By A'Lehsen Paris
Summary: A coda to Equinox II. I think that it would've been really nice if they had give us a little bit of follow up with the jealousy situation, so I'm gonna do it for them, just as a favor. This is definitely a PWP, but that's okay. Lots of P/T love, very little substance, but I still intend for it to be a good read. Also, my former story, "Dinner", also an Equinox-inspired story, has no bearing in this story. Sorry for anyone who liked "Dinner", but I'm going to get to those jealousy issues from a different angle this time.
Disclaimer: All belongs to Paramount/Viacom except this story. It's mine. AAAAALLLLL MMMMMIIIIINNNNNNEEEEE!!!!! Ahem, sorry. I will not be receiving anything but praise for this--and I hope I get lots of that!!!! lol So, knowing that this is completely legal, feel free to enjoy.
Rated: PG (adult-ish situations)
You knew this part was coming. I can't seem to escape it. For those of you who've read alot of my stories, you might ask, "How does this girl do it?" By "it", I mean manage to inspire me and get a dedication in my stories so often. Well, here it is anyway.
Kat, this is for you. All the bad days in the world can't stand up to this story, so look on the bright side!
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The dim emergency lights overhead cast an eery glow on the bridge. Tom Paris felt the adreneline still pumping through his blood, filling him with energy he no longer needed. It would fade soon, he knew, to be replaced by extreme fatigue as the result of lack of sleep.
A hand descended to his shoulder, strong and supporting. It had been so long since the Captain had touched his shoulder like that, in a friendly way, that he jumped in surprise.
Tom glanced back into compassionate blue-grey eyes as his fingers flew over the flickering console, trying to get a proper damage report.
"Tom, why don't you go help the Doctor? We've got other pilots, but the doctor probably needs more help than he can get right now," Janeway said.
Tom turned his head to survey the bridge damage. It really wasn't that bad, he thought. Maybe he should go to Sickbay....and the twinge in his left arm when he moved it wasn't a consideration, of course.
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Tom got away from Sickbay after only half an hour, when all was said and done. The Doctor had repaired the torn muscle in his arm after the few serious injuries of their fellow crewmembers had been treated. The Doctor had then said that he could handle things from there, and he had ordered Tom to his quarters for some much needed rest.
The exauhstion he had expected earlier had come on full force. All he wanted was to sleep for the next five days.
Tom keyed in his code and the door swished open. To his surprise, B'Elanna was waiting for him. She had stripped down to her uniform tank top and black pants, and she had obviously showered, although, from the dark rings beneath her eyes, she hadn't bothered to get any rest yet herself.
"B'Elanna, what are you doing here? You should be in bed," he said, rushing over to where she had draped herself over a chair.
Weary, dark chocolate eyes smiled up at him. "I couldn't get to sleep, Tom. I need to be with someone right now," B'Elanna admitted.
Feeling more than slightly alarmed over her words, Tom picked her up and carried her into the bedroom. He laid her on the bed, quickly took of his own uniform jacket and turtleneck, and settled down beside her. He gathered her into his arms and, inhaling the fresh scent of her hair, he said, "Tell me about it, sweetheart."
By now, it was a tradition with them. Tom knew exactly what had happened, and the love and support she needed as a result, but he waited, as patiently as ever, for her to tell him herself.
B'Elanna snuggled closer to him, as if seeking to reassure herself that he was alive and whole.
"It was an accident, during the few hits they managed to get in. Ensign Catten was trying to reconfigure the shields compensating for the Equinox's apparent ability to get by them, and the console she was standing in front of just....burst into flames. There was absolutely no warning," she whispered.
Tom could feel the few tears, her one consession to the pain, falling hotly against his neck. He ran a hand up and down her back soothingly. "Go on," he encouraged.
B'Elanna pressed her face into his shoulder for a few moments, as if gathering strength from him. "She didn't die at first. She was screaming, and we couldn't do anything to help her; there was so much going on, and we had to figure out how to counter the Equinox, and...." she stopped, but only for a second. "I failed her. I'm her superior officer. I should have been more concerned about her, should have sent her to sickbay right away instead of waiting until it was too late."
Tom felt the tears prick his own eyes as he thought of the pain she must be going through. "B'Elanna, that might have gotten her killed even faster," he told her softly. When she looked up at him in confusion, he told her about how the Equinox's EMH had taken the place of Voyager's, and how he had been helping his crew to destroy Voyager. "So, see, there was nothing you can do. And I have to tell you, if her burns were so severe that she died within minutes, then should wouldn't have had much of a chance for survival," he said with an air of conviction.
B'Elanna let this new information sink in, and after a short time she reluctantly pulled away from him a little, not needing the comfort of his arms anymore.
"Are you going to be okay?" he asked.
B'Elanna nodded, but Tom could tell that there was something else bothering her. He waited, knowing that she wouldn't be able to keep it locked inside for very much longer.
Finally, B'Elanna brought her large dark eyes up to meet his light blue ones. Tom could read the anger, regret, and bitterness there, and he wondered where they had come from.
"How could I have been so wrong about him, Tom? I thought I was a good judge of character. Well, maybe not years ago, it's true, but he hadn't seemed to change that much. What was it that drew him away from what's right?" she asked, the torment plain to see on her face.
Tom felt his heart tighten. Finally, they would talk about him, Max Burke, who had been B'Elanna's boyfriend and, most likely, her lover during their time at the Academy. However, he resolved that he wouldn't let his personal feeling get in the way of helping B'Elanna.
"It was all him, B'Elanna. You couldn't have changed him, not when you--knew--him at the Academy, or these last few days. He chose his course a long time ago, and there's nothing that can be done about it now. Don't torture yourself over it," he said as calmly as he could.
B'Elanna looked at him speculatively, her own worries apparently forgotten. Tom was sure that none of his feeling showed on his face, but perhaps there was a look in his eyes that allowed his lover to determine them.
"You're still jealous, aren't you, Tom? Why? I don't love him. I never did. We had sex, yes. Is that what you wanted to hear? We had sex, and it was good, by some standards, I suppose. But it was never anything like what you and I have," she told him firmly, bringing her face up close to his. The anger in her eyes had intensified, but there was another emotion there, a fierce love that Tom recognized with joy.
Her next words cut him to the quick. "Tom, I love you like I've never loved anyone in my entire life. You are my life, and I don't know what I'd do without you. I wish that you could believe that, and that you could come to feel even half of what I do."
With that, she tried to slip off the bed, but he sat up and caught her wrist, pulling her back into his arms. She turned back to him, and this time he could see the vulnerability there, too, hidden from almost anyone...except him.
"B'Elanna, I know I've never really come out and said how I feel about you. It's so hard to express myself, and at times I feel awful about not saying that---that I love you more than life itself. You're my life, too, B'Elanna. You're the reason I'm still here on Voyager. If it hadn't been for you I'd probably have been gone a long time ago. You have my heart, B'Elanna, and since I can't leave that behind, the thought of leaving you behind is as inconceivable to me," Tom said, using words he had never thought himself capable of. Was that husky, tender voice really his? Was he really telling this woman, the love of his life, how much she meant to him? Or was this just another dream?
The slowly dawning joy in B'Elanna's eyes almost did the trick, and her arms tightening around his waist and her lips pressing against his sealed his conviction. She was finally his, more than she had every been, and all because of one simple confession.
After what seemed like an eternity, the kiss ended. Tom smiled down at her. "I really don't mind about Burke anymore, 'Lanna. I know that he never had your heart, and that's what matters most," he said earnestly.
B'Elanna accepted it without question. Tom rejoiced in this new trust in each other they had found. It was an amazing feeling, akin to walking on water.
"Tom," B'Elanna said softly, her eyes straying to his lips. "I really don't think we need to talk anymore, do you?"
Tom grinned with pleasure. "I couldn't have said it better myself."
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Hours later, they laid in each others arms, basking in the glory they had just shared.
"Was it just me, or was it better this time than it has ever been?" Tom asked quietly.
B'Elanna smiled up at him, the contented smile of a cat who just got the cream...and more. "It was better. I don't know how I can love you more, Tom, but I do," she confessed.
He returned the smile. "I love you more than I could ever have imagined loving anybody, but after tonight, I think I can say that you also---complete me. We're two halves of a whole, B'Elanna."
And they left it at that. After all, what more needed to said, when there was so many other ways to express their love?
Feedback, please. Did you love it? Hate it? Think it was just too sentimental? Email me with any comments. I'd appreciate hearing from you.