Deeper Investigations

This story is divided into two sections, one occuring shortly
before `Investigations’, and one during. I thought it might make
a nice addition, especially since B’Elanna didn’t seem overly
upset when Paris left Voyager, and because I am P/T fan at heart. 🙂

Deeper Investigations
By Jessica Ferroni

******

This was where he went when he wanted to think.
Or was it when he wanted to hide? The trees swayed
just slightly in the gentle breeze, causing the sunshine
creeping through the leaves to dance in erratic
patterns across the hard ground.
Tom Paris watched them idly from his place on the
tree stump. The patterns reflected his thoughts, and
his feelings about the whole situation.
But he had to go through with this. If he simply
turned around and told everyone he was sorry, that
it was all an act, what good would that do? Wasn’t it
all an act? Or was he really this out of place here?
They all thought he was a jerk anyway. B’Elanna
thought he was a jerk.
Maybe if he went through with this, maybe if this
worked, he’d be more accepted on Voyager.
*Right, Paris.* his mind mocked. Tom sighed. Always
caught in the middle.
There was a rustling noise behind him in the brush,
and he half-turned to see B’Elanna Torres come up
behind him, not at all out of breath despite the
long trek she had just undergone.
“Hi,” he mumbled, and turned back to face the pond
he had been staring at for, what, an hour now?
Sometimes, he needed a break from all the hustle.
And sometimes he just needed to be alone. The latter
seemed to be the reason for coming back to the forest
more and more lately.
“Hi,” she said softly, eyes scanning for a
seat next to him. She finally gave up and settled
on the hard ground. Part of his mind chided that
he should offer her the stump to sit on, but he was
too tired and frustrated to listen.
After a moment of silence had stretched between
them, B’Elanna asked,
“So, what is this place?”
He looked at her briefly, and in that second committed
every line of her face to his memory, in case he should
never see her again. The nagging thought in the back of
his mind that the Kazon could kill him if they caught him
made his throat dry. He swallowed and answered,
“The woods behind my parents’ house. I used to spend
alot of time here.” His voice held the proper note of
sarcasm.
“Oh.” B’Elanna hugged her knees to her chest. She wasn’t
used to feeling this ill at ease around him. Why had she
come here? To say goodbye? To ask him not to go? To tell
him she cared, that he could fit in if he really tried,
and he didn’t need to leave them, to leave her? He was
still looking at her, his blue eyes seeming to penetrate
the depths of her heart, her soul. Desperate to say
something, she blurted, “Tom, don’t you want to go back
to the Alpha Quadrant, back home?”
*Idiot!* her mind cried. *What made you say that?*
His mask slipped for just an instant, then it was back,
smooth as ice. “No.”
“Why not?” Her mouth was working and her brain wasn’t.
*B’Elanna, you are going to regret this.*
He glanced at her again. For some reason, he couldn’t
seem to make eye contact with her for very long. Did he
feel guilty?
“B’Elanna, it’s just something I have to do. Look at
what’s happened the last few weeks. I’ve been late for
duty, spent time in the brig, I hit Chakotay….” A small
smile appeared on his face at that last.
“So?” *Torres, you do not want to get involved in this
man’s pain. It will weigh you down, just like it does
him. Don’t you have your own problems to deal with?*
“I think you do want to go back. But I think you’re
afraid.”
Why did she have to make this so hard? Why couldn’t
he just get this over with? Would she still want him to
stay if he did make it back? But she was waiting for an
answer.
Quietly, he said, “B’Elanna, what have I got to go back
to? My dad? My career? What, B’Elanna?” He couldn’t sucessfully
conceal the hurt in his voice, and it frustrated him. He
hadn’t meant to get so emotional. The mask was slipping again.
*B’Elanna, go away. Just let me do this. Don’t make it
any harder to follow the Captain’s request. Please, B’Elanna.*
“I can’t believe you’re leaving Voyager, Tom,” B’Elanna
continued. “I can’t believe you’re running away.”
Tom closed his eyes. How easy it would be for him just
to tell her that it was really part of Tuvok’s plan, tell
her not to give up on him, that he wasn’t really running
away.
B’Elanna watched him. Wondered why she cared so much
if he stayed or went.
When he finally opened his eyes, they were cold and
hard.
“B’Elanna,” and his voice cracked. He steadied himself,
and continued, “This is not about running away. This is
about me. Voyager is going to make it back to the Alpha
Quadrant someday, and then what will happen to me?
Out here I have a chance to start a new life — I know
piloting for a Talaxian convoy isn’t exactly advancement,
but at least I’ll still be flying. At least I’ll be free.
B’Elanna, I can’t go back to being in prison again.”
And that, at least, was true. His voice softened and he
reached out to put a hand on her shoulder.
She looked up, and he could see the unshed tears glistening
in her eyes, and he could feel them in his own.
“B’Elanna, no matter what happens,” and here he paused.
*Tell her, you idiot!* His mind screamed. *Tell her how
you feel.* “No matter what happens….I’ll never forget
you.” There, that was the closest he could come to telling
her how much he cared for her. Maybe she wouldn’t laugh
in his face.
She didn’t. B’Elanna stood and exited the way she had
come without another word.
*Idiot,* echoed in his mind.
“Goodbye, B’Elanna,” he whispered.

******

He didn’t see B’Elanna again before it was time to transport
to the Talaxian vessel. Neelix, Kes, and Harry Kim
were there to see him off. Three people, in a crew of how
many?
But that didn’t matter. Three was enough. *Who needs friends,
anyways?* his mind wondered. *Just more hurt when you go, when
you move on and leave them behind. Your friends, Paris.*
And yet, some small part of him still wished B’Elanna
would come through those doors at any minute, at least to
say goodbye.
But she didn’t.
Kes, lovely, sweet Kes, whom he’d loved once, and now
had an entirely different kind of love for, the kind reserved
for younger sisters, hugged him goodbye.
*I’ll always think of you, Tom.* Her voice echoed in his
head, a voice so much sweeter than the one that usually
offered sarcastic comments at inopportune times. He knew
she could sense his thoughts as well, so he sent back,
*I’ll never forget you, Kes. Thank you.* This was not
the time for words. Whether Kes knew this was a farce or
not, they both knew he might not be coming back.
He shook Neelix’s hand, and Harry’s. Harry pulled him
into a bear hug, surprising Tom, but he smiled warmly
at the person who had become his best friend.
As he handed Kim his commbadge, Tom tried to squelch the
fear from his heart as he nodded for transport.
It was do or die. He could not fail.

*Well, it’s done. Nice job, Torres. He’s gone, and
you never told him that you cared. You hid.*
“But it’s better this way,” B’Elanna argued with herself.
“Now he won’t have that to weigh him down. And he can start
a new life.” Her voice trembled.
*You didn’t even say goodbye, B’Elanna.*
(No matter what happens….I’ll never forget you.)
*Oh, Tom. I’m sorry.*
“Chief?”
B’Elanna spun to see Carey standing behind her, PADD in
hand, a concerned look on his face.
“Yes?” she stammered.
“Are you okay? You look a little pale.”
B’Elanna waved dismissively, hoping she looked and sounded
convincing. “No, I’m alright. Just a little tired, that’s
all.”
He handed her the PADD and moved away. B’Elanna sighed
in relief. *You’d better get ahold of yourself, Torres.
He isn’t coming back, and you’ve got a job to do.*
She swore suddenly, slamming her hand into the bulkhead.
*You could have at least said goodbye!*
Carey glanced back over at her, and she offered him a
weak grin, trying to calm her frazzled emotions.
Very slowly, she left Engineering.

She met with Harry later in the day, at the mess. He
was unusually quiet.
“Harry?” she prodded. “You alright?”
He glanced up at her, and she noticed how much older
he looked, like he’d just lost his….best friend.
“Yeah. It’s just….the captain found someone new for
conn — Ensign Bayhart. She’s really good, but, B’Elanna,
it feels so weird. Going on shift and Tom not being there.
And everyone seems so….somber. Even Chakotay’s acting
strange.”
B’Elanna nodded. It did feel odd. There was an air of
*something* hanging about the Bridge. As if something was
going to climax very shortly.
Harry continued, “I can’t even go to Sandrine’s anymore.
It’s too….empty. Like it’s not really Sandrine’s. And you
know what else? Look at this,” he gestured at his plate and
the mass of purplish cottage cheese-looking food — food?? —
that lay there. “Neelix’s cooking has gotten worse.”
B’Elanna laughed slightly. “As if that’s possible.”
Silence reigned for a moment, in which they both awkwardly
studied their plates. Then B’Elanna stood quickly.
“I’ll see you later, Harry, okay?”
Puzzled, Harry could only nod, but she was already
halfway out the mess.

The holodeck computer indicated its readiness, but
B’Elanna hesitated a moment before entering. Squaring
her shoulders firmly, she marched in, eyes closed, and
engaged the privacy lock.
She finally opened her eyes a moment later, and there
she was. In the forest. In *his* forest.
It had been raining, and the ground was still damp.
She made her way to the secluded corner by the pond,
and sat down on the stump she had found Tom Paris seated
on….how long ago? Two, three days? It had seemed like
forever.
She brushed at her eyes and her hand came away wet.
It must not be as secluded as she had thought if the
water was dripping off the leaves and onto her….
But it was useless trying to fool herself. Why had she
come here? What had she been thinking?
This was Tom’s place. She could almost imagine him
sitting across from her, could almost smell the soft
scent of his aftershave, the light in his eyes betraying
how miserable he usually felt.
Would he forgive her for coming here? Somehow, she
thought he would.
And when the rain started falling gently, so did
her tears.
*You never even said goodbye.*

To be continued….??

_____________________________________________________________________________
© Copyright November 1996 by Jessica Ferroni on all original story content.
Not meant to infringe on copyrights held by Paramount or any other copyright
holders of STAR TREK: VOYAGER. Please do not reproduce for anything other
than personal reading use (including fanzines) without written consent of
the author. Comments are welcome at evenstar17@hotmail.com.

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