Gee, I don’t know if I should explain or apologize.How about I do both.
This story is really...well, psycho. It was inspired by the following:
The Voyager episode "Coda", a play I heard at a speech meet a few days ago called "The Face In The Mirror" or something to that effect, the movie "The Wizard Of Oz", the movie "It’s A Wonderful Life", "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens, and a really strange dream I had that is too weird to go into.
If you still want to read this, you have been warned.
I was in a...a rather interesting mood when I wrote this, so if you are to grossly freaked out, I’m sorry. But, hey, if you like it, then you can send comments email@example.com And thanks to Serena for posting for me!!!! Also thanks to Jessica, Lauren, Erin, Claire, Kirsten, and Chris, for reasons kept to myself. ;)
On to the story...
And please, read at your own risk. You have been warned, this is extremely weird.
Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system....
Summary: A story about death and dying. AKA, "It’s A Wonderful Life" Voyager style. This is your last chance to stop reading. You have been warned.
There Will Always Be A Rainbow (Voy, P/T, PG)
by JoAnna Walsvik
White, swirling winds of vacantness. The winds made no sound, but were eerily silent in their wutherings. The scene was permeated with big, fluffy clouds that were utterly fine and delicate, like spun sugar. Yet the clouds were not clouds at all. They were...different. Not clouds, yet they were clouds. And no other color was in sight. No azure blue, no midnight black, no passionate red. Just white, as far as the eye could see.
There was nothing to break the vastness of the bleached landscape. It was like a prairie winter of old, with nothing to focus on, just endless mounds of white.
In this world, there was no temperature, no feeling at all. The winds blew, but they were not cold or warm, nor did they ruffle her hair or try and knock her down. She could not feel them at all, yet...she knew they were there. She had no tricorder, no sensors, nothing but herself. Yet she knew.
Where am I? she thought, gazing around the barren magnitude. Heaven? Or Hell? Or both?
"It is neither heaven nor hell, as you define them." The voice came out of nowhere. She whirled around, startled to find someone other then herself in this colorless, desolate wasteland.
The figure hesitated. "In a manner of speaking. Hello, B’Elanna."
"Where am I? Why are we here? How did we get here?"
He smiled. "So many questions."
"I’d like some answers."
"What answers do you seek?"
"Where am I, for one. How we got here. Or maybe what is this place."
"You are in a land of waiting," he said simply.
"Waiting? For what?"
"For life...and for death."
She stared at him, her great dark eyes pools of ebony. "I don’t understand, Chakotay."
"I am not Chakotay, B’Elanna. I merely look like him. I have taken the form of someone you respect and trust, someone you love like a brother. I represent the part of you that is your inner self, your guide. Your...conscience, I guess you could call me."
"My conscience?" she repeated. "Wait a minute...just wait a damn minute.
This isn’t possible. This just isn’t possible. Am I dreaming?"
Chakotay—it was easier for her to think of him as Chakotay, rather then her conscience—considered this for a moment. "In a way," he said at length. "What is the last thing you remember?"
B’Elanna thought hard. If she concentrated enough, she could just about recollect what had happened...
The terrorist was a tense, jittery type, with an itchy trigger finger. He firmly believed in his cause, and was determined to get his point across no matter how many lives were lost in the process.
The capitol building had been stormed; the main office taken hostage. Besides the four high-ranking government officials, there were also three officers from an alien starship: Kathryn Janeway, the captain; Tuvok, the security chief; and B’Elanna Torres, the chief engineer. All were innocent pawns in a deadly game of terrorism and revenge. They had merely come for supplies; and in return, their engineer had agreed to fix the government’s main computer, which had been badly damaged during a recent terrorist act. The government had thought, before this Voyager came, that it was irreparable, and that countless amounts of valuable data would be lost. But then this alien ship had arrived, and their engineer had done the impossible and repaired the damaged computer in return for a few supplies, which the Llearans—for that was who they were—were happy to provide.
The Voyager officials had been in the main office to arrange for the last shipment of supplies to be delivered to their ship. Less then five minutes after their arrival, numbers of criminals had attacked the building; they killed and wounded many before finally taking the main office hostage. And now, the outcome was impossible to tell. Llearan forces were waiting to attack, but they were afraid that the terrorist might do something rash, such as kill their president or one of the aliens. So they waited.
The terrorist, who had identified himself only as Iilan, was volatile and harsh, constantly threatening to kill one or wound another. All of the hostages were doing their best not to provoke him until they could be rescued, but the aliens had no contact with their ship. They had come down in a shuttle due to the unstable ionosphere which made it impossible to transport.
"Please," the president, Tierrin, said softly. "You don’t have to do this. Just let the innocent ones go and we can discuss this peacefully, without violence."
"There can be no peace," Iilan growled. "Not when our children go hungry, our families starve."
"Your families starve because you refuse to accept the food shipments we send you," Tierrin stated calmly.
"We do not want your—your charity," Iilan said in disgust. "We want our own land to grow our own food."
"You abuse the land," Tierrin said quietly. "You fill it with chemicals and turn your crops toxic. Your families are poisoned because you cannot see the folly of your ways, of helping the earth instead of harming it. You misuse your rights, so we take them away. You starve because of choice, not because of anything the government has done."
"Lies! All lies!" Iilan shouted, his eyes darting from one hostage to another.
"Let Captain Janeway and her crew leave," Tierrin requested. "They are innocent."
"No one who associates with you is innocent," Iilan snarled. "Which is why they will be the first to die." He lifted his weapon and pointed it directly towards Captain Janeway.
"No!" Until the confusion was over, no one realized that the scream had come from B’Elanna Torres, who had moved like lightening and shoved the captain out of the weapon’s range; shoved her so hard, in fact, that Janeway stumbled to the floor, hitting her head and suffering a nasty gash to her right temple. But Janeway’s slight injury was insignificant compared to the tragedy that befell B’Elanna Torres. The weapon discharged, and the blast that was supposed to have hit the captain of the Voyager hit her chief engineer instead.
The terrorist stood, stunned, as he stared at the inert body of the half-Klingon woman. Apparently, he hadn’t quite understood the virulence of his weapon. His shock was so great that the remainder of the officials were able to overpower him before he could cause any more harm. The Llearan guards, hearing the commotion in the main office, decided to storm the building and managed to subdue the rest of the terrorists without any further casualties.
But the damage had been done.
"He shot me."
"He shot you," Chakotay agreed. "Actually, he meant to shoot Captain Janeway, but you saved her life. A human would have been killed instantly by the blast, but your half-Klingon genes managed to fight for a time."
"Am I dead?"
"No. Well, sort of. In a way, yes."
"I’m—I’m not sure if I know what you mean."
Chakotay paused, his dark eyes drilling into her face. "You’ve been depressed lately, haven’t you?"
B’Elanna stared at him. "Depressed? No, of course not...I’m not—I mean, I wasn’t depressed." Her voice carried no conviction.
"Yes, you were," Chakotay’s voice was calm. Convincing. "You and Tom broke up."
B’Elanna winced. "We argued, yes," she admitted.
"About—about—I can’t even remember what we fought about," B’Elanna said unhappily. "But we did. And we had words. Angry words. I said—I said I never wanted to talk to him again. He said the same. We haven’t spoken since, except when it was required by duty—something having to do with the ship."
"And there were other things, weren’t there?" His smooth voice prompted her to spill her heart out to him.
"Yes, there were other things. The argument was the main thing, but there were other matters...little things...my birthday was a few weeks ago. No one knew, not even Tom...of course, we weren’t speaking then...but I still felt lonely. Like—like no one cared. And...a lot of the crew had been talking about their families, comparing notes, I guess you could say. I couldn’t join in...my family is nothing to brag about. It made me feel...neglected, I guess. Angry towards my father, for abandoning me when I was five. Angry towards my mother, for never giving a damn about me for the eighteen years I lived with her. Then, my work began to suffer. I couldn’t concentrate at all. And...everyone was nervous around me, because of my fight with Tom...I guess I was a little brusque with everybody...my staff, my friends, Captain Janeway...they all pretty much stayed away from me. All I wanted was someone to talk to, but I was too full of pride to ask. I was miserable." B’Elanna bowed her head, not daring to let her eyes meet his for fear she would burst into tears.
"Everything came on at once," Chakotay said compassionately.
"Exactly. It—it was like my world was spinning out of control. I couldn’t handle it."
"You even began to think of suicide."
B’Elanna’s head jerked up, and she swallowed a sob. "I—yes. How—you really are my conscience, if you knew that."
"You did a good job of hiding it. But I was that little voice who tried to talk you out of it." Chakotay had a small half-smile on his face. "I’m glad you were listening to me."
"I tried, but—it seemed like no one cared, that everyone would be better off without me. I was just so lonely, I—I wanted to die."
"Which is why you are here."
"I still don’t understand."
Chakotay regarded her thoughtfully. "Let me explain further. As I said earlier, this is a place of waiting. You see, B’Elanna, you’re in a coma right now. A very serious coma, possibly irreversible. When you were injured, you were immediately rushed to the Llearan medical facilities. The doctors there did all they could to help you, but they weren’t familiar with half-Klingon physiology. By the time they managed to get you to Voyager, your condition had worsened to the point where you had almost a zero chance of surviving. The doctor and Kes worked for thirteen hours straight, trying to save you. Eventually, they managed to slightly better your condition but, as I said, you slipped into a coma. The doctor says that your chances of surviving are slim."
"So...am I going to die?"
"The choice is up to you. You see, B’Elanna, normally, when a person is injured, their subconscious makes a choice. Do they want to live...or die. If they want to live, they have a much better chance of recovering, no matter how grave the injury. If they want to die, then their chances are relatively nonexistent. In your case, you were of two minds. Part of you wanted to live, but the other part...didn’t. So you came here. And when you make your choice, your fate will be determined."
"You mean...I have to decide whether I want to live or die?"
"That’s right. Only then will you recover...or not recover."
"How long do I have?"
"As long as you wish. Time has no meaning here. It may seem like days to you, but in reality it is only minutes. Or it may seem like mere seconds to you, but in reality years have passed. This is, in essence, your mind, B’Elanna. Time goes as you choose."
B’Elanna frowned. "I want to live, but...there’s another part of me that—that doesn’t want to live. I don’t know. I just don’t know. Can—can you help me decide?"
"Yes. I am going to take you on a journey, B’Elanna, and show you many things.
Some may be pleasant, others are not, but only you may consent. Will you come?"
She shrugged. "Yes, I guess so."
"Then we will leave now." Chakotay held out his hand, and, with some hesitance, B’Elanna accepted it. Together, the two disappeared into the swirling whiteness.
B’Elanna gazed around the quarters blankly. They were familiar, but she just couldn’t place them...
"These are Harry Kim’s quarters," Chakotay told her. "The time is two months before your accident, three days after your argument with Tom. We’re in the past."
"That’s right. Watch. In a minute Tom and Harry are going to come through these doors and have a conversation about you."
B’Elanna watched. Just as Chakotay had said, in a few moments Tom and Harry strode through the door.
"What was the fight about?" Harry was asking.
Tom frowned, his brow furrowing in concentration. "To tell you the truth, Harry, I can’t remember," he admitted.
"Then go and apologize," the ensign said simply.
"Damn it, Harry, I still have my dignity!" Tom snapped. "She said she never wanted to speak to me again, and she meant it, too."
"She did not," Harry said with assurance. "She was angry. So were you. You both said things you didn’t mean. So go apologize."
"No! If she wants to get back together, she’ll come to me."
"B’Elanna? B’Elanna Torres? Tom, she’s a Klingon. She’s even more stubborn and hard-headed then you are."
"I’m not going to grovel."
"It’s not groveling. It’s admitting that you were wrong and asking for forgiveness."
"But she was the wrong one!...at least, I think she was."
"Does it matter? Tom, you’re miserable. So is she. I can’t get near her, because she’s so damn unhappy that’s she’s growling at anyone who comes near her. Carey says that Engineering is hell. Just go and apologize, and everything will be okay."
"No. I still have my pride."
"Fine. Be that way. But just you wait, Tom Paris, you’re going to regret it."
Tom stormed out of the quarters. Harry, displaying the most emotion she had ever seen coming from him, picked up a bowl from a nearby table and hurled it against a wall, where it bounced off and fell to the floor, shattering. "Damn him!" the ensign spat. "Damn her! Damn both of them for their foolish pride!"
And the world dissolved again.
"Where are we now?" B’Elanna asked, gazing around the room.
"Sickbay," Chakotay answered.
B’Elanna recognized the room. There was the doctor’s office, the consoles, the
biobeds...and on one of the biobeds there was a body. Her body. It seemed so strange, to be looking down at herself, this pale, weak, lifeless woman that was surrounded by the beeps and hums of different machines that were bent on keeping her alive.
"What time is it? How long has it been?"
"This is the present. You’ve been in a coma for the last five days. The doctor’s last report wasn’t good. He says that you’re slipping away from them, that unless you show some improvement you won’t survive through the week."
"Oh." B’Elanna surveyed the scene again. It was still so unreal. "What—" Her question was interrupted as someone strode through the doors of sickbay. Tom. It was Tom Paris.
"Tom," she breathed. "Can he—I mean—"
"No," Chakotay told her. "You are on a different plane of existence now, B’Elanna. He can’t hear you, but you can hear him. Now hush, and listen to what he has to say."
Tom went immediately to the body on the biobed, pulling up a nearby chair.
B’Elanna listened intently as he began to speak.
"B’Elanna? It’s Tom. The doctor told us that you’ve gotten worse. I don’t know if it’s because of me, because of our argument, but he says you’re not fighting. Is it me? B’Elanna, if it is, I’m so sorry. I’ve been miserable without you. I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, I can’t go one second without thinking of your voice, or your laugh, or your smile. Gods, I can’t even remember what we argued about. But you have to fight this thing, B’Elanna. You have to. I—can’t go on without you. Do you know how absolutely horrible it’s been the past few months when we haven’t been speaking? I’ve been going crazy. I wanted so badly to go back to you, to apologize, to beg and grovel for your forgiveness if necessary. But I didn’t think—I thought you were still angry. I didn’t think it would do any good. And I had too much pride. But I don’t care about that now. I love you, B’Elanna. I never told you, but I do. I always have. And if it’ll bring you back to us, bring you back to me, I’ll say it a thousand times. I love you. Please, please, don’t die on me, Torres. We’ve been through too much together. Remember the Vidiians? And the incident with Vorik when he had Pon Farr? And the Kazon? And Seska? After all of that, you can’t let a little thing like this get you down. You’re stronger then that. B’Elanna, if you come back, I’ll—I’ll clean the entire Engineering room with a toothbrush. I’ll beg and grovel and make an utter fool of myself. I’ll sell my soul to the devil himself if it will just bring you back, please. I can’t live without you." His head dropped to his knees, and he began to sob like a child.
B’Elanna watched him, tears filling up her own eyes. He still loved her. That fact made her dizzy with relief and amazement.
"Come," Chakotay said quietly. "I want to show you something else."
The room dissolved into another, the Mess Hall. But a very different Mess Hall. The crew was there, but they were standing, their faces somber and grave. They were gathered around a casket containing -- her. That was her body encased in that cold metal.
"This is if you choose to die," Chakotay said. "We’re in the future now, at your funeral. Listen, and watch."
Chakotay—the real Chakotay—stepped forward, his face filled with a sadness so acute it made one’s heart break to see it. "This service is to honor the memory of B’Elanna Torres," he said quietly. "She was taken from us by the action of a terrorist, a random act of violence on a strange planet. Though her death will forever leave an empty place in the hearts of us all, we can take comfort in the fact that we knew her as long as we did. I was fortunate enough to know her longer then anyone here. When I first met her, she was an angry, temperamental young Klingon, wanting to fight for the sake of fighting. But when I saw the way she was with engines—she worked with them like they were her own children. It was almost magic the way she could always manage to get us the few extra seconds of warp power when we needed it most. I could see the enormous potential inside of her, so I took her under my wing, made her my pet project." He paused, struggling not to cry. B’Elanna could hardly believe it. Chakotay, the one man who, other then Tuvok, had the most amazing emotional control she had ever seen, was near tears. "But she grew to be more, exceeded my highest expectations. She became my friend, my officer...my confidante. She was a rock, someone I could always count on when others would fail. With her I experienced the kind of friendship that others only dream about. She was a true friend, loyal, brave, and never afraid to put others before herself. I’ll never forget her, for she’ll always be a part of me." Chakotay stepped back, a lone tear slipping down his brown face. B’Elanna’s mouth dropped open in frank astonishment, partly because of the tear and partly because of the things he had said. She had never known that he felt that way about her.
Now Captain Janeway stepped forward. "B’Elanna Torres," she began, "showed me the true meaning of courage. With no thought of her own safety, she put herself in front of me to shield me from that terrorist’s weapon—and in the process, saved my life. The doctor tells me that I would have been killed instantly had the blast hit me as it was meant to. B’Elanna lingered only because of her Klingon genes. She made the ultimate sacrifice for her captain—she paid with her life to keep her commanding officer safe. If this was a reflexive action, or done out of a sense of duty, I don’t know. But what I do know is that I would not be standing here before you today had she not saved my life." The captain’s chin began to tremble. "In my opinion, B’Elanna was the embodiment of everything a captain could ask of an officer. Loyal, hardworking, caring, courageous, an extremely intelligent woman, an extraordinary engineer...the list goes on and on. And more then my officer, she was my friend. I—I’m going to miss her greatly. I wish that I had—had told her how much I appreciated her beforehand, but...I didn’t. And—now it’s too late. She’ll never know how much she will be missed—not just by me, but by everyone on this crew. And she’ll never know how grateful I am to her—for saving me—for sacrificing herself to save me—" Captain Janeway completely broke down, unable to continue. Chakotay quietly drew her back, enfolding his strong arms around her as she cried for the loss of her friend.
B’Elanna was utterly stunned, and touched, by this tribute. Tears were swimming in her own eyes as she turned to the spirit Chakotay, who had watched the proceedings with a gentle eye. "Please," B’Elanna said tightly. "I—I can’t watch anymore. I need to go."
Chakotay nodded, and once more the scene dissolved, this time back to the infinite whiteness.
"So, have you decided?" Chakotay asked.
B’Elanna nodded. "I want to go back. After all I’ve just seen—Tom, Harry, Chakotay, the captain—how could I not?"
Chakotay grinned. "I had hoped you’d come to that decision. A lot of people love you, B’Elanna. They just don’t show it. And you have to remember that though the storms of life will come, there will always be a rainbow—as long as you have your friends."
"I’ll remember. Thank you, Chakotay," she said softly. "I’ll never forget you."
The spirit smiled sadly. "Yes, you will. You’re in a coma. You won’t remember me when you wake up. But I’ll always be with you, B’Elanna. I’m that little voice in your head that guides you through life, and I’ll always be here for you. Always."
She swallowed the lump that had formed in her throat. "I—thank you. Thank you so much. I—I think I’d like to go back now."
"So be it." A bright light, brighter then the light of a million exploding stars, brighter than anything she had ever known, permeated the whiteness. B’Elanna felt herself begin to fade away, and as she dissolved, she called out, "Will I ever see you again?"
"I’ll always be here when you need me," he answered simply, and was gone.
B’Elanna opened her eyes. For a moment, the world was fuzzy, and she had to blink several times before she could focus. But eventually, the world became clear.
She was in sickbay, and feeling incredibly weak. Everything was quiet, still.
The stillness was so great that she could hear herself breathe.
What had happened? There was a faint image at the back of her mind...a terrorist with a gun. A shot. The captain falling to the side as an explosion of darkness overwhelmed her. And then...nothing. Except for a blurry reflection of—
something. Chakotay. A rainbow. She couldn’t sort out the images quite yet, but her mind was so hazy. Already the dream-like notion was beginning to fade, and she couldn’t remember it if she wanted to. Oh, well, she thought. *It was just a dream.*
She moved her head, finding that it took an immense amount of strength just to do so. But when she did, she saw...Tom. He was sound asleep, his hand clasping hers, his head resting on the edge of the biobed, dried tearstains on his face. Her mouth curved into a tiny, weak smile. He had always been adorable when he was asleep, and this time was no exception.
"Tom," she said, and was dismayed to hear the weak, feeble little squeak that was her voice.
But the figure resting beside her stirred, and slowly blinked his eyes open. He yawned, rubbing his neck, and then looked down, expecting to see the same lifeless face, the same face he had gazed upon for the past three weeks.
Instead, he found himself looking into a pair of chocolate brown eyes, eyes that were slightly confused, but clear and bright and staring directly at him.
"B’Elanna!" he yelped, jumping up from his chair. "Oh, my God—B’Elanna! You’re awake!"
"Tom," she said again. Funny, but she couldn’t manage to speak beyond that.
It just took too much effort.
"Oh, B’Elanna," he said, sinking into the chair and beginning to sob like a child. "I’m so sorry. I’m so, so sorry. For everything. Can you ever forgive me?"
Again, it took great effort, but she managed to whisper three words to reassure his fears. "Nothing...to...forgive."
The gratitude in his bright, tear-filled blue eyes was obvious even in her weakened state. "I love you, B’Elanna Torres," he said tenderly.
She smiled, a minuscule, feeble smile, but didn’t attempt to speak this time.
A few of Tom’s flighted senses returned to him, and he called for the doctor.
"Computer, activate EMH program."
The doctor shimmered into existence and took in the scene with a practiced eye. "Well, look who’s decided to join the land of the living," he said with a false cheeriness that belied the intense relief the doctor was experiencing upon seeing that his patient was going to be all right. "Has she been conscious long?" The statement was directed towards Tom Paris.
"Only for about a minute or so."
The doctor scanned her with his medical tricorder, nodding in satisfaction.
"Now that she’s awake, her complete recovery will only be a matter of time. Sickbay to Janeway."
"Captain, you asked to be informed immediately when there was news."
There was a short, tense pause at the other end of the commlink. "And?"
"She’s come back to us, Captain. She’s awake, and she’s going to make a complete recovery."
Another pause, longer then the first, with faint cheering in the background. "Oh, thank God," came the captain’s tearful voice. "Will—can she have visitors?"
"Not right now," the doctor announced firmly. "Perhaps in a few days, when she’s stronger. Right now, the most important thing for her is rest. Mr. Paris is here with her, but he was just leaving." The doctor fixed the pilot with a piercing glare. "I’ll let you know when she’s strong enough for visitors. Sickbay out."
Tom took the hint. He leaned down, brushing B’Elanna’s forehead with his lips.
"I’ll be back soon, love," he whispered.
She gave a slight nod, her eyelids already beginning to droop. As she drifted off to sleep, a faint memory stirred in the back of her mind—Chakotay, and a dazzling rainbow that was surrounded by an aura of comfort, warmth....and friendship.