The Price of Freedom: Hold On My Heart

`Hold on my heart Please throw me a lifeline
I’ll keep a place for you Somewhere deep inside.’
— Phil Collins, “Hold On My Heart”

The Price Of Freedom: Hold On My Heart
By Jessica Ferroni

This story takes places after the events in
`The Price Of Freedom’

Author’s note: The forest scene mentioned comes
from a prior story I wrote, called `Deeper Investigations’.

Captain Janeway hesitated outside the door of
her Chief Engineer’s quarters, then pressed the
door chime. She had promised, promised Tom, that
she would deliver the message.
The door slid open and she entered Torres’
sparse living space. “B’Elanna.”
Torres made an effort to come to attention,
but Janeway waved a hand dismissively and she
sunk back on the couch. Janeway took a seat beside
her, opening her mouth to speak, but B’Elanna cut
her off. The despair in the young woman’s voice
made her heart wrench.
“Sometimes….Sometimes you think you want
something, but then you realize that you want
something entirely different.”
Janeway had no idea what B’Elanna was talking
about, so she wisely kept her mouth shut. Not
that B’Elanna needed any encouragement to
continue. After being silent for so long, she
couldn’t stop the rush of words that came
tumbling out.
“I thought it was Chakotay. I mean, didn’t
he watch out for me in the Maquis? Didn’t he
take me under his wing? I thought I loved him.
Truth was, I just wanted someone to love me,
someone who cared about me.
“In the Maquis, you try to keep from caring.
You see too much to carry all that grief around.
So I just wanted to be alone, with myself as
the only one to watch out for.
“And then he came along. At first I thought
he was arrogant and cocky, too self-confident.
Maybe he was, I don’t know. And he clashed with
Chakotay so much.
“After the Vidiian thing, though, I realized
that maybe he did care about more than himself.
I think I finally discovered how much I loved
him when I found him alone in his forest before
he left for the Talaxian convoy. It so serene
and peaceful there. And he was so sad.” She paused.
“Imagine that. Tom Paris, sad.”
*Oh, Tom,* Janeway thought. *You had everything
you ever wanted right here. You loved her so
much — if only you knew how much she loves you,
too.* Should she tell her? *No. If Tom wants
her to know, it will be in the chip.*
Before his shuttle had departed, Tom had
presented his final request to Captain Janeway:
– Captain, I can’t thank you enough for every-
thing you’ve given me. There is just one more
favor I ask: when you return to the Alpha Quadrant,
I want you to give this chip to B’Elanna for me.
Please, Captain. It’s important. –
How could she deny him? “B’Elanna.”
Torres looked up, embarrassed. “Yes, Captain?”
Janeway held out the small chip that had been
clenched in her hand. “Tom wanted me to give
this to you.” She pressed the chip into B’Elanna’s
palm. Torres looked about ready to start crying.
“Thank you, Captain,” she managed.
Janeway stood. “We’ll be arriving at Deep Space Nine
shortly, Lieutenant. I’ll expect to see you on the
bridge.”
B’Elanna nodded. “Yes, Captain.”

* * * * *

B’Elanna turned the chip over and over in her
hand. The chip trembled in her grasp.
*Calm down, Torres!* she ordered herself sternly.
Admitting her love for Tom Paris had certainly
wrecked havoc with her emotions.
But she didn’t know what would be waiting for
her. He had left her a message. What would he
say?
There was, of course, only one way to find out.
She pressed the chip into the slot and waited for
the computer to announce its readiness.
“Program complete. You may enter when ready.”
She would never be ready for this. But enter she
did.
And found herself in his forest. It was actually
the wooded area behind his parents’ house, but
he had always jokingly referred to it as “his
forest”. She picked her way to the spot where she
knew he would be waiting.
And there he was.
He half-turned to face her as she approached.
“B’Elanna.” He was so real. Everything about
the hologram was Tom Paris: his voice, his scent,
his warmth, his eyes.
But if he was so real, why did she feel so
hollow inside?
“I’ve always hated long goodbyes, so I’ll try
to keep this brief. I just wanted….I wanted to
tell you….” The image sighed. “You were right,
B’Elanna. I am a coward. I’ve wanted to tell you
for so long, but I just couldn’t. It’s pretty
sad that I had to resort to using a hologram to
tell you.
“I probably shouldn’t be telling you at all,
but, I don’t know….I just thought you should
know, in case….” His voice trailed off.
“B’Elanna, I love you.”
Her heart pounded in her chest. *He loved me,
too.* “Computer, freeze program,” she ordered.
*He loved me, too.* The phrase kept repeating
itself in her head. *Why couldn’t he tell me?*
*You couldn’t tell him, either,* a voice in
her head reminded.
He was still waiting, frozen in time. Cerulean
eyes alight with hope, hope that he would never
realize.
For he was gone. And he would never know that
she loved him.
*He loved me, too.*

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 jessica@p24818.cle.ab.com.

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