(Sequel to "Regrets")
(R Series part 28)
Disclaimer: Tom, Chak et al belong to Paramount. I am only playing with them and promise to put them back relatively unscathed
Chakotay was surprised to find that B’Elanna was still in charge of the Bridge.
"Hasn’t the Captain returned yet?" He asked her quietly.
"She conned me to say she had been detained and ordered that I stayed here until YOU returned." B’Elanna whispered back as she gave up the command chair. "What’s happened? Where’s Tom?"
"In sickbay." Chakotay said, then seeing her evident concern he elaborated "I’ll tell you the details later. Suffice it to say, I was wrong, B’El. He didn’t spend the night with anyone else."
Seeing Chakotay’s obvious guilt and worry, B’Elanna squeezed him on the shoulder. "Don’t worry, I’m sure everything will work out. Is there anything I can do?"
"I know you’re short handed in Engineering with Carrey on sick leave, but there’s a couple of things if you can find the time."
"Can you find a way to get the bloodstains out of my quarters? Quite apart from the fact they are evidence, I don’t want Tom seeing them."
B’Elanna nodded, kicking herself for having completely forgotten that several liters of Tuvok’s blood were liberally splashed over Chakotay’s bedroom carpet.
"You said a couple of things?" She questioned
"Take Ted to sickbay, in case Tom wakes up before I get there."
B’Elanna looked at him blankly, and then understanding dawned.
"Sure, I’ll do that first." She promised softly.
"Thanks B’El" Chakotay murmured, giving her a dazzling smile of pure gratitude.
"No problem." She replied casually and left the bridge before she started to cry again. Shit, she was SO jealous of Tom. No, that wasn’t fair, she was HAPPY for Tom, she was just jealous of the way Chakotay loved him. The friendship of the two men was the best thing that she had felt in a long time, but all the same it cast a glaring light on the loneliness of her own existence.
"May I come in?" Samantha Wildman asked nervously from the doorway of the Sick bay.
"Please state the nature of the medical emergency." The Doctor replied discouragingly.
Sam blushed and fiddled nervously with her hair.
"I don’t have one." She confessed
"Then please leave. This is the Sickbay, not the observation lounge." The Doctor snapped irritably.
Sam’s blush deepened and she began to turn, then stopped, squared her shoulders and faced the unfriendly Doctor face on.
"IjustwanttoknowhowTomis." She garbled in a rush before her nerve left her again "Because he isn’t on duty and the computer said he was here, and I know how stupid he is sometimes, but I thought he was with the Commander so I thought he’d be alright, but maybe I was wrong, and I am so worried about him and – "
"Stop!" The Doctor said, pressing a finger to her garrulous lips, concerned that if she didn’t take a breath she would faint.
"Tom is fine. The Commander has NOT hurt him. Tom is simply suffering from overwork and is resting." The Doctor told her firmly.
Sam’s shoulders shook with relief.
"Thank God." She said, giving the Doctor an embarassed smile
"Please don’t tell the Commander what I said. He’d probably demote me forever. It’s just that I was so worried."
Still dumbfounded by the emergence of this unexpected ally, the Doctor simply motioned her in to see where Tom was peacefully asleep in the bed. He had already begun to regain a more healthy colour.
Sam watched Tom sleep for a few minutes.
"He’s just like Naomi. He looks so innocent when he sleeps and is such a devil when he’s awake." She laughed softly.
"I wasn’t aware that you and Mr. Paris were intimate." The Doctor replied cautiously
"If you mean intimate like he was with everyone else, then no. To tell the truth I hated Tom when I first met him. I only saw the surface. He was like a cheap jewel, all pretty glitter and no value. Or like one of those angels in the paintings by Botticelli, beautiful but sly."
"So when did you change your mind about him?"
"When I first had Naomi, there were hoards of volunteers to help me. They soon disappeared though. As soon as they discovered the horrible realities of babies they all drifted off. Tom was different. He never let me down. He was never late. He didn’t care if Naomi was ill, or teething or needed to be changed. He just did it.
Then, as Naomi got older, I used to watch him play with her without him knowing. To be brutally honest, I still didn’t trust him. He had such a reputation for deviance that I actually imagined some quite horrible reasons for his interest in her." She admitted. She blushed with evident shame before continuing:
"But, well, I can’t describe it except to say I had never seen such a child-like innocence in a grown person. Naomi and Tom play together as though they are the same age. It’s almost as if he’s six years old himself and learning and exploring the world along side her."
Sam laughed nervously at her own words, "I suppose that makes him sound stupid, but he’s not, he just manages to get into her head and interact with her at a level she understands. Does that make sense?"
"Perfect sense" The Doctor agreed softly, wondering to himself whether Tom’s time with Naomi was the pilot’s attempt to capture a little of the magic of childhood that he had evidently missed out on, first time around.
"So, you see, I really DO want him to be okay. Not just because Naomi would miss him terribly, but because under all his glib exterior, he really IS a nice person. I wish other people could see that!"
"Oh. SOME people do!" The Doctor assured her as he escorted her to the door. "Perhaps more people than either of us are aware of yet."
B’Elanna collected Tom’s teddy and feeling extremely self-conscious, started to take it to Sickbay. Fortunately there was no one on the officer’s deck to witness her incongruous burden and she dove into the turbolift, closing her eyes with relief.
"Lieutenant Torres, why are you carrying a child’s stuffed toy?"
B’Elanna jumped in shock and spun to glare at Seven’s cool face. The haughty blonde ex-Borg was staring at her as though she was a particularly fascinating virus.
Resisting the urge to yell, "mind your own damned business" B’Elanna muttered "I’m taking it to sickbay".
Seven’s ice blue eyes flashed coldly as her mind computed, analyzed and concluded.
"Lieutenant Paris is in sickbay?"
Too stunned by Seven’s conclusion to think of a better reply, B’Elanna simply said, "Yes."
Seven pondered for a moment.
"Did you bite him again?" she queried
B’Elanna’s temper snapped. The Borg always managed to push exactly the right buttons to infuriate her.
"No I bloody didn’t, you nosy bitch. Tom is with Chakotay now!"
She snarled, glad that the turbolift doors opened to let her escape before she exploded.
Watching the half-Klingon stalk furiously away, Seven’s cool poise crumpled a little.
"I know" she whispered sadly.
Fortunately, when the red-faced B’Elanna thrust the teddy bear at the Doctor, he simply thanked her profusely for her kindness in delivering it. His gratitude more than paid her for the humiliation of her conversation with Seven.
"How is he?" B’Elanna asked, looking with concern at Tom who still looked frighteningly pale in HER opinion as he slept on one of the bio-beds.
"With time, with help, he’ll be fine." The Doctor replied. "He’s lucky that you and Chakotay both care so much about him and even Samantha Wildman came to see him earlier and seemed most genuine in my opinion."
"It’s not fair." B’Elanna said shortly "He shouldn’t need LUCK just to be treated with some respect."
"I agree, but considering the majority of the crew on this ship it’s still true."
"Yeah." B’Elanna said and sadly turned to leave, then stopped.
"Any idea how to get Vulcan blood out of a white carpet?"
The Doctor actually seemed to flush as the significance of her words sank in.
"I think you’ll need some kind of emulsifying agent. Very nasty stuff, Vulcan blood." He eventually offered. "I always use EX54, but I emptied the bottle yesterday. It’s stored in the cargo bay, it should do the trick, even with a dried-in stain."
B’Elanna smiled in gratitude; the smile transforming her harsh features and making them glow with a surprising loveliness. "Thanks, Doc.".
The Doctor looked wistfully at her disappearing back. Sometimes he wished he wasn’t a hologram.
"Detained, huh?" Chakotay whispered to himself with a sly smile. He had a damned good idea of what Kathryn was up to and if he was right; it might buy them all the time that Tom needed.
Checking that none of the bridge crew was near enough to see what he was doing with his console, he began to tap in the codes to run his illicit surveillance program.
After checking that the Warpcore wasn’t in imminent danger of exploding (always an almost constant worry for her) B’Elanna ducked back into the turbolift and headed for the cargo bay.
Fortunately the interfering Borg-thing wasn’t in her alcove. Sighing with relief, B’Elanna checked the storage manifold for the EX54. Typically, it was stored under several tons of spare shuttle parts. (Primarily because nearly all of Voyager’s shuttles were only spare parts these days).
By the time she reached her goal, she was dripping with sweat. She had stripped off her uniform jacket and her grey undershirt was now black with perspiration and clinging to her like a swimsuit.
Brushing her damp hair out of her eyes as she triumphantly retrieved a bottle; she was too distracted to see the lightening movement of the hand that snatched the bottle from her tired grasp.
B’Elanna spun around with an outraged snarl and looked straight into Seven’s glacial eyes.
"EX54. Super Emulsifier. Removes all dried in biological stains, including red wine, coffee and blood." Seven read with interest.
"Give that BACK!" B’Elanna growled dangerously, swinging for the Borg.
Seven coolly ducked out of reach, easily evading B’Elanna’s lunge.
"Why do you require a biological stain remover, Lieutenant Torres?" Seven demanded
"I spilt coffee on my favourite dress." B’Elanna improvised wildly.
"It is inefficient for the Chief Engineer to perform her own cleaning." Seven replied decisively "The only logical reason for you to be here yourself, is if you are performing some subterfuge."
B’Elanna’s heart began to pound wildly as Seven continued her speculation with drone-like efficiency.
"EX54 removes blood. You have a bloodstain to remove surreptitiously. This would be inefficient if the victim could identify you. Therefore the victim cannot identify you. This victim is therefore not Tom. Perhaps the victim is dead? Tuvok is dead. YOU killed Tuvok!"
B’Elanna looked at Seven in horrified bewilderment. It was impossible that the ex-Borg could conclude that from nothing more than a bottle label and her own admittedly suspicious behavior.
"You’re suffering delusions again, Seven. Don’t you remember how wrong you were LAST time you tried to be a detective?" B’Elanna responded with an attempt at cool sarcasm.
"My implants indicate that you have a significantly raised heartbeat and your perspiration levels are increasing. Your physical agitation suggests guilt."
"Damn it, you KNOW Tuvok died in Sickbay." B’Elanna said desperately, "There were witnesses."
Her defensive words were a mistake; they only fueled Seven’s logical deductive process.
"You attacked Tuvok, wounded him badly enough to leave physical evidence which you now need to remove. Commander Chakotay and the Doctor evidently colluded with you to kill Tuvok and cover up your crime." Seven concluded
"Why the hell would they do that?" B’Elanna spat
"It would, I expect, depend on your reason for attacking the Lieutenant Commander." Seven replied coolly
B’Elanna began to judge the distance between herself and the Borg, considering Seven’s possible physical weaknesses and damning herself for feeling so exhausted. She was uncertain whether she could take Seven out in her current state.
"Which would mean, of course, that Ensign Kim is innocent of manslaughter." Seven added, seemingly unaware of B’Elanna’s murderous thoughts
"And I suppose you are planning to run to the Captain with this wild theory?" B’Elanna asked, moving herself slightly between Seven and the doorway.
"No?" B’Elanna gasped in bewilderment
"It would be inefficient. Lieutenant Commander Tuvok is dead. My actions cannot change that fact. It is unfortunate for Ensign Kim, but Voyager’s efficiency is better served by his removal from his post than the removal of two senior officers and her EMH."
B’Elanna gaped in astonishment at the ex-Borg’s emotionless reasoning. Then to her complete surprise, Seven’s face softened slightly
"Besides, I am positive that you would not have acted without good reason, B’Elanna."
B’Elanna wasn’t sure of what amazed her most, Seven’s comment or her use of B’Elanna’s first name.
"Because you are an exemplary officer and a good person. If you attacked Mr. Tuvok you must have had sufficient cause."
B’Elanna sat down heavily on one of the packing crates. Her adrenaline rush changing to the shivering relief of danger passing by.
"I did." She said, both admitting and defending.
"He was raping Tom."
Seven swayed uncertainly at her words and then recovered. B’Elanna’s answer was the only explanation for Chakotay and the Doctor’s help, and explained why Lieutenant Paris was now in sickbay.
"I agree that his actions necessitated swift and permanent response." Seven said thoughtfully, then she dipped her penetrating gaze. "Your actions to defend Tom Paris indicate that you are still ‘in love’ with him." She accused with an odd bitterness.
"I was NEVER in love with Tom. I used him. He used me. By the time I understood him, it was too late. Chakotay got there first."
"I used him too." Seven confessed awkwardly. "I had a compelling need to investigate my own sexuality and it was logical to turn to the most sexually experienced member of the crew. I never considered his feelings in the matter."
B’Elanna looked at Seven in surprise. "I never thought I would EVER hear you admit to being wrong." She said in confusion.
To her amazement, Seven came and sat next to her on the packing crate, her endless lycra clad legs spread out before her.
"It was difficult for me to leave the collective. My physical interaction with Tom made me feel for a short time that I was not alone. Our sexual desires were not compatible, but Tom was always infinitely adaptable to my wishes. He was a totally selfless lover. I miss him." She finished sadly.
"That day I found you together here, you told me that you considered him irrelevant!" B’Elanna reminded her bluntly.
"I believed that you loved him. I wished to assure you that our sexual assignation had been of no consequence. I did not wish to hurt either of you."
B’Elanna regarded Seven with considerable confusion. She had hated the ex-Borg since the first day she had met her. Her original fear and loathing of the Borg in general only exacerbated by the fact that Seven had then transformed herself into a Nordic blonde beauty who made her feel so inadequate and ugly by comparison.
Jealousy, she realised, most of her antipathy had simply been due to jealousy all along.
"Why would you care?" She asked genuinely. "I mean I can understand you wanting to protect Tom. That’s a feeling we evidently share, but why would you give a damn about me?"
Seven flushed, not wishing to reply, but her innate honesty demanding that she did.
"Because I have always admired you, B’Elanna. From the first time I met you, you were so self-assured, so much an individual. You are an engineer, a warrior and a woman too. I have always envied you."
Chakotay watched the scene unfolding on his terminal with rapidly increasing disgust. He had felt no compunction about his original plan. Considering the terrible way Harry had been abusing Tom for years, Chakotay had decided that turnabout was only fair and if it gave him some leverage to use against the Captain, so much the better.
However, as the Captain’s fantasy became more and more twisted and bizarre, Chakotay began to feel physically sick. Seeing the various implements of sexual torture that Kathryn produced, he at least understood why Voyager was always running out of energy. It would have taken a year's worth of his own rations to produce all of her ‘toys’.
Disappointment and disgust filled him. He was going to have to save the hapless Mr. Kim after all, and Kathryn’s fury would undoubtedly backfire on Tom. Yet, as much as he loved the fragile pilot and hated Harry Kim, Chakotay could not simply stand back and let someone be tortured like this.
He transferred his program to the ready room, told Baytart to mind the fort and locked himself in the sound-proof room so he could listen to the scene as well as watch. Without sound, he couldn’t judge whether Harry was truly in difficulty and he decided that if he judged Harry was in too much pain, he would have to stop it here and now, whatever the consequences.
As soon as the sound came on, the room was filled with a scream of such agony that Chakotay didn’t even stop to turn off the program. He shot to his feet
"Computer, Transport me immediately to –"
Harry’s pleading voice interrupted his frantic instructions
"Ohhh, do that AGAIN, mama"
Chakotay sank slowly back into his seat in stunned realisation.
"Awaiting location" the clinical voice of the computer chirped
"Cancel transport request" Chakotay muttered quietly as he watched the screen with growing incredulity
"Shit, Harry, you are one sick puppy!" he mumbled in complete disbelief.