This is an "Alternate Universe" story, featuring Tom Paris and B'Elanna Torres. *Warning* it carries a lotta Tommy-angst, so if you don't like that, you know the drill.
This is my very first fanfic, so be kind. Emails gladly responded to and flames consigned to the nearest airlock. Drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org
For the folks at Paramount: Star Trek and all its incarnations belong to Paramount and TPTB. I'll clean them up when I return them. No copyright infringement is intended...Hey I'm just a fan.
Rated PG-13 - for lack of a better rating system.
My thanks to RDM & Rox for making Tom &B'Elanna live for me.
Posting: OK to ASC, ASCEM, BLTS, & PT Fever. Please notify me if posting anywhere else...I love to see my name in lights!
Gallantry Part 1 - By Annette Welsh-Shinya © 1997 P/T, J/C, K/7...oh it's a loooove fest!
The sweat dripped off of Tom's forehead, getting into his eyes, stinging. Impatiently, he wiped it away, and tried to concentrate. The trickiest sequence was coming up. Shift to the left, back step, keep your line of sight, Tommy! Fake, jab, fake again, push, and the kill! His Bat'leth took another holographic Klingon to his reward. That was the last on this level. He sighed, balanced theBat'leth on edge, and wiped his forehead again, puffing a bit. He obviously needed to do this more often. He took a deep breath, then shook his head to clear it, and called out, "Computer, end and save program."
He hefted the Bat'leth over his shoulder and walked out of holodeck 3, still not much in charity with the Universe. What he needed now was a shower, a drink, and some time with B'Elanna. Not that the latter was going to happen tonight. The mysterious plasma manifold leak had manifested itself again that afternoon, which was why he was practicing his Bat'leth technique instead of dining with Torres. He didn't imagine that he was going to see B'Elanna any time that night. Perfection in action and deed was her motto in running Engineering. He supposed he ought to not resent it, and he did know he would react the same way about anything going wrong with helm control. So, he was blowing off a little steam with the workout program. It didn't help much. He still wished she was with him instead of running the umpteenth diagnostic of the day to determine where the malady was. He enhaled and exhaled loudly, and hit the bulkhead as he waited for the turbo-lift. He got in and snapped his request to the computer. It was not impressed and merely took him to his destination deck.
Several looks accompanied him as he made his way to his quarters, oblivious to all he passed. Members of the crew were noticing him acting preoccupied lately, especially when it had to do with anything Klingon and/or a certain Engineer. Ensign Hathaway later swore on her shift in Stellar Cartography that she heard Paris growling as he made his way past her from the turbo-lift.
Tom hung up his Bat'leth, showered, and put on some clean civvies. He wasn't in the mood for much of anything, but he'd promised Harry that he'd help him with his new holodeck program that he was writing. Sometimes, he thought, I spend too much damn time with the holodeck and not enough time with real people. He knew that in the beginning, it had been a way for him to hide from people, and it also gave him a creative outlet. Some people might laugh, but for a supposed "playboy", he sure didn't spend a lot of time with people. Lately, he had found himself craving company, to be exact, a certain person's company.
*God, Paris...can't you even think her name. You are so committment phobic that you won't even think her name aloud for fear you might be agreeing to something you're not ready for!*
He made his way to the mess hall, where he'd agreed to meet Harry. As he entered, he saw Harry sitting at the far end of the hall. Across from him was B'Elanna Torres. They were engaged in a conversation, and it looked very intense. They were leaning into the table toward each other. A sharp stab hit Tom near the region of what he once would have called his heart. Harry looked up at that moment, and saw the look on Tom's face.
Instantly, the look was gone, and the Paris-mask was up. Harry groaned inwardly. He knew that look. Betrayal. Harry knew that it wasn't for him, either. Harry's distress caused B'Elanna to turn around and see who he was looking at. She really didn't have to, she knew it was Tom. He continued toward them, not missing a beat.
"Hey, Harry. B'Elanna." Smooth Paris here, no frantic sounds of *Why did you lie to me, B'Elanna?*
"Hi, Tom," Said Harry, trying not to frown.
"Tom," Said B'Elanna, looking down, thinking, *I told you I was going to work late tonight. I know what you're thinking.*
Tom gave them his Patently False Smile, and said, "Harry, I know I told you I would help you with your holodeck program tonight, but I'm really behind with my Sickbay daily reports *the truth*, so I'm gonna have to take a rain-check, OK? See you later." The last directed at the two of them, and with that he turned and headed straight for the nearest exit.
B'Elanna had risen halfway out of her seat, a confused, and hurt look on her face. Harry grabbed her arm and said, "Don't, B'Elanna." She look at him, anger warring with confusion. "He's really angry right now. Just let him be for a few minutes." B'Elanna slumped back down in her chair. *Oh God, I have another thing to explain to him.*
B'Elanna slumped in her chair, completely defeated. *How am I gonna explain this to Paris? And I call him a pig...*
Harry looked at her for a few seconds, and then said, "You're gonna have to tell him, B'Elanna. Whatever it is, you're going to have to tell him."
She quickly looked up at Kim, then down again, spoke in a voice that didn't sound much like her, "I know, Harry," looking up again at him, "I just don't know how..." The look of genuine anguish that filled her eyes caused Harry physical pain. He knew though, that he wasn't the person that could help her. Only Tom could do that.
"You know, you guys seem to be talking OK the last couple of weeks," said Harry, slightly puzzled.
"Yeah, well, we were."
"You were actually talking without coming to blows or yelling at each other, uh, too much."
"We were, Harry." B'Elanna bit her lip, and looked up at him. "Things are different now."
"I don't know what the problem is B'Elanna, but I want to help you," said Harry, now really concerned. He'd never seen Torres even close to breaking down before, and quite frankly, it scared the Hell out of him. It was like turning the laws of the Universe on end.
B'Elanna reached over and took his hand. She gave a ghost of a smile, and said, "You're a good friend, Harry, and I know you would help me if you could. But, you can't. I have to help myself on this one. I owe a big explaination to Tom, several in fact, and I'm still as big a coward as I ever was."
This was news to Harry, who had come to think of B'Elanna as a rock in an unstable Galaxy. To see her so vulnerable made him wonder about his own misgivings. Maybe being unsure of your path was not just for young Ensigns on their first deep space assignment.
"You really care about him, don't you?" The last so softly, B'Elanna just caught it. "Yes," she replied just as softly. "I do care, a lot. You see, I love him." The last was said with her looking straight at him, as if the emphasize that she meant what she said.
Harry smiled, then lifted her hand that he still held and said, "About time you admitted it, Maquis." "If I hear anybody else talking about it, I'll know whose jaw to break, Starfleet," B'Elanna growled. Harry did not look intimidated in the least. "Yes, Ma'am," he replied in his best Tom Paris/Smart-ass voice.
B'Elanna retreived her hand, stood up, and looked down at Harry. "Wish me luck, Harry," she said, "I'm gonna need it."
"I don't think so, B'Elanna," he said encouragingly. "You just have to make Tom listen. Don't let him brush you off. Make him talk to you. I know he cares, too."
B'Elanna nodded, not trusting herself to speak, then walked out of the messhall. *I know he cares, Harry. The question is, does he care enough?* She walked down to the nearest turbolift and pushed the call button. "Computer, what is the location of Tom Paris?"
"Tom Paris is in his quarters."
B'Elanna made her way to Tom's quarters, thinking hard. *How am I gonna tell him? I've made such a big deal about being honest and now I'm going to tell him I haven't been truthful with him* Her steps slowed as she approached his door. She stared at it, biting her lip. She grimaced as she noticed this activity. She hadn't done that since she was a kid. She had schooled herself not to, preferring to get actively angry, rather then reveal that she was extremely nervous.
She then suddenly pushed his call button, as if to give herself no more time to think. She was inwardly trembling as she heard Tom call, "Who is it?" as he opened the door.
"It's me," she said softly to the floor. She looked up, into the bluest of blues and was caught again by their spell. She gazed into the eyes of the man she loved and felt the tug in her heart that she always did. It was unreal, the power that man's eyes had. They were surprised at first, puzzled as to why she was there, then, they turned hurt, and it broke her heart to see them that way. All this, and his face did not move a muscle. So well did she know this man, and yet, not at all.
"Come in," said Tom softly. Backing away from the door, he let her in, closed the door, and stood, his back to her for a few beats. Then, taking a breath, he turned around. B'Elanna stood, head down, like a small child waiting for punishment. He was confused. This wasn't like her at all. And yet, he recalled a very different B'Elanna, who, trapped in space in nothing but encounter suits, had shared with him some things that he would have never believed had he not heard them himself. She had admitted that she had been a coward, had told him that she pushed people away, and she HAD said she loved him. It was her behavior lately that had him wondering about their relationship.
B'Elanna looked up as the silence stretched out between them. She was distressed, he could see. She was wanting to pace, but forcing herself to stay in one place, to look at him. *I want to help her say what she has to say, but I don't know how. Damn, if I'm such a smooth talker, why do I always trip over my tongue when I'm around her? Could it be Tommy-boy, that it's because it matters so much to you this time around?* The last errant thought flashed through his head, but he didn't have time to ponder it, as B'Elanna spoke.
"I thought that I would be able to tell you this sooner," she got out painfully. "I...wanted to for a couple of weeks, but, (breath) we got busy, and then, time had gone by..." another deep breath. "And then, it was even harder to tell you."
Tom looked at her intently, well aware of the invisible barrier that she had established between them while she was trying to get out what she was saying. "Tell me what?"
B'Elanna felt her heart rending into pieces. She didn't know how she had fallen so in love. *Stupid, stupid, B'Elanna. You take first prize in the Idiot contest. You're going to tell him, and then he's going to take one look at you and tell you where to get off. Or WORSE, he'll feel sorry for you.*
"I'm pregnant." The distress that was in her voice was palpable. She was boring a hole in the floor with her eyes again at this point. She wasn't afraid of much, but she was afraid of looking up and seeing anger or disappointment in the eyes of the man she loved.
Tom felt shock, then like a great load had been lifted from him. Suddenly, it was easier to breathe, and he felt the beginnings of the first real grin he had had in weeks. He crossed over to her, took her by the arms and said, "Are you sure?" There was barely suppressed excitement in his voice.
B'Elanna finally found it in herself to look up, and, she saw something amazing. Tom's face, cutting a grin that looked like it would run out of room, his eyes clear and merry with ecstasy. The shock manifested itself in her face. Then she abruptly turned around, giving him her back.
"You're...not...angry, are you?" she said in a low voice that Tom knew very well. She was getting pissed.
"Angry? Shit, B'Elanna, it's great!" He said, turning her around by the shoulders, catching her up in a fierce hug. He kept hold of her, his arms around her waist. He noticed she was still a little stiff.
"Uh, B'Elanna," he said, a little uncertainly. "This is supposed to be a happy moment, right?"
"How the Hell am I supposed to know, Paris? This isn't exactly an area I'm familiar with." She growled.
"Why did you think I'd be angry?"
"If you didn't tell me something like this for three weeks, avoided being alone with you, lied to about where I was because I couldn't face you, I'D be angry."
"You do have a valid point," he said, his voice gradually falling, and his head tilting to one side a bit, he looked at her. His eyes were shining. " I think I can find a suitable punishment."
"Suitable punishment?" B'Elanna's voice was incredulous. Here she was trying to made amends, and he was coming onto her. Worse, it was working. She felt the familiar lethargy steal into her as she gazed at the man she was so everlastingly in love with. B'Elanna looked up at Tom. His voice had the classic Paris drawl in it, like good whiskey sliding down your throat, it burned and then soothed. He *wasn't* mad, the idiot was looked so happy, he might burst into song! She was caught up in the wonder of it, when she realized the Tom was saying something to her.
"What did you say?" she looked up, slightly dazed by what was happening.
"I said, I love you," Tom repeated.
He wasn't sure what was happening here, except that it felt *good * to him. He was almost euphoric, hell, he was in Love with a beautiful woman who was going to have his child. It was like a dream come true. A dream that he had never acknowledged before, never dared admit that he would want something so permanent, so binding. He looked straight at B'Elanna, and took a deep breath, totally serious this time.
"B'Elanna, I'm so happy. The thought of having a child with you is wonderful to me."
She felt really low now. The quick shaft of hope she had had died. She looked down at the floor and muttered, "So glad I could please you Paris. Why don't I just go and put my head in the nearest plasma vent for fun?"
"What is it with you, Torres? Can't you stand happiness?"
"How can I be happy when I know that this wasn't the next step in our relationship you were talking about a few weeks ago?"
"How do you know it wasn't?"
Torres' eyebrows lifted, "So, getting your newly acquired girlfriend pregnant within three months of starting to date is something you aspire to?"
"Hey, you know that's the first time you've ever admitted that you're my girlfriend?"
"Paris," B'Elanna growled, "I'm going to have to hurt you now."
"Do you promise?" Tom said coyly.
"Flattery won't get you any heavy objects, Paris. Can't you get it through that thich Human head of yours that I'm trying to say I'm sorry?"
"For what?" Tom said softly.
"For, you know," B'Elanna suddenly felt vulnerable, *damn the man*, he could make her insides turn to just mush. "I have been avoiding you for the past few weeks. I lied to you about working late. I've lied to you a lot lately...and...I didn't tell you about the baby. I'm sorry." The last was trailing down into almost a whisper. Her face was flushed, her chest heaving, like she had run a race. In a way it was a race, a race where the prize was her heart. She had just offered it up to Tom on a platter. She realized she was holding her breath.
Tom didn't even pause an instant. He *knew* that this was a critical moment. Years of knowing B'Elanna's sometimes odd progressions of thoughts made him aware that she was asking a very important question with this *apology*. This is for the roses, Tommy-boy, he said to himself. You're going to *have* to tell her the truth...all of it.
"You hurt me, B'Elanna. You confused me and when I tried to talk to you about, you blew me off. I can't say that I wasn't angry with you, I was. I wanted to just grab you and shake whatever was bothering you out of you. But, I knew I couldn't do that. All I could do was wait until you were ready to come to me. I don't know what's the *Klingon* way is, but that's the Tom Paris way, and that's the way I know best."
Tom looked at B'Elanna, trying to guage how this was going. She was looking at him in the strangest way, but he still had his jaw intact, so he continued.
"I never thought that you lied to me. I knew that you needed to work through what was bothering you. I really wanted you to come to me with your problem, and then I finalized realized *I* might be the problem. That's when I got scared."
B'Elanna finally trusted herself to speak, "You were *scared*?" Her voice was full of emotion, and it broke on *scared*. She swallowed, and then continued, "Why were you afraid?"
"Because I thought that you had decided that being with me wasn't such a good idea after all. When I saw you with Harry, I knew that you had something important that you had to talk to someone about, and the person you picked wasn't me. I guess I was feeling pretty sorry for myself right then. I decided that I had better just leave you alone, that I would only make things worse by trying to talk to you. That's why I left."
"Don't be mad at Harry." B'Elanna said, anxious that he not be blamed in any way for her own cowardice. "He's the one that told me to talk to you about, and he said to make you listen, no matter what."
"Harry said that? Remind me to thank him later." Tom felt his circulation start up again; the region around his heart began to thaw. A ghost of a smile played around his lips.
B'Elanna stared at him, still a little uncertain. The man had been playing Sir Gallahad again. She was going to have to do something about this. He was making this whole thing out to be his fault, when it was really hers!
"Damnit, Paris," she said, "just when I get it together enough to pour out my heart to you, tell you what a wretch I've been, you go and turn it around and take the blame for something's that not your fault!"
"Well, B'Elanna, last time I remember, it takes two to make a baby, at least the old-fashioned way," the leer was unmistakeable, but it was followed up by a good-natured grin. "In the immortal words of our beloved Captain Janeway, *Lighten up, Lt. Torres* Stop trying to place blame. We just weren't communicating so well lately. Let's just go on from here,OK?" The last was spoken with his face directly in front of her, and his hands came to rest around her face, cradling it gently, his thumbs stroking down her cheeks.
"Well, OK" she grumbled. "But you may change your mind when you are around a Klingon woman with morning sickness."
But the look in her eyes was light. Tom could see all the way to her heart, the path was so clear. His heart, his B'Elanna. They smiled at each other. Storm warnings were down.
End Part 1 - Part 2
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