Title: B'Elanna's Blues
Disclaimer: I'm only playing with them--I'll give 'em back, scouts honor.
Summary: I'm on a P/T kick lately. She is Klingon, let's hear her roar…
Love does not begin and end the way we think it does. Love is a battle; love is a war; love is growing up----James Baldwin
"What did I say that was so terrible?"
"You know exactly what you said!"
"B'Elanna, I'm sorry---
"Tell it to your TV set, you pig!"
Pigs seemed to be the recurring theme of the evening, B'Elanna thought furiously as she stormed through the corridors. Doors slammed all along the hallway, indicating her crewmates had either been listening or raised in barns. They were used to a different kind of commotion from the quarters she shared with Tom.
B'Elanna really preferred the other.
B'Elanna was vaguely shocked at herself for calling Tom a terrible name, but the voice of disappointment rang out over that of self-recrimination, rapidly escalating into a full Klingon roar. How dare he push her so far, bringing out her hated aggressive side? She was like the scorpion of Chakotay's parable, attacking because it was in her nature, and Tom shouldn't have provoked her. There they were, blissfully curled together on the sofa, the television playing softly, when Tom had said the Awful Thing.
Still, name-calling was behavior unworthy of a small be'Hom, and she was a married woman. Charging toward the holodeck, B'Elanna snorted in derision. She'd never had any honor, and why should that change? There were some miracles that great magician, love, couldn't pull from his magic top hat.
B'Elanna crept into the dimly lit cave recalling, with some trepidation, her last visit here. She was fairly sure Tom wouldn't look for her in this place, at least for a little while. He'd search Engineering, thinking she was taking solace in her engines. There, in the glow of the warp core, she wasn't Klingon or human, a wife or a friend, merely an engineer. So often she'd fled there, where the ghosts couldn't follow, and buried herself in work…but not this time. She was changing, and it frightened her.
In the shadows, B'Elanna glimpsed the huge Klingon she'd punched on that long ago Day of Honor. He gave B'Elanna a wide berth and didn't offer any Targ. She remembered looking up into the Klingon's feral face and cursing Tom Paris for caring too much. She was out of her element in both situations, unsure whether she should embrace her heritage or reject it, striving to push Tom away yet longing to yank him closer. And now she was returning, still without an empire. She sank to the floor, wrapping her arms around her knees. The silence was complete, but for her own soft breathing and occasional grunts from the guy in the corner.
B'Elanna's life was filled with noise...Engineering hummed with activity, Tom chattered incessantly; those sounds were the music of her adulthood, as comforting as the lullabies her mother had hummed in those early, innocent years.
B'Elanna wondered if her mother was still alive.
She almost smiled, but not quite. Her mother's hardy Klingon constitution might just fail when B'Elanna presented her husband, who was as unconventional as he was charming. If she was dead, gone to the Sto-vo-kor she had such faith in, then B'Elanna regretted the manner of their parting. The separation was inevitable--it was the way of mothers and daughters--but the anger and rejection surrounding the break haunted B'Elanna. That eternal attachment was broken by her own hand; she'd likely never get to make amends, or tell Prabsa the story she'd be telling all her life--the tale of an engineer and a pilot and the love that bound them, like a strong rope.
Her devastating anger was flickering like the candlelight, leaving B'Elanna weak with shame. Why did she turn mere spats into a verbal tsunkatse match? Was that why her father had gone, leaving a ragged tear in the fabric of her life? That ripped place remained open, exposing her soul to the cold wind of insecurity. She didn't really remember the man; he'd arrived in her life at the earliest hour and left before noon. He was there, in the crowd of ghosts that waited outside engineering and followed B'Elanna down all her roads. Those angry spirits had been quieter in these last, happy years, the Tom years. Still, they rose up to torment her on nights like this, whispering that she'd failed her mother, failed the Maquis, and was destined to fail Tom, because history often repeated itself. Her strength, and her moods, would surely drive him away, perhaps to another. Was she beating him to the punch, opening the door for his inevitable retreat? Her own words came flooding back, and Tom's.
That's what I do--push people away.
It's a sure-fire way of not getting hurt.
A shadow fell across her. Expecting the Klingon, she tensed. If he came near her with a painstick, she'd return it rectaly. To her surprise, Tom stood there, the dim light flickering in his golden hair. Her eyes traveled up the familiar frame and came to rest on his face. Tom was very tall; he towered over her like a great tree, not an Oak or a Redwood; they were too serious. Perhaps a Maple, which was strong and flamboyantly colored in it's season.
So much for searching Engineering.
"You know me too well." Her voice echoed in the silence.
Tom dropped to the floor, mirroring her position and placing his hands on her knees. B'Elanna distractedly noted how perfectly they fit. She felt the warmth of his skin through her clothes, accompanied by the slight tingle that always came with his touch. She wondered if that little shock would fade with time. God, she hoped not.
"Everyone on our deck seemed to know which way you went. So did the entire mess hall." Tom grinned crookedly.
"I think we've been adopted." B'Elanna returned his smile.
Tom took a deep breath. "I'm sorry I compared you to Miss Piggy."
It seemed almost funny now. She'd been running her fingers sensuously across the back of Tom's neck, when he'd casually pointed out the similarities in personality. The Muppet Show was playing on Tom's beloved set, and B'Elanna had looked up sharply just in time to see Piggy rear back and send Kermit sailing into the stage curtain. Oblivious, Tom had blundered on with his comparisons, babbling about Neelix and the Swedish Chef.
B'Elanna gathered her courage. "I overreacted. It just hit a little close to home. I love you, Tom, but I'm half-Klingon."
B'Elanna drummed her fingers on the stone floor, debating whether to tell the whole truth. If the curly-haired fellow were willing to pass the Grail, she'd take that drink now.
"Sometimes…sometimes…" B'Elanna leaned forward intently. "I'm afraid I'll break you." She finally finished in a rush.
To her relief, Tom didn't laugh.
"B'Elanna, Piggy doesn't really hurt Kermit. She just kind of manhandles him. He's sturdier than he looks, and so am I." A grin finally whispered across his fine lips. "Besides, she's a great lady, versed in languages, very refined..."
B'Elanna burst out laughing. "Tom, she knows one word in French."
Piggy definitely wasn't refined, nor was B'Elanna. She wasn't soft spoken, like Kes had been. The Captain had a dignified elegance. B'Elanna did not. She was a different kind of woman, whether she wished to be or not, a survivor from her earliest years, fighting with knees and elbows instead of words and feminine logic.
Tom seemed to be reading her thoughts. Nothing new there. He leaned forward and pressed his lips against her forehead, a quiet blessing. He wasn't telling B'Elanna to love the part of herself that she detested--only she could make that voyage. That kiss was a covenant, speaking of his love for her--all of her--from those Klingon ridges to the very fiber of her being. It was food for the soul.
B'Elanna quietly reached for him, wrapping her arms around him tight, then tighter. If I break Tom, the Doctor can fix him. Softly, his lips met hers. He tasted like the coffee they'd been drinking before both Kermit and the peace of the evening went flying.
Loud grunts from the corner drew their attention. The holo-warrior appeared to be stirring from his lethargy. Annoyed, B'Elanna flipped him the bird.
"B'Elanna, Where'd you learn that?" Tom grabbed the offending finger, engulfing her smaller one in his. He cast a nervous glance at the large man stalking toward them.
B'Elanna favored him with a withering glance. "You're not the only one who watches TV."
Tom stood and reached down to pull B'Elanna to her feet. She went willingly. It wasn't really necessary--she could get up herself--but that wasn't the point, was it?
"Qu'pla! What warrior goes there?" The hulking giant glared down at Tom, who swallowed hard.
The Klingon grunted again. "Kahless defeated his enemies and built a mighty empire. How have you proved yourself worthy, Tom Paris?"
B'Elanna looked over at Tom. She could see the wheels turning. Nothing new there.
Tom began edging around the Klingon, drawing B'Elanna with him. "I underwent the Kohlinar discipline and wandered in the desert for forty days with just a ceremonial dagger."
B'Elanna shook her head in amazement. If Tom were ever in the deserts of Vulcan, he'd be lounging in a sand chair with a couple cases of beer, not stumbling through the dry winds in search of enlightenment.
The grungy man looked impressed, then let out a bellowing roar as Tom and B'Elanna darted around him. B'Elanna heard him cursing in Klingon as they exited the holodeck.
B'Elanna turned to Tom. "Is anything ever easy for us?"
Tom shook his head and steered her down the hall. "Nah…if it was easy it wouldn't be us."
B'Elanna dropped her head to his shoulder as they walked.
Tom let his head fall against hers. "I'm sure the story will get full coverage on A Briefing with Neelix. Just don't tell him I'd prefer a Muppet's cooking to his."
They rounded the corner.
Tom piped up. "You know...Harry's a little like Scooter."
"Seven, with a personality, could be Janice…"
"The Captain, during a coffee shortage, would make a fine Animal…"
Being loved deeply by someone gives you strength; loving someone deeply gives you courage--Lao Tzu