Rights & Reconciliation: Deliberations
By A'Lehsen Paris
Written: June 1999
Summary: Set a couple of weeks after "Unexpected Consequences". B'Elanna is unsure of how to tell anyone of her pregnancy, or even if she wants to at this time. Harry tries to talk to her about fixing things up with Tom, but by now she's as mad as Tom and won't listen. Chakotay also approaches B'Elanna, to see if her behavior was a relapse into her former depression (the episode "Extreme Risk"), but since she is acting normally again he is reassured. B'Elanna makes a few log entries, and we see how she reacts to the possibility of a reconcilliation with Tom. This has lots of twists and turns, and since we are seeing it from B'Elanna's POV, it is hard to remember who really started all of this.
Disclaimer: Paramount owns Voyager and the crew. I'm just writing the story. None of the characters are mine, so I'd just like to say that I'm not trying to infringe on any rights.
Rated: PG (adult language)
"Begin personal log," B'Elanna Torres said as she sat down on her bed. She rubbed her neck and sighed. "Today is day number 49 of pregnancy. I still get nauseous when I wake up, but it hasn't really been too bad for a few days. I can't wait to feel the baby move. That's what seems to keep me going when I get so miserable that I feel like I could scream."
B'Elanna got up and went into her living room. She walked over to the replicator. "Tea, herbal mix number 23," she ordered. She picked up the cup that appeared and took a sip. She grimaced and resumed her log.
"Gods, this tastes awful. But the text that I was reading last night says that it's good for relaxing an expectant mother, and it won't hurt Baby either. I still have to pick out a name, I suppose. I just don't want to find the perfect name for a girl, and find out that I'm carrying a boy, or vice versa. I wish I could go to Sickbay and just find out, but I'm not ready to advertise my condition to the ship right now. I especially don't want one person to know: Tom. Somehow, even knowing how much he resents me, I long to have him here beside me, experiencing the joys--and the pains of having this child. Our child." Her voice was barely above a whisper as she made this confession.
B'Elanna placed a hand over her stomach. "Most of all, I want this child to have two parents who love each other. I grew up without my father, and I don't want to put my child through that kind of pain," she said. That old hurt was in her voice, as she reflected on her childhood.
Then her voice hardened. "But even though I know what it was like, I'm not sure Tom even deserves the chance. Hell, he couldn't even handle it when I made one mistake. How would he react to a child? Children make so many mistakes when growing up--I know I did. If his reaction to what I did is any indication of what his attitude would be, maybe this was for the best. I don't want my child to turn out like him, so critical and unbending. It's his father's fault, of course. I can see that plain as day," B'Elanna said angrily. "Maybe living with that kind of thing for a long time makes you like that. I don't know, but the more I think about it, the more I think that he wouldn't have made the best father in the world. He's so commitment- shy, so damned introspective."
B'Elanna glared out at the stars streaking by. Just looking out at them made her think of the man who was flying the ship right then, and thinking about him made her angry. How dare he do this to her? How dare he break up with her and leave her alone to deal with this pregnancy? HOW DARE HE?
B'Elanna hadn't been aware that she was speaking these thoughts aloud until she shouted the last. Suddenly, she felt so weary.
"End log," she whispered dispiritedly. She finished her cooling tea in two gulps and then walked back into her bedroom. She got out of her uniform and slipped into the first nightgown her hand encountered. She got into bed and said quietly, "Lights out."
She wasn't able to sleep right away. Instead, she tossed and turned for at least an hour, unable to find a comfortable position. Unhappily, she wished for Tom's strong arms holding her close, knowing that she only slept well when he was there with her.
* * * * *
B'Elanna spent the next day rushing from one minor catastrophe to another. She barely had time for the large lunch that she was becoming accostumed to because of an EPS conduit that suddenly blew on Deck 4. The second half of her shift was occupied by a drill where her staff didn't seem to be able to do anything to her satisfaction. She made them repeat the drill five times, and she still was unhappy by the time her shift was over. Knowing that she was making them as miserable as she was, B'Elanna headed for the Mess Hall, hoping that food would make her feel better.
B'Elanna really wasn't paying much attention to who was in the Mess Hall when she entered. She went over to Neelix and said, "Do you have any leola- root casserole, Neelix?" She had a sudden craving for it, and she regretfully put it down to her pregnancy.
Neelix raised his eyebrows. He was obviously surprised by B'Elanna's request, but she wasn't going to try to explain herself. She simply waited for him to say whether or not he had any left.
"Of--of course, B'Elanna. Just a moment," Neelix stammered. B'Elanna almost smiled over the little alien's astonishment.
She accepted the plate he gave her. Then she went to the replicator and ordered another cup of herbal tea. She sat down in a corner table with her back to the rest of the room and gave her food her full concentration. The casserole was delicious, nothing like she remembered. It had such a--fluffy texture, and she would have sworn that it tasted sweeter than chocolate.
Harry slid into the seat across from her. "I've never seen you enjoy Neelix's leola-root casserole so much. And is that tea?" he asked with a noticeably artificial grin.
B'Elanna raised her eyebrows. "I'm eating this because I want to. And driking tea is very relaxing. You should try it. Now, what is it you wanted to talk to me about?" she asked. She took a sip of tea. It wasn't quite so bad as the last one. She made a mental note to request number 55 from then on.
Harry's laugh was equally artificial. "I just wanted to come and talk to my friend. Is that a crime?" he asked.
B'Elanna glanced around to make sure that they couldn't be overheard. When she did, she noticed Tom sitting across the room, glaring at them.
"Well, somebody sure thinks it is. What were you saying to him, Harry? Were trying to make him see reason? Because I can tell you now that pigs are notorious for being hardheaded," she said coolly, turning back to her friend.
Harry winced. "B'Elanna, he's just hurting. Give him a chance," he said in a pleading tone.
B'Elanna laughed harshly. "Harry, I've decided that two can play at this game. He doesn't want to give it another try, and so I don't either. Leave it alone, Harry. There's nothing you can do now. One of my teachers on Kessick had a saying that I think applies to this--situation. 'Let sleeping dogs lie.'"
Harry shook his head. "I don't understand you two. You were so much in love just a few weeks ago, and now you can't even be in the same room without the temperature dropping at least ten degrees," he said dejectedly.
B'Elanna sighed. "Harry, I'm going to repeat this only once. There is nothing you can do. And there's nothing I want you to do," she told him with an intensity that surprised even her.
Harry stared into her eyes for several moments, as if testing her sincerity. She let him see her indifference, her strength of will, and she tried to hide the vulnerable, hurting part of her.
Finally, Harry looked away. "All right, B'Elanna. If that's the way you want it, I won't try to interfere anymore," he said bitterly.
B'Elanna placed her hand over his. "Don't do that, Harry. I'm not angry with you. You're my best friend, you always have been and you always will be. I just don't need you to attempt to patch up this broken relationship. I don't think anything can, and I'm pretty sure now that I don't even want to try," she tried to explain herself.
"I understand. You want to keep yourself apart, like you used to. You want to pretend like everything's all right. It isn't. And if you two don't want to fix it, I won't try to help, either," he told her.
B'Elanna felt as if he had slapped her. She must have shown it, too, because Harry's expression softened and he turned his hand in hers to squeeze it affectionately. "Just ignore me. And get some sleep. You still look like hell, and it doesn't look like you've gained a pound, even though lately you seem determined to eat until even Neelix is in awe of you," he said. She was amused to note that his tone was that of a big brother, even though he was at least two years younger than she was.
"Yes, sir. You have night shift again, don't you? You always get into this commanding mood when you get to sit in the big chair," she teased.
Harry nodded. "In fact, if I don't go I'll be late. Bye," he said.
B'Elanna smiled at him. "Bye," she said as he stood up. Harry squeezed her shoulder as he walked by.
B'Elanna turned her attention back to her meal. It was done in minutes, and after she downed the rest of her tea she took the plate, cup and fork to the recycler.
She turned around to find Tom right behind her. She fell back on years of experience at hiding her emotions so that she could hide the shock and pain that being so close to him so suddenly brought on. She let the old mask of indifference fall into place.
"Ensign Paris," she said as coldly as she could manage.
"Lieutenant," he said.
B'Elanna walked around him, struggling not to hurry. She wanted to seem calm and in control. It was so hard, but she made it to the door without breaking down.
There was a pair of ensigns heading toward her down the hall, so she didn't dare to loose the fragile control until she got to the turbolift. She leaned against the turbolift walls and tried to keep her composure, tried to keep the tears that had suddenly sprang up from overflowing by squeezing her eyes closed tightly. "Deck nine," she said around the lump in her throat.
She gasped when the 'lift doors opened, and surrepitiously wiped at her watery eyes. She almost gasped again when she saw Chakotay staring at her in consternation.
"B'Elanna, if you don't tell me what's going on now, I'm going to order you to," he said in concern.
B'Elanna laughed a little at that. "That sounded like an order to me, Chakotay," she said.
Chakotay smiled slightly. "Whatever it takes to get you to talk. I'm very worried about you, B'Elanna. You haven't acted like this in a long time," he said seriously.
"You mean when I nearly killed myself from depression?" she asked bluntly.
"Well, yes. Something has happened, and the whole ship has noticed it. The gossip started weeks ago, and it's been getting worse. I want to help you, but I can't do that unless you tell me what's going on," he said.
B'Elanna glanced down the toes of her black, regulation shoes and tried to find the words to explain what had happened to Chakotay. He had been her mentor and friend for so many years. He had been one of the first to warn her away from having anything to do with Tom, and she hadn't listened. As a result, she was alone, hurting, and pregnant, although she wasn't going to let anyone know about that for a while. It was her little secret, and it was much better that way, at least for now.
Finally, she looked up into Chakotay's dark, caring eyes. She smiled a small, unhappy smile. "It's a long story, Chakotay. Come to my quarters, and I'll try to explain it all. This is too much of a public place to tell you everything," she said. She knew that she sounded almost completely spent.
Chakotay nodded. "All right," he said in agreement.
They got off at B'Elanna's deck. Her quarters were a few corridors away, and Chakotay hurried her along. He was clearly anxious to find out what was wrong with her.
She keyed in her new code, the one she'd made after the break up. It still seemed so strange, knowing that Tom would no longer get into her quarters before her, to surprise her with a candlelight dinner or a night of lovemaking.
B'Elanna pushed those memories away. They no longer caused her pleasure, only pain. Sometimes, she wondered how she could live on this ship for the rest of her life, with little reminders of Tom everywhere she went.
Chakotay followed her in. She knew that he was taking in the mess that she had allowed her quarters to become. Dirty uniforms were piled in the corner of her couch, and a towel was draped across one chair. She had for- otten to recycle that morning's cup of tea, and the plate that had held her croissant lay beside it. Padds were scattered across the table, mixed with a brush and another towel.
"Sorry about the mess," she tried to say nonchalantly. "I've been so busy lately that I've barely spent any time here except to sleep," she lied. Cleaning just hadn't seen worth the effort whenever she got home. Instead, she'd made her daily log and gone to sleep. Despite Harry's earlier comment, she had made an effort to be sure to get as much rest as possible since she had learned of her condition.
B'Elanna cleared the uniforms off the couch and motioned for Chakotay to sit down. She dropped the clothes into the laundry chute and turned back to see Chakotay staring at her. "What?" she asked as she sat down on the couch, too.
Chakotay shrugged. "For as long as I've known you, I've never seen you being so sloppy. You were always the cleanest rebel I'd ever seen," he said. They smiled at each other, because they both remembered how messy the Maquis had been.
"Now, tell me everything, B'Elanna," Chakotay said in an abrupt change of mood.
B'Elanna nodded. Slowly, hesitantly, she confessed to her friend and mentor everything, except her pregnancy, of course. Chakotay listened with an impartial expression on his face, which B'Elanna was glad for. Somehow that made it easier for her to tell him how stupid she had been.
When she was finished, Chakotay shook his head. "It was a dumb thing to do, B'Elanna. I'm not denying that," he said. She could see the disappointment in his eyes, and felt even more ashamed of herself. Then Chakotay continued, "Tom made some bad judgement calls, too, though. He overreacted, and he should have realized that after a night or two of thought. I don't think he has let himself think; he's been like a sleepwalker these last few weeks."
It was B'Elanna's turn to shrug. "He made his decisions, and I've made mine. Promise me that you won't do anything about this. It's between Tom and me, no one else," she said through narrowed eyes. She didn't need another Harry running around trying to "solve" all of her problems.
Chakotay looked at her for a minute, as if trying to decide how to answer. Finally, he said reluctantly, "Fine. Just don't go into another depression on me, okay?"
"No chance of that this time," she said. She smiled slightly, thinking of the tiny life inside her.
Chakotay seemed confused by the smile, but at least he accepted her word.
"If you wouldn't mind, Chakotay, I could use some sleep," she said pointedly.
Chakotay took the hint. "Sure. Be sure to be on time for the briefing tomorrow," he told her as he left.
"Yes, sir," she answered facetiously. They exchanged a smile before the door shut.
B'Elanna's smile faded after a few moments. She sighed and went into the bathroom. She could use a relaxing sonic shower right about then.
Her mind wandered as the waves of sound flowed over her skin, refreshing her after the long day in engineering. She glanced down and wondered what her body would look like in a few months, swollen with Tom's child. I'll look ridiculous, that's how I'll look, she thought to herself. But she wouldn't regret a minute of it, this closeness that she already felt toward her baby.
B'Elanna stepped out of the shower and wrapped herself up in a towel. She took her time picking out what to where to bed. Once she was snugly under the covers, she began her log.
"Today Chakotay finally asked me about the way I've been acting recently. I've been expecting it, in a way. It was so hard to tell him about what I had done, and it was even worse talking about the fight. He looked so dis- appointed in me. I feel as if I failed him," she said softly.
She decided to change the subject. "I think I'll feel the Baby move any day now. That's what all the books I've been reading say. The third month's one of the most common, and since I'll have a shorter gestation period, I'll feel it sooner." She paused, then voiced the inner fear, the one that had been bothering her for a week or so. "I want to go see the Doctor, to make sure that the baby's okay. I just don't want Tom to know yet. I have no clue how he'll react when he finally does find out, but I do know that I want to postpone that for as long as possible."
She was silent for a minute or two, considering her options. "I'll just have to check with the computer before I go. I'll go tomorrow. And I'm sure I can get the Doctor to keep quiet, at least for a while. He really insists on patient confidentiality. And I know how to make his program 'forget', if it comes to that. I've done it once, and for something this important I can do it again," she said with determination.
This decided, she ended her log and settled back against the pillows. For once, she fell into sleep quickly. Her sleep was undisturbed by bad dreams, too.
* * * * *
After her shift the next day, B'Elanna went straight to her quarters. Once there, she instructed the computer, "Computer, locate Ensign Paris."
"Ensign Paris is on the Bridge," the computer replied promptly.
"When does his next shift in Sickbay begin?" she asked.
"Ensign Paris to report to Sickbay at 0800 hours."
Two shifts away! So luck was with her that day. B'Elanna made her way to Sickbay quickly. Thankfully, no one else was there when she entered. The Doctor was sitting behind his desk reading.
"Doctor?" she called out to get his attention.
The Doctor looked up and frowned. "B'Elanna, what's wrong?" he asked. He stood up and came out of his office briskly.
"No, nothing's wrong. I just need a check-up," she said with a smile.
"A check-up? Now I know you aren't feeling well!" the Doctor said in astonishment. He led her to a biobed, picking up a medical tricorder on the way.
"I'm not sick, Doctor. I'm pregnant," she announced.
The Doctor's jaw dropped. "You're what?" he asked as he began to scan her with the tricorder.
"I'm almost two months pregnant," she said matter-of-factly.
The Doctor's eyebrows rose evev higher as his tricorder confirmed her diagnosis. "How long have you known?" he asked her. His tone suggested that he wouldn't be happy if she lied to him, so she didn't.
"A few weeks. Just after--" she stopped, unsure if Tom had already told the Doctor.
"After?" the Doctor asked.
"After Tom and I stopped seeing each other," she said quietly. She looked down at her hands folded in her lap.
"You and Tom broke up?" the Doctor asked. "Is that why you two have been acting so strangely?"
"That's why I've been acting like I have been. I don't know about him. He's the one that broke it off," she told him.
"It's a long story. Let's just say that he didn't like the fact that I kept one secret from him," she said unhappily.
The Doctor shook his head. "I never could figure either of you out. You love each other so much, and yet you're determined to drive each other crazy," he said. "I'm assuming that you don't want me to tell him about the baby," he continued.
"No. Don't tell anyone, Doc. I'll let the news out when I'm ready. I-- I--just want to keep it a secret for a little while longer. Is the baby healthy?" she asked.
"I'll have to run some tests. There's always a risk with hybrid children," he told her.
B'Elanna nodded. "I understand. Can you do the test now?" she asked.
"Yes. It should take me a day working alone to get the full results," The Doctor said as he went over to pick up a the necessary tools. "Do you want to know the sex of the child?" he asked as he began to take samples.
"It would help. I want to pick out a name right away, so I can get used to saying it," she said shyly. It seemed kind of silly to admit it.
"Many cultures believe that babies begin to hear the voices of others in the womb. It certainly won't hurt to talk to your child as much as you want," the Doctor informed her. "There, all done. Have you eaten yet?"
"No," she said.
"Wait a moment, and I'll give you a list of the nutrients you'll be needing to keep yourself and your baby healthy," the Doctor said.
B'Elanna stood up as he went into his office. He tapped something into his computer console, waited a few moments, then transferred the information to a padd.
He came back and handed the padd to B'Elanna. "Make sure you get all of these every day. Give this to Neelix, say I've put you on a diet to try and help you keep fit. He probably won't ask any questions," he instructed her.
B'Elanna took the padd and sighed. "I never have liked diets," she said. "But I'll follow it," she quickly added when the Doctor started to frown.
"Be sure that you do," he said. He turned away, then added, "I won't tell anyone, B'Elanna. You can when you're ready. But don't wait too long, because you'll be showing soon."
B'Elanna smiled at his back. She was glad she wouldn't have to make him forget about this visit. She could use a friend who knew about her little secret. "I'll come by tomorrow for those results, if you don't mind," she said.
"Of course not," he replied.
B'Elanna left quietly. She went to the Mess Hall. For once, it was practically empty. Neelix was working on something--it smelled sweet, so it was probably some kind of elaborate dessert. She surprised herself by thinking longingly of the last time he had made cake. It was a minor celebration, one to take away some of the tension after the Equinox incident. After that celebration, she and Tom had...
Once again, B'Elanna forced away memories that had the power to make her heart ache with sadness. She forced a calm expression on her face as she called out, "Neelix? I missed dinner, and I was wondering if there was anything left."
Neelix popped around the corner and smiled. "Of course, B'Elanna. I have some leola-root casserole left, if you want it," he answered hesitantly.
"Only if it has all of this," she said as she handed him the padd. "The Doctor has me on a diet to make me less fatigued," she told him.
"Is that where you were?" Neelix asked. He frowned at the list and began to rummage through his stores.
"Yes. I've been working so hard, and I haven't been sleeping well lately. So I went to the Doctor to see if there was anything I could take to help," she said half-truthfully.
"Smart of you. Some people just can't realize their limits. I'm surprised the Doctor hasn't ordered Tom to stick to a similar diet. He looks as worn as you say you feel," Neelix commented as he began to add certain vegetables to the casserole.
"What Tom decides to do is his own business," B'Elanna said stiffly.
Neelix handed her the tray, and a cup of some kind of fruit juice. He looked at her with unusually serious eyes. "Something has happened between you and Tom, hasn't it?" he asked.
B'Elanna nodded slowly. "Yes. We aren't going to be dating anymore," she said. She took her meal to the nearest table and sat down. Neelix took the seat across from her.
"Is there anything I can do?" he asked.
"No, Neelix. Please don't try. I've had to ask Harry and Chakotay not to, too. I just want to go on with my life," B'Elanna told him.
Neelix sighed. "All right. I'm always here for you, though. If you need a shoulder, you know where to find me," he offered. After a moment of silence as he watched her eat, he said, "I know what it feels like to have a relationship of such love end."
B'Elanna looked at him and smiled sadly. "I know," she said. "Thank you."
They sat there in companionable silence as B'Elanna finished her meal. Just as she was leaving, she turned back and gave him a quick hug. Embarrassed, she left quickly.
That night, she had only a few things to say to her log.
"I feel more at peace tonight than I have since Tom and I broke up. To- morrow I'll find out how my baby is doing. I have three--no, four friends that have already shown me their support, which is a greater comfort than they realize. I'm almost--happy," she said. After a moment of silence, she said softly, "End log."
Well, that wasn't everything I thought it would be, in some ways. In some ways, it was better. Tell me what you thought. I'd love to know.