travels to Starfleet Headquarters to speak to his daughter for the first
time in years... but there's an admiral in his way.
for adult content and the odd bad word. Significant spoilers for "Author,
to my beta readers, particularly Starburst, who saved this story from being
really dreadful. That lady got skills! And a purple heart to Briar Rose.
This story and website are in no way affiliated with Star Trek: Voyager,
and are in no way meant to infringe on the copyright and trademarks of
Paramount Studios, a Viacom Corporation. All characters, barring those
created specifically by the author for her own sole use, are (c) Paramount/Viacom
and are used here without permission.
~ o ~ o ~ o
~ o ~ o ~
Torres fingered his ID card nervously as he wound his way through the upper
echelons of Starfleet headquarters. Talk about lost... He felt
like an insect in another bee's hive as he wandered through scores of identical
gray corridors in search of his destination. This place was nothing
like what he'd expected from the bright, imposing exterior of the skyscraper
that housed Starfleet Command. And at each turn, he saw Starfleet
officers and personnel of every shape and size imaginable, all of whom
him little more than a glance or a nod.
in the world had his life led him to be wandering through the very epicenter
of the Federation? It didn't quite seem real.
was stopped a total of four times as various security officers checked
his identification. Each time they checked his name against the database
of the day's visitors, they responded with a welcoming smile. Apparently,
they had already met several members of the "Voyager family," as relatives
of Starfleet's missing children were now called. If his reception
was any indication, then Starfleet was eager to welcome anyone who had
come to spend three minutes speaking to their loved ones. Probably
of delivering good news, John supposed.
last checkpoint before the MIDAS access station, a young Bajoran woman
eagerly shook his hand. "Please tell your daughter we're all rooting
for them," she said enthusiastically.
tried to smile back, but he was too nervous. "Sure."
grinned and pointed to a door a few paces down the gray corridor.
"That's the waiting area. You'll be alerted when it's time for you
to access the array."
thanked her and moved away, rehearsing the upcoming conversation in his
head for the thousandth time. _Hello, B'Elanna. Thank you for
seeing me._ No, too formal. _B'Elanna, you look great!!_
Too familiar. _B'Elanna, I'm a weak excuse for a man and I should've
been flogged years ago._
at least that was honest. As if his brief letter asking-no, begging-for
her to talk with him hadn't been hard enough. What in the world was
he supposed to say now?
me," he heard a voice behind him. "John Torres?"
turned to see yet another Starfleet officer hurrying towards him from the
other end of the hallway. "Yes?"
name is Lieutenant Jean Bolduc," the young man said, extending his hand
in greeting. "I work for Admiral Paris. He heard you were coming
today and requested that you meet with him before your scheduled time on
the communications link."
seemed surprised. "Admiral Owen Paris, sir. He understood you
would be speaking to your daughter through MIDAS this afternoon and asked
if you would stop to visit with him in his office, provided you arrived
blinked. His presence? For what? He'd never heard of
this Admiral Paris. What did Starfleet want with him? He was
just here to talk to B'Elanna, and he didn't want to cause any...
that was it. B'Elanna was-had been-part of the Maquis. Were
they going to question him again about her activities? Or maybe this
was some kind of legal advice, so he could relay bad news to her when they
finally spoke. God, it wasn't as if he didn't already have enough
to say in those three minutes.
frowned at the lieutenant. "I'm here to talk to my daughter.
I don't want to take up the admiral's time."
hesitated, confused. "Sir, I don't want to speak for the admiral,
but I think that it would mean very much to him if he could meet you."
looked at the nearest clock. He had arrived early on purpose, and
he wanted-needed-to use the next twenty minutes to try and rehearse what
to say, for all the good it would do. But apparently there was an
admiral between him and the MIDAS array.
that he would shake this admiral's hand then get the hell out of there.
He didn't care what the man wanted; Starfleet could throw a dozen admirals
at him and it wouldn't keep him from getting those three minutes alone
he said reluctantly. "I'll go with you."
followed the younger man through the maze of corridors. Every turn
made him more and more agitated at the thought of missing his time with
the array. They wouldn't keep him from talking to B'Elanna would
they? They couldn't. Not when he'd been dreaming about this
for so long.
walked, he found himself reliving a hundred different moments from the
last thirty years. He could remember seeing B'Elanna for the very
first time-exhilarated and speechless to think that the messy, wailing
infant before him was in fact real. He remembered desperately hoping
that the spinal deviation was as small a problem as Miral was saying, and
feeling insanely proud that, through all the difficulty and the genetic
manipulation, they had produced an otherwise healthy child who was a part
the years of watching her grow up, worn out from her inexhaustible energy
but loving her all the same. He remembered spoiling her sometimes,
ready to do anything if it meant winning that smile from her, keeping her
she was ten years old, they had their first bona fide father-daughter fight,
and she scared him with her intensity. Then she began turning inward,
pulling away from him3/4arguing with him and Miral when he and his mate
had enough problems as it was. Then that camping trip, not long before
he left... Her angry, resentful accusations, bringing home what a failure
he believed he'd been.
been so young and stupid. For the next ten years, while he hid in
his own fabricated excuses, the girl's face had become a woman's beautiful
glare, eventually directed at him through pictures taken undercover and
shown to him by Starfleet investigators. His B'Elanna had become
something so far from the innocent baby he'd wanted her to remain...
had come one night, seven years ago. The pounding on the front door
had been loud enough to wake the dead.
here," he mumbled to his wife, Isobel, who grunted in her sleep.
"I'll see what they want." John grabbed a robe and headed downstairs,
grumbling as he went. This was a quiet part of Buenos Aires; here,
nobody ever bothered you after midnight unless it was urgent. He
wondered what could have happened.
the door to find three Starfleet officers in uniform, standing solemnly
on his doorstep. A woman with skin so dark that her deep brown eyes
shone in the moonlight; a Vulcan male, who stared back at him stonily;
another man, this one young and a little nervous.
I help you?" John said. Why in the world would they be here?
There had to be some mistake.
John Torres?" said the woman, her voice calm but serious. He nodded,
Maria Ndesange of Starfleet Security," she said by way of introduction.
"These are my colleagues, Ensigns Jori and T'Loth. We need to ask
you some questions."
after midnight," John said. "Can't it wait till tomorrow?"
sir, I'm afraid not," Ndesange replied. "May we come in?"
a shuffle behind him, and saw Isobel come down the stairs. She stopped
at the bottom stair and waited for him to explain, her white robe and blonde
hair almost glowing in the darkened hallway.
whatever it was Starfleet wanted, he didn't have anything to hide.
"Yes, you can come in. But it's late-can you make it quick?"
will proceed as efficiently as possible," Ndesange said. Translation:
We'll do it on our time, because we're Starfleet Security and we can do
shrugged to Isobel and led the way into their first floor sitting room.
"Let me get your coats," Isobel offered, coming forward and introducing
herself. "I suppose it's warmer in San Francisco this time of year?"
Jori smiled. "Yes, ma'am. A little. Seems a bit strange
to be in a hemisphere with a cold summer."
Ndesange warned mildly.
shrank back into shy submission and followed his superiors into the sitting
room, where Isobel was turning on the lights. John sat first, sending
his wife a confused shrug. What was going on? He ran an honest
shipping business, that was it. Unless one of his clients was running
a scam behind his back, and that wasn't likely. Besides, Starfleet
never meddled in anything so small.
didn't waste any time. "Mr. Torres, we apologize for disturbing you at
this hour," she began formally. "Before we begin, I am required by
law to inform you that Ensign Jori is Betazoid and therefore is able to
sense emotions, including whether someone is telling the truth or intentionally
lying. Is this clear?"
nodded, even more confused. "Of course. I don't have anything
a set of padds from inside a briefcase, which she set on the coffee table.
T'Loth took one from her and activated it, then showed it to John.
need to ask you some questions about the woman you see in this picture,"
said Ndesange. "Could you please identify her."
barely heard her request. He gaped at the picture set before him,
unable to comprehend what he saw.
seen her in, what was it now? Ten years? But that was the adult
face of the twelve-year-old girl he remembered to this day. The ridges,
those eyes... The picture showed her from the shoulders up, leaning
against a dirty wall and glowering angrily.
did you get this?" John demanded. "What's happened?"
"Sir, if you
could just identify the person in this picture, then we can proceed," said
I know her," John said. "Her name is B'Elanna Torres. Now tell
me what's happened!" Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Isobel
staring at him in shock.
you state your relationship to this woman?"
looked at Isobel desperately. Her fine lips were pursed with tension,
the color drained from her face. In three years of living together,
he'd never told her about Miral or B'Elanna. He had plenty of reasons,
justified or not, but he'd never wanted her to find out about his past
some things were more important than pride or secrecy. He had to
my daughter," John said desperately. "Now tell me what's happened
a half hours later, John closed the door behind the three investigators.
It had taken nearly the entire time to convince his interrogators that
he knew absolutely nothing of B'Elanna's whereabouts or how she had come
to join the Maquis terrorists.
said Starfleet had warrants for her arrest on three separate counts of
sabotage of Federation property and one count of aggravated assault
with a deadly weapon. Investigators had somehow learned the identity
of each individual in her group, or cell. Security was now questioning
every individual ever associated with them in an effort to locate and arrest
the members of the self-proclaimed terrorist group. But the investigators
refused to say any more, labeling further information as "classified."
forced himself to turn back and walk into the sitting room. Terrorist
activities... Accused... He felt cold with shock and fatigue.
What was he going to say to his wife? He still felt trapped too deeply
in his own turmoil to even think of Isobel right now. How could this
have happened? How could B'Elanna have done these things?
how could he have let her.
night wasn't over yet. Isobel had heard everything. She had
sat next to him, remaining silent throughout almost the entire session,
simply listening to him repeat the words "I don't know" over and over to
practically every question they asked.
was like that. When things happened, she didn't get angry.
She stayed quiet for long stretches at a time, waiting until she was sure
how to react. She was quiet now, in the kitchen, fixing an early
breakfast for herself.
didn't have a shred of an idea of how he could even face her now.
Still, he couldn't just run away. Not this time. So he went
into the kitchen, too.
didn't look at him or pay him any attention. She simply sorted through
their cabinets, fixing herself a hot cocoa. Not speaking.
he started to say, then choked. He began again. "I need to
contact my ex-wife. She deserves to know what's happened."
she knows already," Isobel suggested quietly.
John said. "But in case she doesn't, then someone has to tell her.
It shouldn't be Starfleet Security."
it's not what you think."
turned to look at him then, penetrating his thoughts with the stare that
never failed to break his resolve or his cover.
listen to me, Isobel," he begged. "I'll tell you everything.
But you have to understand, I've never lied to you. Never!
I just... I've been so ashamed, Isobel. I couldn't let you see me
that way. I didn't think I could tell you, I didn't know what you'd
think of me if you knew."
it occur to you that hiding the truth might hurt us more?" Isobel asked
him in a low, nearly silent voice. "Now tell me everything, John.
three weeks saw John Torres' second marriage hanging in the balance.
He had told Isobel everything, from when he first met Miral in a chance
encounter years ago as a student, traveling the Quadrant in search of adventure,
to the disintegration of their impossible marriage and his eventual decision
to leave. After enough years, John had realized he couldn't blame
Miral any more or less than he blamed himself-he just didn't have what
was needed to make such a life work, at least not then. B'Ela
nna had been
caught in the middle.
he left, it was with the promise that he would contact them, that he would
make sure to work out something so he could see B'Elanna, too. Miral
had literally spat in his face and told him to stay away from her daughter
if he wanted to continue breathing.
have known better than to use her threat as an excuse not to try.
He knew his wife better than that; it was his own failure he was afraid
of facing. So days became weeks, weeks became months, months became
the time it took for Starfleet to come knocking on his door.
told him she needed time to think. John understood and agreed, and
he tried to give her the space to do that.
meantime, John had called his older brother, asking for advice. Carl
had been supportive, but he refused to help. "John, I'm your brother
and I love you. But no running to me or anyone else this time.
You've made some decisions, and now you need to face them, okay?"
facing them meant waiting for word from Starfleet on B'Elanna's whereabouts,
alternately praying that they would or would not find her, and enduring
Isobel's silence, which continued as the days passed. What else could
weeks later he had his answer. Ndesange came in the early evening
this time, without her two compatriots. She had even sent him a message
requesting a meeting with him beforehand; John agreed, certain that they
had found and arrested B'Elanna.
nervously around the house as he waited for her to knock. Isobel
was somewhere upstairs, choosing to leave him to his own anxieties.
He poured himself a stiff drink and tidied the house aimlessly, trying
to keep his hands busy. John could just see it now, going to visit
his long lost daughter in prison. A horrible way to begin their relationship
finally arrived, precisely on time. "Mr. Torres, may I come in?"
of course," he said, automatically ushering her to the same place as before.
She waited until they were both seated before speaking.
Torres," Ndesange began, her voice carrying an entirely different tone
this time. "I regret to inform you that Starfleet has lost all contact
with your daughter's vessel. While the search is ongoing, we believe
them lost, given the highly dangerous location of their last known coordinates."
felt his mouth go dry. Somehow, her words just weren't making sense.
seemed to be having trouble meeting his eyes. "A Starfleet vessel
was dispatched to search for the Maquis group five days ago, but we have
lost contact with them as well. Another vessel is preparing to join
the search, but you should know that Command does not hold much hope for
either ship's survival."
sorry, sir. If it's any consolation, Starfleet does not yet have
definite proof of your daughter's death."
the meantime," Ndesange offered, "Starfleet will keep you apprised as to
the status of the search. And you may contact Security at any time
for an update. Most of the details concerning the Maquis group must
remain classified, but we will alert you if Ms. Torres is found."
continued for another minute or two, floundering around an awkward message
of condolences from the very people who had probably tried to kill his
John finally stood up, cutting off the conversation. "Thank you for
coming," he said, ignoring the crack in his voice. "I'd like to be
nodded, and she politely exited his house, leaving her contact information
on the table as she went.
was a noise behind him. John turned to see Isobel standing again
on the stairway, this time with tears in her eyes.
she whispered, taking a tentative step towards him.
his knees collapse. Isobel held him as he cried.
seven years held plenty more twists of fate, with the news of B'Elanna's
survival like a powerful but strangely wonderful slap in the face.
John had felt light-headed with the news for about a week afterward, and
he could tell that in her own way, Miral felt the same when he spoke with
her briefly over the comm channel. The two of them were hardly friends,
but the tragedy and its subsequent reversal had at brought them to be civil,
even cordial, if that word could even be used for his former K
Caring, yes. Passionate, definitely. Polite? Not in a
when he learned of Miral's death during the Dominion War, he found himself
mourning her. There had been incredible differences between them,
but he would always remember her as a strong and honorable woman.
He wished she could have lived to see B'Elanna return home. At least
she had known that B'Elanna was alive and doing well.
thought made him smile. Naturally, Miral had been furious with him
when she learned that Starfleet had not contacted her in time for her to
send a letter through the alien array, but John knew it wasn't his fault.
He even enjoyed being on the receiving end of her temper once more, just
for old times' sake.
finally, just a month ago, Starfleet had informed him that regular communication
with B'Elanna's ship was now possible. It wasn't just the opportunity
to send a letter every other month. It was every day.
in the Federation knew about Voyager, it seemed. They were probably
just glad to have something to celebrate after the repeated tragedies of
the recent war. In any case, John did his best to keep a low profile
under all the attention to Voyager's family members, politely declining
interviews and avoiding the subject with strangers.
family was another matter. They were continually asking him for news,
and he couldn't avoid talking to them about it. He sensed they were
getting tired of him telling them that no, he hadn't talked to B'Elanna
yet, no, he hadn't heard from her yet, no, there was no news. They
suspected him of hiding from the entire situation, and they were right.
terrified that she would reject him if he tried.
he wasn't allowed to remain hidden in his insecurities for long.
His niece, Elizabeth, contacted him less than a week after Starfleet's
announcement that regular contact with the crew would be possible.
She told him she had written B'Elanna herself, because she was not going
to wait any longer for John to do it.
he said over dinner. He'd wondered why Elizabeth had asked him to
come to see her at her family's house.
nodded, her mouth curled into a no-nonsense frown. "Every crew member
has three minutes of access time with the array. B'Elanna's agreed
to speak with me. Her scheduled time is about two weeks from now."
wrote you back?" he asked stupidly.
she wrote me back, and honestly I'm surprised she did after the silent
treatment you've afforded her."
ignored the scolding. Elizabeth had never been one to mince words.
"How is she?" he asked earnestly.
pursed her lips, as if debating something within herself. "Why don't
you ask her yourself?" she finally said.
John. Take the three minutes."
hesitated. "You think she'll even agree to speak with me?"
shrugged, taking the dishes into the kitchen. "I think it's long
past time you tried."
this morning, John kissed his wife Isabel good-bye, gratefully accepted
her best wishes, boarded a transport to San Francisco, and found himself
standing outside the office of a certain Admiral Owen Paris with no idea
why. Lieutenant Bolduc ushered him past the smiling secretary and
into an office that was a great deal larger than the one John occupied
back in Buenos Aires.
a long desk was a man a little older than himself, wearing the imposing
uniform of an admiral. He stood up as John came in.
Torres," he said eagerly. "I'm very glad you could make it."
was Admiral Paris. John tried not to look as confused as he felt.
"So am I, Admiral," he said, hoping that was the right thing to say.
admiral nodded to Bolduc, who left the room. "Please, call me Owen,"
Paris said, gesturing to a couple of gray chairs to the side of the desk.
"Can I get you anything to drink?"
mouth was in fact parched from all the anxiety, but he shook his head politely
as he took a seat. "No, thank you." He looked around the office
for a clock, but he didn't see one. The admiral's desk was cluttered
with plenty of other items, though-padds, papers, a framed picture of a
young man in a cadet's uniform, the usual sorts of things.
Paris followed the path of his gaze. "Would you believe that's my
son Tom?" he explained with a proud smile. "It's a few years out
of date. I should ask him for a more recent picture, one with his
nodded, not sure what to say.
continued. "I should tell you how glad I am that I could meet you
before you spoke with your daughter. Naturally, we don't want you
to miss your allotted time with her, but I hoped you and I could visit
Ah, here it
comes, John thought. He wondered if all the relatives of the former
Maquis received such a genial welcoming before the bad news, or if his
was a special case.
you're looking forward to speaking with B'Elanna?" Paris said conversationally,
actually pronouncing her name correctly on the first try. He had
done his research well.
sir," John nodded. "I am."
chief engineer on a Federation starship," Paris mused. "Certainly
an achievement to be proud of, especially considering her background."
wished the man would just stow the false demeanor and get on with it.
"Yes, I'm happy she's done well for herself."
am I," Paris said. "In his letters, my son has mentioned that she
is highly respected on Voyager. Starfleet has taken very favorable
notice of her achievements."
frowned, even more confused now. His son? What did he have
to do with it? Probably just another of those Starfleet families
he'd heard about, where every generation sent somebody into the ranks.
But what did that have to do with Voyager?
me, Admiral," John said, deciding to end this conference now before he
ran out of time. "I appreciate your taking the time to meet with
me personally. I don't mean any disrespect, but whatever it is you
have to say to me, just say it. I can't afford to miss this chance
to speak with my daughter."
Paris appeared taken aback by John's declaration, as if a well-laid plan
had just been foiled. "John," he said. "When was the last time
you communicated with B'Elanna?"
let out a frustrated sigh. Why did they need to drag this out of
him again? What did they want, a confession in full? "It's been nearly
twenty years," he admitted. "I don't know anything about her Maquis
activities, and I never have. All I know is that she's agreed to
speak to me, and I am not about to miss that chance with her now!"
Owen Paris's lips part, which from a man of his stature seemed an expression
of utter astonishment.
felt like he had just said the wrong thing. "That's what this is
about, right?" he asked.
Torres," the Admiral said frankly, "Perhaps I should not be the one to
inform you of this, but... Almost eight months ago, your daughter
married my son, Tom. They are expecting their first baby quite soon.
Our grandchild," he added for emphasis. Owen stared at John intently.
thought he had been amazed before when B'Elanna had agreed to speak with
pregnant?" he said, practically choking on the words.
nodded, his face expressionless. "My wife and I will not have the opportunity
to speak with Tom for some weeks. I had hoped that you might convey
our best wishes to them both."
John said, still trying to process the admiral's words.
also hoped," Owen Paris continued, "to welcome you as family-as one grandfather
to another. But perhaps that would not be appropriate, given the
judgment felt like a slap in the face to John. He hadn't known about the
pregnancy, or the marriage! If he had... He couldn't let this chance
fall through his fingers like that! No, not when he was so close
to setting things right again with B'Elanna.
John said, coughing on a tight throat. "Owen, I don't know what to say.
I came here expecting to try and make things right with B'Elanna, to ask
her to forgive me for what I've done, and now... Everything is so different.
You can think whatever you want of me, but... I've got to do everything
I can to let her know that I love her."
raised a hand between them, as if to interrupt. "Mr. Torres, I..."
was not going to wait here any longer. He couldn't. "Maybe you don't know
what regret is as a parent," he told the admiral. "But I can't miss this
admiral froze for a moment, his gray eyes staring acutely into John's.
A few creases John hadn't noticed before wrinkled the skin around the admiral's
mouth and eyes. "Mr. Torres, the array is yours," he said quietly.
nothing more to say, John practically leapt from his chair. The array:
it was time.
officers wasted no time in directing John to the lounge in which visiting
families would be able to access the communications link. He had
roughly two minutes to spare, and he tried to use them to come up with
something to say. He was going to be a grandfather! Was B'Elanna
all right? He knew from experience that hybrid pregnancies could
be difficult. And how long now? Would the baby be all right
on a starship like that?
irritated that Elizabeth hadn't told him this, but then he vaguely understood
why. His niece was right: this conversation was long overdue.
sat watching the countdown of seconds until the beginning of the transmission.
Five, four, three, two, one...
screen flickered to life.
was there, standing in a large, semi-circular room behind a console.
Her expression was guarded, but it was certainly her; Miral's eyes stared
at him from the half-Klingon face he'd been dreaming of for years now.
And something small of him was there, too.
had her hands clasped behind her back, and he could see that Admiral Paris
had been telling the truth. B'Elanna was definitely pregnant.
her stood an older version of the man he'd seen in the cadet's photo: Tom
Paris. So this was the father of his grandchild. Taller than
B'Elanna and fairer in complexion, he met John's curious stare unflinchingly.
Neither welcoming nor angry, the man in the red-shouldered lieutenant's
uniform seemed inclined to keep his thoughts to himself.
looked back to B'Elanna.
John breathed after a moment. "I... It's very good to see you."
didn't say anything. John scrambled to fill the silence somehow.
"Are you all right?" he asked.
waited a careful moment before answering. "I'm fine," she said.
Her voice-a firm alto, feminine and unwavering. John searched madly
for the right thing to say, to tell her how glad he was.
seemed to feel sorry for him and took the next step. "This is my
husband, Tom Paris," she introduced.
good to meet you," John said awkwardly. Paris just nodded once, and
looked back to B'Elanna. Yes, she was definitely in charge of this
our family is doing well," John said. "They all send their best."
didn't reply, so John continued. "Your cousin Elizabeth didn't say
much after you exchanged letters. But she said she wants to keep
They had corresponded, he didn't need to tell her that. "You should
see her twins," John said. "Those boys could tear down a house without
stared back at him; she wasn't making this any easier.
been told that Starfleet is very impressed with everything you've done
on Voyager," he told her. "I thought I should pass that on."
stifled what might have been a smirk and thanked him. John supposed
he understood; B'Elanna probably knew better than he did that Starfleet's
good opinion of her would still be tempered by her past should they return
home anytime soon.
John said, "and Admiral Paris has asked me to send along his best wishes.
To both of you."
caused a reaction. B'Elanna looked at her husband, her eyebrows raised.
John wasn't sure why, but both of them seemed a little taken aback by this
news. That was strange. He watched as Tom shook his head in response
to an unspoken question.
having a hard time believing this," John said, laughing once to keep things
light. It didn't work. "I mean, here you are, so far away.
And you're an officer, with your own section! Isn't that right?
I should have known you would take that great mind of yours and run with
nodded, and he thought he caught just the barest quiver of her lip.
It disappeared as soon as it began. That was his girl, all right:
tough as nails on the outside, with an astonishing sensitivity hidden not
was still trying to keep it light. "Just look at you," he said, unable
to keep a little pride from seeping into his voice. "You must be,
what? Twenty weeks along?"
actually," she corrected.
you decided on a name?"
yet. We were thinking of naming her Miral," B'Elanna told him, then
waited to see his reaction.
then. He wasn't surprised by her choice for a name. "Your mother
would have liked that," he told her, and meant it. Again that glance
between B'Elanna and her husband. The two seemed to be exchanging
thoughts without speaking.
know I had some business on Kessick a few months ago," John said. "You
wouldn't believe what our old house looks like." She really wouldn't
believe it; the people who'd moved in had built so many additions, he hadn't
even recognized the place. Funny3/4 he'd always liked how small it
was a slight buzzing sound, and to the left of his view screen a light
voice just outside his field of view spoke to his daughter briefly.
B'Elanna nodded and turned back to him. "We have less than a minute,"
she said distantly. "Is there a reason you wanted to speak to me?"
there a reason? There were a hundred reasons. John had no way
of cramming them into less than a minute. But all the same, he could
tell he was being given his chance to run the gauntlet, and he could not
afford to lose the prize now.
began talking. His words seemed to choose themselves; or maybe they
were words he'd chosen a long, long time ago. "I don't expect to
be able to make up for twenty years in one conversation," he said, trying
to keep his composure. "Truth is, when your ship disappeared, I thought
I'd lost you. I don't expect you to forgive me... But I hope, maybe,
we could try to get to know each other again."
unable to breathe, forcing himself to look her in the eye. What would
she say? What would he say if it were him faced with a stranger of
a father? Did he even have the right to hope?
of static crossed the screen. The picture began breaking up.
didn't move for a long time after the transmission faded. B'Elanna
was alive; she said she would write him. It was far from absolution,
but a weight had disappeared from John's shoulders3/4one that he had carried
for so long it was second nature. He sucked in a deep breath, wanting
to keep this moment with him forever.
several minutes, he knew he had to leave the lounge. Starfleet wouldn't
let him stay in here for all the weeks it would take for another opportunity
to roll around. By then-well, by then he might be a grandfather!
The thought left him speechless. His daughter was going to be a mother
herself! He couldn't wait to see his granddaughter for the first
time, even if it was only over subspace. And maybe Isabel could come
with him next time. It would probably take some convincing for B'Elanna
ree to meet
his wife, but hell. If she was willing to even look at him again,
then anything was possible.
stood up on shaky legs and headed to the door. Elizabeth had been
right; it was his place to be here. Right now, his only regret was
that he had waited so long to try.
on his arm stopped him as he was leaving the lounge. Admiral Paris
was standing by the door; he had apparently been waiting outside for him
Torres," he said without preamble, "I believe I owe you an apology."
eyebrows raised. "What?" He hadn't even been thinking of the
nodded solemnly. "I don't believe I was entirely fair to you.
There are certain things which..." The man hesitated. "Would
you join me again in my office? I would prefer not to discuss it
in the hallway."
nodded. He was far too happy right now to care what the admiral had
to say, family or otherwise3/4but he supposed it wouldn't do any harm,
either. He followed him back through the corridors to the same office.
This time, Paris sat behind his desk, keeping a stretch of space open between
is B'Elanna?" Owen said, perhaps a little uncomfortably.
still didn't care. "She looks wonderful, and she says she's fine," John
said happily. "Tom was there, by the way."
eyes jumped ever so slightly. "Yes, I suppose that makes sense," he said.
nodded. "He didn't say very much, of course, but he seems like a good man.
You should be proud." Caught up in his excitement, John chuckled at an
is it?" Owen said intently.
nothing," John said. "I was just thinking that B'Elanna's mother would
have thought the same thing. She might even have said that your son
is 'honorable, for a human.' That's the highest compliment she ever
gave a non-Klingon," John explained without bitterness. Really, the
memory just seemed funny now-and a little bittersweet.
nodded, smiling a little. "I'm sure he deserves it." Owen then stood up
and walked to his large office window, where he stared out across the Presidio,
hands clasped behind his back. "I'm glad Tom was there," he said after
a short silence.
too," John said, not sure how else to respond. He observed Owen Paris from
behind. He was curious why he'd been asked to come here again.
It didn't seem like the admiral was really all that interested in small
talk. And he didn't appear to be in a mood to interrogate him, either.
cleared his throat. "Excuse me, Admiral. I mean, Owen. Was there
something else you wanted to discuss? Of course, I'm happy to tell
you what B'Elanna and I talked about, but..."
turned around, revealing a wry-almost sad-smile on his face. "Irony has
a funny way of taking over a situation, doesn't it, John?" he said.
John replied. "How so?"
you said about not knowing regret as a parent..." Owen shook his head.
"There are some other things you probably don't know."
paused warily. "You mean there's more?"
nodded. "My son and I have not always had the easiest of relationships,"
Owen explained. "It may be true that I pressured him too much as a young
man to follow in my footsteps. I think he resented me for that.
What's more, I believe he felt pressured to live up to unrealistic standards.
see, when Tom was a young officer, he was involved in a serious shuttlecraft
accident and almost died. The details aren't important; what matters
is that at first he tried to hide the evidence of his piloting error. He
did finally tell the truth-and it was his own decision."
looked down at his feet. "Tom did the right thing. But for his decision,
he lost his commission, and I... Well, I was shocked. I didn't know
what to think. And I wasn't able to speak with him."
blinked. "You weren't able?"
grimaced. "I refused to speak to him. I allowed my disappointment
and embarrassment-and pride-to overrule my good sense. Thinking back
on it, if my own father had even done such a thing to me..." He drifted
off for a moment. John thought of his father, and how hard he'd worked
to impress the man. Hell, he'd married a Klingon, for crying out
loud, and he still felt like he needed to show his old man that he was
strong enough and capable enough to deserve his pride.
continued. "Tom didn't contact anyone in our family after that, so we don't
know what happened to him. But the next thing we knew, he had been arrested
for participating in terrorist activities with the Maquis."
that wasn't something John had expected to hear... He wasn't sure what
to think at first-the idea of an ex-convict for a son-in-law. But
that thought soon vanished. After all, that mistake paled in comparison
to what he himself had done in his lifetime, didn't it? He'd up and
abandoned his own child.
apparently, so had Admiral Paris.
what all those silent looks between B'Elanna and Tom were about. Perhaps
Owen did know regret as a parent after all.
suddenly felt much more at ease, as though the heat and glare of a spotlight
had left him and disappeared from the room altogether. "So how did Tom
come to be on Voyager?" John asked curiously.
Janeway pulled a few strings-that woman is impressive as hell. In many
ways, she has been a better parent to him than I have. Well, Captain
Janeway decided Tom would be a good resource to help her track down the
Maquis vessel-B'Elanna's vessel, as a matter of fact," Owen said, without
judgment. "In return, Tom would have his sentence reduced, possibly terminated.
This deal took place apart from my influence, but... I was glad that he
accepted her offer."
the rest is history," John finished up. Well, that was a story he
hadn't expected to hear.
extremely curious to know much, much more about what had happened on this
ship in the last seven years. It wasn't like B'Elanna to fall in
love with someone who had initially tried to put her in jail. Good
grief, the temper tantrums she'd thrown when he sent her to her room as
a child were enough to make him pity the man who tried to lock up his daughter.
what you meant about irony," John noted.
nodded. "So perhaps I should apologize for what I said earlier."
do you mean?"
not welcoming you as family," Owen said. "I take it back. John,
you've done something today that I envy very much. You've begun to
make amends with your daughter. Tom and I have barely exchanged letters;
I can only hope that my conversation with him, when it happens, will be
laughed once, blowing a whole in the solemn atmosphere. "Well, if you call
stammering like an idiot 'successful,' then I'd hate to see an utter failure!"
would I," Owen agreed, also chuckling a little.
smiled easily. "Well, I don't mean to be rude, Owen, but my wife Isobel
wants me to call as soon as I can, so..." He got up to leave and reached
out to shake the admiral's hand.
suddenly, Owen froze, and a look of utter angst came over his face.
"Oh, hell. Hell, hell, hell!" the admiral said, immediately pulling
open drawers and shuffling padds, papers, and pens alike.
is it?" John said, alarmed.
wife!" Owen exclaimed. "Anne told me that if I didn't contact her as soon
as I'd spoken with you, she'd have my hide! John, that woman will
skin me alive tonight."
two marriages, one a failure and the other a work in progress, John felt
that he knew quite well how to piss off a woman. "Owen," he said,
disappointed. "You forgot to call your wife?"
to wait until we'd spoken again," Owen griped, still digging through his
desk. "What is that damn access code? And why can't I ever remember
it?" He jabbed at a button on his desk console. "Tolek!" he barked. "What's
my access code?"
sir," came the secretary's even reply.
Miral were alive and I'd forgotten to call her," John mused, "she'd do
a lot more than flay me. She'd kill me and have me for breakfast."
appreciate Anne Paris, then," Owen said, punching a rapid key sequence
into the pad by his view screen.
I?" John said.
Paris looked up at him, and nodded. "Certainly so. Anne will
of course want you to come to dinner. She'll want to meet you.
Once she stops yelling at me, that is."
I wouldn't want to impose..." John began.
held up a hand, halting him. "You would not impose. You're
John sat back
down and smiled. Family. Well, imperfect as anything, and with
faults running throughout, but then-what family wasn't?
be delighted," John said. "Or rather, my wife and I would be delighted,"
he said pointedly, looking at the view screen.
dignified Owen Paris let out a grunt of assent. "The things we do
to make amends," he grumbled as he hit the final sequence.
For more of
my stories, you can see my web page at http://www22.brinkster.com/lizc/
some readers have trouble accessing the site. If so, try clicking 'refresh'
before giving up.
welcome at email@example.com