Within These Walls
There were days when she deeply resented living in a close knit,
often suffocating community. A means of life where personal space
was continuously invaded and such matters as irritable moods,
personal triumphs or brief and fiery disagreements with her lover
became a matter of public knowledge before the argument even
had a chance to blow over. Such incidences were occasions when
her deep seeded longing for privacy became most apparent and
yet she had to pull on every bit of emotional strength at her
disposal to tolerate the knowing looks, the glances of sympathy,
and occasional pats on the shoulder that undoubtedly journeyed
hand and hand with an occurrence between her and Tom that unintentionally
provided a source of dramatic entertainment for the crew of Voyager…
It had been, for all intents and purposes, a pointless argument.
An angry retort to a proclamation over how holodeck time was
used; becoming an irritable chain of call and response, mutating
and growing into heated words and barely concealed flashes of
temperament. Ultimately she had stormed out of the mess hall,
fists tightly clenched, blood rushing dizzyingly to her brain
while she struggled to use every bit of emotional strength at
her disposal to regulate her breathing and achieve some mediocre
form of inner calm.
The corridors of Voyager had never seemed as long to her as they
did after a public display of emotion, as if she were a stranded
soldier lost in a desert with a ball and chain attached to her
ankle to slow her down. And she wondered if it was her anger
induced imagination that the reactions of the crew were, in a
way, condescending, an intrusion on a piece of her life that
she wanted to remain just hers and Tom’s, regardless of the negative
or positive connotations of it.
The walls closed in around her, large and imposing, as if they
too knew the secrets, viewed her in some arrived sort of classification,
thinking that they were seeing all that she was. But they weren’t
- none of them were: not the ship, it’s crew… her lover. The
ever-stringent chief engineer, the tough as nails half-Klingon
officer, the unfortunate daughter of unpleasant circumstance
- all masks she wore as a means of self preservation, never portraying
anything other than her hard learned belief that she had to be
entirely self reliant in order to survive the harsh and often
But the truth was that her arguments with Tom shook her up. Caused
her stomach to become anxiously nauseous, small trembles to wrack
her body, and a sudden chill to over take her spirit. In the
early days of their relationship she had seen these reactions
as a sign of weakness; had worried that she had become far too
emotionally reliant on Tom and that some lost and hidden part
of herself was in danger of being exposed. Such concerns were
difficult to overcome, even now, despite the time that passed
and despite how much more increasingly in love with him she became
with each new day.
She wondered how Tom would react if he knew. If he understood
that he had chipped and hammered at her once formidable and previously
impenetrable emotional walls until there wasn’t a day that passed
where his smile didn’t warm her; where the sparkling, devilish
gleam in his clear blue eyes didn’t move her; or the gentle and
tender way he would lightly touch her every now and again ‘just
because’, as if trying to prove to himself that she was really
there, didn’t cause her heart to flutter expediently. How would
he react if he knew she hated it when they fought, even if, during
the time of the actual argument she couldn’t help but react to
things a certain way, instinct overcoming rational thought? Or
how would he react if he knew that she was indefinitely less
hardened than she allowed him to see?
There were no ready answers to her questions, no affirmations
that she could quickly embrace to smooth over her insecurities
during the aftermath of another one of their legendary clashing
of wills. And more and more of Voyager’s walls were closing in
on her, causing her to feel exposed, filling her with the all
encompassing desire to just get away, to be alone with her thoughts
and turbulent emotions.
A flash decision had her switching directions; the air gradually
returning to her lungs as she pondered her means of escape.
The cockpit of the Delta Flyer was small and compact, yet at
that moment it felt oddly freeing, as if it allowed her some
small semblance of privacy that Voyager could not. True the ship
was stationed, nestled safely in its shuttle bay; yet inside,
cushioned in the pilot’s chair, she felt protected, as if the
shell of the ship were a shield around her.
She didn’t know how long she had been there, one minute fading
unassumingly into another as she gradually regained her equilibrium.
Her previous anger and frustration had all but faded; leaving
behind remnants of exhaustion and a not entirely unpleasant weary
yet wizened sense of spirit. But at that moment she didn’t feel
like moving, didn’t have the energy to go out and face her world,
as she basked in the rare sensation of laziness that her constantly
in-motion body was seldom allowed to indulge in.
She closed her eyes and leaned back in her chair, her mind so
occupied with thinking of nothing at all that she didn’t hear
the steady sound of footsteps outside of the Flyer nor did she
realize until the doors to the small ship hissed open, that she
was no longer alone. She knew before she turned her head just
who it was that joined her, as if she was somehow so hyperaware
of him that she could sense his presence when he was near, could
pick up on the pheromones he subconsciously sent to her that
she instinctively received.
She couldn’t read his mood in his expression as he regarded her
wordlessly, settling into the seat beside her as if he had every
right to join her in solitude. Yet strangely she didn’t feel
annoyed at the interruption, as if she also felt some sort of
propriety in him being there beside her. The epiphany startled
her and she wondered when such a feat had occurred, at what point
in time did her need to retreat within herself become a need
to retreat with Tom in tow?
She met his eyes intuitively, drawn to his gaze like a moth to
a flame. A deep look into his eyes indicated that he couldn’t
read her exact mood and that he was approaching her timidly,
with infinite caution. She almost giggled when the small smile
she sent to appease his concerns resulted in a surprised jolt
from him, as if he had been expecting her anger, not her currently
But to his credit he recovered quickly, granting her a smile
in return, a happy glow reaching his warm blue eyes as he regarded
her thoughtfully. For awhile they sat in comfortable silence
just staring at one another… Completely enthralled with the play
of light across their faces as if their relationship was new
and they were still in the 'honeymoon' phase of ecstatic enthusiasm,
yet also sharing the warm sense of familiarity and understanding
that accompanied years of both love and friendship.
It was slightly jarring when Tom began to speak, his voice piercing
the soft silence of the small ship as his voice echoed off the
"I was surprised to find you here, in the Flyer," he admitted
quietly, his announcement as much a question as it was a statement.
B'Elanna looked away then, briefly, taking in a relaxing breath
of air before responding, "I needed to get away. The Delta Flyer
seemed like the place to do it."
He smiled at her again, his eyes dancing as he reached up and
softly ran his hand down the length of her hair, his head laying
against the headrest and tilted to look towards her.
"I come here all the time to be by myself - to think, or cool
off, or to clear my head," he confessed, his countenance taking
on a knowing air. "Something about being in here seems to separate
me from the rest of the ship for awhile, like…"
"Being in an egg with a protective shell," B'Elanna finished
for him softly, staring at him with the conflicting combination
of appreciation and apprehension. It often took her off-guard
to be reminded of just how alike they really were; two lonely
fighters who felt the need to find a safe haven every now and
then that protected them from the outside world… or protected
the outside world from them, whichever the case may be.
A warm feeling spread through her, touching the hidden and protected
corners of her soul as she felt her heart lift. He really was
so wonderfully dear, so extraordinarily complex with so many
surprising layers and she came to the often before reached conclusion
that if she had to lose herself in someone, if she had to expose
a portion of her vulnerability to the persistent musings of the
heart; she was glad it was to him.
She frowned then, remembering the argument that brought her here,
away from the hustle and bustle of the mess hall and it dawned
on her that they had yet to clear the air.
"Tom," she started, with soft urgency, drowning in his gaze.
And his smile grew, his fingers reaching to gently spread across
"Shhhh," he breathed, drinking her in, "we're good. We're okay."
A grateful gust of air escaped her as she smiled, relieved, a
devilish gleam spreading across her eyes as she stood to approach
his chair, settling herself to sit on top of him with swift ease,
facing him with just inches between them, a leg dangling on either
side. His posture changed instantly to accommodate her, his hands
cupping her small waist as he stared at her with open amusement
"Now we're better than okay," she purred; wrapping her arms around
his neck as she leaned forward, her lips a mere breath away from
He chuckled lightly, causing his body to shake slightly as he
bridged the rest of the gap between them.
"Oh yeah," he readily agreed, meeting her lips in a deep, sensuous