I said hello I think I'm broken
And thought I was only jokin'
It took me by surprise when you agreed
Tom half awoke and shifted in the bed to snuggle
closer to the other body in the bed. The sudden shock of finding empty
space where that body should have been drew him fully awake. And once awake,
the truth intruded rudely upon the fantasy that was so easily maintainable
in the hopeful world of his dreams and semi-conscious thoughts. But awake,
he was unable to ignore the reality. B'Elanna was gone, never to return
to him in this lifetime. Her death had been sudden and unexpected, the
result of a random power overload on a console she was repairing. The resulting
explosion had killed her instantly, a fact that gave those that loved her
a small sense of relief in knowing that she had not suffered.
Tom had not yet shed so much as one tear. From
the moment that he had skidded to a halt just inside the doors to sickbay
to see his captain standing before him with silent tears making tracks
down her face, he had been numb. He tried to brush past her to make his
way to the prone figure he could see laying on the diagnostic bed, only
to be stopped by Tuvok, stepping in front of Tom from where he had been
Her own grief evident on her face, Kathryn stepped
up to Tom, placing her hands flat on his shoulders, and with the help of
Tuvok tried to steer him towards the sickbay office. Tom peered over his
shoulder, watching vainly for some glimpse of movement, any sign of life
that still existed in the body of the woman he loved. He was so intent
on his study that when the quiet voice sounded in his ear, he jumped. "Tom,"
he turned his head back to his captain, trying to fight his way through
the myriad of panicked thoughts that kept blanketing his mind. "Tom, please
come with us. You really don't need to see this."
Blindly, he nodded and allowed them to move him
away. He focused on Janeway's face as she struggled to pull together the
words to deliver her message. But Tom already knew that B'Elanna was dead,
and had since the first moment he saw the tragedy written across the captain's
face. Later the thought would occur to him that he could have spared her
the pain of having to say the words to him, but at that moment, with his
mind attempting to numb the already overwhelming pain, he wanted her to
hurt. The anguish it caused her to have to speak the words to him was minute
compared to what he was feeling at having the center of his life ripped
away. So he remained quiet and let her explain to him about the explosion
and the instantaneous loss of life that accompanied it. He could see her
pain, even through the haze of his own, and immediately felt guilty, he
could have spared her at least that much, it didn't help ease his, in fact
it only made it worse.
I was tryin' to be clever
For the life of me I never
Would have guessed how far the simple truth would lead
He vaguely remembered the doctor joining them,
and could remember speaking, but could not remember what was said. Later
those present told him that he systematically and calmly proposed treatment
after treatment, from allowing Seven to attempt to heal her in a manner
similar to what she had done for Neelix a year earlier, to placing the
body in stasis in hopes that someday she could again be restored to the
vibrant young woman that he had kissed goodbye only hours before. Gently
the Doctor explained to him why the extent of the damage to B'Elanna's
body would render each option useless.
Finally he stood and asked to see her body. The
EMH nodded. "I've repaired a good deal of the external signs of trauma."
The trio stayed in the office as Tom approached the bed, and for that he
was grateful. Although most of the conversation in the office was nothing
but a blur to him, the sight of B'Elanna's lifeless body burned into his
memory, a sight never to be forgotten. Although the doctor had attempted
to repair the worst of the burns and abrasions that covered her beautiful
face, the lack of circulation gave the healed areas a ghastly grayish hue.
Trying to reconcile the mottled face before him with that of his lover,
he instinctively reached out one hand to cup her cheek. Quickly he jerked
his hand back. Her skin, usually a few degrees warmer than his own was
cool and clammy to the touch. Backing slowly away from the body on the
bed, he felt the captain's hand on his shoulder.
"Do you need a few more minutes to say goodbye?"
Turning towards her he struggled to find words.
"I can't say my good-byes here, not to…" He gestured towards the figure
on the biobed. "That's not my B'Elanna. I look at that face and see a stranger.
She was more to me than that. It was her, her voice, her smile, her love…
I don't see any of that when I look at her body. To do this right, I really
need to be alone."
She looked at him in concern. "Would you like
us to leave?" The tears where streaming freely down her cheeks again.
Tom shook his head. "No, I think I should leave.
I just want to go home and be by myself."
She squeezed his shoulder. "I understand, but
remember that we are here for you. Promise me you will call someone if
you need to."
He nodded and left quickly, needing to put as
much distance between himself and the body in sickbay as he could. The
reality of her death was present in his mind, but the cold that crept into
him at the sight of her lifeless form scared him.
You knew all my lines
You knew all my tricks
You knew how to heal that pain
No medicine could fix
The next morning Tom reported to duty, politely
refusing the offers of time off, finding that it helped keep him centered
for the few short hours a day that he was on the bridge. It was a welcome
relief to the hellish hours he had spent the previous night alone in the
quarters he shared with B'Elanna. He still felt none of the expected pain,
just slightly out of phase with what was going on around him. He waited
for the hurt that he knew was coming, feeling almost guilty at the blessed
numbness that seemed to have settled over his mind. He had spent all night
wandering around the rooms, unable to muster the courage to climb into
the bed where her scent still lingered. So he curled up on the couch, where
he lay awake for most of the night, trying to imagine his life without
her. The thought was just so incompatible with the plans that they had
made together that his future was now just a huge blank.
Morning found him still awake and sitting quietly
on the couch staring into a cup of coffee that he held in one hand. He
had been sitting there for hours, quiet and calm. He had not yet reconciled
himself to the fact that this was not just a matter of working opposite
shifts, that she would never again walk into this room, never again hurl
heavy objects at him as he scurried and ducked around the room. The door
chimed unexpectedly, and Tom tore his eyes from the black liquid in his
cup and turned them towards the door. He called out softly "Come."
Janeway strode through the door, her eyes swollen
and red. She seemed slightly taken aback by his demeanor. She walked over
and sat beside him. "How are you holding up?"
"Fine. That's the strange thing. I'm not feeling
anything right now." He stood and began to pace. "I have never been as
in touch with my own feelings as I have been this last eight months."
Janeway smiled gently at him. "Since B'Elanna."
She shook her head. "You both changed so much since you came together."
Tom nodded. "It took a while for us to get to
that point, well at least for me. I kept pushing her away. When I almost
lost her because of Steth, I finally opened up to her. She helped me deal
with things that I hadn't for a long time, my father, my guilt, and a lot
of my insecurities. She taught me how to feel again. And now that she's
gone, I can't. I don't want to live like that again, and I'm terrified
that without B'Elanna, I'll never feel anything again."
Lookin' back it's still suprisin'
I was sinking you were rising
With a look you caught me in mid-air
The next day, Tom stood silently in the center
of the mess hall. The memorial service was over, the torpedo casing drifting
silently away from the ship, carrying in it the one person that could have
cut through his emotional barrier. He was aware of the whispered comments
that seemed to follow him everywhere, from almost every mouth he caught
the wisps of conversation.
"How is he holding up?"
"How is Tom dealing with this?"
"He's so quiet."
"…not dealing, just shutting down."
Tom held his head high, recognizing the truth
in their words, but unable to breech the barrier holding back the pain.
And he tried. Burying himself in memories of B'Elanna he tried to cut through
the wall separating him from his feelings, but even that was not sufficient.
The walls were nothing new to him, only something that had been gone from
his life for too short of a moment. The time that he and B'Elanna had spent
together had changed him. She had helped him get past his defenses and
deal with the years of buried and denied feelings. As a result, he had
become calmer, more centered. But when that center was ripped unfairly
from him, he found himself unable to cope with the overwhelming emptiness
within him. He would have welcomed the pain, the hurt, anything but the
Looking around at the people surrounding him,
he envied them their abilities to cry, to feel, and to mourn for the one
who meant everything to him. It struck him as strange, he had spent most
of his life denying and hiding from his emotions, and only a scant few
months trying to deal with and accept them, yet at this point when his
mind stubbornly tried to revert to it's previous ways, his heart screamed
Janeway noticed her pilot standing stock still
in the middle of the room, staring absently out at the passing stars, she
walked up behind him and put her hand on his shoulder in concern. "Tom?"
The look of sheer disappointment on his face when
he realized who was speaking to him brought tears to her eyes. He tried
to speak, paused and finally managed to bring forth a shaky voice. "I'm
sorry Captain. I just… almost forgot for a moment why we were here,"
At the haunting tone of Tom's voice, the tears that had been threatening in the captain's eyes began to fall in full force. Without thinking, Tom took a step closer and wrapped his arms around her in a comforting gesture. Only when she dipped her sobbing head into his shoulder did he realize the breach of conduct he had committed. However judging by her reaction, protocol was the furthest thing from her mind at the moment. As she continued to cry, he held her and envied her ability to do so.
Now I know God has his reasons
But sometimes it's hard to see them
When I awake and find that you're not there
The night of the memorial, Tom returned to their,
no, his quarters. They would never again be theirs, never again be a them,
only he. Without thinking, he climbed into bed and surrendered to the overwhelming
exhaustion that permeated his body. And for the first time since her death,
he slept. When he awoke after a few hours of dream filled sleep to the
cold reality that the object of his dreams was no more, all of the pain
of his loss finally broke through the barriers of his mind. Sitting straight
up in bed, he gasped for air through the sobs that wracked his body. He
had lost people close to him before, and had felt the pain associated with
their deaths, but nothing could have prepared him for this. For when he
lost her, he lost her on so many different planes of his life, not only
his present, but his future. And as he cried for the long hours into the
night, he did so not only for the immediate loss of her in his life, but
for all they had anticipated sharing together. He cried for the marriage
that was never to be, for the babies that had been spoken of in a cocoon
of warmth, arms and legs intertwined, dreamy contented smiles mirrored
on the face of the other, Children that would now never be born. He grieved
for himself, for what he told himself were selfish reasons, for the thought
of continuing this journey without her, for the loneliness that was already
beginning to seep into him.
Morning was a welcome relief, as it brought an
end to the hellish night, but no end to the pain. With much effort he managed
to pull himself together enough to present himself for the morning briefing,
with just a shatteringly brittle hold on his emotions. A hold that broke
as he walked through the door of the observation lounge and saw Joe Carey
standing awkwardly in the corner of the room, looking like he would rather
be anyplace but there.
The senior staff was shocked by the appearance
of Tom Paris. The worry that many of them had felt over his lack of emotion
disappeared only to be replaced by the fear that he was not strong enough
to handle the pain that was so obviously etched into every part of him.
He looked so fragile and vulnerable, as if the slightest touch might break
him, and as he glanced around the room, he did break. At the sight of Lt.
Carey, the tears broke free and began to flow down his face, the look of
anguish that appeared on his face as he began to gasp for air was disturbing
You found hope in hopelessness
You made crazy sane
You became the missing link
That helped me break my chains
And so life on Voyager continued. Tom pushed on,
learning how to live with the pain and loss that became a constant companion
to everything he did. He saw memories of B'Elanna everywhere. He returned
to duty both on the bridge and in sickbay, although the small shudders
of remembrance and tears silently streaking down his face were not unusual
occurrences. On his first day back on duty after his breakdown in the observation
lounge, he steeled his mind and headed for engineering to hunt down Joe
Carey. In retrospect, he realized that it was harder going down there than
into the quarters they had shared. For their quarters belonged to both
of them, and many of the memories there were ones that they had shared
together, and even with her gone, his presence still remained to fill them.
However engineering was B'Elanna's. Everywhere in there he saw her, and
the things she loved.
Tom took a deep breath and walked forward, seeking
out the new chief engineer to apologize for the incident in the briefing
room. It was short, and Tom's voice shook, but there was no doubt to the
sincerity. As Joe watched the stiff back walk away from him, he sighed.
The apology was one of the last things he would have expected from the
Tom Paris that he had first met, even the Tom Paris that he knew a year
ago. But the man had changed, had realized the importance of his own feelings,
and by association had become much more sensitive to the feelings of those
around him. And the reason for that was obvious, B'Elanna. As Tom had changed
so had she, both of them becoming centered, less of the loose cannons that
they at the beginning of the long journey.
In his new position as a member of the senior
staff, Joe was aware of the concern over Tom. His initial non-reaction
to B'Elanna's death had driven a sliver of doubt into people's minds as
to whether they would soon be seeing the return of the caustic, sarcastic
man that many had encountered soon after the Caretaker had stranded them.
But these same people were now awed by the man who was emerging from his
blanket of grief. This man was the same one that many had come to know
and care for throughout the duration of his relationship with the former
chief engineer. He had been courteous, caring, and a pleasure to be around,
and that still hadn't changed. What was new was the silence. The man who
for so long could always be counted on to lighten the mood with a joke,
or speak aloud what everyone else was thinking, had become one who rarely
spoke without being spoken too. This left the family wondering if the Tom
that they knew died with B'Elanna.
And I bless the day I met you
And I thank God that He let you
Lay beside me for a moment that lives on
As time went on Tom learned to live with his loss.
What else could he do? He couldn't say that the pain ever lessened, he
just learned to live with it. It would appear at the oddest times. The
first time he left the bridge at the end of a duty shift and realized that
he hadn't thought of B'Elanna all day, he barely made it to his quarters
without breaking down. It hit him hard the first time he commed engineering
and realized that he expected Carey to answer. Tom found as time wore on,
that it was the little things that got to him. He still missed her terribly,
and he keenly felt the loss every time he climbed into the bed they used
to share, but feeling this on a daily basis had helped him to deal with
it. It was the little things, the times Neelix would serve a dish that
she used to love, the way her things would turn up unexpectedly in odd
places in his quarters, memories of her responses at things he would do.
But over time it got better. After six months
he finally worked up the courage to pack away her clothes and listen to
the message she had left for him in the event of her death. For as much
as he had been dreading it, he found it strange how much better he felt
for doing it. Slowly he began to return to himself. He began to smile again,
to laugh. The first time he cracked a joke on the bridge, he thought the
grin on the captain's face was going to split her face open. He began to
let Harry drag him out of his quarters at night, to Sandrines, to the parties
that Neelix would organize.
The first anniversary of her death found him alone
however. Wondering why on this particular day it was so much more painful
than the one before it. The hardest part for him was the realization that
it had in fact been a year. He had been concentrating so much on just getting
though each day as it came, that the anniversary snuck up on him. He had
actually realized what day it was standing in the mess hall waiting to
get his breakfast. The Delaney sisters were speaking of their upcoming
birthday and he realized what the old earth calendar date was. Clutching
his tray between suddenly cold fingers, he felt the tears start to well
up. He quickly returned to his quarters only to find a message from Chakotay
waiting for him, inviting him to take the day off if he felt like he needed
it. He gratefully sent a message thanking him for his thoughtfulness and
gratefully accepting the offer.
He spent the day listening to his logs over the
past year, a great many of them having taken the form of letters to B'Elanna.
He cried, he laughed, and when the day was over, he recorded one more.
"…Even though you are gone, you are still my life.
I used to say that I couldn't imagine my life without you, and at the time
I couldn't. I still wonder just how my life came to this point, living
with nothing more than your memories, but I have to admit that I would
rather have those memories than nothing. I know that sounds kind of trite,
but it is amazing just how true it is. I still love you more than I could
have ever imagined, and miss you more than I ever thought it was possible
to do and still survive. Not a whole day ever goes by without me thinking
of you at least once, and I hope to God that one never does. I wonder what
the Doc or Chakotay would think of my mental state if they knew just how
important that you still are to my mental stability. Even though you are
gone, you are still my center. I promised you the rest of my life, and
that is one promise that I intend to keep."
And the good news is I'm better
For the time we spent together
And the bad news is you're gone
Email me at Trekkiegirl@home.com