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Disclaimer: Paramount owns Voyager, Tom, B'Elanna, everything else you recognize, and way too much of my free time In fact the only thing that belongs to me is the story.



Observing the Darkness


All was quiet in the little corner of Voyager known by the computer as Deck Four, section three-c. To most of the crew on board, this space was better known as Tom Paris' quarters. The front room was barely visible in the dim, flickering light seeping in from the open doorway to the bedroom. Usually, these quarters were impeccably neat, an aftereffect of growing up in a Starfleet family, but tonight there was a difference. The normally inviting atmosphere that resided in this room as a result of the personality of the resident was not present, replaced instead by a feeling of unease and residual anger. This feeling was only augmented by the shards of broken glass and haphazardly strewn objects that littered the floor.


The progression of the evening was tangible. The amount of time that the occupant of these quarters had been spent planning this evening was evident, for at one point, the scene had been set for an apology, a night of quiet, a chance for an outpouring of love. Replicator rations had obviously been begged, borrowed or scammed from any and all available sources. He had arranged for a candlelight dinner, a bottle of wine and hopefully a chance to do some serious talking. However it appeared as that his guest had other plans as to how the evening would proceed. The wine bucket was tipped over, melting ice scattered across the floor, spreading an ornate pattern of dark drops and rings across the floor. A fragrant bouquet of flowers, always Tom's favorite way to apologize to B'Elanna, was sitting on the floor, propped up against the bulkhead at an awkward angle, their delicate stems crushed and broken due to the impact with the wall. The dishes still lay on the table, the expected dinner never to be eaten from the elaborate place settings. In the middle of one of the plates, lay a heavy glass candlestick, the broken shards of the china radiating out from the point of impact.



The angry tension of earlier was still palpable, the echoes of the arguments seemed to still reverberated off of the walls.


"How could you do that to me?"


"B'Elanna, it wasn't my decision. Not in the end."


"And you think that absolves you from any of the responsibility? I told you what I wanted, I trusted you, not only as my lover, but as a medical assistant, to make sure that my wishes were followed through on. And what did you do? Argued with Chakotay and Tuvok that I couldn't make a sound decision?"


"What was I supposed to do? Stand back and let you die when they had the answer to saving your life right there?"


"Yes! I told you how I felt about him treating me. Don't you think I have the right to make that decision for myself?"


"Did you ever stop to think about the rest of this ship? What the hell would happen to us if you had died. Of me?"


"Don't you think that you are being a little bit selfish?"


"Why? Because I can't stand to think of you dying when you didn't have to? Because you are the one thing that gets me out of bed some mornings? Because I don't think that I could ever learn to live without you? Because I love you too much to lose you?"


With his honest admission, made with tears running down his face, the mood had changed. The anger had begun to dissipate, his words had started the slow process of breaking through the defensive armor that both had been wearing. The apologetic, loving attitude of earlier had begun to return, leaving both of them slightly stunned and breathless, suddenly aware of the chance that they had been given. Angered shouts gave way to soft murmurs, flying objects and angered pacing melded into soft caresses and soul searching kisses. A slow pilgrimage through the open doorway to the bedroom was recorded by bits and pieces of uniforms, a boot here, a jacket there.


The mood in here was calmer, quieter somehow. The ghosts of their fight that lingered in the outer room, were somehow banished from this place, this sanctuary. The contrast made by something as simple as stepping through a doorway was startling. The anger had almost evaporated by the time the couple had entered this room, giving way to a quiet celebration of life. Having had the chance to eliminate all of the residual fear and anger in the other room, the pair sleeping in the bed had entered here with the intention to worship the body that still flowed with life, having already dispelled many of the demons responsible for it being so. And within that simple act, they found so much more. A tribute to the love that they shared. It had been tested and tried recently, worn down by depression, irritation, and worry. But tonight it was strong, giving way to an emotional remuneration for the hours he spent at her side in sickbay, for the knowledge that every time she opened her eyes, he was there, for the comfort that poured off of him in the form of reassurances, jokes, and total attention to her every word and action.


The air in here was heavy, almost visible in the dim, sputtering light emanating from the hastily lit, but long burning candles scattered about. There were more earlier, but most had given way to the passage of the hours, leaving only a few remaining, on the last little bits of their wicks, surrounded by the flowing masses of wax around them. Strong were the smells combining in the air, a mixture of sweat, sex, and fire. One more candle burns out, adding its dying breath to the weight of the air in the room. With its death, the low light in the room becomes even dimmer. The half full bottle of wine, with the two accompanying glasses, now barely visible in the reduced lighting, sits on the low bedside table. A few droplets of water still cling to the outside of the bottle, indicating the contents inside are still cooler than temperature of the room surrounding it. However judging by the ring of moisture surrounding, that cooler temperature is considerably warmer than earlier in the evening. Earlier, when the romantic gestures that had been planned for and discarded in the outer room had moved to this more intimate location, the bottle had tagged along, the sole survivor of the planned dinner.


Slight movements from bodies that had previously been still drew attention to the intertwined forms on the bed, those of Tom and B'Elanna. A pale hand has unconsciously slid across smooth flesh, causing an immediate reaction in a body still oversensitized from the incredible emotional and physical release of earlier. Together they lay, covered neither by bedding or clothing, pressed tightly together in the middle of the small bed. The occasional small droplet of sweat can still be seen, a testament not only to the warmth of the room, but also to the exertion of earlier. Gone is the sheen of sweat that had covered both bodies at a time when the candles were still tall, the wine still cold. For in those long moments, they had moved together, slowly and quietly, letting flow all of the love that they felt for one another, liberating the remainder of the guilt and fear of the previous day. He released once and for all the stress that had built during the hours he spent standing by her side, watching her condition deteriorate with each passing moment. For her, it dispelled the fear that had grown inside of her. The fear of closing her eyes each time, and wondering if she would again be able to open them to see his face.


All of these emotions seemed to almost swirl through the air now, as if the intense joining of body and soul had expelled them from their respective minds. And now in the flickering light of the one remaining candle, they could barely be observed, her head burrowed deep into the junction of his shoulder and neck, leg lying casually over his, with her knee drawn up high on his body. Her arm lay draped across his lower torso, her fingers curled protectively over his hip while his own arm kept her pulled in close to him. The only sounds are those of their contented breathing, and the ever present low hum of the great ship around them. The light coming from the corner grows fainter and fainter, finally extinguishing itself in one last tiny curl of smoke, unnoticed by the sleeping pair as the room plunges into total darkness.

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