No Regrets - Part 13|
I scowl at Harry as Chakotay steps out into the corridor. "You've got to stop treating Chakotay like that. I mean it."
"I treat 'em as I see 'em." He scowls back at me and then goes over to flop down on the couch. "So, what'd he do, have another sneak peak?"
"What are you talking about?"
"Look at the way you're dressed! Or not dressed, I should say. You're hair's wet and there's a towel slung over your shoulder. That points to the fact that you've just had a shower, so you can hardly blame me for wondering..."
"Harry, that's not funny."
"It wasn't meant to be. What was he still doing here?"
"He waited to see if I was all right."
Harry's scowl is replaced by a worried frown. "And are you? I heard what happened in the mess hall this morning. And I was on the bridge when Ayala commed Tuvok."
"I suppose so."
"As soon as B'Elanna's allowed visitors, you're going to patch things up... aren't you?"
I sigh with annoyance. "No, Harry, I'm not. It's gone too far for that. And if you've heard about what happened in the mess hall then you would also have heard the spicy morsel, thanks to our dear half Klingon, that I'm having sexual difficulties."
"Well, yeah. I did hear that. And it's all Chakotay's fault. He's obviously screwed you up big time."
"Harry, it's not true. I can't believe you assumed it was. Thanks a lot."
"Well, I'm sorry. But how was I supposed to know? You've been acting so weird lately."
"*I've* been acting weird? Look who's talking. You've gone way past weird."
"I'm just worried about you."
"I know, but I'll be fine. You don't have to worry."
"What about you and B'Elanna? If you give her a couple of days to cool off..."
"Harry, I don't want to."
"But things can't end like that between you."
"I admit, I regret we parted like that, and it would be nice if we could be friends again..."
"Well, then, talk to her."
"Harry, you're not listening to me. I don't want to. I'm so damn mad at her right now that all I want to do is strangle her."
"Once you've had a few days to calm down everything will..."
"Harry!!!!! How many times do I have to say it? I am not going to get back with B'Elanna."
He bites his lip. "Okay, so what exactly happened this morning?"
I tell him.
"Well, at least she doesn't know that you cheated on her with Chakotay."
I wince at the harsh tone of his voice. "It wasn't like that, Harry. You know what happened."
"All I know is that it takes two to tango."
"What the hell is that supposed to mean? You think I set it up deliberately or something?"
"There's always been this kind of friction thing going between the two of you. Obviously, it was sexual tension. I was stupid not to see it for myself."
"Harry, what's wrong with you? Are you mad at me for saying I won't get back with B'Elanna?"
"The two of you are meant to be together."
"It's obvious to everyone."
"You're wrong, Harry. Our relationship's been in big trouble for a long time. Surely that's what's been obvious to everyone."
He sighs and nods, the anger slowly leaving his face. He looks so sad that I immediately feel guilty.
"I'm sorry. I know you wanted to see the two of us together, but it's just not going to work. It's over."
"I just wish..." his voice trails off.
"Harry, please. Today's been a really bad day. I mean a *really* bad day. I don't want to end it in an argument with you."
"I don't want to argue, either. I just don't like to think that Chakotay's influenced you in some way."
"Chakotay's got nothing to do with this."
"I hope not, because the way I see it at the moment is that he's got you really confused."
"That's not true."
"Really? You're not thinking of him all the time?"
I hesitate. "Not all the time."
"Damn it, Tom. I knew it," Harry shouts. He jumps up from the couch to come over and grab my arms. Giving me a little shake, he yells into my face. "You're not even interested in guys, remember? That was one of the first things you told me."
"I didn't think I was, but Chakotay's different."
Harry lets me go abruptly and turns away. "That bastard. That scheming bastard."
"Harry, I don't know what I'm feeling at the moment. It doesn't matter, anyway. Even if I was interested in Chakotay and wanted to take it further, he's not interested in me."
"Yeah, right," Harry says bitterly.
"It's true. He told me that I was just a convenient body. He must have been walking around with a permanent hard-on for weeks. He would have done it with anybody."
"And you can still have feelings for him?"
"I told you; I don't know what I feel. Harry, I don't understand why you're acting like this. I'm glad that you care about me so much, but you're taking this way too personally."
"Of course you don't understand. Listen, I've gotta go. I have a date."
He hurries out the door before I can say anything else.
I'm too hungry to skip dinner, so I go to the mess hall early, hoping that I can be finished eating and gone before it gets too busy. Harry's strange behavior keeps going around in my head.
Thankfully, only a few people are here. A couple of crewmembers from ships maintenance and Sam and Naomi Wildman. Neelix brings me over a pizza he made especially for me, to make up for what happened earlier.
It's absolutely delicious and I devour it ravenously. Neelix stands there, watching me eat, beaming proudly.
Sam Wildman comes over to join us. "Hi, Tom." If she's aware of the rumors, it doesn't show on her face. "I'll be going back on duty now, Neelix. I've told Naomi to stay here with you."
He nods. "I'll make sure she's in bed by twenty-one hundred."
"Thanks." With a smile for the both of us, she leaves.
More and more crewmembers start to filter through the doors and it isn't long before the mess hall's crowded. Everyone's looking at me and smiling awkwardly. I decide to leave.
Just as I'm about to stand up, young Naomi slides into the seat across from me. "You look sad."
I try to smile, although it's hard. I can still feel every eye upon me. "I'm just a little tired."
"Haven't you been sleeping well?"
This time I smile a genuine smile at the caring, motherly mode the little girl's adopting. "Not really, but I'm sure I'll be fine."
"I could lend you my Flotter doll, if you like. He always helps me sleep."
"That's very kind of you, Sweetheart, but then you might not be able to sleep."
"That's all right. I can always crawl into bed with my Mommy. We curl up together. You should sleep with somebody. Like Commander Chakotay."
I practically choke on my last bite of pizza. "Commander Chakotay?"
She bobs her head up and down. "He helps Harry sleep, so he would for you too."
"Yep. I heard the Commander tell the Captain that they sleep together."
I take a long slow sip of water and then ask as casually as possible. "Are you sure?"
"I was practicing being sneaky and I snuck up on them. The Commander was telling the Captain that he and Harry slept together."
I take another sip of water. This is wrong. I should not be questioning the kid like this. She's a complete innocent and I should not be interrogating her for information. "What else did he say?"
"He said that Harry was mad at him. Why would he be mad?"
"I have no idea. Maybe they had an argument."
She nods understandingly. "Like you and Lieutenant Torres."
"Well, not exactly." I smile brightly at her. "Thank you for the offer of your doll, but I'm so tired that I'm sure I'll sleep fine tonight. I have to go now. Good night, Sweetheart."
I leave, noticing the stares and whispers, but not really caring anymore. Naomi must have misheard. Chakotay and Harry? Never! Harry's not interested in men. Is he? He's my best friend. I'd know if he was. Surely.
He's always chased after the unattainable woman. Is that why? Because he's not really interested in catching one? I shake my head as I recall his eagerness to join Chakotay on away missions. I'd always marked it down to his enthusiasm to gain more experience.
No. It can't be true. Harry's my best friend. He would have told me. Wouldn't he? Yes, yes, he would have. But not right away. He would have waited until he was sure of his feelings. Perhaps the relationship was fairly new and he'd been about to tell me when all of this blew up.
I'd accused him of taking it all too personally a short time ago. His anger and bitterness towards Chakotay didn't make a whole lot of sense. But it would if Chakotay had cheated on him. With me.
No wonder Harry was so angry. He'd been so sharp with me earlier. So insistent that I stay with B'Elanna. He sees me as a rival for Chakotay. His motives are plain to me now. The way he reacted when I told him that I might have feelings for Chakotay makes perfect sense, of course.
I enter my quarters, the hurt building inside of me. Harry and Chakotay. Chakotay and Harry. It can't be true. I've been jumping to conclusions. Harry would have told me. Chakotay would have definitely told me.
When I said to him that I deserved everything B'Elanna did to me, he would have told me then that he'd cheated on someone too. He might not have said who it was, but he would have said that. He's an honorable man. He would have confessed to that.
I sigh with relief. It's all a mistake. Chakotay and Harry? Harry and Chakotay? Never! I smile at the absurdity of it all.
The following morning's senior staff meeting is rather boring. We're traveling through a very uninteresting area of space and the ship's running smoothly. I find myself watching Harry and Chakotay closely.
Harry's animosity is tangible and I notice the Captain giving him more than one warning look. She doesn't look surprised and I find myself surprised at that. Everyone else is looking at Harry a little strangely.
Tuvok and Seven both have their eyebrows raised and Neelix looks completely dumbfounded. Chakotay refuses to look at Harry, but he does dart small furtive looks at me.
I watch the Captain carefully instead. There's a concerned look in her eyes as she shifts her gaze between Chakotay and Harry, although she looks annoyed as well. She seems to know what's going on between them.
I start to tense up as my thoughts from the previous evening begin to reassert themselves.
Finally the ships business is concluded and the Captain clears her throat. "Before we go, recent events have led me to rethink our fraternization policy. I know that it's completely implausible to expect the crew to abstain from any intimate relationships. We're going to be out here far too long for that.
"However, the whole business is fraught with problems. I don't want to say to the crew that they can't pair off; it just wouldn't be fair considering our predicament. I do, however, expect the senior staff to set an example. So far, it has not been a good one. How can I expect the crew to behave rationally and keep their personal love lives away from their duty stations, if the senior staff don't?"
I flush with embarrassment and look up, expecting to see her eyes drilling holes straight through me. She's looking directly at Harry, though. His head is bent as he stares at the tabletop. I look across to Chakotay and he is also staring at Harry. He looks almost fearful.
And then I know. I know with absolute certainty that I was not jumping to conclusions the night before. It's true. Harry and Chakotay. Chakotay and Harry.
"I'm just asking you all to think very seriously and carefully before you enter into a relationship," the Captain finishes. "That will be all."
I get up and file out behind the others, my head whirling. I see that Chakotay is holding back, waiting to speak to the Captain in private.
They're best friends. He obviously confides in her. He's told her about Harry. I decide, as I take my place at the helm, that I hate Harry.
No Regrets - Part 14
I sit in my chair, feeling completely numb. The past few days are swirling around inside my head. I hear the Captain and Chakotay come out of the briefing room quite some time later, but I don't take much notice. All I can think of is Harry.
Why hadn't he been honest with me? Why hadn't he told me about Chakotay? I can certainly understand why he'd be upset with him, but why didn't he tell me?
He'd tried to make me stay with B'Elanna instead. Even though he knew our relationship was destructive to both of us, he'd insisted I make up with her. He knew how unhappy I was.
For months now he'd been making me feel like I was being unfair to her. That I should be thankful for what I had. He made me think that I was looking for a type of relationship that just didn't happen.
He was my best friend and I thought he had my best interests at heart. So I listened to him. I agreed with him that B'Elanna was something special and I should be happy to settle for her.
What had he thought I was going to do? Dump B'Elanna and then go chasing after Chakotay? Just because we had a quickie in a lift? A quickie that I don't even remember properly? Does he really think so little of me?
Whatever sort of relationship he has with Chakotay isn't very secure. It can't be, if Chakotay can lose control so easily with somebody else. I suddenly remember Chakotay's words: "It's been so long since I've been with anybody."
Why did he say that to me? Why lie? It wasn't necessary. My painful thoughts are turning into a burning fury now. Why all the lies?
I can sort of understand Harry keeping the truth from me. His lover had just proven what an absolute treacherous, lying, snake in the grass he could be. Harry was probably embarrassed to admit to me that he'd slept with him.
It didn't excuse his attempted manipulation of me, however. It proves that he doesn't trust me and that hurts.
The morning passes by in a blur and before I realize it, it's my lunch break. Harry tries to catch my eye as I head to the lift, telling me to wait for him. I ignore him and the doors shut as he's still walking towards them.
I grab the first bowl of food I see and make my way to the back of the mess hall, sitting down angrily. Harry appears soon after, looking around for me. He sends me a puzzled look before getting something to eat.
Glaring at him, I wait as he makes his way hesitantly over.
"Is something wrong?" he asks cautiously, sitting across from me.
"Should there be?" My voice is a snarl.
His eyes open wide in surprise. "I don't know, but there obviously is."
"Damn right!" I slam my spoon down on the table so hard that everyone around us glances at me nervously. "I thought you were my friend and all this time you've been manipulating me for your own selfish reasons."
"What are you talking about?"
"Don't act so innocent. You're not innocent at all, are you?"
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"I know why you tried so hard to get me to stay with B'Elanna. And let me tell you, Harry. That would have to be the most hurtful thing of all."
"Tom, please keep your voice down. Everyone's looking at us."
"Let 'em look." The sight of Harry and I having a disagreement must be a shock for them all. We never argue. I glare around the room and everyone quickly looks away.
"It's just one more thing to add to the Paris gossip," I yell.
"Tom, please! Let's go somewhere else."
"No," I hiss. "I may not be in love with B'Elanna, but I do care about her. Did you really think that I would hurt her like that? Did you really think I would race straight off to Chakotay?" I keep my voice down low. I really don't want to give the gossips any more to talk about.
Harry's chin quivers a little. "I'm sorry."
"I don't want to hear it. Why didn't you trust me, Harry? Why didn't you tell me?"
"I couldn't. How did you find out?"
"Someone heard Chakotay telling the Captain. I didn't believe it at first. But after this morning in the briefing room, I knew it was true."
"Chakotay told the Captain? The briefing room? Tom, I'm not sure what you're talking about."
"Instead of trying to manipulate me, you should have tried telling me the truth. It makes me wonder what you really think of me."
"I really don't know what you mean, Tom. I don't know what happened in the briefing room."
"The Captain made it obvious that she knows about the two of you."
"The two of...?"
"I don't even know why the hell you'd want to be with him now, but that's your choice."
"Be with him?" Harry jumps up, a startled look on his face. "What the hell are you talking about?"
I jump up to face him. "You and Chakotay."
"Me and... and... Chakotay?"
"Don't tell me you're going to deny it?"
Harry takes a deep breath and suddenly yells at the top of his lungs. "Are you fucking nuts?"
The room is hushed as they all turn to look at us.
Tuvok seems to appear from nowhere. "Ensigns, this behavior will not be tolerated. Please, sit down." He faces the room. "Everyone, please resume eating. The situation is under control."
Harry and I both remain standing and Tuvok watches us both with his eyebrows slightly raised. "May I ask what you intend to do now? Will the crew be treated to another wrestling display, Mr. Paris?"
"Mind your own business, Tuvok."
"Unfortunately, this *has* become my business. It seems to be a matter for ship's security."
"Ship's security my ass, Tuvok."
"Under the circumstances I will attempt to ignore your rather blatant insubordination."
"Forget it. I'm going."
I push past him and stalk out of the room, not caring if he arrests me or not.
Harry catches up with me as I wait impatiently for the lift. "Tom, I don't know where you got the idea about Chakotay and me from, but it isn't true. How you could even think something like that..."
"Why did Chakotay tell the Captain you were sleeping together?"
"I... I don't know. Shit! Are you sure he did?"
"Positive." I'm not as confident as I sound, however. Naomi may have misunderstood what was being said.
But I remember the way the Captain had watched the two of them this morning and the strange way Harry's been acting and I'm sure once more.
"Tom, I don't know why he lied like that, but do you honestly believe I'd sleep with the Commander and not tell you about it? Especially after everything that's happened?"
"Well, thanks a lot. That's a shitty thing to think about your so-called best friend. Is that what you really think of me? You have so little faith in me?"
The lift arrives but neither of us takes any notice. "Hey, don't turn this around on me. You're the one who has little faith. You want me to stay with B'Elanna because you think I'll take your boyfriend away from you. Now that really *is* a shitty thing to think about your so-called best friend."
"That is so much crap, Paris," Harry shouts. "And he is not my boyfriend."
"Well, excuse me. What should I call him? Your occasional bedfellow?"
"Shut up, Paris. I should deck you."
"You can always try, you lying sack of shit."
"That's it, Paris. You're gone."
"You'd better get some backup, Harry, old boy."
"I don't need any goddamned backup."
"Then hit me."
"Don't think I won't."
"Then do it."
"I suggest the two of you stand down." We both turn abruptly to see Tuvok coming towards us, his phaser drawn and pointed.
"You'd shoot us?" Harry says incredulously.
"I believe so. My phaser is set on stun, Ensign."
"Well, I guessed that, but still..."
"It is a logical course of action. I am quite certain, if the Captain were here to witness this embarrassing display, she would desire it."
He holds up his other hand. "That's enough, Mr. Kim. You will cease this immature behavior now."
"Well, he started it."
The absurdity of the last few minutes suddenly hits me and I begin to chuckle. Harry looks at me in astonishment and then joins in. Soon we are holding our sides, laughing hysterically.
Tuvok clears his throat and puts his phaser away. "You do realize that I am going to have to issue an official reprimand?"
We both nod, still trying to regain some control. Tuvok waits until only an occasional snicker can be heard. "May I ask what this was all about?"
I sober immediately. "Harry lied to me."
"I did *not* lie to you, Tom. If you were really my best friend, you'd believe me."
I snort, but before I can counter, Tuvok raises his hand. "Desist. It is obvious that this is a private matter that should be kept private. The Captain's views have been made perfectly clear on this subject. She will tolerate no further disruptions regarding personal relationships. You will resolve this matter. Is that understood?"
"Yes, Sir," we both say in unison.
He nods. "I suggest you do it immediately."
He indicates the lift and we step into it stiffly. As the doors close behind us, Harry turns to me and hisses. "I'm getting out at the next deck. I don't want to breathe the same air as you at the moment."
"That's fine with me," I hiss in return.
As soon as the doors open, I step out. "You stay in there. I'm on duty in sickbay anyway."
I storm off down the corridor, not really looking where I'm going. Rounding a corner, I bump into somebody and groan as I realize that it's Chakotay.
He rubs his shoulder and looks at me warily, taking in my angry expression. "Is everything all right?"
"No, everything is *not* all right. This is all your fault."
"I don't understand. Has something happened?"
"You lied to me," I say bitterly. "Why didn't you tell me you were on with Harry? You let me think I was the two-timing shit, when all along you cheated on Harry."
"Harry? What are you...? Oh no!" He grabs my arm and drags me into a nearby supply closet. I take a deep breath, telling myself not to worry. It's not like I'm stuck in here or anything. I can get out whenever I want.
He leaves the door slightly ajar. "Are you all right in here, Tom?"
"Sure," I say, but my voice is a little too high. I clear my throat. "Why the hell are we in here?"
"I have to explain to you about Harry. And I don't want to be overheard."
"Stow it. I don't want to hear it. And I do *not* want to be in here with you."
"But, you've got it all wrong, Tom. Harry and I aren't together. We've never been together."
"Great. Now, let's get out of here. There's been enough talk about me. I don't want the latest rumor to be that you and I got it on in a supply closet."
I wish the words back immediately as I become uncomfortably aware of just how close he is to me. Memories of what happened in the lift wash over me, and I want to reach out and touch him.
He leans forward slightly, his eyes focused on mine, and I swallow nervously. The way he's looking at me makes me think he's going to kiss me. And... shit! I think I want him to.
He reddens and steps away from me instead. I tell myself that I'm not disappointed; I'm relieved. I step back as well.
"The Captain misunderstood, Tom."
I listen sulkily as he goes on to explain.
"Then Harry wasn't lying to me?"
"No. I've explained everything to the Captain. She's rather unhappy with me at the moment. I think she's going to have a talk with you."
"Damn it! All that stuff that Harry said to me is true. I should have believed him. What sort of friend am I? I'll have to apologize to him."
"Can you tell me what happened?"
I find myself telling Chakotay everything. I don't know why. Everything that I'd thought and said to Harry comes tumbling out.
Chakotay shakes his head.
"I know... you don't have to tell me. I was completely crazy. But Harry's been acting so weird. He's so upset over what happened between the two of us, I thought it made sense."
"Tom, it's obvious why Harry's been acting the way he has. Don't you know?"
"No. What's obvious?"
"He's in love with you."
No Regrets - Part 15
I'm still a little dazed when I finally make it to sickbay. The Doc makes some sarcastic remark about me being so late, but I don't really hear it. I promise to stay back to make up the time and then set to work distractedly.
The Doc hovers around me, every now and then waving a tricorder towards me, but I ignore him. All I can focus on is Harry.
I replay everything that he's ever said and done to me in the past few months. It just doesn't make sense. Harry's not in love with me. I'd know if he was, wouldn't I?
He wouldn't be so insistent that I stay with B'Elanna if he was, would he? I just don't understand it. His anger at Chakotay has been completely out of proportion, and some of those snide remarks of his really surprised me, but there must be some other explanation.
I remember the way he blushed when he told me the other day that I had a great body. And what was it that he had shouted at me yesterday when I'd admitted I couldn't stop thinking about Chakotay?
He'd shaken me and yelled into my face. "You're not even interested in guys, remember? That was one of the first things you told me."
Hell! I remember saying that to him now, right back on the first night we were on board Voyager. And why had I said it? Because Harry was looking at me strangely. There was something about that look that had made me feel uncomfortable.
I'd quickly asked him if he knew any good-looking girls on board that would be interested in double dating but he shook his head, saying that he didn't know anybody yet. Then he'd asked me if I was interested in going out with a guy. I'd told him I wasn't interested in guys at all.
He'd looked a little disappointed and then shrugged. He'd never indicated that he was interested in me again and I'd quickly grown comfortable with him.
I blush with embarrassment as I think of all the times I've run around half naked in front of him. I'd never given it a thought. Had he been checking me out the whole time?
He must have been. I've never looked at him like that. I've never really checked any guy out like that.
Don't get me wrong, I know a good-looking guy when I see one, but I've just never thought about it much. And I can't imagine saying to any guy that they've got a great body. Well, okay, there is one guy. Not that I've seen his body. I've felt it though.
I pull myself up short. What am I thinking? Haven't I got enough problems at the moment? Do I really need to add more? My strange feelings regarding Chakotay will just have to wait.
I need to talk to Harry. I need to discover the truth. If Harry really is in love with me, then that needs to be settled too.
I ask the computer to let me know when Harry enters his quarters. I make my way there immediately and wait cautiously to see if he'll let me in. It doesn't appear that he will.
He stands in the doorway, his arms crossed, scowling out at me. "What do you want, Paris?"
"To apologize. Harry, I'm sorry. I should never have believed all that crap."
His frown is still there. "So, why did you?"
"I don't know. I think I may be going crazy."
He doesn't laugh and he doesn't stand back to let me in. "What changed your mind?"
"I spoke to Chakotay..."
"Oh, I see. You believe him when he tells you, just not me."
"I'm sorry, Harry. Can I please come in?"
"I don't want to talk about this in the corridor."
"There's nothing more to talk about."
"Yes, there is. Your attitude towards Chakotay, for instance. He thinks you're jealous."
"Jealous? Of what?"
With an impatient sigh, I push Harry out of the way and step into his quarters.
"What do you think you're doing?"
"I'm not talking about this in the corridor," I say firmly.
"Well, then, make yourself at home," he answers sarcastically.
I grab his arm and drag him over to the couch. Pushing him into it, I sit down in a chair across from him and shake my head. "You're not making this easy for me, Harry."
I take a deep breath. "Are you in love with me?"
His mouth opens in astonishment and then closes without a sound. He opens it once more. "Oh, shit!"
"It's okay, Harry," I say quickly. "Honest. We just need to talk about it."
"You shouldn't joke about things like that, Tom."
"I'm not joking."
"Why would you think I'm in love with you?" His voice cracks a little and his eyes are wide before he swiftly ducks his head.
"Are you?" I ask softly.
Harry shakes his head, looking across at me sadly. "It's true. You really are going crazy. Come on, I'll take you to sickbay."
He gets up and comes over to pull me from my chair. I shove him away. "That's not funny, Harry. I just want the truth. We need to get it out in the open. There's nothing to be ashamed of, or embarrassed either. We can tell each other anything."
Harry stares down at me incredulously. "You want to know if I'm in love with you?"
"Yes. And you still haven't answered me."
Instead of answering me, he regards me steadily for a few moments. "Are you in love with me?" he asks, unexpectedly.
"No! Why would you think something like that?"
"I didn't, but why do you think I'm in love with you?" he counters.
I shake my head, wondering if I dare tell him. I don't want to have another fight.
Harry goes over to the replicator and gets us both a drink and then sinks into the couch once more. "You've really been getting some crazy ideas lately, Tom. It worries me."
"I'm sorry, Harry. But your behavior towards Chakotay has been so strange. He told me that he thought you were and I didn't know what to think."
Harry sits forward and places his glass carefully on the coffee table. "I see. So you just automatically believed Chakotay? Again?"
"It wasn't like that, Harry. And this is what I mean about your attitude to Chakotay. If you're not in love with me, then it just doesn't make sense."
He's silent as he stares at me. Finally, he says quietly, "I may not be in love with you, Tom, but I do care about you."
"I know you care about me, Harry, and I know you hate to see me hurt. I feel the same way about you. But this whole thing with Chakotay... well, it's just crazy. You know I can take care of myself. I don't need you championing me the way you have."
"I know," he says in a small voice. "I'm sorry." His chin quivers a little and guilt flows through me.
"I don't mean to upset you, Har, but why have you been acting this way?"
"I don't want to talk about it, Tom."
"We *need* to talk about it, Har. I don't understand. Why are you so mad at Chakotay? Why is it so important to you that B'Elanna and I stay together?"
"It's not. You can do whatever you like. I don't care. You can break up or stay together or whatever you want. It's none of my business. I thought you were basically happy together. I was wrong. I'm sorry for being too blind to see the truth. Now, if you'll excuse me, I was going to have an early night." He stands up and gazes pointedly at the door.
"Harry, it's not even 18.00."
"I'm not going until we sort this out, Har."
"There's nothing to sort out. Now, go away."
"No! I want to know why you've been acting so weird. Why you've been pushing me to stay with B'Elanna."
He hesitates. "She deserves to be happy."
"Oh? And I don't?"
"I didn't say that."
"You might as well have. You don't care about how I feel at all, do you?"
"How can you say that? You know I do."
"Do I? You've known how bad things have been between B'Elanna and me for months now. You've known how unhappy I've been, but you still insisted that we should be together, just so that B'Elanna could stay happy. That doesn't sound like you're considering my feelings at all."
I start to march out of the room angrily. "All you've been thinking about is B'Elanna. Well, let me tell you, I never thought you'd..." I stop suddenly by the doors and turn around in amazement, as the truth finally hits me.
"Harry...! You *are* in love, aren't you?"
"I told you, I'm not in love with you," he hisses at me fiercely.
"Not with me," I say impatiently. "With B'Elanna."
His mouth hangs open as he looks at me, shock evident in his eyes.
"Don't try and deny it," I hurry on. "It's obvious, now that I know. I don't know why I didn't see it before. That's why you've been so insistent that we stay together. Her happiness means more to you than anything. Shit, Har. Why do you always have to be so noble all the time?"
He shuts his mouth firmly and continues to stare at me. I head back to him and grab his arm, propelling him towards his couch once more.
As soon as he's seated, I sit down across from him again and shake my head. "Why didn't you tell me?"
Harry swallows hard and looks down at the floor. "Tom, can we please not talk about this?"
"How long, Har? How long have you been in love with her?"
He refuses to answer, so I try to piece it all together. Thinking back, I realize that Harry has been close to B'Elanna right from the beginning of our journey. Has the poor kid been in love with her from the first time he saw her in that Ocampa medical facility?
It wouldn't surprise me, because we were talking about love at first sight one day and I remember how insistent he was that it could happen. I'd received the impression that it'd happened to him, although he'd denied it at the time.
What I don't understand is why he didn't say anything. Perhaps it had something to do with Libby. Knowing Harry, he probably felt that he had to be faithful to her. There was also the fact that B'Elanna had made it obvious to everyone that she'd pegged Harry as the cute kid brother. Sort of like I did. Poor Harry.
"I wish you'd confided in me," I say quietly. "If I'd known how you felt I would never have let myself become interested in her."
He finally looks up at me. "That would have been very generous of you, but completely unnecessary."
There's something in the tone of his voice that I don't like. "You shouldn't belittle yourself like that, Har. You think B'Elanna would never have changed her feelings for you? I'm not so sure. But, because of me, you never got the chance to find out. I feel so bad about this."
Harry returns his gaze to the floor. "Tom..."
"No, Har," I interrupt. "Don't try to make me feel better. I think I understand what happened now. You were going to say something, weren't you? But Vorik forced that ponn farr thing onto her and she bit me, marking me as hers."
He makes a small strangled noise. I'm not sure what it's supposed to mean, but I take it for agreement and hurry on. "I knew it. That's a big thing for a Klingon. She chose me for her mate and you felt you couldn't say anything after that. That must have been dreadful for you. I'm sure if you'd been there instead of me, she would have chosen you."
"I doubt it," he says softly. "She probably would have chosen Chakotay."
"Of course!" I exclaim, as sudden understanding dawns. "No wonder you've been acting the way you have. You sacrificed your feelings for B'Elanna so that she could be happy with me and here I've been throwing it all back in your face. Getting it on with Chakotay and hurting her as well. It makes perfect sense why you've been so snippy lately."
He looks up at me sharply. "I have not been snippy."
"Of course you have," I say dismissively. "But it's okay. I understand. Chakotay, not knowing all the facts, jumped to the wrong conclusion."
Harry ducks his head down again and then covers his face with his hands. "I never wanted you to know," he moans. "Tom... I have to tell you..." All I can hear now is a choking sound.
I throw myself from my seat onto my knees in front of him and pull him into a tight hug. "It's all right, Har. I understand. I really do."
He stiffens for a heartbeat and then relaxes against me, hugging me in return. "Oh, Tom!"
"It's okay, Har," I tell him, rocking him gently. "I don't know how the hell you've stood it for this long."
He nestles in to me and I find myself holding him tighter. "It was hard sometimes," he says, his voice muffled. "But I loved her enough to want her to be happy more than anything else. She couldn't be with me, so I wanted her to be with you. It was the next best thing. I told myself that as long as you made her happy, then I would be happy too."
"That's just like you, Har, but you should have said something. I feel really awful about telling you some of the things that happened between us. I never would have if I'd known how you felt about her."
"I know that, Tom."
"And shit! All the stuff I said when I wanted to break things off. I can't believe you'd want me to stay with her."
He sniffs loudly and his voice is so soft I can hardly hear it. "I... I can't explain why I still wanted you to. It's all kind of jumbled in my head. I'm sorry, Tom, I guess I just wasn't thinking straight."
"Everything's such a mess," I say with a sigh.
"Yeah," he answers softly, looking up at me out of the corner of his eye. There's a strange look on his face that I'm unable to interpret, but I shrug it off. At least I've got to the bottom of Harry's strange behavior.
Chakotay was wrong. Harry's not in love with me. He's in love with B'Elanna. It all makes perfect sense now. I hug him tightly once more.
No Regrets - Part 16
He's gone. Finally. Now I can think. What have I done? Oh my God, what have I done? I've made matters worse, that's what I've done. I... I lied to him. But he forced me to. I can't believe I did that, though.
I've never lied to him before. At least... not really. I mean, there are some things that you have to lie about and that's all right. They're only little white lies and they don't really hurt anyone. Do they?
But this is different. All that stuff about loving B'Elanna enough to want her to be happy was so much crap. It sounded so trite, so totally false. Dear, sweet, lovable Tom believed me, though. I guess he wanted to believe it. It just goes to show that he doesn't want me to be in love with him. I'd known that all along anyway.
'Are you in love with me?' What the hell was I supposed to say? 'Yes, Tom. I've been in love with you from the first moment we met'? I can picture it now. I would then throw myself in his arms and he would gasp in sudden enlightenment. 'Oh, Har, why have I been such a fool? I've been so blind. I love you, too.' We would then kiss passionately and... Yeah... right!
I go into the bathroom and study my reflection in the mirror. The face that looks out at me still appears the same, but is there a harder glint to the eyes? Is the darkness growing inside me starting to show on the surface? I tremble a little at the thought.
I can hear my mother's voice now. She'd be so disappointed in me. 'You should be ashamed of yourself, my son.' And she's right... I should. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I realize that she'd be more than disappointed... she'd be shocked. My father would be too. Thinking of my parents makes me frown in consternation. I'm a little shocked myself. This wasn't supposed to happen.
That it should come to this. Whatever happened to innocent little Harry Kim? Who would have thought that I could be so ruthless, so cunning, so manipulative? Certainly not Tom, that's for sure. Tom is completely clueless where I'm concerned, and thank goodness for that.
I hadn't meant for things to get so out of hand, and I certainly hadn't meant to lie. I'd been too scared to admit the truth, however. He'd pity me. I know he would. I couldn't bear that. And then he'd be uncomfortable around me. The closeness we shared would be gone. And that's all that I have.
I just want things to be the same between us as they always have been. Is that so wrong? I panicked and I lied. Now what sort of a hole have I dug myself into?
Tom, for some inexplicable reason, has jumped to the conclusion that I'm in love with B'Elanna. He made me sound like some noble, self-sacrificing hero. Not that that isn't nice. He has such a high opinion of me that it makes me feel all mushy inside.
But my guilt had made me choke. It was anything but the truth. I had to tell him he was wrong. And I was going to. Honestly, I was. But he'd thrown himself down in front of me and hugged me tightly. I'd been overcome with the scent of him, the feel of his body against mine and I'd relished the sensation, unconsciously hugging him in return.
I'd opened my mouth to admit all, but the lies had rolled off my tongue, instead. I'd latched onto Tom's rather crazy theory like a lifeline. I'm so ashamed. How could I do that? How could I? What's the matter with me? Why am I acting like this? Why am I letting the darkness take me over?
Loving someone isn't all it's cracked up to be. It takes a lot out of you and can turn you into a complete stranger. It makes you do things that you wouldn't normally do. I shake my head as I remember some of the things my love has forced me to do over the years. But I haven't done anything that terrible, have I?
Okay, there have been a couple of things... but mostly, it's all been for the best. I don't want to think about that, though. I don't want to think about what my love for Tom has made me do. I won't be able to look at myself in the mirror if I do. Anyway, none of it was that bad. I'm sure it wasn't.
And now Tom thinks he may have feelings for Chakotay. I just can't believe it. I don't want to believe it. It's not fair. He wasn't interested in men. God damn it! He was *not* interested in men. All this time I've longed for him, cared for him, loved him, and I've never said a word because I didn't think he could feel that way about a man.
This is all so frustrating. Sometimes I just want to grab Tom by the shoulders and shake him. Make him look at me. Make him really see me. I'll kiss him soundly and tell him how much I love him.
Only, I'd had the chance just then and I hadn't taken it. Why was I such a coward? I might be wrong. Tom may not have rejected me, letting me down gently and caringly, only to become stiff and awkward around me in the future. But I can't take the chance. I just can't.
What's the matter with the man? Why can't he see what's right in front of him, anyway? Me!!!!! I would never hurt him the way Chakotay will... and he will. He already has, actually.
I should have told Tom the truth. I know I should have. Now I've trapped myself. I'm going to have to pretend I'm in love with B'Elanna. I don't think I can do that. I *am* attracted to her. Who wouldn't be? If I wasn't so totally in love with Tom, then I think I would be in love with her. I'm not, though, and I've never been very good at pretending.
I just don't know what to do. I don't want to lie all the time. It's one thing to deny I'm in love with Tom, but another thing entirely to lie about B'Elanna. I know the first thing's a sort of lie too, but I'm not hurting anyone. Am I?
I focus once more on the mirror and my rather flushed face staring back at me. I'm not the same person I was before I met Tom. I now have secrets. I never thought I'd ever be the sort of person to have secrets. I really wish I'd told him the truth.
But he'd hugged me. Engulfed me in his arms and held me against him. For that brief moment I'd felt cared for. Loved, even. I didn't want the feeling to end, and that's why I lied.
To make matters worse, my traitorous body had nestled in against him and I'd been rewarded for my sins. He'd held me tighter. I smile dreamily at my reflection as I remember how it felt to have his arms around me, holding me tight.
That wasn't the first time he's held me, of course, but it was definitely the most memorable. I'd held him tightly in return and he hadn't moved away. Hadn't shifted at all. And he'd held me for a long time.
These are the moments I live for. These small precious memories that will stay with me forever. I cherish every one of them.
I'd fallen in love with Tom the first time I'd met him. He'd put his arm around my shoulders as we walked out of that Ferengi bar on Deep Space Nine and my stomach had done a somersault. My heart had begun to beat so loudly that I'd been certain he'd hear it. Surely he must have wondered about the ridiculously goofy expression that had been plastered over my face. But he'd simply smiled in return and asked me to show him to the ship.
I told myself that it was lust... pure and simple, and asked him out in a roundabout way. When he'd said he wasn't interested in guys, I'd felt keenly disappointed but told myself to get over it. It wasn't like I'd be seeing too much more of him, anyway. He was just an observer, on board for a couple of weeks. Those weeks have now turned into years and my infatuation - my love - is still with me.
I tried everything in those first few months to get Tom to change his mind. My slight case of homesickness was magnified out of all proportion. I know I worried almost everyone on board, but it was worth it. Tom would come to me night after night and hold me while I cried my eyes out. He spent a lot of time with me, helping me to adjust.
It hadn't been difficult to feign the tears. One of the first things I'd learnt as a child was how to cry convincingly. And my parents had fallen for it every time, giving me whatever it was I wanted.
I soon realized, however, that I couldn't cry and get what I craved so desperately. The thing I desired more than anything I'd ever wanted was impossible to attain. Tom's love.
Although Tom never took our relationship further than friendship, we grew closer than mere friends. I was the best friend he'd ever had and my heart soared at the thought. If I couldn't have him as a lover then this was almost as good. We shared everything... except my feelings for him.
I watched Tom chase after nearly every woman on board, but didn't take any of it seriously. A few well chosen words and they soon lost interest. I never lied. Not once.
And then along came Kes. I'd suspected that Tom was developing more than just a crush on her and wasn't quite sure of her feelings for him.
They'd grown close and to my worried mind all I could think was, 'How could she resist him?' He was so handsome. So totally lovable. So, I dropped a few gentle hints to Neelix. I'd known he was a little jealous of Tom. Tom, after all, was everything he wasn't.
I was careful to keep my tone innocent but concerned, and Neelix had taken the bait. The fight they'd had in the mess hall had made Tom feel ridiculous and embarrassed and he'd backed right away from Kes.
He quickly got over his crush and they became friends instead. Much to my relief. So, I'd done the right thing, hadn't I? Tom's friendship with Neelix is very important to him and it would never have happened if I hadn't made things come to a head. I mean, it wasn't a bad thing to do in the end, was it? And, I never really hurt anyone, did I?
Tom's next truly serious crush was on B'Elanna. I noticed immediately, but didn't worry too much. She thought he was an arrogant pig and her attitude didn't seem to change. They were quite friendly at times; a teasing banter that would have worried me if she hadn't said so often what she thought of him.
And then that whole ponn farr thing had happened and she'd bit him. God damn it! I hadn't seen that one coming at all. I wasn't even on duty when Tom signaled the ship for assistance. If I had been, I might have been able to insist on accompanying Tuvok and Chakotay and prevented the rest of it from happening. Maybe.
No matter what I said to B'Elanna after that, she'd agree with me and then continue to flirt with him anyway. I just didn't know how to handle the situation without causing some sort of conflict with Tom. And that was the last thing I wanted to do.
I then told myself what was I worrying about? They obviously were not compatible, so the wisest approach would be to let the relationship run its course.
A few months later the cracks started to appear and Tom began to spend more time with me once again. Only now, things were even better. They were arguing and Tom would come to me upset and angry. It gave me a good excuse to touch him, to spend more time with him.
I knew it was only a matter of time before they broke up and Tom just might see, finally, what was right in front of him. Me! Loyal, faithful, Harry Kim, who would do anything for him. Anything!
Only, that isn't what happened. They didn't break up. I was on tenterhooks the whole time, waiting for it to happen. But it never did. They stayed together, and I could only stand by and watch in helpless frustration. Cursing him, cursing her, and I guess most of all, cursing myself.
No Regrets - Part 17
I didn't sleep very well last night. My dreams were filled with all the terrible things my love for Tom has forced me to do. I keep telling myself that they weren't that bad, but my conscience is telling me otherwise.
Getting out of bed, I head for the bathroom so that I can stare at my reflection once more. Is there... yes... yes, I'm sure there is. There's an evil glint to my eyes that I've never noticed before.
I knew it. I knew the darkness was making me change. All the things it made me do are starting to show on my face. If only I hadn't done them. But everything I've done has been in Tom's best interests. All of the people that I've managed to deflect from Tom over the years would have hurt him. They weren't right for him. My love for him had nothing to do with my actions.
The years have been hard. I always had to be on the lookout for anybody that seemed to have more than just a passing fancy for Tom. One can never be too careful. I couldn't let my guard down for a moment. Tom and B'Elanna's rocky relationship could end at any time and someone else might step in, instead. I knew that there were many people on the ship that were more than willing to.
I had to keep an eye out for potential problems. The Captain being the main one. I had a list, you see. And she was right on the top of it. Had been, right from the beginning of our journey. It was obvious she was interested. I shake my head as I think about the way she flirted with him. Has the woman no shame?
I didn't think she'd do anything about it, but I just wasn't sure. After the Monean incident I didn't have to worry anymore. Things will never be quite the same between them again and it's obvious that nothing will ever happen between them now.
I didn't have to do anything where the Captain was concerned, but I had to intervene with some others. Usually, all it took was a few words here or there. I didn't have to do anything terrible at all.
Not so with Seven. I had to take more drastic steps with her. I was becoming a little desperate. Just as I'd stopped worrying about the Captain, I had to worry about Seven. She was definitely interested, I could tell. I'd even seen her smile at him. More than once.
That's when I did something terrible. Truly awful. So awful that it haunts me in my sleep. I suggested to Seven that she should do a study on human mating rituals and Tom and B'Elanna would be the perfect pair to study. I knew that Tom wouldn't appreciate her following them around.
At first, he didn't even notice, and then he was nice to her about it. I couldn't believe it. That wasn't supposed to happen. When B'Elanna discovered exactly why she was following them around he was definitely upset about it. He even made a bet with the holodoc about her, but I didn't like the way he was starting to notice her.
That's when I did the truly terrible thing. I readjusted the Doc's matrix so that he fell in love with Seven. I know, I know. What was I thinking? But it worked. Now the Doc keeps her too busy to give Tom more than just a fleeting thought.
It wasn't long after that particular incident that I noticed that Chakotay was looking at Tom in a way that set off warning bells in my head. He wasn't even on my list.
The only person left on the list that I was really worried about, at the time, was Tuvok. I knew Tom wasn't interested in guys, but I didn't like the way he often teased our Vulcan Lieutenant Commander. And I'd caught him smiling at him quite fondly on more than one occasion. Tuvok's studied disapproval, in response to Tom's teasing, appeared a little intense at times. It didn't seem quite Vulcan when I thought about it. He actually looked annoyed.
If Tom was able to engender an emotional response in Tuvok, who knew what else might happen? When was his ponn farr due anyway? They'd been stranded together for quite some time in that gravity well and developed an understanding of sorts. Could it be more? Could something develop between them? I just wasn't sure.
I was still trying to decide whether I was being overly suspicious when Chakotay caught my eye. He'd started to look at Tom differently. Staring at the back of his head thoughtfully and smiling when he spoke to him. There was a gentle teasing note to the tone of his voice that hadn't been there at the start of our journey.
I hadn't thought to put Chakotay on the list, because Tom believed the Commander hated him. There was an ill-feeling between the two of them that could flare up at any time for any reason.
It'd never worried me before because of Tom's non-interest in males, but if I could wonder about Tuvok then I would definitely wonder about Chakotay. The Commander was very good-looking and when he smiled his eyes sparkled and he had a really cute dimple. Not that he affected me in any way, but I could see why somebody might be.
I began to see that I may have made a mistake. That there had always been 'something' there. The sparks flew between them. I'd misjudged the warning signs. I'd relaxed my guard and look what had happened.
The problem was, I didn't know what to do about it. Chakotay already knew all of Tom's supposed character flaws. Besides, there was no way I could innocently talk about Tom to him.
I was stumped, but knew I couldn't just sit back and watch what happened. The last time I'd done that had been with B'Elanna and look what'd happened there. They were still together... although not for much longer.
And that's when it hit me. The perfect plan. As long as Tom stayed with B'Elanna, Chakotay would never make a play for him. His feelings for B'Elanna, as well as his sense of honor, wouldn't allow him to. Just so long as Tom and B'Elanna stayed together.
So, I made sure they did. And everything was wonderful. They fought. Tom came to me, more and more upset, and I comforted him. We spent more and more time together.
I didn't really think it through, however. I didn't consider what was happening between the two of them. Tom and B'Elanna were truly hurting each other now. It was no longer simple arguments, easily forgotten. And it was just getting worse. Tom was an emotional wreck and I became more and more troubled about the whole thing.
As much as I loved Tom, I liked B'Elanna. She'd been a true friend. I began to question what the hell I thought I was doing. If I really loved Tom, I should want to see him happy more than anything else.
I began to really worry. I told myself that Tom would never have reacted the way he did in the lift - his claustrophobia consuming him so totally - if his emotions hadn't been in such a mess.
Besides, Chakotay wasn't a problem. Tom didn't even like him, not in the slightest, and even if Tom and B'Elanna did break up, he would never step in. He wouldn't want to hurt B'Elanna.
I decided to butt out and that I loved Tom enough to let him go. And I meant it. Although it was the right thing to do, it was a difficult decision to make. I was still angry with Chakotay - he'd made Tom cry - but then Tom told me what had really happened in that lift.
All of my good intentions flew straight out the proverbial window. And my anger was directed squarely at Chakotay. It was all his fault. He'd snuck right in under my nose. I couldn't let him have Tom.
Now that I think about it, I guess I did act a little strange after that. Jealousy is a terrible emotion. It made me say some really horrible things to Tom. Some really cutting things. I think I kind of blamed him for what happened in that lift too.
I sigh listlessly and turn away from the mirror. I don't want to feel like this anymore. I don't want to want Tom anymore. I told myself only days ago that I loved Tom enough to let him go. I do and I will. Somehow, I'll step back and be what I'm supposed to be. Tom's friend. Nothing more. The darkness must be stopped.
But he must never know that I was in love with him. If that means that I must go along with his rather strange notion that I'm in love with B'Elanna, then so be it. I can always say in a few weeks time that I'm over her. Can't I?
This way nothing will change between Tom and me, and after all, that's what I truly want most of all.
I think I've caused a problem with Harry. He was acting a little strange at breakfast. Not the usual weirdness of the past few days. This was different. He was awkward and uncomfortable with me. I'd put my arm around his shoulders while we were walking towards the mess hall, and I'd felt him stiffen immediately.
Our conversation had been stilted and he was definitely ill-at-ease. The poor kid's embarrassed that I know about his true feelings for B'Elanna, but the more I try to put him at ease the worse he looks.
I hope this blows over quickly. I don't want things to be like this between us. I have to do something. He's miserable and I hate seeing him like that. There must be something I can do to make him feel better.
He's one of these people who likes to be held when he's upset. That was one of the first things I discovered about him. A gentle pat on the arm or hand isn't enough for him.
So, naturally, as soon as we were alone in the lift, I'd tried to hug him, tell him that everything would be all right. But he'd stepped back, his eyes averted. "Thanks, Tom, but I'll be fine," he'd said.
That isn't like Harry. Not at all. He likes to be hugged. I'd suggested getting together this evening and he'd seemed a little hesitant. Did my stupid, insane notion that he and Chakotay were on together change everything between us? That ridiculous argument we'd had, hadn't changed things, had it?
Tom's upset. I didn't mean to upset him. I couldn't let him hug me, though. I'm determined to get over him and I won't be able to if I let him touch me all the time.
He'd suggested we get together this evening and I'd hesitated. Is it such a good idea to be spending so much time with him when I'm trying to get over him?
The look on his face had been heart-breaking. He'd been hurt. And then he'd said the words. Those words! The ones I wanted to hear more than anything! My heart soars at the memory.
"Have things changed between us, Har? I don't want things to change between us."
Yes!!! Oh, yes! Things can stay the same. I know they can.
Tom's upset. I can tell. There's something about the way he sits that's a dead giveaway.
I wonder what happened between them? I'm sure Tom would have confronted Harry after my revelation. He likes to get things out in the open. He'd want to know if I was right and Harry really was in love with him. I *am* right. I know I am.
Glancing sideways at Harry, I don't like what I see. He's smiling and his eyes are glowing. He looks... happy. Extremely so. I don't like that at all. But Tom doesn't appear happy.
I wish I could talk to him, but he'd given me a filthy look when he'd entered the bridge. Not that I blame him. I can hardly bear to look at myself in the mirror these days.
I'd really like to know what happened though. Judging by Harry, things went well for him, at least. Judging by Tom, I'm not so sure.
Of course! I know what's wrong with Tom. He's worried. B'Elanna's confinement will be over tomorrow. She'll be free. He's worried about what's going to happen. She may not have calmed down yet. I just wish she understood why Tom isn't himself.
He should tell her, but I don't think he ever will. She needs to know. I'm to blame. I'm to blame for everything.
There's only one thing to do. I have to put things right between the two of them. I think it may be too late for their relationship, but if she's ever going to react normally around him again, she needs to know the truth. She needs to understand.
B'Elanna looks surprised to see me. "I didn't think I was allowed visitors."
"I'm the first officer. Rank has its privileges. May I come in?"
She steps back and waves me inside. "I haven't spoken to anyone but the guards for the past few days, so you're more than welcome."
"I don't think you'll feel that way after I've told you why I'm here."
She frowns at me and then heads over to the couch to sit down. Pulling a cushion onto her lap she hugs it tightly. "If you're here to lecture me, then save your breath. The Captain's done all that. Believe it or not, I actually listened to her."
"I'm pleased to hear it, but that's not why I'm here. I'm here to talk about Tom."
"Oh? Well there's nothing to talk about then. Tom and I are through."
"So I gathered. Is that what you want?"
"What I want is immaterial. It's how it is."
"But you still want to be with him?" I persist.
"Does that matter? I'm not." She shifts around uncomfortably.
She sighs and runs a hand through her hair. "Not as much as I thought I would. I've done nothing but think the past few days; there hasn't been much else to do. My relationship with Tom was never what it should have been. We're not really compatible. As much as I hate to admit that, it's true. We've done nothing but hurt each other for months now."
"But, you still love him."
"I'll always love him, Chakotay. That doesn't mean we should be together. We didn't treat each other properly. I was at fault more often than he was. I just didn't see it at the time. We're so alike in some ways and so opposite in the things that really matter."
"So, you're not going to try to patch things up?"
"I think it's a little late for that. Besides, it wouldn't be right. I do want to talk to him when I'm let out of here tomorrow. I want to clear the air. I care about him and I'd like us to be friends again one day."
"You're sure about this? You've been together a long time."
"Far too long, considering the state of our relationship. We would have broken up a long time ago if we both hadn't been so stubborn. I loved him and I wanted it to work out between us."
"I'm sorry, B'Elanna. I truly am. I know this must be painful."
"It's all right. I told you; it's not as bad as I thought it would be. In a way it's kind of a relief. I'm worried about Tom, though. He's been acting really strange all week. Ever since that lift malfunction with you."
I can feel the heat radiating from my face. "That's what I have to talk to you about. The more I've thought about this, the more convinced I am that I should tell you."
She looks at me in total confusion. "What should you tell me?"
"It's my fault that Tom's been acting so strange. I've caused these latest problems between you."
"You? Why? What have you got to do with anything?"
"You're not going to like what I have to say," I warn, screwing up my courage.
"Since when has that ever stopped you?" she says with a smile. Her smile fades at the seriousness of my expression.
"I want you to listen to everything I have to tell you, before you erupt from that chair. After I'm finished you can then beat me to a pulp."
"Beat you to a pulp? Chakotay, what are you talking about?"
Taking a deep breath, I tell her. "I had sex with Tom. Only, he didn't know it at the time."