Sunday, March 9, 2008
"Glimpses of the Future" [R] - 2/2
Here is the second half of my STAR TREK VOYAGER story called, "Glimpses of the Future":
"GLIMPSES OF THE FUTURE"
"Hey Maquis!" Ensign Harry Kim cheerfully greeted B'Elanna inside the Mess Hall, the following morning. She placed her breakfast tray on Harry's table and sat down on the chair, opposite her friend.
B'Elanna yawned and reached for her coffee cup. Harry frowned. "Wow! You really look tired! Did you get any sleep, last night?"
"Plenty," B'Elanna croaked. Then she took a sip of her coffee. There was nothing like a great cup of raktijino - freshly replicated.
Harry continued to question B'Elanna. "Exactly how much is 'plenty'? Seven hours? One?"
"What are you getting at, Starfleet?"
Heaving an exasperated sigh, the young ensign shot back, "Have you taken a good look in the mirror, B'Elanna? You look as if you've spent the last few days in hell." He paused. "And the odd thing is that you've been on leave for the past fifteen hours." Harry's dark eyes bored into B'Elanna's. "Are you having trouble sleeping?"
"Okay, so I couldn't sleep last night," B'Elanna grudgingly admitted. "Is it a crime?"
One of Harry's brows quirked upward. "No. Are you having problems? Nightmares?"
"No, I . . ." B'Elanna hesitated. Should she tell him? About the Hotak device? The knowledge of her new discovery weighed heavily on her mind. Perhaps confiding to a friend would help lighten that burden. B'Elanna took a deep breath. "Harry, how would you feel if you were able to see the future?"
Confusion whirled in the dark eyes. "What do you mean? Are you trying to tell me that . . . you're able to receive visions of the future?"
After an uneasy glance around the Mess Hall, B'Elanna continued, "Of course not! I'm not precognitive or anything like that. You see it all began three days ago. On Hotak."
"What about Hotak?" a third voice asked. Both B'Elanna and Harry glanced up. A smiling Tom Paris loomed above them, holding a tray. "Is there something special about that place?"
Fearful that the Chief Helmsman had overheard most of their conversation, B'Elanna snapped at him. "Dammit, Paris! Are you in the habit of eavesdropping on other people's conversation?"
"What are you talking about?" the pilot protested. His blue eyes radiated innocence. "I just happened to hear you mention Hotak to Harry."
B'Elanna struggled to keep her irritation in check. Ever since the Vidiians had held her and Paris captive, their hostile regard toward each other had vanished. Along with their mutual dislike and competition for Harry's friendship. However, B'Elanna still found it difficult to consider the pilot as a close friend. The problem with Tom Paris, she decided, seemed to be his cocky and somewhat shallow personality. He might be a good friend - at least to Harry - but he seemed to lack a moral center that B'Elanna found uncomfortable.
"Harry and I were having a private conversation," B'Elanna coolly replied. Her mood ruined by Paris' appearance, she sighed. "Never mind. I think I'll go back to bed. I'm still feeling a little tired."
Harry's face expressed concern. "Listen Maquis, if you still want to talk, I'll come by your quarters, later."
"Thanks, Starfleet." B'Elanna gave her friend a bright smile. "Maybe I'll see you later." She spared Paris a cool nod and quickly left the Mess Hall.
* * * *
B'Elanna strode into her quarters and flopped down on the sofa. She heaved a frustrated sigh. Kahless! She felt so tired! Despite the fifteen hours of leave already taken, her exhaustion seemed to have increased. B'Elanna began to wonder if the Hotak device had anything to do with her physical condition. If so, maybe she should pay a visit to Sick Bay.
A visit to Sick Bay, she realized, would mean revelation of the device in her possession. It would also mean facing Captain Janeway's wrath. And after the humiliation of being in the Captain's doghouse, nearly five months ago, B'Elanna had no desire to face that situation again. The Hotak device, B'Elanna decided, would have to remain her secret. A secret she would no longer meddle with. At least until she regained her strength.
Having made a decision, B'Elanna decided to spend her time on other activities. She tried a small nap. Didn't work. After twenty minutes, she remained awake. Then she tried returning to her old Engineering report. Didn't work. Nor did her Klingon romance novel. No big surprise, there. In the end, B'Elanna knew what she really wanted to do - use the Hotak device. And if that meant more exhaustion, so be it. Perhaps another glimpse into the future would be worth the price.
With great effort, B'Elanna climbed off the sofa and retrieved the device from the desk. She returned to the sofa and sat down. Breathless with anticipation, she slowly opened the case. The now familiar light filled the room . . .
* * * *
Calypso music filled the interior of Holodeck One. B'Elanna sighed with satisfaction, as she made her way across the tiled terrace. Without a doubt, Neelix's Talaxian resort had to be her favorite holoprogram. Not only did she love the sub-tropical setting and the color, she especially reveled the warm sun that shined above.
Clutching the towel around her neck, B'Elanna made her way toward one of the patios. She paused and ordered the computer to summon her favorite holocharacter - a muscular beach boy she had dubbed Ricardo. Unfortunately, Ricardo failed to materialize. B'Elanna frowned. Now what the hell?
"Computer," she barked, "include holocharacter, Ricardo."
The computer's voice coolly replied, "Request denied. The holocharacter, Ricardo, has been deleted from the program."
"Unable to respond. Please restate the . . ."
Her anger now threatening to erupt, B'Elanna snarled, "Computer off!" She sighed, closed her eyes and took a deep breath." Oh well. She did not need Ricardo to enjoy her time in the holodeck. She still had the resort. And the glorious sun. B'Elanna spotted an empty deck chair and sat down. Ricardo or no Ricardo, she was determined to enjoy herself and relax.
"Mind if I join you?" A soft, masculine voice took B'Elanna by surprise. She glanced up. Her heart fluttered at the sight of one Thomas Eugene Paris, standing above her. He also wore casual clothes - deep blue beach shorts that revealed long and steady legs, and a purple T-shirt that stretched over a broad, muscular chest.
B'Elanna tried to keep her voice steady. "Wish I could say yes, but I seem to be occupying the only chair in this spot."
"Well then, I'll just share yours." Tom plopped down on an empty spot on the deck chair. B'Elanna opened her mouth to protest, but her raging hormones intervened. To be honest, she really did not mind sharing the chair. Especially with Tom. She rather enjoyed the feel of the muscular thigh that brushed against her leg. And the warmth that his skin radi . . .
'Stop it!' B'Elanna took a deep breath. She could not believe this. All Tom Paris had to do was sit down next to her for a few minutes, and already she felt excited. One part of B'Elanna's brain found the idea of her being attracted to Voyager's chief pilot, humiliating. And disturbing. Off all the men to develop an attraction toward - Tom Paris. One-time loser and Voyager's resident Lothario.
"You know," Tom began, cutting into her thoughts, "you look absolutely delicious in that swim suit." Blue eyes expressed overt admiration. "Good enough to eat."
'So do you' was B'Elanna's immediate response. Fortunately, she kept her thought to herself. Instead, she commented, "Well . . . thank you. I thought you were going to use the word, stunning. Isn't that what you told me, three days ago? At the luau? And I didn't realize you were into cannibalism."
Tom stared at her with a mixture of seductive charm and desire. B'Elanna shivered. "Actually, I didn't have cannibalism in mind," he replied softly. "I was thinking of something a lot more pleasant. And private." He whispered the last two words.
B'Elanna realized that she should get up and leave. Right now. Before she ended up throwing herself into the pilot's arms and ravaging him at that . . . Another deep breath followed. B'Elanna managed to cut short the impulsive thought with her usual ruthlessness. "That," she said in a husky voice, "will have to wait for another day."
Blue eyes twinkled deliciously. "You mean there's hope for us both?"
A retort hung on B'Elanna's lips, but she decided to keep her mouth shut. What exactly could she say to Tom? That there was no hope? Or that she had no intention of becoming his latest conquest? B'Elanna decided to nip this attraction in the bud. Fast. Before something happened that they both might regret. Or even worse, enjoy. She heaved an inward sigh and retorted, "I have no idea on what you're talking about!" Kahless, she sounded so unconvincing!
Tom smiled. "Whatever you say, B'Elanna." His eyes fell upon her tote bag on the floor, below. "Say, where's your little companion, Roberto? Isn't he usually around to give you a massage or something?"
Realization hit B'Elanna. She pointed an accusing finger at the helmsman. "It was you, wasn't it?" she growled.
"What are you talking about?"
"Cut the crap, Paris!" B'Elanna shot back. "It was you! You're the one who deleted Ricardo from the program! And his name is Ricardo, by the way! Not Roberto!"
Innocence reigned in those vivid blue eyes. "I have no idea on what you're talking about."
"You have no . . ." B'Elanna took a deep breath. Then she asked, "Computer, who deleted the character, Ricardo, from this program?"
The computer replied, "Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres."
"Please restate the . . ."
Interrupting the dry voice once again, B'Elanna growled, "Computer off!"
"You see? I told you that I had nothing to do with whatshisname." Tom leaned forward, his face merely an inch or two away from B'Elanna's. "If you need someone to give a massage that badly, I'd be willing to volunteer." His eyes now twinkled with promise.
B'Elanna inhaled deeply. Tom's scent filled her nostrils, forcing her to suppress a shiver. She wanted to say yes. The idea of the pilot's long fingers on her bare skin filled her with desire. But fear of being another notch on Tom Paris' bedpost prevented . . .
* * * *
Back in the present, B'Elanna let out a gasp and fell back on the couch. The device slipped out of her hand.
Disbelief flooded every nerve in her body. Tom Paris? B'Elanna could not believe it. Her mind refused to accept the possibility that she would develop an attraction toward Tom Paris! That pig! B'Elanna took a deep breath. Okay, perhaps the man was not a pig. He could be quite decent, as his behavior toward her in the Vidiian mines had attested. But the Chief Helmsman, in her opinion, was the last man in the universe with whom she would strike a romance. Tom Paris??
Had she become so desperate for a love life that she became attracted to Paris? Had a possible romance with Chakotay become so futile that she ended up considering just anyone?
While her dizziness lingered, B'Elanna heaved a large sigh. These dizzy spells seemed to be remaining longer, each time she used the device. B'Elanna tried taking a few more deep breaths to rid herself of them. Or meditation. But neither methods seemed to help very much. And closing her eyes for meditation only seemed to conjure unwanted memories of her and Tom Paris inside the holodeck. Maybe what she had witnessed will turn out to be a fluke. A momentary attraction that will eventually . . .
The ship's communication system beeped. "Paris to Torres."
Speak of the devil. Barely suppressing her annoyance, B'Elanna snapped, "Torres here! What do you want?"
A pause followed. Then, "B'Elanna?"
"What the hell do you want, Paris?"
A sarcastic voice responded, "So what happened to Tom and B'Elanna?"
"Okay! Tom! Now what do you want?" Another wave of dizziness hit B'Elanna.
Paris replied, "I'm looking for Harry. We were supposed to meet at Sandrine's. Have you seen him?"
"No!" The word left B'Elanna's mouth with the speed and precision of a phaser blast.
Another pause. "Okay! I guess I caught you at a bad time. Someone could sure use a few hours on the holodeck, tonight."
"Yeah, just not with you! Torres out!" B'Elanna quickly ended the conversation before the pilot could respond. Then she sighed. Her taste in men must have really sunk low, in the future. Tom Paris. She shook her head. It could not have lasted very long. Not a relationship between her and that . . . that pig!
Her eyes fell upon the device on the floor. B'Elanna frowned. Should she use it, again? Learn what will happen between her and Paris? If that seemed possible. Past experience with the Hotak device had already taught B'Elanna that it only gave random visions. Besides . . . Another wave of dizziness struck her. These damn spells seemed to be getting worse B'Elanna decided that what she really needed was a trip to Sick Bay.
B'Elanna slowly eased into a sitting position on the sofa. Instead of preparing herself to stand up, she reached for the Hotak device and opened the case . . .
* * * *
The two figures lay entwined on the floor of the Delta Flyer. Their bodies moved perfectly together, as they engaged in passionate love. Finally, heartfelt cries echoed throughout the shuttle, indicating the couple's climatic pleasure. Cries immediately became sighs and heavy breathing. Feeling boneless and slightly out of breath, B'Elanna collapsed on top of her new husband's damp body.
"Hmmm." The sound came out of her mouth as a low growl. B'Elanna glanced at the wide chest beneath her. She noticed the teeth marks that circled Tom's left nipple and giggled. "Ooops!" she said, poking at the mark. "Did I do that?"
A lazy grin stretched Tom's mouth. "You mean that after two years, ten months and ten days of dating, and three hours of marriage, you don't recognize a Torres love bite when you see one? I'm appalled."
"Oh you!" B'Elanna gave her husband an affectionate slap on the forearm. "I should punish you for that remark."
Blue eyes sparkled mischeviously. "Punish me? Hmm, I can't wait to see what you have in mind." Tom waggled his eyebrows suggestively. Inducing another fit of giggles from B'Elanna. Tom joined in the laughter.
Once the laughter inside the shuttle subsided, silence reigned. The newly wedded couple stared at each other with eyes that reflected love, desire and wonder. B'Elanna closed her in anticipation, as Tom captured her mouth for a kiss. His tongue explored the inner wetness and grazed her teeth. Finally, Tom's mouth reluctantly parted from hers and gently nipped an earlobe. B'Elanna shivered with delight.
Encouraged by Tom's kisses, B'Elanna responded by caressing his broad shoulders. Her hands strayed toward his thighs and began to massage them. She could feel him stir below. "Hmmm," she murmured, "looks like someone still has a bit of energy left." Her hands slipped between his legs. "More than a bit. Is that you, Tom Torres?"
Never did B'Elanna imagine she would find herself married to Tom Paris, of all people. And she could not have been happier. "That sounds just fine to me," she purred.
"And to me," Tom added in a whisper. He lowered his mouth upon B'Elanna's . . .
* * * *
The familiar light blinded B'Elanna. She let out a gasp and her eyes flew open. The half-Klingon woman struggled to rise from the sofa. Only the dizziness made it impossible for her to sit up. After a minute or two of struggle, B'Elanna gave up and surrendered to darkness.
* * * *
Her eyes fluttered open. Above hovered three faces. Two belonged to Chakotay and Captain Janeway, and both looked very worried. The third belonged to a grim-faced medical hologram. B'Elanna licked her dry lips and took a deep breath. "What's going on?" she muttered.
"That is what we would like to know, Lieutenant," the Captain replied. "How are you feeling?"
B'Elanna closed her eyes for a brief moment. No dizziness, thank goodness. And yet, her limbs felt like lead. She murmured, "A little tired. Exhausted, actually. Wha . . . what happened?"
"I just finished operating on you, Lieutenant," the Doctor coolly replied. "To repair your damaged neural pathways."
Janeway added, "Ensign Kim and Lieutenant Paris found you inside your quarters, unconscious. After they were unable to awaken you, they beamed you here to Sick Bay."
Oh." B'Elanna tried to sit up.
The Doctor added, "Don't bother, Lieutenant. I gave you a depressant, following the operation. You needed the sleep."
Taking another deep breath, B'Elanna continued, "Can't I do that in my own quarters? I don't . . ."
Chakotay added, "I'm sorry, but the Doctor needs to keep you here under observation. He and Kes can look after you."
B'Elanna sighed with defeat. If only she had never come across that damn device. Speaking of which, she wondered if anyone had found . . .
"Looking for this?" The Captain held up the leather box. B'Elanna's heart sank. "Lieutenant Paris found this in your quarters. Apparently, seconds after he opened it, he found himself in another time frame. Possibly in the future." B'Elanna found herself wilting under the gray-eyed stare of the Captain's. "Once you're released from Sick Bay, you and I are going to have a long talk." After giving the Chief Engineer a firm nod, she turned on her heels and left. Chakotay followed, but only after he shot B'Elanna a sympathetic glance.
* * * *
The following afternoon, the EMH finally released B'Elanna from Sick Bay. The latter immediately headed straight to the Captain's Ready Room and revealed how she found the Hotak device. And her experiences in the future. Of course, B'Elanna did leave out certain details - like her flirtation with Tom in the Holodeck, and their subsequent honeymoon.
For her actions, the Captain revoked B'Elanna's holodeck priviledges for a week. The auburn-haired captain added that she had ordered Voyager back to Hotak in order to return the device to its previous location. B'Elanna received one last lecture on responsible behavior befitting a Starfleet officer before being dismissed.
Her cheeks flaming with embarrassment, B'Elanna left the Captain's Ready Room through the second door and entered Deck One's corridor. She had never felt so humiliated since the incident over the Sikiris transporter. One good thing came out of her use of the Hotak device - she saw a future that seemed destined to end in disaster. Marriage to Tom Paris? Inconceivable. Hell, she could say the same about a romance with the erratic helmsman. B'Elanna simply could not see someone like Paris remaining in a relationship with a Human/Klingon hybrid, let alone a Human female. Any marriage to him seemed bound to meet the same fate as her parents'. With her driving Tom away.
B'Elanna knew what she had to do. Make sure that a relationship between her and Paris would never happen. She had no desire to get involved with a man who would only disappoint her in the end. Resolved by her decision, B'Elanna marched toward the turbolift.
* * * *
Five years and seven months later . . .
"Good grief, Harry! You're not going to eat Neelix's apple pie again, are you? Don't you remember what happened the last time? You ended up in Sick Bay, getting your stomach pumped."
B'Elanna and Harry sat inside Voyager's Mess Hall, finishing the last of their lunch. The Chief Engineer had planned to immediately return to Deck Eleven, when she spotted the slice of "apple pie" on the ensign's plate. If one could call it apple pie. It looked more like a banana cream pie - with the filling dyed green and no whip cream topping.
Annoyance flashed across Harry's face. "I won't get sick. Besides, Neelix and the Doctor found the ingredient that made me ill. And Neelix swore that he left it out, this time."
"Yeah, right," B'Elanna grumbled.
"What's wrong with you anyway, Maquis? Got up on the wrong side of the bed, this morning?"
B'Elanna sighed. "It's nothing. We're still working on the damaged deflector dish, thanks to Chakotay. He allows the damn thing to shorten out and won't even tell me why he did it. I don't think even the Captain knows. Something about the Temporal Directive."
A frown creased Harry's forehead. "You still haven't fixed the deflector dish? It's been a week since that incident. What's the problem?"
"I don't know. Gremlins, perhaps?" B'Elanna said with a shrug. "Even worse, Sue Nicoletti passed out, this morning. Just fainted dead away. And the one thing I don't need right now is to have one of my best engineers ill."
Harry smiled. "Oh, I have a pretty good idea on what's wrong with Sue. Haven't you heard? She's . . ."
The doors to the Mess Hall opened, interrupting Harry. Tom Paris strode inside and many of the crewmen burst into cheers, whistles and applause. Then to B'Elanna's further confusion, Neelix walked up to Tom and offered his congratulations. Why, B'Elanna had no idea. She turned to Harry. "What the hell is going on?"
Harry did not answer. Instead, he waited until the pilot appeared beside their table, stood up and enveloped the older man with a bear hug. "Hey Tom! Congratulations!" he crowed. "It's not every day a man becomes a father."
A father? The moment those words left Harry's mouth, B'Elanna became ill. She felt as if a photon torpedo had made impact with her stomach. Tom Paris, a father. That could only mean that Sue Nicoletti was pregnant. B'Elanna dreaded this moment since the day her subordinate married Tom. Keeping her jealousy in check, she reacted with an enthusiasm that she did not feel. "A new father! You mean to say that Sue fainted, because she was pregnant?"
Tom smiled, causing B'Elanna's heart to skip. "Yep. She's due in another six-and-a-half months."
"Just in time for the New Year," Harry added.
B'Elanna inhaled before flashing the pilot a brilliant smile. "That's great, Tom! I'm happy for both you and Sue." Then she returned her attention to her breakfast tray, unable to say anything further.
While Tom and Harry continued to discuss the upcoming pregnancy, B'Elanna's thoughts wallowed in misery. And regret. Where did it all go wrong? She has asked herself this question so many times during the past six years. Yet, she knew the answer. Her stubbornness. Her fears. She had the bad misfortune to catch a glimpse of a possible paradise. And instead of anticipating the future, she allowed her fears to get the best of her. Push away a chance of happiness before it could begin.
After her glimpse of a future with Tom Paris, B'Elanna had done everything possible to ensure that the relationship would go no further than distant friendship. It had been simple during Voyager's first two years in the Delta Quadrant. Tom was first preoccupied with a crush on Kes, the ship's former nurse, and later, pursuit of Sue Nicoletti. That third year, however, proved to be difficult. Tom suddenly developed an interest in B'Elanna. She did her best to ignore him by ignoring his flirtations and invitations to dinner. She had even ignored Tom and Harry's offer to escort her to a luau being held inside Neelix's old Resort holoprogram. Once B'Elanna made it apparent that she harbored no interest in a relationship with the Chief Helmsman, he stopped pursuing her. And two months later, he returned his attention to Sue Nicoletti.
At first, it seemed that Tom would have no better luck with Sue than he did the previous year. However, matters came to a head on possibly one of the worst days in B'Elanna's life - her personal Day of Honor. One, a failed experiment with creating a transwarp conduit ended with the ejection of the warp core. The Captain ordered the core to be retrieved - only she ordered B'Elanna to send another member of the Engineering team. B'Elanna did. She sent Sue Nicoletti, who ended up accompanied by Tom Paris. B'Elanna had no idea what occurred between the pair on that mission. But four days later, Tom and Sue became a couple. Their three-year romance ended with an impromptu wedding, following an intergalactic race. Since of their romance, B'Elanna found herself regretting her decision to change the future. Dreams of that alternate honeymoon aboard the Delta Flyer have haunted her, ever since.
". . . have any idea why Chakotay destroyed the deflector?" Harry was saying. Apparently, both men had lost interest in Sue's pregnancy.
Tom shook his head. "I've heard rumors of something about him invoking the Temporal Directive. Whatever that means."
"Speaking of temporal anomalies," Harry continued, "do you remember that device you found on Hotak some five or six years ago, B'Elanna? You know, the one that allows you to see the future?"
Dread numbed every nerve in B'Elanna's body. Of course she remembered. There was not a single damn day when she forgot. "Yeah, I remembered," she mumbled.
Harry continued, "Now, I remember you telling me that you saw Kurt Bendara's death, a future game of hoverball between you and the Commander, and even Neelix's resort program." His attention switched to the pilot. "But Tom, you also used the device and you never told me what you saw."
Tom hesitated. His gaze dropped to the food on his tray. "It was nothing, Harry. In fact, it never happened."
"C'mon, Tom! Everything B'Elanna had witnessed came true. Right?"
Memories of that passionate moment inside the Delta Flyer flashed in B'Elanna's mind. "Right," she replied in a choked voice.
Harry continued, "So, tell us. C'mon Tom, what did you see?"
The pilot took a deep breath. "Okay. I was inside a cave . . . with . . . with someone." His blue eyes briefly rested upon B'Elanna. "From Engineering."
'He knows!' B'Elanna felt a surge of panic. Judging from Tom's brief glance, she felt sure that he knew about their life together, in that alternate timeline. She struggled to maintain a calm façade.
Harry frowned. "What cave?"
"On Sakaris IV," Tom replied. B'Elanna winced. The sight of her infamous bout with pon far. Voyager had come across a supply of gallacite and B'Elanna was ordered to form an Away team to retrieve the mineral. She had knew about Tom's talent as a rock climber, but decided to exclude him from the Away mission. But not before an emotional unbalanced Vulcan engineer infected her with pon far. B'Elanna spent her entire time on Sakaris IV longing for Tom, while rejecting any offers of help from Harry, Tuvok and Chakotay.
His frown deepening, Harry shot back, "But you only spent one hour on Sakaris IV. With Carl Ashmore and me. When we helped the Sakarians avoid further detection by the Borg."
"That's right, Harry," Tom replied. "But in my vision, I was there for several hours." Again, his eyes shot a glance at B'Elanna. "With Sue."
Harry shook his head and murmured, "Now, that's strange. Sue never made it to the surface. I guess time must have been changed."
"I guess," Tom echoed. For the third time, he glanced at B'Elanna.
"You know," Harry continued, "this reminds me of something the Captain once told me. She said that our trip to Earth's past made her realize how much temporal mechanics gave her a headache. I think she might have something, there. Right, B'Elanna?"
The Chief Engineer did not reply. Unaware of her friend's last words, she stared into space, devastated and filled with regret.