Whew! Here‘s part 5! Okay, I think that this series will have eight parts, this being number 5! However, this could change if I get a brilliant idea for a new segment, <grin so I‘ll keep you posted. (No pun intended for all you ASCers.)

Love Is Blind: An Eye For An Eye
by JoAnna Walsvik
Part 5/8?

"So, Doc, how does it look?" Tom Paris asked brightly, hopping off the biobed.

"Very good, Mr. Paris," the doctor said, studying a PADD. "In fact, I believe that will be the last of your treatments. I‘d like to schedule the operation for three days from now."

Tom froze, turning towards the doctor‘s voice. "You mean—I‘m going to get my sight back?"

"If all goes well, yes. I won‘t deceive you, Mr. Paris. There is a possibility you will only regain a portion of your eyesight, and an even smaller possibility that you won‘t get it back at all. However, that probability is almost zero. The prospects look very good."
"In three days," Tom repeated.

"That‘s correct. Come to sickbay at 0700 and we‘ll get started. You may go now."
Tom walked out the sickbay doors in a daze.

The news was a shock to him. It had been nine months since the accident that took away his eyesight, and ever since then, week after week, he had gone to sickbay and patiently waited while the doctor worked on his eyes. The doctor had never been sure just how many treatments he would need. And in the meantime, he had become accustomed to the eternal darkness day in and day out. He could now make his way around the ship with no assistance whatsoever. He knew Voyager inside and out, just by the feel of her. His blindness had become almost...normal.

And, in a way, he was going to miss being blind. There had been some advantages—his hearing had enhanced to the point that it was almost as good as Tuvok‘s. His sense of touch had also been vastly improved—he could now recognize any object just by it‘s feeling. But in three days, he‘d be able to see.

Tom felt like leaping into the air and clicking his heels together.

Finally, after so long! He‘d be able to see the red of his uniform, he‘d be able to see his pilot‘s console on the bridge, he‘d be able to see B‘Elanna‘s beautiful face again.

"B‘Elanna," he breathed, skidding to a stop and turning around. She had to be the first one he told this fabulous news to. Let‘s see, if he remembered correctly, she was in the Cargo Bay, supervising the storage of some new supplies they had picked up a few days earlier.

He could clearly remember the night only a few weeks ago, when he had confessed—though the help of a story—his love for her. Afterwards, he had berated himself for coming on so strongly. What if she didn‘t share his feelings? What if she wanted to be just friends? What if, what if, what if...

But the next morning, B‘Elanna had arrived at his quarters and, in response to his hesitant question, kissed him. And the rest, as Harry had said that same fateful night three weeks ago, was history.

He and B‘Elanna were now steadily dating, and their favorite place to go was still the holodeck and the North Dakota Badlands program. When the two where there, they talked about anything and everything, but mostly about each other. Some of the facts they learned were little things—

Tom discovered that B‘Elanna‘s favorite color was mauve, and she found out that he favored blue. His favorite meal was hot, plain tomato soup, while B‘Elanna loved to eat chocolate ice cream.
Some of the discoveries about each other were rather surprising—
Tom learned that B‘Elanna could speak fluent Klingon and was skilled at using a bat‘leth, and B‘Elanna found out that Tom adored children and wanted a few of his own someday. B‘Elanna didn‘t know yet that Tom had hopes that she would eventually help him with that plan.
"B‘Elanna!" Tom shouted, dashing into the Cargo Bay.

"Tom? What is it?" B‘Elanna asked, approaching him with worry etched into her voice. He didn‘t usually come visit her while she was on duty, and certainly not while she was in the Cargo Bay. It could be a dangerous place for someone who couldn‘t see.

Tom swept her up into an enthusiastic hug. "The doctor says he‘s going to operate on my eyes in three days! I‘m going to see again!"

"Oh, Tom, that‘s wonderful!" B‘Elanna exclaimed. "I‘m so happy for you!"

"I knew you would be. That‘s why I had to come down and tell you myself," Tom beamed. "Can you believe it? It seems like I‘ve been blind forever!"

"Not quite that long," B‘Elanna said wryly. "I‘m sorry to rush off, but I have to finish supervising the loading of these containers. We‘ve had to add another shelf, we have so many." The relief in her voice was unmistakable. After all, most of the receptacles were filled with spare engineering parts, something they were in need of. She made a mental note to personally thank the captain for her skillful negotiating.

"Won‘t they be too heavy?" Tom asked. "These things weigh more then 400 kilograms, don‘t they?"

"Some of them do. But the supports are strong enough," B‘Elanna assured him. "Look, I‘ll see you tonight for dinner, okay?"

"Okay," he said, placing a quick kiss on her cheek. "See you tonight."

B‘Elanna walked off, and for a moment Tom just stood there, savoring the sounds of the working crewmembers. He had sorely missed his job, and would be very grateful to get back to the thing he loved doing best—piloting. Even though he was sure he could pilot blind—he had done it several times on the holodeck—Starfleet had rules about blind pilots.

And Captain Janeway chose to adhere to those rules.

From where he stood, he could clearly hear B‘Elanna as she issued orders, just a few meters away. Suddenly, another sound grabbed his attention—it came from directly above B‘Elanna‘s voice. A faint cracking sound—the sound of...

"Oh, my God," Tom breathed. For a terrible instant, he realized what was happening. One of the containers—the container directly above B‘Elanna—was about to fall.

He didn‘t even hesitate. As fast as he could, he charged across the Cargo Bay and slammed his body into B‘Elanna‘s. The two of them tumbled to the floor a split second before a horrible crash echoed throughout the Cargo Bay.

As Tom had realized, one of the supports on the shelves had malfunctioned, causing the top shelf to tip slightly and one of the containers to slide off. The massive, weighty container had smashed to the floor, luckily not spilling it‘s contents.

For a minute after the impact, there was dead silence in the Cargo Bay. Everyone was staring in horror at the spot the chief engineer would have occupied if Tom had not acted as quickly as he had. Everybody knew that B‘Elanna would have most certainly been killed by the blow.

As for the chief engineer, she was crumpled on the floor in stunned disbelief, Tom lying right beside her, breathing heavily. That had been a very close call—too close.

"Are you okay?" Tom asked her, pulling himself into a sitting position and groping for her hand.

"Fine," she said faintly, her face completely white. If she had remained standing there—if Tom had not shoved her out of the way in time...

Suddenly, they were surrounded by the concerned crewmembers who had witnessed the near-fatal accident.

"Lieutenant, are you all right?" Josh Carey asked worriedly, helping her to stand up.

"I—I think so," B‘Elanna said shakily, glancing over at Tom. Lieutenant Nicoletti was helping him to his feet, and he seemed just as shaken up as she was. "Thanks to Tom."

"Lieutenant Paris, how in the world did you know that container was about to fall?" Sue Nicoletti asked him in amazement.

"I heard it," Tom replied quietly. "I heard it start to fall—and I knew B‘Elanna was in danger."
"Do either of you need to go to sickbay?" Carey questioned.

"I‘m fine," Tom shrugged.

B‘Elanna, however, wasn‘t as sure. "Actually, I‘m feeling a little dizzy," she admitted. "I think I hit my head against the floor when Tom smashed into me."
"Sorry," Tom said guiltily.

B‘Elanna waved him off. "I‘d rather have a small bump on the head then—than an injury more serious."

"I‘ll take you to Sickbay," he announced. "The others can finish loading the rest of the containers."

Neither Carey nor the other crew argued with him. They knew that he could make it to sickbay with his hands tied behind his back.

B‘Elanna didn‘t argue either. "Good idea. Carey, I‘m leaving you in charge until I get back."
"Yes, Lieutenant."

Tom and B‘Elanna left the Cargo Bay, she leaning heavily on his arm. The world was beginning to spin slightly, and a rolling, nauseous feeling was starting to build in her stomach.

"Well, what do we have here?" the doctor asked upon their arrival in Sickbay.

Quickly, Tom explained the accident while settling B‘Elanna on a biobed. When the doctor heard the story, his face became grave. He scanned B‘Elanna with his tricorder and his features melted into relief. "You‘re a very lucky woman, Lieutenant. Only a slight concussion. There is no doubt that if Lieutenant Paris had not acted as quickly as he did, you would have been killed."

"I owe you one, Paris," B‘Elanna smiled as the doctor injected her with a hypospray.

"It seems to me that the debt was repaid long ago," the doctor remarked before Tom could answer. "You did, after all, save his eyes."
Tom blinked in surprise. "What?"

"After the lizard you came into contact with sprayed you with it‘s venom, Lieutenant Torres very ingeniously washed most of the poison off by plunging your face into a nearby stream. Had she not done that, the venom would have most undoubtedly injured your eyes beyond my capability to repair."
Tom whirled on B‘Elanna. "You never told me that."

Faint embarrassment colored her voice. "You never asked."

"Come on, Torres, why didn‘t you tell me?"

"I didn‘t want you to feel like you had to repay me. Anyway, you just have—many times over." She shuddered. "I‘d hate to think about what would‘ve happened if you hadn‘t—"
"Well, I did," Tom interrupted. He didn‘t like thinking about what would have happened either. The thought was too horrible to even imagine. "And now we‘re even."

Just then, Captain Janeway charged into sickbay. "What happened?" she demanded anxiously. "Carey said there had been an accident."

For the second time, Tom explained what had transpired in the Cargo Bay just ten minutes before. Janeway‘s face paled when she heard of the close call. "Are you sure you‘re all right?" she asked B‘Elanna worriedly.

"Lieutenant Torres will be fine," the doctor answered for her. "It was just a mild concussion. Nothing serious—thanks to Lieutenant Paris, I might add."
Tom grinned modestly. "All in a day‘s work."

Janeway smiled at him, even though she knew he couldn‘t see it.
"It‘s a good thing you were there. I doubt anyone else could have reacted in time."

"I was only there because I—oh, that‘s right. I almost forgot," Paris remembered. "Captain, the doctor‘s going to operate on my eyes in three days."
"He is?" Janeway looked from Tom to the doctor and back again.
"You‘ll regain your eyesight?"

"Some, if not all," the doctor replied. "The prospects are very promising."

"That‘s excellent news, Tom," Janeway said warmly. "I‘ll be glad to get my pilot back."
"I‘ll be glad to be back," he agreed.

"That makes three of us," B‘Elanna murmured. "Can I go now, doctor?"

"Yes, you can. But take it easy for the next day or so," the hologram told her.

"Why don‘t you take the rest of the day off," Janeway said kindly.

"I‘m sure Lieutenant Carey can handle supervising the storage of our new supplies. He needs the experience, anyway."

"All right," B‘Elanna said, surprised but pleased at the captain‘s generous offer. She hadn‘t had a day off in quite a while. "Thank you, Captain."

"You‘re very welcome, B‘Elanna. I hope you and Tom have fun," Janeway said, glancing at the pilot with a mirthful expression. She strode out of sickbay before either her engineer or her pilot could say a word.
B‘Elanna looked over at Tom. "Holodeck?"

"Sure. North Dakota?"

"Of course."

"Let‘s go."

Go to Part Six: Love Is Blind: Eye Of The Storm

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Legal crapola: Paramount ------ god. Star Trek: Voyager ------ owned by Paramount.

Copyright 1997 by JoAnna Walsvik; all rights reserved and most of the lefts, too. Archive, distribute, etc.; but keep my name and the disclaimer attached.