AUTHOR: Chata Saladbar
PART: 1/1

SUMMARY: Set right before Extreme Risk. Tom and B'Elanna's
separate thoughts as she descends into depression.
DISCLAIMER: Paramount owns all, including Star Trek and these
characters. I own nothing except for the story dribble. No
infringement is intended.
DISTRIBUTION: This story may be archived in the ASC archives.
Permission to be archived elsewhere must be obtained from the
author. Please do not copy, distribute or reprint this story
without the author's ( permission (which
I most likely will give, but please ask).



To everyone on the outside my life finally appears in
balance. My career is challenging. I've worked hard to
overcome my chaotic past. I have learned to control my
temper. I have love from the most handsome man on the ship.
I am respected.

But it is all a lie. I've just learned to look into their
eyes and lie. Under the discernible contentedness hides
a heart that no longer beats, lungs that have forgotten how
to breathe.

I often wonder if I am still alive.

I have tried to go about my duties and relationships and not
acknowledge my deception. But once, just once, I stopped to
study my true self. I curiously looked at my blurred reflection
in the mirror. It was hard for me recognize the image: my
face was bloodless, my expression was ashen and corpse-like.
I looked like a frightened statue. I tried to touch it, touch me,
to see if I was real. I felt nothing but cold air.

That reflection is a fatal disease and I haven't looked at
it since. I avoid it now as I prepare to go to work. But its
lifeless manifestation of me always follows me like a ghost.

Do not think of the face in the mirror. I will not go morbid.
I will work, attend briefings, be brilliant. I chant this
quietly while I rock and cradle myself as my mother never did.


She is a harrowed soul within a beautiful body. Her eyes,
B'Elanna's eyes, contain an intensity so pure that you can
never look at them long without being lost to her. Though
sometimes, some nights, she had a way lowering those eyes, a
gesture that looked both vulnerable and controlled. There was
something else too, a deep wordless sorrow. I was a Fool, an
Idiot! I saw that she was drowning, but I could not look at
her or talk to her in true and relevant terms. I thought my
kisses would anchor her to me, that my desire would cradle her
in safety.

But that one day my mind was jagged with frustration and the
sudden impatient desire in me wanted all the problems solved
at once. That day I looked into her brown eyes and she recoiled
from me one too many times. I know now she had been warning me
of something--she had looked up from her work to warn me that
something was wrong. Her mouth was slightly open, a perfect
crimson "O", as if she just drawn a breath in order to utter
something to me. She stood so haggard but so marvelously
elegant. I hated loving her. I told her so. My heart lurched so
violently that I could barely walk as I tried to go outside
beyond the range of her. But once outside her rejection filled
the corridors and regret lumped heavy in my throat like a boulder.

It seems like forever since I've heard your laughter, forever
since you have called out my name.


That one day his oceanic eyes were puzzled as he tried to place
me. It was though I were a stranger to him. His light eyes dark
with disappointment, so wretched in their pleading. He pressed his
lips tightly together, trying to make them not tremble, or trying
not to curse me. I wanted to tell him how beautiful he was but my
soul sank under the weight of the terrible sorrow I bring to him.
My actions had already stained us. Something kept me still,
immovable, as lifeless as stone. Then automatic doors opened
their jaws and he was gone. The walls were cold again. I made
no sigh of sound, and only felt the familiarity of my solitude.

I am used to fighting with him, if that implies screaming and
yelling with erratic gestures and throwing things. That is so
much easier than talking, really talking, and telling him the
truth. This was not a fight. I had no energy left to fight.

I have already let Tom enter where I am deepest and most unknown.
His reassuring presence exuded an amazing power of desire over me.
It was enough, for a while. His lifting smile and soft angelic
blue eyes. That off-centered quirky grin. Even if he didn't touch
me I could feel his warmth on my body, a sensation that I thought
could heal me. But our coupling had made me temporarily into
which I know I am not. There are many days I don't need to be
reminded of that knowledge. Realization makes the heat from when
are bodies are two, then one, leave me. The vestiges of what
appeared so alive and indestructible were squashed by the presence
of my ghost.

The truth? The truth that I am not Human, and I am not Klingon.
In nature I shouldn't exist thus my existence has little meaning.
I can see no reason for my life, no clarity, purpose, or path.
I only know a blind journey guided by chance and detours into
crooked confusing mazes caused by events beyond my control. I
plod through this stupid little existence making no one happy,
first my dad and my mother, and now Tom, the Captain, my dead
comrades. In another life, not unlike this one, we would all
be sworn enemies. The captain, with her prim sense of order and
Tom with his athletic good looks and family connections no doubt
would have snubbed me in school had we been together. Life, with
all its surprises and perversities threw us all in front of each

Except for Chakotay, we would have been friends in any lifetime.
I have loved him for years in not always so wholesome ways.
He has loved, protected and championed me as if I were his kin.
I often imagined myself in his dark arms, but now I just want
his voice, his reason, his familiarity. But why doesn't he see
that I am insane? I have always imagined myself insane, but I
thought I would go out with shrieks and screams. Perhaps that
is what he is looking for. Instead I am leaving with numbness and
flat hopelessness.

Any feeling, anything, even the emotion of utter sorrow I would


I see her now walking past me now. I try not to look at the
glide of her hips beneath the black and gold fabric.
She walks like a warrior, without a sound, and holds her
body in grace and strength. I glance at her slim, regal
form with a desperate longing, trying to resist the urge
to pull her close and place a kiss on the soft corrugation of
her forehead. It would be so easy to forget all restraint
and hurl my love at her, entire body and heart. If only
that illusive dark butterfly would let me. How impenetrable
she can be, how infuriatingly well behaved she has become.

As my penance for not being able to save her I tell myself
will not once think of her as I work. But I can not stop
thinking about those eyes dark as a warm night, full of
unpredictable intensity, the cup in my palm from the curve
of her soft breast. I can not stop thinking of the insane
tenderness of her sweet honey flesh, a glowing saffron in
my bed and how her lean tawny legs crossed on my sheets.
I can still breathe the faint smell of her wild honeysuckle
hair floating around me like incense.

B'Elanna, the vehemence of my love and desire to keep you
with me are far more powerful than my pained resignation.
I will not give up on you, I will not allow you to push
this astonishing discovery of love away.

I lock eyes with her as she passes by again. Despite her
emptiness those eyes are the same, those ebony pearls, still
rebellious, still ready to fight. And I have hope.