SUMMARY: Tom and B'Elanna's separate thoughts over the course of their relationship.
DISCLAIMER: Paramount owns all, including Star Trek and these characters. I own nothing (pretty much sums it up) except for the story dribble. No infringement is intended .
I was fascinated by B'Elanna the first time I saw her, but either my reputation had preceded me or she quickly saw through my smile and ignored me. No, she was downright hostile towards me. My smile has gained me many friends and companions, but not her, not then.
Those first years we were struggling to adapt to the strange new existence. We were both discovering ourselves, too busy to discover each other. It was exhilarating to be piloting again, to be among good people. I was falling in an out of crushes and crises each week. Somehow, between all the hustle and open-mouthed amazement of this new life, that feisty dark beauty B'Elanna managed to stray continuously into my thoughts. She was quick and smart. She puzzled and impressed me. She was always in the corner of my eye.
When did I start watching B'Elanna all the time? She was unlike any woman I had ever met. Her human and Klingon blood intertwined into a conundrum, a juxtaposition of characteristics and features: the slightness of her body belied her enormous strength, her fiery temper could be clamped down with her Vulcan-like self control, she had the brave heart of a warrior with sad eyes that revealed the vulnerability of the abandoned child.
I watched how she would walk into a room with the elegant sway and rhythm of a wildcat. How her motion commanded respect! How people cleared out of her way! I even believed the seas would part their waters so she could walk uninterrupted over the flotsam and jetsam of the ocean floor. Always intent on her destination, no time for the casual, she would stride past me, oblivious to her power over life forms and nature. God, I loved to watch her walk.
[Other than that we were both 'not to be trusted' outsiders, Tom and I were polar opposites. He had a cocky and self-assured long stride; he was tall and golden blonde handsome. There was something that bothered me about his easy smile, that always present wit, the relaxed way he sat. Despite his previous roguish life there was something unhurried and carefree about his whole attitude that I just hated, or envied, or maybe even liked; I wasn't sure.]
I would overhear the men talking about the 'half Klingon'. They would whisper that she was pretty but unruly. They would propose that their manhood could calm her quick temper as if sex could improve her social skills. Life had dampened her spirit more than enough, I thought. She was brilliant and passionate but she kept everyone at arm's length. She denied us a peek into the many planes of her heritage, her tumultuous history. Despite her coat of armor, despite the fact that she appeared so invincible to us at times, there was something utterly fragile about her. I would catch her staring intently out the messhall window into the sparkling ink-black vacuum of space. Her eyes would be wide and dark, like the luck that had been following us for so many years. What were her rueful thoughts? Those men did not care to find out. I wanted to protect her from them.
[When I close my eyes I can still see exactly how father was in my childhood: his thick black hair, his broad grin as his muscular arms lifted me high, the athletic and strong way he moved. When I open my eyes and stare out at the black chasm all I can remember is my life since he left: my mother's disapproving glare, the taunts of children, the lovers that left me feeling empty and raw, the strangers who saw me hungry and thin and foolishly mistook me as easy prey.]
I can recall the moment when I realized I was hopelessly infatuated with B'Elanna, the day I knew this was so much more than a crush. I can't believe after so many months of watching her I had yet to admit this to myself. Funny that such a reality hit me in the unreal setting of holodeck program, packed with gaudy decorations and bad music for some special event. I don't remember the occasion, just that the crew was desperate for a change of pace from the seriousness that had been a part of our lives so much. As I stood among the partygoers my thoughts started to stray to B'Elanna. Where was the exotic engineer who had no time for parties? The question had just left me when she stepped through the gliding doors and paused for us to admire. The vision of her at that moment has been permanently imprinted in my memory. There stood a queen in a sapphire dress, a brilliant gown that revealed her strong soft shoulders and her thin powerful legs with skin was so wrapped in creamy coffee brown. Her hair, in lustrous shades of black and chestnut, was swept back accentuating her long tawny neck. Her chin was tilted up as she searched the expanse of the holodeck for some lucky person, she had to stand slightly on her toes to see above crowd. Oh, this was no ordinary queen. She was a powerful, mysterious, beautiful kind of royalty. The kind of queen that made you want to bow or curtsy. The kind that I would serve grapes to, one by one by one.
I was sipping my drink when she appeared and was suddenly paralyzed by her regal pose. I couldn't finish my gulp. I couldn't take my eyes off her. As she surveyed the room she caught my gaze and our eyes met as pounding heartbeats tolled in my ears. I saw a slight blushing of her skin.
A storm was running through my veins. I wanted to be near her. I wanted to reach out and touch her. I wanted to stroke that dark hair and the smooth hard muscles of her arms and legs. How incredibly sweet she must be to taste, how warm her skin must be to drink. Like a hot cup of chocolate I wanted to enclose my hands around the heat and feel the languid sugar blend warm my throat.
She looked down and moved away from me and towards her friend and mentor Chakotay. (My luck, the one person who was like a brother to her was probably the one person who liked me least on this ship.) Chakotay gave her a warm fatherly grin and whispered something to her. She tilted her head, rolled her eyes and smiled broadly. A rare beaming smile. I wondered what Chakotay said to her to make her smile like that. I would repeat the same words to her over and over.
['You caught our helmsman's attention tonight' Chakotay teased me. Chakotay, in my heart he is still my captain. I smiled at him. Chakotay was my safe comfortable harbor so I could steady my shaking knees and cool my blood. Witnessing the way Tom looked at me had sent shockwaves through my muscles. I was still quivering. No one could know how I almost fell into his gaze's seductive offer.]
For the rest of the evening I kept stumbling in internal ecstasy and muddled misery. My best friend Harry even started asking what was wrong with me. I was dying because I knew if I reached out to B'Elanna too quickly, too abruptly, that she would retreat back into her jungle of warp coils and plasma manifolds. She would hide in her engineering castle. Or she would fight me. I was over a head taller than her, but I knew with one swift swing of her arm she could send me flying, cracking my bones, breaking my heart.
B'Elanna continued to stay by Chakotay's side as if he were her ballast. I wanted to approach her, to talk with her, but every welcome line that came to my head sounded shallow. When did I become so shallow? When did I begin to care if I was? I like to think of myself as easy-going around women, but this woman, this queen warrior cat had me light-headed. I was just human. I was too imperfect for the combined richness she was born of. Finally I just strode out of the holodeck before I could trip over someone, spill a drink on myself or knock down the decorations. I thought I saw her watch me leave. I watched, as always, through the corner of my eye. Maybe I saw her head turned towards me, but I couldn't see her eyes. I blamed my yearning imagination.
The next few months I tried to get closer to her. I first attempted the direct approach by asking her out for dinners. B'Elanna shot me down each time. She only agreed to our original arrangement of three: Harry, her and me. The trio of us would share a meal or play pool in Sandrine's, though now I could tell she was wary of my intentions. Her brown eyes would dart nervously around me; she rarely looked straight into my eyes.
[Those intense blue eyes were always on me, eyes as bright and as shocking as blue diamonds. I knew if I looked at them for more than a nanosecond I would be lost to him. I would become one more pip on his collar, one more female coup.]
Our personalities were so strong, our hidden wounds so deep that it seemed like we would mostly just bicker. I could not attain the relaxed ease and friendship she and Harry had. My energy level would soar so much around her that I would become a nonstop monologue of jokes and come-ons. I won the prize for the most continuous hours with my foot in my mouth. Despite my failures to impress her, she continued to meet us for breakfast or for pool, offering no more than a few nonchalant hours of herself to us each week. It was more than I could ask for. It allowed me the opportunity to see her outside the sterile conference staff room. During briefings we would sit far from each other so professional and starched. But within the unreal illuminated atmosphere of Sandrine's and as soft music churned behind us, I could closely watch her. She would lean over the pool table with one arm stretched out to make a shot with her thick eyebrows knitted in concentration. The bar light would silhouette the rounded hills and smooth valleys of her leaning body, a phosphorescent halo of blacks, browns and yellows.
She made me envy the pool table.
[Tom's hand would unwittingly brush my back as he changed positions around the table. Touches so light that I am not sure molecules met, but that spread warm waves from the epicenter, ending with the tingling of my fingertips. The sensation would momentarily wash aside the dark boulder that always sat heavy in my chest. I could take a deep oxygen-filled breath. I would drift farther and deeper into the vortex of the Paris spell.]
Then one man, rather Vulcan male, asked B'Elanna to marry him, or the whatever equivalent Vulcan term for that is. Ensign Vorik was going through his first Pon Farr, the time in which a Vulcan's instincts drive them to take a mate, fight or die. I knew Vorik was interested in her but this proposal came out of nowhere (OK, a Vulcan as a romantic rival never really seemed like much of a threat to me). From what I gathered from second hand accounts, B'Elanna kindly refused his proposal, provoking Vorik, with the Pon Farr 'do or die' primal urges surging through him, to force a 'yes' out of her by initiating a Vulcan telepathic mind-meld. So she graciously breaks his jaw. Ata girl! What made me think she would ever need me to protect her from her overly-amorous suitors? However, as the bizarre story continued to evolve, it turned out she did need safekeeping, from herself and me.
I noticed something different about her behavior almost immediately. She, Neelix and I left soon after the Pon Farr attack to go on a mission to collect galacite on the fourth planet of an uninhabited solar system (the planet Sakari IV, the name still conjures up so many emotions). She was a little more aggressive and impatient than usual. However, it wasn't until after her and Neelix's near-death fall during our hiking that the chemical imbalance Vorik had launched on her started to overtake her. In response to that Vulcan mind-mess her Klingon mating instincts began to involuntarily surface with a mighty force. A force directed at me.
Only when we were trapped in the caves, alone together, did the magnitude of the situation hit me. I would have liked to think she chose me as her mate because she really wanted me and not because she found me only marginally more attractive than Neelix (her only other option during the previous moments), but I knew it wasn't the case. What would you do if the woman you have been lusting in secret for months offered herself to you in a sultry, predatory and demanding manner? I never thought there would be enough willpower in the Quadrant for me to ever say no to her. But it wasn't her, I had to keep telling myself, it was NOT B'Elanna!
Within our corner of the cavern it felt as if we had stepped into another millennium. The slight movements of my handlight created fantastic shadows that swept along the dusty walls. With her cheeks flushed, her hair thick and tangled, B'Elanna exuded a raw, primordial beauty. I wanted to believe that she really wanted me when she kissed me. Kisses that at first were only warm brushes then crescendoing into a fuller, sweeter pressure. I was intoxicated by her taste, that honeyed, spicy flavor that only she possesses, that only her cells can produce. As I looked into her dark eyes, burning embers glazed in desire, I almost gave in to her request. I almost gave into my desperate need.
Then I had a vision of those eyes in the future, eyes free from this Vulcan infliction and revealing the pain and anger of my betrayal. I just couldn't do that to her. "I hope you say that to me one day and mean it" I finally told her, baring my soul to her as I moved away with one Herculean burst of willpower. She couldn't understand my refusal. Her struggle ripped me apart. I could only wait until Chakotay and Tuvok found us. I could only anxiously watch as she saved herself, purged her fever, by fighting Vorik.
If only she could have witnessed herself in the long shadowing light in the dark cave, her skin luminous in the light, how she glowed from within as if she held the sun inside her body. If she could have seen her fight with Vorik, how her rapturous Klingon strength flowed throughout her like a hot tropical storm. If she could have witnessed herself that day she would have known she came from goddess ancestry. She would understand that she grew up in a world that just refused to acknowledge her splendor. She would never be ashamed that side of herself again. She would effortlessly and assuredly rule the ordinary rest of us.
And after her purging fight with Vorik, after she fell into my arms from exhaustion, after she was breathing deeply in earned rest, I continued to speak softly to her. She looked so tired, so worn out from yet another unwanted invasion in her life, one more fight in her struggled existence. Her lashes, thick and black, wavered slightly against her cooling skin as a cherry stained cheek started to swell (damn Vorik). Her body was limp as I pressed her closer to me, her rosy lips were parted slightly like a sleeping baby. I kept whispering to her that everything was going to be fine, that she had fought and won, that now I was taking care of her. I continued to touch her, long after I knew she could not feel me, because I needed to comfort her. Because I loved her. I adore her.
[As Tom's hands stroked me I could feel my hard breathing start to steady. Noone had ever touched me so gently, with such loving soft caresses, asking for nothing in return. For one fleeting luminous moment before I drifted into a deep safe sleep I felt a complete and serene happiness.]
B'Elanna forgave Vorik almost immediately. That surprised me. Later she would tell me that he was just too good at engineering to be transferred; she said she had understood what he was going through. Vorik continued being Vulcan with no embarrassment or guilt visible on his face. But I still growl when I see Vorik. I can't forgive him for what he made her go through.
Long after the Pon Farr was purged and after the initial shock and embarrassment of Sakari IV faded, B'Elanna became more relaxed around me. I think I proved to her that I just wasn't just hormonally charged for her. We became friends. Good friends. She didn't make it easy for me, and we did fight more than laugh, but I tried to be the best friend she could have. Her big brown eyes would look up at me and narrow, they would roll, but they would look straight at me. Sometimes I could make a wide grin sweep across her lovely face. Her rare laughter was like a rhapsodic melody. It would crack me open to more love. She could make my heart lurch like a lovesick schoolboy's. I could not imagine a more vital and sensitive person in my life. She was tightly wound, and held on to her battered heart tightly, but those were part of the many things I loved about her.
I now know that for so many years I unconsciously looked for her in other women, but none of them had her wholy. None of them made me dream of my future children running opened-armed to me with uncombed and dark hair flying behind them and with scurring bodies so strong, so healthy and tawny.
[There was not a lot I could hide from Tom. He had noticed the scars of years of blaming and ridicule, the guilty invisible scratches they have left on me. He had seen the uncontrollable temper and silly pride of my Klingon half and shameful cowardliness of my human half. He endured Sakari IV with me foolishly throwing myself at him in my ugly primitive urgency. Yet he continued to hover around me, smiling, caring for me, like bringing me hot soup when the energy-saving climate controls were set too low for a half-Klingon, or setting a cup of coffee next to me when I was working way too long and late. Sometimes I would feel ashamed at being presented with such a armful of thoughtfulness. Then sometimes he made me believe there had to be a lot more good in me than bad or else why would he care so much?]
[Then he would whisper some sly remark to me and I would be astounded on how aroused I would get. I would suddenly become aware of my body, all my erogenous zones long forgotten. My breasts would suddenly feel full and hard. The skin inside my thighs would singe. The desire would make me giddy and I would have cletch my fists and lash out a indifferent response to save face and stop these ridiculous emotions.]
[But so often my gaze would linger in secret at his long piano fingers. I couldn't help but love those hands, and love the shape of his jaw, the strength of his arms, his big smile. I loved the way his brilliant eyes would pierce me with such a wide range of emotions: anger, concern, happiness, but never ever with fear. I wanted to tangle myself in his face and towering height. I wanted to climb into him and take everything he offered.]
[Then what was my internal war all about? The fear of being held in a warm hug versus continuing alone and cold? If I accepted him I accepted the knowledge that I was setting myself for sorrow? It would render me vulnerable, without shields and penetrable to outside attack. Someone or something would have found out about my joy and snatched it away from me. I had lost a lot of people in my life, some just left me, but I knew I could not survive loosing Tom.]
[Oh Tom, how you must have suffered getting close to my savage, solitary soul.]
In space, with its stillness and unknown constellations, B'Elanna told me she loved me. I was shocked and then saddened by the news. We were loosing oxygen and dying. Suddenly I knew I would never have my rightful place in the land of requited kisses and caresses. I thought I would never would have the chance to touch the unseen parts of her silky summery skin. All I could do is circle her in my arms and wait for the sleep to overtake us and slowly accept the happiness that I would die loved.
But the Fates refused to be cruel to me. Now we are safe although the space outside is still vast and dangerous. She is with me as I kiss and enter her again and again in sight of distant suns outside the window. Here I can love her openly. She is mine, the dazzling warrior queen with the cherry plum lips. I can now savor those secret places of dewy petals. My boundless desire and love are tied to her body forever. With her I know the most awesome and brilliant part of my life lies ahead.