A coda to my
story "An Empty Space." Set a few days before the events of the seventh
season episode "Prophecy." Rated PG.
thanks, BetaGals! Without you I'd be lost.
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created specifically by the author for her own sole use, are (c) Paramount/Viacom
and are used here without permission.
looked at the clock impatiently and tossed the remains of his meal into
the dispenser. He was getting tired of preparing dinner for himself
and B'Elanna, only to end up eating alone again.
2100, and she hadn't yet graced the door to their quarters. He wouldn't
mind so much, except he had brought it up with her just last night.
In exchange for Tom's promise not to come to engineering hunting for her,
B'Elanna had said she would make a better effort to come home on time when
he was preparing the meal. So where was she?
had planned to get out and join a poker game some of the junior officers
were throwing tonight, but he wasn't in the mood now. Frowning at
B'Elanna's untouched plate of empty and waiting tortillas-they had decided
on fajitas tonight-Tom tapped his commbadge.
to Torres." No answer.
frown deepened. "B'Elanna, it's Tom. Are you there?"
Still no answer. "Computer, locate Lieutenant Torres."
Torres is in holodeck two."
He was surprised. He knew his wife had plenty of outside interests,
and he'd always made a concerted effort not to poke his nose into every
single one of them. Still, it was unusual for her to lose track of
the time on the holodeck and then not respond to a page. That was
more up his alley.
told himself not to worry about it-it was probably just an oversight, or
maybe she had left her commbadge in the holodeck while repairing the matrix.
After all, she could take care of herself, and with a department full of
responsible people on a more or less normal day, what could happen?
no use. He abandoned her half of the food and headed down to the
holodecks. True, she might get mad at him for coming after her like
this, but he decided that was better than sitting in their quarters or
at a poker game in a bad mood all night.
when he got to the holodeck that a program was in fact running: "Torres
Alpha One." With that designation, it had to be an old one, probably
the first one she had created for herself on Voyager.
know what to think of that. B'Elanna rarely tried her hand at holoprogramming,
and when she did, it wasn't always just for fun. He could remember
as well as anyone those months of her apathetic solitude a few years ago,
when she was spending hours upon hours here alone, risking life and limb
out of a desperation to feel alive again.
was well over that, though, Tom told himself. They both were.
Why was he so worried? He wasn't her guardian, and she could take
care of herself without his supervision.
wasn't enough to keep him from paging her unsuccessfully one more time.
After that, he finally gave in to temptation and walked inside, unsure
of what he would find.
he hadn't seen before was running. He found himself in a wide, brightly
lit hallway, with three doorways at odd angles from where he stood.
The one in the center was cracked open, but the other two were shut tight
on their old-fashioned hinges. There was a plain, wooden table set
atop a bearskin rug in the middle of the hall, one of the kinds with the
head and claws still attached. On the table was a gold-shouldered
officer's uniform rolled into a careless wad. Picking it up, Tom
still attached and, unless someone else on the ship was pregnant and hadn't
announced it, it was obviously B'Elanna's.
folded the uniform carefully and set it back on the table, wondering if
he should go farther inside. She was probably fine, but he was getting
curious. He'd never seen this program before. He wouldn't call
it expert designing or good decorating; a bearskin rug, head attached,
on a white, tile floor? There were no other decorations except a
couple empty hooks by the middle door and a handful of old flowers hanging
upside down in the corner. It was silent, and he could smell something
sweet and sp
icy in the
air-not heavy, but definitely there. He was fascinated.
he had already come this far. Tom chose the door that was cracked
open and peeked inside. "B'Elanna?" he said, knocking softly.
nothing. He stepped in, this time onto another thick rug, this one
made from an animal that was definitely not native to Earth. This
room was a little darker than the hallway; a window off to his left showed
the haze of dusk against a group of clouds, and a fire was lit in a fireplace
opposite the doorway in which he stood. Large oak beams ran the length
of the low ceiling, and the furniture was randomly placed in clusters around
the room. A bookshelf with both books and stacks of unorganized
against one wall next to a rocking chair laden with pillows; in another
corner, a collection of everything from pool cues to bat'leths to a Parises
Squares mallet were gathered in a loose jumble atop yet another rug, this
one smaller and more ornamental, like it was used as an exercise mat or
something. In the middle of the room were a collection of overstuffed
chairs and a sofa facing the fire, with a hardwood table between them and
the fireplace and a small incense burner sitting on the floor
a hand he recognized dangling over one arm of the sofa.
could hear the ever-so-soft sounds of his wife's snoring. Smiling
mostly at his own foolishness for having worried, he crept around the sofa
and carefully sat down next to her. B'Elanna was fast asleep, one
arm draped over a growing belly and her face buried in still more pillows.
She was wearing a scarlet robe identical to the one she had in their quarters.
reached out a hand and touched her shoulder. Dropping a kiss on her
cheek, he whispered her name. She stirred to life, sluggish at first
with the confusion that comes from interrupted dreams.
day?" Tom asked kindly.
sat up quickly when she realized where they were. She looked around
frantically, as if she were afraid that something was missing. "What
are you doing here?" she said, her cheeks reddening.
2100, B'Elanna. You didn't show up for dinner, and you didn't answer
my hails. I just wondered if you were okay."
course I'm okay," she said, pushing him away. "What do you think
I am, a child?"
up, spreading his hands in the air. "Hey, I'm sorry. I didn't
mean to invade. I just thought..."
mean you thought you'd just waltz on in?" she snapped, grabbing a blanket
from off the floor and wrapping it around herself protectively. "Get
That's not fair."
I come in and interrupt your holodeck time?"
he said. "But I didn't mean to interrupt anything. I'm sorry,
I really am. Okay?"
too late now," she said, not meeting his eyes. She got up and hurried
toward the door. "Let's just leave."
wait," he pleaded. "I didn't mean to make you angry. I'm sorry."
stopped at the doorway and turned around. He could tell she still
wasn't happy. "It's okay. I just... I just didn't want you
to see this program." She crossed her arms resentfully.
It looks like a great place to kick back and relax." He picked up
one of the many pillows. "You might have gone a little heavy on the
pillows, but other than that..."
exactly it! I knew if you came in here you'd tell me what I did wrong,
or what I need to do to improve it."
realized his mistake. He shouldn't have said that about the pillows.
"That's not what I meant, B'Elanna. I was just making a joke."
She didn't say anything, so he sat down. "This is a great sofa,"
he offered. "Where'd you find it? Or did you come up with it
stood there stubbornly for a minute, then sighed and reluctantly joined
him. "No, it's from another program. Look, I know this is stupid,
but when we first came on Voyager, when nobody had enough credits yet to
make their quarters look like anything personal, I thought maybe I could
make a little space here for myself. Captain Janeway gave me the
idea; the chairs are from one of her programs, I think."
not stupid, B'Elanna," Tom said. "A lot of people did that.
I just didn't know you had a program like this. You've never mentioned
was the idea," she said wryly. "I don't come here a lot, but I like
having something that nobody else knows about. This ship feels like
it's smaller than my dorm at the Academy sometimes, especially since we've
gotten married. I feel like I'm never alone anymore."
nodded, understanding. He and B'Elanna had joked about it before,
but they both knew the importance of spending time away from each other.
Some married couples might be able to live on top of each other's toes
for years at a time, but not them-their personalities were a little too
strong for that. Not to mention that they were living together in
what was literally a one-room cabin.
okay, B'Elanna," Tom said. "I understand."
she said dubiously. "It's just gotten worse since I've gotten pregnant.
I'm the first woman since Samantha Wildman to have a baby, and it's as
if the whole crew has to know every detail. How's the baby doing,
how am I doing, is there anything they can do... It's just getting to be
so much. Every time I turn around, I see one of the women avert her
eyes, like she'd been staring at me, wondering what it's like."
hadn't even thought about that. "I'm sure they don't mean to bother
you. They're excited for us, that's all."
but I want my privacy, and I want my own space." She looked around
the room, embarrassed. "Even if it is just a bunch of lousy programming."
it's not 'lousy programming.' Besides, you said it yourself, this
is your space. If it helps you relax, then who cares?"
looked at him gratefully. "Thanks, I guess."
back. Glancing around the room, Tom really regretted ever coming
in here; it should have stayed her secret. "Look, I'm sorry I came
in after you," he said. "I didn't mean to intrude."
sighed. "It was only a matter of time, I suppose. It's not
like I could have kept this from you for much longer."
you come here to unwind after your shift?"
but I didn't mean to fall asleep like that. I've just felt so tired
lately, and all I wanted was a catnap..."
back and put his arm around her. "Sounds like you needed it."
He looked over at the animal rug again. "I don't want to pry, but
do you mind telling me what that thing is? Or was?"
laughed. "That's Hank, the Tokha beast." She got up, walked
over to its head and bent down to give it a scatch behind the ears.
Hank just stared back, open-mouthed. "They live on Kronos, and they've
been domesticated on a few other planets, I think."
blinked. Hank? "Tell me you didn't skin, uh, Hank yourself."
my mother helped me with the original. I had one just like him in
my room as a child."
Talk about nightmares. "I had no idea you liked those things.
I mean, the bear in the hall, and this guy..."
You wouldn't believe how soft they can be. There are three more in
other rooms," she said. Then she noticed his expression. "It's
okay," she assured him. "I'm not suggesting we put one under the
baby's crib or anything. Oh! That reminds me. Maybe there
is something I should show you. Come with me." She stood and
walked toward yet another doorway.
stood up uncertainly. "Are you sure? I mean, if you don't want
to show me everything, I understand."
worry, I'm not about to let you see the whole program. Just one more
room. Come on."
he should, wondering what other secrets to her childhood he might discover.
"Is everything in here something you had back home?"
of it," she said, fishing out a key from under one of Hank's paws.
"The lake behind the house is from Kessick, and on the other side are the
hills from the countryside around San Francisco. I think I put a
replica of my bunk from the Liberty somewhere upstairs, but I keep forgetting
where. I've just kept adding on whenever I felt like it, and it's
gotten to be a little crazy. The fireplace is original, though.
So are most of the things on the other side of this door, if I can ever
get it open.
with a grunt she jimmied the lock and cracked open the door. B'Elanna
hesitated. "Just don't laugh," she told him.
not going to laugh!"
She took a deep breath and opened the door.
into a room about the same size as the one behind him, but rather than
animal rugs and fireplaces, this one was definitely a bedroom. For
more than one person.
two adults, though. The larger bed in the center of the brightly
lit room dominated the space, but beside it sat a baby's cradle.
Tom felt a pleasant shock at the sight of it, knowing that they would need
one like it in a few months. The frame was made of wood and painted
white, and over it hung a mobile with a handful of different colored starships-both
Klingon and Federation. They swung gently in the warm breeze blowing
in through a window that overlooked the shores of a lake.
knelt by the cradle and poked with his finger at one of the starships,
a purple one that looked like Voyager. It bobbed up and down, sending
the other ships spinning.
this is great," he told her quietly.
ran a hand over the contours of the headboard proudly. "One of the
other rooms is a workspace where I designed the separate parts. I
put them together just last week."
around the room. There was another rocking chair in the corner, and
there were shelves with all kinds of things on them-books, stuffed animals,
blankets, toys... "Wow," he said.
fidgeted, for some reason still embarrassed. "It's just that we don't
really have the resources to give the baby lots and lots of things.
I know that material possessions don't really matter, but still, I want
to make sure she has a good beginning. So I thought that maybe, when
I wasn't working, sometimes I could bring her here. I mean, I'll
have to make some changes to the program first, but... I don't know, I
just thought it would be a good idea."
stood up and pulled her to him. "I think it's a great idea," he told
smiled. "You do?"
course. I love you." That wasn't something either one of them
said very often-they seemed to prefer saving it for when they were in the
middle of a life-threatening crisis-but he definitely meant it now.
he said, thinking of something. "Do you still have the specs for
the cradle and the mobile?"
don't we do a little spending this weekend and make a replica for our quarters?
We can put them at the foot of our bed."
we don't have to."
we do. The baby has to sleep somewhere," he said.
okay," B'Elanna agreed. She seemed pleased. "I think I'd like
that. And maybe..."
hesitated, pulling her robe a little tighter around herself. "You've
already seen a little of the program, and I had already thought I would
bring the baby here. But if she's going to see the program... Well,
maybe it would be okay for the two of us to spend a little time here once
in a while. It may not have water skiing or drag racing or anything
like that, but..."
to!" Tom said, honored that she would allow him to join her. "And
who says there's no water skiing? There's a lake right outside that
window. All you'd have to do is--"
no suggestions! I don't want you telling me what I should or shouldn't
do here. It's my program, and you're my visitor. Got it?"
it," Tom promised. "Sorry."
looked at him critically. "Okay. And remember, it's only when
and where I say!"
Tom said earnestly. But he couldn't resist looking at over at the
bed; he raised an eyebrow suggestively. "You know, I hope this is
one of the rooms we get to visit. It's been a while since we shared
a bed that size..."
looked like she was about to protest, then stopped herself. "I was
actually thinking more along the lines of the couch," she confessed, running
a finger from his collar down his chest. "Or maybe a picnic blanket
out on the lakeside..."
you're talking," he said with a grin. "How soon till we get to try
out one of your little adventures? The holodeck isn't reserved for
another two hours..."
sized him up with a predatory glint in her eye. "Mmm, tempting.
Can it wait till after dinner? I'm hungry."
hid his disappointment. "Maybe if you didn't miss meals all the time..."
it, Tom. You're lucky I'm even letting you in here."
her his most innocent smile and wrapped an arm around her waist as they
left the room together. "Yeah, I'm lucky. Now let's go home."
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