Story: B’Elanna and I
Author: Deede
Disclaimer: Paramount owns the characters, not I.
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Admiral Paris reflects on meeting his daughter-in-law
for the first time, and the changes she brought into his life.


I once thought I could sense a ‘hurricane’. By my definition
that meant I could feel the winds of fate changing course and
brewing a storm in my direction set to disrupt the pattern of
consistency I used to feel I valued. Life, for me, was a series
of checks and balances - reactions timed to synchronize diligently
with causes, dilemmas handled with efficiency - everything controlled,
straightforward. There was no time for frivolous flights of fancy,
or shocking surprises. I liked things the way I liked them and
had little room or tolerance for anything out of the ordinary…
according to B’Elanna, who never shied away from telling me exactly
what she thought about my stringent way of life as she saw it.

The first time I met my daughter-in-law, I had a feeling that
the hurricane was not only brewing; it would take no prisoners.
She had just returned from a seven year excursion in the Delta
Quadrant, exhausted from recent child birth, yet able to meet
my gaze straight on and without the falter, intimidation, or
the mild awe that my rank and reputation usually allowed.

Amazing what facing the loss of someone can do. I would be lying
if I said I didn’t have trepidation when I heard that Tom had
married the half-Klingon, former Maquis, Chief Engineer of Voyager.
In fact, a small part of me wondered if it was yet another act
of rebellion on Tom’s part. During the years following Tom’s
disappearance in the Delta Quadrant I couldn’t help but re-evaluate
my turbulent relationship with my only son – perhaps putting
forth an effort to understand him in a way I hadn’t bothered
to in the past; when we were both at odds, and Tom was drinking
and fighting his way across the quadrant. It was as if I had
come to take his existence for granted, rebellious and troubled
or no. And the reports of Tom’s rehabilitation and corresponding
noble and brave actions while onboard Voyager where like a balm
to a weary parent’s soul, relieving me somewhat from the belief
that I had failed as a father and that there was little hope
in mending any of the damage I had done. But to marry a former
Maquis fireball…

It was Kathryn Janeway, my prodigy, who lifted my fears - eyes
flashing, her passion for the subject of discussion evident in
the way she used her body movements to emphasize her words.

“He loves her, and she loves him,” she stated as we sat in her
ready room shortly after Voyager’s return, just prior to me going
to meet B’Elanna and the baby Miral, my granddaughter, for the
first time. “If serving with those two the past seven years has
taught me anything it’s the healing and unconditional properties
of love. You could scarcely believe all they’ve had to face together,
and all they’ve overcome. One look at the two of them together
and you’ll see what the rest of us have witnessed for years,
it’s that evident. They’re good for each other, and they’ve helped
to heal one another.”

She got quiet for a moment then, eyeing me wearily across her
desk, her face taking on a protective almost parental resolve.
“I have no doubt that you will come to respect B’Elanna. Yes,
she has a temper, and yes, she’ll often speak her mind and keep
you at a distance, but she is brilliant, honest and fiercely
loyal. She loves and feels things deeply and with a passion that
I’ve often envied. Over the past seven years I’ve come to see
her not as a former Maquis, but as a colleague, a wonderful officer,
and a friend. I think the two of you will be just fine,” she
finished with an assuring nod of her head. Her pride in her chief
engineer’s accomplishments was showing in her gaze as she smiled
at me assuredly.

I decided, however, to take Kathryn’s words at face value as
I left to meet my wayward family, determined to mend the tattered
relationship with my son. If loving Tom meant loving B’Elanna
then I would do it without qualms. Yet I don’t think I was quite
prepared even then for the woman who would become a profound
presence in my life.

The predominant feeling I experienced when I laid eyes on her
for the first time was dazed astonishment. She was smaller than
I thought she would be, petite with dainty, feminine features,
and big, beautiful brown doe eyes that felt as if they could
burn right through me - as if she were somehow looking inside
my spirit to gauge my demeanor.  I saw immediately why Tom had
been attracted to her for she was exquisite: slender and lithe,
exotic and charismatic, with a presence that seemed to dominate
the room. Her posture was rigid, straight, and she gazed upon
me without wavering or blinking, showing no outward signs of
having just been released from sickbay after going through the
weakening effects of childbirth. 

There was an aura of power around her, thinly veiled by the polite
expression she wore, but there nonetheless. But the way she eyed
me was the most telling, like a wild jungle cat assessing its
prey with sleek and tightly coiled muscles, ready to pounce if
necessary to protect her own. I got this odd feeling of reversal
while we stared each other down. It was as if somehow, within
seconds of meeting, she had switched things around and it was
no longer me there to assess her, but she there to assess me.

Almost instantly she commanded my respect. As an Admiral within
the hierarchy of Starfleet I wasn’t used to being intimidated,
not even slightly, yet one look at B’Elanna Torres and my attention
was riveted.

“So you must be the Admiral Paris I’ve heard so much about,”
she said, her voice laced with irony in a way that made it impossible
for me to determine whether what she had heard was good or bad,
but knowing my history with Tom, I was banking on that latter.

She took a step closer and slightly in front of her husband,
while she continued to eye me. An action that appeared to be
entirely instinctive on her part, as if she were readying to
protect him from me should I say anything hurtful or negative
towards either of them. A combination of emotions hit me at that
moment: hurt that my previous relationship with my son had caused
them both to be slightly defensive, fear once more that I might
never get him to trust me again fully, anger that she would assume
I might verbally cause harm to either of them, and a very definite
rising of esteem. I think it was that action above all else that
made me go from wanting to love B’Elanna for Tom’s sake, to starting
to like her on my own accord.  How could I not like a woman wanting
and willing to protect my son from potential pain?

“That I am,” I had responded, smiling at her while sticking out
my hand in offering; meeting her challenge, determined to show
her my strength of spirit as she had shown me hers, while feeling
the kinship of our already evident similar personality traits.
She was blunt, clear and concise, as was I, and perhaps that
allowed for the first, faint stirrings of understanding to pass
between us… I could understand what I know.

She took my hand then, firmly, powerfully… it amazed me actually
how much strength came from such a petite little thing. But then
again she was part Klingon; a fact that almost somehow escaped
me while looking at her. For some inexplicable reason she didn’t
strike me as one who could be easily categorized into one group
or the other. It was as if the combination of her unique genealogy,
as well as her individualistic personality, marked her as a separate
force of nature in her own right.

I tried to show her similar strength, maintaining eye contact,
putting muscle behind our handshake, and I felt a small sense
of satisfaction when the edges of her lips curled slightly in
a grin. She read me as I read her, we both recognized the fierceness
of nature we both possessed, and I knew then that having B’Elanna
in the family would never be dull. In fact, a part of me wanted
to see just how far I could push her, as I had a habit of doing
with my own kids, to see just how far she’d push me back.

I think it surprised Tom that B’Elanna and I cinched as well
as we did after that first introduction, as if he had expected
us to hate each other on sight. And to be honest, that thought
had crossed my mind prior to meeting her as well.  But B’Elanna
and I had the unique ability to comprehend each other; which
isn’t to say our relationship didn’t come with its fair share
of conflicts. In fact we were usually the first to jump into
and out of the proverbial ring with forceful tempers flaring.

In the months following Tom and B’Elanna’s return to the Delta
Quadrant, I put forth every effort I could to mend my relationship
with my son. Simultaneously falling head over heals in adoration
with my precious granddaughter, whom I set out to spoil freely
and in a way that shamelessly contradicted the admittedly strict
direction that I had brought my own children up in. As far as
I was concerned the sun rose and set on Miral; a child who, even
as an infant, looked up at me with eyes as blue as Tom’s, yet
as unwavering and purposeful as her mother’s.

It warmed me to watch Tom and B’Elanna with her. Here was my
son, the man who was just a boy, my boy, not too long ago, and
his little fireball of a wife doting lovingly on this small child
that they idolized. Yet it was difficult to watch both of them
struggling to protect her from the hardship of re-introduction
into the Alpha Quadrant. I don’t think even they were sure in
the early months of which direction they wanted to go in professionally
after they had found out that B’Elanna had been pardoned for
her past as a Maquis. Especially given that they found themselves
without the comfort of the vessel Voyager so abruptly.

Try as I might I could not get over the disappointment that Tom
didn’t want to further his obvious flare for a career in Starfleet…
like I had. When Tom had been serving out in the Delta Quadrant
I had eaten up every report of his progress that Kathryn had
sent me, coming to the idealistic hope that Tom had finally sown
his wild oats and was thereby ready to pursue his career with
more clarity than he had the first time around. In my fear over
alienating him further I tried unsuccessfully to keep my mouth
shut as he came to the conclusion that he’d rather pursue other
options instead of remain in Starfleet.

And as I loathe to admit being wrong, it was my daughter-in-law
that ultimately forced me to take a step back and realize just
what it was that my expectations had been doing to my son.

I remember arguing with Tom that day so clearly, as if I were
doomed to carry that scene with me for the rest of my life. Like
his younger years Tom rebelled against my voicing my hopes for
his future, admittedly rather forcefully. He stood before me,
shoulders rigid, blue eyes flashing, his mother, wife and baby
not too far behind him as he told me in clear and certain terms
that I no longer had the power nor control to dictate his future
for him.

I was stunned by his behavior. So angry my vision blurred. I
wasn’t thinking clearly, nor was I in control of my emotions
as I blurted out some comment about disrespect and irresponsibility…
words that sent him storming out of the house while mumbling
under his breath about how little I had changed.

Instead of following her husband, B’Elanna stayed behind, quietly
assessing me, wordlessly handing Miral over to her grandmother,
before taking two steps towards me, hands firmly planted on her

“What do you think you’re doing?” she asked in an eerie, barely
controlled tone that was filled with silent fury. “Do you have
any idea how hard it has been for us to adjust here after seven
years of living day to day? Do you know how uncertain and intimidating
it is trying to build a future for ourselves without this excess
grief you insist on piling on? Do you have any idea how it makes
Tom feel when you push him like that?”

By the time she got to the last question her voice had risen
a few notches, and her arms were straight by her sides, her hands
clutched tightly into fists. But she wasn’t about to let me get
a word in edgewise, not that I could have at that point. Not
even Tom on his bad days had confronted me the way she was: glowing
in wrath, rigid in anger, facing me head on with eyes as venomous
as a cobra’s bite. I was too shocked over her mutiny to voice
an opinion at that point. And so she continued her tirade, never
holding back.

“When I look at Tom I see a strong and courageous man. Someone
who is loving, funny and smart. Someone who would help others
without a moment’s hesitation and who isn’t satisfied until he
can make people smile. A man who is generous and giving to a
fault and a person who is both imaginative and creative to the
point where he has a lot to offer the world. It’s too bad you
can’t see that in him for yourself. It’s too bad you can’t see
Tom for who he is, instead of this image of who you want him
to be. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a husband to hold,” she
finished, turning on her heels to follow in Tom’s direction.

As the door hissed behind her I was shaking, in anger, in fear,
in the burgeoning feeling of regret. My wife, still holding Miral,
eyed me sympathetically, recognizing the turmoil that must have
reflected in my expression.

“She’s right, you know,” she said softly, after moments had passed.

“I know,” I breathed, letting more time pass quietly, letting
the tension hang in the air… and I did know. History was repeating
itself and Tom and I were heading down the same road we had been
on before.

It took awhile for my anger towards B’Elanna to fade. For my
hostility to calm before her words started echoing repeatedly
through my mind, finally allowing me to grasp the real meaning
behind her diatribe. I had been there when Tom was born, had
watched him grow and mature, had marveled as he left for the
academy, and swore when the events surrounding Caldik Prime became
public knowledge, but never once during all those years had I
taken the time to get to know my son for who he was individually.
I hadn’t taken the time to get to know his likes or dislikes,
his philosophies, and quirky expressions – the full depth of
the extreme love he had for his wife, and his ability to charm
her, his daughter and everyone else around him, save me, with
a fast grin. It took a young woman with a temper to match my
own, and a will perhaps stronger, although I’d never admit that
to her, to provide that realization.

Feeling repentant I went looking for my son. I found him and
B’Elanna sitting on a bench in the gardens behind our estate;
Tom leaning forward, hands on his knees, while she had an arm
draped comfortingly around him, her head bent next to his ear
as she undoubtedly whispered words of console. I stood there
for a moment mesmerized by them, privy to the way they sat huddled
so close, lost to the rest of the world in their own private
bubble. Any remaining traces of anger I had at B’Elanna for releasing
her wrath on me the way she had, whether she had the right to
or not, dissipated when I watched her with Tom - there for him,
supporting him, and most likely cursing me for hurting him.

B’Elanna saw me first, her gaze lifting as if she sensed another
presence near, her eyes narrowing to dangerous slits as they
rested on me. For seconds we both remained silently still: she
assessing me, me beseeching her - a soundless conversation taking
place while Tom’s head remained bent forward, looking at his
hands, thus allowing him to remain oblivious to the clash of
wills going on around him. She must have read the remorse in
my demeanor for after awhile she nodded slightly; standing up
to give me one last warning glance, as if to say ‘hurt him further
and I will seek revenge’ before moving to head back to the house.

At the loss of his wife’s warmth Tom looked up, his sad eyes
turning angry and defiant as they met mine. I released a breath
I hadn’t known I’d been holding, and sat down next to him, wondering
what to say to repair the rift between us. It struck me in that
moment how awkward I felt trying to apologize to my own child,
as if I didn’t know quite how to do it. Throughout all of Tom’s
younger years, and even his early adulthood, I had never once
sought him out after an altercation to make amends, although
he had tried to on a couple of occasions. My heart sunk when
I realized just how stoic of a parent I truly had been to my
daughters, and to my son… the kind of parent that pushed his
children away rather than embrace their individuality, the kind
of parent I’m glad Tom wasn’t to Miral.

“I’m sorry, son. You were right. I have no right to mold your
future for you. You are a responsible young man with a wife and
a child, and I trust that you will do well in whatever it is
you decide to do,” my voice sounded gruff, even to my own ears,
as if I still wasn’t quite comfortable with the idea of opening
up, but I was hoping that Tom would take my words for what they
represented… my sincere regret.

My apology took Tom by surprise, that much I could tell. He looked
at me guardedly for moments following my proclamation. And perhaps,
like B’Elanna, he read the remorse in me. Or perhaps he simply
came to the conclusion that his old man was getting soft in his
old age, either way the corners of his mouth eventually tugged
into a slight grin, and he nodded his acceptance. A comfortable
silence fell between us as we both looked forward, sitting side
by side, the bright afternoon sun beating down on us as a slight
San Francisco wind blew from the nearby ocean.

“Your wife missed her calling as a family counselor,” I teased
after awhile, wanting to lighten the mood. “She has this form
of shout therapy that’s pretty damn effective.”

He laughed at that, his face taking on an amused expression before
it once again turned reflective, and his grin transformed into
a wondering smile.

“She’s the best thing that ever happened to me,” he announced
quietly, his blue eyes soft.

“I’m glad you found each other,” I admitted, speaking the conclusion
I had come to upon getting to know B’Elanna. “Although I don’t
think she’ll forgive me for what happened today, she was pretty

Tom laughed again, his amusement returning, as he shook his head
in knowing understanding. “Flowers, Dad. Works every time. A
dozen yellow roses, symbolizing friendship, and she’ll be putty
in your hands. Just as long as it doesn’t happen again,” he trailed
off, his sassy smile letting me know he was teasing me, at least
in part.

“Thanks for the advice,” I remarked glibly in return, truly happy
that my son and I were on our way to understanding each other,
while promising myself that I wouldn’t let it get that far again.

That promise wasn’t always easy to keep, particularly with tempers
like B’Elanna’s, Tom’s and mine, but we did our best: picking
and choosing our battles, and learning through trial and error
how to interpret our good days and our bad.

I learned early on that B'Elanna and Tom weren't too receptive
to parenting tips when it came to how they raised their daughter,
though that little fact usually never prevented me from offering
advice anyway.  Partly because I had raised three of my own and
knew unequivocally that my experience on the subject outweighed
theirs, and partly because I secretly enjoyed the exasperated
looks they would give me whenever I did intrude, in the most
loving way of course.

"The two of you are forcing that baby to grow up too fast. Already
trying to teach her to walk. Let her crawl for awhile, it's supposed
to improve her hand-eye coordination and her ability to judge
distance," I announced to them one day; watching Tom and B'Elanna
as they both sat crossed-legged on the floor, Miral between them,
urging her to stand up on her own without having to clasp B'Elanna's
fingers in her small hands to steady herself. 

B'Elanna shot a glare in my direction, as I knew she would, her
ridged brow furrowed as she gave me an exasperated snort - showing
me first hand what she thought of my intrusion.

"Miral is a quarter Klingon. Klingon babies develop their motor
skills faster than human children do. Have you ever met a Klingon
with bad hand-eye coordination?" My daughter-in-law asked through
gritted teeth, adding a rolling of her eyes for emphasis.

"A 'quarter' being the operative word," I pointed out surly,
unable to stop myself as I nodded my head to affirm my claim.
"The majority of her DNA is human, therefore you should let her
go at her own pace."

B'Elanna's eyes flashed at me, and I realized that once again
I had crossed the line. She truly was a sight to behold when
she got like that… tense, worked up, and furious, anyone else
would have more than likely backed down before they had gotten
her to that point, but I actually mildly enjoyed debating with
her, as long as it didn't get out of hand. True, she had a spirited
constitution, but she is also quick and sharp - one of the few
people I knew who could rival me with sarcastic repartee.

My wife walked into the room, gazed at B'Elanna, then turned
to look at me and shook her head, obviously disapproving. And
then Tom and his mother shared a worried look, each concerned
with just how angry B'Elanna would get if I kept insisting in
vocalizing my unsolicited advice.

"Dad," she replied in a tone half warning, half mocking… "bite
me!" she finished, still glaring, no doubt picking up that unusual
phrase from Tom, whom had probably somehow acquired it through
his 20th Century obsession. But I got the gist of it, regardless
of what century it came from.

For a moment there was utter silence in the room, no one so much
as breathing while Tom and his mother looked back and forth between
us. Laughter started to bubble up within me and I found that
I wasn't able to hold it in, finally giving in and allowing it
release. I couldn't help it, the whole conversation was essentially
ridiculous, and the sight of bright, articulate B'Elanna, working
herself into a tantrum and uncharacteristically using odd slander
was enough to evoke a highly amused reaction. The stunned expression's
that spread across my wife and son's faces only abetted the laughter
and it wasn't long before B'Elanna started to giggle as well,
realizing what I had; the angry glare in her eyes becoming sparkling
amusement as we soon worked ourselves into a deeper, heartier

"They've lost it," I could barely hear Tom tell his mother, his
gaze locked on B'Elanna with a wondering grin.

"They most certainly have," my significant other announced, reaching
out to snag her granddaughter into her arms as if to protect
her from those of us who she considered psychologically deranged.

Naturally not every argument we had ended in laughter. More often
than not they would end up with one or both of us storming out
of the house, huffing and puffing for all of two days before
I presented her with a dozen yellow roses, or she would drop
by Starfleet Headquarters and assist my engineering staff with
a difficult problem or two as her own form of amends. Luckily,
despite both our propensities to be stubborn and stringently
set in our ways, we were both pretty quickly abated. However,
there were also days when my son would have to edge his way between
us during a particularly loud verbal sparing match, shaking his
head as if to say “oh, grow up”.

“Thomas, will you inform your wife that I will not have my method
of doing things questioned while the two of you are visiting
in my home,” I requested once through gritted teeth, eyeing my
daughter-in-law with what I hoped passed for a reprimanding expression.

“Tom, will you tell your father that he is hopelessly stubborn
and old fashioned, and it’s amazing we even come to visit at
all with an attitude like his?” she retorted, fixing me with
a defiant glare.

At that point I had been well passed my breaking point, once
again shocked by the complete gall of my daughter-in-law, who,
figuratively speaking, had more balls than half of the men in
the United Federation of Planets, regardless of species, and
whom intimidation didn’t seem to work on… A trait I admired in
her when I wasn’t so upset with her I’d like to shove her in
a brig for a day or two to teach her the error of her ways.

“Did I ask you to build a security system for my computer system?
The old one was just fine the way it was. I had Lieutenant Barclay
install it for me a few years ago,” I followed, aware that my
tone of voice had risen, yet so angry that I didn’t really care.

“Oh, you mean Paris-14-21-31, your last name and each of your
kid’s birthdays?! Oh yeah, that system was perfect. It couldn’t
be hacked into at all. And you’re supposed to be an Admiral!”
she announced, voice dripping with sarcasm.  “You know it took
me of all three seconds to overwrite it. I was doing you a favor
by updating it! The new security system is impossible to crack,
especially without your voice authorization. By the way, you’re
welcome,” B’Elanna finished with a growl, equally frustrated,
her dark eyes flashing in a way that conveyed to me that she
thought I was being ungrateful.

And maybe I had been, but the fact was that I hadn’t asked her
to upgrade my system, she had done it to ‘surprise me’. Whether
I wanted to admit it or not, the gist of the problem was that
it irked me that she had managed to break into my old system
and reprogram it within the space of seconds. It had made me
feel vulnerable in a way that I didn’t normally allow. As she
had pointed out, I was, after all, a Starfleet Admiral. There
is a certain stigma attached to the title that didn’t allow for
weak and penetrable databases, regardless of the rare talent
of the hacker. It was the principle more than anything… what
was supposed to be already iron clad, she had broke into. Yet
at the same time that was so naively B'Elanna - she didn't see
it as rewiring into a Starfleet regulated, Admiral's database;
she saw it as a favor to me.

My daughter-in-law's undeniably amazing engineering and computer
programming skills simultaneously awed and frightened me. In
fact, if ever I was grateful that the Federation had made its
peace with the remaining Maquis it was after watching B’Elanna
at work.  She truly had a gift that could be considered eccentric
and brilliant - as natural to her as breathing. It often annoyed
me that she, like Tom, hadn’t pursued a career in Starfleet following
Voyager’s return… Deciding instead to free lance her skills as
Tom had and simply take on whatever task that grasped her attention.

There were times when I became convinced that she was bored,
and that she secretly longed for the hectic lifestyle she had
lived while on Voyager, but perhaps that was my own wishful thinking.
There was no denying that she and Tom were very happy living
life by their own code, each inventing or flying, respectively,
whenever they felt the need, and concentrating wholeheartedly
on each other and their family when they didn’t.

Needless to say it didn’t take long for even that battle of wills
to pass, only to journey to the next one. Truth be told, I can’t
really begrudge B’Elanna anything. I’m as tightly wrapped around
her finger as her husband is, although that is another fact I
would never, ever admit to her.

Everyone in the family was entirely overjoyed when Tom and B'Elanna
announced that they were expecting their second child, and I
had never been more grateful to my daughter-in-law then the day
I walked into Starfleet medical and met my second granddaughter,
G'Abrielle, for the first time.

The scene that greeted me as I walked into that room will stay
with me forever. B'Elanna, tired and sweaty on the hospital bed,
beaming at her husband who sat by her bedside glowing down at
the tiny baby he held in his arms. Miral, not wanting to be left
out, was standing on the tips of her toes besides him, attempting
to get a good a view of her little sister despite her short three-year-old
frame. And Voyager's Holodoc, the presence that B'Elanna absolutely
refused to be without throughout her pregnancy, took readings
with a tricorder, his face also reflecting happy contentment.

There was so much warmth, so much love, in the picture they made
that for an endless moment I didn't want to intrude, opting instead
to remain still and watch them, my heart tightening in my chest
as I was moved into utter silence. But soon my impatience won
out and I briskly approached the bedside, wanting to be included
in this moment that had brought us all great joy.

"How are you doing, kiddo?" I asked my daughter-in-law, a bouquet
of yellow roses, my trademark offering to her, firmly in my hands.

"Never been better," she teased, though her voice held the tremor
of a new mother awed by what she had just created, her eyes sparkling
brightly. "I'm getting the hang of this childbearing thing. Piece
of cake."

"She's not exaggerating," the Doctor confirmed, grinning at B'Elanna
in obvious affection. "She did wonderfully."

"Glad to hear it," I couldn't help but reply with a huge grin
on my face, my eyes sneaking a look at baby.

"Look Grandpa, I have a sister!" I heard Miral exclaim, her little
body nearly bubbling with excitement as she looked at the baby
with complete and utter awe. Already the role of the older sibling
seemed to suit her.

"I see that," I whispered indulgently, wondering if the tremor
of emotion that I felt was evident in my tone.

"Do you want to hold her, Dad?" Tom asked, undoubtedly reading
the eagerness, his face an unmasked portrait of pride and adoration
for the family he had created.

"Yes," I responded, sure that this time the moved tremor in my
voice was definitely heard by all.

A conglomerate of feeling rushed through me as I held G'Abrielle,
her small, pink, slightly ridged face so undeniably beautiful,
and rested angelically in sleep. I felt my heart swell, my body
so wracked by emotion that it probably would have shocked my
staff at Headquarters to see their stoic Admiral nearly moved
to tears by his newest grandchild, but at that moment I didn't
care. Flashes of holding my own three babies for the first time
flashed through my mind, and I remembered feeling then, as I
wondered now, if life could possibly get any better.

I looked up at B'Elanna then, still resting on the bed, my heart
lifting further as I witnessed Tom gently brush the hair away
from his wife’s face. His face was a mirror of deep gratitude
and boundless reverence as he whispered that he loved her over
and over, as if he felt the need to compensate for the fact that
she had just gone through intense labor for the second time in
her life, and he hadn’t been able to be there for the first,
having to fly Voyager home from the Delta Quadrant while little
Miral had been brought into the world. But the look B’Elanna
gave him in return showed that his efforts were unnecessary,
yet appreciated. Rarely had I seen her so openly readable, her
love for her husband so clearly evident as she gazed up at him,
then shifted her gaze to the baby, and then to Miral, as if to
say, “Look, Tom. Look at what we’ve done. Isn’t it amazing?”

"Thank you," I heard myself say to her, her soft brown eyes turning
away from her family briefly to rest on my face as I smiled through
my tear-glistened eyes. "Thank you for my grandchildren."

B'Elanna simply looked at me and smiled, understanding in her
own quiet way, the magnitude of all I was trying to say.

My gaze returned to the sleeping infant in my arms as I announced
to her, "Welcome to the Paris family, G'Abrielle. We're a rambunctious
bunch, but somehow I think you'll be okay. We Paris’ have a knack
for survival that is second to none."

Five years later, when my beloved wife died, I remembered my
words to my granddaughter as I looked blindly at the faces surrounding
her grave, all of them mirroring their own profound grief. An
unlikely group of weary explorers bound together by our combined
love and unfaltering spirits.

A long time ago she and I had set out on a journey: getting married,
raising a family, climbing up the ranks of Starfleet, welcoming
more members into our fold while watching our grandchildren learn
and grow. I couldn’t help but feel numb as I watched my children,
one by one, put flowers on her grave, each professing words of
unfathomable loss.

Memories ran at irreconcilable speeds through my head as I stood
there, statue still - completely detached from the events surrounding
me as the funeral continued on.

My wife on the day we had met, how nervous I had felt when we
married, the arguments we used to get into over how much my position
in Starfleet demanded of my time…

I vaguely heard Kathleen, my oldest, beseech me to follow her,
the rest of the family and guests to our home where the reception
was to be held. But I forcefully declined, perhaps louder than
I should have, resulting in an exchange of worried expressions
between her and her siblings, though at that moment I couldn’t
bring myself to care.

“Are you going to be okay, Dad?” I heard Tom ask hesitantly,
none of them comfortable with leaving me.

“I’m fine,” I snapped, wanting nothing more than to be left alone
while I motioned him and the rest of the family on their way
with a flick of my hand.

And after a moments pause they did start to leave, each mourning
their loss together, while I purposely kept myself separate…
Not wanting to share my grief, not believing that anyone would
truly understand what it meant to lose my partner in life.

For some unfathomable reason my daughter-in-law also declined
to accompany them home, whispering quietly to her husband that
she would follow shortly despite his protests that I should be
left alone, while she kept her eyes trained on me, silently assessing.

Her continued company neither angered nor elated me, in fact
I made no move to acknowledge her presence at all as I continued
to stand in the exact same spot and reflect… My wife and I on
the day each of our children were born. The times we had argued
over how to raise them. The pride we felt over their accomplishments.
The fight we got into after Tom had been sentenced to the penal
colony of New Zealand. The grief we shared when Voyager had been
lost and Tom along with it…

The warm summer daylight started to fade into streams of oranges
and purples while I traveled through my memories. And during
that time B’Elanna never once made a move to infringe on my personal
space, or speak… Her silent, yet unwaveringly strong presence
gradually becoming more of a comfort than anything else while
the hours passed and the first, strong stirrings of sorrow started
to make their presence known through all the mind numbing collectiveness.

“Why didn’t you go with the others?” I asked at last, the shock
of my own voice as it cut through the silent void jolting me
out of my reverie.

“Because I didn’t believe you when you said you were fine. And
because if something ever happened to Tom, there wouldn't be
an instrument in this Quadrant or the next capable of measuring
the grief I would feel,” she replied softly, still eyeing me
in her knowing yet unreadable B’Elanna type way.

I let out an expulsion of air then, unable to control it, finally
moving to eye her while my body fought to control the shakes
that threatened to wrack it.

“You love him that much,” I stated. It wasn’t a question. I knew
as well as anybody else how much Tom and B’Elanna felt for one
another, it was more and more evident every day, and noticeable
to anyone who stopped and took the time to watch the two of them

“More,” she replied without hesitation, catching me off guard
by how openly she was admitting to her feelings, a trait neither
one of us were very good at; while her gaze remained unfalteringly
trained on me.

“Then do me a favor… never forget to tell him that you love him,
even when the two of you are fighting and the words may seem
out of place. Don’t ever disregard how much you mean to each
other, no matter how hectic things get or how busy you may be.
Remember to look up from whatever electronics or systems you
are working on and smile at him every once in awhile, just to
show you care. And recall always that we live on borrowed time,
so every second counts, no matter how boorishly sentimental that
may sound.”

It was an impassioned speech, especially coming from me, and
more whimsical than I was used to preaching, yet it was comforting
to say it, as if the words were a confession as well as wizened,
hard-learned advice.

And B'Elanna, as I knew she would, saw through me. Nodding her
head to affirm that she accepted the knowledge I had offered,
while regarding me wholly, her eyes reflecting the dawning of

"She knew you loved her," she said then, firmly, quietly, her
voice no more than a whisper caught in the cool Bay Area breeze.
"I don't think she would want you to doubt that."

"I know," I replied with a small smile, the first I had given
in days. "She wouldn't."

And with that B'Elanna and I both turned to walk towards the
family who waited for us, and who loved us, not matter our faults,
quirks and temperament. Serving to remind us both that life was
there waiting, even during the piercing moments of grief and
the sadness of loss… the way it always had.

The End!