Rights and Reconciliation: False Assumptions
By A'Lehsen Paris

Written: June 1999

Summary: Finally, a story completely in Tom's POV. This takes place the day after "Deliberations". Tom's day, how he feels/reacts to things now that he can't share them with B'Elanna, how others on the ship are treating him, and a special little scene in Sickbay where he overhears snatches of a conversation that he's sure is important. However, he only heard bits and pieces, and together none of it makes any sense, leaving him miserable and confused. Finally, an entry in Tom's log. (I'm starting to really like the log entry bits.)

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)

Tom Paris rolled over and stretched groggily as the computer insistantly repeated, "The time is 0730." It was time for him to get up, but he had slept so badly that he could barely stand the thought of leaving bed.

A part of his mind which seemed to love annoying him pointed out that if this had been a few weeks ago, there would have been another reason to stay in bed, but not anymore. And whose fault was it, anyway? Wasn't he just as much to blame?

Rather than face these thoughts, Tom sat up and ran a hand through his golden blond hair. He felt like shit, there was no denying that.

It was all B'Elanna's fault. Seeing her two days before in the Mess Hall had really shaken him. She had seemed so oblivious to everyone until Harry had walked over to her. Then she had looked over at him, Tom. There had been something in her eyes...Had it been pain? Maybe. She had turned back and started chewing Harry out. He didn't blame her, of course. He had done the same thing when Harry had approached him just minutes before to talk about it.

What had really caught Tom's attention was the way she looked. It had been the first time since the arguement that he had forced himself to really look at her. She was thinner, pale, with dark circles under her eyes as if she hadn't slept in days. Even more confusing, she had been plowing into her casserole so enthusiasticly that he would have sworn it was chocolate if he hadn't heard her asking Neelix for leola-root. And if she was eating so much, why did she look like she had lost weight?

Those questions had come back to Tom at the briefing yesterday morning. An enstrangement of a couple of weeks couldn't take away years of worrying over someone. He knew that he probably looked just as bad, but she hadn't seemed concerned by that at all.

That was what upset Tom the most. Every time she had turned those big brown eyes toward him, they had been so very cold. It was a new look for her, and one that she knew how to use surprisingly well. Until yesterday, he would have said that Seven was the one who was more likely to turn into the Ice Queen, not B'Elanna. B'Elanna had always been so hot. Not just passion, but anger. She had always seemed like a vulcano, not a glacier.

What he couldn't figure out was if it was just an act or not. He wasn't even sure that he wanted to. Whatever she had said to Harry, he had stopped trying to get them back together, so it must have been something like, "Good ridance to bad rubish."

Tom growled to himself. He hated it when his thoughts turned in that direction. Why couldn't he just give her up? That's what he wanted, wasn't it?

Tired of examining the same thoughts that he had for the past several weeks, Tom got up and began to get ready for the day. He showered and got dressed, then he ordered a cup of coffee from the replicator to help him wake up. He couldn't help but notice that his rations were piling up now that he wasn't replicating something for B'Elanna practically every other day. This didn't make him happy, though. If anything, it made him more depressed.

Finally, he left his quarters and made his way to Sickbay. To his sur- prise, the Doctor greeted him curtly. This was an odd change. The Doctor could be a little grumpy when Sickbay was overcrowded or he had too many pro- jects on his hands, but Tom knew that wasn't the case. So what was going on.

"Ensign Paris, I need you to run some simulations for me. After you are finished, come and see me for more work," the Doctor ordered him. Tom was handed some padds, and he glanced at them as the Doctor went through his office to the lab.

He's probably in the middle of another medical breakthrough, Tom thought wryly. He settled down to work on the first simulation, and time seemed to fly by. Before he knew it, his shift was over.

"Do you need anything else, Doc? The Captain said that I could stay here instead of reporting to the Bridge today if there was anything you couldn't handle. There's not much for a pilot to do in this part of space," he com- mented. The Doctor pulled himself away from whatever he had been working on to frown at Tom.

"If you want to stay, I would appreciate the help. This is taking up most of my time," he said.

"Sure. What is that?" Tom asked, trying to make sense of the information on the screen.

"Nothing that should concern you. It's a simple project I began recently. Now get back to work on those simulations, if you're going to stay."

As Tom went back into the main Sickbay, he wondered a little about the Doctor's evasiveness. It was odd that the Doctor wouldn't take any chance to give him a lecture.

Halfway into that shift, Tom heard the Doctor say, "Doctor to Torres."

Tom listened as her voice carried clearly. "Yes?" She sounded annoyed.

"If you aren't doing anything important, I have the results from your--ahem--project. Could you come down to Sickbay, please?" the Doctor's voice sounded a lot kinder towards B'Elanna than it had towards him.

"Of course, Doctor. I'm on my way."

Was it just his imagination, or had B'Elanna sounded excited? Was the Doctor helping her with an engineering problem? He hadn't been aware that there was one. But, then, he didn't really hear a lot from engineering anymore. The engineers were treating him as if he had some kind of contagious plague, and of course he couldn't ask B'Elanna.

A few minutes later, B'Elanna came into Sickbay. When she saw him sitting there she turned white, then she turned her back on him and called, "Doctor?"

"In here, B'Elanna," he called back from the lab. B'Elanna walked away briskly.

Tom strained to hear the conversation, but he could only make out snatches.

"Well? What...." B'Elanna's voice.

"Look....normal....results show....growth is in the expected range....I am worried about....maybe surgery...."

"Let's....natural....don't want....know....What....it?....or....?"



"....time....shorter than you thought....only four and a half months left....don't worry....can make sure it's painless....want."

"No....do this right....So....tell soon....they'll know."

"Yes....showing soon....suspect....rest and less work. If....then I'll see the Captain about...."

"Fine....in a few days....keep....promise?"

"Of course....confidentiality....when you....to know, you can tell...."

"I wish....know. I don't....to. I....deal with....and that...."

"....deserves to...."

"Maybe....not so sure....just don't let....find anything, all right?"

"Yes. You should go get something to eat now," the Doctor said as they came into his office.

"I will. I'm starting to really enjoy leola-root now!" B'Elanna said with a laugh. She smiled tiredly at the Doctor. "Thanks, Doc."

"You're welcome. Be careful," the Doctor said. B'Elanna nodded and left, not even bothering to glance at Tom.

Tom was very confused. What was going on with B'Elanna? That had sounded personal. Was she sick? Was that why she looked the way she did, why she wasn't gaining any weight?

The Doctor glanced at him and frowned. Tom pretended to turn his atten- tion back to the simulation he was working on. He kept replaying the parts of the conversation he had overheard, and they refused to make any sense. Why did she have four and a half months left? Left to do what?

Then, a sudden thought almost made him drop the tube in his hand. Could B'Elanna be dying? That possibility made his knees go weak. Even though he was still angry with her, he couldn't stand the thought of her dying. And if it was a slow death, from some kind of disease....The Doctor had said something about surgery. Tom hoped that B'Elanna was considering it. He wasn't ready to forgive her, but he knew that he wasn't ready to loose her completely. Not yet.

Tom finished that shift in a daze. He noticed the Doctor giving him a strange look, but he could barely pay attention. His mind was focused on his worries about B'Elanna.

Tom decided to go straight to his quarters. He didn't have much of an appetite that night. Once he was there, he sat down in a chair and stared out at the passing stars. What had he done?

"Computer, begin personal log," he said on an impulse. "I don't know if I'm right, but I heard a conversation in Sickbay that makes me think that B'Elanna may be seriously ill. It seems so crazy to think about it. I never would have thought that *she* might be the first of us to really die," he said.

"I can't help but wonder if I made a mistake, breaking it off so suddenly. Maybe I should have tried to work things out." He remembered the hard words B'Elanna had flung after him that night, the night that seemed to have been years instead of weeks ago. "Am I really like my father?" He shuddered. "Damn, I never wanted to end up like the Old Man, but I think I am. I've been feeling so distant towards everyone for months. I've been hard on everyone, unforgiving..."

"Hell, I am getting to be more like him. I hate it! I just want to be me. That's all I've ever wanted. I want to be with B'Elanna, too. I should never have blown up like that," he admitted to himself.

He thought about that for a few minutes, brooding silently. "Hell, now that I realize what an ass I've been, it's probably too late. She's never going to forgive me. I should have just accepted her apology from the first instead of putting us both through this. Damn, I've probably ruined it all!"

This managed to make him more miserable than he had been these last few weeks. He had been so stupid....

Something snapped inside him. Maybe it was pride, maybe it was the common sense he had seemed to lack finally making itself known. Whatever it was, it made him see that he had two choices. Back down without saying a word, or fight for what he wanted.

In the end, it was such a simple choice. "I'll get her back. I'll get her back if it's the last thing I do. I'll help her get through this, and I'll stay with her. I need her," he said. Somehow, it made him feel so much freer to say that.

"Now, I just have to convince her that I'll stick around this time," he added to himself. That might be hard, but he was willing to try until he won her back. No matter how long it took.

With that resolved, he decided that he really could use some dinner after all, and he left his quarters and headed for the Mess Hall.


Well, I liked that one, too. What did you think?