneath the computer and gazed at B‘Elanna. "Yes?" he asked, exasperated.
B‘Elanna opened her mouth, then stood up and walked to the other side of the shuttle.
Tom sighed and waited, leaning against the wall. He noted her every move. They hadn‘t spoken since after the shuttle had docked, and he wasn‘t sure what to say. After all, they‘d been at each other‘s throats for the past two months, and lately she had been either ignoring him or not talking with him.

So he was surprised when she whirled around to face him, tears streaming down her face. "Tom, I‘m so sorry." she said, biting back a sob.

Any hesitation fled from Tom, and he jumped up and took her in his arms. "Shh." he soothed, stroking her hair and back as she cried. "What do you want me to do?"

"Just hold me." she whispered, leaning against him. But she was still startled when he scooped her up in his arms and carried her to one of the chairs and sat down. She leaned back against him, crying all the while. "Thank you." she replied after a few minutes of just being held by Tom. "And you were right, you do deserve an explanation."

Tom, surprised, didn‘t say anything. Instead he continued to rock gently back and forth, holding her close. He was still a little shocked, but after going through some of the holodeck programs he had been running, he was a little relieved. Going rafting down a volcanic river, battling Cardassians, going Orbital sky-diving, and fighting ten Klingons at once with only a bat‘leth, all with the safety protocols offline, and scared the heck out of him.

B‘Elanna swallowed. "The Maquis-" she broke off and started crying again. Tom frowned, suddenly realizing how stupid he had been. Of course! The Maquis were her family, and then they were all slaughtered. How could I be so stupid? he thought, angry at himself for not realizing what had been bothering B‘Elanna all this time. He waited for her to continue, still not too sure.

"When the Maquis died, I felt like I had lost a part of me. And then I started not to feel anything. I started not to care about anything, or anyone. And when I realized I was starting to not care about you, I got so scared. Tom, I couldn‘t feel anything. And that was the scariest thing about it. I couldn‘t feel a thing!"
"Except for the pain." Paris murmered. The pieces were suddenly falling into place.
Torres nodded. "I am so sorry. I care about you too much to lose you, and when I started-" her voice trailed off and she met Tom‘s gaze, fearful.

Compassion and love shone in his blue eyes. "Oh, B‘Elanna." he muttered. "I love you so much. You don‘t know how scared I was when you started acting like you did. I thought I was going to lose you." he stopped, looking down at the beautiful woman in his arms.

A solitary tear rolled down B‘Elanna‘s cheek and she grabbed one of his hands and squeezed it. "I love you, too." she said softly, "And I never want our love to change.

The end