|If I Knew You Then: Part 2
Author: Ruchira PM
AU, sequel to Part 1. When things at Starfleet Academy take a turn for the worse, Cadet B'Elanna Torres finds that not even Ensign Tom Paris can help her through this one. P/TRated: Fiction T - English - Sci-Fi/Romance - B. Torres & T. Paris - Chapters: 23 - Words: 42,927 - Reviews: 83 - Favs: 32 - Follows: 15 - Updated: 03-26-09 - Published: 03-05-09 - Status: Complete - id: 4903324
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
If I Knew You Then: Part 2
Disclaimer: I, of course, own nothing of the Star Trek franchise. If I did, I wouldn't be writing fanfiction.
A/N: This one picks up right where Part 1 left off (might help if you read that one first). It's AU, taking a look at what might have happened if Paris and Torres knew each other while at Starfleet Academy. And if you're still lost by that one line, I really suggest going back and reading part 1. It explains a lot.
And now onto the story.
Cadet Third Class B'Elanna Torres groaned as she dropped her pack in her quarters. After eight days trying not to kill any of her classmates on a glorified camping trip in the glaciers of the Rocky Mountain, all she wanted was a long sonic shower, clean clothes, and a meal that didn't come out of a ration pack.
With a sigh, she collapsed onto her desk chair and turned on her computer console as she released her long braid from the tight bun it had been wrapped in for more than a week. "Computer, access personal messages for B'Elanna Torres."
"You have three unviewed messages," the disembodied voice of the computer informed her.
"Begin play back, starting at first message received." As she listened to Admiral Chapman reminding her of the lab meeting on Wednesday morning, she finished unbraiding her hair, getting her fingers caught in the tangles tightened by the dirt and sweat. She caught her reflection in the mirror as the voice from the summer resident assistant informed her of the various rules regarding visitors and noise levels. She grimaced, seeing her hair wild and face streaked with dirt. She couldn't recall a time she looked more Klingon.
"Hey, Torres," the third message began. She turned back to her console in surprise, seeing Ensign Tom Paris' face on the screen. "It's Monday morning, and I remembered you saying that you're getting back sometime today. Give me a call when you get in, I'm at my parent's house for my last week of leave. I want to hear all about your week, maybe over dinner? Let me know. Paris out."
Torres groaned again as she unhooked her uniform jacket. While the idea of some real food was a good one, what she really needed after eight days working her hardest not to kill herself or any of her classmates was some time alone, not a meal with an ever-upbeat newly minted Starfleet ensign.
Thirty minutes later, now in a clean tunic, her clothes from the past week in the refresher, and her hair down and straightened—a rare event due to the time and effort it took, but deemed necessary after the glimpse she caught of herself in the mirror—Torres settled down onto her bed with a stack of PADDs. For a moment, she contemplated the reading she set out for herself, trying to determine if she should begin on the technical articles Admiral Chapman had given her to read to prepare for her summer research project, or one of the Klingon romance novels she reserved for times she felt she needed a break more than normal. Figuring that a week fighting off hypothermia and inept classmates qualified, she opted for the romance novel.
She had barely read the title when her console beeped, indicating an incoming transmission. "Now what?" she muttered, turning the screen to face the bed so she didn't have to get up.
"Hey, Torres. Welcome back to civilization," Ensign Tom Paris' chipper voice greeted her.
"Paris," Torres replied with a sigh. "What are you doing, tracking my movements? I've only been back for half an hour."
"Dad just got off the comm with Zakarian," Paris explained. "So I figured you were back and he wasn't calling from the Rockies. So, you up for some dinner? I'm sure you're hungry after having nothing to eat but ration packs for the past eight days."
She made a face. She was hungry, and she knew that Tom knew all the best places to eat. "Alright," she agreed. "But don't expect me to be very good company."
"Aww, Torres, you're always good company," he drawled with a quirky grin, his bright blue eyes laughing. "How about if I beam over, and we can find some place within walking distance of the Academy?"
He beamed. "Great! I'll see you in about fifteen minutes."
It was closer to twenty minutes later when Torres heard the familiar chime of the door announcer. "Come in," she replied.
Tom Paris walked in and glanced around the single room. "Love what you've done with the place," he drawled.
Torres rolled her eyes. "Give me a break. I had about an hour to move my stuff over before we left, and I've spent most of the hour that I've been back trying to get cleaned up. I haven't exactly had time to decorate. So, where are we going for dinner?"
"Indian food sound good?"
She made a face. She liked Indian food, but there was only one place either of them went to get it. "We're not going to London."
"Believe it or not, Torres, the Patels don't own the only Indian restaurant on Earth," he responded dryly. "There's a really good one about a kilometer away. Siobhan Patel herself said that it's pretty good, although she qualified it by saying that her dad's is better."
"Of course," she replied with a small smile. "Lead the way, Ensign."
"Sure thing, Cadet."
Somewhere between her stories of starting campfires with phasers and wet branches, and his tales of a futile search for an apartment in the San Francisco area that wasn't owned by Starfleet, B'Elanna found herself watching the older pilot. He looked relaxed, his blue eyes twinkling as he used his hands to emphasize particularly humorous points in his stories; but then again, he almost always looked relaxed. There was something about him that was open and trustworthy, but at the same moment, there was a large part of himself that he kept closed off to everyone. Sitting there, watching him, she couldn't help but think about the incident almost a month ago, when he tried explaining to her that neither one of them was in any shape to get involved in a relationship. He was right, of course, but at the moment she had been so angry at him that she swore she would never speak to him again. It wasn't until their friend Ryan Addison told her that Tom was already hers, she just had to wait for him to realize it, that she began to understand why he said what he did. In a way, Ryan's words had scared her more than comforted her; she was only eighteen years old, and he had essentially said that there was already a guy out there who would always stand by her, if she let him. She made a conscious decision to keep her distance—from what she went through with her parents, she didn't know if she would ever be willing to either give or receive that kind of devotion or loyalty. She certainly knew she wasn't ready for that yet.
While they tried to decide whether or not to order dessert, Paris in turn covertly studied the young cadet. She looked good, if a bit tired. Because she was half Klingon, she didn't require as much sleep as a full human would, so her fatigue probably came more from the stress of keeping her temper in check for a week than any lack of sleep she would have had to deal with. At one point, he thought she would be more placid when tired, as if she wouldn't have the energy to lose her temper, but he quickly learned that it just meant she had a shorter fuse than usual. He found he didn't mind her volatility, even when directed at him. It showed how passionate she was about everything, something he hoped would never change.
He knew he had to tread gently around B'Elanna, but that fact had nothing to do with her short fuse or violent temper. She was different than any girl he had ever pursued, differences that had nothing to do with her ridged forehead, or even her ability to solve complicated engineering problems with little more than a glance at a PADD or blown relay. She had a vulnerable side that undoubtedly had everything to do with the childhood she was reluctant to talk about, an almost defenselessness that made him want to protect her, but at the same time, she was fiercely independent and didn't want anyone to even try to offer protection, something he had to respect. She had intrigued him from the first moment they met, and he quickly found himself more emotionally invested than he even thought possible—at one point, he even admitted to her that he didn't know how to feel about his feelings for her. He had pushed her away, claiming that they both needed some time to figure things out for themselves, but the truth was, the thought of caring about someone as much as he cared about her scared him. He had promised to be her friend, and was determined to be just that.
"So what can you tell me about Officership 2?" Torres was asking as they made their way back to the Academy. Her advisor, Admiral Chapman, had her taking three required general courses in the summer session, in addition to doing work in his lab, in efforts of getting her ahead so she would have time in her schedule to study at one of Starfleet's several engineering laboratories later in her Academy years. She dreaded the general educational requirements that Starfleet required, and the thought of spending what should have been a summer vacation taking three of them was enough to make her stomachs turn.
"Depends on who you have teaching it," Paris replied. When they first met the year before, he had told her that one of the benefits of having a fourth-year cadet as a friend was the free advice on the required classes from someone who had been there before, and even though his days in the Academy were now behind him, he didn't mind staying in that role.
"Some Vulcan," she replied, frowning as she tried to remember the name. "Professor Reduk? Does that sound familiar?"
He shook his head. "No, must be an adjunct professor, they bring in quite a few for the Officership courses. Have you dealt with Vulcans much?" When she shook her head no, he continued. "The most important thing to remember when dealing with Vulcan professors is that you can't impress them, and despite claims to the contrary, you can annoy them. Just do your assignments well, turn them in on time, and don't show any emotion about anything."
"Great," she muttered. "I almost got in a fight in Officership 1."
"You did get in a fight in Astrotheory 101, remember?" he teased. "If I remember correctly, Officership 2 is more discussion about the Prime Directive—you get that in all four Officership courses—basic first contact, and basic interpretation of the Starfleet directives. No more of the easy stuff about proper address of senior officers and such, no more rote memorization of protocols like you had in Officership 1. It's more interpretive, which means you don't really have many right and wrong answers, as long as you can back everything up. Just remember, if you have a Vulcan professor, you're going to want to base all of your debates on solid logic and try not to bring emotion or philosophy into it too much. And I'm sure arguments basic on how 'honorable' a decision is won't go over too well, either."
"Funny," she replied, glaring briefly in his direction.
"What else do you have? Maybe I can be more helpful in those."
"Early History of Space Travel and Introduction to Anthropology."
"Early History of Space Travel is a fun course. Lots of trips to museums, lots of historical holoprograms," Paris informed her. Of course he would find that sort of thing entertaining; he had, after all, been a history minor. "And I took Comparative Civilizations instead of Intro to Anthro, so I can't really help you there."
"Well, you're useless," she teased as they reached her door. "Thanks for dragging me out for dinner. You were right; I needed this."
"I aim to please," he replied, giving an exaggerated bow at the waist. "I'm going to be working at the San Francisco R&D for five more months before they ship me off to Mars Station. How about if we meet for dinner once a week, say on Mondays? You can vent about your classes and professors, I can wow you with stories about my glorious life as a test pilot?"
"So, a standing dinner date once a week?" she clarified, crossing her arms and raising her eyebrows. When she gave most people that look, she was giving a challenge, but toward him, it was almost always teasing. "And what happens if I get a real date for a Monday night?"
He responded with a slight smirk of his own as he leaned forward and slightly down toward her. "Cancel on him," he replied softly. "Have a good night, Torres."