Battered and Bruised

Tom piloted the Delta Flyer through the planet's atmosphere. Ion storms raged around them. Things were a little bumpy, in more ways than one.
"Take it easy, flyboy. I'm the one who has to fix this thing,”  B'Elanna Torres told him, testily. She was obviously angry at him for something.

"Yes, ma'am." Tom smiled brazenly as he threw the arrogant reply over his shoulder.

B'Elanna marveled, briefly, how the captain managed to restrain herself when Tom did that to her on the bridge. It's a wonder he hadn't been busted down to ensign a long time ago.

"Do you think obtaining the galacite will be as much fun as the last time we needed it?"  Tom asked the irritated half-Klingon, innocently.

B'Elanna's head snapped back, as if she had been struck. Her eyes narrowed. Memories of her run in with the Vulcan Pon Farr washed over her.

Tuvok raised an eyebrow, but remained silent. He questioned the logic of angering Lt. Torres further. Sitting in the co-pilots seat, Chakotay's eyes widened at Tom's audacity. Did he have a death wish?  He hadn't seen him antagonize B'Elanna this much in years. What in the name of the Spirits was going on between the two of them?


Earlier that morning....

"I don't see why you won't move in here with me,"  Tom bit out angrily.  He was annoyed with B'Elanna, this discussion had been revisited more than once in the last month. He zipped up the jacket to his uniform and sat down on the couch to put his boots on.

"I just don't want to announce to the whole ship that we are sleeping together."  

Why couldn't he just drop this, she wondered.

Tom looked at her, stunned. It's not as if it was a big secret.

"Um... I'm pretty sure everybody -knows- we're sleeping together. If they didn't before, they sure do after that scene with you and Seven a while back."

B'Elanna groaned silently and closed her eyes, she could hear that smug Borg's voice all over again. "There is no one on Deck 9, Section 12 that does not know when you are having intimate relations."

Jolting herself back to the present, she looked him square in the eye.

"That's beside the point. This would be an open admission,” she snapped back.

"An open admission to what? That you love me and want to be with me?" Tom's temper began a slow burn.

"I'm not moving in here, end of discussion." She stood defiantly, near the bedroom door, hands on her hips.

"This discussion is not over! I want to know the real reason behind this." He stood up and faced her, his body tense with anger.

"I told you why. Now leave it alone." B'Elanna lowered her arms and tried to walk past him.
Tom wasn't about to let this drop. He grabbed her upper arm as she tried to pass. It was a mistake, he knew it instantly. Trying to strong arm his mate was never wise. Her body stilled. She looked up at him. There was fire in her eyes. Unfortunately, they were not flames of passion.

"I said 'leave it alone.' We are not getting into this." Her voice was quiet with barely constrained rage.

If he was going to die, he might as well have an answer to what he really wanted to know.

"Is this because we aren't married?" he asked.

"Of course not, don't be ridiculous,” she answered, but the heartbeat-long pause before she die was telling. "I told you, I don't believe in that archaic Klingon tradition. Just because we are sleeping together doesn't mean we have to be married. Besides, you're not exactly the type to settle down. Are you, Tom?"

He stiffened at the insult. The 'Paris mask' fell into place and he viewed her through guarded eyes.

"I guess not." He turned on his heel and stalked out of the cabin.


Sitting at the Engineering station on the Delta Flyer, B'Elanna seethed. Tom was deliberately antagonizing her, she knew it. He was retaliating for this morning, she had hurt him. She had regretted the words as soon as they had left her lips. He had hit too close to the truth, but she couldn't tell him that. So she did what she always did. She pushed him away, hard.

As sharp jolt pulled her out of her revive.

"What was that?" she demanded.

"We have been caught in some kind of tractor beam. It is originating from the Northern continent, at the site of the galacite readings," Tuvok answered.

"I can't break us out. Paris to Voyager--we're being pulled to the surface by a tractor beam." There was no response.

"They're jamming our communication," Chakotay informed them.
"I'm going to try..." Tom was cut off as a blinding flash of light illuminated the cockpit.

Suddenly, they were sitting on the floor of a large room. There were several bunks in the room and nothing else. Chakotay stood up and went to the door. It didn't open.

"Is anybody there?" He called out as he pounded on the door. No answer came. He tapped his comm-badge.

"Chakotay to Voyager. Come in Voyager." Again, no answer.

Chakotay turned to face his away team. They had risen from the floor as well. He took note of the tension in Tom's body, ready to do battle at a moments notice; the fact that Tuvok was rapidly assessing the current situation and the cell they were trapped in; and B'Elanna had already approached the door mechanism and was trying to access it's controls. The crew of Voyager has been together so long, sometimes verbal interaction was almost unnecessary.

B'Elanna jumped back as the door opened. Two armed guards entered followed by a third man who did not carry a weapon.

They were a large species, humanoid, taller than Tom by several inches. Solidly muscled and fierce. They had heavily ridged eye sockets, that were connected by ridged tissue to the tops of their ears. The dark blue jumpsuits they wore were obviously military uniforms. They reminded Tom of the Cardassians.

It was the unarmed man that worried Tom the most. The alien's gaze had come to rest on B'Elanna, and Tom did not like what he saw in his eyes. He took a step forward and positioned himself between B'Elanna and their captor. He knew this would anger her, but he didn't care.

"Why have you imprisoned us here?" Chakotay demanded.

"You have invaded Lynarian air space. You are the ones who shall be answering questions," one of the armed guards replied.

"Why are you here?" the leader directed the question to Chakotay.

"My name is Chakotay, Commander on the Federation Starship Voyager. We are in need of some galacite. The ion storms in your atmosphere interfered with our attempts to communicate with the surface so we brought a shuttle in hopes to obtain what we needed. I am authorized to make a fair trade for the ore," the commander told him.

An evil glint shown in their captor's eye.

"Well, Commander, there will be negotiations. I will be speaking to the captain of your ship about trading for your return. The galacite is not for sale."

As he spoke, the alien approached Tom. One of the guards followed him and the other remained at the door. Tom's arm reached behind him and pulled B'Elanna closer to his back, shielding her more. She didn't appreciate the gesture. Violently pulling away from Tom she faced their captor, in all her Klingon glory.

"Our Captain will not negotiate with criminals," B'Elanna all but spat at the tall alien.
The alien leader's eyes blazed with hunger as he viewed B'Elanna. He reached out and grabbed her by the hair, pulling her forcefully to him.
Tom went after the man and was immediately struck with the butt of a phaser rifle along his jaw. B'Elanna, enraged, struck the leader in the jaw. Laughing, he didn't even turn his head. The sound turned Tom's blood to ice.
"Take this woman to my quarters. I will be there shortly" His voice was cold and hard. Two new guards came into the room and took B'Elanna by the upper arms.

B'Elanna began fighting like a caged animal, but she was no match for the larger aliens. More guards had come and they were surrounded. Tom, rising from the floor, went after her. Tuvok stepped in front of the younger man, stopping him. The guards leveled their weapons on him.

"Getting yourself killed will not help Lt. Torres," he told Tom.

"B'Elanna, don't fight him," Tom implored. "It's what he wants. This means nothing."

Tom was desperate to get through to her, but it was hopeless. He knew she would fight to her last breath. His eyes met hers, pleading.

Momentarily stopping her struggle, she looked at him. He could see the battle that raged within her.

In the end, the Klingon in her won. He could hear her fighting as they took her away.

The leader looked Tom square in the face, and grinned evilly. Tuvok had to use considerable force to hold the pilot back. Laughing, the alien left. His guards followed.

"She'll be all right, Tom. B'Elanna can take care of herself," Chakotay said, desperate to believe it himself.

"Not this time,” came Tom's lifeless reply.


B'Elanna stood ram-rod straight in the center of room. She would not show weakness or fear. She was Klingon. This animal would not take her without a battle. She surveyed the room looking for possible weapons. The guard at the door watched her intently.

The door hissed opened, and the leader of the aliens entered. He motioned to the guard.

"You can go now,” the guard nodded and left without a glance to B'Elanna.

There was a feral gleam in his eyes as he approached her. She held her ground, she would not give him the satisfaction of seeing her cower.
B'Elanna tensed ready to strike. In her mind she heard Tom's voice

B'Elanna, don't.

She knew what he was asking, but she couldn't do it. She was Klingon, she had to fight.

Closing her eyes for a split second, she answered him.

I'm sorry.

Then she lunged at her captor with all her strength.

In the cell, Tom sat on the edge of one of the bunks. His elbows resting on his knees and his head buried in his hands. A single tear slipped from the corner of his eye.


B'Elanna's unclothed form materialized on the floor of the cell. She was laying on her side, curled up in a ball. Tom quickly knelt down next to her, removing his jacket to cover her. She was a mass of bruises and abrasions. He reached out and gently touched her shoulder. As she opened her eyes the brief flash of terror he saw there tore his heart in two. With a small cry of recognition she shakily tried to sit up. Tom's reached out, pulled her close and held her as tight as he dared.

As carefully as he could he pulled her on to his lap, and sat on the cell floor. He tried vainly to comfort her as she shook violently in his arms. She was having difficulty breathing and he could feel the blood, that seeped from between her legs, soaking his uniform. She clung to him as if he were her only hold on life itself. Tom had never seen her so vulnerable, it terrified him. Raising his head he looked at Chakotay. The look in Tom's eyes sent chills down Chakotay's back. He had seen that type of fury before. It made men do dangerous things.

Tom held B'Elanna, rocking her battered body, soothing her as best he could. After a while, she fell asleep in his arms. He gently laid her down on one of the bunks. The bastards hadn't even given them a blanket. Tuvok removed his jacket and handed it to Tom so he could cover B'Elanna more.

Glancing up at the Vulcan to thank him, Tom was caught off guard at the anger blazing in the other man's eyes. Tom was reminded, once again, that Vulcan's are not devoid of emotions. They just have better control of them, in most instances.

After making B'Elanna as comfortable as he could he walked over to where Chakotay and Tuvok were standing.

"How bad is it?" Chakotay asked quietly. He was pale and shaken. B'Elanna was like a sister to him. He had know her longer than any of them.

"Not good," Tom began. "She has at least one broken rib, most likely several. Her breath sounds are labored, indicating a punctured lung. She has a broken wrist, and a fractured clavicle. I can't even begin to guess at the internal injuries," pausing to gather himself he continued. "She's bleeding vaginally and has tenderness in her abdomen. We need to get her to Voyager, now."

The extent of her injuries had horrified Tom. She had been brutally savaged. He was surprised she was still alive. Had she been fully human, he doubted she could have withstood the violence of the rape.

Chakotay nodded and said, "Let's hope the captain has a plan."

"Seven, have you been able to break through the ion storms with the sensors yet?" the captain asked as Seven continued to work at her duty station on the bridge.

"Negative. There is too much interference. I am unable to isolate their signatures."

"I am not about to negotiate with that man. I want options people. And I want them now," Janeway stated in no uncertain terms, she was running out of patience. Hold her people hostage, would he? He didn't know who he was dealing with.

"Take Voyager down through the atmosphere. Once we are below the storms we will be able to lock on to the away team," Harry suggested. It was the only thing he could think of.

The current helmsman, Ensign Deeis, looked up from the conn in horror. He wasn't Tom Paris, in the name of the Prophets! He had never taken Voyager into an atmosphere. No one but Tom had ever landed the ship.

"Um... Captain? Ensign Paris isn't here. Just who did you have in mind to pilot the ship into the atmosphere?" he asked the captain, knowing full well what her answer would be.

"I believe that's your job, Ensign," she replied, her tone brooking no argument. "You are qualified for a planet decent? Are you not?"

"Yes, Ma'am"

"Then I guess that answers your question," she told him with more confidence in her voice than she actually felt. She had learned a long time ago, the belief in yourself and your crew could get you through almost anything.

"Blue Alert! All hands to battle stations! Prepare for planetary decent," Captain Janeway announced to the ship.

Turning back to the conn, Deeis Navar offered a small prayer to the Prophets. He was going to need all the help he could get.


Tom was concerned about B'Elanna. She was feverish and beginning to drift in and out of consciousness. Helplessly he sat on the floor next to her cot and held her hand. She was moaning in her sleep, he could feel her pain.

Chakotay had been trying to get a guard to come to the door, but had given up pounding and yelling when it became apparent no one would come. Tuvok had also given up trying to access the door controls, they were too well sealed.

Tuvok approached B'Elanna. Tom looked up at him, there was such pain in his eyes that Tuvok could not help but be moved.

"I believe I can help, Mr. Paris," Tuvok said.

"How?" Tom asked.

"There are certain meditative techniques Vulcan's use to heal themselves. I may be able to help Lt. Torres use her own body to heal herself. If you'll let me," he told Tom.

"Tuvok, if you can do anything, please try," Tom said.

Tuvok nodded and knelt down at the head of the bunk. He placed his hand on B'Elanna's cheek.

"My mind to your mind," Tuvok invoked and the connection began to form.

Tuvok's mind was buffeted by the pain and trauma B'Elanna was suffering. It was almost overwhelming. Her mind was filled with images of the assault. One brutal act after another. Tuvok felt his own rage, as well as B'Elanna's, at the alien who abused her. He pushed it aside, he needed to focus on B'Elanna. He began to force the memories of the rape aside. Pushing them into a corner of B'Elanna's mind. Isolating them from her, she needed to use all her strength to heal. She would have to deal with those memories later...if she survived.

When he had cleared her thoughts of the trauma he began to help her with her injuries. Showing her how use her mind to control her body. After a few minutes he began to separate from her. She could continue on her own.

As he withdrew he felt another presence. It had been there before, helping him isolate the memories, protecting B'Elanna from them. Opening his eyes he looked at Tom. The blue eyes that met his blazed of determination and defiance.

"It will not work, Mr. Paris," he informed Tom. Tuvok understood what drove him to do this, but it couldn't last forever.

"Maybe not, but I can still try," Tom asserted. 

Tuvok didn't doubt the younger man's sincerity for a minute. He just knew that Tom's limited empathic link with his mate would not be strong enough to keep hold of B'Elanna's memories. Her consciousness was one of the strongest Tuvok had ever encountered.

"Harry, I want you to get the away team out of there as soon as you get a lock on them. We'll worry about the Flyer after we get our people back," Janeway ordered. "Ensign Deeis, take us down."

Navar set his course and started towards the planet's atmosphere. Trying to keep all his knowledge and instructions on this procedure foremost in his mind. He could almost hear Paris running him through it like he did in the holodeck simulations Tom made his pilots participate in weekly. If he got the ship through this he was never going to complain about Tom's relentless battle simulations again.

The decent was turbulent, but not as bad as he had expected.

"Shields are down 22 percent," Seven said from her station.

"Reroute power through the deflector dish to compensate," Janeway commanded.

"Acknowledged." Seven tapped the panel to reroute the power. "Shields are holding."

"We're almost through the storms, Captain." Navar announced.

"Mr. Kim, do you have a lock on the away team?" the captain asked.

"Stand, by....I've got them. Two human, one Vulcan, and one Klingon. Captain, B'Elanna's life signs are very weak." Harry was concerned.

"Beam them directly to Sickbay, Mr. Kim," she told him.

"Done. All four are in Sickbay."

"What about the Delta Flyer?" Now that her crew members were recovered she could concern herself with the shuttle.

"I can't get a lock on it. It must be shielded," Harry said.

"Captain, the General is hailing us," Seven told her.

"On screen."

"Captain Janeway. You have violated Lynarian air space, leave now or I will be forced to fire on your ship."

"I want my shuttle back, General." She'd had enough of this.

"I believe we spoke earlier as to what I wanted in return for your shuttle. When you are willing to meet my terms, we can continue this discussion," General Trink cut the channel before the captain had a chance to answer.

The ship was rocked by a blast. Tuvok, Chakotay and Tom entered the bridge as another blast struck the ship. They took their stations.

"They are firing photonic cannons at us. Our shields will not be able to withstand repeated hits," Tuvok reported.

"Mr. Paris, take us above the storms. We will deal with how to retrieve the Flyer when we are not under fire," Janeway said.

"Aye, Captain. Beginning rapid assent." With in a few minutes they had achieved a synchronous orbit. After parking the ship in orbit, Tom looked at Ensign Deeis.

"Well done, Navar,” he said with quiet admiration.


The Captain entered Sickbay with Tom right behind her. When Chakotay had told her what had happened she had headed straight for Sickbay with Tom in tow. Once inside Tom went to B'Elanna's bed.  He began checking her vitals himself, making sure she was all right for himself.

"Captain,” the Doctor beckoned her from his office. If it was possible for a hologram to look physically ill, this one did.

"Is she going to be all right?" Janeway asked him.

"Physically, yes. I've been able to repair the extensive damage that was done. I've also taken precautions to make sure a pregnancy does not occur. It's her emotional health I am worried about. Klingon's believe rape is a dishonor to the woman. A Klingon woman who can't fight off an attacker deserves to be raped." The disgust of this belief was evident in the Doctor's voice.

"You're not serious!" she exclaimed, stunned. That was barbaric.

"Unfortunately, I am. Once again we find ourselves in need of a ship's counselor."

"Tuvok has served in that capacity before, do you think he could help B'Elanna?" Janeway asked.

"I think he is our only option. Whether or not he can help, remains to be seen," the Doctor replied.


Tom was relieved to see B'Elanna resting comfortably. Her injuries had been even worse than he had thought. The Doctor's report had made him ill, when he read it. The animal had enjoyed hurting her, that much was obvious. All Tom could think of was what he would do to him if he got the chance.

B'Elanna's eyelids fluttered then opened. Tom bent over so she could see him.

"Hey, do you feel?" he asked softly.

"Terrible. What happened?"

"We were taken hostage, for ransom. The captain brought the ship down, and got us out," Tom glossed over the events.

There was more to it than that. She could feel it. He was hiding something from her. Something she should remember...
The memories began to break through the gossamer barrier erected in her mind. They were too strong for Tom to hold. Slowing he let go, unable to stop the inevitable.

She gasped as the memories returned. Sitting up she looked wildly about Sickbay. As if she expected her abuser to be there. Tom stood helplessly next to her, his hand resting on her back. Not knowing what to do. She was breathing rapidly and shaking violently. The Doctor came out of his office as her bio-alarms started going off.

"B'Elanna. It's all right. You're back on Voyager now," the Doctor told her as he administered a mild sedative to calm her.
Her breathing slowed after a few moments and she looked at Tom. The hollowness in her eyes sent chills down his back. He had seen that look in her before. She almost killed herself with her reckless behavior the last time it was there.

"Just go, Tom. I'm tired. I want to sleep," she told him.

The Doctor and he exchanged knowing looks. Tom left Sickbay without another word. The captain followed him.

"I want to go with the away team to retrieve the Flyer," he told the captain in the turbo-lift, as they headed to the bridge.

"I understand you feel the need to go, Tom. But I can't let you. You're too close to this, your judgment is impaired."

"Computer. Halt turbo-lift," Tom commanded, then turned to face her.

"I'm asking you as my friend, Kathryn, not my captain. Please, let me go."

"As your friend, I can't let you. As your captain, I need you here to pilot Voyager. We will be under fire, you're the best pilot I have. I won't risk the safety of this crew for your personal vendetta. I'm sending Chakotay, Tuvok and Seven."

Tom realized she was right, but it didn't make him feel any better. With resignation he instructed the turbo-lift to resume.


Chakotay ran silently through he halls of the Lynarian installation, flanked by Tuvok and Seven. The could hear the photonic cannons as they fired on Voyager. The battle was their cover. They need to knock out the shield generator so Voyager could beam the Flyer out.

"The shield generator is just up ahead," Seven said quietly. "Through those doors." Referring to the double doors that two guards stood on either side of.

Chakotay signaled to Tuvok to take out the guard on the right while he took the guard on the left. Leveling phasers they fired simultaneously.

The guards collapsed unconscious, on the floor.

Rushing up, Seven opened the door while Tuvok and Chakotay lifted the guards up and dragged them into the room. Once inside they sealed the doors. Seven began working at the console.

"The shield generator can be overloaded by shutting down the coolant system," she announced after a few minutes.

"Do it!" Chakotay ordered.

"Coolant system is locked down. I suggest we leave here, the feed back will cause these counsels to blow out," Seven said.

"All right, let's go." Chakotay picked up his phaser and Tuvok unsealed the door. Quickly checking down the corridor the trio headed back the way they came.

They just had to wait for the shield generator to go and the captain would beam them up. They didn't want to use the comm-badges if it wasn't necessary.

They rounded a corner, Tuvok several steps behind Seven and Chakotay.

"That will be far enough, Commander," General Trink cut in behind Chakotay and Seven. Tuvok dropped back and pressed himself up against the corridor wall. Unseen by the general and his guard.

"I had a feeling I would find you here, trying to take back your shuttle." As the general spoke Chakotay saw Tuvok come up behind him. They had been rendered unconscious by the Vulcan before they even felt his hands on their necks. Tuvok lifted the general and began to drag him back to a storage room. Chakotay followed with the guard. Seven covered them.

"Stand guard, at the door, while I hide them," Tuvok told Chakotay.
He pulled the general to a back corner, behind some boxes. Quickly he went back and got the guard. After making sure they were hid, Tuvok dropped to one knee next to the general. He placed his hand on the man's cheek.

"My mind to your mind."

He entered the general's mind with a sole purpose. He opened his mind and gave the general B'Elanna's memories of the rape. All the pain and terror she felt. The horror at being rendered helpless and taken against her will. He forced the memories into the alien's mind knowing full well what he was doing, and not caring. If nothing else, this man would know forever the meaning of rape.

"Tuvok, do you need help?" Chakotay called to him.

Breaking the mind meld he stood up and went to the door.

"No, Commander. I am done here," Tuvok told him calmly. There was no outward trace of what had just transpired.

An explosion could be heard through out the installation. The three were beamed back to their ship as chaos insued.


"They're back on board, Captain. And I have the Flyer in the shuttle bay," Harry Kim informed her.

"Very well. Take us out of here, Mr. Paris."

"Yes, Ma'am." It was obvious how much Tom wanted to leave.

"Beginning rapid assent."

"Any problems, gentlemen?" The Captain asked as Chakotay, Tuvok and Seven got off the turbo-lift.

"None, Captain," Tuvok answered her.

"We've cleared the atmosphere, Captain," Tom informed her.

"Set a course away from here, Mr. Paris. Warp 8." She was more than ready to leave this system.

"Course laid in," Tom said.


"Aye, Captain."


Tom entered Sickbay. The Doctor had wanted to speak to him. The captain had relieved him of duty as soon as they had left orbit.

"You wanted to see me, Doc?" He noted that B'Elanna was no longer in Sickbay, the Doctor must have released her.

"Mr. Paris, yes. I wanted to tell you that I've released Lt. Torres to her quarters. I think you should know that she has refused to let Commander Tuvok counsel her. She insists she will handle the problem on her own. I don't believe she can," the Doctor told him.

"Neither do I. I'll talk to her." Tom had know this would be a battle.
He headed to her quarters. Dreading the oncoming confrontation. As he entered the turbo lift he realized that she may not have followed the Doctor's orders.

"Computer. Locate Lt. Torres."

--Lt. Torres is in Engineering--

What a surprise.

"Engineering," he instructed the turbo-lift.


When he got to Engineering, she was already gone. Vorik told him she had come in and grabbed some of her PADD's to work on in her quarters. Tom went after her.

He caught up with her on Deck 9, close to her quarters.

"Hey, wait up," Tom called ahead to her.

Stopping, she turned around to face him with a guarded expression.

"I was just going to lay down for a while. I don't feel that well," she told him.

"I'll come with you, I've been relieved of duty for the time being."

"No, I'd rather you didn't. I want to be alone."

"I don't think that's such a good idea, B'Elanna,” he said.

"Look...Tom. I'm fine. I just need to get some rest." Why couldn't he just go?

"You're not fine. I can see it in you eyes. You need help with this."

"What? Tuvok? You? I don't think so." She was getting angry now.

"You can't pretend it never happened! You have to get some help."

"I don't have to do anything! Just leave me alone!" She turned and went into her quarters. Shutting the door behind her.

Tom went to the door and keyed the chime. She didn't respond. He wasn't about to walk away from this.

"OPEN THIS DOOR, B'ELANNA!"  Tom pounded on the door with his fist. She had engaged the security lock when she had entered.

Tom pounded on the door again.

"I'm not going away. You're going to have to let me in."  He was met with silence.

"Stubborn Klingon," he muttered under his breath.

"Computer. Override security lockout to these quarters. Authorization Paris-tau-sigma-2-1-8,” he instructed.

"Unable to comply. Level 4 security lockout engaged. Command Authorization only."

Tom pressed his forehead against the door. She was the most obstinate woman he had ever known.

"Computer. Override security lockout. Medical Authorization Paris-beta-2.” She couldn't lock out a medic code.

The door hissed open. It took his eyes a minute to adjust to the dark room. She was sitting in the corner of her bedroom, on the floor. With her legs pulled up to her chest, and her arms wrapped around them. Her head rested on her knees.

"B'Elanna,” he spoke softly.

"I don't need any help. I'm fine. I can handle this on my own," B'Elanna said.

"Like the last time?" Tom quietly asked.

"What are you talking about, what last time?"  She kept her head down.

Tom knelt on the floor directly in front of her, taking both of her hands in his own. Forcing her to look at him. He wouldn't back down this time. She needed to deal with this.

"When Steth raped you,” he said. She tried to pull her hands from his, but he tightened his grip.

"No, B'Elanna. Not this time. I let you pull away from me once, never again. If I had been there for you then, maybe you wouldn't have turned to the holodeck to deal with your pain. Maybe you could have handled the deaths of your friends without hurting yourself. I promised myself I would never let you hide from me again."

"You don't know what you're talking about,” her voice trembled with anger.

"Steth told me. He gloated as he tried to escape in the shuttle. I waited for you to tell me. At first I thought you didn't realize what had happened, and you didn't did you? It was almost two weeks later before you knew. I could have killed Harry and his big mouth. Even though it was wrong, I never wanted you to know. I would have carried that secret to my grave if it meant protecting you from the pain. It wasn't long before I realized you couldn't stand to have me touch you. You'd tense up, or pull away from me. I didn't know what else to do, so I let you. I should have forced you to deal with it, with me. The time in your life when you needed me the most, and I let you push me away. It tore me up inside when Chakotay told me what you had been doing to yourself. I should have seen it, I should have stopped it."  The self-loathing was evident in his voice.

She felt compassion well up in her at his anguish. She pushed it down, forcing it from her thoughts. She didn't need his help.

"You don't understand. I will handle this on my own. I don't need yours or Tuvok's help,"  B'Elanna said.

"Yes, you do. You're not handling it at all. You're just running away from it. I know you're frightened...." Tom stopped when she cut him off.

"YOU DON'T KNOW ANYTHING!"  She screamed. "I am KLINGON! I should have never allowed this to happen."  She pressed her head back against the wall, continuing in a whisper, "A Klingon woman who lets a man to rape her is without honor."

"Let him rape you?"  Tom was furious. "Dear God, B'Elanna. You didn't let him do anything. You fought him to with-in an inch of your life. You should have 'let him.' I begged you to 'let him.' I almost lost you because of your damned Klingon honor. What he did was meaningless. But you were willing to give you life for it. Where is the honor in that?"

"Meaningless? How can you say that? He took what was yours alone, and I let him. How could you ever want to be with me again?"

"Because it doesn't matter to me. It's not important, I won't make him important. He isn't worth it. The only thing that matters is you. You're the reason I live for. I'm not about to let some animal take that away from me."

Tom reached forward and pushed the hair away from her face. Caressing the ridges on her forehead with his thumb. He had to make her understand. Cupping her face in his hands he leaned forward and kissed her softly on the lips. Just brushing them with his own.

B'Elanna pushed him away and got up off the floor. She walked over to the window and stared, unseeingly, out at the stars. Tom sat back on his heels and watched her for a moment. Noting the stiffness in her spine and the death grip she had on the window ledge. Getting up he crossed the room to stand behind her. He reached out to put a hand on her shoulder, but thought better of it and let it drop to his side.

"I just want to be alone for a while. Please, Tom." Her voice was so quiet he had to strain to hear her.

He turned and headed out of the quarters. He stopped just before the exterior door and looked back at her.
"I'm here for you, you know that, right?" he asked. 

B'Elanna's shoulders slumped and she just nodded in reply. Not turning to him. With a sigh, he left her alone.


Tom walked into the mess hall. He wasn't hungry but he didn't feel like sitting alone in his quarters. Both the holodeck's were being used for private programs, this was the next logical place. Being well past the dinner hour there was only a couple of crewmen sitting at a table discussing some maintenance schedules. Neelix came out from behind the kitchen and greeted Tom.

"Hello, Tom. Can I get you anything?" He was uncharacteristically subdued in his greeting.

"No, thanks. I just wanted...." Tom paused, not sure what he wanted.

"Why don't we sit down. I'm done for the night. We can have something to drink. I'll get it." Neelix indicated to an empty table with his hand. Tom sat down as Neelix went to the replicator.

"Two Aldervan Whisky's," Neelix instructed it. The glasses appeared instantly. He took them over to table and sat down across from Tom.

"Here, you look like you could use this."

"Thanks, Neelix." Tom took a drink and smiled. "The real stuff, huh? I look that bad?"

"Well, maybe not to everyone else. But I've known you quite a while, Tom. I can tell when you're bothered by something." Neelix paused to take a drink, and then continued in a somewhat shaken tone. "It's hard, isn't it? Accepting the fact that another man has forced his way into your lives. Violated your relationship. Hurt the one you love. It's the helpless rage that gets you the most. You can't fix it.  You can't make it better. You just have to be there for her, so she can work through it herself. It's the hardest thing you will ever have to do, my friend."
Tom looked at Neelix in shock and sympathy.

"Kes?" He asked.

"There were things about Kes that only I knew. The Kazon were not kind to her when they held her. Why do you think I was so desperate to rescue her? Jabin hurt her like B'Elanna's been hurt. I know what you're going through. I just wanted you to know you can talk to me about it."

"Thank you, Neelix. I appreciate it. But right now I need to focus on B'Elanna. She needs to come to terms with the rape and stop hiding from it. I don't know how to get through to her." There was desperation in his voice.

"Tom, she is going to have to do this in her own time. You can't force her to deal with her emotions before she's ready. Just be there for her. Once she feels safe again, she will be ready. Tuvok will help her. All you need to love her."

Tom finished off his drink and resisted the urge to hurl the glass across the room. How could he show her he loved her if she kept pushing him away.

"Go ahead. It'll help," Neelix said.

"What?" Tom hadn't heard him.

"Throw the glass. Toss a chair or two. It will help," Neelix told him.

Tom looked at his friend in silence for a moment then chuckled quietly.

"Maybe later, my friend. I think I'm going to go and get some sleep. It's been a long day." He was bone tired, physically and emotionally.

"That sounds like a good idea, Tom. You could use some rest. I'll see you in the morning." Neelix stood up and took the empty glasses back to the replicator.

"Thank you, Neelix," Tom said just as he was leaving.

"You're welcome, Tom."


She was calling to him....

"B'Elanna!" Tom cried out as he awoke. He sat up in bed, shaking and breaking out in a cold sweat. Throwing back the blankets he bolted out of bed and left his quarters not even bothering to grab a robe. Barefoot he ran though the corridors of Voyager in only his pajama bottoms.

"Deck 9, Section 12," he told the computer as he entered the turbo-lift.

"Computer override security lock out to Lt. Torres' quarters. Medical Authorization Paris-beta-2," he gave the command as the turbo-lift took him to Deck 9.

As soon as the doors opened he sprinted to her quarters, entering at the push of a button.

She was having a nightmare. Screaming for him. Tom went to her bed and pulled her into his arms.

"Shhh...It's okay," he assured her.  "I'm here now. You're safe." He rocked back and forth as he held her.

"Tom?" She was disoriented from just awaking. She trembled in his arms. Tom held her tighter. Kissing her on the top of her head.

"Yeah, it's me. You were having a nightmare. Do you want to talk about it?" he asked, concerned.

"I don't remember it, really," B'Elanna evaded.

"Why don't you tell me what you do remember," he prodded.

She paused for a moment. It was hard to describe what she had dreamt about.

"It was dark, I couldn't breath. I couldn't move. I needed you and you weren't there. I just kept calling for you, but you weren't there!" She was sobbing now.

"I'm here, now. I won't leave you." But I wasn't there when you needed me, was I, he thought to himself.

"Stay with me. I'm sorry I sent you away before. I do need you," B'Elanna admitted. It was hard for her to show weakness. But she didn't want to be alone anymore.

Tom crawled into bed next to her, holding her close. Wishing he could take all the pain away. Knowing there was nothing he could do.

"I won't leave you," he promised. "Go to sleep, you're safe now."


Tom sat at the conn. An uneasiness nagged at him. He couldn't quite put his finger on it. Something dark hovered at the edges of his mind. It was cloying and terrifying at the same time. Reaching out to him, pulling him closer...

"No!" he cried out.

The entire bridge crew looked at him in concern.

"Paris to Torres," he activated his comm badge, ignoring the questioning looks of his friends.

No reply.

"Tom...." Chakotay but was silenced when Tom raised his hand.

"Computer. Locate Lt. Torres," Tom instructed

--Lt. Torres is in her quarters--

Tom looked up to Tuvok.

"Get a security detail down there right now," he told him.

To his credit, Tuvok didn't hesitate. With in seconds a security team was enroute to B'Elanna's quarters.

"Mr. Paris! What is going on!" The captain had lost her patience.

"I'm sorry, Captain. I don't have time to explain. I need to get to B'Elanna. Now."

"Tuvok, Chakotay, go with him."  She had learned to trust this man over the years. If he said B'Elanna was in trouble, she believed him.

They arrived at B'Elanna's quarters to find the security team just standing in the hall.

"What's wrong?" Tuvok asked them.

"She's erected a level 10 force field around her quarters, with an encrypted lockout. We can't get any closer," the guard told them.

"Chakotay to Kim"

--Kim here--

"B'Elanna's put up a force field around her quarters, can you lower it?"

--I've been trying, Commander. It's encrypted, it's going to take a while.--

"We don't have a while, Harry!" Tom broke in.

--I'm working on it, Stand by--

Tom flung his body back against the bulk head in frustration. He should have realized what she was up to. She had been so calm this morning, agreeing to see Tuvok and start counseling, telling Tom exactly what he wanted to hear. He had failed her, again. And now he was going to lose her because of it.


B'Elanna sat on the floor of her quarters. Candles and incense burned, illuminating the room.

She picked up the ritual blade used for the Hegh'bat ceremony.

Normally a family member would hold it for her, but she had no one on Voyager who would help her do this. She would die alone, disgraced.
Placing the knife over her hearts she began the ritual. She could feel Tom's desperation. It would be difficult for him to accept her decision. She hoped he wouldn't blame himself. A vision of him swam before her eyes....

It's all right, I've got you.

B'Elanna? What have they done to you?

No, I can't let you do this.

Oh, believe me, I'd like to. But I know this isn't really you.

Maybe it will show me how to make your heart quicken.

I'll throw you over my shoulder and carry you out of here, if I have to.

You picked a fine time to tell me.

B'Elanna...shut up.

I love you.

The memories crashed like waves upon the beach. One right after the other, pounding away at her, beating her down. She dropped the knife as they continued. Tom angering her. Tom rescuing her. Tom irritating her. Tom holding her. Tom loving her. A cry of utter agony left her lips.

She couldn't hurt him like this.

"Computer. Lower force field on Deck 9, Section 12. Authorization Torres-epsilon-7-7-1-gamma." She instructed the computer shakily.
Tom was there in seconds, gathering her in his arms and holding her tight. He was shaking as well.

Chakotay nodded to Tuvok and the security officers, sending them on their way. The door closed and the couple was left alone.

The next few months were hard on both of them. B'Elanna was counseled by Tuvok individually and they saw him as a couple as well. There were tears and pain, anger and a lot of broken objects, but they rode the storm out together, in each other's arms.

They never discussed moving in together again. Duplicates of Tom's personal items were left in her quarters and she did the same in his. Sometimes they would sleep in his bed, and sometimes they would sleep in hers.

Never again, however, did they sleep alone.