By Seema

Characters and places belong to Paramount. I'm just playing with them for a little while.

This is a coda to the episode, "Memorial." I really felt that there were a lot of holes in that particular episode, so I decided to fix one of the them:-)

Much thanks to Rebecca for her help on this story.

~ * ~

Tom Paris stood in front of the doors, his mouth dry and his hands clammy.

"This is ridiculous," he muttered under his breath. "It's not like a first date or anything."

But he knew that he had a lot to apologize for. B'Elanna's last words to him, "You know where to find me," had rung with startling finality in his ears. At the time, he had not paid much attention to what she had meant by those words. Only when Voyager had left Takaris after planting the warning buoys had Tom understood what he had done.

Three days without talking is a long time, he thought.

Tom took a deep breath and signalled for entry. After what seemed an eternity, but in reality was only about a few seconds, the doors slid open. He walked in, still feeling slightly awkward.

"Hey," he said.

B'Elanna Torres, standing behind the sofa, looked back at him. She was still dressed in her uniform even though she had been off duty for several hours.

"Hello," she answered quietly.

Tom was relieved to see that B'Elanna did not look particularly angry; in fact, she looked downright calm.

"Um, I just finished watching that episode of `The Untouchables,'" he said. "It was, um, pretty good."

"I'm glad you enjoyed it," B'Elanna replied. Her facial expression did not change as she smoothed away imaginary specks of dust from the sofa.

"I was thinking, um, that if you could find some cartoons, it would be really nice," Tom said. "You know, we could watch them together."

B'Elanna looked faintly amused, "Watch them together? No, I don't think so."

It was only now that Tom realized that B'Elanna was angry. Very angry. And of course, she had every right to be.

In the past, he had often been upset when B'Elanna pushed him away, when she closed him out of her life. He wanted to be there during the good and the bad and it drove him crazy when B'Elanna resoutely stood her ground and refused to let him in.

I did that to her, Tom thought to himself. I shut her out.

He hadn't meant any of it, not really, he thought. The guilt he had felt over the events at Takaris had weighed on him and it had been difficult to communicate that to B'Elanna.

"I saw the Memorial," Tom said now.

"You must feel better now that you know you were not responsible," she replied evenly.

Their eyes met across the room, hers in unspoken accusation.

If only you had listened to me, her expression seemed to say. Tom shook his head.

"No," he said. "I don't feel better. I still relive the massacre in my head. There's nothing I can do to stop that."

"But there's no guilt," B'Elanna said gently. "Right?"

Tom nodded, "Right."

B'Elanna rounded the edge of the sofa and sat down on the arm rest. She tipped her head slightly to the side as she eyed Tom. There was a softness in her expression, one that had been there ever since her visit to Klingon hell. In some ways, their relationship had improved since B'Elanna's journey, but in other ways, it was more difficult.

In times like this, Tom sincerely wished that B'Elanna would rail at him like she used to. This calm attitude she exuded made it difficult for him to predict her reactions.

Because he did not know what B'Elanna would do, he remained standing. He wanted very much to cross the distance between them and hold her in his arms.

Tom cleared his throat.

"I missed you during the away mission," he laughed nervously. "It gets really long with those three."

"You volunteered," she replied.

Tom felt slightly sick; hadn't she missed him too?

"Never again," Tom said. He smiled slightly, remembering Harry's fastidiousness during the 15-day away mission. "Harry doesn't do long trips well."

Even B'Elanna smiled a little in response, "I wouldn't think so. You're too much of a pig for Harry."

Now that was more like it, Tom thought to himself.

"Do you want to sit, Tom?" B'Elanna asked quietly.

He accepted the invitation gratefully and took a seat on the sofa. She slid off the arm rest. There were still a few inches between them.

"The television," Tom said. "That was great. It was great of you to do something like that. It must have taken you a long time."

B'Elanna laughed, the first real laugh he had heard since their fight.

"I found some old schematics," she admitted. "But I did not really understand them. It took longer to understand than it did for me to build the television."

"It was a nice surprise," Tom said quietly. "I love you for that."

She arched an eyebrow at him, "For the television set?"

"For that and for everything else too," he said quickly. "I want you to know that."

B'Elanna settled back against the sofa, this time inching closer to Tom.

"I'm glad you liked it," she said. "But don't let it be a bad influence."


"Yes?" she twisted her head to look at him.

"I'm sorry," Tom said.


"Yes. For the things I said. I shouldn't have said them."

"No, you shouldn't have."

"It was hard for me," Tom admitted. "I kept seeing the bodies, smelling the phaser fire, feeling the blood. It felt so real and to know that I was responsible for all that..."

"But you weren't responsible," B'Elanna argued.

"At the time, I thought I was."

Tom's jaws clenched as he remembered the memories which kept him from sleeping. He had prowled the corridors of Voyager in search of solace, but every turn brought a new nightmare. After a while, he had no longer heard the voices of his crewmates, but rather the sound of phaser fire. Even the pleas for mercy echoed in his ears, making it impossible to hear or think of anything else.

Now, Tom looked at B'Elanna's face and he could see, from the tenseness in her face, that she was trying hard not to loose her temper with him.

"Look, I'm sorry," he said. "I shouldn't have pushed you away."

"I shouldn't have pushed you," she responded.

"No," Tom shook his head. "Don't think that. You were only looking out for me. I should have respected that."

"Why do we keep doing this?"

"Doing what?"

"Closing each other out," B'Elanna said. "We keep promising we won't do that and then we turn around and do it again."

"I guess that's just the way we are," Tom shrugged. "It's probably in our genetic code."

B'Elanna looked him square in the eye, "Tom, I don't want to do this anymore."

He winced at the tone of her voice.

"What do you mean?" he asked, struggling to keep his voice even.

"I want to be there for you," she said softly. "I want you to let me in."

"I know, I know and I will, I promise."

"I want you to trust me, Tom. I want you to know you can confide in me and tell me what's on your mind. You could have talked to me about Takaris. It might have helped. But instead, you tell me you don't want to be comforted? That's not fair, Tom. You can't do that."

Tom wanted to bring up all the times she had shut him out but then he realized B'Elanna was making an honest effort to change and he owed her the same courtesy.

"I am sorry," he said sincerely. "I guess I didn't want to burden you..."

"That's a lousy excuse," she told him. "If we can't `burden' each other, than what's the use?"

"I guess I found it hard to explain."

"You could have tried instead of shouting at me."

"You're right. I'm wrong."

B'Elanna sighed, "I don't know how to help you, Tom, if you don't tell me what's wrong."

"I won't promise that I won't do it again," Tom said softly. Impulsively, he reached out and touched her cheek gently; her skin felt warm and soft beneath his fingers. To his relief, she did not pull away. Relieved, Tom put his arms around B'Elanna and pulled her gently towards him. "I can't promise that because I seem to break that promise all the time. But I will do my best."

B'Elanna tilted her neck to look up at him, "I want you to tell me, Tom, everything you remember about Takaris."

"What's the use now?" he asked in exasperation.

"It might help if you talk about it," she said softly. "And it will get you in the habit of talking to me instead of shouting when you are upset."

"Look who's talking," Tom said with a grin.

"I'm serious," B'Elanna insisted. "I want you to start from the beginning and I want you to tell me everything that you remember."

Tom tightened his hold on her.

"Everything?" he asked in a strained voice. Even now, some of the things he "remembered" were too painful to recount.

B'Elanna nodded.

"Everything," she said in a tender voice. "And this time, let me be there for you."

Tom stroked her hair gently.

"Yes," he whispered. "Of course."

She cuddled up next to him, fitting perfectly between his body and the curve of his arm.

Tom brushed the top of her head lightly with his lips and then, in a rough voice, he began to speak.

"It was night, 0200 hundred hours, when Commander Savdraa called us to the command post..."

~The End~

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