Irrevocably Tied

By Deede


She was flying on automatic pilot, utterly numb - barely able to see the controls of the shuttle through the blur of her tear filled eyes. The majestic beauty of space before her held little of its unearthly charm, and she honestly couldn't say where she was or where she was going; all she knew was that she had to leave, escape, somehow gather the remains of the walls that had once protected her from harm, and shakily start to build them again.  In a way the situation held an odd dramatic irony, for flying blind wasn't her forte, it was… his.  Tom once told her that there was more than good eye sight to flying, there was instinct, and a sixth sense, as if flying was a derivative of nature; some had it, and others would never entirely understand what it meant to truly experience it. But she wasn't trying to 'fly' now by his definition, she wasn't even comfortable using that term, for flying was something she would always indefinitely connect to him, and he was what she was running from.

The pain was intense, and it was shattering; she didn't know whether to berate herself for feeling so much, and so hard, or just let it go and accept the emotions for what they were... agony. She saw as her hands shook, trembling to the point where she barely had control over them, but she felt powerless to make it stop, just as she felt powerless over fate - a state that would have angered her so ferociously just a year before, but now she just felt old, and tired, and something akin to physical numbness.

Beside her Miral, just barely under one, didn't make a peep, as if sensing her mother's turmoil and instinctively keeping silent… either too afraid to cry or too dazed to comprehend that the shuttle was not her house, and she would normally be in bed at this time. But B'Elanna was having a hard time looking at her daughter to assess her unusually mute state, because looking at Miral, seeing the innocent blue eyes, Tom’s eyes, staring back up at her, brought with it a fresh wave of guilt.

The most confusing thing was that she didn't know whether to hate Tom, or hate herself. Was she a coward for running? Violating some Klingon code of honor by leaving her husband? Did she even care that her Klingon side would be protesting the running? Could she have stayed? Would things have ever gotten better, or would they continue as they had for months - spiraling downward, making her miserable, Tom miserable… hell, everyone around them miserable. At one point she had dared to believe that she and Tom were indestructible, that their bond would withstand the test of time, that it was incapable of breaking, so why had they allowed it to break? At what point did she start to feel disheartened… doomed? At what point did she start to give up on them?

Memories flashed before her mind like an unforgiving tidal wave, playing out relentlessly in her mind, forcing her to relive the past year in all its dizzying sorrow. B'Elanna, Tom… Tom and B'Elanna - a desperate dream now on the verge of collapse.

And now that she had seen what it had been like to dream, the emptiness was even more acute.


11 months prior:

The Beginning of the End

B'Elanna scowled at the woman who was her Captain, more recently an Admiral, and pretended that she hadn't heard her correctly.

"You want me to what?!" she asked incredulously, yet wondering simultaneously why she had even been surprised by the older woman's request. After all, Janeway had personally taken B'Elanna under her wing during the early days of their being stranded in the Delta Quadrant, it wasn't really that much of a surprise that the Starfleet matriarch would extend her naturally derived instincts after their safe return to the Alpha Quadrant.

"I want to sponsor your return to the Academy," the admiral smiled serenely, as if she had asked B'Elanna to pass the bread instead of the life altering decision she had voiced instead.

"I should have known something was up when you invited me to lunch for 'just us girls', without letting me bring Tom along to help me ward you off," the younger woman smirked, too familiar with Janeway's antics to take any real offense to her deviousness.

"You know me too well," Kathryn Janeway retorted with a smile, eyeing her former chief engineer appraisingly. "You've got a god given talent, B'Elanna, one that needs to be utilized. Don't tell me you don't miss your engines because I know you'd be lying. The charges for your actions while in the Maquis have been dropped due to your dedication to Voyager these past seven years, over which time your temper has evened and you've gained a more in depth maturity. I have seen the kind of officer you are capable of being, and frankly, Starfleet needs more of those types of officers. I see no reason why you couldn't go back and finish this time. In fact, I could even pull a full strings and have you go in as a third year, simply allowing you to finish what you had started prior to dropping out and joining the Maquis."

B'Elanna continued to stare at the older woman unbelievingly, although strangely, she didn't feel the normal irritation or rebelliousness she would have responded with in the past whenever she perceived Janeway as foisting her Starfleet beliefs on the younger woman against her will. The truth was that going back to the academy had crossed her mind more than once. As an engineer B'Elanna didn't like to leave projects undone, her main drive was problem solving, following something through until it was mastered, or at the very least until the project was accomplished. Her youth, her anger, her resentment over her traumatic childhood, as well as a number of other circumstances, had all contributed to her leaving the academy, but always there had been that regret, that gnawing at her conscience. And Kathryn Janeway knew it - she knew it because B'Elanna, herself, had told her seven years ago when the then Captain had been faced with appointing a young, angry, yet extremely gifted Maquis rebel as her chief engineer on Voyager.

Plus, seven years on Voyager under the most dire of circumstances had shown her that she being an officer wasn’t that bad, there were worst fates, or at least that is what she would admit to the Admiral to cover her genuine desire to return. If she could return, there were other factors to consider…

"You seem to have forgotten that I have a three week old infant and a husband at home. Graduating from the Academy, if they allow me to enter as a third year student, would still take me two years to accomplish, which in itself is hard, but with a baby… next to impossible," B'Elanna remarked challengingly, leaning back in her chair to cross her arms.

Janeway merely deepened her smile, perhaps already reading that she had caught her friend's attention more than she would willingly admit.

"There are plenty of parents who have successfully made it through the academy, they even provide housing for it, although I know you and Tom have settled into your own place not far from here or the Paris', for now," the Admiral drawled out, both amused and excited. "And I've spoken with Tom recently and he informed me that he wouldn't be taking Starfleet up on the offer to return. He expressed that he would like to pursue other interests, like writing holo-novels. I'm sure the two of you would be able to work something out, perhaps a rotation with Miral. Besides, the new training year doesn't start till September, by that time you and Tom would have settled into a schedule. New parents work through these kind of problems all the time."

"Maybe," the engineer hedged, just a little, leaning forward slightly to betray her eagerness to accept. "But I'm not entirely convinced this is the path I should be taking."

"Ah, but the afternoon is young, I've got all the time in the world to convince you. One of the benefits to being Admiral - longer lunch breaks," Kathryn Janeway preened, knowing full well that she had already won the battle of wills as an affectionate sense of pride shone in her eyes.


"Tom, are you here?" B'Elanna called into the condo she and Tom had just recently purchased, straining her ears for any noise that would indicate that her husband was home. She wasn’t disappointed, muffled voices beckoned her as she walked further into the living space and she wondered curiously who Tom could be talking to as she continued to seek him out.

When she found him she was greeted with the sight of Tom and his father arguing in whispers, as if they were mindful of the sleeping baby not two doors down, although both men looked to be undoubtedly frustrated.

"I told you, I have no desire to return to Starfleet," Tom proclaimed, his voice laced with irritation. "On Voyager I did what I had to do, worked with the crew, kept myself occupied, participated in the well being of the group to ensure our survival. But that’s not what I want to do here. I want to pursue other options."

The elder Paris sighed, neither man noticing that B'Elanna had appeared and was watching the exchange silently from the doorway.

"Thomas, I realize that you have other interests, it’s good to be well rounded, and writing holo-novels is a great hobby, but your piloting skills are needed in Starfleet," Admiral Paris responded with equal exasperation. "You've been given a second chance; not many people receive that. Admiral Janeway has nothing but glowing things to say about you. Think of what you are throwing away here. You could be piloting a Starship. Your daughter could yet be the child of a Starfleet captain. I thought you had turned over a new leaf out there in the Delta Quadrant, son."

"Does turning over a new leaf mean that my fate has to be tied to Starfleet?" Tom asked with obvious anger shining in his eyes, yet his voice was still quite, even… calm, as if he refused to show any sign of weakness in front of his father. "Is being an officer the only way you would be proud of me? I'm not looking for your approval or your permission. I'm a husband now, and a father. You can no longer intimidate me into following orders."

B'Elanna continued to watch the exchange with morbid fascination, overwhelmingly proud of Tom for sticking up for himself, yet sickened that the father/son relationship between the Paris men had reverted to its pre Delta Quadrant days, a fact she knew would upset Tom greatly. As far as he had come, and although he had stated otherwise, Tom still desperately sought his father's approval. With a sigh she wondered if that would always be the case, if there were some kind of gene that it existed that children would always secretly long for their parents to be proud of them.

The elder Paris was close to fully losing his temper, it was obvious in the way his fists clenched at his sides, and in the way his face started to glow a brightened red color. Yet somehow he too kept his voice even, perhaps realizing just as B'Elanna had, that his relationship with his son would be threatened by the prodding.

"No matter how old you get, or how many kids you have, you are still my son," the Admiral stated, taking shallow breaths to calm his temper. "I worry for you and your future."

Tom stared at his father for untold minutes, assessing him, analyzing him, trying to read into his words and their meaning. Finally he sighed, looking weary as he shrugged and finally broke the silence with… "Maybe it’s time you let me worry about my future."

Owen Paris shook his head, suddenly looking very much the old man, and less the stringent Admiral.

"I guess I just have to resign myself to the fact that there won’t be another Paris in Starfleet for awhile," clearly indicating with his tone that he wasn't the least bit happy about that fact.

B'Elanna wasn't sure what possessed her to speak up then, either the need to somehow console her father-in-law, or the idea that Tom would be less likely to vocalize his misgivings over her re-enlisting into the Academy with his father present. Either way her… "I wouldn't be so sure," caught the immediate attention of both men.



For the thousandth time she wondered if the trouble between her and Tom had truly started with her re-enrollment into the academy, if things might have been different if she hadn't taken that step, and instead, chose something less time consuming, less all encompassing, less something Tom viewed as a thing to avoid because of his father's pushing and prodding. The academy life had been grueling, the hours spent in classes was tripled by the amount of time she had to spend studying for the courses, all the while causing her husband and daughter to suffer as a result - time spent behind a computer was time spent away from them.

At first Tom had been tremendously supportive, watching over Miral with little to no complaint, in fact, he seemed to thoroughly enjoy it, all the while working on his holo-novels whenever he could catch a spare minute. On occasion he would help her study, sometimes making it a game, sometimes not. Sometimes they would use her reading material as a pretense for foreplay and ignite their unquenchable desire…

"I hate that I have to be tested on material I already know like that back of my hand. Like this for example… the schematics for a shuttle pod. I could design my own while sleeping," B'Elanna had told her husband, utterly exasperated while she nearly missed the sly grin that appeared across his face.

"Oh, I don't know. Going over old material has its uses. Take the shuttlepod for example: small, confined, meant only for two people comfortably," he breathed in a mock sexy voice, trailing his fingertips up her arms tantalizingly as he said it. "There is something to be said about compact spaces for bringing two people together."

"Oh really?" B'Elanna had drawled, catching his game and smiling slyly as she decided to play along. "Small places like say… that chair over there?"

"Maybe. We'll have to try it out and see…." He trailed off, flashing her the come hither stare that never failed to excite her.

"Yes, we definitely must…"

The memory brought a fresh wave of tears to B'Elanna's eyes as she stared down at the shuttle controls in unconfined misery. God she had loved moments like that - spontaneous echoes of time where the only thing that existed was their desperate passion for each other and the fact that they could never seem to get enough. Moments that got less and less frequent as time passed and the distance growing between them became so shockingly apparent.

"What happened to us?" she asked the stars shining in the distance, only to be disheartened when they failed to provide the answer.


8 Months Prior

The Past that Refused to Remain Dormant

B'Elanna twisted and turned her way through the crowd of people with easy grace, nearly bumping into a few of the more clumsy individuals on her way as she struggled to keep her irritation in check. She was late, very late, and she knew it. She fleetingly wondered just how mad Tom was going to be about it. This was to be their first night out alone in quite sometime, the Doctor offering to watch Miral for the night so that Tom and B'Elanna could 'rekindle the old flame' as he put it, yet already the night was off to a disastrous start.

Finally she spotted Tom at the bar, shoulders hunched over a drink, an almost unreadable expression on his face: part indignance, part resentment, part anger; all mixed with a small glimmer of sadness, though one that anyone who didn’t know him well wouldn’t be able to read in his handsome, usually untroubled face. She approached him tentatively, believing that the majority his anger was a result of her tardiness as she braced herself for the confrontation she was sure to follow upon her arrival by his side.

Smiling, she jumped straight into the apology as she sat down next to him, hoping to diffuse the situation and salvage the night as best she could.

“I’m so sorry I’m late. One of my professors kept me after class to discuss a report I had turned in and it took longer than I thought it would. Can I make it up to you by buying you a drink?” she said in a rush, purposely keeping her voice light as she leaned forward and brushed a kiss across his cheek in greeting.

The look he gave her in response served to almost single handedly break her heart, like he was looking through her and not at her. Quickly the realization that he wasn’t alone sunk in, and when it did he jumped slightly, as if he were jolted from one reality to another, an ancient pain shining sharply in his eyes.

“I’m beginning to think returning the Alpha Quadrant wasn’t the best idea we’ve ever had,” he announced glumly, ignoring her attempt to appease his bad mood.

For a brief second she was too stunned to respond, not expecting him to be as upset as he was over her late arrival while a fresh wave of guilt consumed her. As officers serving together on Voyager she and Tom had gotten used to struggling to find time to spend together, yet even she had to admit that the Academy was sucking every bit of spare time she had, and when it didn’t there was Miral who needed attention. With a sinking heart she began to wonder if she had made the right decision by returning to school and if Tom was starting to feel the brunt of that decision.

“I know I’m late, and I’m truly sorry, but don’t you think you’re overreacting just a little?” she couldn’t help but ask, hurt over his lack of support when he had been so lavish with it before this one occasion.

It took him all of a second to grasp what she was saying, and when he did another realization passed through his eyes, causing him to reach out and grab her upper arms with his hands as he met her gaze firmly, as if her understanding was infinitely important to him at that moment.

“It’s not that,” he dismissed suddenly, an intense fire burning suddenly in his gaze. “It’s just that while I’ve been sitting here waiting for you I’ve noticed more than a few whispers and stares shot in my direction from some of the people in this bar and it reminded me of what it was like before Voyager got lost in the Delta Quadrant and everyone regarded me as the pariah of society,” he finished softly, melting through her defensiveness as she struggled with a different, even stronger emotion… protectiveness.

A surge of love for him flashed through her as she turned and paid closer attention to those around them, noting with disdain that Tom was right and that people were subtly looking in their direction every now and then and whispering conspiringly with those in close proximity. She and Tom hadn’t been out much since they had returned to the Alpha Quadrant, too busy with settling into a new life to really go out amongst the populous on more than just a few occasions, and fleetingly B’Elanna wondered if that had actually been a benefit. Rage boiled within her spirit, and it took every ounce of control she possessed to keep it in check before she gave in to her urge to confront some of those barely hiding their loose tongues. Instead she took a few deep, calming breaths, and turned to her husband with a soft smile, searching for the right words to reassure him.

“It’s not so surprising that people are talking about you, about us, behind our backs,” she said finally, again trying to keep her voice light. “After all, we are two of the famed Voyager crew - the crew that single-handedly explored the Delta Quadrant and took on the Borg as well as numerous other previously unknown species. I’m sure that’s what they are talking about and that none of this idiotic behavior has anything to do with your past or mine,” she finished, attempting to sound more confident than she felt.

He nodded at her words, seemingly appeased, though still slightly pained by the burden of memories – memories that the Alpha Quadrant would always hold within its limitless boundaries no matter how much they both had changed while serving on Voyager and how different things were now then they had been seven years earlier.

“I’m sure you’re right,” he agreed finally, as if he, too, had decided to ignore those around them… for now. “And did I hear you say something about buying me a drink?”



B’Elanna recalled the incident in the bar with startling clarity, as if it had happened just yesterday rather than so many months ago. And like so many other occasions throughout her marriage she wondered if she should have read more into the incident than she had… Should she have said more? Been more reassuring? Should she have brought up the fact that the looks and the whispers had continued to follow them wherever they went in the months that followed, haunting them, disallowing them the real opportunity to leave the past behind them as they had been able to do while serving on Voyager?

Instead she and Tom had opted to ignore it, choosing to put on some false bravado instead, willing the problem to just go away rather than confront it. They were both victims of a colored history, both recipients to the public opinion of a sometimes harsh and unforgiving audience, despite the hero worship they also received. There were those who thought that they had got off too easy from past sins upon their return to the Alpha Quadrant, and those that felt that such famed survivors hadn’t been given enough leeway - it seemed that everyone had some sort of opinion, one way or the other and whether or not they had right to pass judgment.

But she had the Academy, and Tom had his budding writing career, and neither wanted to rock the boat, neither wanted to dwell on the concept that society might not deem them worthy of the future they were working towards.

She remembered returning home after that memorable night at the bar, slightly tipsy, yet still feeling like she had to reassure Tom, as if dulling their senses hadn’t been enough to ease the memories of another lifetime.

“We still have another hour and a half until the doctor brings Miral home,” she had slurred, using her best seductive tone, and one she knew through experience that Tom would respond to.

“Plenty of time,” he had responded huskily, reaching for her without the need for further urging.

Their corresponding lovemaking had been unusually fierce and furious, as if Tom had needed that control, needed some form of outlet for his frustrations. He had paused somewhere in the middle, holding her hands pinned about her head as he stared down from on top of her with a feral snarl, sweat causing his skin to glow brilliantly in the moonlight that shone through the window.

“It’s you and me against the universe, B’Elanna, just you and me,” he had stated, breathless.

“Yes,” she had agreed, urging him to resume… *needing* him to resume, as she ached piercingly for the delicious release that only he could ever provide.

And he nodded at her contention, appeased, and resumed their lovemaking, sending them both spiraling into a universe of their own making, neither one admitting during the heat of their unparalleled passion that they had left too much unsaid in that moment until the problem had cascaded throughout the months that followed, ultimately sending her running… and leaving their private universe in shattering disarray.


6 Months Prior

The Holiday from Hell

Thanksgiving was not a holiday B’Elanna really celebrated until she had been stranded in the Delta Quadrant with the rest of a crew whom searched for any and every occasion to throw a party and boost moral. On Voyager the holiday had meant that everyone was together, relatively happy despite the sometimes overbearing work load, and free to feast freely for that one time of year without the added concern over wasting replicator rations or being subjected to Neelix’s leola root stew. Although the nonhumans of the crew didn’t really comprehend the significance of the holiday or celebrate it in the contents for which it had been created, they all enjoyed the reprieve it allowed, and the togetherness it inspired. In a way Voyager had put its own spin on Thanksgiving, marking it as an occasion when a small crew of different ethnic backgrounds and different planets of origin came together to celebrate life, the adopted family they had found in each other, and their common goal of reaching home. After seven years B’Elanna had found herself looking forward to the holiday, even starting to feel comfortable with the goodwill it inspired; all of which made her long for the Voyager incarnation of it as she and Tom transported to the Paris household for what was to be their first Thanksgiving back in the Alpha Quadrant and away from the rest of the crew.

In a way she was feeling homesick, more keenly than she had since the first week or two back from the Delta Quadrant, but Tom, although apprehensive about spending any length of time with his family, or more specifically his father, was determined to participate in the traditional Paris family Thanksgiving.

So B’Elanna had tried to be a good sport about it, smiling as her mother-in-law fretted over Miral, trying to find non Starfleet related topics to discuss with her stringent father-in-law, while attempting desperately to cover the fact that she didn’t want to be there.  It wasn’t until the entire family was seated at the table, busily trying to ignore the subject of Tom’s writing career, which his father didn’t approve of, or Starfleet in general, which Tom had a sore spot for in the company of his father, that B’Elanna had just about reached the end of her admittedly short tolerance level.

“Tell me again why we turned down Janeway’s offer to spend Thanksgiving with her, Chakotay, Seven, and the Doctor?” B’Elanna whispered to her husband when both of his parents were distracted with their discussion of the proper way to carve a turkey.

“Because this is the first Thanksgiving I’ve been able to spend with my parents in years,” Tom whispered back, shooting his wife a quick glare just as Owen Paris returned his attention to the young married couple.

“So B’Elanna,” the Admiral stated gruffly, eyeing his daughter-in-law with amusement, “Tom mentioned earlier that you didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving when you were younger, and given your half Klingon heritage I can see why. What do you think of the holiday so far?”

“Actually, we celebrated it on Voyager,” she informed him evenly, shooting Tom a defiant, saucy grin before adding, “I developed a love for the holiday there. Something about the crew coming together socially to enjoy each other’s company gave the holiday a lot of appeal.”

Her comment had exactly the reaction she was shooting for from both parties involved, a smile from the oblivious older Paris as he took her comment at its face value, choosing to believe his daughter-in-law was proclaiming her interest for the human holiday and a scowl from Tom, who recognized the real meaning of her words as he kicked her gently under the table to demonstrate his disapproval. Desperately B’Elanna tried to smother the laughter that caught in her throat as she shot her husband what she hoped passed for an innocent expression, grinning wildly when Tom couldn’t help but smile in return. However, her amusement was quickly dissipated with her father-in-law’s next statement.

“Speaking of Voyager,” the Admiral intercepted, his eyes gleaming as if he had been waiting for someone to slip and bring the topic up all day. “I spoke with Kathryn Janeway the other day. She informed me that your performance at the Academy has been exceptional, B’Elanna and that your instructors have nothing but praise for your natural abilities. You are carrying on the Paris tradition of excellence within Starfleet well.”

For a split second B’Elanna didn’t know how to respond to the older man; either to feel elation for the complement freely expressed or horrified at the gentle rib the comment was at Tom and his chosen profession outside of Starfleet despite his Paris name. It turned out that she didn’t have to say anything at all - Tom beat her to it.

“You just couldn’t resist, could you?” Tom asked his father angrily, his blue eyes dark and turbulent. “At every opportunity you can find you set out to remind me about the Paris tradition in Starfleet. I have to tell you, Dad, I’m getting pretty sick of it.”

“I don’t know what you are talking about,” the Admiral retorted, feigning innocence, “I was simply trying to compliment my daughter-in-law on her hard work.”

“Sure you were,” Tom replied disbelievingly through gritted teeth, folding his arms over his chest in a defensive posture as he glared defiantly at his father, and ignored his wife’s attempt to comfort him by the placing of her hand on his arm.

“Can we please drop this subject? I only want happy topics at this table,” Tom’s mother stated futilely, trying desperately to keep peace despite the damage already done and the awkward silence that had followed.

“Next year, Admiral Janeway’s house it is,” B’Elanna whispered under her breath to her husband, feeling an uninhibited pang when he gave her a pained, defeated glance in return.



An involuntary shudder went through B’Elanna as the events surrounding the past Thanksgiving swam through her head over and over like a projection set on replay; tormenting her with its refusal to allow her peace of mind or freedom from its ghastly restraints. At the time it had seemed horrible, yet insignificant, nothing that either of them couldn’t recover from, and nothing that either of them hadn’t come to expect - though no less painful. The truth was that the incident had left its profound impact, marking it the turning point where Tom had withdrawn into himself, baring the pain of his father’s disapproval like a marte while she kept occupied with classes and continued to excel.

B’Elanna cringed as she remembered her comment: “Next year, Admiral Janeway’s house it is,” regretting those words meant in jest now seemed so starkly inappropriate. Who would have known at the time that there might not be a next time where the two of them celebrated the holiday together? Who would have thought that everything would have escalated to what it had?

She couldn’t stop the continued and powerful shaking of her body as her mind continued to ponder the ‘what if’s’ as if unable to stop. What if she had confronted Tom afterward – voiced out loud the unbending support he probably would have needed to hear at that time? What if she had responded to Owen Paris before Tom had the chance to, letting him know in clear, certain terms that she didn’t appreciate a double-edged compliment at her husband’s expense?

Yet another part of her, the part that remain indignant and hurt that Tom had shut her out wondered if there was anything he might of done differently, and why it was that after three years of dating, and nearly two years of marriage he still hadn’t been able to confide in her about his personal pain. It was as if he had retreated behind his old, familiar walls, and she, too preoccupied with the latest engine designs and what marks she was receiving, hadn’t pushed the issue, hadn’t forced the Paris men into a room together to fight it out once and for all and lay a lifetime of pain on the table the way she had with her own father upon her return to the Alpha Quadrant.

Communication simply stopped: between Tom and his father, between Tom and B’Elanna, and the two of them continued to dance around each other, keeping conversation light, avoiding discussing anything that would shatter peace and focus in on the pain with steadfast idealism. In retrospect B’Elanna knew that it all, everything that happened prior to the incident, and anything that happened since, continued to fester, eventually exploding in a way that left them both angry, frustrated, and unable to remember the last time they had truly been happy.

“Tom, I don’t have a class until oh ten hundred hours tomorrow morning, do you want to… you know…”

“I’m not in the mood tonight, B’Elanna.”

And when had she last been happy? B’Elanna searched desperately in her mind, looking for anything that might bring hope to what was already a dismal situation, needing to shed some light on the dark place she was currently residing, her innocent daughter in tow.


Three Months Prior

The Concept of ‘Alone Time’

B’Elanna was actually in a good mood when she got home, excited to have her late afternoon class cancelled as she pondered over how to best surprise Tom with her free evening. Though she was loathed to admit it, a small part of her wondered if Tom would be happy about the sudden reprieve from harsh scheduling. Lately he had been both moody and withdrawn: sighing whenever she spent too long studying, glaring whenever she left for class early or came home late, and picking fights with her over what she considered little, nonessential things.

Not that she could blame him, while she spent every spare minute she had into her studies, he took care of the baby and juggled his writing, leaving little to no time for each other - almost as if they had reached the point where they barely exchanged more than five sentences on any given day. With a weary sigh she reminded herself that the situation was temporary, and that once she graduated the Academy she and Tom would have plenty of opportunities to make up for lost time. In the meantime she planned to take advantage of the time she did have, forming an idea in her mind that involved candlelight, wine and maybe a little slow dancing once Miral was tucked safely into bed.

The sight that greeted her when she got home caused her to smile, Miral was asleep on her father’s chest and he laid sprawled out on the couch watching cartoons. The image was so sweet, so tender, that she couldn’t help the rush that flowed to her heart, giving her a slight pang for having to miss out on scenes like the one before her on a day-to-day basis. She kept her smile as she walked into the room, coming to sit on the armrest of their couch as she met her husband’s gaze.

“Hey flyboy, boring our daughter to sleep with 20th century television?” she teased lightly, hoping to spread her good mood.

“Hi to you too,” Tom responded belatedly, his surprise over her early arrival showing clearly in his face as he indignantly teased her back.

“I got the afternoon off, I figured tonight might be a good night for that pizza fest you were hinting at not too long ago,” B’Elanna offered with the exaggerated drawl of a lady asking a gentleman out on a date, her eyes sparkling with anticipation.

She halfway expected him to jump on the offer, hoping that he was as eager for a peaceful night together as she was, which allowed for her disappointment when her offer was met with silence and a weary look from her husband.

“If it’s all right with you I’d like to go out tonight. I’ve been getting cabin fever and feel a tad bit cut off from the rest of the world,” he finally announced, looking away from his wife’s face.

“We can do that, maybe check out a nice restaurant instead,” she replied excitingly, warming to the idea as she remembered that it had been awhile since they had done anything like going out to eat as well.

“Not you and Miral… just me,” Tom volunteered quietly, still refusing to meet his wife’s gaze.

For a second B’Elanna was speechless, unsure how to take his request, and infinitely hurt that he had suggested it. She squelched the anger that wanted to swirl up inside her, biting her tongue to stop herself from reminding him of the fact that opportunities for time together was infinitely sparse. Yet her guilt over her hectic lifestyle stopped her from voicing her hurt, opting instead to cover her disappointment by walking over and gently lifting Miral from his chest, careful not to wake her as she forced her husband to meet her gaze.

“If that is what you want then sure, Miral and I could use some bonding time anyway,” she offered in a strained tone, trying to gauge her husband’s mood through his eyes.

But he stood up from his seated position too quickly for her to read him, barely sparing her a glance before he started to make his way towards the door mumbling, “Thanks,” under his breath as he passed by her.

She watched his back as he walked, waiting till he reached the door before calling out to him in obvious confusion. “Tom?”

He stopped and sighed, still facing forward, taking a few deep breaths before responding to the unspoken question in her tone.

“I just need some time alone without stressing B’Elanna. I love my daughter dearly but I’m starting to go a little nuts having to be constantly attentive to a nine month old and holodec characters of my own creating all day. I need to get out, and just have time with myself to think for awhile,” he stated with quiet resignation, willing her to understand.

And she did. ‘Alone time’ was something she had spent a lot of her adult life and a good portion of her childhood perfecting. Even after she and Tom had started dating she had required her space, escaping every now and then to her own thoughts while searching for a few minutes out of the day where intelligent conversation wasn’t necessary and activity was nonessential. She understood logically that she couldn’t begrudge that privilege to Tom, but logic didn’t stop her heart from aching over his proclamation, especially given how rare and precious their time together really was. With another sigh she silently watched him go, clutching her sleeping daughter tightly to her chest as she remained stuck in her spot, unmoving, for countless minutes afterwards.



After that first night out by himself Tom gradually made a habit of his 'alone time', at first taking one night a week, followed by two and soon thereafter, three. He would wait until she got home, and then take off without elaborating his destination, all under the veil of his desire for space. And because of her guilt, self-condoning, and painful understanding, she had let him do it, watching silently as he would leave, holding back any vocal protest, all the while trying to ignore the resentment that grew steadily inside her.

In a rush of frustration she punched the console of the shuttle, careful not to hit anything vital as she internally debated in her mind whether saying anything to Tom at the time would have changed his mind, or if they had already been pretty much doomed by that point. It had been a double edged sword, voice her protests and have him resent her, or do as she had done and remain silent, ultimately coming to resent him.

B'Elanna shook her head to ward off the painful memories, but they kept surfacing, causing each new wave of pain to overcome the last. Blindly she reached for the controls to the shuttle, hitting the disengage button and effectively stopping the small craft dead in its tracks as she fought another surge of remorse, another surge of hurt. Miral had fallen asleep in the chair beside her, although her slumber was fitful as disturbed baby mumbles escaped softly from her lips. With a surge of intense maternal love, B'Elanna wondered how much of the tension between her and Tom Miral had taken in? How had the pain of the parents affected the child? Would she ever be able to look at her daughter and not remember just how much love had created this small, precious being? She and Tom had loved beyond logic; beyond reasoning, stumbling and falling numerous times only to pick themselves up and cling even more tightly than before. They had been resilient; they had been passionately and wholly consumed with one another, and they had overcome so many obstacles to come to what… her running away?

That first night Tom had left her alone after brushing off her attempt for dinner he had come home apologetic, with the faint stench of synthenol on his breath. For awhile he stood silently at the doorway to their bedroom just simply watching her while she pretended to be asleep. But she knew - she sensed him as he stared at her longingly, she felt it when he climbed into the bed beside her, brushing the hair out of her eyes, and then lightly tracing her cheeks with his fingertips, her own heart racing so undeniably fast.

"I'm so sorry, B'Elanna," he had whispered, having no way of knowing that she had heard the plight in his tone.

But it hadn't stopped him from seeking refuge again not too long afterward, and it didn't stop the last, lone tear that made its way down her cheek just then.


18 Hours Prior

The Shattering of Dreams

It had been a rough day, there was no other way to describe the dawning of the headache that pounded in her brain, or the dark mood that had followed her from morning until evening. With finals coming, Miral teething and thus correspondingly cranky, and Tom retreating further and further into himself, B’Elanna didn’t know how she had even made it through the past week, let alone the past few months. She was so tired, undeniably so, having spent every couple of hours throughout the previous night trying to get her daughter to return to a fitful sleep, all the while burning the midnight oil studying for what seemed like impossibly difficult tests. The last thing she felt like witnessing as she walked through the door of her home was Tom walking out of it.

“I’m going out,” he announced before she had a chance to greet him, pausing briefly to place a light kiss on her cheek.

It was all B’Elanna could do to keep from going off on him, opting instead to clutch her hands into tight fists at her sides and grit out a simple yet firm “No,” instead.

Her proclamation took Tom by surprise, stilling him, resulting in him whirling around to face her, shock evident in his handsome features.

“What do you mean, no?” he asked calmly, though on the verge of his own flash of temperament.

“Just exactly what ‘no’ implies. N-O, no,” she gritted in an overly calm voice… almost too calm, like the forewarning to a giant storm.

She had stunned him and she knew it, but at that moment she couldn’t bring herself to care, as if the weight already placed on her shoulders made their current predicament just one more thing.

“I have finals coming up that I need to study for, I only got maybe a total of two hours of sleep last night not to mention the night before, and I really have no desire to play the single parent tonight, so no. You can’t go,” she announced with bitterness that surprised even her, yet she refused to take it back, refused to apologize, because for the first time in a long time she was being utterly candid, and it felt good.

Tom turned instantly frigid, his posture straightening instinctively and his lips were drawn in a straight line and he eyed her with obvious pent up hostility. “Oh, you’re tired of being the single parent?! Try doing it everyday - all day. Try juggling a baby in one hand while trying to jumpstart a career in the other, all the while watching you, my loving wife, devote every bit of your energies into something my father won’t let me forget I gave up. You once told me that you feared being abandoned by me because of what your father had done to you… Well, guess what? I’ve been feeling pretty damned abandoned myself, B’Elanna. I have for a long time.”

B’Elanna recoiled as if she had been slapped, shock permeating her spirit. For untold minutes she didn’t know how to react, what to do, what to think. She stood there, silent, still, experiencing one emotion after another without the time or frame of mind to sort them out, claim one then another and deal with them accordingly. She was confused, lost, and in that confusion she felt fear, and the fear, above all else, made her angry, it made her hurt, and vulnerable in a way she didn’t like experiencing or dealing with. In that state she was helpless, unable to figure out how to react except to cling to the one defense she felt most comfortable using through the slew of uncertainty, the one defense that had got her through a troubled youth, the Maquis, and later, and to a lesser degree, Voyager… anger.

“I thought you supported my decision to return to the Academy,” she spat, her voice rising as the hostility spread through her in waves. “I thought you understood how much it means to me. We knew about the hardships before I accepted Janeway’s offer - you agreed to work it out so I could go. Why give me guilt about it now? Why turn this against me?”

The tone she used made him recoil, caused him to feel indignant, and angry… so angry he felt his body shaking. For months he had let it build, let her do what she wanted and dealt with his own grief because he knew - he knew that she was doing what she wanted and he knew that part of the problem wasn’t even her: it was him, his father, adjusting to just how much their lives had changed practically over night.

He didn’t like feeling like a disappointment, he didn’t like being reminded of a past he’d rather not remember every time he went out and the stares that followed, he didn’t like feeling… alone, like he had before he met her. She was supposed to be his: his mate, his companion, his lover, his friend - his partner. They were supposed to square off against the universe together. And although he logically knew that her love of her job had always been a part of her and the Academy was a means to that job, his couldn’t help but feel hurt that she had left him to defend himself against the universe as a solo effort, as he had always had to do in the past. And he was tired: tired of feeling that way, tired of living with it all, and most of all tired of existing in a shadow of his own making, of her making - the making of his parentage and the expectations that would always be there, shaky truce or not.

Throughout his life he had defended himself and his sanity through rebellion, which was all he could think to do then, in that instance. Rebel against the Alpha Quadrant, his father, her… himself. Ignore the pain, ignore the hurt, and live under the belief that as long as he didn’t have to face it he would be fine… Except he was being forced to face it and he didn’t like it. He didn’t know how to deal with it, didn’t *want* to deal with it, and wasn’t quite ready at that moment in time to face the problems that came from both ends of their bruised and battered psyches.

“Because talking about something is different than living it. Because I had no idea just how much it all would entail. Because I didn’t want to believe that my wife cared so little for her husband and child that she would treat us this way,” he shouted, unable to stop himself, then later unbelievably shocked that it had slipped out the way it had. But by that time it was too late… too late to take it back, too late to admit that in that moment she was the scapegoat for everything, all together, as a whole.

For the first time in a long time B’Elanna Torres saw red. Her vision swam, her blood boiled, she felt dizzy with anger, dizzy with rage. In fact she scared herself with it, jolting her out of this dark and stormy place to pin her face to face with every bit of self restraint and sheer will she had tried so hard to exert over the more primitive part of her being throughout her life.

“Do you really believe that I am capable of that, that I am capable of just abandoning you and Miral and not caring?!” she screamed, blind to the tears that fell down her cheeks, blind to the hurt and anger on his face, and blind to the way the walls around them trembled with her wrath.

“I wouldn't have thought so before, but you're sure making a show of it now,” he stated automatically, yelling instinctively because she had, answering more out of the fact he had already locked himself into the current direction of the conversation and he was unable to think straight enough to get himself out of it or to speak a truth unclouded by resentment and hostility.

A baby’s wail pierced the silence as Tom and B’Elanna stared each other down, each dealing with their own private hell during the afterglow of emotionally shattering devastation. They had woke Miral with their fighting, and in yelling so heatedly at each other they had scared her, sending her into a whirlwind of panic she was unable to comprehend.

Uninhibitedly a memory of her own childhood came to B’Elanna as she stood stock still under her husband's gaze and listened to her baby cry… A young frightened girl sitting in the middle of her bedroom with her hands over her ears as her parents fought unrelentingly in the other room. So many noises, so much pain - glass shattering, voices filled with rage and hate, unidentifiable thumps against the wall. She had been so scared, so impossibly frightened, and now history was repeating, and Miral was going through the same thing.

Tom saw his wife shaking but he didn’t know how to deal with it, didn’t know how to comfort her when he was so entirely lost himself. He wanted so much to run, to escape, to retreat into himself so that he could work it all out, figure out what had just happened, and what was really going on. And so he unconsciously took his wife’s silence as consent to run and he slowly turned around and left, unable to withstand the stunned, shocked expression that held on B’Elanna’s face as if it had been chiseled there, though the image of it had been permanently engraved in his brain and it followed with him as he fled, haunting him, remaining over him like a dark storm cloud.

And whatever daze B’Elanna had been in snapped when she heard the sound of the front door hiss shut. Still stunned, still shocked, still angry, confused, and hurt, she made her way to Miral’s room and contemplated her own means of escape. In a blind panic she quickly ran to her daughter’s closet and started throwing clothes and essentials into Miral’s baby bag, not stopping to think, not stopping to care, and keeping herself moving and busy so that she didn’t have to.

After she was done with Miral she did the same for herself, cramming any possession of hers she could see through her tear-blurred haze until her suitcase was full and she had nothing else to do except grab her daughter, their bags, and her memories and continue walking straight out the door and onto the nearest shuttle pad.


Tom Paris was a wreck when he returned to his home three hours later, eyes swollen from crying, spirit hoping wildly for release from the heavy, heady, darkened oubliette it had trapped itself in. That night no solace had been found in his solitude, in fact, staring at the Pacific Ocean from the shores of a desolate San Francisco beach didn’t bring the tranquil serenity it normally afforded him. It didn't allow his mind to escape into oblivion as he attempted to separate his spirit from the events of the day… nor did the alcohol burning its way through his system.

For the past three months that salty, barren, comforting stretch of beach had been his security blanket. The one place he ran to where he didn't have to think at all. He didn't have to ponder his life, his work, the distance bridging in his relationship or the fragile truce with his father that had formed when the novelty of Tom’s return from the Delta Quadrant had worn out. On the beach he would slip into his memories of Voyager; recalling with vivid clarity the freedom of space, the supportive, family atmosphere, meeting B'Elanna and falling head over heals in love with her, courting her against her will by planning different scenarios that would get her to agree to go out with him when she wouldn’t have otherwise given him the time of day.

There hadn't been a part or aspect of her that didn't intrigue him, that didn't attract his attention, his libido, his thoughts… his heart. He would fall asleep each night with her name on his lips, and then she would invade his dreams during those long, restless nights, never far from his thoughts.

"God, B'Elanna, the way you feel, the way you smell… the way you taste. I've wanted this for so long. So very, very long."

For months after they had started dating for real he couldn't believe she was his, as if he were still locked in that dream and none of what transpired was actually real. He supposed that is where his greatest fear had generated from - that irrational part of him that was frightened he would wake up and realize that it had all been a dream… that she had been a dream. So many times he had the strongest urge to just take her in his arms and squeeze as tightly as he could, not letting go, never wanting to loosen his grip even a little for fear it might mean he could potentially lose his hold on her.

The Alpha Quadrant brought with it one too many doses of reality, one too many ghosts that haunted the foundation of his dream. And his greatest fear… losing B'Elanna, slowing waking into a nightmarish world to find her drawing away, had become all too vivid a reality. The worst thing was the feeling of being powerless to stop it, powerless to prevent life from interfering, powerless to do anything as she retreated, he retreated, and they both danced around each other with confusing indecision.

The bottom line was that he loved her: he loved her then, loved her now - loved her to a level he had never believed possible before she had been inserted into his life.

That night, standing on the San Francisco beach in the aftermath of their explosive argument, Tom Paris discovered that B'Elanna was with him in the place he had ran from her to hide in. She was in the wind, in the waves, in the sky, because he saw those things with his heart, and B'Elanna Torres was also something he would forever see with his heart. She was with him because he had brought her, as he always would. And as if that realization wasn't enough it dawned on him that he didn't mind that she was there, in spirit, in his place of comfort. In fact, he liked that she was.

And so he went home, prepared to make penance, prepared to do anything, say anything, that would find her back in his arms, back in his grip, firmly and soundly. But instead he was greeted by emptiness, coming home to a barren house and an even more barren dream.

For the first time that Tom could remember in all of his adult life, he sank to the floor onto his knees and sobbed loud, bellowing wails that shook him to the core of his spirit.



B'Elanna Torres struggled against the memories of the past year: tired of the hurt, the pain, the agony - wanting release from all the built up frustration swirling within her spirit. Her heart was sick and she knew it. She knew it because no matter where she went, and how fast she traveled, she couldn't escape. Despite the argument that had sent her running - had sent her soul into a horrible, frightening location… she missed her husband with an ache that pierced her being. Their voices, both during angry and loving moments, seemed to resound increasingly through her head.

For some reason unfathomable to her given her current state a new memory surfaced from a corner in her mind. One of Tom, and her - the overwhelming vastness of space, the nauseous feeling of being encased in an environmental suit, and the fear that the lack of oxygen would cause her to die without honor, and without Tom knowing that she loved him with everything in her.

"There's something I have to say," she had said, on the brink of death.

"Me to..." Tom had replied, "I'm glad the last thing I'm going to see is you."

"I've been a coward about everything - everything that really matters," she had admitted, searching desperately for the courage to admit to him how she really felt.

"No, you're being a little hard on yourself," he had tried to soothe her, completely oblivious to what she had been about to confess in a way that was so endearingly Tom.

"No. I'm going to die...without a shred of honor. And for the first time in my life that really bothers me. So I have to tell you something," she pressed forward, knowing that if she paused, if she halted at all, her courage would run out and he would die unknowing.

"I have to tell you the truth," she continued, dizzy from either oxygen deprivation or fear, she couldn't distinguish one from the other.

"The truth about what?" Tom had asked, curious despite the near fatal circumstances surrounding them.

"I love you," she had stated - three words that had been the hardest thing she had ever had to say, and yet the one phrase that had brought her the most still, quiet, and beautiful peace.

At the time admitting to Tom that she loved him had been the scariest thing she had ever had to face. Her fear of rejection, of opening herself up and allowing him to glimpse at the vulnerable part of her frightened her to no end. But now - now she knew better. She realized with steadfast certainty that there were scarier things than giving Tom Paris her heart: Much more frightening was the concept of living a life without him.

The negative residue of their argument started to fade as happier memories joined the aftermath of that Klingon Day of Honor so long ago. Images of Tom doing everything in his power to get a smile out of her during an extremely bad day. Of the first time they had made love against a wall in her quarters; both of them so desperate with longing that they were unwilling and unable to make it to a bed. Of the two of them sneaking into the mess hall on Voyager in the dead of night while she was pregnant with Miral to raid Neelix's kitchen. Of the time Tom had spent hours well into the night trying to find a ticklish spot on her body, never giving up. And finally, how tightly they had clung to each other that first week back in the Alpha Quadrant when they had faced such drastic changes in their lives: parenthood, an uncertain future, a life without the secure and loving comfort of the Voyager family around them on a day-to-day basis.

He was such a part of her: the man responsible for the happiest memories of her life, and the angriest. The only person she had ever allowed herself to completely open up to, and the only one she trusted to see the part of her she instinctively liked to keep hidden.

So many times they had fought, and so many times they had made up, each time realizing just how much they needed each other, just how much they loved so entirely. On Voyager neither one could ever really run. They couldn't escape each other's erratic personalities because they were stuck… on a small ship, in a small community - one where they were forced to confront all that ailed them. They had never really been tested because there was no way to truly hide.

B'Elanna realized that throughout her life she had been anything but courageous… until Tom. Before that she had always run, just like her father before her - the father that couldn't take the heat of turmoil and had escaped like a coward into the night when she had been no more than a few feet high, and she turned out to be just like him. She had run from her mother, she had run from the Academy, she had run from conformity and she had run from pain… as she was doing now. All of which was made worse by the fact that she was taking her daughter with her; subjecting Miral to the same sort of fatherless fate that she had so resented in her own childhood.

No longer protected by the walls of Voyager she had failed to face her fears and her uncertainty by escaping, by letting her hurt and anger lead her to an act that she knew deep inside wasn't the right thing to do. She still loved Tom Paris, completely, entirely: despite the pain, the resentment, the hurtful accusations - she couldn't imagine a life without him, even now… especially now.

And so, like that one, exhausting, breathless, terrible yet wonderful day so long ago - the day that started it all; B'Elanna had to fight for the courage to follow through. To have the willingness to confess to Tom her true feelings - to struggle with every last breath of oxygen in her, and every bit of honor at her disposal - to not let him go without him knowing… that she loved him.

Once again drawing on that need she busily worked to turn her shuttle around.


The house was dark when B'Elanna entered, and for a brief moment she became panicked to think that Tom wasn't home… until she picked up a muffled, urgent tone coming from the living room. With her heart racing at irreconcilable speeds, she temporarily sat down her and Miral's bags and the baby seat that carried the dozing, exhausted toddler and went to face her husband.

The sight that greeted her gave her heart a swift, hard jolt and sent her spirit reeling. Tom was there in utter disarray: clothes rumpled and unkept, hair tasseled, shoulders sunk, his back to her as he spoke desperately into the communiqué on the wall.

"Come on Chakotay, you would be the first one she would contact. I want to find my wife!" he begged, his voice desperate and filled to the brink with despair.

"I told you that I have no idea where she is, I haven't heard from her in two or three days," the voice over the computer announced, dripping with the protective older brother tone that Voyager's ex first officer usually adopted whenever Tom spoke to him about B'Elanna. One that implied without saying 'what have you done now, Paris?'

Steeling her courage, B'Elanna walked further in the room, her heart moved irrevocably at seeing Tom in such a state while struggling with the confusion of whether to take him in her arms and promise to protect him from further anguish, or to announce what she had come to realize during her epiphany on the shuttle.

"He's telling the truth, he doesn't know where I am," B'Elanna announced softly, tears building in her eyes as she watched Tom whirl around to face her, his face an invariable myriad of emotion: relief, shock, penance, love, desire, yearning, a desperate need for something inarticulate yet something she could instinctively comprehend. He caught his breath as he looked at her, his hand automatically moving to close off communication with Chakotay as his eyes remained locked on B'Elanna, starkly naked with longing.

For untold minutes there was nothing but silence between them, both of them trying to convey with their eyes what lay in their hearts… The craving they felt to move on from that point, together, nearly palpable in the air.

"I had this horrible nightmare last night," Tom said at last, breaking the stillness, his gaze roaming over B'Elanna's face as if he were busily trying to memorize ever curve and contour. "I dreamed that I had to live the rest of my life without you… and it scared me - so much. I woke up in a cold sweat, panicking, my heart racing so fast I thought it would jump out of my chest. I had never felt so alone before, and I knew that that was one future I would do everything in my power to prevent," he finished, his voice choking with raw emotion.

"You're not alone, Tom," she responded with an urgent whisper, letting him know in her own way that she was back and ready and willing to work things out between them.

They lunged for each other then, neither one knowing who reached for who first, and neither one caring; occupying themselves instead by the heated, repeated kisses, and hands that roamed desperately, using touch to confirm that they were there in each other’s arms and that it was real.

There was still so much to be said. So much to be discussed, so many compromises to be made, and so much pain to work through, but for now, in that instant, they basked simply in the knowledge that they had survived their latest hurtle and now faced the rest of their lives… together. Both appeased that, at the very least, the past year had taught them the many layers to love and strength, all of which would serve to prevent them from making the same mistakes twice.

"I love you, Tom."

"I love you, B'Elanna."

The End!